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

Monday, 11 January 2010

Spodify advert reviews pt. 2

i can't really praise Strictly Kev's truly impressive six-volume Kraftwerk cover-version compendium highly enough, so i won't; instead, i will just direct you to this website and to gorge your ears on over six hours and 200 tracks' worth of interpretations sacred (Bălănescu Quartet, Big Black) and profane (Señor Coconut, P.M. Dawn). Tell 'em tomasz sent you. And then ignore them as they narrow their eyes suspiciously, muttering "who?"

In the meantime, by popular demand (waddup Dennis, Leon) here are some more reviews of adverts from the popular UK-and-some-of-Europe based streaming music service Spodify.1

Bryn Terfel - Bad Boys (album)
i don't think it's a controversial statement to say that, if you're an operatic bass-baritone, you've probably got quite a strong voice. So why would you need accompaniment from weedy, clicky little rim-shot drums? A wholly regrettable artefact of the need to pop-ify all music for sales, they're as crass and unnecessary as those sporadic attempts at rewriting the works of famous authors in dubious patois to appeal to some groaning and nebulous caricature of "da youf", as uncomprehending scallies metaphorically gawk blankly and throw chips at them.

Share My Playlist
A shower of awful, guffawing stage schoolers congratulate themselves on their incredible taste in music while sharing playlists both curiously short and suspiciously redolent of focus grouping. Of particular awful note is the guy who listens to disco while driving to Newcastle and goes on about how he's soooo embarrassed to listen to it. Yeh? Not embarrassed enough not to tell everyone who listens to Spodify about it, clearly.

Spodify Day Pass
BACK OFF the BLOODY MIC, man. Good lord, there are crappy little bands in garages all over this land that can fashion a satisfactory pop shield from a coathanger and a pair of tights, yet the ad from The New Online Saviour of Music Distribution™ still sounds like someone's trying to push the microphone down the voiceover guy's throat at knifepoint. Just move back a few inches, that's all it'd take. Not as badly executed as that first Suitopia ad (nor as charming), but not far behind.

"I went to Africa and got kicked by a giraffe!" What? i'm not going there then! No, apart from the strange angle they decided to approach this from, and the slightly quaint early 90s house in the background, this is one of the only Spodify ads that isn't mindlessly, self-trepanningly infuriating. Fair play to you, charitable camelopard assaultee.

Roberta from Spotify. i don't believe i need any particular excuse to post this.

Zizzi Italian restuarants
Apparently "the A to Z of great Italian food begins with authenticity and ends with Zizzi!" Oh yeh? So what if i wanna order abbacchio? What about the antipasti i was going to have for my aperitivo? And my friend here: he's on a special seafood alimentazione, and quite fancied his pizza laden with alice. i guess we're also screwed if we want any kind of zuppa or anything with zucchini or zucchero in it. Sod this, we're going somewhere that doesn't structure its menu by arcane alphabetical cut-off points.

(Their web advertising's faintly hilarious too: "Our restaurants are run the Italian way... Each one's a bit different in character, architecture, age and feel; think Robert De Niro with a regional accent." Great, now i'm imagining a Scouse Robert de Niro. "You talkin' to me, lid?")

Red Bull Academy
Did that woman really just abbreviate the "www" of a web address to "dub dub dub"? Eurgghh. Kill me. No wait, her.

That new dating gameshow on ITV
This advert features a typical "getting to know you" dating conversation between a man and a woman, where the guy fumbles it after a bit of complimentary small-talk by remarking that "it'll be nice to talk to someone other than my mum!" Except the part of the woman is played by about half a dozen women all speaking at once, so either that's literally what happens on the gameshow and the hapless man has to attempt to seduce all six at the same time, or the guy is enough of a blundering moron to have fallen at the exact same hurdle six different times. Whichever it is, surely Spodify listeners don't watch ITV anyway?

Christmas holiday drinking & driving
"You will now have to wait twelve seconds to get to your music again," intones a blokey, no-nonsense voice. "Imagine having to wait twelve months to get to your car again. That's what'll happen if you drink and drive this Christmas". Wow, pretty good logic! i was gonna drink and drive loads, y'know, just for fun. But i'm certainly not going to now i know there's such a clever numerological basis for avoiding it.

Sorority Row (film)
Hey, you know what'd be a great thing to run in a 20-second, audio-only slot? A film trailer! Hopefully the film is better than its marketing campaign. Doesn't sound like it, though.

1 i only originally started calling it "Spodify" as an ineffectual form of mockery ("more like Stan Darsh!") of the software's hideous name, based on the British slang term "spod", to denote a bit of a geeky loser (and not an acronym for "spastic or disabled" as one of the more ribald UD entries tries to claim). However, i now get a good handful of people arriving after actively searching for "Spodify".

