In the mid 1960’s, you couldn’t say a bad word about Miles Davis’ music. After having played with the legendary Charlie Parker, he had formed a short-lived octet that produced the album Birth of The Cool in 1957, which spearheaded a new movement known as cool jazz. In contrast to many of his contemporaries, Miles’ trumpet playing was languorous and melodic, very surprising compared to the flurries of notes that other jazz musicians were playing at the time. After a few experiments, he formed a new sextet, which produced the landmark album Kind Of Blue; which was accessible, innovative and which kick started another jazz movement known as modal jazz. Kind of Blue is still revered as possibly the best jazz album ever. Following a few more years of creative restlessness, he settled with a steady quintet that produced album after album of challenging, interesting music. But by the end of the decade Miles was once again growing restless. Taking his inspiration from non-jazz artists like James Brown and Jimi Hendrix, Miles brought electric instruments into the band and began playing some new compositions with a rock-like edge to them. For the jazz critics, this was quite enough.
At time of writing, it’s high festival season in Edinburgh and I’m increasingly convinced I’m the only person who can see exactly how manically brain-beating this festival atmosphere is. I’ve just seen three fat Americans talking loudly as they walked into a McDonald’s in their sports clothing that looks a size too small. Time to tactically cede the Grassmarket and the Cowgate for the next week, retreat, regroup and start anew with a sonic assault courtesy of Om. Or Sleep Mark 2. Originally I planned a retrospective of all of Om’s full lengths, but after I sat down to listen to them all again, the fish hook of Conference of the Birds got me again. I’m now addicted. The deep sludgy mid-point between Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun and Dopesmoker has me. See you sometime next week.
LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #10 Television, the best band you've never heard of. Part two Adventure and post-Adventure
“Television – the best band you’ve never heard of”
Part 2 – Adventure and post-Adventure
1978. The punk rock revolution had swept the world. The bold, stripped down sound of the music was a new breath of life to the people who were bored of the overblown progressive rock and jazz-fusion of the era. Young people were drawn to the culture of anarchy, self-expression and angst. The appearance and attitudes of these punks gave young people a sense of belonging and identity, and the extent and influence of this was massive. In the midst of all this, Television quietly dropped their second album, Adventure. Completely at odds with punk’s in-your-face approach, it was not a commercial success, and the band broke up shortly afterwards. However, while it may not have been a success, or have reached the glorious artistic heights of Marquee Moon, Adventure remains a stellar album, and one worthy of attention.
NOTE- Welcome to a column I wrote quite a while ago and have been hanging onto for no adequately explainable reason. I love music, sure, but I also love film. So here goes. Let us know what you think.
Let me tell you a story. There is a film out there, available on DVD in Britain, now uncut, that is so terribly frightening that censors felt compelled to prevent this repugnant filth from being projected. It was deemed legally depraving and corrupting. One examiner tasked with rating the film said that he felt as if he had been assaulted. The violence was brutal and the film was outlawed.
That film was Sam Raimi’s the Evil Dead, the 1981 ‘spam in a cabin’ shocker, the legal sinking of which created the ‘video nasties’ whirlpool into which were sucked many great and worthy movies such as Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession, a fully fledged art movie and no doubt the Exorcist sequel that should have been; Cannibal Holocaust, a truly vile piece of exploitation filmmaking (containing among other things, extreme violence, the titular cannibalism and real animal cruelty) that more directly than any other film asks, can a film go too far? And the unbelievably important I Spit On Your Grave. We can argue however much we feel like doing on a particular day about the ‘worthiness’ of these films, and their trashier counterparts, whether these films are intelligent and well constructed works that explore the human condition, but the simple fact remains that as adults, people have the right to be able to view these films if they so wish. There is content advisory available from the BBFC which lists in great detail not just the acts committed by the characters (on screen or implied) but also the general mood of the work and an advised (but legally binding) age rating.
LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #9 - Television, the best band you've never heard of. Part one, Marquee Moon.
You all know the feeling: you come across a band whose music fills you with such delight that nothing else seems to compare to them, yet they have a tragically small discography. One album, perhaps two: think of Hendrix, Jeff Buckley, Janis Joplin, Nirvana, The Sex Pistols and so on. In cases like this, it’s tempting to wonder what would have happened if the artist had produced more music. There always lies the possibility that the artist could have gone on to surpass the excellent music they had already created, and thinking about this can be frustrating. However, there also lies the possibility that the more music they produced, the worse it became. Of course, we’ll never know for certain if the likes of Jimi Hendrix would have made his masterpiece had he lived; we’ll always have to live in wonder. But one band that I never wondered about was Television. They’re not very well known to the general public, having made two albums in ’77 and ’78 before disbanding quietly. But those two albums, particularly their debut Marquee Moon, are so close to perfect that I don’t have to wonder if they would have made their masterpiece had they stayed together, because they already did.
