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Category Archives: Video

ICYMI: The rise of album trailers and real/fake/whatever artistry….

Our man Loki recently posted this about a “trailer/poster” for the new album from Palmbomen on RVNG Intl.

In his short but sweet post, he refers to such videos as opera posters, that they are “a culture in themselves, somehow distinct from the performance they’re referring to.”

These are becoming a thing aren’t they? have been for a little while; Something that’s more than a mere teaser on soundcloud or Youtube. I’ve recently seen the following blasts from Liturgy (that seems to have elements of esoteria and Jodorowsky), and an intriguing trailer from Low Jack (incorporating some dressmaking)

Loki then says “it seems that the slow democratization of PR is now in full force.” Mind you when we now have metalheads making fake ad campaigns with fully forms “bands” and “songs” supposedly done to troll corporations, then we seem to be creating/warping/smashing the language of authenticity, marketing and desire (one of the fake bands, MORTUS, is actually a name used by several real bands!). Hear that? that’s the sound of all types of referentiality collapsing in on itself. You no longer have any idea what is fake reality, or real fakery.

Simulacra for dummies kids!

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Video

 

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Music Moment: Kelela, “A Message”

apropos to my previous Björk post, here is an example of the new rockin’ FKA/Arca/#Feelings digi-baroque sensibility in effect. Production naturally or course comes from Arca, who seems to be bloody everywhere right now (probably created several digital clones all jacked up to hyper-fast liquid-meth broadband so he can work on all those projects he’s currently doing). but while he can sometimes blow hot and cold, but on this one he completely nails it.

but of course it’s the sensuous visuals that do it for me. The use of lighting at first monochrome, then with cool UV blue, renders her skin first as bronzed stature, then with a metallic finish. The jerky, but smooth body movements and distorted backwards cinematography give her body that whole complementary “cool” media sensate cyborg dimension.

And the comes the animated sequence where everything become fluid and bubbling with hints of Akria at the erupting and dividing flesh. Both the video and song is music that is pretty much of the now. i like!

Goodnight

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2015 in Video

 

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Music Moment: Björk “Lionsong” and “Family”

Evening all

So as part of my studies at the University of Iceland, there is a website/part journal for the Arts & Humanities faculty student called SIRKUSTJALDIÐ. It’s not been going for long (A little over a year), but the point of the site is to foster and develop critical debate among the students there. Actually get them to use some of dat der theory we’re stuffing in our craniums outside of the classroom.

I was asked if I could perhaps do some writing for them. And I’ve written a couple of pieces for them. alas you can’t seem them yet as it’s an Icelandic site and therefore all my essays have to be translated (I really do feel for them on that score, especially if I went all beat-cyberpunk poetry on them!).

For my first essay, I wrote a piece about our resident Iceland Queen Banshee, BJÖRK, and her current album Vulnicura. the thing is that I don’t actually talk about the music as such. It’s not that I think that the music is bad. Actually it’s really good, but I personally found the whole theme of her doing a “breakup” album to be the least interesting part of the whole release. instead I riffed for 2000 words on the imagery of the album art and the video trailer to her MoMA retrospective, noting the aesthetic similarities with her ’90s explorations re: Trans-and-posthumanism, and techno-hybridisation (digital liquid flesh, etc, etc). I also noted the connections with today internet aesthetic tribes from PC music to Health goth, and how they are have an affinity in that they are also mining ’90s digiculture aesthetics, something that she was doing the first time around. Instead of a situation of an artist latching onto the cool kids in a bid to stay relevant, it’s more like the other way round. She’s their internet mother hen basically. If you’ve ever heard her mix that she recently did with Tri-Angle records on Rinse FM, she was dropping stuff that was waaaaay more current and forward-looking that what most parochial fools round here would even bother listening to.

So hopefully people will enjoy the essay when it eventually comes out (I’ll post it here in English), but while we’re waiting, Björk has dropped two music videos to accompany the album. So what I’m writing here is a bit of a epil-prologue (is that even a thing?).

