Thursday, May 27, 2010

krautopia


The Man-Machinei have been fortunate enough to catch a doc about krautrock. i've always hated the name and i don't believe it has anything to do with being part german. it always struck me as an odd term because the groups that were considered krautrock had very little in common with each other outside of their desire to make something new.

these bands went about creating music in very different ways and gave birth to huge musical acts like tangerine dream, kraftwerk and amon duul. some of them incorporated synths some used found sound and some just invented new ways to use what most would consider standard rock instruments. the atmosphere of ingenuity and passion was the type of thing that doesn't happen often and when it does you can't help but get excited or scared because of it.

i think the most amazing part of this show was how the groups that pioneered so many of these sounds and made experimental music more acceptable in the eyes of the mainstream press are still making music. some of them are still doing similar things with the same gear they had in the 70s and 80s but they're still doing what they love and that's making noise. beautiful, wonderful, complex and misunderstood noise.

as a side note to the main story of who these men and women were the doc attempts to highlight a part of history that was covered up and strangely forgotten by some germans and british alike. while there was a general feeling of uneasiness among young germans growing up in the post war era of reparations and heavily policed borders to the east. many in the younger generation wondered why no one spoke about the war and their involvement or how so many people just pretended they didn't know anything was happening. while germany was in denial, britain was doing a bang up job reminding everyone that would listen that the germans lost and the british had won. germans were ridiculed constantly in british media so it was no surprise that the name krautrock was born on british soil. the term was obviously meant as an insult but it doesn't seem like many of the performers working under that umbrella even noticed or cared. there was perhaps more confusion than anything else. one poster for a tangerine dream show in the uk read, "at one time they bombed us. now they return with synthesizers!" maybe it was the promoters idea of showing the public how far those poor misguided germans had come since losing dubya dubya too?

all i know is that i want to go home and record the sound of things breaking.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

imagine the beginning of a journey, not in time but in the mind.

The Mighty Boosh Special Edition DVD (Seasons 1-3)the mighty boosh are an anomaly in the world of comedy. two men throwing ideas at you so fast that you just can't keep up no matter how hard you try over and over until things click and it feels like you've been along for the ride the entire time.

that may not make sense and that's alright because the boosh don't make sense. anyone that tells you it does make sense after the first viewing is lying. the whole point of the show is that it doesn't make sense and invites you to come for a ride to a fantasy world of talking gorillas, rodent raves, a simpleton moon and impossibly good hair.

i found out about these lads from a one pager lying around the office. it wasn't even entirely dedicated to their show and gave quick bits about several other shows that were coming out at the same time. the fact that steve coogan was the executive producer helped sell me but all i read was, "howard and vince are two awful zoo keepers forced to work for bob fossil. nothing is too outlandish or humiliating in their line of work whether they are forced to dress up like pandas, fight kangaroos or save mutants from slavery." that's it. that's all the thing said. some strange part of my brain said, "find that now and watch it." so i did. three years later i'm still waiting for series four and a movie.


what's really odd about this show is not just how dedicated the fans have been but just how wide an audience the show has picked up. people of all ages and backgrounds have fallen in love with this show and i think it has just as much to do with it's bizarre sense of humour as it does it's complete lack of pretension. it comes off so honestly and feels like everyone involved has so much fun making it, you just get swept up for the ride and pray it doesn't stop.

on top of that, the cast have managed to achieve the same level of fame that is usually held for pop singers and movie stars. it's insane and i love it. it's good to see that sometimes things that are incredibly personal can succeed in a world of clones and copy cats. it doesn't happen often enough because there are a number of filters put in place to make sure that not everyone with a camera gets out to a large audience. it's a fact that media in general suffers because of this model but think about the amount of pure garbage you would watch and listen to on a daily basis if those "stuffy old white guys" didn't say no to people. it would be nothing but lol cats, two girls one cup and pedo bear all day all night.

goody two goody two goody goody two shoes

this is a great idea and even if you aren't a fan of the shoes themselves, who are you to resist needy children? a selfish person. that's who.

tom's shoes can be seen on countless pairs of feet in toronto now that the good weather has come to visit for a few weeks. the best part of this is the amount of free pairs that tom's will donate accordingly to children in third world countries. that's right, you buy a pair and they give a pair to a child that has no shoes. genius.

sure they're no frills kind of foot wear but that's perfect for summer. slip on, no socks, run to the store or where them around the house. they're comfortable but you might want to throw an insert for extra support/comfort if you have arch problems. even if you don't wear them ever it's a good way to quickly and annonymously donate to charity (some people prefer to remain nameless when they donate.)

i will probably be buying several pairs as i have a shoe problem.

earworm of the day: who's that girl?

