Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Zeitkratzer performs songs from "Kraftwerk" and "Kraftwerk 2" / Christian Bouchard - Broken Ground


Reinhold Friedl's Zeitkratzer start their 20th anniversary celebrations by interpreting tracks from two Kraftwerk albums...but you can tell that from the title - I need more coffee -

No surprise that this is another impressive addition to their canon of covers which have previously featured John Cage and Stockhausen. Friedl's arrangements perfectly tease out the possibilities inherent in the originals, although I have to say that the opener, Ruckzuck, initially gave me cause for concern. It naturally lacks the bite, or edge or Kraftwerk's original rhythm and reminds me of common orchestras covering Rock (you know how awful that usually is). But they're only working, structurally, with what's there and you know that breakdown is coming; so how will they handle that? Brilliantly, with great great piano-smashing chords, before see-sawing off towards the end in fine style. The 'mood' pieces, such as Spule, work best, transforming the original 'ghosts' in the machinery into breathy tension accompanied by scraped strings, cymbal splashes and forceful bass notes. Atem is another treat; what sounds like an extended heavy breathing exercise coloured by minute sounds from other sources. I look forward to things to come this year from Zeitkratzer.




Commissioned by Derek Besant by accompany his 2012 exhibition, Broken Ground, Christian Bouchard's album of the same name features remixed versions of the original pieces and they're exquisite in the attention to detail he pays throughout. You might expect that from someone who studied at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal and was awarded First Prize in electroacoustic composition. 

As I've said before and no doubt will again, to these ears, the technical aspect (the science of electroacoustic music) is but one (necessary) step towards realisation that transcends the study of sound to create sonic wonders. Hear Voids Patterns, for example, it's treated bell chimes (?), perfectly weighted against static crackle and electric whine. Throughout the works Bouchard shifts the emphasis from a relatively 'light' tonal palette towards occasionally stable rhythmic patterns along with bursts of guttural noise. The overall balance is towards weightiness but always there are counters, the kind which differentiate this music from, say, simplified Industrial electronics with which you could say this shares some common ground. I might call it 'Industrial music with a degree'...but that could sound stupid. Another superb release from empreintes DIGITALes

Monday, 13 February 2017

rkss - Cutoff Ep / COPPICE - Preamble to Newly Cemented Dedication to Freedom





Checking to see if the new Nochexx album on Alien Jams has been released I find rkss' Cutoff Ep and to my surprise I also find I like it - which surprises me simply because I'm not easily pleased. These four tracks, however, embrace what's good about techno and without completely de-constructing it shift the additional components into interesting shapes.







Coppice's Preamble to Newly Cemented Dedication to Freedom is another very good release. I apologise for not sounding too excited; I've been up since 5 to go to Work, had a busy morning, wrote about this exhibition, now flagging...none of which concerns you, I know. Meanwhile, here are Joseph Kramer & Noé Cuellar as Coppice. This stands out as a very smart configuration of sounds involving subtle hints at rhythm but more than that assembling extremely interesting noises in the grand acousmatic/electroacoustic tradtion (without sight of an acoustic instrument) yet totally revelling in the spatial possibilities of, as they put it: 'physical modeling synthesis, modular synthesizers, and custom built devices' - amen to that. I'm deeply impressed! Have a listen...


Friday, 10 February 2017

The Irony / Gone in 60 Sec Vol. 4


One great thing about these days is...Chelsea FC being top of the league, very top...another is the fact that you can choose to exist, or not, by which I mean that being on the social network of global info spillage is deemed a necessity yet should you wish you can be off it and therefore not actually exist you can...now this third thing I'm not sure about, initially believing it to be good but reconsidering at this very moment....the thing is...irony...

