10/30/08

Frightening the living shite out of meself part 2

Last Hallowe'en I decided to get into the spirit of things by posting a blog about songs that scare the knickers off of my goolies. You can read it here. Not much has changed since. However, I do take back my ill-judged slagging of metal. This was before I did a piece about Metal for Analogue magazine and found myself not only liking a lot of the stuff, but feeling the genuinely chill touch of some of the genre's bleaker exponents. A lot of it is cartoonish exaggeration though, but the fans are as aware of this as anyone. This year, the world seems so fucked that anyone with a propensity for the odd moment of self-indulgent existential mulling (i.e. me) already has enough reason to sob fearfully like a jobless hedge-fund hotshot and widdle all over themselves in raw terror like...a jobless hedge-fund hotshot. Dublin is getting spookier by the minute too. Places are half empty. That is always spooky. A half empty Bus Aras is less preferable to a completely empty Bus Aras for some reason. When somewhere is half empty you tend to notice other people more. And there is always a weirdo or two knocking around Bus Aras. Normally this happens about 10.45pm on a Tuesday when all the buses have gone save for Kells and a town called Kill. At this time of night, the little red LED screen over gate 6 just reads Kill. The word constantly moves across the screen like a mindless computer-generated instruction.... "Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill". I swear to fuck. Either that town gets renamed, or someone of an unstable mental disposition (a jobless hedge-fund hotshot?) is going to go all 'Jack Nicholson in the Shining' and "Kill, Kill, Kill" everyone in Bus Aras on Tuesday evening 'cos the LED sign told them to do it. Anyway I am a sucker for punishment, so I am going to drag myself over the rusty, sharp protrusions of my inner demons and post some more music that frightens the living shite out of me. I'm putting it up today because the lovely LoLo will be delivering her long-awaited new installment of Lolomix on Hallowe'en. I found some photos to go with this stuff too. They are not for the faint hearted. Hallowe'en was downright scary in America at the turn of the century. Bear in mind, most of the people in these photos are dead. That means their malignant ectoplasm is probably pouring out of your PC right now and their gaseous forms are rising above your back as you read this blog. Clown plus groupies circa 1907 MP3: Brian Eno-Lantern Marsh My love of Brian Eno knows no bounds and I particularly adore his instrumental work. A lot of it is quite neutral. It is absorbent like kitchen towel and able to cope with whatever emotions we choose to project upon it. Yet, the album 'Ambient 4/ On Land' bucks this trend spectacularly. He gives us more information than usual. There are less gaps for our brains to fill. It is as if Eno wants to explicitly evoke something. Something not quite right. All of Ambient 4 spooks me. It is an exercise in uncomfortable textures that conjure up uneasy mental images. Even the title of the above track...lantern marsh? How can you not think of dead bogs at night where sickly, flickering lights hang in the still atmosphere? Best listened to at 12pm on a summer's day while under the influence of Coca Cola. If you are into more extreme adventure sports, then listen to it on a grim November night under the influence of bad drugs. The rest of the album is just as bad (or good, depending on how much of a masochist you might be). Terrifying Mr Tayto prototypes circa 1899 MP3: Aphex Twin-Some sort of untitled creepy cut from selected ambient works volume 2 Aphex twin nerds have tried to name the songs off his magnum opus (IMHO) Selected Ambient Works volume 2. Truth be told, they have no names, and rightly so. Small circular images represent each track. This is not unlike like when an abstract or conceptual artist chooses to call a work 'untitled'. Sometimes, by putting a name on something, one is already kiddy-fiddling with the viewer's/listener's perception of it. Evocative ambience like this is often best left nameless. An untitled dread in this case. It reminds me of the petrifying bit at the end of Supergirl (a worrying cinematic state of affairs that was tantamount to child abuse so much has it bothered me), where Supergirl and Peter O'Toole have to suck the ink out of squids for sustenance in a vortex-wracked and seemingly infinite fifth dimension. It's basically discordant wind sounds followed by extra-terrestrial hoovers of doom gone into reverse. And in case you are a child of the '80s who repressed Supergirl, check this bad shit out...Yes it did actually come out on VHS. No you did not dream it up. Our friends dressed up as oil rigs in the year 1909. We hung around with them and wore lumpy masks. Statistically we are all dead and most likely ghosts by now. MP3: The Beatles-Being for the benefit of Mr Kite! (takes one and two) MP3: The Beatles-Being for the benefit of Mr Kite! (take seven) An acid devastated John Lennon struggles through takes of the most eerie Beatles song of all time. Three questions. One, who are the Hendersons? Two, what is a hogshead of real fire? Three, why is there such gleeful venom in Lennon's voice when he spits out the last lyric that "Mr Kite is topping the bill". These things all perturb me; never mind horses dancing waltzes. The Beatles are the pop music equivalent of Tolstoy or Shakespeare. It's all there in that awesome catalogue of songs. Some people think it's cool to disagree. I'd argue them into a fucking hole. If there is one thing I am sure about, it's the Beatles' importance, not just as pop musicians but as artists. Masks, what masks? MP3: Captain Beefheart and his magic band-The dust blows forward 'n the dust blows back I said before that Trout Mask Replica made little sense to me. I'm starting to get it in a weird way now though. There are stark meditations on mortality and the state of humanity amongst its rattling clockwork intricacies. A lot of the time Don Van Vliet appears to be challenging the western taboo of death through a mad banjaxed kaleidoscope of all the American music genres that came before him. I still somewhat feel like I am looking up a foreign mountain with this one though. Yet, on this particularly surreal folk song when the vocal repeatedly clicks like a skipping gramophone (fast forwarding time and thoughts?), I feel sucked into a time-trick. Then Beefheart contemplates "when am I gonna die?". Brrr. It is well outside of my time and geographical location (I'll surely never fully get it 'cos of my Irishness-it is a very American album). But fuck, this song in particular gives me a weird tickle. Happy Hallowe'en everyone. Be spooky.

