In The Crowd

Archive for January 2008

Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

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43110_nickcavevid.jpgI still haven’t worn out my copy of last year’s awesome Grinderman record “No Pussy Blues,” and yet Nick Cave is already back with a new record. Together with the Bad Seeds, they’re releasing their 14th studio album “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!” on 3rd March 2008 on Mute. The insane great title track is being released as single on February 18. 

Further, they are also going on tour this spring:

04-21 Lisbon, Portugal – Coliseum
04-22 Porto, Portugal – Coliseum
04-24 San Sebastian, Spain – Polideportivo Anoeta
04-25 Barcelona, Spain – Razzmatazz
04-26 Marseilles, France – Docks du Suds
04-28 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Music Hall
04-29 Paris, France – Casino du Paris
05-01 Brussels, Belgium – Forest National
05-03 Dublin, Ireland – Castle
05-04 Glasgow, Scotland – Academy
05-06 Birmingham, England – Academy
05-07 London, England – Hammersmith Apollo
05-16 Oslo, Norway – Spektrum
05-17 Stockholm, Sweden – Annexe
05-19 Copenhagen, Denmark – KB Halle
05-21 Berlin, Germany – Tempodrom
05-24 Prague, Czech Republic – Sazka Arena
05-25 Vienna, Austria – Gasometer
06-03 Zagreb, Croatia – IN Music Festival
06-04 Belgrade, Serbia – Arena
06-06 Salonika, Greece – Moni Lazariston
06-07 Athens, Greece – Lycabetus Theatre

Fuck, I love this man. Also check out the great video to Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! Track of the year so far.

And here’s Cave’s own comment to the song:

 “Ever since I can remember hearing the Lazarus story, when I was a kid, you know, back in church, I was disturbed and worried by it. Traumatized, actually. We are all, of course, in awe of the greatest of Christ’s miracles – raising a man from the dead – but I couldn’t help but wonder how Lazarus felt about it. As a child it gave me the creeps, to be honest. I’ve taken Lazarus and stuck him in New York City, in order to give the song, a hip, contemporary feel. I was also thinking about Harry Houdini who spent a lot of his life trying to debunk the spiritualists who were cashing in on the bereaved. He believed there was nothing going on beyond the grave. He was the second greatest escapologist, Harry was, Lazarus, of course, being the greatest. I wanted to create a kind of vehicle, a medium, for Houdini to speak to us if he so desires, you know, from beyond the grave. Sometimes, late at night, if you listen to the song hard enough, you can hear his voice and the sad clanking of his chains.

“I don’t know what it is but there is definitely something going on upstairs”, he seems to be saying. It is, most of all, an elegy to the New York City of the 70’s.”

Written by henninkj

January 31, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Posted in Music

Live Report: Sons & Daughters in White Trash

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sonsdaughterswhitetrash.jpgMuch to my surprise last Friday’s concert with Sons & Daughters in White Trash Fast Food turned out to be a pretty intense experience. With what felt like a couple of hundred people more than it was room for down in the diamond lounge, the temperature was raising to almost unbearable heights even before the first band, The Mae Shi hit the stage.

Throughout the set of Mae Shi we were pressed against the back end of the room, missing out on the music, as we had enough to cope with, just trying to protect our Gin & Tonics. Later on we discovered a small pocket of free space closer to the stage and pushed our way there, ending a couple of meters from the stage. Enabling us to hear the music and see some action. I would argue that we were comfortably located in what social anthropologist and “indie goddess” professor Wendy Fonarow would call zone two of audience participation, typified by a more static spectorial comportment. However, I ended up being more involved in a mosh pit – or whatever the kids are calling it these days – than I liked or had been for many years. The intensity of Sons & Daugthers music, an ecstatic, howling mess of scything guitars, driving rhythms and “woo-woos,” really transported itself over to the audience resulting in some pretty heavy dancing up front, which after a couple of songs stretched itself well into zone two.

The main focal point of Sons & Daughters live set is the interplay between vocalist Adele Bethel and guitarist Scott Paterson as they fight for attention, and together with the non-stop energy of the set it makes for a fascinating spectacle. It seems like they come long way since the last time I saw them, at Barcelona’s Primavera festival in 2005, back then my interest lasted for three songs, leaving mildly humoured. This time I stayed for the whole set, seeing potential in their blend of Post-Punk, Country, Folk, Rockabilly and Murder Ballads and judging based on the size and behaviour of the audience they’ll probably have the opportunity to continue developing and might one day reach the status of some their fellow Scottish companions. 

Written by henninkj

January 31, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Posted in Live Report

Le Nouveau Rock N Roll Franϛais

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Went to the cinema and saw “La fille coupée en deux” by Claude Chabrol yesterday. It was an awful film, and it surprised me how far the now old Claude Chabrol, an important figure in the French nouvelle vague movement in late 1950s and 1960s had fallen. This was the second French film in row for me, as I last week got coaxed into seeing “Dialogue avec mon jardinière” by Jean Becker and if Chabrol’s film was bad, this one was, like, taking away my willingness to go on living.