Christ knows why, but i think the most likely explanation is that the the /t/ phoneme doesn't exist in that horrible trendy Nathan Barley London hipster accent all Spodify's developers seem to have, but instead gets glossed to a
/d/, which might be reasonable if you were talking to an American about "butter", etc., but just sounds utterly jarring and foolish when surrounded by what sounds like Jamie Oliver trying his hand at speed seduction, and that as a result there are people out there who honestly believe it to be spelled with a "d". Oh what a world, etc. One day i'll probably have to write a detailed blog explaining why i both love and detest Spodify at the same time.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

RIP Bingo Gazingo (1924 — 2010)

By all accounts, 2009 was a year full of death. i'd hoped this year was going to give us a reprieve from losing great people, but this morning i learned of the first death in 2010 of someone i admired. You'd hesitate to call him a celebrity by any stretch of the imagination, but New York street/performance poet Bingo Gazingo's obscurity likely served as an aid to his singular imagination and oddball creativity.

With his often crude, spiky, agitated and hilarious rants1 about sex, dementia, and, especially, popular culture,2 Gazingo (born Murray Wachs in Queens in 19243) was a Monday night regular every week at New York's Bowery Poetry Club. He was struck by a taxi on his way to one of these very events, presumably on December 28th, and died on New Year's Day.

The joy of outsider music, its celebrants often advise, is the self-contained purity offered by its enormous distance from the mainstream, and more often than not the underground, of popular culture. Outsider artists care not for the puny accolades of convention, runs the argument: they are motivated solely by their own idiosyncratic desires to make art in the way they want to. Others express scepticism about this, hinting that the artists' perceived "purity" is solely or in large part a construct of outsider fans projecting onto the practitioners their own desire to escape from modern mainstream culture or be hailed as ahead of some hipster bell-curve. A 2004 Village Voice piece by Joseph McCombs uses Bingo as an exemplar of this view:

Outsider music is uniquely valid because it's pure, the documentarians claim, untainted by rules or demands of commerce over art. Which would be fabulous if it were true. But in the 2003 U.K. documentary Outsiders, elderly New York City wordsmith Bingo Gazingo readily admits that he really just wants to make money and get write-ups in the Voice...
i don't see the two as contradictory, though. Bingo Gazingo was never less than upfront about his desire for wealth and stardom: in his younger days, he wrote the lyrics to 1955's "Eleven Roses" by New Jersey R&B group The Wrens, which received a "so-so" review from Billboard, and while his other attempts to make it as a songwriter were unsuccessful, he nonetheless continued to write "ballads, novelties, show tunes, country-and-western songs, anything he thought would sell, and left them at stage doors at the Roxy, the Paramount and the Strand, in a time-honored tradition ''to try to get my songs to the artists.''"4 [NYT]

His repeated insistence that he wrote songs, not poems, and that he himself should be considered a singer "despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary", was apparently neither gimmick nor eccentricity:

''I think he always insists they're songs because he knows that you can get royalties for songs,'' says a disk jockey at WFMU, 91.1 FM, who is known only as Stork. ''And he knows how royalties work. And even though he comes across as an old eccentric, I think Bingo's secret is that he really wants to be famous and make a million dollars. He knows what he's doing.''
In a sense, McCombs has got cause and effect back-to-front. BG's outsider status wasn't negated by his desire to become rich and famous, but actually confirmed and supported by his attempts to achieve this through writing songs like, say, "I Love You So Fucking Much I Can't Shit" and delivering them at 100mph through his remaining teeth. He wasn't exactly playing by the rules. The "purity" of his work, if that's what you want to call it, didn't derive from some rejection of mainstream pop culture, but from the sheer gulf between the work and any pop cultural criteria for acceptance you could care to name. The crucial factor is not intention – plenty of artists want to be rich'n'famous, after all – but the choices made in the execution of this aim. In an age of homogenised American Idol slop5 he simply didn't accept that his art was less interesting or viable or potentially saleable than that of Clay Aiken or Kelly Clarkson or whatever the name of the latest poppet to emerge from that sausage factory is.6