10/29/08

And every stroke a bucketful (Soundtracks part 2)

First things first. What the fuck is going on with the weather? It is snowing properly in Kells. I'm watching these incredible fat flakes tumbling out of the slate sky and they are 'sticking'. Remember when you were a kid and if it was snowing at school, every now and again one of the cheekier little urchins would run on a little reconnaisance trip to the window and inform everyone if it was 'sticking' or not? There was a difference between grass sticking and footpath sticking. Well, about fifteen minutes ago, it started sticking to the footpath. If this continues I'll be able to build a snowman before nightfall. I'll take some photographic evidence and put it up here. He'll have to be a spooky snowman seeing as Hallowe'en's bony hand is knocking at the door. How cool would it be to put a pumpkin on a snowman's body? It's like fucking around with the space time continuum, seasons bleeding into each other. I can hear bangers going off too. Bangers in the snow. As I said before, what the fuck? This was a pic of Britt Eckland's bum double. Now it's just Britt, cos apparently it was NSFW...which until this evening I might have thought was a punk band like NOFX or a music festival in the states. I've always been spooked by old British rituals and pagan stuff. I am genuinely terrified of Morris dancers. Grinning old men in funny clothes prancing around a pole, dementedly waving handkerchiefs? Not for me thanks. OH GAWD!! MAKE IT STOP!! The Wicker Man freaks my deaks in a similar way to Morris dancers. Not all of it though. Some parts are just hammy. But other parts make me feel like there are cold fish thrashing around in my guts. A super quick synopsis of the film: permanantly vexed christian copper visits island full of pagan loons in the hunt for a missing girl, nearly gets seduced by Britt Eckland's bum (2nd best movie bum of all time, the best being Scarlett Johansson's peachy number as seen through gauzy pink knicks in Lost in Translation), finds out girl isn't really dead, then gets burned alive inside a big straw man so that aforementioned pagan loons can eat fresh apples in the next harvest. Everyone holds hands, singing a happy song as the copper and various farm animals are flame grilled. The end. The Wicker Man's soundtrack composed by Paul Giovanni plays a key role in conjuring the movie's eerie atmosphere. It veers between slooshy drunken crowd-chanted folk (the Landlord's daughter), and haunting plaintive numbers such as Willow's song of seduction, where a nudey Britt Eckland (miming) whups her hands like a mad sex-monster against the dividing wall between her and the permanently vexed copper while singing "How a maid can milk a bull and every stroke a bucketful…" Yikes. As I said, there are brief moments in the film that chill me. I was never scared by its denouement, but rather little moments. A severed hand with all its fingers alight. A child inside a wooden donkey costume with a chattering head disappearing from view. The entire village population engaged in a writhing, moonlit orgy in the grass outside the local pub, their copulating bodies like slugs. Throughout, Giovanni's soundtrack is the perfect accompaniment, musically evoking a pre-christian Celtic ambience. Corn Rigs in particular has a ghostly way about it. MP3: Paul Giovanni-Corn Rigs MP3: Paul Giovanni-Willow's Song Oh, and you might see guest posts here from time to time, like Sarah's below! Hope you enjoy them. I will update at my usual rate, however. Now, its time to get cracking on that snow-monster.

