Mstation Pop etc Commentary, Reviews Valid RSS pre Dec 04 reviews are here

Fri, 06 Mar 2009

New RSS system and Feeds

For a long time we've been running separate instances of Blosxom to handle
our two categories of News, as well as our Reviews and Commentary to do with
books, classical music, pop/dance/etc music, games, and podcasts. Blosxom has
served us very well but always had some problems playing well on a PHP site ...
integration proved difficult.

So now we've installed a Wordpress system which offers quite a few advantages.
First of all, all the categories can be easily browsed within one page plus it's
very easy to add something new or disappear something.

Hopefully, you'll like it! Here is the page ...

The feeds can be subscribed to by mousing over the categories on the right
hand side of the page. The new feeds are as follows:

classical music
news: general
news: music, games

We will keep the present feeds running until perhaps the end of April,
so no great rush, although news items will be posted to the new feeds
from today... March 6 09.

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Sat, 28 Feb 2009

Art of the DJ

No mistake, there is an art to it for sure and the good ones are not only technically skilled in their handling of equipment and media but in their handling of their audiences.

But! For someone coming from the indy end of rock, it's still all vaguely a bit incomprehensible - I mean, for a start, all this anxiety to please stuff - what's that about?! That's a different universe, like being in something as unspeakable as a wedding band or being a cocktail bar jazz doofus. The wedding band guys will tell you that they make a whole lot of money and you know they have skill but still, it seems awfully like peddling your ass in a low rent part of town... and where peddling your ass isn't, you know, your thing exactly.

I was at a techno party not long ago and what struck me was how safe and mannered it all was - mid tempo scratchings with slow developments and not too much in the way of surprises. After a certain hour it seemed most anyone would dance to this in a vaguely self absorbed and contained way. Well, OK, why not? Some people like playing endless games of scrabble as well.

But don't get me wrong - I don't miss bloody mosh pits at all, and I don't miss nihilism all that much either except as a momentary thing where, in a pinpoint flash of light, the body danced outside itself, outside pain, happiness, and the reality of a shitty relationship or whatever - or maybe for an instant it was a celebration of that shittiness... which is a small affirmation of life itself in a kind of a way - a sort of update of the maudlin country song - a variation on the Blues.

Or to put it another way, in an undrugged and unalcoholed state it was all kind of, well, boring. And it was somehow more boring for the fact that this music was second-hand, was not being produced in the minute even though aspects of it were being altered in the minute in sometimes fairly crass ways. How about an inspired DJ that hits every minute, and the crowd, with some kind of joyful epiphany? Well, that's an artist and there aren't many of them.

So, what then? Just check out real bands from time to time. That's all I suggest. (thunderfinger)

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Fri, 30 Jan 2009

Noise music and other stuff

Noise music? This stuff can empty a room quicker than you can say caveat emptor. One reason is that the people who do it mostly prefer to be deafeningly loud. Ambient noise music has yet to be invented. I predict a rich future for it when it is.

There is more than one strand to it of course. At the art end of the street there are many meaningless meanderings that are likely to put you to sleep if you were clever enough to bring your ear plugs with you. People go along thinking - nobody likes this stuff - it must be cool. But it isn't: mostly because it was never meant to be. It's an intensely personal thing that positively revels in its musical unfriendliness.

Another strand could just be called Assault and there's nothing much more to be said about it.

But Noise music also lives on a line extending from Hardcore and No core (and genre references do get nonsensical but they serve as some kind of guide). Yes, it's loud as hell, and it's sure not meant to be dinner music but it can have some hooks.

Recently in Berlin I saw an eight-piece (yup, 8!) with a live drummer, a live bassist, two keyboard players, two knob twiddlers, a bash anything I can find guy, and a female front person who made vocal noises and did some strange dancing. They are called The Rottt.

The combination of all the activity - something to look at - with pulses of various sorts and varying ferocity actually held the small crowd and even inspired some proto punks towards casual violence. BANG BANG ZWIZZZZZZZEEEZZZZZZ BANG ZWEEEECH BOOM.

It's music for the alienated for sure but it also has elements of primal excitement - a sort of upside down love and sandpaper sensuality. It's also an affirmation - an affirmation of the ability to freak out within certain bounds, to get beyond the cookie cutter. And there's discipline as well in that the shape of the thing is understandable. (thunderfinger)

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Tue, 28 Oct 2008

Popkomm Berlin 08

You can catch Thunderfinger's commentary this month here.

