Sunday, 25 September 2011

Quiero Una Veena

Ideally I'd like two, a vichitra veena and a rudra veena, but then again, I'm a greedy fucking bastard sometimes. Anyway as I don't own either of those two fucking astonishing instruments, and would probably do something deeply fucking wrong with them if I did, here's some proper masters of Hindustani classical music giving it the beens* on those venerable instruments. I should say, if you lack patience you may not want to stick around for the alap sections as they can make Earth sound like speed kings, and fast forward to the fireworks in the latter stages of the performances as they are quite long... Me, I love the snails pace abstraction of the alap, and chance it gives the musicians to dig deep into the sonority of their instruments and the chosen raga before the slowly accruing acceleration and increasing density of the playing and almost telepathic interaction between the musicians makes the listeners head explode at the level of speed and invention on display.

First up is Gopal Shankar Misra's** beautiful rendition of raga Multani on the vichitra veena, the ultimate acoustic bottleneck/slide instrument (on this planet anyway), and the one I covet the most. One day... Anyway, sorry there's no actual footage, but all the vichitra veena videos I can find are pretty short, and this is music so fucking good I can't justify just posting a little bit.

Fortunately, youtube is a little more forthcoming with fantastic rudra veena performances, especially these fucking beauties from Bahauddin Dagar*** and Asad Ali Khan, who both approach the (insanely unwieldy) instrument in very different ways, but both share a fondness for an almost motorik intensity and drive when things get fast.

So here's Bahauddin Dagar playing raga Kousi, one I'm particularly fond of ripping off as there's something inherently spacerock about it when you really go to town on it, and also because, well, just listen to the sound of that fucking thing, the man is a fucking genius. And he does sport a superb gentleman thief's moustache. This is in three parts unfortunately, and whoever uploaded it missed the end, but fuck it, this is way too fucking good not to post, and I couldn't be arsed to download 'em and stitch 'em together.

And finally, the late, great Asad Ali Khan playing ragas Asavari and Dabari, and presenting a more percussive, jawari laden approach than Dagar's almost feedback-like use of resonance and low end. This is also fucking jaw-dropping, I mean, I am in total fucking awe of all three musicians I've featured here, but this is scary fucking good.

I hope you enjoyed the first episode of Yes, I Am Obsessed With Veenas, What Of It? Coming next time, southern India and, wait for it, more types of veena.

*This is both the shittest, and most obscure pun I've yet used in a post. I'm not sorry and I'll do it again.

**If you like this, get his only album, Out Of Stillness (Real World). Yes, it's on Real World, and yes, the cover is a truly horrible 90s oversaturated "spritual"/new age cackjob, but the music is truly fucking sublime.

***A surname in Indian music which pretty much guarantees that the music will be astonishing, regardless of instrument.

Esforzarse Más

Noise (as a genre) is so often for me an example of a really fucking good idea done astonishingly badly. Even though an awful lot of my favourite artists get lumped with that particular label, the reason I tend to love their music so much is because it almost never conforms to the expected norms of what noise bands are supposed to do, noise being an ingredient as opposed to the aim, process as opposed to result. Making a fucking racket is a piece of piss, creating something meaningful, emotionally resonant, beautiful even, from such ingredients is a little harder. The musical counterpoint to Abstract Expressionism if you like, anyone can splat a load of paint around, but it took a Jackson Pollock to take that method and apply it in a manner which elevated his anti-technique (for want of a better term, I know it's clunky) beyond simple negation or refusal into a communicative, interrogative art.

Which is exactly what Noise should do, transcend it's obvious role as a genre of transgression, actually strive to be more than just a sonic middle finger, a dumb, meaningless roar of impotent fury, because that's too fucking easy and it isn't fucking 1980 any more. I'm so fucking bored of gigs that sound like nothing more than the sound of a ZX Spectrum tape loading at 160 decibels played by a Linux developer with a laptop and a chip on their shoulder, and I'm even fucking more sick of "shocking" titles and cover imagery*. Oh goody, Pissflap Deathcamp have a new cassette out? In a limited edition of 23? Fuck off you morons. Admittedly, I'm exaggerating for effect, but there's still enough of that mentality left around these days to rankle. As I said, it ain't fucking 1980 anymore, and imagery that worked as an immature, teenage roar of disgust at what was a fucking shitty country to be that age in at that point in time looks pretty fucking silly when it's still being employed 30 years down the line by socially retarded fuckwits who once heard a Whitehouse record and got completely the wrong idea.

Noise is no longer the supposedly clandestine, esoteric genre it once was, and so many musicians are using it's methods to create stunning music. Think of Campbell Kneale's wonderful Birchville Cat Motel and Our Love Will Destroy The World projects, where the squalling and scraping walls of noise don't just sit there but are corralled into huge, ascending psychedelic vortices cut through with subdued barely shifting clouds of minimalist tonefloat. Or the many guises of Matt Bower, a man capable of running the gamut from the beautiful, starlit, folk and kosmiche-tinged Sunroof! to the most furious, mind-destroying walls of guitar lunacy ever fucking heard, I mean, if it's sheer fucking noise you want, recent Skullflower is absolutely untouchable, because behind the (at first, seemingly) stuck-throttle intensity and total fucking amplifier obliteration lurks a fucking brilliant musician, who knows exactly what (and why) he's doing, is actually capable of channelling such brutal base material into something both beautiful and forbidding, dragging you in as opposed to just smacking you round the ears. These are just two examples, but there's so much more good shit out there, it's just that you often have to wade through huge piles of crap to get to the gold.

And don't fucking get me started on Merzbow...