10/28/08

Lost In The Supermarket

(Get used to those kind of annoying blog titles. You will soon learn how cool I am...) I have an odd fascination with Lidl. I couldn't really give a fuck about Aldi I overuse the word fascination. It promotes a positive idea. Many of my fascinations disturb me deeply. They include in no perverse order: nosebleeds, conversations hairdressers insist on having to you, the fact that people believe Longford exists and people who don't like Super Furry Animals. I remember the first time I attended a Lidl. My mother was concerned that I didn't fill the cart (trolley being too, I dunno, Irish) with sweets and magazines as was/is/will be my trademark at such events. There is a noted comfort in relating to a brand, to a logo, to a slogan, to a language for fuck sake. While there were numerous hints as to what I was trying to be sold (pigeon english, e number targets heroically reached, barcodes, etc.), nothing at all appealed to me. I have thought long and hard about why this was and remains so. Truth be told, I have made as limited as possible returns to various Lidls in various countries and on various student money saving, soul destroying trips, so my observations will be largely unfounded. Nonetheless, I have reached some conclusions as to why I find Lidl one of the bleakest places on the planet. - the marked lack of piped music - it's just awkward without it. - the marked lack of proper shelving. - the marked lack of the din of conversation. - the fact that while there is nothing obviously dank about the place, there is not a single thing hygenic about it. - the wry look of hoplessness that staff seem to offer when barely confronted with a standard greeting. - the fact that there isn't even ample space or time for one to pack their shopping, instead being forced to an altogether inconvenient, cramped countertop adjacent to the tills leaving sufficent room for confusion, frenzy and all-out bitterness. - Being threatened with a security man if you don't have an age card when buying alcohol (heaven forbid foreigners should want to shop there). - The overall air of denial of substandard meat products. - Cardboard fucking boxes being the new EVERYTHING. - The slant of the i on the out of proportion logo really sends me over the edge. - The crap impact-style font that's on every single label, poster, receipt, nametag…it's not uniform, it's crap. - Speaking of uniforms, Fruit of the Loom chic died a long time ago. As I say, I have an odd fascination with Lidl. I couldn't really give a fuck about Aldi. _sarah_

UhHuhHer

Hello, I am Sarah. I will be writing on this blog from time to time. I have limted time for proper capitalisation, though will strive for the sake of being polite. I can most conveniently be found here: http://www.myspace.com/the_one_they_called_sarah

10/26/08

I'm walking here! I'm walking here! (Soundtracks part 1)

