Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Am enjoying a couple of weeks in Cologne right now.

Saturday experienced a sound installation (at Meiré & Meiré's venue Factory) that consisted of lying in a darkened room on military field style hospital beds with a dozen or so other souls. You put on the headphones and while listening to the digital ambient new age music look at an entire ceiling of projected video abstractions. And, despite some minor imperfections in presentation, was eminently enjoyable.

Last night was the turn of some utterly generic noise performances courtesy of John Wiese (Paul Devens supporting) at the Stadtgarten. I know Wiese is undoubtedly a really nice guy and he's unfairly got caught in the firing line, however this tiresome product placement has got to stop. Since when did people think it was cool to be giving free advertising to an increasingly evil empire like Apple? Whatever the hell next? I hate to see that logo being peacocked around as if it's going to help you get laid - it isn't. Seriously though, this type of noise stuff nowadays is so tightly scripted that it's about as fucking transgressive (let alone subversive) as taking your kids to church in an SUV and stopping off at Denny's for lunch afterwards. Maybe not even.

Since I've already embarrassed myself with the occasional totally pointless and unsolicited restaurant 'review', I've decided to keep digging downwards. Bar Tabac here in Aachenerstrasse is a wonderful, friendly, and spacious Belgian restaurant with lots of traditional Brussels ambience - in addition to the always excellent daily specials, the mussels are especially amazing. Also, recommended for the quasi-vegetarians like myself, there's Osho's Place in Venloerstrasse which is annexed to the extensive new age centre next door. All rainbow dungarees and exaggerated calmness, yet the place works - food is really a treat, and the pale yellow walls, open zen-like spaces with the wide natural light and generally relaxed atmosphere, all make for a nice change in pace.

Fair warning: there's more to come from this trip in the next few days.


Thomas Transparent said...

Am glad to see Apple get a rare savaging from someone within the music world; did you time your criticisms to coincide with the release of this overpriced gem?

Macs are becoming more and more unreliable for music (or 'noise') applications now; their new OS renders about half of my tools useless with no fixes in sight from the software manufacturers- and if one has the time to learn some coding, radical real-time composing can be done on a quite lowly PC.

It IS odd to see their corporate logo so unabashedly displayed by people who normally would decry Chinese slave labor (if that's what is suggested by Apple's official corporate mantra of 'designed in California, made in China')...

William Bennett said...

my comments weren't consciously timed to coincide with the release of the so-called MBA, rather more something I've felt for a while now, and am genuinely curious as to the origins of this deliberate (and voluntary) product placement

actually, John Wiese just wrote me a kinder response than my rather intemperate comments in this post deserve, and while I stand by what I said in general terms, it was indeed unfair of me to single him out on this specific point regarding Apple Macs and indeed I wish him well for the remainder of his tour.

jack said...

maybe people make noise music that is satisfying without needing to be 'transgressive', or being made for the purpose of aiming to be so.

Richo said...

The vast and sprawling majority of 'noise' music is so fucking redundant it goes way beyond whatever 'tools' are used to make it. I've nothing against Macs myself (and, indeed, own two of the fuckers!), especially given how reliable and robust they are in purely pragmatic terms, but I'm not into the concept of disguising any kind of art with what's essentially a 'brand'. This very notion opens up an entirely new can of worms. It's like a shit or mediocre guitarist hiding behind the best make, or something. Or a shitty driver owning a decent car. The analogies can go on...

However, I've seen it myself. Many times. The Apple logo worn like a badge of honour amongst today's dire 'electronica', 'noise', 'glitch' and so on exponents. The logo itself then far usurping the music being made, because it's actually more interesting.

I hate 'noise', on the whole. It's as redundant as the logo most of the 'musicians' hide behind.

I like Whitehouse and some of the Japanese set because they do something which transcends all this bullshit, plus (quite often) there's a lot of ideology or philosophical mumbo-jumbo attached that I may at least enjoy or glean something from. 'Noise', for me, has to be far more than 'noise'.

William, you know this already, but I tend to see Whitehouse as one of the ultimate 'punk' groups. And I'm surprised more people can't fucking see this...

Not that it REALLY matters, in the grand scheme of things.

And I think I strayed from the original point as well...?!

Macs are not so bad, but the people who stupidly hide behind them in the belief they're creating great and wonderful 'art' have no place in my world (for what it is worth).

Miss Kerry said...

In a book on ballet maestro Ballenchine, I found some elegant ideas as expressed why someone like Stravinsky and Ballenchine were a success.
They both mastered the basics of their art, from the very start- not plunged willy nilly, trying to reinvent the wheel in the meantime.
It suggested that, having understood the building blocks of their universe, they could then decide how to subvert and manipulate the tools, knowing what had been done, by whom and why.
Much of music now days, whatever nowadays it is, is like the makers have no idea beyond just picking up some equipment and noodling about.
yes this is ok, but it isn't EVERYTHING.
you do it in dance, you don't get a alt to ballet, you get dozens of half baked dance starts of schools of idea that go no where, and have no real structure. ( Isadora Duncan , I blame YOU. Should have given up the idea, when you got old, fat, couldn't dance to save your life not that you could before as well. skipping, bending, blah. nice idea but no body of worth.
graham? now theres a real workhorse, with foundations.

ballenchine, like stravinksy paid his dues in russia, doing what they asked, until he learnt it all.then got bored. then got out. stravinsky, hadn't just decided, hey, I'm sick trying to learn how to play all these classical foundational pieces- i think ill go do something odd.
nijinsky- he learnt for ages, a discipline in ballet as boring and unforgiving as you can imagine- none else had done anything strange.
Until Le Sacre.
Ballenchine- took off where Nijinsky left off, in part. New stuff, from the Abyss of Quality, of undone.
Of genius.
Its not all luck, or timing- all the time. Just once, per time of anything. Then, you think someone would wise up/
but bohemia never learns now. even though its been commodified to its death.
dull dull dull.
thats these bands.