31 December 2013

That Intro Thing, Again. Sort of.

So a friend got me the Numero Group Purple Snow anthology for Christmas, which put me in mind of other Minneapolis items. Particularly...

In which the band, playing at a watering hole in Oklahoma City in 1984, decides to bail on its regular set and (for the full duration of the cassette's second side) default to standard bar-band mode, playing a cross-section of Big Hits from the classic and collegiate canons. But being so supremely hammered that they never manage to get very far into any given tune. Check out that playlist from tracks 9-24.

Maybe not so much intros, but a roster of sloppy and inebriated false starts. In the case of "I Will Follow," it definitely qualifies as nothing more than an intro, because the opening riff is all Bob Stinson could manage. X's "The New World" seems to be about the only one they know the better part of. And for the most part, Westerberg's just shoveling in whatever sounds right for approximated lyrics.

Had copies of this and Pussy Galore's Exile on Main St. back then. But I'm sure you know what inevitably happens to tapes if you play them over ten dozen times.

And I've already wearied of the Best Intro topic. On to other things. Started typing this yesterday, and see today -- via BLCKDGRD -- that today is Paul Westerberg's birthday. Pure serendipity, that.

But while we're at it, one last one. One of the most whiplash-inducing kick-offs I know, an old favorite...

Probably more a candidate for riffage than intro. But whatever.

29 December 2013

That Intro Thing, Pt. III

This time, a pair of groovers, both of which happen to date from 1970...

Nice one, with a rewind-worthy intro that gathers momentum and eases into things proper. As a whole, I always found El Chicano's version of the tune infinitely preferable to the Gerald Wilson original. And wudduya know, there's now a vintage live clip of it up now.

Not that the song is a disappointment, but the intro -- by my reckoning -- definitely promises bigger things. Love the intertwining of bass, percussion and scratchy wah-wah guitar in its opening moment.

Elephant's Memory were a weird one. As I recall, back in the day they had the reputation in some circles as being the worst band in existence. Maybe that was partly on account on their Plastic Ono Band affiliation, and maybe it was was also because they actually weren't that good. But their second LP, 1970's Take It To The Streets, definitely had its highlights. Much of the credit being due to their winding up with R&B producer Ted Cooper for the sessions, who was responsible for giving them something of a Motor City sound for the album. ("Mongoose" being the disc's opener.) The LP had a cheap, flat, and fairly cruddy mix to it, however. Plus it was on a small label, with a comparatively low number of copies having been pressed. So when Cypress Hill sampled the opening bass line to "Mongoose," it quickly made the thing an expensive collectors' item among beatdiggers.

28 December 2013

We Are Clear for Lift-Off

More on the Best Intros jawn, Phil puts forth Joy Division's "Dead Souls" as an example of an "all-intro" arrangement. I believe I've had a few tunes cross my mind which'd also fit that description. But a couple of other favorites...

1) Maybe there's a point when a person decides it's time to put away the air guitar, that it's too juvenille a pursuit to carry on with in adulthood. But then maybe there are songs that make you wanna pick the damn thing back up again many years later, despite your advancing age. There's a number of early Ubu tunes that still have that effect on me. This is one of them, partly thanks to its wind-up of an intro. The cycled high-end tone preparing the listener for some of the more "avant" leanings that will follow over the course of the album, the bass fumblings that almost threaten something "jazzy" to come, followed by a wind-up before the whole thing turns into a full-fledged rustbelt garage-burner.

2) Perhaps one of the best introductory salvos by an hotly anticipated new act ever committed to record. Natch, Levene's riffage is enough to place the song firmly in the category of Best Guitar Something-or-other. But before that there's the matter of what happens before that. Everything lines up smartly, entering the room in single file -- first bass, then drums, followed by the vocalist who doles out handshakes all around, then the six-string payoff. Lyrically of course it's all about the frontman putting his former Rotten self out to pasture; but musically I've always found it to be a guaranteed mood-lifter.

And I suppose I'll hold off on any others until Simon's finally able to jump in and play his part. So for now, I'll instead close with a favorite outro...

...complete with the sputtering exit of that coughing fit, which tops everything off perfectly.

27 December 2013

Internecine Interlude

It's that time of year again, the sort that brings seasonal jollies. By that I mean the yearly musical shoot-outs that take place -- at the instigation of Simon Reynolds -- among the community of contributors (at al) associated with the Decades Blogs; in which we all put forth our nominees for best geetar riff, geetar solo, bit of drummige, or whathaveyouse. But the call hadn't gone out this year on its usual schedule, perhaps because a number of the prior participants (e.g. Carl, Herr Kasper) have in the past year drifted away from blogging altogether. Simon and I discussed whether or not it was worth bother with. It was decided to maybe push it back, since Simon's trying (I gather) to get a vacation in this Holidays, and I'm going to be busy with the task of packing and relocating to another city as soon as I return home from Christmas. Tentatively, perhaps one devoted to bass (haha!).

