Friday, September 19, 2014

retro-quotes # 13851 + #13852 + #13853

retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time # 13851  + #13852 + 13853


 “In wishing to preserve what had been valued, classical societies in time found themselves valuing what had been preserved....  Value itself became the exclusive province of the past and the present was transformed into something resembling a vast association of museums.....  The ‘crisis’ of the ancient world, so much talked about and fretted over in later historiography, can be sseen to have lain most fundamentally in this steady accumulation of the past within all the spaces of the present, so that to live must have in time become to have been lived, to be the abode of ghosts"

               
                   -- Richard Gilman, Decadence: The Strange Life of An Epithet, 1975



“... We have to ask ourselves whether or not we who are alive today are not fatally saddled with the past, carrying it around on our collective shoulders; are we not ‘old’ before we start?”

                  -- Richard Gilman, Decadence: The Strange Life of An Epithet, 1975


“The belief that there are periods in the arts when, after a brilliant flowering, decline sets in and an erstwhile robustness lapses into debility and enervation [is misguided].....  Powerful art does not ‘give way’ to weak art, turning into it like an organism running down, although what we think of as strong art may indeed be succeeded by the weak....  That there have been and continue to be times of great artistic vigor and assured style followed by ones of depleted energy and uncertain manner, and that periods of imitation often succeed ones of notable originality, is scarcely to be denied.... Now, imitation in art may be bad (Ortega y Gasset called it “nothing”, a principle of emptiness) but to call it decadent is to abandon the word’s only plausible meaning”. For if ‘decadence’ means a ‘falling down’ or ‘away’..... then the imitative by its very nature could hardly be decadent, since its repetition of what has been validated and sanctified in the imaginative realm is proof of its respect for, its unquestioning acceptance of, the norm. One may argue that the imitative might be considered decadent because it falls away from an ideal of originality, but this is not how critics or academics... have ever argued. In any case, imitation is its own condemnation and has no need for ‘decadence’ to inform us about itself”

--- - Richard Gilman, splitting hairs a bit, Decadence: The Strange Life of An Epithet, 1975


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

a dredge too far?

Soul Jazz Records Presents NO SEATTLE : FORGOTTEN SOUNDS OF THE NORTH-WEST GRUNGE ERA 1986-97

tracklisting

1. Starfish — This Town
2. Vampire Lezbos — Stop Killing The Seals
3. Nubbin — Windyyy
4. Saucer — Jail Ain't Stopping Us
5. Machine — Blind Man's Holiday
6. Medelicious — Beverly
7. Hitting Birth — Same 18
8. Nubbin — Wonderama
9. Crunchbird — Woodstock Unvisited
10. The Ones — Talk To Me
11. Pod — 123
12. Thrillhammer — Alice's Palace
13. Yellow Snow — Take Me For A Ride
14. Helltrout — Precious Hyde
15. Bundle Of Hiss — Wench
16. Starfish — Run Around
17. Thrillhammer — Bleed
18. Chemistry Set — Fields
19. My Name — Voice Of A Generation Gap
20. Small Stars — It's Getting Late
21. Shug — AM FM
22. Treehouse — Debbie Had A Dream
23. My Name — Why I Fight
24. Soylent Green — It Smiles
25. Kill Sybil — Best
26. Calamity Jane — Magdalena
27. Saucer — Chicky Chicky Frown
28. Attica — The System


Well, I lived through this era, wrote quite actively about underground American rock in the late 80s and early 90s, read zines like Forced Exposure...  and I never heard of any of these bands. Pond, yes, but Pod?



To be honest I'd have thought the first step really would be to introduce today's generation to the NW bands that weren't Nirvana or Soundgarden, but were fairly renowned at the time .... like, I dunno, Tad, who I liked for a moment there.




But even that task would not strike me as the most pressing of reclamation missions...

Reminds of when - back in the actual late Eighties -  I was enthusing about John's Children to a friend who had been there, who was alert and attuned to what was hip and what mattered during the actual late Sixties .... and she was incredulous, openly scornful: "John's Children? Nobody took them seriously. They were a joke."

Didn't affect my love of John's Children one jot, of course, but 'twas bracing to encounter that perspective.



Around that time, I was friendly with another late Sixties veteran and one time we were hanging out, he mentioned the band Family. I confessed I had never heard of them. He was genuinely shocked - "Never heard of Family? Oh, they were one of the most important bands of that time".


I guess this is the Drops Away Syndrome again -  with Family as a band who had dropped away completely by the Eighties -  despite the praise and expectation that surrounded their name  all through 1968-1972, despite the several hit singles (including one #4 hit) they had, despite being high on the bill festival regulars...

But the groups on this new Soul Jazz comp, they never rose enough that one could even say they dropped away, unlike your Tads and Ponds and Leaving Trains...






retrodance (a partial flashback)

"In the last few years... that future-rush of exponential rhythmic complexification [that propelled the 1990s forward] has dissipated, reached a plateau or impasse. The most popular dancefloor sounds of the last four years- Big Beat, the "disco cut-up"/filter style of house, and the Eighties-revisionist styles known variously as electroclash or nu-wave--are retro-kitsch in flavor, imitating or directly sampling Seventies disco and early Eighties electro i.e. the pre-rave ancestors of house, techno, jungle,et al. 

This wave of "technostalgia" is reflected in recent videos, like the kitschadelic cut-and-paste of Cassius's "1999", where the pulpy visuals match the period associations of the track's disco sources: Pop Art/Lichtenstein style comic book appropriations, dated-looking typography and graphics redolent of early Seventies teenpop music annuals and heart-throb magazines, tacky sci-fi imagery, and so forth.



Similarly the video for Les Rythmes Digitales’ "Hey You What's That Sound" (directed by Evan Bernard) is a fond, knowing and immaculate parody of an early Eighties dancepop video (think the pre-megastardom Madonna of "Holiday" and "Lucky Star", or Shannon, or Bananarama). The primitive computer video effects perfectly fit Les Rhythmes Digitales's deliberately retro-futurist sound--stiff sequencer and drum machine rhythms, unwieldy geometric synth-riffs. What was once state-of-the-art retinal intensity returns under the sign of camp, signifying both bemused amusement that we could ever have been astonished by these clumsy visual tricks, and a yearning to experience once again that virgin amazement.





 by Simon Reynolds (Stylus, 2002)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014