Saturday, August 13, 2011

That's not music

I just spent the last 45 minutes listening to squeaking noises, and I liked it.
I think the hard part about electronic, synthesized music is that it doesn't follow musical convention. Oh, sure, there are a lot of synthesizers in pop music, even, but the machinery, at its core, isn't designed to make music- it's pure noise generation. Certainly, the same argument can be made for any musical instrument- a guitar, a saxophone, a piano, all make noise- but all have a certain preset- a lot of conventions went in. Now, certainly, an electric guitar occupies a space where the conventional meets the pure noise element, and that might very well be why the electric guitar is my favorite instrument. But, the thing about hard electronics is that you have to harnass it to get it to follow the conventions. Sure, a lot are chained to a keyboard, but ultimately, the base machinery is just generating noise. Some folks need the conventions, and they need that system of organizing noise. I can understand that, and I don't look down upon it, but I also can appreciate pure noise- just the sound of an air conditioner running, or plates clinking in the sink while being washed can be aesthetically pleasing for me.
An appreciation for noise is what sets the Bloody Beetroots apart from other purveyors of electronica in Europe, right now. I can see how they have as much in common with Throbbing Gristle as Georgio Moroder , whereas a troupe like Justice, or Daft Punk are much more married to the disco end of the stick. Yes, you can dance to the Bloody Beetroots, and yes, they are "de nom" DJs, but they, themselves, even call it the Church of Noise. I am thoroughly impressed with how committed they are to exploring noise. It'd be very easy for them to adapt their sound to dubstep, or dance punk, or disco, and become far more mainstream, but they seem to love pure high-volume noise. Unless you're comfortable with hearing a good 45 minutes of squeaking, throbbing and oscillating noise, they're going to be somewhat off-putting.
So, I just got their best of remixes CD, and it carries on from the Death Crew 77 stuff. If anything, they seem to be even more committed to pure noise. That (and references to "Escape from New York") is certain to catch my attention. But what makes it work for me is the understanding of structure and dynamics. So, follow this link to what I think is the new highlight for them. Squeaking noises on a much higher level.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Cute Lepers

So, I've liked Steve E Nix's retropunk fixation for quite awhile, but it was just pure retropunk- all fetishizing a mythical 1977, with little to add. Forming the Cute Lepers was a step in the right direction, as up until the latest record, it's been punk-informed Power Pop. Now, with Adventure Time, we're getting to the payoff on all that. The music is still heavily referencing older music- there's a lot of Buzzcocks, and the Saints in there, but a new element makes it a better ballgame- Bruce Springsteen. Seriously, I can hear more than an echo of "Born to Run" era Springsteen in the new tunes and I like it. I'm not a big fan of Springsteen. I think he, like Nix, is a bit too slavish in his hero worship of earlier sounds, but the thing that Springsteen does bring is a kind of urgency- a desperation to cling to cliches as if not doing so will rob him of his life. That's what makes Springsteen listenable, where his progeny are not (ever listened all the way through a mid 80's John Cougar LP? How about ever made it all the way through Bat out of Hell 2? Meat loaf is a neat guy, and a good actor, but that stuff will drive you to applying a nail gun to your forehead). Steve E seems to have managed to channel some of that, and it really has elevated the music. So, yes, I can finally say that I like the Cute Lepers...