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Hey there! Still alive apparently…

Evening there You may have noticed the lack of blogging activity over the last couple of weeks. Well this is not due to me throwing in the towel (Perish the thought! I’m not done just yet…), but alas my IRL commitments on my course are taking president. End of term exams, studying, and essays mean that i will be acting like a stressed out weasel over the next few weeks. And that’s even before it comes to the hell that is looking for a job in downtown Reykjavik over the summer. This means having to jostle with competition that, while more callow and possibly not as sharp in the head dept, are naturally more hip, thinner and less cynical than yours truly lol.

I’ll still be making small micro posts as I’m still writing pieces for the Grapevine (Shit, I’ve just remembered that i need to get an interview organised!!), because I get paid for doing that. anything that appears online will end up on here.

In the meantime, have a decent Easter and i think you should all go and buy ‘Thrusters,’ the top notch record from UK bonkers tone bender NOCHEXXX on Ramp Recordings. it will do you the world of good!

Seeya!

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Icelandic culture update pt 2,435…..

the latest update of the best in Icelandic culture, seeping in frm my Tv and social meeejah feeds. THE BEST OF THE BEST!

(The last one made me laugh my arse off tbh, lol)

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Music moment: Ekoplekz, Dat der “Unfidelity” Album

Very busy and distracted right now.

I mean, between ripping off scribd so I can get hold of two books about Czech cinema so I can scrape several needed essays and spending the last 3 hours trying to juggle 4 or 5 different things in the air, then you’re lucky that I’m actually devoting the 30 minutes that’s needed to get these words down to inform you of something that I think that you really need to hear.

You’ve gotta hand it to Nick “Ekoplekz” Edwards. The man is like the neo-industrial energizer bunny in how me conducts his music making endeavors today. He could have been like my good self and just settled with writing about music under his Gutterbreakz name (I’m currently working my way through his archives. the fucker is so right about Paul McCartney!), But instead he’s gone back to the dark side and has been carving out urban inflected beats made from the broken flotsam of lo-fi hardware, unsettling hauntological memories of misspent youth, and shattered acid dub dreamz of our post-rave society. Like contemporaries such as Shackleton and regular collaborator Baron Mordant, he’s managed to find and carve out his own negative zone where despite the constant digital deluge of music occurring these days, hardly anyone is doing what he’s doing. It’s actually very refreshing in its uniqueness.

The first I heard of his music was back a few year ago when I heard his “Pro Rebus” track on you tube. Can’t remember where from though, probably on Simon Reynolds’ blog most likely. But since then I’ve been keeping a fairly close tab on his stuff and thee’s been a fair slew of tapes, mixes, CDrs and downloads over the last few years. Some of CDr albums I’ve heard such as tended to be more abstract in structure, coming close to corrosive noise. I personally found myself warming more to the stream of EPs that he’s done with Mordant Music, Public information and Perc Trax, where he mixes fractured and splintered melodic lines and loops with some heavy modern dub leanings (check here, here and here for further listening). But what’s been really interesting is his collaborations with Bass Clef (Ekoclef) and with Mordant Music (eMMplekz). eMMplekz in particular last year produced the amazing “Nothing In Here Of Any Value / No Show” 12″, and the seething misanthropic “Your Crate Has Changed,” which were both essential 2013 listens up here at chez Sex Farm.

And now 2014 seems him inching slowly but surely into the big time with “Unfidelity,” on Planet Mu records. You can tell right away that his sound is now much more refined, with a lot more work going into the production and mastering, But despite the glistening oscillating waveforms, it’s still undeniably an Ekoplekz record to the core. in some points he’s tapping into that plasmic, tactile aspect of early Aphex Twin in how the both seem to be informed by their SW England environs, Aphex Twin with Cornwall, Nick with the Bristol area. “Severn Beach” captures the ambiance of post industrial semi-urban life next to the sea, echoing the smells and flashbacks to my own homesteads back in shetland and The Wirral. Meanwhile you’ve got punning titles like “Sleng Zen” that warps and pays homage to the Bristol dub legacy.

