Amoeblog

Thank Heavens for Heathens—Aggronautix “Throbblehead” Toys

Posted by Chuck, January 25, 2011 03:01pm | Post a Comment


By the early-1990s, eating your own feces was as in as it was ever going to get in civilized circles. Why? Because of GG Allin. He put that dining option (a.k.a. in the insect world as coprophagia) on the menu. Today the practice is nearly unheard of but the fact that so many of us swerved off course and found extreme behavior sort of refreshing is because of The Murder Junkies’ Allin—who not only smeared himself in excrement, blood and other bodily emissions and ceremoniously flung it on his audiences, but was also convicted of rape in 1989 (it was mutual debasement, he contended) and inhaled drugs like a hundred Lizard Kings—either didn’t give a damn or gave too much of one. When he wasn’t befriending John Wayne Gacy or writing manifestoes he made music with about 900 underground punk bands, most of it barely listenable unless you enjoy being audibly pissed on. In other words: the music was synonymous with the man. It’s no wonder “Suck My Ass It Smells” remains a cult hit some 18 years after Allin’s death of a heroin overdose in 1993. GG Allin was an exercise in vicariism, particularly for the prudish at heart (which he made damn sure was all of us).

A legacy like that, of course, calls for commemoration.

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Delia Derbyshire - electronic music pioneer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 6, 2009 07:33pm | Post a Comment

The Guardian once described Delia Derbyshire as “The unsung heroine of British electronic music,” seemingly implying that there are other heroines of British electronic music that are more widely… sung. I suppose there is Daphne Oram but the English never use less than three adjectives when one will suffice, so let’s just say that Delia Derbyshire is an unsung heroine of music. That she happens to have worked primarily in electronic music is secondary and that she was British shouldn't be held against her. She was a wizard and pioneer who, instead of guarding her magical abililties, eagerly shared her techniques and discoveries, but was stifled by the BBC’s draconian demands that their artists work and die in anonymity.


Delia was born in Coventry on May 5th, 1937. As a girl, she learned piano and violin and attended Barr's Hill School. She later attended college at Girton in Cambridge. After initially pursuing studies in math, she switched courses to music before graduation. After graduation, she began to look for work in the music field, quickly butting up against the deeply entrenched sexism of the field. In fact, in 1959, upon applying for a job at Decca, she was flatly told that their policy was to not hire women to work in the studios. The United Nations proved more diplomatic than the folks at Decca, and she worked there for a short while. Then she returned to England and found employment at the London-based music publisher, Boosey & Hawkes. She didn’t stay long.
In 1960, she was hired as a trainee studio manager at the BBC, working with the Radiophonic Workshop, then just a few years old. It was an organization charged with producing experimental incidental music and sound effects for the BBC Third Programme’s radio plays in cases where the normal orchestral score was deemed inappropriate. Her predecessors had included Harry Desmond Briscoe and Daphne Oram, two noted pioneers of electronic music and musique concrète.
Derbyshire came on board following Oram’s departure, as part of a group of young artists that also included Brian Hodgson and John Baker. Many of her initial pieces were collaborations with artist/playwright Barry Bermange. One such piece was 1964’s The Dreams, a sound collage of people describing their dreams with Derbyshire's electronic sounds.


Gradually, the Radiophonic Workshop began producing more music and sound effects for television than radio. One year earlier, in 1963, Derbyshire performed her mostly widely-heard work when given the score for Ron Grainer’s theme to a new science-fiction series, Doctor Who. Incorporating filters, tape loops and valve oscillators, she fashioned one of the most memorable pieces of electronic music ever, and one that's especially dear to Whovians. Grainer was so impressed he sought to give Derbyshire co-author credit but the BBC prevented it. Although officially uncredited, the popularity of the theme resulted in her employers giving her many other assignments and she ultimately produced over 200 pieces including noteworthy scores for Great Zoos of the World and Cyprian Queen. The BBC was, however, by no means entirely supportive of her work, rejecting many of her compositions, claiming they were too bizarre, “too lascivious for 11 year olds” and “too sophisticated for the BBC2 audience.”

(In which Job flirts with science-fiction with, as yet, unknown results.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 9, 2007 12:08am | Post a Comment
I’m doing something I’ve always wanted to.

No, not renting out a room in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion (you would not believe what they’re asking for a studio, which doesn’t even include holograms of ghosts eating cake!)

I’ve begun watching “Doctor Who”, starting with the original series, which ran from 1963 to1966 and stared William Hartnell as a particularly unsexy lead.

Some of you know I am a sucker for British television, though the love is not unconditional. I would no sooner sit through an episode of “Are You Being Served?” than a lecture on safe-sex from a 19th century French poet.

Still, many of my favorites (“League of Gentlemen”, “Absolutely Fabulous”, “Black Adder” to name a few) hail from the Isles, and I do expect a certain sophistication from its programming. It’s not that I need obscure historical references in order to evoke a giggle, I just appreciate that, as opposed to many US shows, not every actor looks like they live at Hefner’s mansion, and not every joke is accentuated by obvious pauses, eye-rolling, and orchestrated laughter from a studio audience.

So far the show is good fun. Because of its spookiness and languid pace, I can only convince myself to watch it at bedtime, which is a minus.

It’s not uniformly entertaining. The scenes which focus on the core characters (the Doctor, his granddaughter Susan, and her school teachers, Barbara and Ian) are enjoyable and emotionally complex enough to be intriguing, though the actress playing the granddaughter seems to sometimes forget she’s on a TV show and not a West End production of Electra.

Inevitably there must be scenes which focus on the antagonists. In the first storyline, these happen to be a bunch of primitive cavemen, who may not know how to make fire, but manage to speak modern English better than most US high school students. These scenes tend to run long, so far.

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