Despite my penchant for metal and the more ‘out there’ music, I do love pop. Unfortunately the things that make some pop great are the very same factors handled wrong that make pop terrible. It can be light, simple and easily picked up, catchy and able to reach a massive audience. Sadly most pop music is talentless dross with the depth of a spoon produced out of a cynical attitude to milk as many cretin cash cows as possible. When pop is done right, it can be transcendent. The Killers do pop right in their debut album, Hot Fuss. Hot Fuss was one of the first albums I ever bought with my own money, and was one of the first I owned period. For a long time I mastered and memorised all of its melancholic warbles and empty, tinny guitars. It is my belief that, as someone who turned 20 in the death throes of 2010 and a proud alpha-member of Generation (wh)Y that Hot Fuss isn’t just an album that’s good, it is the album of Generation Why. People born in Thatcher’s or Major’s Britain know this album and love it. It speaks to something in the pointlessness of modern life. The loss of that spark of ingenuity and the zeal which collected us together in a society, as we are now, as the London pillaging showed, atomised. Hot Fuss deals with friendships allowed to mould over, infidelity and desperately searching for a cause. Each song is distinct and the lyrics remain exemplary throughout in illustrating brilliantly the emotional point being made by the music. I had to buy a new CD copy of this record for this review, because my original is worn to the point of being unplayable.
“There’s no such thing as human rights when you walk the New York Streets”
1989 could be known as “the year of ageing rock stars releasing comeback albums,” or something a little more concise if I could be bothered to think about it. But regardless of the name, you get the message. Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Paul McCartney and Lou Reed all released albums that garnered a lot of critical acclaim and commercial attention in the year 1989. In retrospect, some of these albums (namely Dylan’s Oh Mercy and The Stones’ Steel Wheels) have been re-evaluated in a slightly more unfavourable light, the general consensus being that, while they were good albums, they weren’t classics, and were so acclaimed at the time because they sounded so much better than the artists’ preceding work. Not the case with Lou Reed’s New York. Sure, it might have been a while since he had troubled the charts or given reviewers anything special to write about, so even if the album was merely good it would have been a success. But New York, an album concerning the city itself, isn’t good. It’s astounding.
NOTE- I do not support the actions of the pillagers at all. I believe that violence is the ultimate political tool and any force hoping to achieve social change, but these pillagers have no organisation and no political goals or motivations. What occurred tonight in London was criminality. Nor do I support the police and government unconditionally. The circumstances surrounding the death of Mark Duggan at this point still has questions to be answered. Both parties have provoked certain questions by their actions. The real question you need to be demanding from your MP is, why is it that disaffected youth has seen fit to take to the streets in this way to indulge in criminality? What has happened to us to cause this? And what is the cure for what ails us?
NOTE 2- This isn't a regular In Seach of Space (if there is such a thing), it is a musical moment, very specific in time and place. Earthless's Live at Roadburn is an excellent recording at any time, but specifically on monday night/tuesday morning, it seemed the only album worth indulging.
Hi, my name is Adam, and I’m a hip-hop addict. You wouldn’t think it, given that none of my articles thus far have concerned hip-hop CD’s. (Brainfreeze doesn’t really count – you’ll know why if you hear it) For the most part, I was trying to avoid writing about it because I didn’t think anyone would be interested in the genre, not least because of the clichés that now surround it like a swarm of flies. Rapping about bitches and hoes, drugs, guns, “the ghetto” etc – the genre has been so oversaturated with this crap that it’s difficult to believe it was ever any different. That was one reason I didn’t want to write about any hip-hop albums – the other was that I couldn’t really think of any to write about. As much as I love a lot of hip-hop albums, I couldn’t really think of anything to write about them that didn’t sound clichéd, boring or like nothing anyone had ever heard before. But now, finally, I believe I have an album that I believe will make the basis of a great article.
I have spent all of my sentient existence looking for places to shelter from this hellish Orwellian post-apocalypse nightmare we all blindingly exist in. Somewhere to hide from the brutish realities. I haven’t found it. The closest I have yet come is to sit in the dark and put on a Sunn O))) album. Any album by this insane screaming drone pioneering duo, or any of their soporific bastard children, Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine, Khanate and Ginnungagap is a good escape. The number of drone-ambient projects that share direct Sunn O))) DNA is really quite surprising. If you are truly what you eat, as the platitude states, then Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley must consume nothing but the blackness of winter midnight. Every Sunn O))) record has the same effect on me. Makes me feel like my circulatory system has been hijacked for use as their amplifier cables. Like I’m a dweeby kid at a school and they’re the bullies who are inexplicably twice as big as the rest of us, and they particularly enjoy bullying me. As with so many of life’s hideousnesses, the most horrifying and heartbreaking moments in Sunn O)))’s music are to be found in the respites. The moment where the arm is pulled back in preparation for the punch is in many ways far more terrifying than the force or the black eye. It is those moments, the ones that hang seemingly forever and forebodingly promise pain and unpleasantness rather than deliver it, those are the moments that stick with us long after the bruises fade and they are the moments Sunn O))) immortalises.