A handsome young stud from a small country town takes a bus trip to the big city. He's armed only with his transistor radio, a small suitcase and dreams of making his fortune as a gigolo. No ladies, it's not the story of when I first moved to Dublin, but rather the opening scene of John Schlesinger's Midnight Cowboy, a mega film with one of my favourite soundtracks. The first time I saw Midnight Cowboy (I was 17, sitting up late post-Christmas in a room that stank faintly of those soft, hot quality street farts people sneak out at yuletide) one of the things about the film that struck me most was the soundtrack. Particularly those scenes where John Voigt's character Joe Buck pounds the big city streets, accompanied first by the strains of Harry Nilsson singing Everybody's talkin', and later by the film's theme scored by John Barry. MP3: John Barry-Theme to Midnight Cowboy That theme froze me when I first heard it. That opening harmonica line. Woah. Fucking woah. It has to be the most profoundly melancholy piece of instrumental music in cinema. It consists of a plaintive descending melody that evokes loneliness in such an exquisite way that words would surely to struggle to compete. A rolling countryish background rhythm then starts, reminding us of Joe's simple rural origins, and the piece continues for three gorgeous minutes. The rest of the soundtrack is a mix between a few more original Barry compositions and songs he picked to reflect the time and place. These all work brilliantly in the film and there are a few intruiging psychedelic oddities from minor '60s group, Elephant's Memory. Kells Rocker Ollie Cole's first ever walk down Grafton Street to the strains of Everybody's Talkin. MP3: Harry Nilsson-Everybody's Talkin

10/22/08

Jay Intellectual Disability

Is it possible for fabric conditioner to go off? I put some comfort into the washing machine yesterday and it came out in these vile cottage cheese curds, like milk when you pour vinegar into it. It smelled okay though. I'll see how my clothes come out. I meant to write a few music blogs during the week but never got around to them. For a start I wanted to write a longish review of Times New Viking, No Age and Los Campesinos! in Whelans. That would be a bit stale and pointless now, especially considering lots of other good blogs got around to it. Just one or two super quick things though. Times New Viking were brilliant but on a tad early? My ticket said doors 8pm and they came on just before 8pm. Lots of people missed them. I've never experienced a gig in Whelans where a band came bang on the door time before. Also, because all three bands supposedly shared equal billing, there was more confusion about who was playing when. A good few people I spoke to were genuinely taken aback that No Age didn't headline. They would have killed it too. Still, good gig. I might be interviewing this dude... MP3: Jay Reatard-Always wanting more I'm a bit scared, considering his track record of hitting people, but it will be on the phone so the worst he can do to me is a phoned in headbutt. His Matador singles collection is fucking amazing, a big old linen sack of unpolished garage rock gemstones. MP3: Brian Eno-An Ending(Ascent) My spooky moment of the week happened on the 109 bus to Kells. As it turned a corner from Summerhill onto the North Circular Road I caught a fleeting glimpse of a raggedy hallowe'en decoration made out of nowt but a torn bin-liner bag and a skull mask. It was hanging wraith-like above a vegetable shop. It chilled me.

10/12/08

The hag is astride...

