Archive for the 'music' Category


fred frith plays NYC


nice, informed review of several performances in the area recently, by film reviewer glenn kenny, whom I share more opinions with on music than movies

The final set I heard was last night’s 10 p.m., for which Frith indeed broke out the handmades. He constructed them, Bruce told me, because he didn’t want to ruin his own guitars; he wanted instruments he could hit hard without worry. The handmades aren’t pretty, but they’re not caveman-crude either. They are notable for their limitations. By radically restricting the player’s options, they force him or her to resort to desperate measures. Like hitting.

Of course, as with his more sophisticated instruments, the effects play a crucial role. There has not been an enormous paradigm shift in Frith’s electric playing since Guitar Solos; it really is as much about the instrument’s interplay with electronics as it is with the player’s interplay with the instruments. And here too there’s a certain humility, but also confidence, at work. Frith doesn’t have all of his effects yoked together in a special box he can plug into an electrical outlet, nor does he have a sprawling all-in-one digital box specially designed for him or anything like that. His effects are, in a manner of speaking, a la carte; small boxes, powered by batteries, chained together via patchchords. And not all that many of them, either. For the homemades set, he performed in duo format, under the name Normal, with Sudhu Tewari, an electro-acoustic musician who also studied at Mills College. Tewari played what was termed”heavily assisted readymades.” The the naked eye, these consisted of what looked like a solid-state amplifier/receiver with the faceplate removed, and dozens of screws and metal clips inserted into the top grate. I understand how this might sound intimidating, but the set was in fact rollicking. The first thing the audience heard was a spoken word sample of an aperçu about “control” and much of the dynamic of the subsequent fifty minutes of improvisation saw Frith simulating an effort to set a sonic agenda and Tewari exuberantly sawing through it.

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing mr frith perform on two homemade guitars in philadelphia, back in ’79 or ’80, at a room in a church. he pulled yarn and whatnot that had been wound through the devices, and hypnotized the small audience of 30 or so for around 40 minutes.

one of my favorite concert memories ever.

i know of no musician who challenges himself so relentlessly, for over forty years.

you can get an idea of his character and er style from the review above.

a must-see, if you can — he teaches at Mills College in cali now, and doesn’t do this much anymore.

thanks for sharing, glenn.


a net-based funding model for artists

tim dwyer’s (off land) crowd/fan-supported new album on kickstarter

nice work, tim — and it sounds like a beautiful album.

and 3 cheers for kickstarter.


mickey baker lives on

never even heard of him — though i heard him many times, apparently — until reading glenn kenny’s post today

and look what he did.

clearly rock and roll would be far less without him.

thanks mickey!


pitchfork on lux

pleased to see comparisons to thursday afternoon in mark richardson’s concise and cogent review, the last eno album that really worked for me

off to listen now.


“why don’t you just cut off his hands?”

that line from where the buffalo roam seems apropos the new japanese law against downloading: up to 2 years for a file [movie city news]

and the laws against pot the line was about originally have changed little since.

how medieval.


not dead yet?

rock may have died this year, but no one seems to have noticed

2011 may well be remembered as the most numbing year for mainstream rock music in history. (For the purposes of this article, that’s more or less rock released on American major labels, regardless of origin, and played on mainstream rock radio stations.) The genre didn’t produce a single great album, and the best of the middling walked blindly in footprints laid out years, even decades, earlier. Plenty of juggernauts — U2 and Bruce Springsteen, among others — took the year off, but the genre’s failings are creative, not commercial. At this point rock is becoming a graveyard of aesthetic innovation and creativity, a lie perpetrated by major labels, radio conglomerates and touring concerns, all of whom need — or feel they need — the continued sustenance of this style of music. The fringes remain interesting, and regenerate constantly, but the center has been left to rot.

Declaring a genre dead is the worst, least imaginative sort of proclamation, so let’s call it zombified: it moves, it takes up space, it looks powerful from afar — with oodles of bands working hard, and some even making money — and garish up close. It lacks nutrients. How else to explain the critical consensus around a band like Foster the People, whose album, “Torches” (StarTime/Columbia), was one of the most lauded rock albums of the year by an emerging band, even though it did little to add to the soul-infused lite-rock of the 1980s.

i wouldn’t know, but moribund is the word that comes to mind.


cale & darnell

quietus interviews with a couple old favorites of mine: august darnell (aka Kid Creole) & john cale

I always said you won’t ever find any pure music in Kid Creole. Nothing pure about it. I call it mongrel music. That’s what makes it exciting to me. Our strength is in the combination of borrowing a little from the calypso world, borrowing from the Four Tops and the Temptations and borrowing heavily from James Brown and putting it all together into this concoction. The use of horns is all based on Tito Puente and my love of the salsa arts – but it’s also based on those close harmonies from the Forties, on Duke Ellington’s arrangements and all of that great stuff that you hear in those old records.

I can personally attest that Kid Creole & the Coconuts were great to dance to. And I didn’t dance much, even in the 80s. Except for those guys and the B-52s.

If you don’t know John Cale, you should. That’s a deep well there, boy.

June 2018
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