None of which is to suggest, as is another criticism sometimes levelled at Outsider fans,7 that appreciation of Gazingo's music is limited to a kind of sidelong ironic smirk. His collaboration with New York group My Robot Friend on the track "You're Out of the Computer", featured on the 2003 Outsiders doc Joseph McCombs refers to, was my introduction to him. Over a frantic electro backing, Gazingo's distorted voice harangues a cheating lover in the lexicon of the digital age (lyrics here):

i spent wonderful moments 
in your components

get out of my memory

get your digitals out of my modules

get your mish-mash out of my macintosh

or i’ll hit you with a swiss wrist watch

you showed them your modem

and as sure as my name is yahuda

you’re out of the computer
you looked in my iris

and you gave me a virus

you took away my lap desk

you took away my website

you took away my disk drive

you took away my database 

and you drove away with my jalopy 

and you scrambled my scanner

and you took away my banner 

you’re the world’s worst home shopper

you’re the world’s worst pornographer

and if you see me first
 you say hello

and if i see you first
 i’ll say hello
You probably wouldn't have thought "Aha! Clearly a reader of Wired!" on first seeing Bingo, but he surprises you with a healthy8 familiarity with computer vocab, allied to his facility for a great turn of phrase (the urgency with which he delivers the "iris/virus" couplet still cracks me up every time). And what of those last two lines, which seem to veer off from nowhere into an agreement about social etiquette on meeting? There's no real need for them to be there at all, but that's a favoured trick of Bingo's: start talking about one subject, and abruptly head off on a different, surprising tangent.

His only album was a self-titled release recorded by a cadre of DJs from superior Jersey City radio station WFMU, namely R. Stevie Moore, Bob Brainen, Dennis Diken, Dave Amels, Chris Bolger and Chris Butler, and engineered by Amels. Also released by FMU,9 it incorporates a wealth of sly humour, off-kilter wordplay and moments of real transcendent sweetness. Check the poignant, hazy recollections of old Westerns a nursing home resident recounts to his nurse on "Everything's OK at the OK Corral", or the blissful redemption at the end of updated Biblical revenge tale "Every Day I Leave $10 on the Table", a line with even more pathos today: "and I'm still living/Where did it ever say I died?"

Thank-you to Joe Howe, Howard Rigberg (My Robot Friend) and Bob Brainen for information.

— More poetry at BG's MySpace

mp3: My Robot Friend — "You're Out of the Computer" feat. Bingo Gazingo (YSI)
mp3: Bingo Gazingo — "Everything's OK at the OK Corral" (YSI)
mp3: Bingo Gazingo — "Every Day I Leave $10 on the Table" (YSI)

1 Though he always characterised them as songs, of which more later.
2 His WFMU-released CD includes tracks about Madonna, Beavis & Butthead, Tupac Shakur, Casablanca, and mystifyingly popular DJ Howard Stern's sidekick Gary "Baba Booey" Dell'Abate.
3 A fact that he'd rather people didn't publicise. Sometimes, his birth name was given as Murray Wachsman, Jack Wachsman or, bizarrely, Rupert Calvin Coolidge McGillicuddy, which, considering his penchant for giving his date of birth as between 2,000 and 14 billion years ago, he probably enjoyed greatly.
4 His day job was at the performing rights society Broadcast Music Incorporated sifting through radio playlists to determine which BMI-represented artists were due royalties. Subsequently, like fellow outsider musician Shooby Taylor, he spent several decades working for the US Postal Service in New York.
5 Outsider fans are "a small circle of mesmerized cognoscenti, fans not just of "bad music" -- whatever that may be in a world where Clay Aiken goes to No. 1". Nail/head, right there.
6 And any of my countrymen who might be about to indulge in a spot of complacent Yankee-bashing might pause to consider that this franchise is maybe our most successful cultural export of the last decade.
7 A good example is seen in the disappointing generalisations about Wesley Willis fans in this otherwise excellent and sympathetic article by Okkervil River frontman Will Robinson Sheff.
8 Though, admittedly, not always massively accurate.
9 On two occasions: the first time on cassette and then a reissue on CD. It remains the only single-artist album WFMU has put out.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

#1: Buddy Peace — "Late Model Sedan" (Strange Famous, 2009)

Nick Budd loves American stuff. The 28-year-old Londoner's obsession with the States began with him listening to rap on a jenky radio, and his fixation soon broadened to include "the music, the films, the landscapes, the people – everything. And the cars... wood paneled sedans, Chevys, Buicks, Cadillacs, the whole deal." After serving as resident DJ for Lex Records, supplying live backing for Organised Konfusion’s Prince Po and continually honing his themed mixtapes, Budd joined up with Sage Francis’ Strange Famous Records label. On Late Model Sedan, his first full-length for SFR, Nick (or Buddy Peace to the world at large) meticulously weaves fragments of his beloved Americana into an elaborate sonic tapestry (I want to say "an American quilt", but... oh wait.)

