Of the myriad permutations of electronic music which exist, the anarchic breakcore is one of my all-time favorites. Something about the musical equivalent of a loosed jackhammer appeals to the same part of me which fell asleep during all those orchestral events I was taken to as a child. Thanks to YouTube, I can show off a few breakcore-based delights I have found over the years.
For instance, here is some emerging from a bored teenager's face, in the back of a car somewhere in Canada:
Or perhaps ironically mixed into an odd old synth demo:
Or the ne plus ultra of mashed-up absurdity – used to remix a Godspeed You! Black Emperor track:
I saw Xiu Xiu and Zola Jesus at the Bowery Ballroom on Friday night. Well, I actually saw Twin Sister, Zola Jesus, tUnE-YaRdS [sic] and Xiu Xiu, but I was only there for one group. Fortunately, the concert was a delightful surprise. Twin Sister was forgettable. Well, the music was okay but much like every overtly twee opening act I've seen in the last few months - and by "every" I mean every opening act I've seen in the last few months has been overtly twee - they were nothing special. Zola Jesus was wonderful. I have listened to her on record and, much like WOODS, it doesn't compare to the energy and ambience of seeing her live. Her set was an unfortunately short 20 minutes, but she packed a mile's worth of improvised stage acrobatics and the entirety of her glorious and operatic-influenced voice into them. One of the funnier moments of the show happened between two of her tracks:
Zola Jesus: "It's a very important weekend for me. It's my birthday weekend..."
Zola Jesus: "...I'm turning 21."
Audience: SELF-CONSCIOUS SILENCE
tUnE-YaRdS - may I briefly call attention to how much I fucking hate creative casing in band names? - was an odd act: a young woman with two drums, a modified ukulele, a looper and a bassist, blasting out West African and Carribean-influenced indie pop. Think Vampire Weekend wearing their influences on their sleeve (well, moreso, anyway) crossed with Final Fantasy and that's a rough approximation. If anything, her sense of rhythm was dead-on and her scat-like vocalizations, looped over into one another with the drum beats created a genuinely original sound. I located a video of her doing "Gangsta", my favorite number from her live set. The video is a good approximation of what I saw, down to the hand motions:
Now, the topper was Xiu Xiu. If you watched the above video and have ever even heard about Xiu Xiu - from my repeated posts about them, if anything at all - you may rightly assume that a bunch of people split about halfway through their first track. Their stage presence is now minimal: Jamie Stewart on electric guitar (and occasionally Nintendo DS or percussion) and newcomer Angela Seo on synths and a very complex percussion set-up that may resemble a drum kit if you squint hard enough. Jamie's energy on stage is inversely proportional to his incredibly shy persona in between tracks. He becomes a waterfall of sweat, shredding the hell out of his guitar and singing as if attempting to exorcise a demon from the depths of his gut. The tempo and feel of every song was utterly different, some infused with a nervous energy the original track never had - their rendition of "I Luv The Valley OH!" for instance. Below is a video of "Muppet Face" from the show I attended.
...and here is a photo I took of Jamie Stewart playing a Hello Kitty branded Nintendo DS Lite (complete with Hello Kitty charm):
Malcolm McLaren died today. I originally thought to post some Sex Pistols music, but I realized I have never particularly enjoyed the Sex Pistols. I can honestly say I have never been in a “Hey! Let's put on God Save The Queen” mood. My attitude toward punk in these last few years - especially after spending a year and a half peddling punk-rock merchandise - hovers somewhere around disaffection and uninterest. I'll voice some more sacrilege and state that it has come to the point where I prefer tracks off Jeff Lewis' “12 Crass Songs” to most of the originals.
Maybe I'm in a mood right now, maybe my previous professions of adoration for both the genre and the lifestyle were the words of a poseur seeking acceptance. Who knows. What I do know is that most stuff I have which is classified firmly in “punk” finds itself put on more out of nostalgia than a genuine desire to listen to the stuff.
The Dead Kennedys (and, to an extent, the Ramones) will continue to be wholly exempt from everything I have just written.
Much like one of those kooky Japanese game shows, this is best appreciated sans context.
Much like most “innovative” forms of electronic music, I like chiptunes more as a concept than an actual sound. Honestly, my nostalgia for the 8-bit systems isn't particularly vivid as compared to, for instance, my nostalgia for the old Apogee shareware games. I find most compositions to fail at pushing the medium into genuine recognition outside of, say, PAX and the backing track to Ke$ha songs.
Brad Smith's MOON8 project is a complete success, however. Covering Dark Side Of The Moon - Pink Floyd's best album and one of the greatest rock and roll albums of all time -Smith holds an electronic mirror up to the original instead of attempting to adapt it to some video-game nostalgia-ethos. He treats the source material with meticulous respect and the NES chiptune medium as independent of its context inside old Japanese hardware. Although some references - the use of the standard Mario coin blip in “Money” for instance - are a welcome sound (thanks to the crew over at Metafilter for that heads-up.)
