Monday, 22 May 2017

Twin Peaks Returns

Sitting on the couch watching a glass box, waiting for something
 to happen then wondering what the fuck is going on.


Well I've done it. That is endured the longest 4 hours of 2017 so far. Today was Twin Peaks day. I tried to act like I was more enthused than I was, suspecting that maybe I was over this teenage obsession. We specially signed up for the streaming service Stan so we could watch the show immediately. Bored, angry, tense, duped, old, sad and bemused are just some of the things I felt whilst watching the 2017 season of Twin Peaks. I would have been quite happy to discontinue watching the show after each of the first three episodes. However Emma kept going so I sat and hoped that it would improve. It's worth remembering though that most of the second half of season two (aired 1990-91) was unwatchable and so disappointing.

During those first three episodes I just kept thinking 'Am I too old for this shit?' 'I'm just not the same person anymore.' 'Am I too depressed to enjoy this?' These thoughts were perplexing. Then I thought hang on this is Lynchian but it's not really Twin Peaks is it? It wasn't until the 4th and final episode, for this week, that it started to feel even remotely like the Twin Peaks of old. The thing is Twin Peaks of the early 90s was almost entirely set in Twin Peaks and its surrounds. Scenes not in the town were rare. In this new season however only about a quarter of the scenes so far have been set in Twin Peaks. Nobody has had pie yet. Dale Cooper has only had one sip of coffee and he spat that out. This is quite possibly a punkish statement of intent from Lynch ie. He's not gonna give us the nostalgia trip of a warm and fuzzy agent Cooper drinking endless cups of coffee while quipping enthusiastically about their merits.

The stories and soap opera/cop show vibes are barely there. Leaving us mainly with just the weird and horror portions of the show. If the ratio used to be 90% soap/whodunnit and 10% weird and scary, this time Lynch has flipped it so it's the other way around. I don't actually know what the fuck happened in episodes 1-3 tonight, like I was drugged and can't remember what happened except for a few strange inexplicable dark segments. Who were all these new characters? How and why were we supposed to give a shit about them? A lot of the first three hours felt like a student film or 70s Dr Who on acid. Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire were invoked more than the original Twin Peaks itself. Cast members from these films turn up too, further entwining all things Lynchian into the tv show.

By the time we got to the fourth episode, it ever so slightly started to feel like Twin Peaks. I will watch the next episode unreluctantly but.....I want more Douglas Firs, damn fine coffee, absurd quantities of donuts, cherry pie, that original sepia tone, cheesiness, other pies and the town of Twin Peaks! (Oh dear, am I the sad nostalgist Lynch doesn't want to pander to?). The funny thing is 26 years ago I probably would have wanted less goofy soap and more mental shit. Perhaps the bizarre and scary scenes had more impact back in the day because they were used more sparingly though.

I did sit on the couch and watch four hours of the new Twin Peaks in a row. That means something. I guess we'll see what happens.

*One game I played when I got bored was - Who has aged best? The winner being David Lynch (Gordon) himself closely followed by Madchen Amick (Shelly). The rest looked old, hey that's life.

**If only Mark Fisher were still alive today to give us his analysis.

***Rough 1st draft with no edits, quickly whipped up for the now generation...oh and it's now very late.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Throbbing Gristle - Live At Oundle School

The only music aired at home in the last 2 months has been TG24(24 Hours) and TG+. That is like over 30 hours of live Throbbing Gristle. I can't put anything else on. That's ok though, because I've rarely wanted to listen to any music over the last 2 years. The above performance was released on VHS and audio cassette in 1980 but is also featured on the first cd of the box set TG+ from 2004. It's very hard to believe this concert took place in a boys boarding school in front of a bunch boys aged 8 to 18. The story goes that one of the students convinced a teacher to book the band because he said they were similar to John Cage. Now how many grains of salt? Great myth or true story? Who really cares?

To fully comprehend Throbbing Gristle you have to go past the handful of proper LPs and immerse yourself in their live recordings. So it's pretty handy that all their live performances from their original incarnation (1975-81) were all recorded and released.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Spacer Woman - Charlie


80s electro disco Italian stylee. about that vocal science? Hypnogogic 20+ years early, hints of deep-tech...quite the curious artefact.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Blue Wing Console


Kinda somewhere between Goblin and Numan, I guess. Splendid synth tune played by The Blue Wing Console, a pseudonym for library music producer Simon Park. Motives is taken from the LP Sun High released on the Music De Wolfe label in 1976. 

Monday, 17 April 2017

Where's My Towel/Industry Standard - Big Boys


I cannot believe this record's status isn't 'post-punk classic'. Minutemen, James Chance, Mission Of Burma and even Wipers get all the kudos for this kind of thing. Is it not the best American punky post-punk LP though? Big Boys were Texans who made ye olde angular punk that got pretty fuckin' fonkay at times. It was possibly a big influence on third albums by Meat Puppets and REM. This 1981 album didn't get a mention in Rip It Up & Start Again or its pdf appendix Discography Part Two: Post-punk Esoterica. Where's My Towel... is pretty hard to categorise which might be a reason it remains on the outside of subterranean rock historyAll Music Guide once again prove their irrelevance by giving it only three stars. Just because Where's My Towel... doesn't rate in the rock-crit consensus doesn't mean it's not magnificent though.