Before I relate my experiences of sleep paralysis, I have a shameful food-related confession to make. I love vinegar so much that I drink it on its own sometimes. Some nights, when I'm alone, either in my flat or at home, I go for the vinegar and pour a little, just a little maaan, out on a spoon to sip. Last night, I had one of these terrible vinegar cravings and went straight for the balsamic and poured it into a teaspoon, smack addict style, for a quick hit. Halfways through pouring it into the spoon, I was caught by the swinging glare of car headlights pulling in outside. I panicked blindly (seriously I felt like a teenager caught wanking) and dropped the spoon on the floor, splashing aged balsamic vinegar all over my sock. Degrading. Pathetic. Christy Dignam himself never sank so low. It was some small consolation that the car in question belonged to my neighbours. Before anyone asks, I didn't drop to my hands and knees to lap the goods off the floor like when the Happy Mondays sucked spilled methadone off the tiles in Manchester Airport. I did, however, slurp another quick hit of the good stuff before shamefully returning the bottle to the shelf. Yikes, I just wrote a confessional blog. I now feel like 'Harmony' aged 42 from Idaho. Maybe I should rename my blog "Dance like nobody's watching...the life, love and dreams of a single mom and her cat destiny". Sleep paralysis. Look at that painting. Spooky as fuck isn't it? The painting is more famous than its artist (the little known romantic John Henry Fuseli) because of what it depicts, a terrifying night-time visitation that is shared across many of the world's cultures. While it may manifest itself differently according to the culture, it is always felt to be baneful, dreadful and somehow not of this world. The poor soul who suffers a visit from this presence remains paralysed in bed, unable to scream or move. Worse still, the presence, or one of its accomplices, sometimes sits on the victim's chest (like the creepy little gargoyle in the painting) constricting their breathing and weighing them down with all the dead weight of, well the dead. The overall experience can be so life-like and overwhelming that many believe they are actually visited by demons or aliens. Indeed, the most likely rational explanation for so-called alien abductions in the States is that the hallucinations were brought on by sleep paralysis, which is technically the mind waking up while the body continues to dream (dreams leak into reality and the body is paralysed as it is in REM sleep). Like I said, it's culturally specific. In Ireland, many people are paid a visit by an old woman who is known in folklore as The Hag. I suffer terribly with this condition. I've been paid visits by The Hag (she hovers at my window while sheet lightning flashes silently across the sky behind her), floating green children with sunken faces, luminous horses, a ring-ring-a-rosie of demented midgets wheeling around my bed, faceless eyes, mouths; the whole heeby jeeby phantasmagorical works. Each time it happens, the room around me is as it should be in almost every single detail. I can pick out tiny details that shouldn't belong in a hallucination. Except things are wrong. I can't move. The air is heavy and old. A sickly grey light clings to things, the hag watches keenly (sometimes whispering stale nothings in the frigid air) and my entire body is overcome by a feeling of the most unbearable dread. MP3: Patrick Kelleher-Finds You I think Patrick Kelleher's music fits well with my Autumn musings. There is something of the witching hour about his stuff the odd time. Especially this odd track from his 'Coat to Wear' EP. Which brings me to... Analogue's 1st Birthday! It's going to be in the Twisted Pepper (formerly Traffic) on Abbey Street at 9pm this Thursday 16th of October. I think it will be a great night because Patrick is playing, as are Spilly Walker and The Villagers. I'll be DJing fer a little bit too. See yis there!

10/11/08

And the ghosts are rattling at the door and the devil's in his chair

Eh oop, but it were grim in Dublin last night. Talk about a doleful, watery streak of an Autumn eve. That funny 'turning time' feeling was in the air too. Clock hands turning too quickly in moonlight. Toadstools emerging with uncommon speed from the season's mulch to greet a sun that's grey and exhausted before it's even risen. There was a familiar yet uncanny feeling last night. A sense I think poets get more often than the rest of us. You know the one that steals just enough normality out of things to prick our thoughts with the tiniest touch of the pagan. Late yesterday, it was brought on by the sight of sodden cardboard boxes pissing channels of rain out of the sides of skips, by the electric light emitted wanly from closed butchers' shops, and from the shadow-people who scuttled across the Ha'penny bridge through the howling wet riding down the Liffey from the blackness out past the ferries.

And from further beyond that dark and choppy mass, I imagined monstrous clouds of modern unease boiling up and rolling forth. A low yet insistent buzz of uncertainty and queasiness is in the air these days. Is it to do with those ubiquitous descending and jagged red lines on the News Channels? They remind us that our lives may soon be buffeted by global events completely beyond our reach but which are slowly drip-dripping into the everyday of everything. The slightest fog of something fearful is rising up around us all. Generalized anxiety? It's hard not to think of all those scribbledy, screaming faces looking skywards on an old Radiohead poster peeling from the wall of my mate's flat.

 


Normally, on such nights, I'd indulge myself and put something obligingly gloomy on the headphones. Johnny Marr's liquid guitar and Morrisey's humdrum towns often suffice (there's no such thing as a former Smiths fan, you just visit them less as you grow older). But tonight wasn't even a Smiths night. They were always more rainy day music to me anyway. Grey, smelly carpet days. I couldn't listen to anything uplifting either, because the feeling in the air would suck away the music's essence and corrupt it to fuck. I once tried listening to 'Good Day Sunshine' by The Beatles while, ahem, feeling paranoid and emotional, thinking it would be the perfect antidote to my tremulous state of mind. Yah right. Their cheery blast of heat and sun seemed to mock me from a void. It was as if I looked down an extremely long, dank pipe toward an unreachable past which shone iridescently, but belonged to others. It amplified my gloom and loneliness.

