Jul 30, 2006

Scientific Certainty

Borre Saethre - Untitled 1 [Powered by Zero: The End of Bambi Cycle] (2005)

Borre Saethre's Nordic installations exude the same unbridaled exuberance and clean, etherial aesthetic as Matthew Barney's dreamworld. The artists reflect each other through panes of contrasting solid color and using objectified, richly ornated animals as focal points of a sensory-encompassing methodology designed to overwhelm and reinvent the participants' experience in reality.

The surreal organismal abyss above is becoming exponentially more realistic, as the Bush adminsitration continues to ACTIVELY manipulate science to downplay the real environmental dangers of using fossil fuels. It seems the political policy is to muddy the science (exactly the tool used by the tobacco industy) to exaggerate everpresent scientific "uncertainty" while limiting efforts to secure answers... effectively damning the issue to a stale purgatory where corporate profits continue despite dwindling resources. James Hansen, head of NASA' s premiere Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has been outspoken about his politically-mandated limitation of communicating science to the public. But, this is just another consequence of the devastatingly ironic Bush infrastructure that previously appointed Phil Connoly, lobbyist (not scientist) for the American Petroleum Institute, as the chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Phil Connoly was in charge of editing James Hansen's press releases including the annual report to Congress on global warming "Our Changing Planet: The US Climate Change Program", making such integral atrocities (THAT ACTUALLY MADE IT INTO THE DOCUMENT) as changing "the earth IS undergoing a period of unusual environmental change" to "the earth MAY BE undergoing a period of unusual environmental change". And he is not a scientist, but a lawyer and lobbyist for the oil industry.

Anyway, I'm hoping to be appointed to the White House's Council for Abolishing Music (I suppose replacing Tipper Gore who must have more logically been appointed when the democrats, reason, and accountability inhabited the White House) so I can make some change happen. These would be some pieces of information I'd run pass Congress to articulate my thoughts on the aforementioned issue:

Hot Hot Heat - Bandages (mp3)

Max Min - Lie (mp3)

The Thermals - How We Know (mp3)

Shapes and Sizes - Wilderness (mp3)

The Futureheads - Worry About it Later" (mp3)

The Long Winters - Pushover (mp3)

Horse Stories - You Explained Everything Away (mp3)

Jul 28, 2006

Blogathon 2006: Global Fund for Women

Barbara Kruger - Exhibition (1991)

Bethanne from Clever Titles Are So Last Summer has arranged a collective music blogger contribution to the Blogathon 2006, a charity fundraising mechanism much like those pesky PBS telethons but with much cooler music. Every half hour today (July 29th), a new music post will go up on Clever Titles... liveblogged by a music blogger from somewhere in the music blogosphere. The participants are blogging on behalf of the Global Fund for Women , an international women's human rights foundation, and have already raised over $140. Join in and contribute your coinage!

Though I was not able to formally participate, I won't miss the chance to blog in support of international human rights and "Who Are You, Defenders of the Universe?" seemed an appropriate piece of music. The Dears are a group from Montreal specializing in raw emotive pop with clever songwriting and lyrical meaning to back it up. Checkout more as they release a new album August 6, 2006.

The Dears - Who Are You, Defenders of the Universe? (mp3)

Barbara Kruger is a necesary voice in the illumination of universal gender atrocities and the underlying power structures that perpetuate them. Her postmodern works pair the communicative efficiency of a simple advertising aesthetic with weighty issues in a combination that screams with urgency and intensity.

Jul 23, 2006

My Life as a Research Specimen

The Tissue Culture and Art Project - Disembodied Cuisine (2004)

I will be blogging for the next 10 days from a research facility where I am serving as a guinea pig for the first human testing of a new HIV integrase inhibitor drug. In the spirit of blood draws and headaches, I'll probably be posting more science than usual... which should provide an interesting persective on music and art for your pleasure.

Though I arrived at the research facility too late to register for the popular exploratory cannibalism studies, some fellow research organisms are donating their tissue to advance the sympathetically sustainable meat industry and to gray the boundary at which science and art chat over a juicy frog steak. With the world cowboy finally acknowledging scientific research issues by protecting dellusional personifications of unfated and unwanted tissue matter against the better judgement of anyone who knows anything about science, I don't expect a laboratory will relace his beloved cattle ranch anytime soon. Though, I am quite intrigued that the human Dolly seems more likely to be cloned by a privately-supported artist than a publicly-supported scientist.

