Last week the web was wriggling with outrage over The Disney Store Corporation offering for sale a Mickey Mouse™ T-shirt in the graphic style of Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures albumcover -- not that the iconic white-on-black waveform image (plucked from the Cambidge Encyclopedia of Astronomy by drummer Stephen Morris) was any stranger to absurd marketing schemes.
Marty McSorley showed me this CD a few weeks back, and I was completely blown away - as powerful as this simple concept is, there are precious few examples of appropriation music that simply take a crappy song and blow it out. To me, there's no better possible music than this! Can't Vs. The World, posted in its entirety here, was an early project of Jessica Rylan, who's gone on to collaborate with tons of top-notch improvisers, participate in the bent festival, learn to build synths as an electronic music MFA, and release a ton of...well, releases.
Rather than describe Can't any further, here's Jessica's own thoughts on the project...
Honestly, that cd is my favorite thing I ever did. Which is kind of weird I guess, it's so simple-minded. But it really described 100% how I felt at that time in my life, and it was immediately understandable by pretty much everyone. As opposed to a lot of my other music, which seems to confuse people.
The original idea came to me in 1998 when I used to work at a free health clinic giving AIDS tests. I also had a night job djing and sometimes booking shows at a prostitute bar. There was a little mall behind the clinic and I would go in there most days to get lunch from a burrito cart. One day I was standing in line, super hung over, and totally depressed about my awful job and the omnipresent misery in my life. They started playing "You're the inspiration" by Chicago over the p.a. - not loud at all, but from tinny speakers way up on the high ceiling. And I just had this wave of horror come over me - I hate that song so much, the lyrics are cloying and the guy's voice is so grating - hearing this song was physically painful in a totally different but much more upsetting way than the Merzbow show that was still on my mind from 1996. And then the music just blew out in my mind.
Top left: Master Scratch Band - Computer Break; Top right: - O'Gar - Playback Fantasy; Bottom left: Hugh Masekela - Don't Go Lose It Baby; Bottom right: Space - Running In The City
No friends? No problem! Just watch youtube clips of Giorgio Moroder, Crash Course In Science, Lectric Funk and the related videos. Pretty soon it will be four in the morning and you won't even have noticed that you were lonely and miserable, sitting in a dim room in front of a screen watching ridiculous music videos instead of interacting with the world. Thanks, internet!
I have no idea...mental breakdown dirty dancing to self-produced jams that sound like a cross between The Pod-era Ween and Right Said Fred. Watch all of Tonetta777's videos on his youtube page. Not necessarily NSFW, but it might creep some people out.
Gotta say, I've been feeling Michael Goodstein's program as of late. You know I've loved the bubblegum action and the darkwave for a while, but what's got me really hooked lately is the Italo Disco. I'll put it this way: the only Franco Battiato records I used to listen to were Fetus and Pollution, but now I'm all over disc two of the anthology CD that used to sit under my bed. Looks like we're not the only ones either, as there are extensive Italo archives up online. The most fun for me is browsing through the hundreds of consistently mind blowing youtube videos. From sweet "special effects" to awkward dance moves to nonsensical video plots, Italo can satisfy your innermost longing for camp. Reposted below are just two of the awesome videos I've found - left is Babaluga with My Paradise and right is Filipponio's All'arrembaggio. If you have way too much time on your hands, I'd suggest starting your own Italo love affair with Al Bano & Romina Power, Scotch, Fancy and Di Mateo. Most of all, I'd urge you to bow to the youtube collection of Italonex.
Last time I put the most absurd first and most talented last, so this time I'll put the clips I actually like first before we descend into the laughable. Top left are the super catchy French duo, Deux. I'd definitely recommend checking out more from this band, whether it be the recently issued discog, Agglomerate , or the recent BIPPP comp of obscure French synth wave. At the very least, check out the myspace, won't you? ps I have a crush on Cati. She's so melancholy and hot, smoking her cigarette! Top right is a more humorous clip from Belgian schizoids Arbeid Adelt! Although the band has been active since the early 80s, I can't personally vouch for the quality of their music much beyond this early single, Pro Vita. How the hell do you think up a video like this?
Now in all honesty, I could have chosen a less ridiculous clip by Los Iniciados (bottom left), who were a side project of the excellent Aviadar Dro. Liz Berg wrote an article a while back on Aviadar Dro, who have a bunch more cool music videos up here. Members of the band went on to form Esplendor Geometrico. I hope to god no other projects emerged after Visitors (bottom right) released their single V-I-S-I-T-O-R-S, and I'm too frightened to look it up. They are clearly ripping off Devo's Jocko Homo in a hundred different ways here, so it makes sense that in their weakness they would feel the need to groundlessly brag that they are 'number one space band'. I wish they were in space so we couldn't hear this shit! On a positive note, the keyboardist does a brilliant little harmonic substitution at 1:57. And it's always a cool decision to have a drummer double as a singer. He actually seems like he might be a cool guy, unlike the other douche in front who only sings the easy parts, doesn't play an instrument and makes stupid fucking faces every time the camera is on him. Fuck that guy. I really hate him.
Among serious contenders for the title of Worst Movie of All Time, the winner in the Sci-Fi Musical genre is without any doubt Menahem Golan's masterpiece The Apple. In fact, it is hard to see how this film could be made any worse, so much attention is given to screwing up every detail, the plot, the music, the set decorations, the acting, and really everything else. Set in the USA in 1994 and filmed around 1980 in Berlin, Germany, this is highly concentrated trashy euro-disco aesthetics, although the music borrows heavily (and ineptly) from other genres like reggae, hip-hop, soul, etc. Here are the first 6 minutes, featuring the song "BIM".