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Wed, 01 Oct 2008

Art of performance

The art of performance plays tricks on people - not only the audience who can be taken somewhere, but also the performers themselves who can seem to trivialise their own work or at the other extreme, get lost in a spotlit fog of bombast or twee artistic pretension.

Rock has some traditions here - polished moves are for ballet. Precision is for pedants. The story is one of immediacy of emotion and action - a juvenile story in some ways. Reach beyond your grasp! Grasp the darkness beyond your ken! The story is regularly forgotten of course, and then remembered again when things get too smoothly formulaic.

I was thinking about this the other day while watching a journeyman type rock outfit go through its paces. In normal mode they were a slight shambles but the spirit was right and the noise was fast and rebellious and it was all better than OK. And we gave them extra marks because the mix engineer was asleep at the wheel and didn't seem to hear anything. Maybe she'd been given a message to never touch the faders. Who knows?

Then a guest singer came on and, in the space of a few minutes, went through every loose-limbed mic move known to man. Had it been like a surf contest where the judges tot up the number of tricks you did in your alloted time, she would have got some kind of medal for sure, but as it was, she got a big "huh?" from the people paying any attention... so, one moment, the glory of a rock cellar, and the next a kind of reality check - a phony check.

This reminds of a show years ago where first Blondie came on and slouched her way through a number with that throw-away sort of style of hers. She was followed by Olivia Newton John who did a kind of aerobics workout where she hit a bewildering series of stage points with pinpoint accuracy and where these points exactly corresponded with musical points as well. The applause was deafening! The crowd went berserk! ONJ then sent a look towards Blondie that said something like "take that!". Blondie's look, which was echoed by anyone with any kind of Rock soul was "huh?".

That other thing was Show Biz of course - fine its own way, and on its own day.

So what's it all about then? Maybe it's about audiences and artists giving themselves regular phony checks. Maybe it's about pure water in a polluted world. Or maybe it's about learning to lighten-up. (thunderfinger)

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Tue, 23 Sep 2008

Noise Hurts

Studies show noise is a health risk

There is growing evidence that noise-related stress is a significant public health hazard. According to a report from the World Health Organisation, unwanted noise is causing hearing impairment including tinnitus, disturbing our sleep and triggering stress hormones which could in turn affect the immune system and metabolism.

It also makes us feel helpless and more aggressive and increases the chances of having a heart attack or stroke, accounting for an estimated 3% of ischeamic heart disease (the most common cause of death in the EU) in Europe. "There is increasing evidence that air and road traffic noise might be related to high blood pressure," says Stephen Stansfeld, professor of psychiatry at Barts and the London School of Medicine. "Exposure in school to aircraft noise is also linked to reading impairment in children."

Another study, by Cornell University in New York, found that workers in an open-plan office with constant exposure to hubbub from machinery, telephones and office chatter had higher levels of adrenaline in their urine than workers in a quiet, self-contained work station. The open-plan group were also less effective at puzzle solving than the quiet group, who slept better, had better digestion, and were less irritable.

"When people get annoyed by noise they get stressed," says Stewart, who went on to set up the National Noise Association pressure group. "Constant exposure to even moderate levels of noise can be harmful. One Austrian study showed that children living on a main road had shorter concentration spans than those who didn't."

More at The Guardian including a list of things to do.

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Mon, 01 Sep 2008

Tricky things

Over ten years ago while on a summer trip around England and Ireland, I thought I'd go and check out Bristol which at that time was supposed to be a happening spot - the likes of Massive Attack called Bristol home and there was reputed to be cool stuff happening. There wasn't. Not even a tiny bit. The venues were either for pyscho alkies of the ordinary kind or pyscho alkies of the student kind. In both kinds of places there wasn't much happening of interest musically.

The lower town had trolling groups of racist piglets who had sport in telling Japanese tourists to F*ck off. The upper town near the University was a somewhat nicer place. Leaving aside the mystery of how some towns can get like this and others escape, the highlight of the visit was bumping into Kerstin who was from another place and passing through and who I'd met in Shrewsbury... and who couldn't shed any light on any of Bristol's mysteries.

All that is by the way of introduction to Tricky's latest album, Knowle West Boy. Knowle West is a suburb of Bristol and is said to be not very nice, and not very nice in Bristol is actually fairly horrible ... and that is actually just the sort of thing you need for edgy, sharp statement if you can somehow survive the rest of it. Tricky certainly did and he's been putting out regular albums over the last decade while being mostly based in NYC and L.A. ... which probably annoyed some people but his tone has remained much the same.

