While I was researching the recent posting on Taraab, I unexpectedly stumbled upon the MySpace page of Russian hurdy-gurdy maestro, Andrey Vingradov. I've been intrigued by this instrument ever since I first heard Keiji Haino bend it to the service of his stark experimentalism. Upon hearing the mournful gorgeousness extracted from it by Vingradov, I am irrevocably sold. His droning compositions are truly a wonder to behold and, as an added bonus, he sings like an older Slavic Thom Yorke. (Not on the featured track, though, that's instrumental. Go here to hear him sing.)
There is nothing you might love in this world that cannot be made more awesome with the addition of a little Jozin z Bazin. The Prodigy? Check! 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg? Check! Polish disco? Well, maybe less so... But the kids in Polska have still been going mental over the disco-fied version of this classic slab of Czech silliness
Jozin z Bazin, which tells the story of a bog monster from the sticks who eats city snobs and can only be defeated by a crop-duster (?!), was a domestic hit in the late 70's for the Ivan Mladek Banjo Band, a kind of Czech equivalent of the novelty skiffle bands that were all the rage in 50's English music halls.
The performance from Czech TV that has gained notoriety via YouTube is memorable for Mladek's louder-than-bombs plaid jacket, a bearded, less-drug-fucked prototype of Bez from The Happy Mondays, and a human non-sequitur who appears at the 2:00 mark and... well, just see it for yourself.
FURTHER MLADEK FUN FACT: This guy apparently invented a guitar-shaped synthesiser called the guitarino.
The Saints on a local TV station circa 1976.
(And anyone who doesn't get the reference in this post's title can check out this site. Luckily, for your sake, it won't expose you to any of the godawful i-am-you-are-we-australians ads that we've been bombarded with recently.)
After a long and successful run on the radio, Daz has finally brought I Hate Myself And Want To Die to YouTube. In this segment, she interviews various persons of note about the songs that got them through their angst-ridden teenage years. First up is English comedian Daniel Kitson, who turns out to be a rather chipper fellow with a talent for genital neologism. Accompanying the lively banter, and adding to the retro feel, is some defiantly lo-tech cardboard cut-out "animation". Enjoy!
After the dense ramblings of the last post, I thought I'd pass on something that could summed up in a single YouTube post and a single word - brilliant! Jim LeFevre has taken the principle of the zoetrope, applied it to a video camera and turntable and created... the Phonographantasmascope! (via Metafilter)
Originally played by "GC" Coleman and recorded as a 6 second drum fill on Amen Brother, the B-side of a Grammy-winning 1969 single by the Winstons, the so-called Amen Break is the most sampled piece of music ever; popping up frequently on hip hop tracks and forming the rhythmic basis of jungle and drum-n-bass.
In the process of becoming an almost ubiquitous "breakbeat toolkit", the Amen Break has inevitably found its way into musings on the "ownership" of creativity in our remix culture. (What makes it particularly pertinent in such discussions is the fact that a sample CD distributor of "drum-n-bass kits" in the early noughties was treating it as virtual public domain and claiming copyright over their re-recordings of it, without supposedly passing a cent on to the Winstons.)
In the video at the top of this post, artist and writer Nate Harrison takes us on a fascinating excursion into the many uses (and abuses) of the Amen Break (including the aforementioned piece of copyright bastardry).
From the Edo State in Southern Nigeria (I think...) comes this video of one of the most incredible dance styles I have ever seen. Prepare to have your mind blown by guys in harlequin-coloured full-body sack outfits who've somehow managed to turn themselves into high velocity off-center centrifuges!
Formed in 1975 by a local branch of the Free Masons, Detroit's WGPR-TV (an acronym of "Where God's Presence Radiates") was the first wholly African-American-owned TV station in the US. Although it never acquired any more than a niche audience and could afford little more than low-priced movie packages like the Carry On series, it was home to some truly interesting and exciting programming; such as a Middle-Eastern variety show called Arab Voice of Detroit and The Scene, a "no videos" all-dancing local version of Soul Train which ran until 1987. In the course of its decade plus run, The Scene featured funk, hip-hop, electro, and the beginnings of one of that city's most significant contributions to contemporary music, Detroit techno.
The video at the top of this post comes from a year slap bang in the middle of that run (ie 1982) when local artists were just starting to toy with Teutonic electronics, and skinny ties, rubber limbs, robot dancing and roller-skating throwbacks were all rage. The track being played is Sharevari by A Number of Names. (via WFMU)
For the next couple of days, Pitchfork TV are offering us the chance to watch Hated, the notorious documentary about GG Allin, one of the most extreme performers ever to front a punk band. As lead singer of his band, the Murder Junkies, Allin's stage act often involved bloody self-harm, defecation on stage, and the flinging of faeces and food extracted from his anus at the crowd. When not engaged in such antics, Allin screamed his way through songs with an invariably violent, nihilistic and misanthropic bent. According to Allin, in was all about bringing "danger" back into rock'n'roll, and it earned him a fervent cult following.