My unhealthy obsession with everything siphoned from the Swedish mystery The Knife continues as needles and scalpels become regular utensils in my mandated military-time routine. The song "The Bird" even suggests beeping EEG monitors and stands as a striking "Silent Shout" high-pitched counterpart. Other recent blog love includes Gorilla vs. Bear displaying a couple tracks from Karin's previous band, Honey is Cool, and Said the Gramophone dissecting Ratatat cover of The Knife's stellar "We Share Our Mother's Health". Let's hope these are the only Knives I see today.

The Knife - Bird (mp3)

If I had a bird's privledge of being blessed with flight, but not the limited mental capacity to take it for granted... this is exactly what I'd do (Invigilate - Roch Forowicz). [*HIGHLY RECCOMENDED*]

Jul 20, 2006

Your Painfully Lonley, Circular Life

Modena Railway Station - Lorenzo Fonda and Davide Terenzi (2006)
[watch Their Circular Life]

Rolling through the days is producing heavy deposits of residual fascination with the cycle of life in the corners of my eyes. Every 24 hours with haunting precision our ocular windows refresh and we relive another daily structure. Sometimes it feels like parading around a mobius strip, too distracted by flashy reinterpretation to notice I've been here before... yesterday. Visualization of our ignored reality is apparent when all other distractions are removed and only the passing of time remains. Their Circular Life accomplishes just this, a chillingly empty observation full of every moment in a perpetual day.

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone spills yellowed bile over his dancing fingers and into the melodic crevases between the keys of his electonics. And the heat makes the music brighter. Ever since his 2004 stop in Madison, Owen Ashworth's unexplained presence has been a part of me. With Xiu Xiu gritiness, Arab Strap deepened resonance, Bright Eyes honesty, and occasionally surprising Kylie Minogue danceability, Casiotone always comes from a unique point of view. He is the DIY everyman.

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Jeane, If You're Ever in Portland (mp3)

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - When You Were Mine [Prince cover] (mp3)

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Young Shields (mp3)

Jul 16, 2006

Summer Bum Out

Matthew Donaldson (2006)

Before heading out into the sweltering sun this afternoon, make sure to generously apply "The Bum Out Eternal" to both of your underarms. The formula for this light and breezy lap-pop was created in a Los Angeles laboratory by a duo of digital technicians in the interest of maximizing your summer pleasure and promising no annoying white residue. Managing your seasonally sticky self-consciousness so you don't have to, "Lines Through Lines" pours descending female vocals in a chilled martini glass while "Promises And Hearts"provides the motivation to get up off your shady chaise and jump around. The Bum Out Eternal is a refreshing DIY beauty and the perfect supplement to your summer party... don't leave home without it.

The Bum Out Eternal - Lines Through Lines (mp3)

The Bum Out Eternal - Promises and Hearts (mp3)

Jul 14, 2006

The Bubble Death

E.V. Day - Untitled [Tongue] (2004)

I'll be home from Washington DC this weekend, but in the meantime... checkout my attempt to massacre some bubbles at Laura's blog The Bubble Death while she is in China (along with a bunch of other music bloggers). I couldn't help but offer up my recent favourites Banksy, Leslie & The Lys, and Giddings Love for Who.

Jul 12, 2006

Citris Interview

Ron Mueck - Couv
Ron Mueck births larger-than-life, eerily-reaslistic sculptures of the unconventional human form. His characteristic slight manipulation of size keeps the pale figures strangely artificial, while the divine detail guarantees an uncomfortable emotional display. Checkout more here, here, here, and here.

Asobi Seksu recently released their new album Citris (read my previous post for details and mp3s). To get a better idea of where this new piece fits into the band's discographic basket, I got a chance to interact directly with the vocals of Yuki Chikudate, Asobi's unqiue singer. She talks about where this album diverges and conquests as well as her snobby passion for visual art.

Q. Was recording this album different than the last? Did you feel Pressure going into the studio?

The last record was basically recorded for free, so it was done on weekends and evenings, like when no one else was using the studio. The process went on for far too long and was very frustrating, This time around it was more compact, but about 3 days in we realized we were never going to make the record we all wanted with the time we had so far. So there i was like a big freak-out about how to get more time.

Q. What do you try to accomplish on this album?

We were trying to make an album that sounded really huge and all that, but most important we were trying to make something that worked all the way through as an album.