This release has some gas too - some of the tracks almost mini-operatic in their changes and flow but without the pretension that "mini-operatic" might suggest. There's lots of life here - problems, serene moments, frantic moments, although the serene tends to be a heartbeat or two rather than a settled-in mood. It's flawed as well in maybe a little too much trickiness (sorry) on tracks such as Council Estate, or the somewhat flat guitar bits but flaws are life too, and music too - wasn't that what we liked about Punk or some of the Indy stuff? All in all, it's worth checking out. (thunderfinger)

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Sun, 06 Jul 2008

Acoustic Set

I really hated MTV's Unplugged series.What was the point, I thought, of taking someone like The Cure who's normal oevre was crafted layers of distorted electric guitar, synth, vocals and drums and sucking all the life out of it? Turning it into muzak! ... wimpy nonsense for non-music people! And no, I wouldn't listen to people who said that stripping things back revealed the beauty behind the thing. What it revealed was that some people will do anything for a buck and others just didn't get it. Commercially it was a great success of course, still might be for all I know.

And so I was mildly horrified to turn up for a night of the iTunes festival in Berlin ... a night featuring take-no-prisoners guitar rock from locals Jennifer Rostock and Essex's own, The Subways ... to discover that The Subways drummer, Josh, was sick, and that the remaining two, Billy and Charlotte, were going to do an 'acoustic set'. Yikes!

Jennifer Rostock is a five piece with Jennifer (?) doing the vocals and a lot of stage coverage. The locals are into to them straight away but the earlier songs smack too much for me of the Soviet-style pomp rock, with lots of overblown musical statements and a fair bit of histrionics from the singer as well. At the end of the set though we had some nice high-energy rock that set most feet moving.

Then a gap while the stage people set up for The Subways. I was hoping to catch a word with them and thought I would if they appeared in the public area (which Jennifer Rostock did). I thought, if they were closeted backstage there was a good chance they'd be working on what they were going to do and wouldn't be particularly thrilled to see me. They didn't appear outside and so after a beer on the terrace by the river,I went back in.

Not completely acoustic was the first good news. Charlotte's bass guitar and amp were onstage plus an acoustic guitar and chair for Billy. A Swiss girl asked me what they were like and I said 'who knows?! normally they rock more than somewhat'. They were onstage as kids and their combination of rocking seriously and pleasant innocence (no fake world-weary cynicism) drew a lot of fans to them - kids and adults. A few years later, they've been around the block a few times but the patina remains much the same, and the idea too, although the actual music is beginning to get more complex and a few of these sorts of songs will appear on the next album due sometime this year.

The actual gig wasn't too bad. It was, as it had to be, different. Billy sat and played and sang and yelled and Charlotte danced about doing her bass lines and yowling the odd line or two into her mic. She looked cute as a button as usual. And no-one walked out - in fact it was a very supportive audience - more power to them.

And so, The Subways semi-unplugged wasn't too bad. But this wasn't a gimmick: It was an effort to provide some sort of show and where the difficulty of the conditions created both a little danger onstage and quite a lot of involvement off it.

Kudos to the people at Radial System V for creating a nice atmosphere for the festival as well. (thunderfinger)

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Wed, 30 Apr 2008

Rimbaud and Rockers

Rimbaud was a French poet from the mid and late nineteenth century. He was a child prodigy lumped with the Fauvists for his vivid and exciting work which didn't resemble the usually more mannered poetry of the time, and which led to him being called, much later, the father of modern poetry.

He ran away from home a lot and ended up going to Paris from his home near the Belgian border after sending Verlaine one of his poems. He was invited to come and stay and the two became lovers. Together they roamed the netherworlds of Paris getting drunk on absinthe and generally being rowdy, abusive and unpleasant - a certain kind of rock 'n' roll tour. Amazingly enough, Verlaine's marriage survived this but not his increasingly violent behaviour later - He even shot Rimbaud in the wrist at one stage.

Rimbaud spent a little time in London living in Camden and hanging out at the library of the British Musueum (free pencils!) and then wandered Europe by foot. He gave up writing poetry at 21 or so - he was totally sick of being broke, for one thing - but kept up writing letters and ended up as some sort of agent in Africa and with a relationship with a local woman. He died in Marsailles, aged 37, from something nasty, with his sister Isabelle by his side.

