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Rarely has reality needed so much to be imagined. --Chris Marker
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Criminal (2004)

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Also watch the DVDs of the Secret Agent series with some regularity

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Saturday, July 12, 2003

The Dedalus Book of Roman Decadence: Emperors of Debauchery: review
Rome always seemed a polar affair, with on one hand great and noble leaders and on the other in-bred loons who saw Europe as a money-box. And, let's face it, wonderful and admirable as the noble emperors were, there is that "he did what?" factor that keeps us coming back to the psychos. So, evidently to satisfy this craving, Dedalus have published this rather fab little book. They've taken choice cuts from Ovid, Suetonius, Tacitus, Juvenal and more, translated them in a jaunty, chatty fashion and stitched them together. It works very well indeed.

3:00 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

European Gothic: A Spirited Exchange 1760-1960 edited by Avril Horner: review
...for the most part [the book] achiev[es] its goal of proving that the multiple flowerings of the Gothic mode that occurred throughout Europe were due to a rapid exchange of ideas based upon trade, translation and the growing fiction market. This is in direct opposition to the usual view that Gothic grew (particularly in Britain) in a steady organic progression from Walpole's Castle of Otranto through to Shelly, Radcliffe and Stoker. The essayists Horner have chosen explore the nature of translation and cultural misappropriation, seeing Gothic infesting Europe like a plague and identifying its peculiar conventions in Coleridge, Pushkin and even Lloyd-Webber. In fact, the discussion of the roots and paths of The Phantom of the Opera by Jerold E Hogle is one of the highlights of the book, taking in historical backgrounds, film and stage as it traces the Late Capitalist assimilation of the story.
I noticed that there's an essay on the translations of The Manuscript from Saragossa, which I've just picked up at half.com -- the Elizabeth Abbott one.

2:48 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

See my other site for a post on Mike Jay's The Air Loom Gang about a political operative who fell out of favor in the early 1800s and described in elaborate detail the mind control machine that tormented him.

2:41 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Friday, July 11, 2003

If you're into click/glitch/sound design/dark ambient, there's some pretty good mp3 (192k) albums from the German site autoplate

I was searching for Johan Wieslander, and found precious little, but he has an album out here soon.

Meanwhile I recommend dto by Ukrainians The Moglass & Andrey Kiritchenko, the Autopianotationalismasoschism EP by the American/Puerto Rican duo Vultrapia and the remix album Constructions For Andrey Kiritchenko, though I haven't found any clunkers here yet.

There's downloadable cover art as well.

Also, Kiritchenko's own site is featuring a former Soviet satellite comp called Polyvox Populi 2 which is quite good too. The only act I'd heard of was EU. The Alphonse de Montfroyd track is the standout so far, though I haven't heard it all yet.

I'm also listening to a couple new things from the redoubtable Canadian site no type: Julie Rousse's entry into the sine fiction SF tribute series, in this case Asimov's Foundation; and bipolar transmission by elastic lego and martin dx.

All of these are free and legal mp3s.

1:51 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Sam Smith on the decline of community and the bass guitar

Your editor has long held the view - although quietly for fear of being mugged - that one of the earliest signs of America's cultural collapse was the introduction of the disco drum machine. I was, to be sure, a drummer at the time, so the opinion may have been a bit premature and biased. Nonetheless, since then popular music has become increasingly stripped of melody, chord range, internal variety and surprise, and dynamics. With the arrival of rap, music itself became virtually irrelevant.

These are not matters of taste, but observable phenomenon. For example, the history of western music, until fairly recently, was in part the story of expanding the number of acceptable chords, something that can be readily seen in comparing, say, a traditional folk song to the works of Thelonious Monk. This does not mean that the folk song was bad, only that the later work was far more venturesome at the least, and more creative at best. Growing cultures keep breaking ground. Declining ones just wear it out and break it up. Retrenchment and regression replaces exploration and adventure.