Since I bought the album last month,  I’ve found myself wallowing in its mossy analogue trenches and always end up coming out at the end smelling of roses. And from seeing the positive response to “Unfidelity” across the board (Even from th sad sack dad rock magazines), It´s so good to see Nick finally getting some form of reward and recognition for his efforts. Just listening to his music is giving me scheming ideas… lots of them

Do him a favour and get his album from Planet Mu, HERE, right??

goodnight…

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in music

 

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The Sunday Cult Film Corner: “The Last Dragon (1985)”

Back in the mid 1980s there was a rise in what you would call the “Oriental Hollywood action movie.” Despite his death in the ’70s the kung fu films of Bruce Lee had left their mark and this was to receive a revival with films such as The Karate Kid, The Golden Child, and Big Trouble In Little China. Meanwhile we were seeing the rise of the 2nd wave of martial arts stars with Jackie Chan starting to make waves and a Belgian known as Jean-Claude Van Damme was making his first forays as an action star with No Retreat. No surrender, while a lumpy idiot of an aikido instructor known as Steven Segal was waiting in the wings.

But out of all these film there was one film that was more crazed, ludicrous and out there, mixing the martial arts, blaxploitation, and pop music video genres into a big steaming mess. For this week’s edition of the Sunday Cult film Corner, i give to you THE LAST DRAGON.

THE LAST DRAGON was directed in 1986 by Michael Schulz, who was pretty much your TV/straight to video director gun for hire (credits include Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Scavenger hunt, and bustin’ Loose) and was produced by Berry Gordy, who is best known as the founder of Motown Records. The main character of the film is Leroy Green who was played by real life martial art expert Taimak. In the film he is often referred to as “Bruce Leroy,” in a direct allusion to Bruce Lee. Leroy is a student in New York, who hopes to master the techniques of “the glow,” thereby becoming a great a martial arts master.

In his quest to under and achieve the secrets of “the glow,” he must defeat an evil martial arts expert known as Sho’nuff, who calls himself “The Shogun Of Harlem,” and whose gang terrorizes the local neighbourhood. He also ends up saving (and falling for) the presenter of a music video show who is being threaten by a gangster to play his girlfriend’s music videos. All the while he continues his training and teaching, so that he can become “the master.”

There’s a strong air of the ludicrous about THE LAST DRAGON. most of this is down to the two main protagonists. Leroy has the distant mannerisms of an innocent abroad, looking like a Chinese peasant,  wearing oriental clothing and even a Chinese straw hat in downtown New York. he even looks and speaks like early ’80s Michael Jackson, with evident shyness and halting delivery. He does jackson style yelps and “whoo hoo!”s when he does his fighting action stuff! Meanwhile Sho’nuff looks more like he should be an extra in Mad Max 2, with his crazy cape costume, bug eyes and wild hair (“Im’a gonna git you sucker!”). He looks absolutely mental and is clearly the best thing in the film, as Julius J. Carry III chews up and steals every scenes that he’s in. Out of the other actors, everyone here does their job albeit not spectacularly. Watch out though for an early appearance by William H Macy as a gopher producer on the video TV show.

THE LAST DRAGON was shot completely on location in New York and the film does seem to catch the melting pot of life and attitudes in NYC in the mid’ 80s. Chinese, blacks and Hispanics works and live cheek by jowl, while the film definitely catches the flavour of the hip hop  and dance pop scenes of the city. And it certainly catches the flavor of the styles and looks of the ’80s – power suites, shoulder pads, movies videos that ape Prince and Cyndi Lauper. Definite cheese alert here. Meanwhile the obvious pop culture references to Bruce Lee and enter the dragon are aplenty. His images infect several scenes in the film with characters in the film finding themselves copying key moments (such as the elderly Chinese man in the movie theatre).

ironically the thing that falls down the most in THE LAST DRAGON is the actual martial arts scenes themselves, which are too few and far between and often lack the thrill and energy of other films from that time. But in a weird way it doesn’t really matter as THE LAST DRAGON clearly doesn’t take itself seriously in any meaningful sense of the word. Many of the scenes make you laugh out loud, sometimes unintentionally.

It’s well-known that African American culture was clearly impressed upon by the kung fu genre and took to a cultural exchange between the two spheres in a big way. Whether it was the popular spectacle of the kung fu theater of the 1970s, or music Carl Douglas’  Kung Fu Fighting and Wu Tang’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), to anime series such as Afro Samurai and Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog. The idea of the cool, zen master who was able to control his actions and his environment through iron will, while also kicking the ass of all those who threaten him. For many in black culture these facets were assimilated to provide an image of the black kung fu action hero. THE LAST DRAGON, despite its inherent cheesiness and cartoon style narrative, can definitely been seen as a worth addition to the canon of the African american/martial arts genre.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2014 in Film

 

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Compare & Contrast: Passionate Frontmen and the idea of “Charisma”

Two following performances by two bands, both for TV.