It's a short, somewhat sad story. As far as the rockers go, Jim Morrison of the Doors was a big fan and no doubt based some of his antics on those of the man who went before - or at least the theory of the thing - shock and horror with literary pretensions. He might also have felt a kinship from the fact that both had military fathers who were at least distant. Rimbaud's father decided after a posting that he didn't even want to see his family anymore and went off to live by himself. Who can know if Morrison's last days in Paris involved some kind of Rimbaldian search and destroy mission? He was, by all accounts, sick of being a rock star and there's no doubt he wanted more serious recognition.

Another link comes through Television guitarist Tom Verlaine just because of the name he chose for himself and certainly, his angular, semi-minimal guitar work had great beauty and an obvious yearning to be closer to art then a yelled-over three minute thrash. At first glance it might not be apparent why the name Verlaine should be chosen at all but perhaps it was the louche loser thing that said 'Punk' quite clearly.

What of today? The Babyshambles guy certainly has the excess thing covered (and excess by itself is merely that) and shows threatening signs that he'd like to be taken seriously. Time will tell on that one but right now it looks like the Libertines might be a close as he'd come, and that isn't that close.

But what about the "art" thing generally? Some people with binary brains (off-on, black-white) like to think that the only valid sort of "popular" music is their sort - trash pop, classic rock, music with deep lyrics, music with no lyrics.. whatever. Of course, all the strands are valid - they just are - like it or not! And then what people see as a shambles at one time might be seen as art at another, like Rimbaud. (thunderfinger)

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Mon, 24 Mar 2008

Carpathian ....

Electronic folk? It covers a wide range, doesn't it. You can have same as it always was, except louder. You can have a psychedelic trip or you could have something that resembles the folk tradition with a little electricity more as an afterthought. For purists, there's nothing to be said other than 'bogus!'. For other people there might be something, depending on how it goes.

Joanna Newsom is a pleasant night out in this way and London's Hush the Many is as well although both are somewhat more complex musically than the folk tradition would allow or maybe it's better to say the academic folk tradition. Still, folk is more (or less) than just what folk are listening to at any given time. It has historic roots in both style and substance and the style is understood to be simple. When you start to hyphenate, anything goes of course, and the only thing the performer is really interested in is whether anyone will come along.

Hadamansky bill themselves as electronic folk from the Carpathians. What could that mean? The punters waiting for the gig to start weren't much of a clue as they included punks, students, your standard model beer monsters, and quite a few who looked like they'd just arrived from Eastern parts, as well as people who looked like they were after a bit of a knees-up and didn't much care where or what it was as long as it was loud and had a beat.

The five piece (or occasionally six) immediately tell us what they're about when they start playing fast and loud dance music from eons past. It's the celebration of some free moments, maybe even a special event. In the style of gypsy bands, there's quite a lot of skilled and fast trumpet playing as well as electric guitar, bass, drums plus a muscle-bound frontman who looks a little like a modern imagining of Genghis Kahn in a good mood.

After a little of this hell-for-leather stuff they break into more psychedelic things and there's a high standard of play throughout. The change doesn't seem to result in much in the way of raised eyebrows. Beers are being quaffed and people are dancing as best they can in the solid crowd.

So, maybe more for the World bin than the Folk bin and maybe not the thing for sleek urbans either. Thanks to Henning Kuepper for taking us along.

I'd better give Bleepfest Berlin 08 a plug as well. This runs from 8pm or so on Friday 28 March, through Saturday starting about 5pm going until late, and then Sunday is a chill/ambient/BBQ day starting at 2pm and going until 11 or so. There are artists from all over and it's usually a very groovy event - Three Days of Peace, Love, and Electronica!


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Fri, 29 Feb 2008

NYC Rock

I came across NYC Rock by Mike Evans just recently even though it's been in print since 2003. It covers NYC music from the 1900's on and aside from anything else gives some kind of style-guide to the changing times with the emphasis, unsurprisingly, being on rock and variants.

Aside from his assertion that NYC is the world's melting pot which is probably a hundred years out of date, there is a lot of interesting stuff here - the whole punk/new wave/no wave thing, the uncomfortable relationship between business and art (as it always was and will be), and the nexus between a lively experimental scene and the availability of suitably out-there clubs to show them off and introduce them - for which read "cheap rents" as being a major factor. What of Bloomberg/Guilianni's sanitised no-smoking NYC of today? Life is still there, it just moved outwards much as it has in London..