Touchlike most songs out of the blue you can attach meaning to them if you really really look for it in your life and while i could chalk this up to odd romantic entanglements of late it's best to just let it roll off my back and enjoy.

i'm much more interested in things like this popping into my head than a number of other craptacular songs that sneak their way in. for a guy that doesn't listen to any kind of radio at all, i sure seem to manage to stay up to date on top 40 junk. ugh. at the same time, i'm not an 80s music fan for the most part. there were far too many crimes against humanity perpetrated in the name of pushing new musical boundaries.

while i did like the eurythmics, this post has reminded me that i seriously need to start listening to some motown again.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

earworm of the day: ashes to ashes


Scary Monstersthis might actually fall under the category of earworm of the week but why be picky? i can not get this thing out of my head and i blame it on a few sources. first and foremost, the venture brothers and their obvious love for all things bowie. their ghost pirate (or is it pirate ghosts?) episode: "ghosts of the sargasso" opens with major tom plummeting towards earth telling dr. venture sr. he has a message for the action man (which is a slight cock up because the line is "from the action man" not "for"). i was immediately reminded of a power puff girls episode where the dialogue was almost entirely made up of beatles lyrics. genius.

bowie. creepy clown costume. all kinds of falsetto. what's not to love?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

you'd better not mess with major tom

i'm pretty excited about a few sketches that i just received. i finished recording a noise ep a little while ago and i've been looking for an artist to do some cover art for me. i was put in touch with ian at the unkindness of ravens press and he sent me a few images of what he's been working on.

he has a lot of great work that's been pieced together over the years. what i like the most about his work is that he's high concept which comes at the expense of mainstream acceptance sometimes. my favourite work of his is a book written entirely in morse code. brilliant.

now these are just super rough preliminary sketches to get an idea of what ian is thinking and i like them so far. i'm hoping they come out looking a little more like a diagram but i'm sure they will look great no matter what.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

earworm of the day: somewhere over the rainbow

Are a Dragit's certainly not the most elegant version of this song but it's one of the best i've ever heard. me first and the gimme gimmes were just plain fun without a lot of the cheese that other people have thrown in their acts. i'm of course speaking specifically about richard cheese because what he does just isn't funny. irony isn't funny and hasn't been for a long long time.

anywho, me first were a fun little super group of pop punk folks that thought it would be cool to start a cover band. while i'm not a fan of everything they did, they had some great moments and i think most them came off of are a drag.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

get up stand up, don't give up the fight

i'm just going to keep writing about this until i hear that people are doing something about it.

do you own an mp3 player? a digital camera that can accept storage cards? a computer or any other device that will let you store digital media? then you need to think long and hard about what freedoms you currently have regarding those pieces of your personal property.

the new copyright legislation that has been secretly bandied about for about two years now is just starting to show it's face to the public. if you would like to continue to have the luxury of legally buying digital media of any kind and using it on any platform you wish (which you probably do and don't even think about it) then you need to contact your mp now and tell them why this new legislature is about as anti-consumer driven as can be.

these two sites here and here can explain it much better than i can and have all the contact information you need to get in touch with people that have the power to shoot this bill down. if you don't care, that's your business. just don't whine about it when you get stopped at the border and thrown in jail because you have a downloaded copy of milli vanilli's greatest hits on your iphone. actually you should go to jail for that regardless of where you are, but that's not the point.

acta and the new dmca being tabled by the harper government need to be stopped. write your mp a well worded, considerate paper letter expressing your disgust for their compliance with an american special interest group. it's pathetic enough that ol' steve is willing to do what the american government tells him to do but it's pitiful that he would tow the line that the riaa has handed him.

to clarify, this isn't an anti-american post in the least. i think canada and the u.s. should be doing everything they can to foster friendship because we've been neighbours for so damn long. what i don't cotton to is this bullshit that american special interests groups have the legal footing or right to go around bullying people in any country. the riaa and other groups have been handing out cease and desist notices like crazy to everyone imaginable and most sensible people have thrown them in the garbage or consulted a lawyer and then thrown them in the garbage. when false claims of legal proceedings didn't work they bullied the governments of the countries they saw as a problem.

what kills me is that if they really wanted to stop piracy, actual honest to goodness piracy, they would target the groups that are making these copies available to the public. but that's like a pharmaceutical company curing a terminal disease. you can't make any money or scare people if you find a cure. you'll make a bigger name for yourself climbing on a soap box and fighting the good fight than actually stopping it from happening ever again.