This doco by Todd Phillips focusses on a Murder Junkies tour in the late 80's and it includes much NSFW footage of Allin in action, along with evidence that he carries his posture of being anti-everything other than gutter-level perversion and random psychotic violence into everyday life. In addition, we get to meet some of the other "characters" in his band, like his doting Hitler-mustachioed brother, Merle, and a hippy drummer who performs naked because clothes irritate his skin. There are also great back story interviews with uncomprehending former teachers and bemused schoolmates; and a fan who shares John Wayne Gacy's assessment of GG's personal hygiene with us.
And, finally, let me repeat: this doco is very very NSFW...
The Olympic torch relay is currently working its way nervously through its Australian leg and much as I sympathise with and support the current round of protests against it, I know that if similar actions had been taken in the lead up to the Olympics in my own country in 2000, then there would have been widespread domestic outrage and demands for the modern equivalent of a hanging, drawing and quartering of anyone involved. (Even if such protests were entirely justified, it wouldn't matter... that's the sort of country Australia is.)
So it comes as no surprise whatsoever to discover that a group of Chinese punters have responded to the recent torch relay protests by recording and distributing a cheesy piece of Mando-Pop that savages Western media coverage and has an accompanying video with images of Josef Goebbels.
The song is called "Don't Be Too CNN" and the YouTube version of it can be viewed above. The lyrics (which were translated by Wall Street journalist Sky Canaves) go something like this:
CNN's warped reporting on Tibet, and the Tibetan separatist attacks on
the Beijing Olympics torch relay, made me write this song
Don't be too CNN
That day on the internet I suddenly saw a photo
It showed the riots taking place in Tibet
CNN's simple promise, the whole truth is inside
But I gradually discovered, it's actually deception
No matter how much the world changes, the blue sea becomes a field of
The fake South China tiger and this kind of photo [CNN Lhasa image], I
despise them equally
You can't turn lies into the truth by repeating them a thousand times,
The dark night makes my eyes black, but I will still use them to seek the light
How they rack their brains, to turn falsehoods into the truth, don't be too CNN
How can you possibly turn Jay Zhou into Li Yuchun?
How they rack their brains, to turn falsehoods into the truth, don't ever be CNN
I preferred that you all just be very stupid and very naïve
I preferred that you all just be very stupid and very naïve
Good Lord... I'm gobsmacked. Not so much by the limber-limbed MC Hammer wannabe in this clip, but by the mother who continues impassively knitting while her hyperactive son gets jiggy all over their living room. (via Metafilter)
The Harding Test is a set of algorithms that measure the level of rapid cuts, flicker patterns, and strobe effects in a piece footage, and their subsequent ability to induce epileptic fits in susceptible viewers.
It’s a test whose need became readily apparent after a 1997 “epidemic” of seizures that accompanied the screening an episode of the Pokemon series in Japan. (In that particular episode, the seizures were triggered by strobing red lights emanating from the eyes of the signature character, Pikachu.)
Recently, its most notable application was the temporary ban of the video of Gnarls Barkley’s new single “Run” (see the above piece of YouTubery) by British MTV. The supposedly seizure inducing part of the clip appears towards the end when moiré patterns swamp the background and flickering images of the word “RUN” worm their wary into the video.
In the tradition of Cookie Mongoloid and Muppet Bolt, here's Ernie and Bert covering "A Divine Proclamation to End the Present Existence" by Dutch hyper-speed metal spasmoids Last Days of Humanity. (via WFMU)
In the process of preparing the previous post on Rio drug gang funk, I visited the Sublime Frequencies site to discover - to my immense excitement - that Sumatran Folk Cinema is coming out on DVD! Described on the site as "a psychedelic collage of images and sounds from the heart and soul of [Sumatra's] culture", this film was part of a roadshow with Musical Brotherhoods From The Trans-Saharan Highway (also due out on DVD) that did the rounds last year and, if the trailer is anything to go by, it looks to be an absolute cracker!
Wacky French auteur Michel Gondry has taken a bit of time out from hawking his new flick Be Kind Rewind at Sundance to post some of his fave video "picks" on YouTube. Although he introduces them with a cringingly unfunny nose-picking gag, there are some genuine gems in the set, including Ornette Coleman on a game show, Max Roach showing off with brushes and snare, an animated food-toy-n-insect tribute to old school video games, and the video at the top of this post, a charming fan produced clip of Pussy On The Mat by Ivor Cutler.