Evans also has words to say about the idea that the UK was the home of Punk. But actually, the UK was the home: NYC was the birthplace but band after band found they couldn't sell any records in the USA or even find places to play beyond the limited boundaries of a few clubs at home. The UK at the time provided them with both as well as critical appreciation.

The story gets a far as The Strokes, who never excited me as much as most everyone else, but still they did actually make a lot of people very excited. Today or a few days ago, from all accounts (I don't know, I haven't been there for years) Hip-hop fusion from the Bronx, with people like CocoRosie, is having a moment in the sun... but they don't get a mention. There are a whole lot of people that do, however, and the final bit is almost a trainspotter's guide to bands that were big in the 'urbs ... it's a little apt to make your eyes glaze over, but you could find someone special that's right in your line as well.

Speaking of New York, I was sent a single the other day called New York from a band called Cheap Hotel. I'm not sure that they are from NY but they well could be. They were billed as Punk which seems to be now talk for anyone with a little indy energy. Punk, for me, means chaotic energy, not necessarily Black Flag but certainly elements of that, a certain raggedness. Cheap Hotel aren't that at all, not on this single anyway. That doesn't make them bad either - they have a nice riff going and they do have energy but Punk they are not.

Lastly, if you're into indy electronica, and if you're going to be near Berlin, Germany over March 28, 29, 30 you should check out Bleepfest Berlin 08 as there will be talent there from all over. (thunderfinger)

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Tue, 05 Feb 2008

Commercial Women

Not so long ago Britney Spears had a new album out and there were quite a few nice words written by critics in the everyday media - angst of artist leads to best effort in years - that sort of thing. And then there were people who wrote something like - Jeez, gimmie a break, the Spear had as much to do with the creative content of the recording as she did with the weather in Moscow.

Well, I can't say I've ever taken her seriously but she did deliver a part of the performance and this puts me in mind of Marianne Faithful and Broken English. That was a wonderful raw and ragged thing that was written up as an MF effort. It wasn't. MF remains good at the same things as Paris, Britney etc, yawn, etc - that is to say, self-publicity and kiss-and-tell and that sort of thing. In fact Britney's latest is straight out of the MF playbook. Who was it behind Broken English? Barry Reynolds.

And then there's Kylie, who apparently had a fair bit to do with her own effort and received little credit for it except for being on the UK's Honours List - which might have been for being a Gay icon but I think it was for being entertaining. Yes, well, why not? I remember a few years ago being totally amazed at the amount of hatred and invective that was being heaped on her by her fellow Aussies (who make a fine sport of mean-spirited envy). That's like hating a daisy - not the most interesting flower perhaps, but one with a little charm and one that wouldn't rouse too much passion with normal people... either for or against. In a way, she's an update of Olivia Newton whatsit, who a Rolling Stone reviewer once described as "the sound of white bread singing". chortle.

Are these two the mainstream? Are we there yet? I don't know really but they are certainly more mainstream than most anything else I've talked about lately. They certainly are commercial.

And then there's Amy Winehouse. She's newer than the other two but is travelling a very old road just the same. She's allowed of course even if that road seems headed for the Devil's Crossroads ... or is it away, after? Lots of people are liking her atmosphere anyway, and the tabloids are happy to have someone else to write about. There is something there too. When she was first around there were mentions of Janis Joplin and I wrote a few scathing words at the time as her voice isn't in the same league as Big Brother era Janis. But that comparison was odious anyway, and a red herring. 2008 could be interesting as Mark Ronson has talked about "wall of sound". Updated Phil Spector, with some roughness and soul could be interesting. (thunderfinger)

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Mon, 03 Dec 2007

Creative Shambles

A while ago I had a few uncomplimentary words to say about the last Babyshambles album and having just heard the latest one, I thought I'd give you an update: it's better - not love it to bits, can't do without it better, but better all the same with some nice dirty guitar and some original-sounding songs.

The reason I mention them at all is just to highlight the problem of being original and having something to say, both musically and lyrically. There are plenty of bands who don't aspire to this at all - they tack themselves onto a genre, and away they go, hoping to get laid a lot and maybe even get a buck or two... until they grow up, when they'll get real jobs. I'm not sneering at them at all but my interest generally lies elsewhere.

