Life Just Bounces don't you get worried at all. (A weblog of music and otrogenerica)

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

One woman's horrific story

Definitely the best thing i've seen on the front of a women's magazine for a while.

mp3: 14 Year Old Girls —"Grand Theft Auto 3"
mp3: Don Caballero — "Slice Where You Live Like Pie"

Monday, 24 August 2009

In defence of Milli Vanilli (or: towards an authentic fakeness)

Reading a BBC piece the other day about the legendary "miming vocalist" fallout surrounding Black Box's 1989 hit "Ride on Time", i got to thinking that Milli Vanilli got a pretty raw deal out of their whole experience with same. The point's been made before that their biggest crime was essentially being twenty years ahead of their time (see this DKPresents piece for a concise and interesting precis). But was it? Or was it more serious for MV that they failed to pay lip service to pop culture's bizarre and uneven obsession with "authenticity"?

Universal Pictures currently has a Milli Vanilli biopic in development. Screenwriter Jeff Nathanson told Variety that “I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of fakes and frauds, and in this case, you had guys who pulled off the ultimate con, selling 30 million singles and 11 million albums and then becoming the biggest laughing-stocks of pop entertainment.”

"The biggest laughing stocks of pop entertainment"? Really? After all, everyone from Britney Spears to the Antares hip-hop movement1 to Yo-Yo Ma is Milli Vanilli nowadays, and no-one's suggesting narcotically-assisted slow suicide as a suitable penance.2 No-one's ever excoriated Jack Nicholson for not actually being a tormented wife-terrorising failed writer living in a decrepit hotel in the middle of nowhere. And anyone whose dreams were shattered upon finding out that Johnny Depp is not in real life a flouncy dreadlocked buccaneer has only himself to blame; Walt Disney Studios is not accountable for "misleading" him.

Much of the discourse around Milli Vanilli has the "disgraced" group being "stripped of their Grammy" for "trying to fool" the listening audience. But surely this only holds true if you're the kind of person that believes Mike Batt should be done for fraud because an actual Womble is not vocalising on "Remember You're A Womble". Is it really that hard to comprehend that artistic spectacles aren't meant as literal truth? In the press, Milli Vanilli are now framed exclusively as a hoax, or even an elaborate practical joke (witness their entry on the Museum of Hoaxes website and J. Nathanson's "ultimate con" quip above). But the NYT article quoted above that broke the "stripped of Grammy" story even includes these paragraphs:

Virtually all recorded music is the product of studio manipulation. Classical albums are typically pieced together from the best of multiple takes of a work; even live albums, classical and popular, are often patched up to correct wrong notes. Most popular music is created on multi-track tape that allows dozens of separate elements to be perfected and combined.

Dance-pop like Milli Vanilli's album can be recorded with the efforts of a small group of people. A single songwriter-producer can generate all of the instrumental sounds, from computerized drums to synthetic horns. All that needs to be added is human voices, so it is possible that only the producer, the recording engineer and the performers would know who appeared on the album.

So it's not like this was some great shady record company conspiracy; it was all out in the open even then. The pained howls of dimwit Proper Music™ enthusiasts about how the sonic reality of Girl, You Know It's True does not exactly correspond with the physical movements made in the studio during its creation should thus be ignored as epic point-missing at best. To consider the very nature of performing on electrified instruments artificially amplified over a public address system for an audience larger than could possibly ever assemble to hear such an ensemble play "naturally"3 just emphasises that the stadium cock-rock of, say, Pearl Jam or Stereophonics, is exactly as (in)authentic as Milli Vanilli were. But, for whatever reason, only one of these inauthenticities must be censured as "artificial" or "dishonest".

No, Milli Vanilli's real mistake was to trick an establishment whose authenticity game they weren't playing into rewarding them with its highest totem, The Mighty Grammy Award. When the Grammies' inadvertent endorsement of MV was discovered, someone was going to have to fall on a sword just to restore and reperpetuate the authenticity illusion. After all, if they hadn't, someone might have pointed out that Girl You Know It's True was, qualitatively and content-wise, exactly the same record the day after the miming revelation that it was the day before. The group were stripped of the Grammy not because of a reconsideration of the work's merit, but because of an arbitrary political decision regarding the process of its fabrication.