Both contain what could be considered seminal performances by the singer/frontmen.

There are similarities in both performances. The lack of conventional charm. A certain uncool “dorkiness.” The arresting movements that are linked to their music (intense, twitchy, spasmodic Vs loping, sweeping. “bopping”). A disregard for the norms of what is considered the standard rules of performance.

There are words that could be used by people to describe these performances –  intense or passionate. But the most likely one would be charismatic. It’s interesting, we’ve been looking at school into star personas and the idea of charisma and Max Weber’s Idea of charismatic authority, with special attention to the likes of Brando’s early performances in films such as “On The Waterfront” (It’s actually unnerving how much Future Island’s frontman Samuel Herring actually looks like early Brando!). the idea that you can win an audience over mere by the force of their personality that is greater than mere talent or charm. Weber defines charisma as thus

[A] certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These are such as are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader [...] How the quality in question would be ultimately judged from an ethical, aesthetic, or other such point of view is naturally indifferent for the purpose of definition.

[...]

Charisma knows only inner determination and inner restraint … and [the leader] demands obedience and a following by virtue of his mission. His success determines whether he finds them. His charismatic claim breaks down if his mission is not recognized by those to whom he feels he has been sent. If they recognize him, he is their master—so long as he knows how to maintain recognition through proving himself.

There are differences in the intended charisma of these two though. Curtis has got that impenetrable distance in his body language, before he explodes at the end. Those eyes giving off that “Thousand Yard Stare” into nothingness that, even before his journey to deathwish oblivion, is slightly unnerving. Herring though is all about the masculinity and the physical expression of his passion. The chest beating, the tightly held fist, the reaching out into thin air. The way he smiles and nods, has shades of the evangelic preacher about the nature of the performance as he bares his soul and beseeches the audience

This could be also due to the song itself which compared to “Transmssion” is lacking that sense of urgency. It’s as if Herring is doing the emotive heavy lifting for the entire band, injecting that urgency through the passion his performance alone (Joy Division in this respect come across more as a unit of totality). He’s sweating buckets by the end.

 

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in music

 

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Linkbait: “You don’t even actually like music, you are just a whore,” and other bullshit gender biases in music appreciation…

A really good, searing piece in Jezebel this week by music writer Tracey Moore, about the level of gender bias inherent in how people react to women writing about music, especially in the areas such as rock, metal and indie.

It was prompted after “My Husband’s Stupid Record collection,” a site about a non-music loving woman writing reviews of her husband’s large vinyl collection, went viral around the internet. Moore picked up on the telling gender slant in the responses towards a woman who wasn’t seen as a music writer and to those who write about music full-time for a living. As she notes;

But as someone who also wrote about music professionally while female, I can’t help but notice the jaw-dropping difference in response to a woman who sits down to riff on music as an admitted outsider being greeted with an enthusiastic thumbs-up by dudes, VERSUS being a woman who sits down to riff on music as an insider and being greeted with a shit-fuck-ton of vitriol by dudes. The latter experience would be mine. But more on that in a waxy minute.

Moore goes on to describe the levels of vitriol that she and other female music critics often receive from male musicians, fans and industry wonks. and jeeeez, it’s fucking disgusting. Many of  the insults and slurs often border on that of sexual violence. If it’s not this, then they find that men simply can’t believe that they could write about music in a knowledgeable way. The message they encounter is simple – that women couldn’t possibly be into, or be able to write about music the way dude music nerds can.

Some more quotes;

This is why it’s not really about Sarah O’Holla at all, though I certainly sympathize with how she feels post-scrutiny. And in her defense, I want to say something: Coming at music like you don’t know dick about it (pun intended) is a valid way to approach it. It’s not traditional criticism, but it’s useful. I’ve always hated the sense that there is only one way to talk about music. Decades of male-centric rock criticism — the obsessive, cataloging, record-collecting, liner-notes driven, grading variety — reminds me that we could use more writing that approaches music innocently. Too often, we forget what records are for anyway — cleaning your house, getting ready on Saturday night, going out for drinks, FUCKING DANCING. This is anathema to the traditional critic, who couldn’t give a fuck what you play the record for, but this is why most people don’t give a fuck how a record has been reviewed, either. Critics often appear to write to other critics, and that is why criticism often deserves every punch in the softballs it gets.