You can download this video in higher quality here [ 44 meg MP4 ]. To get an idea of the horrors of the rest of the film, check out the trailer on YouTube. You can even get the whole thing on DVD at Amazon. By the way, George Clinton co-wrote the lyrics for the songs in The Apple.
Laugh if you want, but I’ve watched this Time Bandits video (top left) at least a hundred times and have taken copious notes. Notice the lyric, "love is for the ones," as if only a group as exclusive as these models can really love. I'd rather be one of those ones than one of the Illuminati. You don't find it alluring? sorry... Other Aussie new wavers that have taken up too much of my time: Dugites, Eurogliders, James Freud... On the top right, Italy’s Death SS were not Nazis, but singer Steve Sylvester did lead a satanic sect at the time of this video's filming. You know that feeling when you’ve watched TV for so long that your stomach hurts? Ugh…
I’ve also been spending too much time looking through archives of Mexican Doo Wop, although every one of those videos gets topped by Madagascar’s Les Surfs (bottom left). Mexican doo wop that has taken up too much of my time: Los Hooligans, Manolo Munoz, Los Hitters. On the bottom right is the fruit of too much time with French Heavy Metal. A lot of music videos from this era are much more ridiculous, including many of Warning’s other music videos - I chose this one because the song is a almost entirely unironic blast of Sabotage-era Sabbath meets Iron Maiden. Runners up include: Dum Dum Bullet, Nightmare, Trust, Speed Queen.
I now understand the divine wisdom behind Mischa Barton's premature departure from The OC. Clearly, she was called upon by a higher power to make the greatest Cheesy Euro Disco movie of all time - a film that will surely be a contender for the best terrible music flick ever - Finding t.A.T.u.
It's the tale of two teenage girls who fall in love after meeting at a t.A.T.u concert and are swept into a dangerous world of obsession, drug abuse and murder - kind of 24 Hour Party People meets Eastern Promises.
A short was leaked onto the internet today, so who am I to stand in the way of two faux Russian lesbians and their viral marketing campaign:
If the sight of Mischa Barton navigating her way among hanging slabs of meat in a livestock factory isn't enough to make you count the days till it's release, then just ponder the immortal words that one of the protagonists types into her blackberry:
"Fuck everything but t.A.T.u. They're nihilists. Beautiful nihilists."
Just think. They came this close to defeating Vladimir Putin for the presidency of Russia.
No, I haven't read it yet — it arrived in the mail yesterday — but Robert Scotto's long-awaited biography of the idiosyncratic music visionary Louis Hardin (1916-1999), better known as "Moondog," is now officially between covers. Subtitled The Viking of 6th Avenue, the book includes a 28-track CD. Publisher Process Media's site says the book's coming out in October, but Amazon.com, which lists the book with a November pub date, has it in stock.
Scotto appeared on my program twice in commemoration of Moondog's birthday. Hear the interviews and music, and view the playlists:
Here's a fun game to play with experimental musicians: degrees of separation from John Zorn. Today's contestant is Andrej Nebb. Let's see, Nebb's off/on collaborative partner in Holy Toy was Lars Pedersen, whose brainchild When has releases on Chris Cutler's ReR label. Cutler's first band was Henry Cow, which also included Fred Frith, who was in Naked City with John Zorn. Four degrees, not bad I guess.
Andrej Nebb hooked up with Pedersen for the electronic-krautty Holy Toy only after having fronted post-punkier De Press; Nebb established himself as a fixture in Oslo's music scene in the early 80s. The Block To Block album in particular is solid. Get a taste with On Top (MP3). To be honest, sometimes Nebb's vocals can be pretty painful - although sometimes his missed notes and broken English can also be very charming.
Holy Toy, like De Press, put out a lot of records of varying quality, some of it very good. For my money, their best material is the stuff written only by Nebb and Pedersen without any others to clog the creative process. Some nice person posted a very good music video of the power duo performing in Holy Toy's prime, around '85. Nebb's keyboards are too low in the mix, but thankfully Pedersen makes up for it with awesome drumming reminiscent of Lark's Tongue era King Crimson.
Nebb must be a pretty big egotist...late in the video, you can see that his name is embroidered on the back of his jacket.
It was the global triumph of Cheesy Euro-Disco that was not to be. If not for Serbian Nerdthrob Marija Serifovic's first place finish at Eurovision 2007, Ukrainian cross-dresser Verka Serduchka would have come in first place for her performance of Dancing Lasha Tumbai:
Few words in the English language resonate as globally as the word "boogie," especially if you add a few extra o's to it, as in boooogie. Sure, there are other words and phrases with even more inter-lingual appeal - "fuck," "baby," and that standby of international servitude: "no problem." But "boogie" ranks up there, thanks in no small part to the international hit record by Baccara, Yes Sir, I Can Boogie. The musical tale of a one-night stand between an elegant lady who needs to hear "that certain song" and her inscrutable paramour "meester," Yes Sir, I Can Boogie is irresistible in its breathy awfulness. It was a hit all over the world (except for the US), and sold 16 million copies worldwide in 1977, more copies than any all-female group had ever sold before.
I've periodically searched online for videos of this song, and finding only the stiffly choreographed original versions by Baccara, I've always been disappointed. Until now:
The three Frauleins above left are not Baccara, but the German-cum Vegas group, The Jacob Sisters. They're inter-cut with the original Baccara, consisting of Spaniards Mayte Mateos and Maria Mendiola. On the right, it's a German version by that crazy Finn, M.A. Numminen. Here's an MP3 of Numminen's version: Download MP3
On the left we have Goldfrapp doing their version which they retitled Yes Sir (from their EP Twist Single), and on the right, it's DJ ChrissyLou with her psychedelic karaoke version.