So, a few years ago, I thought I should start doing mixtapes for general consumption as a sort-of-diary of what I was listening to. As in, rather than writing up a review of every single record I bought and consumed, I could just weave together some tracks from all the various sources I had into some sort of narrative. And you could listen to this and make up your own mind. Show, don't tell, kind of thing.
Then I kept forgetting to keep this updated with the latest ones and stopped writing sleeve notes for them, and like the blog, the frequency has massively fallen off. THey;ve gone more 'thematic' too, but that doesn't mean there isn't a narrative, especially between mixtapes.
I've arranged them into annual playlists too; here's 2014. you can find the others on my mixcloud profile.
I feel at this point, I need to stop using the same artists (who always have a new album out) as much, and we can just take Cult of Luna, Euros Childs, Necro Deathmort, anything starring Scott Hull (pig destroyer/agoraphobic nosebleed &c), anything starring Igorrr, anything staring Davide Tiso (of ephel duath), Drumcorps, 65daysofstatic, and Sparks as read.
I'm just so annoyed at all these films that just get the basics wrong.
It acted like it was the first found footage film ever. The lengths it goes to to establish that this is found footage is ludicrous, every scene at the start had 'oh, so you've got a new camera' as an intro line. It goes so far that I wonder if it's even a comment on found footage films.
To its credit, the protag Andrew says he finds it comforting because it puts a barrier between him and the world (despite the fact that he already seems entirely alone). So it starts out as a dramatic, as well as practical, technique. Like district 9, it wants to do away with the shaky cam stuff, but it does it by bending the rules hilariously far, til the point where they interfere with the plot.
So is this some sort of point about found footage movies in here? With Andrew's line 'I'm trying to put a barrier', is he talking about how FF films actually make cinema less believable, not more? Is it a comment on voyerism and technology, how what we think is bringing us together is not, like all those idiots who watch gigs on a their phone while they record it for the future instead of living in it in the moment. It lets things which would not be remarkable in cinema, like cars levitating, become interesting again, because we see it from first person. So I'm not convinced it's a deliberate comment on found footage. It's just enough to make me wish it was.
The fact that the only female character only existed in order to hold a second camera is jaw-droppingly poor. And she had to suffer the whole 'stalking pays off' thing with Matt, in that she begins to like him simply because he is persistent. and then he seems to leave her, and go travelling, cause, "I love you Bro." It's like the worst of both worlds; we get the shallow love interest, which then doesn't go anywhere. Better to ditch it entirely.
There isn't a story as such, other than the 'damaged underdog ends up misusing power when s/he gets it', which is a good story; I intend to use it myself one day. The treatment is fairly realistic I suppose, of how one can retreat back into one's shell; but against a background of recent disaster-porn scenarios, I can't help wishing there was something to overcome that was successful. I'm so sick of the 'here's an opportunity, let's watch people screw it up' plots, especially in sci-fi. I had hoped it would be like a proper superhero origin story, but an original setting with a fresh angle and a bit of realism. I don't want some depressing story about how you can't escape your upbringing, that once you're ruined, you're ruined forever. I totally accept that this is a preference thing, but it seems a real shame to tell this story as, as Primo Levi said, 'troubles overcome are good to tell'. Wouldn't it be nice if there was something to achieve, rather than social acceptance? And social acceptance could be a byproduct/subplot to the main thing?
Overall, it felt more like The Explorers than Primer, with an ending that felt totally Akira.
I actually hated this talk.
Mark Ronson's argument seems to be 'people have been ripping off earlier art forms forever, and sampling's no different', which doesn't take into account the wide spectrum of derivity; from inspiring new works to blatant theiving.
He mentions the Rolling Stones as a band who copied the blues, and yes, I would agree; and argue they were terrible thieves, greatly in debt to their inspirators, who largely copied without adding anything (I will concede they had some good lyrics).
Just because everybody does it, doesn't make it ok. But it kind of is ok to see 'sampling' as an art form, as long as people get credit where its due.
Just because some people do it well, doesn't legitimise passed-off crap such as Miley Cyrus as equal to Venetian Snares' Drum & Bartok records.
The problem is, that we now live in a world where if you want to rip off a song, you don't even have to play it yourself. What none of the sample-hogs tell you is that by listening to something, working it out, and playing it back, there's a good chance it's changed in the process somehow. Not always, but somehow. Nirvana spent a lot of time ripping off the Pixies; if they'd had samplers, maybe they'd have been even better at ripping them off, and consequently a less good band. That's not to say that all musicians ever have taken the opportunity to modify their 2nd hand content (see above), or that all people with samplers ever have just recycled without changing the source material. I'm just saying you have the potential to where you didn't have as much potential to before.
It just doesn't mean that Jason Nevins should be put on the same pedastal as RUN DMC themselves. That every Nathan Barley with an immac should be considered 'up there' with Stevie Wonder. That Mark Ronson, with his sampler and libary of ted talks, who turned in a slab of turd at the end of that talk that's massively inferior to any of the pieces he sampled, should be held up as spokesperson for a generation; rather than people like Igorrr, Bong-Ra, Drumcorps, and Sickboy, who really are making the genius post-modern music that Ronson clearly thinks he is making.