Because of this I started looking around for information about the French movie industry, like what’s going on down there? And then I found an article called “The death of French Culture” in Time, a magazine I thankfully never normally read. This is probably the worst piece of trash I’ve ever read. “Once admired for the dominating excellence of its writers, artists and musicians, France today is a wilting power in the global cultural marketplace” the reporter states and continues to harass all things French over the next 4 pages. “France today is a wilting power in the global cultural marketplace. Only a handful of the season’s new novels will find a publisher outside France. Fewer than a dozen make it to the U.S. in a typical year… Only about 1 in 5 French films get exported to the U.S.”

It so much wrong with the arguments in this article, that it is difficult to mention it all. But perhaps most important is the formative argument the reporter is basing his rantings on, as he measure artistic quality based on its commercial success.

Further, the point that only a dozen novels and only 1 in 5 French films gets exported to the U.S. probably says more about the state of things in the U.S. than does about France. French publishers producing over 700 novels last year and Americans reading less than twelve of them, I would argue, shows nothing but a picture of French vitality and American ethnocentrism.

However, the reporter doesn’t just want to point out the problems, he digs deeper and find both what he think is the reason behind and the solution to French culture’s “problems.” Here Time’s right wing political stance shines brightly through. The problem is of course that cultural protectionism, exceptionalism and subsidy don’t work. “The French government spends 1.5% of GDP supporting a wide array of cultural and recreational activities (vs. only 0.7% for Germany, 0.5% for the U.K. and 0.3% for the U.S.),” the article tells us.  “The government provides special tax breaks for freelance workers in the performing arts.” And worst of all, “Painters and sculptors can get subsidized studio space.” And the solution for getting more America-pleasing art: “If the private sector got more involved and cultural institutions got more autonomy, France could undergo a major artistic revival.” Classic!

However, the best thing about the article is probably this ridiculous question: “Quick, name a French pop star who isn’t Johnny Hallyday”. Nice! Heard about Daft Punk, Ed Banger, Kitsune, Joakim, Prototypes, etc? All are releasing music that is setting the template for most of the new Anglo-American bands coming up these days.

In short, two shitty films do not mean the death of French culture in general but articles like this should hopefully contribute to the death of Time Magazine. And I’m going for a French night out with Pierre Henry concert and Kitsune-DJs playing at Tape tonight.

Mp3: The Whip – “Divebomb

Written by henninkj

January 25, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Music

The aesthetics of Vinyl

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vinyl.jpgIt’s offical: Last.fm will now be streaming full tracks and albums on their website. Not completely up and running yet it seems, but still it’s gonna make Last.fm the biggest provider of free legal music online. Great!

Also, I’ve heard that the new MacBook Air comes with no CD drive. That’s probably not just to save space, it might be because they want everybody to buy everything through iTunes, but it could also be a gesture similar to the one Steve Jobs made in 98 when he launched the first iMac without a floppy disc drive. Floppy discs became obsolete back then and now, ten years later, CDs are becoming obsolete.

That’s also great. It was always a format based on compromises. CDs never sounded as good as vinyl. The size meant that the artwork was no longer of much importance for either consumer or artist, which was too bad, but the convenience of the size made up for it. It took up less space and it was cheaper to produce. So it’s no wonder that the ugly and poor quality CD is going obsolete, the only reason the format has lasted so long is because mp3’s used to be of even worse quality and had no artwork at all. Now, however, Mp3’s sounds pretty much as good as CDs and video file formats are consumer-friendly enough to effectively provide the artwork and so much more.

Many argue that today all you need is a wi-fi connection, everything else just takes up precious space. That’s probably true, but one should not underestimate the power of what Zappa called the “Fondlement and Fetishism Potential,” the urge to own, see and touch the whole original packaging of the music your listening to.     

Okay, so the CD is dead. However the vinyl record is thriving and is making something of resurgence these days. Most of the numbers I’ve seen out there, says something like a 15% raise in vinyl sales the last year. Even big electronic chain-stores are back to selling turntables. Great!!

 And it’s no big surprise, vinyl always survive. Its history (going all the way back), its connotations (the connoisseur’s choice), its quality (can’t beat the sound) all contribute to vinyl’s continuing superiority over all available digital options.

And then there is the record collection’s ability to symbolize subcultural capital, the possibility of shared experiences and discoveries digging through crates of vinyl at flea-markets and second-hand stores, and the whole ritual of putting a record on. All this you lose or experience in an inferior way with a purely digital product.

So yeah maybe it’s a lot of elitism surrounding vinyl. Or maybe better, a kind of aestheticized elitism, the aura a wall of endless vinyl radiates. This clip from the 1998 film Tokyo Eyes explains it all:

For me the future seems bright. Mp3’s and vinyl fit together like hand in glove: Mp3’s makes it easier to discover all the great music out there, and vinyl for those special releases you fall in love with, those that look incredible and sound too good to be restricted to a still-inferior-sounding digital format.

Written by henninkj

January 24, 2008 at 6:52 pm

Posted in Music

Unpredictable: CTM. 08

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ctm08.jpgOn Friday starts the ninth instalment of club transmediale festival for adventurous music and related visual arts. Under the theme “Unpredictable” they will investigate into artistic concepts that imply the surprising and unforeseeable, accidents, mistakes and coincidences as a means to alter the dynamics of creative processes and to discover new aesthetic forms.