Q. How is your music percieved internationally? Are your audiences different as you tour in different countries?

Um audiences always vary, sometimes bigger cities tend to be a little more reserved but we have had good and bad shows just about everywhere.

Q. Has the music blog scene (or the internet in general) affected how your music is heard and distributed?

For a band our size that is going to some but limited coverage in larger magazines, the internet machine is important. Unhealthy, but important.

Q. Who are your favorite artists, and do you see pieces of them in your work (instruments, vocals, etc)?

Yes, we want to sound exactly like Bloody Valendine.

Q. What are you influenced by besides music (art/people)?

I can be a little snobby with artists: Guston, Rothko, Ernst, Thomaselli, Lohan, Kinski, Baldwin(s)...

Q. Where do you want to be in 5 years?

Playing music and watching daytime judge shows, Brown, Mathis, Judy etc etc

Q. Choose One From Each Line:
Vinyl, Cassette, CD, or MP3? Vinyl

Wool, Cotton, Polyester, or Silk? Cotton
Couch, Davenport, Sofa, Love Seat? Davenport (not sure what that is)
1968, 1978, 1988, or 1998? 1968
New York, Paris, London, or Tokyo? New York
Mall, Boutique, Department Store, Thrift Store? Thrift Store
Joni Michell, Janis Joplin, Ella Fitzgerald, Madonna? Madonna..easy

Help yourself to Citris at your local fruit cart [Strictly Discs or Side Records in Madison]... and I'm going to try and see them tomorrow night in DC. Anybody else planning to be there?

Jul 10, 2006

Kraftwerk Inspiration

Ola Pehrson - Desktop (1999)
Ola Pehrson's "Desktop" is actually a 10:1 scale model of a Windows 95 interface that is videotaped and presented in real time on a computer screen across the room that you can see here.

When a computer guru / music buff buddy of mine asserted that he hadn't listened to much Kraftwerk, I was inspired to take a stroll around the blogosphere and see what musical remnants I could conjure. Streaming as an apt digital testament to the pervasive lingering inspiration of this 1970's German soundmachine, Kraftwerk remixes and mashups are being created, hosted, and enjoyed on the internet as we speak. Here are a few intergenerational pieces I found strewn about:

The original "We Are the Robots" video (via YouTube) establishes the unique Kraftwerk message and style. Only missing are the characteristic laptops, though one can visualize their presence suprisingly easily with the whole dogma being chillingly ahead of its time (while I believe the literally flashy ties are the same design the band still wears on tour). The UK tasteblog Headphone Sex has a remix of one of my favourite Kraftwerk songs "Radioactivity" (mp3).

Mashups are inevitable and with Kraftwerk's timelessly simple elegance, they are fairly successful. Soulwax has an impressively cohesive mix of Kraftwerk's "Numbers" with The Beatles' "Eleanor Riby" (mp3). One of the best and most prolific mashup artists is a guy named Party Ben and his "Computer Love" (mp3), the artificially-inseminated love child of Kraftwerk's "Computer World" and Coldplay's "Talk", gives Kraftwerk the appropriate headnod it deserves for more-than-inspiring the popular single. With the same playful hope of those applications that age your face twenty years or visualize the amalgamation of your future kids with Angelina Jolie, laying female vocals over Kraftwerk beats outputs a pleasant depth. Listen to experiments with dream front women Whitney Houston (mp3 via Overstated) or Everything But The Girl's Tracey Thorn (mp3 via Beatmixed). I also found a dancy mashup of Kraftwerk's "We Are the Robots" with Gwen Stephani's "Hollaback Girl" (mp3) at an NYU Communications Lab page, if you secretly love that Gwen song as much as I do.

Modern indie bands even bow in patronage including Canasta, performing an intruigingly original acoustic cover of Kraftwerk's originally uber electronic "The Model" (mp3) (via the ever-exciting Skatterbrain).

For those keeping score... that's a video, a remix, five mashups, and an indie cover. *Whew*

Jul 9, 2006

Corporate Pollution: Take Back the Streets!