...as prompted by the I Heart Noise label, it's name and the t-shirt shown on its Bandcamp site which distances itself from the normal red graphic heart by featuring a diagram of a real one followed by 'Audible Disease' to make the point that if possible they would infect your essential organ via a sonic virus - the nasty people. Yet the very use of 'I Hear't is, of course, an ironic one. Being ironic is almost inescapable in this post-truth universe. After all, wear your heart on your sleeve and you're at risk of looking foolish. I can look foolish in other ways, thanks. Still, there's currently a push'n'pull fight between irony and sincerity; one side urging you to bear your soul (it will endear you to everyone!), the other scoffing...at everything - shrugging too because to shrug, scoff, sigh (in resignation) is to appear wiser than those who take everything (and themselves) so seriously. It's not worth it!

I wanted to tell a friend who said he had 'Trump worries' to do the exact opposite and not give a fuck (he's English, living in Scotland, by the way) but after some consideration didn't want to appear patronising. If old notions of Left and Right are disappearing, side-taking certainly isn't. You only have to whisper a brief political opinion these days to be branded as something. So it goes...

But what about Gone In 60 Sec Vol 4 on the I Heart Noise label? Music is one thing that can help, if not save us from the worries of the world - mind you, if you want a sonic representation of today's political chaos you should look no further than Wirephobia's 3,258,629. Thankfully, despite it being my kind of Noise, ie very brief, it's not representative of what's going on here. The noise isn't Noise as you might know it. The collective effect is more akin to plunderphonics, with more or less everything chopped into one-minute portions including skroky geetar, vocal samples, ambient drift, shortwave cut-n'paste, glitchiness and unclassifiables. A very good comp.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

pHarmerz - 20 Acid Clonk Greats


Sheena is no longer a punk rocker, she's an acid casualty suffering severe Ramones flashbacks ('one-two-three-four!') - I know the feeling, not that I've ever taken acid, but I did see The Ramones in their prime - so, surprise, surprise, with titles like this, the 'spirit of Punk' (though I'm loath to use that term, too late) pervades not just this album by Farmer Glitch and Ekoplekz, but the whole DIY ethos of the Eastville Project.

Nothing new there, you say; true, but that 'spirit' is harder to capture than merely doing it (independent music) yourself. Where much Techno (and current mainstream variations) takes pride in smooth, clean production values, pHamerz, along with the whole West Country New Thing, rejoices in raw feeling, improv attitude and stressed fidelity. None of that detracts from this duo's desire to wrench rotten, fonky grooves from the machinery. As you probably know, Ekoplekz has been doing that for years, rarely straying off the rhythm track, albeit a wobbly one of his own making.

The title and cover suggest a parody of/homage to Acid Trax compilations but the music is better than that; witness My Human Gets Me Acid as one example of how it's possible to stick a genre's head in the shredder, leaving a body with thrashing arms and legs. Even more so on Skronky Acid Party (parts 1&2) and, yes, another pun title, of course, this time with reference to a guiding light in Nick Edwards' music, Lee Perry.

Across the 8 tracks 'acid' FX do battle with skronky, wonky rhythms as the beat goes on being mashed up, dented and distressed. The result is a flashback to the most mental rave you ever attended, in your head.

Monday, 6 February 2017

The Music of Marcel Duchamp / Film: The Dark Mirror (1946)


A Twitter notification from Boomkat this afternoon informed me of a new vinyl version of the music of Marcel Duchamp, for which I'm grateful, not knowing that any such recordings existed, or that he even wrote music, if it can be called written since, like John Cage's notations, I think they're open to interpretation. If you don't fancy the vinyl, an earlier CD version can be heard at Ubuweb.


***


Watching lots of films these long Winter evenings. Recently, Robert Siodmak's The Dark Mirror (1946), featuring Olivia de Havilland as twins, one of whom is a nasty piece of work. Thomas Mitchell as Lt. Stevenson gets a great line as he enters the psychiatrist's apartment to find him playing Classical music: 'I don't mind ordinary music,' he quips. 'It's the wonderful stuff that bores me.' 'That's snobbish, you know,' replies the doctor. I doubt the cop would have had much time for Marcel Duchamp's music, or art, for that matter. I recommend the film.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Cut-Up: Eurotrash Dreams



Immortality? RTomens, 2010


Working on cut-ups again not having done so for a few years. I've submitted three for a forthcoming magazine to coincide with an art exhibition in March. More on that soon. I don't claim to be able to match the master, William Burroughs, but even so interesting word juxtapositions arise from these experiments and, as He said, it's something to do here and now. This one, Eurotrash Dreams, was left over...