In other words a lot of great and exciting artists are playing. As a warm-up to the festival I’ve put together a little list of what I think is going to be some of the highlights of the festival. 

It gets of to the best of starts with Mr. Musique Concrète himself, Pierre Henry (interview) in Volksbühne on Friday. The father of electronic music have inspired pretty much every musician since the 60’s with his musical experiments and nothing is more natural than that he gets to start the party. Added here is a video of his (collaboration with Michel Colombier) maybe most well-known track “Psyché Rock,” made sometime in the 60’s but sounding so futuristic that Matt Groening 30 years later was desperate to use it as the theme for Futurama. Henry said no, and Groening ripped it of instead…

Probably to underline that adventurous music doesn’t necessarily have to involve new technology next highlight is on Saturday in Maria (am Ostbahnhof) where the Legendary Stardust Cowboy is playing. It might be that this guy never even touched a computer; however nobody can deny that this psychobilly rebel plays adventurous music. Here he is performing his biggest “hit” Paralysed.

The most straight pop music you’re gonna hear throughout the Festival will probably be delivered by Efterklang on Thursday (31.01) in Maria. However it is more going on in one song by Efterklang – mixing together classical composition skills, varied instrumentation, harmonies, electronic melancholy and so on – than in the complete output of some of their more famous Danish contemporaries. Below the animated video to the song Mirador.

To wind the whole festival up, a great line up with Mouse on Mars, Joakim and Vitalic throws a banging party in Maria on Saturday (2.2). Vitalic – Poney Part 1:

It’s a whole lot more going on too, that I haven’t got the time to write about, more concerts, movies, workshops, installations, etc. Also this is the sister or cousin or whatever of the Transmedial Arts Festival taking place from January 29 to February 24, with a lot exciting topics covered under the theme “Conspire.” Check it all out at www.clubtransmediale.de

Written by henninkj

January 22, 2008 at 11:57 am

Posted in Music

Lightspeed Champion Makes His Debut

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I’ve been so busy praising the new Black Mountain record lately that I almost forgot about another great record released today, and that’s “Falling Off The Lavender Bridge” by Lightspeed Champion, also known as Devonte Hynes, former member of the short-lived but pretty awesome “Test Icicles.”

fallingoffthelavenderbridge.jpg

First of all, the only similarity between the music of Lightspeed Champion and that of Test Icicles is probably just the quality. Whereas Test Icicles were one great party, with no rules or boundaries, “Falling of the Lavender Bridge” is more of come-down after a great party. However it’s come-down taking place in a seemingly totally different time and place, with U.S-born Devonte going back to his roots as a country boy, playing a bit of Americana with friends from the Saddle Creek stable.

The country influence runs through much of the album, binding it together as Devonte constantly take new detours in to other musical territories, creating in the process some eccentric and witty songs.

Lyrically, the record is bit more mixed, with Devonte at times resorting to the well-worn landscape of indie/emo melodramatics. However, more often than not, his ability to insert shock imagery or to enter into discomforting territory, as he does in tracks such as “Tell me what it’s worth” and “Devil tricks for a bitch” where he confronts the peculiar racism he gets as a black indie kid, “I feel the nigger eyes they’re staring/makes me want to rip off my skin” makes him stand out of the (indie) crowd.

“Falling Off The Lavender Bridge” is a truly promising debut.

Mp3: Lightspeed Champion – “Everyone I Know Is Listening To Crunk

Out on Dominio Records

Written by henninkj

January 21, 2008 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Music

Live Report: Silje Nes

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Silje Nes celebrated the release of her new record, Ames Room, in Ausland in Berlin on Friday. It was a nice and cosy affair, however with Nes having to cope with some of the problems most of the artists in the bedroom folk/electronic genre seem to run into when they take to the stage. 

She delivered a pretty introverted performance, which was no big surprise or problem, however through the way she, and musical partner Arne, presented the music live it seemed like some of the finer nuance of her songs got lost. For me, the real greatness of her music lies in the electronic quirks and bleeps that are always bubbling and tinkling somewhere under surface of her songs, by loosing some these elements in a live setting, she also lost some the adventurousness that made Ames Room such a special record.

Her restrained and delicate music also demands a lot from the audience and unfortunately many of those present, in the almost sold-out Ausland, weren’t willing to sacrifice their own conversations for the sake of Nes’ music. Adding an extra layer of noise, that hampered the performance. Below is a pretty shitty video of Silje Nes playing the song “Giant Disguise”.

Strangely enough, somebody had decided that Silje Nes shouldn’t headline her own release party, leaving that spot for the not-so-interesting Sissy Wish. However it gave us the opportunity to leave earlier and get some Pastise down at 8mm, which was great like always. Also thanks to Shotgun Club and DJ Mr. Blowfish for putting on a great party in Lido on Saturday, it was almost as good as I imagine the 60’s were.

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Written by henninkj

January 21, 2008 at 10:00 am

Posted in Live Report