MCR, a Light In The Attic subsidiary, thankfully rescued this recording from languishing in obscurity in 2013. There was a comp, The Skinny Elvis on Touch & Go in the early 90s, which contained this LP in its entirety along with the Frat Cars EP and their side of Live At Raul's. The Skinny Elvis was endorsed by Rollins, Coley, Moore & Mackaye in its sleeve-notes (How 1993). However I don't need those dudes to tell me what a fabulous record this is. Maybe the cult of Big Boys is still building and one day they'll be more than just a footnote to Scratch Acid, Rapeman et al.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Sweet Sixteen - Diga Ryhtm Band


Bloody amazing mental exotica from 1976. Kinda like Martin Denny after a few lines of speed and a tab of acid. This was big at NYC's The Loft apparently. Produced by Mickey Hart who was the drummer in The Grateful Dead but don't let that put you off.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Nude For Satan

Wow...only discovered this recently but haven't been able to track down a soundtrack. I can't find any evidence of it ever being made available to the public actually. The film is on youtube but I'm yet to watch it. I have been led to believe the best thing about this movie is its soundtrack though. It's a little surprising that one of the record companies that specialise in horror soundtracks haven't reissued this yet. Alberto Beldon Bembo was apparently a very famous singer in Europe in the 70s.

Monday, 3 April 2017

On The Hi-Fi In Brief - Autumn 2017

Been meaning to listen to this LP for like 20 years. I'm sure this was the first ever album released that contained whale songs. It apparently became a massive hit. This is pure whale song with no crashing waves, pan pipes or gimmicky new age keys. Aquatic animal dub jazz masterpiece.

READY FOR THE HOUSE - Jandek (1978)
I've never actually taken the time to sit down and given Jandek a proper close listen until now. Most outsider musicians I can take or leave but Jandek feels more essential than that. He really came up with something unique. This is a man alone with his voice and a strangely tuned guitar. The way Jandek plays and sings is incomparable to anyone else before him. I've tried to come up with a description of what he does but his music is beyond words. Ready For The House is spooky rudimentary acoustic blues played randomly..... I tried.......but that does not do Jandek justice.

THE GHOST OF HOPE - The Residents (2017)
I did not think I would be listening to a current LP from the legendary Residents this year but hey I am. The residents are in the midst of an absurdly productive phase. They've issued over 15 recordings since the beginning of the 2010s. The couple I've heard are terrific, better than their 80s and 90s output, almost up there with their 70s golden period. The Ghost Of Hope is a concept record about train disasters in the olden days. These tales are compelling, grim and quite touching.

PAWN HEARTS - Van der Graaf Generator (1971)
Van Der Graaf Generator released a bunch of ridiculous prog albums in the 70s that are cherished to this day and not just by prog fans. Their influence was broader than that, glam and punk people also appreciated this singular and very British vision. If only the rest of prog was this good. VDGG's 4th record is colossal in its chaos. Epic.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Texas Rock Bottom - Rangers

What the hell is going on here?

Only just realised Texas Rock Bottom was out yesterday and have listened to it non stop for 36 hours. The album was originally released in August last year but has recently been reissued with a couple of bonus tracks. A vague familiarity makes this is an instantly appealing album. There's always been something a bit deja vu about their sound. We've got singing on most of these tunes(!) and what sound like tributes to The Meat Puppets and Sonic Youth(!?). Funnily enough two hours previous to discovering this at bandcamp I was thinking 'Why hasn't anyone used those acid fried demos of Up On The Sun as a blueprint for starting something new?' This album is not quite that but...actually come to think of it Zombies (Night) from Rangers 2011 LP Pan Am Stories had that sort of vibe as do several of the songs here.

Even though the production is more stripped back than usual, Texas Rock Bottom is still trippy and wonderfully evocative. These recordings evoke relentless sunshine, daydreaming on smoggy freeways, misty suburban landscapes, vapour trail skies and bucolic snapshots. However it's the exploration of internal terrain that seems to be the (un)focus here. Joe Knight has hit a purple patch writing some insidiously stellar songs that capture a state of malaise. The catchy The Dreams I've Had This Week is the best pop song in several years. I haven't said the words lost, melancholy or hazy yet, surely that's mandatory for any sort of discussion about Rangers. On Max Heart Rate it's hard not to think he's being sarcastic when he sings he's 'feeling overjoyed' over a blissful yet dejected backing track. Rangers have never been so world weary or regretful but they're revelling in it with insouciance. Un-named ambiguous and conflicting emotions are all over this album. This is Mr Knight's best work since 2010's Suburban Tours and might possibly be even better!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Sun Sun Sun - Jakki


Walter Gibbons does an insane uncredited mix here. This is gloriously strange, weirder than anything I've heard from the outsider music cannon!