I have work in this book. Highly recommended for lovers of cut-ups and William Burroughs.


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Splitter Orchester / Felix Kubin - Shine on you crazy diagram


Yes, Pink Floyd pun-tastic title but don't be fooled into thinking it's a comedic, lighthearted affair. Berlin-based Splitter Orchestra deliver again; it's good to see them getting into the recording studio more often. Right from Diagram 1 a tone is set, for a while, only to later be reworked by Felix Kubin - but what is the tone? The Orchestra mangle/craft/fuse all manner of things/noises into a whole, if not wholesome melange of low end theory bowed cello, high-pitched electronics, furniture-moving...continued on Diagram 2 (but a Diagram of what? The neural network of John Cage superimposed over one belonging to the AMM/Sun Ra - I give up). As unsetlling as the soundwaves are, such is the level of integral composition it feels like total sound, albeit improvisational in spirit and multi-faceted in substance. On The B-Side, Kubin first strips the sounds back to an altered, bleepy state before crunching, reducing, totally transforming the elements leading to a sonic hailstorm. The bonus Splitter Orchestra on the digital version consist of brilliantly downbeat, dark orchestral manoeuvres. Excellent release

Gagarin Records

Monday, 30 January 2017

The Necks - Unfold





The Necks unfold g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y...almost Zen-like, this trip with the monastic trio, yes, very Alice Coltrane at times, especially on Overhear...reminiscent of her lengthy electric keyboard excursions....The Necks living, if not literally, then...spiritually and metaphorically in the mountains...high above and beyond the rat race of commercialism, urgency in rhythm (the urban rush), instant gratification via melody (consumerism?)...not drifting, but travelling in a relaxed fashion...Unfold is mesmerising, akin to 'spiritual Jazz', minus either righteous fire or religious overtones and instead of, say, Pharoah Sanders' rampant afropercussion, loose drumming and constant jangle of bells. Unfold is contemplative...and would be little more than idle noodling, jamming, if not for the intuitive interplay between the three players, enhanced at time by deep bass rumbling.

Ideologic Organ

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Winter Blues / Marion Brown / Funk (RIP)



Is this the season of The Big Slump? Is it me? Or is it you? The Winter Blues got everyone, I think. Depending...perhaps you live in Australia. Here in Europe...here in London a bitter chill bites our bones should we venture outside...but I remain in; I am a remainer, due mostly to the virus I'm carrying, but due also, in part, to...the...question: Why bother going out? Why bother?! Why bother becomes a default setting as the blanket of lethargy lays heavy...

When's Spring due? When it's always due. You shouldn't wish your life away.

Here's some great music by Marion Brown...


...it lifts my spirits to somewhere just below Feeling OK, which is some achievement.

Trump overdose - network clogged with jokes and news. Ironically, haters can't seem to stop publicising the existence of a president who thrives on being in the media and, in case they hadn't noticed, is impervious to criticism to the point of creating his own negative press simply by speaking, most of the time...the man's a press-eating monster, trashing liberal attacks like Godzilla tearing down pylons...


...pin the tail on the funky, not the donkey...