If you listened without knowing differently, you could easily assume the composer was American himself, but it's his outsider-looking-in status that affords Buddy such a compelling vantage point. Using turntables alongside intricate MPC micro-edits, he collages snippets of speech like overheard conversations over finely-cut beats, instrumental drones, and found-sound audio vérité into a forward-looking whole...

Originally written for/published on Junkmedia, where you can read the rest.

mp3: Buddy Peace — "Austin Funeral Stress Tapes" (YSI)
mp3: Buddy Peace — "Obituary Medicine" mix (tracklist)

The failure of criticism/the success of criticism

So, my attempt to review every record that was new to me in 2009 went awry, in what was basically a really predictable way. What you really want is either about sixty hours a day, or the ability, Hiro Nakamura-style,1 to freeze time whenever listening to music, allowing you to listen to and/or review everything ever made, but clearly neither of those is a reality yet.

And i thought about what i could turn the feature into to make it either better or more realistic, but i honestly couldn't think of anything. And so i thought i would just resolve to review every new record i heard in 2010 as well and hopelessly fail once again. "A man can't just sit around, can he?"

First up: a review of Buddy Peace's Late Model Sedan done for Junkmedia.

1 Not that i'm particularly a Heroes fan, tho. The first season was dope, then it started to decline scarily quickly into a giant confusing mess. The plot developments seemingly made up on the spot, the "fuck-it-we'll-just-have-them-move-forward/backwards-in-time" catch-all solution to continuity issues meaning that no-one ever actually has to die (and the resulting boredom of immortality), the ever more cynical rating-grabs ("hey, Hayden Panettiere's rather attractive, isn't she? Let's have her and another girl kissing really awkwardly!") Despite all this, i have mystifyingly kept watching it until at least halfway through the nonsensical fourth season. i must really hate myself.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

More people should ask me to do interviews i can say stuff like this:
Record labels are a mug's game nowadays unless you're in the 10% margin of artists that the remnants of the music industry still think can be squeezed for a greasy buck. Labels can obviously be helpful for promotion etc., but then again we know a few heads that've been properly screwed over by them. Complete control can be harder, but we figure it's worthwhile. i encourage people to find an article by Steve Albini called "The Problem With Music", it's 15 years old but the majority of it is still completely on-point about the music biz.
i also encourage more UK rappers to listen to The Fall, as per. 30KB Certified Banger interview preview now over at MySpace (remember there?)

Speaking of Steve Albini, an eye-opening thing i discovered recently about him is that he and his wife are basically Santa Claus, having raised $100,000 or more for needy families each Christmas for the last decade, until the Chicago post office changed their policy because a sex offender in a totally different city happened to pick up a letter from a child, resulting in absolutely nothing happening whatsoever. Guess no-one wants another Jordan on their hands...

mp3: Big Black — "Jordan, Minnesota" (YSI)

Snow has cancelled everything in the UK

...and all i can keep thinking of is Half Man Half Biscuit's superb "Evening Swing (Has Been Cancelled)", from 2008's CSI Ambleside.

You can't front on lyrics like:
And a plague fell upon the Retail Park
And a storm broke over Henman Hill
And the christening party arsehole
Who hitherto had blurred
My conception of man as nature’s final word
Was fleeing from the lava
His SatNav pleading thus:
“I’m not from round here mate, you should have got the bus
Enter then a real rat pack
Millions pouring in
And Ezekiel punched Dan Brown
And the nights are drawing in
And your Evening of Swing had been cancelled
mp3: Half Man Half Biscuit — "Evening of Swing (Has Been Cancelled)" (YSI)

Monday, 4 January 2010

In search of the arthouse James Bond

i'm not particularly a big James Bond fan, but if pressed to name a favourite in the series it would have to be On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It's got proper emotional resonance (Bond is human and vulnerable - three-dimensional, in fact - rather than just the usual cartoonishly unstoppable force of nature); the criminally underrated George Lazenby, a better Bond than at least three of the ones that came after him, and far more appropriate to the tone of the material than Connery's knowing smirk would have been; meta-humour ("This never happened to the other fellow", complains Lazenby at one point); Telly Savalas as Blofeld; the stunning visuals (Piz Gloria, Saas Fee); and the best overall score of any of the films, courtesy of an on-fire John Barry and including Louis Armstrong's last recorded song before his death, "We Have All the Time in the World", with lyrics by Hal David. This post on the IMDb boards does a pretty good job of elaborating on its dopeness.

Anyway, i just found out about US TV network ABC's "unusual" airing of the film in 1976. It was shown in the channel's 2-hr Monday Night Movie slot; but ABC execs soon came up against the problem of how to fit a 142-minute movie into a 120-minute time slot and still have room for 30 minutes of advertising.

