Amoeblog

A London Sumting

Posted by Mike Battaglia, May 2, 2007 12:49am | Post a Comment



London's stalwart pirate radio underground has been an essential tool for the growth of electronic dance music since the mid-80's, specifically Acid House, Breakbeat Hardcore, Jungle/Drum'n'Bass, Ragga and now Grime/Dubstep. It provides, free of charge to the listening public, a wealth of brand new music, often produced right in their own neighborhoods, that mainstream radio either can't or won't play (although that's changed greatly in recent years), as well as offering a community rallying point culturally. There are a few perspectives of pirate radio, one from The Powers That Be concerning "theft" of the airwaves and another that's more about the music. Here's a local news item from the early 90's with the "official" message:



Another London news clip, this one from 1994, the early days of Jungle, with squareness in full effect:




There's a sense of mystery surrounding pirate radio that lies in its clandestine nature - both musically as well as physically. Jungle and Ragga both got very little attention from the mainstream during their inception periods but flourished through the pirates via dedicated DJ's and promoters, some of whom turned their popularity into lasting careers in radio, with a few stations actually going legit. Throughout the "Second Summer of Love", as the heady Acid House-drenched summer of 1988 is often called, pirate radio was the beacon in the night, guiding clubland refugees to the nonstop party. This UK documentary from '94 shows a bit more of a balanced viewpoint, particularly showing the establishment's skewered views in stark light. Check the intro for a track that tweaks a sample from the news clip above!

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New Music Tech:

Posted by Mike Battaglia, May 1, 2007 09:16pm | Post a Comment



Reactable is a new music-making interface coming out of Barcelona that I've been wanting to feature in this blog before I knew I'd be writing it - it was part of my pitch, actually. Now that It's been Boing-Boing-ed I feel I should probably get this post out about it considering it's quite of-the-minute, about which I'll get to later.

Reactable:



While it's been around for a couple of years now, folks are only starting to catch on. Thanks to this past weekend, I'm guessing A LOT more people will be exposed in the near future. This video above is the first exposure I had to the technology, and I was pretty mesmerized. WTF was going on here? One initial observation is that it's like a modular synth that you literally build as you use it, which turned out to be partially correct. The Reactable was developed by Sergi Jordà, Martin Kaltenbrunner, Günter Geiger, and Marcos Alonso of the Music Technology Group at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. These demo videos are fairly self-explanatory, especially after multiple viewings, so I don't think that not having a base knowledge of synthesis or electonic music-making is necessarily a hindrance to appreciating or enjoying Reactable.



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It's a Definite Slice: Heartworn Highways

Posted by Miss Ess, May 1, 2007 07:17pm | Post a Comment
This weekend I re-watched a favorite of mine, Heartworn Highways. It's a documtownes van zandt heartworn highwaysentary about the Austin Music Scene in the 1970s. It came out on DVD only a couple of years ago and the DVD comes with over an hour of extras, all of which are well worthwhile. 

My favorite parts of the movie all involve Mr. Townes Van Zandt.  Van Zandt was a folk singer from Texas who wrote some of (as far as I am concerned) the finest songs around. He was also a total character, a total alcoholic/addict and a total genius. I am sure I will devote some other blog to the life and times of TVZ, but for now, you should check out his song, "Waitin' Around to Die" as performed in Heartworn Highways:


It's pretty heartbreaking for me, with Townes' blacksmith neighbor Uncle Seymour Washington crumpling and crying just listening to Townes' song. The film is mainly made up of moments that feel close at least to something authentic and real, and this performance is really the pinnacle moment of the film for me.

Townes is also shown in the film hanging out near his trailer with the essentials: his gun, his dogs, his whiskey and his girl Cindy. Good times.