Pasi Kolhonen - City Wipeout (2006)
Our public spaces have been sold to the highest bidder and no one seems to care. Our own streets and buildings (not to mention our media) are degraded by the meaningless peddling of products and moreso by the idea that our very neighborhood environments belong to someone else. And everyone has just retreated into the cocoons of their individualized homes where they decorate with the comfort of the exact same, familiar products. Pasi Kolhonen removes our blinders and smacks us upside the head to help us visualize this pervasively personal travesty in an installation called "City Wipeout" that identifies the overwhelming amount of our environment that is bought for the purpose of selling us something. Do you really want 90% of your visual field polluted by thoughtless corporate marketing, your culture defined by the new Neutrogena body wash, and the application of your neighbor's thoughtful art to land them in prison. Seriously though, why have we let our visual culture become DISGUSTINGLY UGLY... it's like pissing in our own cage. Take a minute to look at your immediate surroundings with a critical eye and do something to take back your neighborhood. It should belong to us... why have we let them convince us it's not?

Page France would compose the beautifully euphemistic theme song to the television sitcom version of my life. It would be breezy and pleasant, lighten the real danger of my chronic pratfalls, and constantly play with the subdued chemistry of my tragic love interests. Bouncing xylophone would accentuate the carefree pace of my gait as I walk down the street in a nicely groomed neighborhood. The tense moments where my overt mistakes segue nicely into life lessons would be backed by the middle stanza's solemn guitar and self-reflection. Then, my character would glance into the camera and utter an over-simplistic, but coyly loveable phrase that immediately launches into the redeeming chorus... always serving as the perfect punctuation for the idealized life fractal.

When I finally acquire the rights and convert the show into its appropriate indie film format (directed by Matthew Barney, Michael Gondry, and Wes Anderson), the soundtrack would blossom with the freedom
to feature a Radiohead cover of Page France's "Jesus"... accompanied by two hours full of favourites from PJ Harvey, The Frames, Joanna Newsom, Fischerspooner, and the Dresden Dolls. And you know the streets would be graffitied.

Page France - Talking Out Louds (mp3)
[Espisode 2: "Kyle and Friends' Backyard Summer"]

Page France - Chariot (mp3)
[Espisode 6: "Vengeful God Teaches Kyle an Electric Lesson"]

(Aberdeen, Scotland)

Jul 7, 2006

Concerts (ft Jason Molina and Will Oldham)

Krzysztof Wodiczko - The Hiroshima Projection (1999)
Krzysztof Wodiczko reanimates dead architechture by projecting large videos on their aged surfaces. Read an interview about "The Hiroshima Projection" and view a video here. It's always been my dream of owning a projector for this EXACT reason (and a drive-in theater in my backyard).

Yesterday I amassed a short list of stellar upcoming Madison concerts from bands featured on the blog and beyond. My pick is definitely the artful folk renegade Bonnie "Prince" Billy's appearance at Willy Street's MadCity Music Exchange, though I strongly reccomend putting each date on your calendar. For another list, see Muzzle of Bees.

Margo & The Nuclear So and Sos (7/13) - Memorial Union Terrace
Beth Orton (7/22) - The Barrymore
Jolie Holland (7/28) - High Noon Saloon
The Eels with Smoosh (8/2) - The Annex
Of Montreal (8/7) - The Barrymore
Bonnie "Prince" Billy (8/11) - Madison City Music Exchange
Charlemagne (8/32) - High Noon Saloon
Okkervile River (10/6) - High Noon Saloon
Leslie & The Lys (10/7) - TBA
Magnolia Electric Co with Fog (10/19) - High Noon Saloon
Electric Six with Aberdeen City (10/26) - The Annex

I'm terribly excited about the preponderance of brooding, dark folk including a couple of my favourite musicians and collaborators, Will Oldham and Jason Molina. If you haven't taken a formal course on their collaborative complexities, there is much to know... but here's the jist.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy is Will Oldham and the lead of The Palace Brothers
Magnolia Electic Co used to be Songs:Ohia and is led by Jason Molina.
Jason and Will have collaborated, calling themselves the Amalgamated Sons of Rest (Will Olham, Jason Molina, and Alasdair Roberts). In addition to partnering with each other, both have extended themselves to enrich the musical lanscapes with droolable artistic relationships. Jason Molina has played with The Frames, Arab Strab, and My Morning Jacket while Will Oldham has had a threesome with Bjork and Matthew Barney, been covered by greats PJ Harvey and Johnny Cash, and helped to create indie princess Joanna Newsom. If you can't tell, I want to BE Will Oldham.


Jason Molina (of Magnolia Electric Co) - Get Out Get Out Get Out (mp3) [from his upcoming solo EP]

Magnolia Electric Co - The Dark Don't Hide It (mp3)

Magnolia Electric Co - Leave the City (mp3)

Songs:Ohia - Farewell Transmission (mp3) [classic favourite]