Anyone who grew up with jazz grew up with this sense of adventure, sometimes found in a single tune. It has been described by one music teacher as being in part the interplay between repetition and surprise. Just when we think we know what is coming thanks to previous reiteration, the music surprises us. Further, as far back as Jelly Roll Morton, jazz musicians borrowed from different musical traditions, blending them in new and unusual ways.

There have been two anchors in all of this: the drums and the bass. And even though I was once a drummer, after I switched to piano I found myself increasingly of the opinion that the bass was the sina qua non of jazz. In fact, in my own mainstream group - blessed by a superb bassist - I did away with drums entirely, leaving room for two horns in just a quartet.

Bassists are remarkable people, all the more so because most pay them so little mind. I have, in fact, never met a mean or nasty bass player. They tend to be musicians of good humor, extraordinary patience, and a sense of modesty that can be lacking in the front of the band.

The elimination of bassists from bands is another reflection, I fear, of America's growing passion for power without the balance of community and cooperation, and without the magnificent gift of an individual who is always quietly there doing exactly the right thing at the right time and, in the process, making everyone else sound good as well.
I'm not convinced this is so dire a situation, but it's an interesting POV.

I'm more into experiments anyway.

10:22 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Suing your customers one by one is not a business model

Petition for musicians opposed to new legal strategy by MusicMobster
[Undernews, near bottom]
We can only assume that the intention behind these attacks on
individuals is to create an atmosphere of intimidation in which music lovers dare not use legally acquired computers to listen to music, except under very limited terms that the industry intends to dictate.

As musicians we recognise and defend the right of artists to be compensated for their work. However, these prosecutions are not helping musicians, or helping the industry create a better system of internet distribution.

5:02 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Baj collage

R.I.P. Enrico Baj

This is the first I've heard of this highly political, confrontational and avant garde artist who was a collaborator with Duchamp.
Baj became increasingly convinced that mass consumption had produced a culture in which artistic invention was replaced by endless repetition and kitsch. His response was to create his own copies of great modern painters, from Seurat to De Chirico and Picasso. In place of contemporary art's stultifying unoriginality, these free adaptations exemplified his talent for imaginative association and collage.


Nixon And Kissinger At The Columbus Day Parade (1974) was followed by Apocalypse (1978-83), in which he expressed his horror at the corruption and environmental degradation of the planet. This disgust reached a climax in 1994 with the first election of Italy's current premier, and the production of Berlus-kaiser, a sardonic painting populated, like Apocalypse, by grotesque silhouetted figures.

Here's a page that claims Baj was aware of alien visitations and abductions in the 50s, FWIW.

3:08 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

New Curiosities collection of "singularities" from Eno promises to be most interesting release since Nerve Net [Disquiet newsletter]

Other recent releases from EnoShop, ambient variety: January 07003 - Bell Studies For The Clock Of The Long Now and 18 Keyboard Studies, both nice but -- like the installation pieces from the last few years, not up to On Land and Thursday Afternoon.

Unlike some Eno loyalists, I didn't get into Drawn from Life or The Drop much. I do listen to tracks from the former sometimes. And the Lightness pieces. And I Dormienti is probably the most interesting of the installation bunch, though I imagine they work a lot better in the context of the space they were created for. Like most movie soundtracks.

I think Eno has been down with his family and producing and collaborating, his energy dispersed and uh distributed. Not much making it to the solo works. And his stuff seems chillier and less textural than the earlier works, which is part of what makes his work unique, because few artists working in electronic music are following up that line of thought. Maybe that's partly the analog to digital thing, but I miss it, whatever.

12:57 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Monday, July 07, 2003

I'd written off Legally Blonde 2 for obvious reasons, until I read this blurb by director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, who did Kissing Jessica Stein a while back, which I thoroughly enjoyed -- one of the sanest and most appealing romantic comedies I've seen lately (along with the delightful About a Boy, which I liked even more)

I don't know if I'll get through LBII anyway, but it may have redeeming qualities. The first one I doubt I'll get to.

I like Reese Witherspoon (she was great in Election), but lately I can't see her for the spotlights, y'know. Have to catch Freeway sometime.

1:44 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

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