Some of the other musicians in the film include Guy Clark, Steve Young, Steve Earle, rhinestone cowboy david allen coeRodney Crowell, and, hilariously, David Allan Coe, who rocks a prison in his complete Rhinestone Cowboy garb. (Speaking of moments that are real and true and all that...) There he is, playing in the penitentiary in front of all these inmates dressed in nothing but their prison jumpsuits, and he's decked in rhinestone bedazzled EVERTHING, complete with huge earrings and a gigantor belt that says his name in sparkling diamonds. He spends a good amount of time trying to relate to the inmates, telling them about his brief prison stay when he was 18 and trying to rally their ire toward the guards by telling them how the guards all drive Cadillacs. It's pretty over the top, to say the least. He's like Marky Mark, I mean, serious actor Mark Wahlberg, trying to convince the homies he's hard cause he stayed in the pen for a couple of days.....geez. Oh and speaking of being hard, David Allan Coe has that hipster star tattoo right on his neck.  he predated all y'all!

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(In which Job is a commercial.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 1, 2007 11:08am | Post a Comment
I’m always on the lookout for two things: hilarious TV and a man with an African-shaped birthmark on his right shoulder. Hilarious TV because it lowers my stress level and inspires me; the man with the birthmark because he orphaned me at age eight and burned my farm down.

Both are equally difficult to find.

Thanks to today’s plethora of cable TV stations (Hot Glue & Margarine Channel, anyone?) there has been an outcropping of novel shows. I tend to enjoy comedy that pushes the boundaries of acceptable (South Park, Strangers With Candy) or are chock full of non-sequiturs (Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Aqua Teen Hunger Force). You get me, right? We’re all on the same page here.

One show that many of you don’t seem to have seen/noticed is “Upright Citizens Brigade”. It’s not brand new. It ran for three seasons on Comedy Central (1998-2000). One star of the show many of you will know is Amy Poehler, who my friends tell me is on something called Saturday Night Live? I dunno, I’ve never heard of it.

Anyway, the premise is that a team of four people, the Upright Citizens Brigade, are waging a secret battle against all-things-average and mundane in the world. They bring chaos to conformity. (In this respect, they mirror the customers who shop the DVD section of Amoeba Music Hollywood.)

It’s sketch comedy. The material is garnered from the troupe’s live shows, originally based in Chicago, now in NYC. In this respect, the show is similar to The Kids in the Hall, though the style of it – the way it ebbs and flows – feels more like Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

If you like any of the titles I’ve dropped above, I would expect you to also adore this too-overlooked gem. Unfortunately, only season one is available on DVD.

Do yourself a favor and snag a copy. Then do me a favor and, if you see the man with the birthmark, shoot a tranquilizer dart in his neck, restrain him, and give me a ring-a-ding. Thanks!

my birthday the street date...5/1

Posted by Brad Schelden, April 30, 2007 09:32pm | Post a Comment
It was so nice for Patrick Wolf to wait until my birthday to release his new album "The Magic Position" here in the states. Or I guess I should say, that it was nice for his label to wait until the 1st of May. It has been out for a month or 2 already in the UK, so I have already spent some quality time with it. This is Patrick's 3rd album and first since his departure with the excellent label Tomlab. "The Magic Position" is if nothing else, one of the best album covers of the year. While one would think Patrick would be maturing and using more adult imagery on his albums. He has gone the opposite direction as a man child on a sort of magical merry go round, dressed like a 10 year old having his cowboy theme birthday party. Or maybe he was just planning this all along for my birthday celebration. I did have an outfit very similar to that on my tenth birthday.  Unfortunately my mom would not let me get away with that hair color until I was in high school. Whatever you may think of the album cover, there is no denying it is a unique and brave idea. Much like the music you will find inside.

I having been loving Mr. Patrick Wolf for a while now. He seriously blew me away with his first excellent album "Lycanthropy." I remember that I read a little bit about this before it came out and was very intrigued. I then got the album and was hooked immediately. I slowly spread the word of the greatness of Mr. Wolf. Of course, he is not for everyone. I carefully chose the friends to share him with. He was like my little secret obsession. His music is sort of a combination of the dramatics of Kate Bush, Xiu Xiu, and Erasure mixed with the bookish intelligence of Morrissey and Idlewild mixed with the electronicness of Aphex Twin with a bit of classical thrown in,  He does not mess around with his lyrics either. He takes himself quite seriously on the musical journey of his albums. He seems to be from a different time. A Futuristic Past, if that even makes sense.  Patrick takes you gently by the hand and forces you into his magical land of wolves and dreams.

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