earworm of the day: this is a man's man's man's world

James Brown - 20 All-Time Greatest Hits!james brown knew more than a few things about relationships. he toured hard all over the planet for years and in the process made some discoveries. discoveries like, you shouldn't chase your woman through a corn field in your cadillac because you will be arrested and sent to jail for aggravated assault.

other discoveries included that women love them some love songs about lovin' to love you and the love you get back from lovin'(sometimes in hot pants).

this song may sound misogynistic to some but i'd like to believe that it's about as romantic as they get. james is right, civilization would be pretty barren if love wasn't such a key motivator for all things creative and scientific. dudes need to impress ladies (or other dudes if that's your thing) and what better way to do that then show how amazing you are at something?

Friday, May 14, 2010

earworm of the day: justified and ancient (stand by the jams)

down tempo, areana rave inspired, rapping electronic pioneers and tammy wynette. how could you not love this song?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

fill their heads with empty phrases, master celebrator

shepard fairey has been getting a tonne of press lately and that's exactly what he wants. i'm buying into it. i admit it, and i shouldn't because i don't like giving people free press when they don't deserve it but i'm tired of people polishing a turd and calling it gold. i'm even more tired of people buying that turd.

fairey is the founder of obey giant art inc. a design company that sells clothing and posters under the guise of rebellion and public dissent. fairey started out as just another art student with a pocket full of change and access to a photocopier and made his first "andre the giant has a posse" stickers. his artistic defence for this sticker campaign was to "re-awaken peoples understanding of the environment around them." his aim was to create a movement that had no ethos, no cause, no agenda but existed purely as an "unknown". really it was a two fold project. while it served as a sounding board for just how cool you really were in the 90s it also laid the ground work for what would become a consumer driven goods manufacturing machine. i don't believe either of those things were his original intent but they came about none the less.

where his defence falls apart is his insistence that this is an experiment in consumerist culture. as if we weren't aware that western society has serious problems with it's over spending and dependence on consumerism to fuel our economy. it would be nice if he just came clean and said, "yes. i'm in this game for the money and i'm going to ride it all the way down." i would have more respect for him if that were the case. instead, he hides behind fair usage laws and blatantly thumbs his nose at the people that realize he is stealing other peoples work and calling it his own. all the while he claims it's a political art movement forcing people to re-examine their personal relationships with the world around them. how does a retouched photo of debbie harry force me to question my place in the world?

fairey has been in the news so much lately because of the obama "hope" campaign poster that has been copied by everyone with a printer and is the subject of two lawsuits (four technically) and a criminal investigation. fairey is no stranger to litigation and has taken numerous people to court over the years for making artistic works that are obviously influenced by obeys catalogue. it seems that re-appropriating a piece is ok but re-appropriating it a second time is where it becomes illegal.

the lawsuits and investigation centre around faireys use of an ap photograph taken by mannie garcia. when fairey was originally questioned about his "hope" poster he stated that he used a different photo than the one he was being charged against. after aps legal team proved beyond a shadow of a doubt which photo was used to make hope, fairey then admitted that he did actually use the photo in question. the strange thing is that both of them were taken by mannie garcia. that's like using the coca cola logo and claiming you used the new coke logo instead.

fairey filed a preemptive lawsuit against ap for fair use rights for the photo citing that his hope poster was an original work and changed the very nature and feel of the image. in response, ap filed a counter suit saying that they believe the picture hasn't been altered in any significant way as to legitimize it as a new work. where it gets really sticky is when fairey and his design team decided that altering and destroying evidence would be the best way to move forward with their defence. now fairey is not only being sued but has an impending criminal investigation in the pipe. he has wisely pleaded the fifth about his activities. to make matters even worse, fairey is also likely to be charged for erecting a structure in new yorks bowery district. the site has already been hit with a cease work order (which only means they can't repair it) but it's likely that charges will be laid.

now you might think that i'm happy to hear all the bad news surrounding fairey and obey but i'm not. i will be labeled a "hater" i'm sure because i don't think that what fairey does is art. many people today think his work is great and ground breaking but these are usually the same people that don't know anything about art but know they like obey. there's nothing wrong with that. i encourage people to have their own tastes and if you like obeys catalogue, then by all means support them. i'm just not down with them because a lot of the work is sloppy and derivative in my opinion. i don't feel the obey team adds anything to the existing images to make them more interesting. they tend to just drop existing works on top of other existing works which is the visual equivalent to "dj" mash-ups. i also feel that obeys business practices are dodgy in that fairey seems to be the only person that's allowed to use fair use as a defence.

