Friday, March 28, 2003

gareth cunting gates and the fuckarsing wankstain kumars
bad pop song AND scary moral vacuum! this makes me want to listen to 50cent.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

(I haven't seen Adaptation, but he's right about everything else..)
"I know that someone - no idea who, but I can think of a few specific people who are among the likely ones - will link to this post. Some will regard it as stupid or laughable. Some will look at it with mild bemusement. Maybe a few people will see something wonderful in it. I don't know. Right now, I know I'm scared of what people will think." God, don't be.

I (heart) Dan Emerson.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Being Nobody: I find it easy enough to get enthusiastic about this, but it's hard to actually like it. Yes, it's the Freak Like Me trick over Being Boiled, and yes that's cool, and yes the video is theoretically quite clever, and yes, liberty-x-girl-#3 gets to say the are-we-ready? bit Phil Oakey does but SEXAY, and these are all theoretically quite nice. But all of these are things to like which aren't actually things to like about the record, see, and the thing itself just sits there, frankly.

I like manufactured pop mostly because of the sort of fundamentally honest emotional level it's designed to appeal on. Most of the 'proper' music I find myself thinking about most, if not listening to most - 69 Love Songs, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, Eminem - are making some kind of effort to locate emotion behind whatever idea might get in the way. I'm trying to avoid the word "irony"; I think possibly the idea is "received aesthetics", of which "irony" is a part, I suppose. And the manufactured (I'd try and avoid this word, too, but in the video they are being ASSEMBLED in a FACTORY do you SEE? etc) pop I like is stuff which, I suppose because it's, y'know, for kids, is able to avoid the whole question of received aesthetics - hi Avril! - and just try and be whatever it is.

Meanwhile Being Nobody turns into a parlour game. I heard it for the first time and thought hey-I-recognise-that. Hey-what-is-that? hey-that's-the-Human-League! I can't help feeling Nick Hornby would like this record. I think that's maybe a sad thing for pop to be.

(incidentally: Adam Powell, your ideas about the role of art are completely wrong and worthless, and your grasp of written english is tenuous at best. thank you.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Think ELI CASH Thom

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Danny I have no idea what you're talking about.
I think the conclusion I'm drawing is that Kubrick makes films deliberately obsure and melodramatic so that they take take the guise of 'Being Misunderstood'. 'Being Misunderstood' is different from 'Hard to Understand' because to be misunderstood puts Kubrick into some saintly world of the elite, where he is seemingly joined by those who think they understand him, and who regard those who don't understand as either ignorant or as a philistine.

Kubrick does nothing to discourage this and, in my view, appears to revel in it. This is the height of arrogance and needs people to curb their reverence of it.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

I have two Captain Beefheart albums, and I've been thinking lately that he's kind of like the musical equivalent of Stanley Kubrick. Despite their passing physical resemblance, listening to a Beefheart album bemuses me in the same kind of way as watching a Kubrick film, that is to say that it seems like a lot of bluster for the sake of 'art'.

The recordings I own are 'Clear Spot' and 'The Spotlight Kid'. The latter is probably the better example of my comparison since it employs a loose, almost free-form style in its arrangement, whereas 'Clear Spot' is much more commercial sounding. Beefheart produces 'The Spotlight Kid', so I consider this to be more of an indication of him being a musical 'auteur'. It starts quite promisingly - "I'm Gonna Booglarise You, Baby" displaying a gloriously liquidous tremolo guitar - but he fails to build on it. The engaging feature of Beefheart's work for me is the guitars, but Beefheart mixes them very low, to a hardly audible point for much of the album - the title track showing them give way to hollow-sounding - almost incidental - percussion. A very deliberate act, seemingly, without a clear purpose (which is often my main criticism of Kubrick). The irony of this, whether intentional or not, comes in lyrical form - "If you keep beatin' round the bush/You're gonna lose you're push".

To my knowledge, Beefheart is considered to be somewhat of a pioneer to his fans, a man who took the traits of musical Americana of southern forms of blues and country, cut them up and pasted them onto a kind of Doors-ish background of West Coast psychedelia (I hold that the Doors would have turned into Beefheart had Jim Morrison been ugly). And while a range of influences like this is evident, there is no instance where they blend comfortably. Instead its like a mish-mash, where you can identify each part, but none seem to contribute to the whole sound. Again, I often accuse Kubrick of doing similar things with his cinematic technique. Taking Clockwork Orange as an example, the scene where Alex is flicking through records and the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack just happens to be there. Intertextualising for its own sake.

I'm not really sure what conclusion I'm drawing here, mainly because I think there are redeeming features of both men's work, which I'm not going to elaborate upon now. Most of this idea is reliant on possibilities and interpretation, and so I do not hold that this is a solid, strongly-argued belief, but more of a general pondering.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

naturalistic? NATURALISTIC?

talk to me here
"He put his disease in me"

Reading the liner notes for the DVD of the David Lynch film 'Blue Velvet', it implies that Lynch conceived of the film as a reflection on everyday life having dark and seedy undertones, that its strength is its realism, which is the complete opposite of the way it seems to me.

It is the un-realness of 'Blue Velvet' that makes it the film it is. This film is meant to HEIGHTEN and INTENSIFY all the underlying emotions, the point being to bring to the fore what would normally be hidden, and the only way to do this is to exaggerate the circumstances. This is why the small-town setting is so essential. The localised trap of sickness and sleaze and disorder everywhere Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan's protagonist) looks is of such immediacy and magnitude that he cannot possibly escape or evade it, it is all-encompassing when in reality it would be subdued and suppressed.

The scene that really embodies this is the one where Jeffrey takes a naked, shivering and mentally unstable Dorothy (a nightclub singer played by Isabella Rosselini who is beaten around by Dennis Hopper and looks to Jeffrey for sexual comfort) to the safe haven of the local Police Detective's house, whose daughter happens to be Jeffrey's beau, Laura Dern's Sandy.

"He put his disease in me"

...Dorothy emotes to Sandy, causing the latter to screw up her face in horror. Dorothy tells Jeffrey she loves him, and the camera swings back to Sandy's crazily mangled, mortified face. The expression of utterly raw, gushing and uncontrollable emotion is entirely out-of-character, Sandy up until this point being portrayed as the naive, innocent and untampered schoolgirl trying to induce at least some caution to Jeffrey's scheming. The scene continues, violently swooshing between Jeffrey's desperate attempts to maintain Dorothy's sanity as he glances in hope of reconciliation at Sandy's hysterical state. He is utterly trapped between the two. Forget the severed ear. Forget Frank Booth. The exaggeration of the two women's emotional states tearing Jeffrey apart make this the most intense and gut-wrenching scene in the entire film, the viewer being swirled around in the cauldron of confusion.

The genius of the film is that Lynch manages to house this melee in the cliche of the murder mystery. This, I presume, is the reason why the writer of the liner notes confuse it for being realistic. But how can he dismiss the crude, almost venal extremity of the emotional states of the characters? THAT is what sets it apart from other murder mysteries.