Good God! I suddenly feel sorely culturally deprived for not visiting Cake And Polka Parade over the past twelve months. After reacquainting myself with Fatty Jubbo's wonderful blog, I was confronted with this incredible music video from Bulgaria featuring Azis, a goateed drag queen who performs a type of hybrid local pop known as chalga. Appearing with her is a local rapper with a penchant for pet ocelots known as Ustata, who ends the clip stripping for a bouncer who watches him on a CCTV while stroking his nipples.
As we drift into the second week of 2008, we finally come to the end of "list" season; that time of the year when anyone with a web presence and a pet obsession posts their list of the top 10/20/50/100 examples thereof from the year just past. (As I’ve been asleep at the wheel for much of 2007, I’m going to refrain from doing one of my own. Indeed, I’ll probably be spending much of the next month catching up on and posting about stuff from 2007 that would probably go in that list if I had one.)
Among those who would nominally be listed in the community of those obsessed with music are the contributors over at the WFMU blog, who produce some of the more interesting end of year lists. Partly that’s because they don’t necessarily limit themselves to enumerating their favourite current releases. In this year's batch, for instance, there’s a list of top ten “imaginary sound events”, top ten 90’s singles and, courtesy of Clinton McClung, a top ten list of places visited in the US in 2007.
At the top of that last list is one of the most inspired pieces of professional petulance in architectural history, The House on The Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin. When budding architect Alex Jordan was spurned by Frank Lloyd Wright, he decided to build a house in the style of his cranky former mentor on a pinnacle not far from Wright’s home. His version, however, became a virtual wunderkammer filled with rooms devoted to Victoriana, dolls, musical automata, a carousel, and a 200 foot sea monster battling a giant squid. In an effort to capture the insane splendour of the place, Clinton has put together the above video of just a couple of the rooms; the soundtrack of which would definitely top my list of field recordings of 2007 (if I had one).
PS: You can see more photos of the rooms in The House On The Rock here
PPS: That screaming you hear at the end of the video is a visitor completely overcome by terror at the sight of a 200 foot sea montser suspended above her head.
As part of the Sydney Film Festival, Wotnext is hosting a competition for one minute long films shot on mobile phones, and my beloved Daz has entered this charming animated cut-out/live action piece into it. Please take the time to check it out and, if you like it, go to the site and rate it and download it. Thank you.
Here's a rather wonderful 1947 short from the Internet Archive about the place of the banjo in American folk music. Its written by the great folklorist Alan Lomax and narrated by Pete Seeger who guides us through a series of loving portraits of country folk and their musical traditions. Along the way, we learn that the banjo was invented by slaves, that Appalachian ballads have their roots in Scottish folk songs, and that exchanges across the racial divide have long played a significant role in the formation of American folk music. The whole thing ends with the off-screen audience of proto-teeny boppers taking to the stage for a lively square dance. (via Indestructible)
Ah, yes. This takes me back… In the mid 90’s, Harry Pussy were one of the pre-eminent purveyors of free-punk scream-n-skronk, and here is a video of them doing what they do best – letting drummer Adris Hoyos screech like a banshee till she catches breath, then launching into an apoplectic rock-out din (with more screeching from Adris)... Too free-form for ya? Well, here’s something a bit more song-based – their “classic” cover of Showroom Dummies by Kraftwerk. (video via WFMU)
Metafilter user sgt.serenity points us to this wonderful documentary about legendary Northern Soul club, Wigan Casino. From 1973 till 1981, thanks to loop-hole in local licensing laws, Wigan Casino played host to soul music all-nighters that attracted young fans from all over the UK. Such was its fame that in 1978, Billboard magazine voted it “The Best Disco In The World”. This documentary was filmed for Granada TV in 1977 when the scene was at its height. It not only includes great footage from the dancefloor, but also provides some measure of social context, with participants explaining how the club provided a sense of community and an escape from alienated lives in soul-destroying menial jobs. (Older Wiganites also pop up to remind everyone how much worse life was for Wigan youth back in their day.)
I’ve always found the music of Christian puppet “songstress”, Little Marcy, somewhat unsettling. Partly because of songs like God Is At Working Within You, which the celebrate being unconsciously “controlled from within”, but mostly because I know that the squeaky child-like voice behind Little Marcy is actually the natural singing voice of her operator, Marcy Tigner! (That’s why she became a puppeteer…)
Now though, my uneasiness has to turned to skin-crawling dread as a result of finally seeing this apple-cheeked golem in action… Watch, if you dare, as she crooks her elbow at unnatural angles, stares at you with those cold, deathless eyes and croons about Jesus wanting her for a sunbeam; then shudder as she is joined by her grinning zombie minions for a rendition of I Don’t Have To Wait Until I’m Grown Up (To Be What Jesus Wants Me To Be).