i don't care if he's making money. my argument has never been about fairey selling out because i don't think he did. he was honest about his motives from the start. he was just trying to create a brand and he did. he'd be a fool to not exploit that brand after he put so much effort and work into it. what makes me angry is the use of other peoples work and the seeming contempt for other peoples right to protect their work.

what do you think? do you have an opinion? should we all just have unfettered access to everything and be able to make a living off of other peoples work? how do you make a living off of an original piece of work if everyone can have it for free somewhere else? doesn't plagiarism devalue the original work both in meaning and monetary value? doesn't the very idea that all creative works should be free and available to the public strip artists of their ability to make a living and in doing so, remove the value of art entirely? (i'm mean monetarily and socially)

i'm very interested to see where this legal battle goes. what will be more interesting is to see what happens with mannie garcias two lawsuits against ap and fairey.

oh, i do take offence to the fact that fairey tries to hide behind his charitable donations as some sort of justification of using specific images. he owns a corporation. that corporation has accountants that would be remiss in their duties if they didn't point out the tax benefits of charitable donations. plus fairey can say things like, and i quote, "i charge anybody to fuck with that, know what i mean." well shep, it's easy to "fuck with" that rationale. you get a substantial tax credit for donating that kind of money which is more than likely reinvested into your company thus keeping costs down and profits higher. that's great if you're doing it out of the goodness of your heart but don't pretend you're doing it at your own expense.

earworm of the day: here i go again

oh god help me please. what awful thing have i done to deserve white snake writhing around in my head like tawny kitaen on a rolls royce.

evil evil brain.

Monday, May 10, 2010

life ain't so bad at all, live your life off the wall

"exit through the gift shop" is everything you would expect from a handful of street artists/practical jokers. there is seemingly no point to the film for the first half even though there is a steady narrative to keep the viewer focused on the action. countless hours of guerrilla executed, cinema verite style footage was compiled to show and legitimize the slowly growing bodies of work these self styled street artists are responsible for.

whether or not banksy is actually responsible for this film is up for debate as is the true identity of the shadowy figure at the beginning of the film. i would rather it wasn't actually banksy to be honest because i think it would sort of cheapen the film if it was. not because i think banksy is lowering himself to having to defend his art or challenge what he thinks is wrong, but because up until now his motives have been almost completely unknown. while his work is politically charged more often than not, there is no clear message in his work other than that of anti-authoritarian opposition and calling attention to issues banksy feels need addressing.

where i think the film suffers is its complete lack of any explanation of what graffiti was and is. the film takes some broad leaps and either assumes that only people familiar with the work of its subjects will watch it or doesn't care. that is dangerous for a few reasons. first; it becomes more difficult to classify what street art is or is not because the viewer is given no frame of social reference. second; it sets up this new wave of artists as the creative influence for everything that has happened since the late 80s/early 90s effectively wiping out any of the original causes and social contexts that created what we now know as graffiti art. it quite literally dismisses the work of an army of people from new york to paris that made spray paint such a powerful weapon.

on the other hand, i applaud this film for it's unabashed honesty (at least that's what i'm hoping it is whether it's due to a sense of injustice and setting the record straight or to protect their self interests) because it really does set out to destroy people that don't pay their dues.

is art as simple as photocopying an image and writing an odd slogan for juxtaposition or does it take years to perfect a style? does it really matter in the end when a horde of mindless spoiled children rally around the opinion of "authority" and buy up what they've been told is "cool"? when it's hard to distinguish "honest and real" from "contrived and fake" because the message has been removed by marketing then all the ignorant public is left with is one painting of a rat or another painting of a rat holding paint can. which is "real"? which one was lifted? which one had a meaning and which one was because the "artist" saw it somewhere and thought it was cool?

these are all questions exit... tries to answer but leaves the decision firmly in the lap of the viewer. the final argument is one of finished product or the method used to create it. does hiring a team of people and telling them what to paint mean the project manager isn't an artist? it does if the project manager can't make anything by themselves.

go see the film and decide for yourself.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

you've got a hub cap diamond star halo...

i completely forgot just how bad t-rex was until i pulled that nugget out of the rats maze i call a brain. t-racks on the other hand is fantastic.

audiomidi.com just sent me a lovely little note informing me that their new "no-brainer" deal is a t-racks eq/metering plugin for $20. normally this would set you back about $100 by itself or a few hundred in a bundle. once again audiomidi has done a great thing for my shrinking wallet and growing studio set up.