...Wellington WigOut may speak more sense than anyone, including me - Include Me (Wellington Wig) Out. So listening to Parliament again, not having done so for a while...the introduction of the hand clap at 4.17 is enough to remind me of what's right and how right Parliament were, not just in their comic strip critique of the world, musical chops and production but of course their total understanding of what Funk is, or was. For yes, friends, as you mourn the death of liberal politics take a moment to also contemplate the demise of Funk for it's disappearance, despite not gaining the news coverage it deserved, was a tragedy to some of us. TTFN

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Book-Buying Crisis...Things Fall Apart


RTomens, 2016

I was out of reading - disaster! But how can you be? LJ would ask. Look at all those books! Yes but most of them are non-fiction and what isn't I don't fancy. It's Albert Camus' fault. Not him, you say, just the binding, which is getting old. No, it's him, he brought about the physical collapse of this paperback by comparing organised society to piranhas cleaning people up with their 'swift little nibbles', along with illuminating the existential doom of life, no doubt, although I didn't get further than page 11. I know his cynical ideas transferred to the paper conduit carrying them and it fell apart. It had a crisis. Is there a metaphor in this incident? Are we all ragged books gradually shedding pages as our stories are lived out? Probably not.  


I knew I'd get something over Kentish Town, with all it's charity shops, so I cycled there and started looking. Nothing in the first, nor the second, nor the third, but that was OK, the Oxfam bookshop awaited. Nothing. Almost a Muriel Spark but I hated the design so much I couldn't bring myself to buy it. Now, design rarely puts me off because it's the content that counts, right? But some books, often from the late-70s or 80s, are so damned ugly that I couldn't face holding them for weeks, every night and seeing them lying around. I turn over publications with offending covers, often The Guardian's Guide supplement, the covers of which are usually photos of modern tossers in whom I have no interest. I've even torn some off.

Oxfam...nothing? This can't be right. Look again...nothing, not even in the Modern Classics section. Crime, no...Science-fiction...no, mostly thick, modern books, those series authors knock out once-a-year and sell millions of...often aimed at teenagers.

Now I start to have a book-buying 'existential' crisis, wondering why I can't pick one out of hundreds available for just £1.99. You know why? Because I don't buy:
Modern novels with cartoon characters on their covers
Thick (over 250 pages) novels
Novels for thick people
Modern thrillers
Modern science-fiction
Classics (old) rarely
Anything with 'heartbreaking' in the blurb
Anything with 'profoundly moving' in the blurb
Anything with 'romance' in the blurb
Anything with a couple on the cover, therefore anything about couple, love, marriage, divorce etc
Anything recommended by the Richard & Judy book club, or Oprah Winfrey.

You see? Now usually, allowing for all of the above, I can find something.  The trouble begins when I start reading...because after decades of doing so I now know that 99% of all novels are not to my taste. Yes, I'm fussy, very fussy. I finish 1 in 20 that I start. Life's too short to waste on mediocrity, isn't it? One reason I could never join a book club. Imagine having to read something you regard as mediocre then being prompted for a response in front of others. Hell.

So I went back to the first shop I'd called in and picked this...



...a page-turner! What's more, a 'No.1 Bestseller'! Quite out of character but, you know what? I just fancied a change. John Mortimer said it 'makes the flesh creep' - I do hope so. The Independent On Sunday said 'Its depth, invention and characterisation lift it well into the realm of literature' - great! I could do with some literature. Hold on, I keep trying that and it usually fails, although some of my favourite novels aren't 'literature'; such as Burroughs' Nova Express, Simenon's Red Lights or James M Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice.

I read the opening lines and liked them. The premise (the Nazis won the war) is interesting...but I'm buying a classic 'airport novel'! What's wrong with me? I'm slumming it! Funnily enough, Camus refers to Nazi atrocities in the opening pages of The Fall so perhaps he subliminally influenced my choice of Robert Harris' Fatherland. Either way, I sense I'm going to enjoy it and I can tell by the binding the pages won't fall out as I turn them. TTFN.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Wiring Your Brain / Prostitutes - Dance Tracksz


Processing Needs, RTomens, 2016

More art over here

I 'speak' to you from an awkward position...no, I am not a Trump supporter (which would presumably be awkward for you and I only assume that because I've yet to meet one whilst everyone I know, on Facebook, which, I admit, is not really knowing a person, hates Trump). No, I am literally in an awkward position, leaning forward slightly over a keyboard that's perched on top of a pile of books because that's the only way it receives the signal in order to work, being wireless. A new one is on its way, the problem having beaten the expert I talked to on the phone at the week-end. Previous wireless problems have lead me to believe that wired is better. I blame that MTV Unplugged music series for starting this craze, although, admittedly, back to basics isn't the way technology usually moves forward and in this case 'basics' means plugged in...which amounts to me preferring electrified originals to Kurt Cobain singing The Man Who Sold The World whilst strumming his acoustic...