The first one is for the track “Lionsong.” This has Björk in her “fetish cyborg” form alluded to in the images from her digital rush-release. You’ve got a chest (her own presumably) wrapped tight and heaving, throbbing, and squirming underneath, a shiny casing, while we see Björk moving and twirling in front of the camera. As well as the shiny, smooth surfaces that come from her body suit, what is interesting is the cloudy wisps of light that constantly surround her. they seem to act like a mix of aura, pollen release and digital bio-electric fields. It looks great tbh. Slippery emotions when wet.

And then along came the second video, this time for “Family.” Now this one is a different kettle of shiny fish, taking its cure from the “exploding digiflesh” art for the physical release. the beginning  seem to show the Björk “statue” at night. You can definitely see the kinship with the visual textures of Arca/Jesse Kanda’s videos – a mix of glistening metallic planes and melted plastic, luminous, yet weirdly artificial. We eventually see Björk statue as a rocky crop being reanimated by some kind of Gel. She then proceeds to mend the gaping hole in her heart with beads and augmented reality thread before emerging chrysalis-like from her shell, reborn. Compared to the previous video, it’s definitely way more ambitious in her thinking. Ideas of rebirth, nature, and inorganic materials coming together in a rather coherent yet ambitious way.

Goodnight…

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2015 in live music, Video

 

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Music Moment: Richard and Linda Thompson, “I want to see the bright lights tonight”

yabber….

I’ve a small confession to make. It seems that for quite a while now I’ve been on a bit of a folk music bender. no, wait don’t run away! come back!

Anyway as I was saying, this happens every so often. i do listen to my favourite albums and my banging electronic music, but then I find myself getting drawn towards the open sounds and wide pastures of yore, etc.

It probably started off slowly when i reviewed that Benni Hemm Hemm album at the end of last year. Damn thing is still great and definitely the hallmark of a musician who has matured and now making music for adults to be listen to by adults. Since then there’s been a gradual but sudden surge in the albums I’ve been listening to that have been of the definitely folky variety. Alasdair Robert’s latest albums collaboration, The Hirta Songs, which had a true calling of home I have to admit I haven’t felt in a while. Then there was that debut EP from local artist ADDA, one of the few Icelandic pieces of music I’ve actually played on a repeat basis on my CD player in 2014.

And then over the last month or so I’ve inadvertently found myself checking out some of the people I’ve known from way back in the old country (Shetland). People like Inge Thompson and Kevin Henderson, whose performance at this year’s live streaming of Shetland Folk Festival as part of the Nordic Fiddlers Bloc I checked out on the internet. I was actually taken aback a little with how good the fiddling was in terms of melodies, rhythms and textures. It was rather stirring stuff.Probably will need to send him a line to tell him that.

I do admit that in my younger years I was definitely a little turned off a bit by what they call the heuchter cheuchter old-time reel-based folk stuff. I mean, why would you want to listen to that when you have indie music groove and rave music to dance to? But perhaps it’s the maturing and advancing of my years that have caused me to look back and realise that even back then, folk music left its indelible mark inside me. Like a cultural sleeper cell waiting to explode in your mind once you were ready to take on its liminal qualities, as well as the wonders of a good eightsome reel

I mean take this album, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, the second album from folk legends, RICHARD AND LINDA THOMPSON. I first heard this album, what, only a couple of years ago. But even though the fact that it’s forty fucking years old, it still manages to sound more vital than a lot of the modern folk music that I hear these days. You hear a lot of what is classed as folk music today, and it’s all clean and well to do and proper, but it seems to have this “lack,” as if it they are merely taking the components of what people would call a “folk” sound without it being connected to anything really tangible in terms of placing it to what made the music folky in the first place. People. Places. Events. that sort of thing. I do admit I have some fairly stringent ideas about what folk music should be about and i find that this lack of connect to the world around us turns me off a lot of what I do hear these days.

