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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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