...where was I? Yes, technology. The old computer (all wired-in) never failed (or rarely) in it's direct access technology and lasted over ten years. This new one is three months old. Still, the expert on the phone bragged of being able to type from the other side of the room, just to unintentionally rub it in, so perhaps I just have a dud.

Not for the first time, techno failure reminded me of my reliance on this machine. LJ asked me what I used to do without it. She should know, she was there. But we just laughed and recalled my electric typewriter from the pre-PC age. I got more fiction written then...and made a fanzine. These days I've no urge to write fiction. 

Whilst in the store picking up my repaired computer I noticed someone in the Google area wearing virtual reality googles (is that what they're called?). It's not enough to want to almost permanently escape our immediate surroundings by living through a screen whilst at home, on the street or public transport, we might want to actually be there, in the Other Place, any place away from where our physical self happens to be. I doubt that the desire to escape is new; I speak as a long-time daydreamer, especially at school, but technology's seductive role in ensuring that we can escape is worrying. Ironically, someone else's reality is often where we end up via news feeds. We become absorbed in events around the world to the point of marching against them, even though they have no direct bearing on our lives. Because, hey, it's an 'interconnected' world, right?

The future dream of many must be to rid themselves of cumbersome physical devices altogether and be wired in, mentally, to the The Network. No more carrying stuff around. Computer repair centres will become surgeries - book in to get your brain wiring sorted out. I won't live long enough to see it, but if I did, I'd no doubt be one of the few still pining for the old days...when you plugged your brain into the machine...

***


James A. Donadio (Prostitutes) is so smart he's acting dumb in order to drive me insane with his relentlessly simplistic tub-thumping Techno, especially with vocal repetition as on Ah Yeah and, well, every track - smart-arse - he knows that 'intelligent music' isn't worth a light, not unless you can do it really well; in other words, have some kind of PHD in electroacoustics, which he doesn't. Unless he does and is being really clever. No, no, that's not right - don't applaud dumb music, Robin. Dance Tracksz sounds like the kind of stoopid shit idiots dance to in clubs...except they're not necessarily idiots, just young and full of energy, like I was once, dancing to Hamilton Bohannon which, let's be honest, any older music-lover cradling his Genesis album would have sneered at whilst calling me an 'idiot'...

...if I was still DJ-ing I'd be caning tracks from this album...with only a dash of irony (which isn't easy to detect in a DJ set, unless you're a Guilty Pleasures DJ, who are twats anyway). Take a track such as Prey, which is totally bass-ic, utilising the tiredest old break routines going with a hint of ancient 'acid' - pah! Meanwhile, Rudeboy exploits one brief sample totally and makes Fatboy Slim sound sophisticated. Luv U Bruv mines the rave-retrovisionist school as you guess by the title. Actually, perhaps it's all a retro-revisionist Dumb Dance homage in the vein of recent Jungle/Rave returns rewritten by others. That's probably it. By now you're wondering, if you're a regular reader, what I'm doing wasting my time with an album I don't like because I never do that. Here's the rub, I do like this album. More than that, I love it for it's totally stupid simplicity. OK, Motherfuckers?

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Pierre Boulez Conducts Schoenberg / Broken Record Art / Tod Dockstader: From the Archives


I don't think Arnold Schoenberg would have approved of the democratic voice the internet has given us commoners. 'Everyone is supposed to have their say,' he wrote in 1928. 'For the new bliss consists of the right to speak: free speech! Oh God!' Sounding more than a little fascistic, eh? But ironically I know what he means, especially if I allow my eyes to drift down to the Comments on any given YouTube clip. I'm sure you do too. It would be ironic for me to criticise this age of The People's Voice, being a blogger. Schoenberg was probably less enamoured with The People speaking because they would have more than likely not done so favourably if commenting on his music.