People have always fought over the idea and soul of folk music through the ages, whether it was Cecil Sharp and his notions of the rural Arcadia, or the purist dogma of Ewan MacColl et al versus the expansive aesthetics of the folk movement of the late ’60s. These days, the quest for purity has led to a lot of really bad stuff, such as the putrid neo-folk movement. a bunch of wannable nationalists harking over a false romantic utopia of history that never existed, or the truly conservative sound and boundaries of the new folk movement of Mumford, etc, and whatever they’re playing over in Williamsburg these days.

But then you look at Richard and Linda with this album and you can see just how good folk was, is, and can still be. What you have to remember is that at this time, they were blazing a similar path made by the like of the incredible String Band and mixing Celtic, North African, and Indian raga sounds with their own English singing sounds. It had one foot in the past and a foot in more than one world in the present. The fact that they ended up the end of the decade as practitioners of the Islamic sufi faith (apparently Richard is still a practicing Muslim), flies in the face of the cheesy, UKIP poisoned, ruddy-faced nationalism that you see in so much of today societal discourse.

All of the songs are so spare, rough and ready, but everything is there in its place and is used for full effect, whether it´s a celtic accordion, a dulcimer, or Richard’s scratchy electric guitar. but it’s Linda’s voice that is the winner here. Songs such as “Withered and Died” and. “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight” and “Has He Got a Friend for Me” have that sheer simplicity in their execution that sometimes makes you do a slight aural double take. Especially with their country sound where today people often insist of using an Americana twang, even if they come from somewhere, like Lincoln for instance. The album is just pure class, one of the great folk albums of it´s time. Ohhhh yeah. I’m off to have several beers….

Goodnight

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2014 in music, Video

 

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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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Smashing the System Update Post: Íslenskur Heimilisiðnaður and Bram E. Gieben

I remember a few years ago writing a woolly-headed think piece wondering where all the protest songs had gone in Iceland and abroad. Music seemed concerned with aesthetics and fun times but not with politics. I ended up saying that perhaps it wasn’t the music that was the problem per se, but it was more to do with the fact that many people felt themselves as apolitical and disconnected with music as a social force for change.

Since I wrote that, much better writers such as Mark Fisher (Writing for the Wire end of year review) pondered on the soundtrack of Dissent in the UK in 2011. You should read it. In it he notes that there was definitely a soundtrack to the protests of that year, but that all the music was strangely devoid of politics and ideas, The “politically conscious” music of previous era’s was incapable of articulating our present anger, fears and issues. What was required was a “specifically 21st century form of political music.”

But alas we now live in a cultural world where music is now defined by curatorial, consumerist, tastes. Investment without divestment. I Like this/you like that. Your own taste is paramount. In the past your music acted as a soundtrack that helped define your politics, and helped inform the choices. But these days making choices, taking sides, identity-as-stance-as-moral-choice is something that seems to fall outside of what music does for us today.

Despite such pessimism, there are people who still want to use music as a tool, a vehicle to convey their despair and anger at a political class that seem totally broken and incompetent.

First up is a secretive, anonymous artist/group called Íslenskur Heimilisiðnaður who sent an e-mail a couple of days ago with a link to a video for a song called “Að sjálfsögðu.” For non-Icelanders, there has been mucho drama in Iceland of late. The independence/progressive party coalition govt recently pulled out of negotiations with the EU, even though they promised everyone that the nation would have a referendum on whether to join the EU or. This has caused a lot of protests over the issue, and although while this is a big issue, the EU debate seems to have been a flash point for people to vent their despair and frustration with a coalition govt who seems to be trying to do their best to enact an ideological power/land grab and not care about who or what gets fucked in the process.

On initial viewing the video and song itself is, to be honest, a fairly rudimentary affair. You’ve got a rumbling, thumping kick beat and a simple snare roll, with bass gurglings and a rather nice synth arpeggio line. There’s no lyrics, manifestos or messages, just vocals samples of news reporters, the prime minster, and various govt flunkies caught in their endless cycle of bullshit. I suppose there is no need to talk/sing about how awful the situation is when our local politicians seem to be able to show this perfectly without any prompting. Despite the abstract nature of the track, it does grow on you after several listens. And it’s definitely way better than some of the frankly insipid, inconsequential nonsense that passes for artistic protest in Iceland these days.