This bit made this obsessive, cataloging male music nerd wince, because she’s aiming that snark at the likes of me. And in many ways, she’s absolutely right. We often end up spending our time dominating discussions IRL and online, trying to score points about how we know oh so much more than everyone else. 

I can see this being acted out a bit a local level. There’ve been some great female writers who’ve written about music in Icelandic media and the GV, and I’ve haven’t seen them receive the abuse that Moore has received locally. But more than once I’ve spoken to female writers who’ve expressed anxiety and concern about writing music reviews. The reason? They felt that they didn’t know enough about music to be able to provide a “proper” opinion about the music. Of course their opinion is just as valid, but it definitely points to the dominance of the idea that in order to write about music “properly” you need to be a (mostly male) music nerd. Even though I am a boring nerd, this idea fills me with dread and resentment.

Moore again;

My favorite magazine has always been Maximum Rocknroll – I’ve been reading it since I was 12. But some of the people that review records for Maximum lived for that punk thing of, ‘I know more about music than everybody else.’ The only way you can review music is by saying it sounds like this band, then you get the fucking record and it doesn’t sound anything like that. I want to hear, ‘I listened to this record and it made me go out into my garage and eat half a box of ho hos and smash stuff.’ That will get me to listen to a record. I think there needs to be a shift in music writing. Actually, no. I think everyone should be able to write about whatever they want, but I would like to see more people writing about music that write about it differently. I just want to hear about how the record made you feel.

Easier said than done. I remember one example, when local writer and poet Angela Rawlings wrote a couple of years ago about rock bands at Iceland Airwaves. it was a great read, very different in style and form to what would normally be expected for those bands. But many in the rock/metal community expressed utter befuddlement or suspicion with it. “this review makes absolutely no sense,” I recall one well-known metal musician saying on his FB feed. that and the replies seemed to tell that they felt she didn’t know what she was talking about, because she wasn’t an “insider.”  

Mind you, it ties in with this from Ian Rogers about the recent spate of thinkpieces attacking music writers for not knowing enough about music theory. There’s always a perennial scuffle going on about what music writing should “look” like and “be about,” and if the above is anything to go by, we’re often still mired in the same tired, reductive self-important clichés.

I for one would thoroughly welcome more women locally coming forward with strident opinions about what good music should be. The different aspects/approaches/ideas that having a more female centered approach to music writing could at least provide a chink in the whole music writing as tick-boxing-your-music-tastes that certainly is the dominant form. As the squire Reynolds notes

 I actually think it is even more arrogant in a way when music writers just present their eclectic tastes for the world to contemplate and don’t attempt to make a coherent aesthetic of them. I mean, why I should care that you like X, and Y, and Z, and P, and L? If you can’t bother to try and make some larger claim for the aggregate of all your disparate taste positions and aesthetic reactions, than why should I pay any attention?

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Music Moment: Nine Inch Nails, “Recoiled [Full Album]“

Well I’m putting in the order for this album, even if it is being released on the slightly dodgy, olde-English-wyrd-musicks-as-front-for-BNP-tendencies label Cold Spring.

So a NIN/Posthumous Coil remix EP. Now here’s something that does interest me a fair bit. Been listening to the tracks over the weekend. Compared to some of the bombast you get with some of NIN (even the remixes), here everything comes across as more sombre and degraded, it’s soul weakened by the ravages of the world. The entire EP just sounds sick, both in sonic and metaphysical terms.

Of course that remix of “Gave Up Open My eyes” does contain souped-up drum breaks/edits along with some decidedly sharp, punky guitars. All you need to do is imagine The Prodigy in their “using real instruments live” phase.  But then things seems to get all hazy, everything a Gaussian blur. Both “Closer Unrecalled” definitely has that whole spatial, pondering Post Punk doom that the likes of Fra Lippo Lippi used to do, while “The Downward Spiral (A Gilded Sickness)”  sounds more like something that could have come from former neo-industrialists Young Hunting. Trent’s no longer giving his pained rock howls, instead being reduced to a haunted crackled whisper. No bombastic rock guitars, just looped bleeps and signals. “Eraser (Reduction)” is simply the sound of civilisation going down the plughole to be honest.

The “Recoiled EP,” hints at alternative artistic paths and futures that could have been – Either that of a Grandstanding industrial rock band losing itself to a morass of smeared drone and noise experimentation, or possibly a couple of filthy recidivists using mainstream electro rock as a front to infect the young with all sorts of nasty chaos magick viruses!

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2014 in music, Video

 

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