Thursday, July 24, 2008
Material is an ever-evolving musical work centered around bassist/producer extraordinaire Bill Laswell. This 1994 vinyl promo (on Laswell's own Axiom label through Island US) featured a few remixes and variations on the track from the epic dub / trance / rock / experimental / hip-hop / ethno album 'Hallucination Engine', and was serviced only to DJs and clubs.
The Kupper and Hacker Tribal Remix sucks balls - generic upbeat house / dance crap. Somewhere along the way, they lost the Material song. The original mix is here, too, and it's a wonderous and deep ethno-dub experience, with hints of jazz, Afro-pop, and more. Laswell's own 'Construct Over Destiny Mix' is a bleepy re-interpretation - at once imposing, cold, and electronic. Finally, Terre Thaemlitz's mix (here chopped into 2 tracks, unfortunately, but that's the nature of ripping from vinyl and not paying proper attention) is a minimalist exercise in restraint, and this ambient variation boasts a barely-there shimmery-ness. Wonderful and beautiful, though bearing little resemblance to the original. Some good work, if you can bear sitting through the tedious exercise of the opening cut.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
The Cure were once an excellent group. Past tense. Sorrowfully, that was nearly 20 years ago ('Disintegration', to me, was their last great work). I grew up with them, and certain records of theirs helped me through my trying teens. 'Three Imaginary Boys', 'Faith', 'Seventeen Seconds', 'Pornography', 'The Head On The Door'...all greats of dark, mopey, angsty rock. Laugh all you want, but I still have a soft spot for these.
I haven't been able to listen to much of their work since then, unfortunately. But if there's any doubts of the Cure's worthiness, here's a rare live show from their 1985 European Tour, originally released as a bootleg CD in Italy. The files are ID'd as 'At The BBC 1985', as it's been issued under different names by different bootleg companies, but it's the same show. Great sound quality, and some of the band's finest songs...
A couple of new beer reviews, tailormade for the sweltering days of this Global Warming Midwestern US Summer:
STELLA ARTOIS (Belgium)
Belgium's best-known lager pours crystal-clear with a minimal head. Very low hoppy presence here, and more on the malty side. Not terrible, just plain and unremarkable. Most any other beer from Belgium (try anything labeled 'Abbey ale') is well-worthy of your attention and money, but this one's just blah.
MODELO ESPECIAL (Mexico)
Another golden lager, this one among Mexico's more prominent brews. Suffice to say, if you like Corona, this one might do it for you, too. Nice and light, Modelo is a superb summer beer, and works really well with a slice (or infusion) of lime. Refreshing and ideal for these dog (or cat?) days.
(beer models: Griffin and Daphne)
Monday, July 21, 2008
Well-spacey modern pop (not in terms of 'radio-friendly', but in listenability, hummability and tunefulness) from a couple of guys whose love of music is reflected in this set of 4 quirky dance-pop tunes. I am reminded of such studio rats as the Flaming Lips or Ween, with their predilection for woozy arrangements, funky sounds, and seemingly nonsensical subject matter. The final track here, 'Pretty Tick Meditation (Thee Loving Hand Remix)', combines two earlier Prints tracks and is presented in a bouncy and tight Tim Goldsworthy (DFA/LCD Soundsystem) club mix that's laced full of electro-funk to move yo' azz. It's only 20 minutes, but Prints leave quite a colorful impression. (Temporary Residence)
Sunday, July 20, 2008
'What We Do Is Secret' is a film screening in select major metropolitan cities, and will probably never make it to a local theater here (my semi-small Midwestern US city), and, chances are, it won't in your city, either. That said, it will be widely-distributed on DVD eventually, and it's certainly a 'must-see' for fans of influential band the Germs, or classic punk in general.
Starring Shane West (of TV's 'ER' fame) and Bijou Phillips, this is the story of the Germs and their rise (on the LA punk rock scene) and subsequent tragic fall. West does a fine job portraying the charismatic and well-driven vocalist Darby Crash, whose intelligent but ferocious stage presence made quite a noise back in the late 70's/early 80's - even resulting in the band getting themselves banned by most clubs in their day and, essentially, blacklisted by most of the record industry.
Surrounding himself with friends (talent was secondary, in true punk fashion) like Lorna Doom, Pat Smear (who now plays with the Foo Fighters and was a part-time member of Nirvana at one point), and Don Bolles (a veteran of many LA-area bands since, and I believe a radio personality now?), Crash's 'live fast, die young' outlook spawned a now-classic LP (since reissued on CD with loads of singles and live cuts) and some incendiary live gigs. At a time when the band encountered some trouble (Crash's increasing drug addiction was the chief culprit), he did the unthinkable and committed suicide by heroin overdose, at age 21. 'Rock and roll suicide', indeed.
'What We Do Is Secret' is a well-done look at the crash-and-burn punk group, and the director didn't neglect to get the 'approval' of the surviving band members during production. In fact, the band has even reformed with actor West as frontman, a move that apparently has irked longtime punk fans.
Anyway, that said, the film fails only as West's portrayal of Darby Crash makes him out to be kind of a prick. I didn't feel too much for Crash, and his death didn't move me (in the film). And, unfortunately, Darby Crash is the central focus of the film, as apparently he was the chief instigator and 'idea man' of the group, down to designing the infamous 'cigarette burn' logo for the group. Nonetheless, 'What We Do Is Secret' remains a great history lesson for those curious about this short-lived punk icon, and the music that helped to inspire a generation of post-punk bands (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Meat Puppets, Melvins, Hole, etc.).
Movie site (with link to trailer)
band site (to sample music)