Do the BS (sorry, couldn't resist it) belong in this grouping? I think they're groping to get out of the grouping and maybe when they're Teenshambles, they'll have found a voice. The fact that they're looking and groping commends them a little.

In contrast to this are people who hardly seem able to do the commonplace. They stand up and sing, or whatever, and many people don't have a clue what the hell they're talking about - that's the downside (in commercial terms anyway). The trick, of course, is to have a few accessibility handles that people can catch onto. Mstation interviews one such this month, Jessie Evans who, amongst other things, finds interesting places to put her sax playing - including artpunk bands.

The good news for all of us is that there's actually quite a lot of this sort of thing out there. You need to find it, and then you need to lack the need for hype to say it's alright to like it. In other words, thinking for yourself is good, even though it can be time-consuming.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Peace and Love, dude/tte. (thunderfinger)

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Thu, 01 Nov 2007

Metal existance

There's an album out from Nightwish called Dark Passion Play which has a sticker on it proclaiming them to be the best Metal band of all time. This could well be true, I suppose.

Listening to this album, it seems a little like light opera - Gilbert and Sullivan or Andrew Lloyd Webber for people who drink a lot lot of beer. I imagine the conversation amongst the band was quite similar to a legion of big guitar bands from the past who had sudden urges to do art and maybe similar to the one that pursuaded a band of old East German rockers (think long grey hair, gum chewing mean looks, and some almost cool single coil noises) to appear in front of one of Berlin's orchestras in the Gendamenmarkt. Though maybe this last was a simple case of deciding to take the money while it was there. In the other cases it had more than a little to do with wanting to get out of those black jeans and into a white caftan.

So, anyway, this thing from Nightwish is not the HM we might love or loathe - the cartoonish riffing for one thing is well back in the mix and there are all sorts of other more effete things scooting around in there. This is what you might expect from a Concept Album.

HM itself has a huge following right through Europe complete with mythology like the story of the Belgian event where beer drinkers are lined up drinking and peeing simultaneously. Basic is the word we want here - along with smelly. Belgium is also famous for techno parties where you pay something like 10 or 15 Euros in places like Lille in France, and then get bussed to an unidentified building in Belgium where you can drink all you want for no extra, and get pounded by techno of differing quality. Understandably, this is a popular way for students to lose a weekend or two.

I can't be too rude about HM though. The sheer basic exuberence of big guitar with the volume on 11 can lead to moments of primal exaltation.

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Sat, 29 Sep 2007

Exploring Europe

Next it's France. This place has always been interesting as it never really featured in the days when Rock mostly ruled but has really become a force since the advent of electronic dance music - this is forgetting, of course, the Chanson style, and people like Edith Piaf from long ago. You could make an argument that people like Charlotte Gainsburg, with her smooth Pop, is actually more of descendant of Piaf than of Elvis.

France didn't really get Rock (and no, I'm not forgetting Billy Halliday ... or is it one "l" ... who seems to be keen to be known as a Belgian these days) for a variety of reasons which I won't go into here as I'd have to write a book. Not that the French weren't appreciative of visiting real rockers: they were and are.

These days there's almost a French school of production in the electronic area, and it's smooth and clever, and has witty asides and frequent eclectic inclusions. We'll talk more of this later.

Germany, or rather Berlin, is interesting. Back in the days of Faust, the local label had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into releasing them as they really didn't want to be diverted from what they saw as their only business: shifting Bert Kaempfert and endless oopmpah bands. Things haven't changed much at all on the commercial front. And even in the Alternative/Indy world a lot of the labels seem to be suffering a severe case of head-up-bum.

The artists world is something else again, with a lively scene where all sorts of genres, and far-out sub-genres get by with a little help from their friends and the hugely important facts of relatively cheap living and open attitudes - the scene not just consisting of locals but of people who have come from all over. I've mentioned all this before but saying it twice can't do any harm.

Finding these people in shops somewhere else is just about impossible unless you live in one of the world's major cities where, even these days, you might find at least one shop that specialises in out-there stuff with "out-there" merely being defined as something that's not from a Big Music label. The best way to find them is to look around somewhere like Myspace, and then support the acts by buying from them directly.

Going back to the business of Rocking, there are, of course, lots of people who don't want to rock at all and lots who couldn't if they tried. Rocking isn't just a matter of tempo, timbre, and feel. Just like the Blues, there are subtleties all through the thing that separate the real from the fake. (thunderfinger)

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