(via the Sound Scavenger mailing list)
I’ve Got A Secret was a popular US game show of the 50’s and 60’s that featured a prominent personality, who would come on and tell the host a secret. A panel would then ask questions in an effort to work out what that “secret” was. In this episode from January 1960, the guest was none other than John Cage, who whispers to the host that he will perform one of his compositions, Water Walk. When the host then hears that it will be played on “instruments” that include a water pitcher, an iron pipe, a goose call, a mechanical fish, an electric mixer, five radios and a grand piano, he immediately abandons the usual format so this “magnificent demonstration” can take place. He is nonetheless concerned about the audience’s reaction, so he asks Cage if he is OK with people laughing at his performance. The great man good-naturedly replies, “Of course, I consider laughter preferable to tears."
(This priceless cultural artifact was made available by WFMU’s Station Manager Ken.)
If the trailer is anything to go by, then this is a film I can't wait to see!
For one weekend every year, the quiet rural village of Wacken in the northern German province of Schleswig-Holstein becomes the setting for a festival of metal music that attracts acts like Cannibal Corpse, Celtic Frost and Napalm Death, and pulls in crowds in excess of 50,000. Last year, South Korean director Sung-Hyung Cho went along to interview the locals and document this annual maelstrom of mayhem that descends upon their bucolic little town. The resulting documentary opened in German cinemas last week and will hopefully find its way to screens further afield very soon. (via Swen's Blog)
Here, set to music from the Sublime Frequencies album Radio Pyongyang, is a video contrasting the "history" and reality of the birth of the only communist dictator to produce a monster movie, Kim Jong Il. (via beans beans good for your heart)
This is what YouTube was created for... Put simply, the most astounding nine minutes of TV chat you are ever going to see. It's taken from an Atlanta Public Access TV show called "Vagina Power" hosted by Alexyss Tylor (MySpace page) and her bewildered mother. In this episode, they discuss the perils of "penis power", and Alexyss doesn't hold back, so only safe for work if you have headphones. (via WFMU and Metafilter)
Music Thing has become something of a one-stop shop for videos of extreme rifforrhea. The latest addition to their collection of virtuoso musos “playing far, far too many notes” is actually rather inspiring. His name is Bill Clements, and he is a bass player from Kalamazoo, Michigan with only one arm. Here he is in action (wmv), using his one fully functioning upper appendage to maximum effect. Seriously impressive stuff and, if the music’s your cup of tea, then he has an album out that you can purchase through CDBaby.
This was the slogan I saw splashed across the side of a bus on the way home from work today. Apparently, it’s being used to promote Taiwan to the world as a tourist destination, and this rendering of it was accompanied by images of cute kids in traditional costume, a temple, and mist-shrouded mountains – exactly the sort of thing you'd expect to see in a tourist campaign plugging a north-east Asian country... If the Taiwan Tourist Commission (or whatever they’re called) was really serious about confounding our expectations, maybe they might consider enlisting domestic shock-rockers Loh Tsui Kweh Commune into their campaign.
Apparently, they have one of the wildest stage acts on the Taiwanese indie scene and, if this video (39 Mb QT) is anything to go by, then I’m inclined to believe it. It consists of a series of slickly produced live action versions of imaginary newspaper ads, which start off with the band members engaged in stage-diving, instrument smashing, and martial arts inspired keyboard stroking, then quickly moves on to demonstrations of rectal chainsaw penetration, rejuvenating testicles grabs, cowboy bondage, foot powder bong hits, male lactation, and straight-out gay sex (with appropriately pixilated “parts”)… And if all of this sounds unbelievably sordid, the way its presented is anything but. The clip manages to make this rampant grab-bag of perversity seem (almost) like good clean fun… (It is nonetheless unequivocally NOT SAFE FOR WORK.)
I remember being rather perplexed the first time I heard about ice-cream-van-music-playing garbage trucks in Taipei. Henceforth, I will be surprised by nothing that comes out of Taiwan...