No, the only way to get through this sort of shit is to not try to fight it, but to try to appreciate the beautiful artifacts offered up to us from others in a similar state of mind.

So I listened to this... MP3: The Pogues-The Old Main Drag

And this... MP3: Young Marble Giants-Searching for the Night

And this... MP3: Galaxie 500-The Fourth of July

And some other similar stuff.

My sleep paralysis blog is gestating (I'm gonna sleep on it!). This blog was going to be about it actually. The title refers to a Pogues lyric, which might be about delirium tremens, but always struck me as reflective of the baneful dream-hallucinations associated with the condition that I shall describe in full in my next despatch. Hey, Hallowe'en is coming. Indulge me. I have an unquenchable fascination with creepy shit. Now's the best time of year to rinse it out of the system.

10/9/08

The wasteland...

There's a new show on RTE called Seóige. I switched over to it because I remember it used to be called Seóige and O'Shea, on account that it featured that sinisterly overgrown Corkonian leprechán, crinkle-faced O'Shea. Tooraloo ladies, touch me magical charms and I'll show you me pot o'gold! I wondered what had happened to him? Perhaps Seóige had eaten him? She certainly seemed capable of it. Would she be sitting in his dessicated remains, sucking the last droplet of glimmering leprechán sweat out of his papery skull while asking Twink about the menopause in a dead Galway monotone? It was worse. O'Shea had been replaced by another Seóige. TWO SEÓIGES, sitting side-by-side on the studio couch, like a pair of Austin Powers fembots, grilling Larry Gogan with about as much chemistry and fizz as a half a dispirin dropped into a puddle of catpiss. I watched in horror, riveted. I could see poor Larry's thin hair rustling in the wind-tunnel of the combined boom of two Seóiges' voices operating in tandem. Glued uncomfortably together at the hip (by some sick RTE executive with a double Seóige fantasy no doubt) they traded weakly scripted jokes and honked fake donkey laughs at the risible puns. Example: Little Seóige-"of course, you'll be more familiar with Larry's radio show than me. Because...you're so much older!" Big Seóige (looking at her like she is going to shoot her to death with one of the retractable guns in her robotic tits)-"HONK HONK HONK! HONK ALL ROUND!" Larry-"Don't eat me." Did I mention how close together they were on the couch? They were attached. Like siamese twins. My sister's succinct verdict? "It's a bit weird". No shit sister sherlock, it is the weirdest fucking thing I've seen on RTE in a long time. I mean, why are they so close together if not to tickle the "tag-team Seóige" fantasy so beloved of every wild, masturbating bachelor swinging off a rusty gate in Tuam? Are RTE hoping there will be more sexual tension between them than there was when O'Shea lurked on the couch, face twinkling away and an enormous erection in his pants? All I know is I would shit my pants being interviewed by these two. They freak the fuck out of me. The show itself is drivel of course, muck of the worst RTE hue, albeit with a sinister air of discomfort and dread. I mean, put one Seóige in a blonde wig and you have your next David Lynch film right there. It's that fucking weird. MP3: Bobby Vinton-Blue Velvet My next blog is going to be weird too. It's going to be about sleep paralysis.