Maybe they should just have been blatantly up-front about it. i used to be in a group called Saigon High Chair Pirates, and like all good groups, we had a theme song. In the middle of "Theme from Saigon High Chair Pirates" (maybe the "middle eight", who the fuck even knows what that actually means tho) we included a repeating vocal vamp with harmonies saying "Saigon, ooh yeah baby!" — a classic pop hook, i think you'll agree. At the point in the song, the three of us (the other two now have a different band) would step up to the mics, let our instruments hang by the straps, and perform handclaps along with the vocal harmony. This would carry on for a couple of bars, after which time we'd slowly start to back off from the mics — still singing, still doing the hand claps — while the vocals, pre-recorded and mimed all along, carried on without us. This always got a laugh, but i was always secretly hoping we'd have baited a more guillible audience member into protesting that we'd been miming our whole set.

Maybe Milli Vanilli should have had women mime the male vocals. Or been accompanied onstage by a ludicrous backing band armed with instruments obviously incapable of producing the sounds coming out of the speakers: say, one guy with a set of cardboard boxes of various sizes arranged and mimed as if a real drum kit, one guy struggling to carry an eight-foot wooden railway sleeper ("bass guitar") above his head, one guy with a toilet bowl strapped around his body like a sousaphone with a fifteen-foot length of hose coming out the back attached to a baritone sax mouthpiece at the other end. (For example). That would more clearly have said, "These guys clearly aren't playing this shit. We're not singing it either. Enjoy it for what it is or grow the fuck up and go listen to something you do like."

Or maybe it's time they got their own tribute band? All-female, probably. A tribute both to them and to their concept, the perfect isolation of song from performer. The pioneers who got scalped.

Twenty years. And we are where now?

mp3: Binary Star — "Reality Check"
mp3: Pumpkinhead — "Fake vs. Real"
mp3: Saigon High Chair Pirates — "Theme from Saigon High Chair Pirates"

1 Tangential note: calling for the "death of autotune" is like calling for the death of reverb, or the death of flutes. It's a completely inane, nonsensical generalisation.
2 Though in poor Britney's case, it's kind of a moot point.
3 i.e. free from such accoutrements.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Carol Vorderman, Mark E Smith and Gustav Holst walk into a bar

Anyone else noticed:

  • The Countdown theme is basically a better-played instrumental rip-off of "Psykick Dancehall" by The Fall;
mp3: The Fall — "Psykick Dancehall"
  • Both of them are basically rip-offs of the first part of Gustav Holst's "Jupiter: The Bringer of Jollity" (@ 01:51)?
mp3: Gustav Holst — "Jupiter: The Bringer of Jollity"

i feel a medley coming on.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Hip-hop production hypothetical

If Can had left an open bit in Jaki Liebezeit's drumming on "Halleluhwah", they'd have a break up there with "Synthetic Substitution" or "Impeach the President" on their hands. Discuss.

mp3: Can — "Halleluhwah"

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Secret number fail.

Let's hope your patients don't own computers.

Monday, 10 August 2009

On the Radar Volume 4 out today!

Certified Banger writes:
So, it's here - for all of you who were waiting! 'On The Radar Volume 4' is available for your downloading pleasure and with over a dozen exclusives, Volume 4 proves that the series is going from strength to strength.

Volume 4 features 20 tracks of strictly British Hip Hop from rappers and producers from around the Kingdom. Certified Banger’s now cemented reputation in the underground and online UK rap scene means that UK artists , who are not yet on the radar, have a platform for their music – so long as it’s decent! Judging by the subsequent success of previous ‘OTR’ artists you can expect to hear much more from these names in the near future.
In summary then, as grime nutter Bruza would probably say, "WOT U WAITIN FORRRR?!?!?!!!"