(via the WFMU blog)
I feel somehow culturally deprived in that I’ve only just found out about GetLofi, a blog devoted to circuit-bending which set up shop back in July last year. (I’m a big fan of circuit-bending but have never quite mastered the art. I once tried the relatively simple task of putting an output jack in a barnyard animal soundboard and killed it; much to the chagrin of Daz, who had started writing compositions for it. She even came up with her own “musical notation” for the toy. If she ever unearths one of the old "manuscripts", I must convince her to do a scan…)
In the midst of its wonderful assortment of postings on DIY synth/pedal projects, glitched-up Teletubbies and the like, GetLofi has recently put up links to a couple of memorable videos. First up is Pathways to Music, a two part history of electronic music that was made in 1971. (The first part was posted back in August, the second [MP4] went up a week ago.) The videos – which take us from the time of Pythagoras through to the era of Moog, Buchla, Stockhausen and Subotnick (sadly no Raymond Scott, though) – are actually pretty informative. They include sound samples from the works/instruments that are featured, and have that dry style of narration that seems to have been mandatory for every educational film produced between 1945 and 1975.
Once you’ve digested them, though, you may feel like something a bit lighter. If so, check out this TV appearance by uber-geckoid Dan Deacon which aired on the morning show of a Savannah-based NBC affiliate. Dan, who looks like he should have had a walk-on in Napoleon Dynamite, is interviewed by the avuncular local version of Willard Scott, then proceeds to warble and bob like a crazy thing behind a desk filled with hot-wired synth detritus… If only Australian brekkie telly were graced by weirdos like this rather than Alex Lloyd and Shannon Noll…
(FOOTNOTE: If you feel that the preceding video isn’t quite OTT enough for you, you might want to check out this guitarist or this violinist [QT]. Two fine exponents of extreme instrumental wankery that appeared on Music Thing. The latter was posted in the comments sections for the former.)
Sita Sings The Blues is a work-in-progress by American animator Nina Paley, which retells the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana from the perspective of the hero’s wife Sita, and does it as a series of animated video clips set to recordings of 20’s (Western) jazz love songs. So far, she’s completed four episodes, and they can all be downloaded as Quicktime files from her site. (But, be warned: the files are around 20 Mb a piece, so they might take a little while to download. Well worth the effort though. via grow a brain)
Music Thing, that blog-temple of extreme gearhound geekdom, is rapidly becoming the place to find videos of some of the more perplexing performers stomping the boards right now.
The most memorable of their recent finds is this performance by Croatian keytar virtuoso Belinda Bedekovic, who proves that you don’t need to be either male or have a guitar to throw down some serious cock-rock moves. (In her on-site bio, she quite justifiably claims that her keytar style “demolishes everything in front of her”.) In direct contrast to this is Brooklyn LEMUR affiliate, Eric Singer, who invests the fine art of flexing an orange tube with far more gravitas than it probably deserves.
From DrummerWorld comes this wonderful old 1980 clip from everyone’s favourite puppet variety hour, The Muppet Show; in which their resident psychotic stick-creature, Animal, does battle with Buddy Rich... Limbs flail, hyperspeed drum solos erupt and, in the end, Animal can only look on in awe as one of the greatest drummers of all time rips through his chops. (via Monkeyfilter)
Video of the Moment Part 2… Many of you will probably already know about the Grey Album, DJ Danger Mouse’s memorable mash-up of Jay-Z’s Black Album and the Beatles’ White Album, which provoked cease-and-desist orders from EMI, the copyright owner of the White Album… Well now, a video mash-up of a Beatles concert which features guerilla broadcasts of Jay-Z, Ringo DJing and John breakdancing, has been concocted to accompany the Danger Mouse version of Encore... Very fab and worth a look-see.
(UPDATE: It seems that the main site hosting The Grey Video is down, but luckily Waxy is hosting a mirror of the Quicktime video. There's also a torrent, and another mirror of the video courtesy of Matt Haughey. Via Boing Boing)
Last Sunday, CoolGov, a weblog of “cool stuff” on US Government websites, posted a link to some amazing silent NASA footage of a plane full of crash test dummies being crash-tested out in the California desert. Shortly thereafter, Coudal Partners, a web design studio in Chicago, set up an impromptu contest to edit the footage to music. They promptly received a dozen entries, and now, less than a week later, they’ve announced the winner – Ethan Mitchell, who created this mini-video for Velapene Screen’s remix of Untitled by Interpol. Brilliant stuff… Makes you wonder how we ever got along before we had cheap audio/video editing software and the Internets. (via Boing Boing)
New York based artist/musician, Yoshi Sodeoka has taken videos of rock luminaries such as Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Acca Dacca, and the Sex Pistols; replaced the music with cheesy midi tracks; rendered the visuals in ASCII characters; and created some seriously mind-melting little quicktime movies... I kind of imagine that this is what the world looks/sounds like in the heads of those old death-ray-eyed space robots from 50's sci-fi films... Perfect for disengaging the mind on a Friday afternoon...