10/8/08

Your Anchor

This review was meant for Analogue a while ago but somehow ended up mouldering on my laptop. It's of the new Lackthereof album 'Your Anchor', which is rather good in that pleasant, backgroundy, never gonna be life-changing way. frozen anchor When he’s not being Menomena’s freakishly tall drummer, Danny Seim moonlights as Lackthereof. Your Anchor is, impressively, the ninth album he recorded under this moniker (the first six were recorded on cassette tapes that he gave to his mates). It is a decidedly low-key, melodic, melancholy album that bubbles away gloopily across its ten tracks and finishes on a despairingly dark cover version of The National’s ‘Fake Empire’. Keen listeners looking for traces of the day job will find slowed down (almost tarry) reflections of Menomena’s unconventional rhythms and key changes here, but there is no question that Seim’s side project has a robust identity of its own. As mentioned, it is very, very slow. These songs are slower than Forest Gump. They positively crawl out of your stereo and wander woozily around the place like dazed St Bernard dogs. Sounds dull right? It’s not. Done right, slow can be good and slow can be pleasant, and Seim succeeds because of his strong songwriting chops. The consistent tone is set on ‘chest pass’ which dribbles a wonderful melody all over its cough-syrup soaked bass and jittering drums. As Danny sings a coda of overlapping la-la-las over the end of the track it’s hard not to picture him swinging in a hammock and grinning with his eyes half open. Anyone who likes the band Low will find a lot to love here. In fact, there is a lot to love here full stop. MP3: Lackthereof-Choir Practice

10/2/08

'Ardcore You know the score

My bad reading habits came home to roost today. I looked at the books strewn around my room and realised that I am no more than a third of the way through most of them. I am a bit of a scatalogical book whore that way. I dip into something and then drop it as soon as something sexier winks at me from the shelf in Easons. Either that, or at 27, too many years of immature partying excess has withered my brain into a sodden grey acorn with alcohol-induced ADHD. It's normally a bit of a feat then when I finish a book. Especially when I actually read it, as opposed to lie passively in the dark as a disembodied American voice drip feeds me words from my laptop. Today I finished a book. With real pages. Which I read with my eyes. It had over 550 pages too. It's called Energy Flash. It's by Simon Reynolds and it is the best book I've read on music since Revolution in the Head. I reckon the mark of any good book about music is how quickly it gets you scrabbling to hear the music it considers. When I read Revolution in the Head two years ago, I whipped out my ipod and giddily hoovered every Beatles song through my ears about four times over. My brain sucked that shit up like a Nilfisk. I was listening to the Beatles in an engaged, appreciative way for the first time since I was a teenager and all because I read Ian McDonald's remarkable book. Energy Flash has had a similar effect. Reynolds (who is perhaps better known for Rip it up and Start Again) writes about dance culture in such a personal, passionate way and wears his intelligence with such a lightness of touch that it is really hard not to get swept up in his arguments even though I don't agree with them all. The book sweeps from the early days of Detroit Techno through to Dubstep (in the new edition) giving a view of dance culture that is at once both panoramic and deeply subjective (Reynolds was quite the raver it would appear). Because of it's subjectivity, a huge focus is on the early days of rave through to the mass-cultural explosion of British Hardcore (1988-1993). He writes about countless tracks and artists I never heard about, but does it in such a seductive way I've been downloading shit left right and centre just to get an aural handle on what's being described. I'm sure he couldn't wish for higher praise than that. 'twas far from Bon Iver this young buck was raised. Here is a flavour of how he writes, describing Joey Beltram's 1990 hardcore techno track 'Energy Flash', after which the book is named. This sort of stuff makes me green with Envy.
1990's 'Energy Flash' gets my vote as the greatest techno track of all time. With its radioactive bass-glow and pulsing loop-riff 'Energy Flash' sucks you into a miasmic maelstrom like nothing since the first acid house tracks. An insinuating whisper murmurs 'acid, ecstasy' like a dealer in the murk, or the voice-of-craving inside an addict's head. The track really does sound like the speedfreak's drug 'flash', like being plugged into an electric mains (no wonder amphetamine-aficiandos talk about being 'wired').
And so on for 550 glorious pages. All of this delicious prose is fleshed out with a great deal of heavy cultural theorising, which while sometimes a little carried away, always makes great reading. If only all books on music could read like this. Of course, I downloaded the track described above. MP3:Joey Beltram-Energy Flash and another track by Beltram which Reynolds describes as follows
The monstrous 'Mentasm' sound - a swarming killer bee drone derived from the Roland Juno Alpha synthesiser, a writhing, seething, cyclone-hiss that sends ripples of shivery shuddery rapture over your entire body-surface
MP3:Joey Beltram-Mentasm Yup, he likes his old school hardcore does Reynolds. Now I do too.