Hello again to my blog. I have really missed you! Hopefully I have not lost all my faithful blog readers and friends. I am now officially back. Seriously, I have missed you. But I have been a bit busy moving my life all around again and moving back to Los Angeles...again. I did this same move about 5 years ago. From San Francisco to Los Angeles. I think I might just like moving. I know for a fact that I do really enjoy packing and unpacking my stuff. And I have actually thought about being a professional packer or unpacker. I know most people really hate it. I do hate the driving of the U-Haul and the moving boxes part of moving. But I do sort of love everything else. I did get really lucky in finding a new apartment and I already had the job part taken care of. So the hard parts were out of the way. But I got my internet hooked up just the other day and I am now back and ready for the blogs. There has been a ton of music and DVDs that I have wanted to talk about already. After a very slow and boring end of the year in releases, there are finally exciting things coming out again. So anybody who says that there is no good music this year, is just not looking hard enough. I think all my favorite bands got together and decided to all release new albums in January and February. At least they spread them out a bit. The Magnetic Fields put out another fantastic album on January 15th called "Distortion." Cat Power put out another album of covers called "Jukebox" on January 22nd. I really do love those covers and this is yet another beautiful album from the beautiful Chan Marshall. The next week was a new album by Xiu Xiu called "Women as Lovers." I think I fall more in love with Xiu Xiu every year. This album grew on me really quickly and I have been listening to it over and over every single day.
Ever since laptops became ubiquitous on the club & concert scene as a live music source for artists, especially DJs, in recent years the question continually arises: are they actually creating live music up there on stage or merely checking their e-mails as a pre-programmed music mix plays?
In some cases the "artist" may be just checking his/her emails or updating their Facebook account, but most real artists are utilizing their laptops' numerous programs in creative musical ways.
And in increasingly common cases there are multiple laptop musicians in action at the same time. The Bay Area quartet Cat Five (featured on Independent Sounds: Amoeba Music Compilation Vol III), formed by Balanceman and Darkat almost a decade ago, is an example of a laptop group. With their preference being Apple computers, all four construct freeform live compositions.
And taking it to the next level is the Worldscape Laptop Orchestra (pictured left) -- a fifty person laptop musician collective who put on an orchestrated, fully rehearsed all laptop performance a couple of months ago at Britain's University of York, led by composer Dr Ambrose Field who acted as the performance's conductor (just like in a traditional full orchestra). The group's goal, he said, is to help pave the way in music for "larger all-digital ensembles."
The Worldscape Laptop Orchestra's 50 performers each worked exclusively with Apple laptops (their sponsor) as their instrument with custom software that was produced to enable wireless communication with each computer sharing audio and control data. The full range of software functionality used in the performance included video detection where hand movements of performers were decoded by the MacBooks.
I wrote about Victor Gastelum several months back when I first starting writing for Amoeba.com. Victor’s iconic art has been used by Calexico, Culture Clash, Greg Ginn, just to name a few. Victor is currently showing in a group show called ALEX STEINWEISS: CREATOR OF THE ALBUM COVER at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica. Victor is one to show his appreciation for any artist that inspires him. I got him to share his thoughts on Morrissey, his Mexican following and Morrissey's supposed anti-immigrant remakes he made last November.
What makes you a fan of Morrissey? How did you become one?
I started liking the Smith's right when they were breaking up. I was starting to make my own art and I found Morrissey’s lyrics inspiring. Not that I wanted to draw what he was describing but that he was telling his own stories. You got the feeling that he was talking about what he knew. He along with other artists that I admire made me look at myself, and draw from what I knew about, what I had to offer. The music was the first attraction to the band though. I like pop music, especially with clever lyrics and hooks. The band was tight and at the time there didn’t seem to be anything like them.
Why do you feel that Mexicanos identify with him?
For me I think it might have to do with his outsider, nerdy loser
image. He made being square and dorky really cool. He is into all these obscure English pop artists, television shows, and movies that he would make references to. I think it made you place a little more value to the things you liked that most people didn’t know about or thought were lame. Also the Manchester bands seem to have this thing where they are all homeboys. Not so much pride or shame, but just an acknowledgement of where they are from. He put a lot reference to where he was from, places and buildings. I like seeing that, (for instance) like when an artist is from San Pedro or Long Beach and they throw that influence into their work.