You can find the entire album available to download (as two MP3s, one for each side of the LP) here
My spacebar is broken. I've been doing all my chatting, which has dropped off significantly, by using a hyphen in place of a space. It has made everything I write read as if it is a translation of one of those incredibly long German words which is untranslatable into our tongue without the use of a paragraph and any number of culturally-specific footnotes. This-is-what-a-chat-conversation-with-me-looks-like-right-now.-I-think-it-annoys-me-more-than-anyone-else. And-yet-it-is-still-easier-than-typing-on-the-eee.
Anyway, trying to spend my free time relaxing with the cartoons of my childhood, I stumbled across a interesting episode of Tiny Toon Adventures. Now, I have a certain and specific love for that series. It was the first cartoon I had ever seen after moving to America - I distinctly remember it coming on when my mother's new husband was teaching me how to use the remote control. Not only that, it was also the one which (along with Animaniacs) set sail my ship in the sea of cultural referentialism, one of the foundation stones of this blog and my intellectual pursuits as a whole.
Entitled “One Beer,” this adventure involves Buster, Plucky and Hampton getting absolutely trashed off a single beer and promptly stealing a police car. Needless to say, it was aired exactly once before being permanently pulled off rotation in the United States. Enjoy.
This is a guest post by CJ of One Hour Empire
It's absolutely no shock to anyone reading this that I like old video games. This is because I am writing with what can at least be reasonably presumed to be full sentences on the internet, but have no interest in keeping you updated on the libertarian truths that will undermine the Zionic World Order or sharing my theories on the latest episode of ABC's hit show LOST. That being said, the Web 2.0 Bill of Rights (The basic human dignities that anyone can edit!) dictate that I need to talk about old videogames right about now, possibly even by linking to an etsy account where someone puts their 43,000 dollar BFA to work selling NES Controller Belts.
Quit while you're ahead, guy.
There's also some sort of unspoken internet rule where by and large we are required to solely remember the good times (in the enjoyable-memories-with-friends sense) that the Nintendo Entertainment System (controller pictured b/w some thirty-something's Casual Friday crotch) provided. This is a feeling mostly engendered by Nintendo's formidable and ingenious marketing division, whom used the company's considerable brand name recognition to get themselves through the Good Times (in the Maude-spin-off-about-a-destitute-black-family sense) before the Wii. And that's good enough in a way. At the risk of sounding like someone who lives in a house of 2600 cartridges and carefully tucks his beard into his shirt before sitting down for a nice froth, most video games in this day and age are too much of a hassle. I've spent enough of my (theoretical) adult life avoiding the military that I don't especially need to pay sixty dollars for the privilege of being surrounded by virtual bald men and casual homophobia.
But problem with the best of the 8-bit era being a common cultural cornerstone is that it really doesn't stand up to introspection. Pop-Intellectuals of the eighties bonded over idle speculation towards Morrissey's sexuality and a mutual fear of the Tag Team of Terror in Reagan and Thatcher, we just have the fact that Hitler's head blows up if you beat Bionic Commando as the common knowledge we use to share and grow. There's nothing more to be said about Super Mario Bros. and no matter how many ostensibly humorous Top [multiple of five] lists you slam out about the copious drug references or the negligibility of Mario's plumbing license, you are just simply incapable of saying anything new or funny about the game.
But that's ok, because it turns out there is a rich bounty out there, just beyond your nose. I love Mega Man 2 as much as you love Mega Man 2, but we can move on. There's a wide range of games even just for the NES that are just ripe for a humor harvest. For example, have you ever considered the concept of sending an American marine to conquer a tiny island or bulking up mechanic of American Sammy's semi-justifiably forgotten action game Amagon to be a response to American foreign policy of the eighties? If not, congratulations! You are more tolerable than I am. But if you've never heard of Amagon, it's a solid C list game that you can pretty much pirate entirely guilt free because it will never see the light of day again. There's a rich bounty of all sorts of mediocre crap out there that is by and large forgotten, and some of it is even secretly worth your time.
Japan's rich bounty: Dio's Holy Diver and Portopia Serial Murder Mystery
The reason I picked on an American Sammy game is because the absolutely inscrutable publisher bonds the common link between the four people who submitted to Come On, Let's Go this week. Between American Sammy (To quote Drinky, "Who did they think they were fooling?") Taxan, Irem, and a cornucopia of other mostly forgotten names forged from the gibberish of two languages, we forged a proud legacy of burning through fly by night FortuneCity rom sites and giving just about anything a fair chance. Partly out of nostalgia, but mostly out of the fact that my financial situation hasn't improved that much since my teens, I continue to plow away at any given romset, digging up interesting nuggets where I can. Sometimes, I can even eke something interesting out of the whole ordeal.