But nothing doing, because Phil took the unprompted initiative of declaring the opening of this year's shoot-out, declaring that the subject would be Best Song Intros. And at the same time threw forth a nominee that sets the bar really, really high. Intimidatingly epic, that one -- has me a bit flummoxed about how to proceed. My first inclination is to start thinking in "Suite" terms, which immediately has me thinking of certain jazz tunes, but I'm trying to stay away from jazz this year since I defaulted to it a little too often with last year's drummige thing.

So: Somewhat connected to the clip above (which is there for heraldry, not meant as a contender), let's try this...

Maybe not epic, mind you. And I'm not sure how well these meet Phil's criteria for "Intros." But I have to admit that Gang of Four had a knack for frequently kicking things off in a way that immediately grabbing my attention (and held it) back when I first heard them -- i.e., instant excitement as soon as it struck my ears.

(And I suppose the above could've qualified for the Bass category, as well. Perhaps.)

22 December 2013

When Was Futurism?, Slight Return

More about the history of electronic music in Russia:

"Arseny Avraamov, however, planned to destroy pianos on a much more dramatic scale than Liszt. Avraamov reviled the piano because he thought that the traditional Western musical scale was irrational and even harmful. By restricting themselves to only twelve pitches out of a whole continuum of possible frequencies, Avraamov believed that musicians had dulled the perceptual capabilities of entire populations, preventing them from fulfilling their human potential. After the October Revolution, he made a proposal to Anatoly Lunarcharsky, the Commissar of Public Enlightenment, that all pianos in the country should be gathered up and burned. The proposal was fortunately unsuccessful, but Avraamov did go on to conduct extensive research on novel possibilities for microtonal music, devising his own 'Ultrachromatic' tone system and inventing instruments to perform it."

At n+1, Colin McSwiggen reviews the recent title Sound in Z: Experiments in Sound and Electronic Music in Early 20th Century Russia by Andrey Smirnov, a book that developed out of the research Smirnov conducted for the 2008 exhibition of the same name.

The site 99% Invisible posted an article about Avraamov's famed "Symphony of Sirens" this past May. Preservation Sound has a few words to say about the book, as well; mostly concetrationg of Avraamov and Evgeny Sholpo's hand-painted graphic scores. More about all of this cane be found at the the site 120 Years of Electronic Music, which lately has been making heavy use Smirnov's book as primary source for various articles on the topic.

See also Miguel Molina Alarcón 2008 publication Symphony of Sirens, via Monoskop.

20 December 2013

12 December 2013

Percussive Interlude

Because the instrument (piano) is as percussive as it is melodic & etc. Can be, or becomes very 'is', when under the proper pair of hands.

In this instance: Equal measures of delegating and elegating. Letting the others have their say; while just hanging back, and punctuating from the periphery. A diffusion of hammerings. Asymmetrical counterpointage, vs. a guiding beacon vaguely sighted through fog. The sound of mirrors and purviews splintering apart, and then coming (being brought back) back to together again, many times over, each time as if nothing happened when you weren't looking/listening.

07 December 2013


Via greg.org

I always liked the idea of making my own Christopher Wool knock-offs -- just a couple of small jokey versions to put up on a couple of walls around the house. Easy enough.

Or back in the days when I would occasionally get it into my head to make sarcastic paintings and the like, I wanted to make a mock, intentionally shoddy Joseph Kosuth that read: "YOU CAN'T BLAME WITTGENSTEIN FOR THIS ONE."

06 December 2013

When Was Futurism?

Curious. First I've heard of it, and very intrigued. Apparently out -- in Austria, at least -- since this past April, having also been screened at this year's Mutek Festival held in Mexico City.

A write-up of the film at The Hollywood Reporter describes the span and focus of the film, highlighting the peculiar and esoteric development of Russian electronic music history, which evolved by its own logic and means, mainly due to its isolation from the rest of the world during the many decades of the Soviet era. Which would explain why many Russians at the time may never have heard of the work of, say, David Tudor or Otto Luening; which is also why many of us elsewhere probably know little of Russian electronic music beyond Léon Theremin or Eduard Artemiev.

But I do recall hearing some electronic music from Russia back just shortly before the turn of the millennium. Back around that time, I was listening to a lot of experimental electronic and IDM-type fare, recording by a slew of emerging artists who very much in the thrall of Autechre-esque sound-twisting and sonic abstraction. Eventually you began to see similar artists of that type popping up in non-English-speaking countries. Amongst the lot, roughly around 1999, were a number of Russian acts whose music began circulate via compilations or the odd European release.

I was probably among a small number of people of people took much notice at the time. In some way, I was a little fascinated by it. Something about this type of experimental music transcending borders, language barriers, and cultural peculiarities; being taken up and created by musicians in a variety of countries. In a way, it was almost like the spread of certain types of abstract art & design in the early portion of the 20th century -- post-Kandinsky modes of "pure abstraction" in painting, or intentionally international styles like those connected with the Bauhaus or De Stijl schools. Or so I would've liked to have thought.

At any rate, here's a few I remember...

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