So here's a recent buy, Pierre Boulez Conducts Schoenberg, Eloy, Pousseur. Schoenberg's Transfigured Night was written in 1899, on the cusp of two centuries which would see him transform Classical music in the new one, or at least, create new possibilities. For as far as I can tell, with my limited knowledge, like so many pioneers in music he may have opened a door but few walked through in quite the same manner as him. Transfigured Night has one foot in the Romantic past and another, to these ears, is dipping a toe in the more challenging waters of the future. In adhering to the structure and story of Richard Dehmel's poem, Schoenberg had the opportunity to create unsettling sequences in keeping with the tale of a woman who committed an 'effrontery' when becoming pregnant by a stranger. Unlike her child, however, what Schoenberg would give birth to in the 20th century was not always warmly welcomed. In response to criticism, he mocked 'communally oriented artists' who 'addressed their idiocies only to each other.


***

Here's something I made late last year. It's not entirely successful, perhaps because I didn't finish it to my own satisfaction...


***


Emerging late last year, although I've only just got a copy otherwise it would have been in my Best Of list, Tod Dockstader: From the Archives on Starkland. What a phenomenal release, 15 tracks chosen from 50 which, in turn, came from thousands of files discovered on Dockstader’s computer after his death in 2015. My only regret is that more could not be heard; perhaps they will be in the future. That said, I believe in protecting the legacy of the deceased. At least Dockstader is in good hands, rather than the grubby ones belonging to profiteers who plunder the sonic coffins of Famous Dead Pop Stars.  

There's no chance of Tod becoming famous unless the listeners' world is turned upside down, thus placing quality electronic music on top (of the Pops). In this age of 'popular' politics which seemingly turns 'reason' and 'logic' upside down, music such as this becomes even more precious. Well, I don't know about you, but 
such sounds have always been private ammunition against Common Culture. Do I sound snobbish? A little like Schoenberg, perhaps! No matter, now I bask in these archival sounds, especially tracks such as Chinese Morf (2007) which, despite it's relative (to many electroacoustic pieces) brevity, encapsulates the spirit of acousmatic adventures in sound quite brilliantly.

Whilst it's possible to date (roughly) this music (yes it sounds 'modern') it stems from the tradition of 'unknown' sound sources. Is that a typewriter key striking on Todt 1? What is being 'played', or recorded, hardly matters. There is a temptation to hear these tracks, in hindsight, as largely melancholic mood pieces, yet there's also a magisterial power brooding amongst the more ambient moods. On Todt 1, Dockstader employs some mighty low end 'oomph' intermittently. Mystery Creak (a joke referring to Pierre Henry's famous creaking door?) is pure sonic delight, the 'creak' barely registering amid flurries of head-spinning sound. The whole 'creak/creek' sequence is magnificent. Big Jig (2005) closes the collection in storming fashion, Dockstader layering mechanoid metal-on-metal as well as any of the young Heavy Techno breed, succeeding in restraint rather than overload. Essential. 



Friday, 13 January 2017

Bartok Concerto / Post-Truthisms / Career (1959)


Recent vinyl find, in excellent nick and what a cover. Love the way the strict geometry of the cityscape lines dissolve into what looks like an abstract representation of an ocean with huge wave but is actually pure design effect to contrast with the rigid skyscraper forms. No artist credited. Aside from that, I like the fact that it's from Bartok's homeland, Hungary...