1. Delusionists"Parallel Worldz" feat. Invizible Frenz (CB Exclusive)
2. Chosen Spokesmen"Mad Real" (Prod. by Chemo) (CB Exclusive)
3. C-Froo"Financial Times"
4. S.Kalibre"English" (Prod. by Mike S)
5. Instance"Can't Get Down" (Prod. by Mike D) (CB Exclusive)
6. Vee Kay"Backroad" ft. Dead Residents (CB Exclusive)
7. Rapskallions"Battleslang" (Mr. Loop Remix) (CB Exclusive)
8. Runamuk"No Gimmicks" ft. Unfriendly Neighbours & Blaze (Prod. by Terror) (CB Exclusive)
9. Lunar C"Stop Stressin’" (Prod. by Ant Orange) (CB Exclusive)
10. Uncle Dicky"Running On Fumes" ft. Nozeeny (Prod. by Lazyb0nes) (CB Exclusive)
11. Nutty P"Why So Serious?" (CB Exclusive)
12. Leady"Travelling Man" (Prod. by Irn Mnky)
13. Joker Starr"Get Up" (CB Exclusive)
14. EdXL"Crocodile Smile" (Prod. by Cranky Fatso)
15. 10Shott"Soldier Salute"
16. Skinnista & Gadger"Get Away" ft. Dvas & Reggiimental (CB Exclusive)
17. The Riddlah"Mind Right" (Prod. by Nasty P)
18. Knew Jeru’slum"Dreamcatchers" ft. JND (Prod. by Eliphino) (CB Exclusive)
19. 30KB"Crewd Sons (Ghost in the Machine)" (CB Exclusive)
20. JVF Clique"Lose The Chains" (CB Exclusive)
21. Bonus Track: Zion I"Legacy" ft. Ty

More info:

Friday, 7 August 2009

Desert Island Dicks — "The Shades of Jazz to Come" (AMP005)

The new Desert Island Dicks album, released by Amoebic Industries (Unlimited) on 28 July 2009, is entitled The Shades of Jazz to Come, a dextrous play on the name of Ornette Coleman's seminal free jazz masterpiece The Shape of Jazz to Come.

The Coleman association is not merely a titular one; the album is also based sonically on The Shape of Jazz to Come. Six slices of the original Coleman album, each equivalent to ten percent of the length of each track, were extracted like biopsy tissue samples, re-stretched by a factor of ten until they arrived back at each track's original length, and post-effected as necessary. The record thus revisits tropes of both of the groups' previous albums, Bring Me the Head of Miles Davis... (use of the '50s/'60s jazz avant-garde) and Stretch Marks (vast expansion, post-production).

The cover was designed by Cliff Lipp for Dreamguts.

Vice magazine called the album "the year's primo meditation music for the discerning smackhead". NME failed to comprehend the concept in an entirely characteristic fashion.

Track listing
All tracks by Coleman/Dicks.
  1. "Lonely Woman" — 5:02
  2. "Eventually" — 4:22
  3. "Peace" — 9:04
  4. "Focus on Sanity" — 6:52
  5. "Congeniality" — 6:48
  6. "Chronology" — 6:03
  • Ornette Coleman – alto saxophone
  • Don Cherry – cornet
  • Charlie Haden – double bass
  • Billy Higgins – drums
  • Desert Island Dicks – noises, post-production


Desert Island Dicks @
Desert Island Dicks @ myspace

Desert Island Dicks Facebook page

Desert Island Dicks 2009. Experiments can go down as well as up.

RIP John Hughes (1950 — 2009)

And so the familiar landscape of the eighties continues to seep slowly, inexorably, away.

(i know i should sort be obliged to feel a certain kinship for Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club, but Molly was like a perfect sonnet in female form in that film.)

"RIP 80s dreams of friendship crossing social strata" Pip

RIP John Hughes.

mp3: Simple Minds — "(Don't You) Forget About Me" (YSI)

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

30KB on "On the Radar" Vol. 4 from Certified Banger

So the day we got back from Kendal, we also got an email from head-of-the-pack UK hip-hop blogger Certified Banger ("the top dog in this blogging phenomena... period!", says Taskforce's Farma G), to tell us that 30KB are one of 21 artists featured on the forthcoming fourth instalment of his winning On the Radar compilation series.