Straight after this video came out, our old mucker, Bram E. Gieben, aka  TEXTURE, released a short film of him performing a spoken word piece titled “Burn.” The video has all the signs of post-scarcity decay. An abandoned factory, chilled flat, dull light, and dragon’s breath in the air, with a droning, sulphurous ambient piece as the soundtrack. Bram, sporting a crumpled suit, sounds tired and desperate due to his situation as he tells us the reasons as to why he is “burning all his money.” The poem drips with despair and nihilism. He knows that this soul cleansing deed he is undertaking is utterly pointless, but he feels that he has nowhere left to turn to have a voice. The institutions and the society we were promised have failed us utterly, so he is checking out. Fuck the world. Fuck me. Fuck you.

Listening to Bram’s flow and style, it reminded me little of this track, but frankly the video and lyrics in that are whiny and naive in comparison. Bram’s definitely telling the situation as it is happening right now. If we haven’t already fallen into the abyss, then it´s gonna happen soon. Very soon.

Keep doing the right thing comrades!

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in music, Uncategorized, Video

 

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Music Moment: Machinedrum, “Rise N Fall”

Evening all….

Goddamn things just feel busy right now. Of course they’re not, not in the literal you-have–a-million-deadlines-that-have-to-be-done-yesterday sort of thing. But the last week has seen my spare time spent ripping some very creaky old Icelandic vinyl records so they can be converted to MP3 files. I thought my mate Sævar was only going to give me a couple of records, but naturally he gave me more than a dozen LPs and nearly a dozen 7″ records. It’s taken me a week just to rip them and that’s even before i get to cleaning/tagging/converting the files. I’ll tell you all bout it sometime…

And to top it all off, I only went and spilt kjötsúpa over my keyboard at the weekend, so mow everything is gunky and stick, even after a clean up. Sigh… another new keyboard is required by the end of this month it seems. I can barely type the letter “a” as it is!

Oh, if you have the time, then go over the Grapevine’s airwaves site, as Haukur gets stuck into the colface wheb he speaks to Högni from the band Hjaltalín. Apparently it was a very intense experience, calling each other between the USA and Siberia. But the results make for compelling reading…

As for tonight’s listening – well I’m not one to make rash judgments (It´s a mug’s game apparently), but once in  while you get an album and you think in your heart of hearts that it should be given a lofty title and prediction towards its implied greatness. And for me this should go to ‘Vapor City,’ the latest album from MACHINEDRUM. It´s only received middling reviews from the likes of the Guardian and the NME, but as they usually know fuck all about dance and electronic music in general, then they can safely be disregarded. For me though I do truly believe that this is an album that could (and should) be this generation’s version of LTJ Bukem’s ‘Logical Progression.’

Why do I say this? well firstly the way he meshes and weaves DnB and footwork styles into a propulsive skittery frame that allows his sounds to hang off them so easily. His grooves are smoooooth as cream. The second is the ambient sounds he makes. With an obvious debt to Burial in the specifically placed vinyl cracks and rustles, the ambient sounds he produces are full of snippets of deep emotive vocal sighs and murmurs, stretched till they provide a glistening skin of aural desire. This album may have been released on Ninja Tune, but really its spiritual home is that of Tri Angle Records, home of numerous melted, hypnotic sounds and electronic/vocal mutations.

The track “Rise N Fall” is for me the best example of the albums style. Starting off with a vocal cry that’s submerged running underneath a clean simple bassline and a tightly wound junglist breakbeat, it slowly raises above the surface as the vocal sound multiplies and builds on itself, until it takes on a slightly devout,, almost divine aspect, all the while contrasted by the slipped, repeated vocal sample that pushed the track to its final place.

This track is just so luxurious and thick in sound, you can just hear it numerous times and not get bored with it. It´s an album that contains many slow burn floor movers, as well as head tunes that allow you  to disconnect from your daily grind. Essential.

Goodnight….

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2013 in music, Video

 

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