*It also totally devalues music which actually explores uncomfortable or disturbing themes in an intelligent manner. I fucking love Whitehouse, and their last three albums in particular represent a pinnacle in this area, barbed, vicious and harrowing they may be, but they're a whole lot more than that because they take you somewhere difficult, somewhere you didn't necessarily want (or think you were going) to be, make you actually think and feel something as opposed to just bellowing in yr face, which in the end is no different than pissing in the wind for all it communicates.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Uno Más Para Dr Christensen

One more from Greeny (ignore the Nigel Watson credit, there's a good reason Greeny's family took that little shit to court), from the acid-drenched years just after he left Fleetwood Mac, around the time he recorded the greatest record no one has ever listened to properly (The End Of The Game), and before he went totally batshit. I don't agree with the lyrical sentiment, but Greeny's take on animal rights is certainly a little more clear-headed than Morrisey's self-righteous ham-fisted proselytising*, especially given his deeply fried mindstate at the time, (he's still woefully misguided tho)** and the guitar is to fucking die for.

*The Smiths. How much do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways. Don't fucking get me started on his solo efforts. Straight-edge cunts can fuck off right now as well. Grow up you pious little pricks***, if you want a clear-headed perspective on man's relationship with animals I suggest you read some John Gray.

**If you want a row about eating meat, fucking bring it on, I was a vegetarian once (many, many years ago), and due to my myriad allergies it almost fucking killed me. Several times. No prizes for guessing why I went veggy, you've already guessed right, but fuck me, she was worth it. I know, shallow bastard. But, as I'm fond of saying, goddamn it, a man's gotta have a hobby... I will never go without bacons again though. I was young, I was stupid, I was in love...

***More on baiting sXe wankers soon. Really, do what you like, I don't care, believe what you like, I still don't care, but don't fucking preach to me or you will get a smack.

Mi Cariño, Te Echo De Menos Mucho (Du Ved Hvem Du Er, Og Det Er Din Tur Denne Gang, Or, If Britain Was Still Joined To The Continent Like It Was 15000 Years Ago Life Would Be So Much Fucking Simpler)

I'm a bit pissed, and in a somewhat mixed-up frame of mind for a number of unsurprising reasons. And when I'm this sort of mood only one thing'll do. Blues. Now, normally I'd post some obscure Maxwell St. live recording or something, but today, only one man's guitar will do. Yup, it's Peter Green time again. 'Cos when it comes down to it, no one nails heartsick like Greeny. There are very, very few musicians who can a. beat the Kings (BB, Albert and, king of the Kings, Freddie) at their own game, and b. reduce me to a tearful wreck with two or three notes. So without further ado, here's Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac*.

Yeah, I'm an incurable romantic (in the proper sense of the word), and a fucking sentimental ponce sometimes. What of it? But fuck it, ignore me, just revel in the absolutely pin-sharp beauty of Greeny's leads, and if it's not yr cup of tea, then may I suggest you seek entertainment elsewhere and leave the comments section alone 'cos I am not in the fucking mood for playing nice right now.

Normal service will be resumed in a day or two when I will be posting a huge essay on why 99% of everything is shit. So, no change there then**.

*Stevie Ray Vaughan fans take note. This is how y're supposed to do it.

**Humour. Or is it...?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Una Cosa Más

This is the fucking shit, simple as that. Turn this up really, really fucking loud...

Procede El Weedian

I spent most of last week asleep, and then spent the whole weekend awake*. Now that I'm once more functioning on something approaching a human circadian rhythm and my pupils no longer look like piss-holes in the snow, there will be posts aplenty once more...

The other reason I haven't posted much is because I (huge shock coming here) bought a new guitar, a Gretsch Baritone Jet to be precise, which is actually a 6-string bass which thinks it's a guitar and can be seen modelled by (a somewhat dishevelled) yrs truly in the blurry photo below...

It's a shame the photo's so blurry, because you can't really see the outrageously sparkly black and metal flake finish, or the fake abalone** pickguard, which look sorta like the materials the toilets in a over-fussy middle-eastern restaurant would be made of, but the person who took the photo was frankly having trouble focusing their eyes, let alone a fucking camera. But I digress. It's fucking awesome, looks like the epitome of 60s trash, sounds like the bastard offspring of a Gretsch guitar and a Rickenbacker bass, and with that Bigsby tremolo and a bottleneck, has opened up a whole new vista of low-end wrong in my never-ceasing quest for the most outrageous, disgusting guitar sounds known to man, and every time I've meant to come online and blog something, I've ended up playing the fucker and forgetting what it was I was going to bang on about.

And I'm truly sorry to any of my neighbours who have been disturbed by my playing along to Sleep's Holy Mountain, but it was inevitable as soon as I realised I could get the patented Al Cisneros sproing sound, heard to best effect of course on Dragonaut. Which gives me the perfect excuse to post this again (it was on the old blog, now it's here too, don't tell me y're surprised)...

Fuck, I love that song so much. Sleep had a loping, lazy magic to their music which I've just never really heard in another doom band, plus they gave the world Matt Pike, who would now like to explain to you exactly what the fuck heavy means...

And believe me, he knows that of which he speaks. And that, of course, is an excuse to post this, the finest piece of metal (in any subgenre) ever fucking recorded. I speak of course of Devilution, by High On Fire, wherein Mr Pike demonstrates his theory of heavy to somewhat devastating effect.

So yeah, that's why I haven't posted lately. Sorry if this post is a load of rambling bollocks, but it's quite hard to think when y're listening to Dopesmoker and have been getting into the spirit of the track so I'll bugger off now and stop wasting your time and I'll write something that actually has some kind of purpose to it in a day or two...

*I do realise that these statements probably require some clarification...

**Mmmmm. Abalone...