I think I have to add something here, as someone who has both done a lot of remixes and propped up my songs with samples.
In terms of remixing, I know how good it feels to fiddle with someone else's brilliant song and feel like I'm responsible for more than just adding a crappy drumloop over the whole thing. I also like to think that my remixes are a little bit more work than that. My simplest one is probably the Bobby Mcgee's track 'king of england', which was just stripped down and built up again with no editing or cutting up of wave-forms. It's not too different from the original, but then it's just a remix and credited to them as such.
In terms of production, I think it's just irresponsible to not cite your references these days. We don't live in the old days of trad folk songs, where you wouldn't know who wrote the song you're singing, making up new words for, and improvising over. We have the data now, which is why when I completed In Case of Emergence, I listed all the samples used - showing my hand, I guess, I suppose, so if you really feel like it you can go and check up and see what they sounded like before I started fiddling; also serving as a 'further listening' section, with my influences on show; and yet still acting as a show-off 'ooh look, I'm combining the Amen break with a bit of Moonlight on Vermont' self-flattery. The main point is, if you're putting samples on a record and not saying where they're from, you're not able to show what is your own work and what is other people's. I think there's a huge area for fair use of samples, as long as they're properly referenced and don't actually contribute to the song, which is where I think royalties and co-writing credits might need to come in.
Anyway, it's seductive playing with other people's music and thinking that you're the brilliant one. That's the danger.
I've got an idea for a show that seems so obvious to me, I can't believe it's not been touted or mooted. but after looking a few times, I can't find anything about it, so if this is old hat, sorry, and tell me where to stick it, and I'll try to learn to be better at searching the internet for things.
It's basically that title there.
We all know and love Murder, She Wrote. The story of an author of detective fiction who goes from town to town, solving mysteries, is so perfect for TV. Its episodic content. Its variety of scenic backdrops and characters. Its smart lead. Its improbable string of coincidences, where every time this author is in town, a murder happens...
This is the jump off point for my idea: what if actually, it's only plausible because it is no coincidence - every time the author rocks up somewhere, she researches the local townsfolk, then bumps someone off that she knows she can successfully frame someone else for? Just to see if it's a crime she can fit into her book.
This now fits with the law of statistics. We know from the start who the murder is - our protagonist, now an anti-hero. Every week, she must kill someone and successfully frame a member of the local community for the killing. Every week, different officers of the law are tricked by her into believing an entirely plausible story about who killed the victim - remember, she has absolutely no motivation to do this, so she's quite safely off the list of suspects. And every week, police fall for it, having had no contact with previous officers who might be able to piece a few anomalies together.
But every week we're captivated - how will she get away with it this time? how close will the call be? What will be the one piece of evidence that she just managed to plant at the last minute to get her target on the hook?
I think this has legs, especially in this time of anti-heroes. Can someone pay me money for this please?
Also, on a different but related note, I'd like to see Mother: the series, because that film was both excellent and franchisable. Every week, mother's half-wit son accidentally kills someone. Every week, she must investigate who did it, only to find out that it was him, and then finally pin the blame on someone else. HBO, are you listening?
"If a record takes longer than a week to make, somebody's fucking up." Steve Albini.
Albini is a hero of all of ours. The records he produces are usually the highlight of the band's back catalogue, except he won't take credit as a producer. But I think he's way off the mark with this quote, a post-script on the letter he wrote to Nirvana pitching his take on their third album, and not just because I'm friends with Andrew Gardiner.
I just think its an ultra-limited way of conceiving of when the 'making of' a record starts and stops. We're not all The Magic Band; we don't all spend 6 months rehearsing in an empty house and then cut the record in four hours.
Thing is, I can say that, because I've been that soldier. When I was in Bruised Pilgrim, we did spend 6 months rehearsing and then record the album in a weekend; and it's an album I'm massively proud of.
The story doesn't stop there, because the album took about a year and a half to be mixed (including time before Andrew got around to it). I don't think this bucks Albini's point, in fact it adds urgency to it. The reason it took so long to be mixed is because of fuck -ups in the recording process, largely poor equipment; the snare and the poppy bass guitar being the worst culprits, but there was a huge amount of automation that had to be very carefully engineered by Andrew in his mixing suite. Those corrections took a lot of time and could have been avoided by getting it right at source. The album could have been done in its entirety, in a week.
But what about the song writing? the rehearsal time itself? Does that not count? In terms of the albums I've made, most are home recorded, and once you include the years of material that went into that record, 'a week' is a ludicrously narrow view of what the production process is. If Albini is talking about punk bands, that cut their teeth live, and capturing their raw performance, then you have to include all the gigs they've played in order to get to that point. It's still not a week.
Making music is not necessarily about live performance any more. there s no hard and definite line between song-writing, production, and post-production. It can all feedback into everything else. Maybe making an album on my own is still within Albini's conception of 'something going wrong', and maybe I'm reading too much into the words he wrote 20 years ago, and maybe he's even changed his mind in that time. But the quote is too seductive, too ballsy a mission statement not to pick an argument with.