Their solution was to cut the movie into two sections to be aired over two consecutive weeks. Since this would still only fill one hour per section, they then elected to rearrange the order of a lot of the movie's scenes. The first part was deemed rather slow for ABC execs, so the thrilling ski chase scene, usually in the middle of the film, is brought to the very beginning. (This was also, believe it or not, considered a good tie-in to the '76 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, to which ABC had broadcasting rights). It then cuts back and forth between the ski chase scene, several scenes that immediately follow it, and the movie's actual beginning.

Potentially jarring continuity cracks are papered over with some bizarre overdubbed narration ostensibly read by 'Bond himself', but performed by a probably non-British actor affecting a slightly dodgy English accent (you can hear some at this page). After a while, the unusual editing disappears as abruptly as it arrived, and the movie resumes its normal chronology (the second part has no edits at all). This edit was only ever broadcast twice; the second time was in 1980, when both parts were combined into one unholy three-hour block.

To the Bond aficionado this probably sounds like hideous mutilation. However, as i mentioned, i'm not a Bond aficionado; i'm only a mild Bond appreciator at best, but i am a massive fan of errata, obscurities and weirditude, and to me the ABC OHMSS edit sounds like it could be an inadvertent arthouse masterpiece.

The $64,000 question is, has anybody got a copy of this pioneering "Broadcaster's Cut"? The page with the narration snippets above informs that you can get a DVD copy by donating to the website of another Bond fan, but regrettably this site doesn't seem to exist any more. Hypothetically i would pay at least as much as for a brand-new DVD copy of the available (authentic) OHMSS. Anyone?

mp3: Louis Armstrong — "We Have All the Time in the World" (YSI)
mp3: Propellerheads — "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (YSI)

Sunday, 3 January 2010

My Vote

[AZP] part of the problem is powerful people
an eye for an eye and we're blind for the sequel
out of control and rocking the boat
no! it's not gonna get my vote!

laws of the land they tighten. so?
know why they write them? control.
good buy more. pay less. why? owe.
no! it's not gonna get my vote!

Violating public decency so frequently and yet i still just act the meek and wait for someone else to speak for me. i'm speaking, see. the only thing they're teaching me is how to lose your rights in wrongs and make a song of secrecy. even reading writing on the wall means someone's reaching me. bored of the billboard preaching: you have cheapened me. voyeuristic systems here to bleaken streets and peep at me; only gonna get my vote if they jam the CCTV frequencies. a visceral visual when the captain sees no ships. peripheral's digital cuz of RFID chips. in the worst way, my spirit of the staircase prepares aid; a say is as likely as Nestlé going Fair Trade. the disrepair's great. let bets fly. doesn't matter if the right is left or if the left's right (left, right!) branded download, the sound grows to a vote where this land is free of ads like São Paulo. they say sink, we say "how low?" now no buying from a business represented by the Dow Jones. (sink) not now, yo. i sabotage with fatter drops. and know it's only gonna get my vote if they camouflage the ballot box.

oh, you can't shove it down our throat...
it's not gonna get my vote

[D-1] to all my pitiful sages
at the critical stages
raking minimum wages, say
"it's not gonna get my vote"

and all the ones written off
by the toffs at the top
who indulgently scoff, say
"it's not gonna get my..."

Remember, remember, November the 5th: gunpowder's played out, but the sentiment persists. now the crowd get excited when the pyres get lit, but they're not burning the Guy but the ones he'd have hit. and i can see why they're feeling that treason's legit when Big Bro wants to know when i'm taking a shit and how many bits of paper. it's 1984 hell. it's not gonna get my vote, like the spycams on Orwell. so 30K detonate, like radiation, contaminate. it's not gonna get my vote like a BNP candidate in grand debate. skewering them when they start to vacillate: the residue that's left when morality evaporates. future's writ large on an advertising banner, saying WELCOME TO THE PROMISED LAND - poison in the manna. and disgust and apathy are not the same. shame i ain't feeling the love, ticking a box marked "None of the Above". that's why i'm robbing ballot boxes, not giving a toss, making obscene phone calls like i'm Jonathan Ross in a Dave Cameron mask, exacting my vengeance. saying "fuck a party system, we're running as independents".


19 - 30KB - My Vote by Certified Banger

download: zshare/YSI

(not getting my Vogts)

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Happy new year everyone!

We've been waiting 13 years for the official anthem of 2010 to finally become legitimate.
Let's hope the year 2010 lives up to the tune's promise and is suitably full of Japanese-infused 8-bit drum'n'bass elements.

Maestro, please...

mp3: Cornelius – "2010" (YSI)