We're completely thrilled to feature on UK rap's premier contemporary showcase alongside people whose music we listen to regularly. Previous volumes of OTR have featured the likes of B'tol & Jagos, Grimlok, Skillit, Skandal, JVF Clique, The Three Amigos, Baron Samedi, Mr Loop, Dialect, Stylah and Delegates of Culture, as well as appearances from, among others, Sonny Jim, Kyza, Klashnekoff, Witchdoctor Wise, Ramson Badbonez 'n' the mighty Jehst. Not a roster to be sneezed at in any way, i think you'll agree.

If you've previously missed out on On the Radar volumes 1—3, you'll be pleased to know they are all still available to grab: just click the album covers above or hit up the CB rapidshare here for links to all three. You are well advised to cop 'em.

Anyway, here's our track, as well as a few more whose quality has stuck out after the mere couple of plays i've so far managed. The comp is officially released in a couple of days, so i'll no doubt write about it again then. Big props, Cee.

mp3: Delusionists — "Parallel Worldz" feat. Invizible Frenz
mp3: Runamuk — "No Gimmicks" feat. Unfriendly Neighbours & Blaze
mp3: 30,000 Bastards — "Crewd Sons (Ghost in the Machine)"
mp3: Knew Jeru'slum — "Dreamcatchers" feat. JND

Back from Kendal

Got back yesterday from thee Kendal Calling festival which we played with our pals in Out From Animals (soon to be known as Scams). We did two songs, "Skeletons" and a new 16 bars over their tune "Up All Night", which we wrote in about 15 minutes the day before. Here's a picture of me not quite being able to get back up on to the stage.

credit: Christine Mayers

D'oh! Other highlights: the two sets of incredible, fashion-music-scorning, pronk/klezmer/polka/etc. Glaswegian seven-piece (though only six were in attendance) Punch & the Apostles, opening the main stage on the final day and ending the whole festival that night with their wholly unpredictable music and ace showmanship.1

Craig Charles kicking off his DJ set by persuading the crowd to all shout "awooga!" and then dropping a funk version of RATM's "Killing in the Name"; also childishly shouting "what's the crack, Craig?" at him (he didn't hear us). Discovering an open-to-all drum circle with drums and percussion instruments attached to central frame, and completely dominating same. The liberating moment when we realised that the "queue-cutting" male urinal-stand things were literally as pointful as pissing on your own shoes. Ash throwing out "A Life Less Ordinary" second. Cornershop closing with a triumphant "Jullander Shere" (pick whichever a.m. you want).

London poet Beyonder's affecting song for his father "Props for Pops", delivered over the "broken jazz" of the Tongue Foo Band in the (solar-powered) poetry tent. 50 tonnes of real snow imported from the mountains and spread over possibly the least impressive slope in the entire Lake District; and watching our bassist go deliberately arse-over-tit over the crash mat at the bottom. Seeing the excellent Birds vs. Planes and then finding out they were the same charming folks parked next to us suffering from recurrent car alarm trouble. Laughing our asses off at the Avenue Q soundtrack and David Cross after-hours in the van.

Frank Turner's well-balanced mix of gutting and redemptive. Having to repeatedly redo an ident for Lakes TV but "without the swearing" (after about three attempts, we realised that he was talking about our band name). Bradford singer/songwriter Captain Hotknives' hilariously profane comedy singalongs ("I hate babies! I fookin' hate babies!") Buying a suave new hat (think 1970s private detective agency) and promptly dropping the fucker into the lethal enveloping mud of the Kaylied tent. One of the only seating areas onsite being unexpectedly transformed into a Jackson Pollock exhibit on the Saturday morning and subsequently covering most of our group in paint.

In summary then, a top one all round. Thanks to OFA for having us play with them and to everyone who came to watch the set and indeed, everyone who recognised us in the next couple of days and came up to say nice things. You were surprising and most gratifying.

mp3: Captain Hotknives — "Glue"
mp3: Frank Turner — "Long Live the Queen"
mp3: Punch & the Apostles — "All the Nosey Bastards"

1 And their rather beguiling tenor sax/electric violin player, for that matter. Yeh, so maybe i'm being a crap shallow male with that one, but a girl with a talent does it for me, and she's both lovely and can play the hell out of that sax.