***

Post-truth everything, even the weather - forecasts of snow and subsequent freezing temperatures across London proved unfounded, thankfully, because it would have made my cycle ride to work tricky yet I couldn't help feeling betrayed by an overly-cautious BBC because what they said would happen didn't, just like they said the temperatures would plummet during the day on Wednesday so I warned LJ to wrap up - that didn't happen. I'm doubting the validity of all predictions. Post-Brexit 'disaster', didn't happen (although there's plenty of time for a slow-burn descent into economic sludge). Trump as president couldn't happen, it will. World War 3 won't happen either when he's in power, mainly because it's in the interest of Republicans to maintain their cosy lifestyles by not encouraging a large-scale war that escalates and goes nuclear. 

The new series of Question Time on the BBC has started. I became addicted to it late last year; fascinated by endless variations on the theme of evasion/defence/attack demonstrated by politicians. The sense you get is that the only honest people on the panel are the unaffiliated, politically. These are Political times. We can't escape it. So we read the 'papers, watch TV and then say 'Oh it's all bollocks'. That, in a nutshell, is why Trump won. No matter how much dis/information we read we're none the wiser and those who've already aligned themselves to a party won't change their minds. The rest of us just watch, zombie-eyed at the spectacle of 'democracy' knowing that our opinions can't be represented because they don't coalesce into convenient Left, Right or Centre thinking.  

***

Film recommendation: Career, 1959. Smart script, classy acting, even from Dean Martin, who plays the fine line between scoundrel and victim perfectly. Good cinematography and Shirley MacLaine looks fantastic. If you want a story about the conflict between trying to realise a dream and the price paid for being persistent this is a great one. 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

X(mas) Factor Irony Alert!


So I'm visiting my sister at Xmas and one of her daughter's girls asks me if I know what 'Dabbing' is but of course I don't so she proceeds to show me. Right. I like to keep in touch with what's happening, of course. Then she asks me if I've heard of Honey G, to which I reply in the negative, only to realise, when she shows me on her tablet, that despite trying to avoid being contaminated by the Popular Culture virus I did know who she meant.

This girl is around 15 years-old. I feel bad not knowing her age...the kids used to crawl across the carpet towards me and I'd wonder what their names were, now they walk up to me and quiz my knowledge of popular culture. I (foolishly) set about trying to prise from her the appeal of Honey G, being genuinely curious. She smiled a lot and made the sort of noises mid-teens do, I think, which is both form of mockery and incredulity. Add to that the lack of an extensive vocabulary plus an (unconscious) rejection of old-fashioned attempts to explain as befits a post-modern teenager and you get noises.

I don't know what I would have said had an adult asked me why I like Led Zeppelin at that age...probably just shrugged and grunted, so I can't say I was any smarter than her at that age. I asked her why she was so interested in a talentless performer but she made more noises, smiling. She smiled so much I knew the joke was on me. I didn't get it. No, I didn't.

On the train home I thought about my musical taste in my early-teens, which was for Glam in all forms (yes, Bowie and all the crap), along with Trojan reggae, Motown and the newly-released Album That Would Blow My Tiny Mind, Ziggy Stardust. I made comparisons, thinking 'Oh, I'm just middle-aged and liked rubbishy Pop when I was young too'. But as I did more finkin', dear reader, it dawned on me that even a single by Mud amounted to more than Honey G (god, I even hate typing the bloody name).

You see, however trite 70s Pop was, it had absolutely no irony attached, not in our minds anyway. It was...dare I say, a pure kind of Pop. There was skill involved, even if only in the session musicians employed to play what the fake bands mimed. Skilled production too by the likes Of Mickie Most and that Rak label sound. And Slade were our Oasis, but better.

Meanwhile, today, being totally crap, as in an awful parody of Rap, makes a celebrity who gets a singles record deal. But beyond recording, as we know, it's being a celeb that seems important. This is the age of being a Celeb who need do nothing but be, be outrageous, posh, porny, rich, tarty or whatever. Perhaps comparing 'her' to bands of the early-70s was wrong. But there is a kind of music involved.

In the end all I could do was smile back at the Honey G fan. I gave as good as I got. If words aren't necessary (or even possible) to explain this phenomenon, I'd better shut up and get back to being an 'old' man seeking sanctuary in the likes of Miles Davis. TTFN.
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