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Archive for the ‘BlackBook’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: PJ HARVEY-Uh Huh Her (2004).

After the sort of mellow, almost commercial release of Stories from the Sea, PJ Harvey throws the fans a left turn once again with Uh Huh Her.  It’s a heavy, raw album although not raw like Dry was.  It seems  simpler, somehow.  And I think it’s with this disc that you realize that every PJ Harvey record is going to be different.  It was apparent that she had a trajectory on those first few discs, but this one changes everything, and she proves that you’ll never know what’s going to come from her.

“The Life and Death of Mr Badmouth” has a very simple blues riff with kind of chanting (and occasional creepy backing vocals) by PJ.  While “Shame” adds more texture (melodica?) and some more washes of sound.  “Who the Fuck?” is a wonderfully vulgar and raw track with brutal guitars and overly loud vocals.  “Pocket Knife” is a buzzy but quiet track which feels like a demo (the guitar even seems out of tune), while “The Letter” has a great fuzzy guitar sound and a cool melody.

“The Slow Drug” is one of several slower pieces.  As with many of her quieter stuff this does nothing for me, although it’s a nice change on the disc.  “No Child of Mine” is a brief acoustic number.  It feels more like an excerpt or a transitional song than any actual song (being only a minute long).  It leads to the rocking “Cat on a Wall.”  “You Came Through”  mixes things up very nicely with a heavy percussion.  The effects in the song are really captivating.

“It’s You” is a slow piano-based song, while “The End” is a brief instrumental (more melodica).  And “The Desperate Kingdom of Love” is a dark ballad.  The oddest track is “Seagulls” which is a minute of actual seagulls squawking…an unusual addition for any disc.  The album ends with “The Darker Days of Me & Him.” It’s a quiet acoustic song which shows just how many different style she’s willing to experiment with even on one disc.  Even though to me this is a raw rocking disc, there are still a number of acoustic tracks as well.

This album feels like some kind of psychic purge.

[READ: March 31, 2011] The Littlest Hitler

I picked up this collection of stories because I enjoyed Boudinot’s story in the BlackBook collection very much.  I didn’t realize that that story was in fact part one of a two-part story (although part two bore no relation to part one, as you’ll see).  The story in BlackBook was funny and dark, but it didn’t prepare me for just how dark these stories would get.  And for the most part, it seemed like the darkness came at the very end; a surprise, a shock.   I admit i grew a little weary of the device by the end of the collection, although not all of the stories employed it, so there was some diversity. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MOGWAI-Kicking a Dead Pig + Mogwai Fear Satan Remixes (1998).

This release came out soon after Young Team, when it seemed like Mogwai was just flooding the market.  It’s a remix album of a number of tracks from Young Team. And, when it was re-released it contained several mixes of the track “Fear Satan” as a bonus disc.

In general, I’m not a fan of remixes.  There, I’ve said it. Back in the flush 90s, when I used to buy a lot of import singles, I enjoyed the B-sides, but was always disappointed when there was a remix rack.  Some are fine.  Indeed, some are pretty good.  But for the most part you get a very long song that is mostly drum machine and sounds and noises.  And I know that they are designed for dancing, but I’m not a dancer, so despite how much techno I own, I’m very rarely thrilled to ge a remix.

Which is  as good a way as any to say that this is a pretty inessential disc, even for Mogwai fans. Even though Mogwai themselves throw a couple of remixes on there.  And for the most part, what we get are washes of sound.  Since Mogwai don’t really do lyrics, it’s not always very obvious what song the remixers are remixing.

  • Hood: “Like Herod” has some interesting staccato, which Mogawi typically doesn’t have.
  • Max Tundra: “Helicon 2” is primarily ride cymbal although a guitar motif does come in (with some pretty harmonics) eventually.
  • Klute: “Summer” (Weird Winter Remix). There’s nothing distinctive about this.
  • Arab Strap: “Gwai on 45.”  I actually expected a lot from this mix because Arab Strap are a weirdly wonderful band and the guys have worked with Mogwai.  But then, they’re not an exciting band–they’re very good, just understated.  And as a result, this remix is okay but nothing too exciting.
  • Third Eye Foundation: “A Cheery Wave from Stranded Youngsters” (Tet Offensive Remix) is also okay.
  • Alec Empire: “Like Herod” (Face the Future Remix).  Alec Empire usually turns all of his remixes into super fast like 500 bpm noise explosions (just like Atari Teenage Riot). He doesn’t do that here, and the song just kind of melds in with the rest.
  • DJ Q: “R U Still In 2 It” has a vocal, but it is mostly one word repeated over and over.
  • Kid Loco: “Tracy.”  I liked this track more than many others.
  • Mogwai: “Fear Satan.”  It’s weird to me that you would remix one of your own songs, although I guess it’s fun.  I still like the original better.  And I’m fairly certain this one is different from the one on the next disc.

The four “Fear Satan” remixes are by:

  • Mogwai: delicate, the washes of sound are quiet and warm, and it really features the flute quite a lot. Although by the end, the feedback does come in.
  • μ-Ziq: remix is much more staccato. The washes have been removed.  There’s very little connection to the original.
  • Surgeon: remix begins electronically and builds as a slow wave.  It’s pretty much one note getting louder and louder until about a minute left when it changes tone.  It’s hard to imagine even calling this a remix.
  • My Bloody Valentine: at 16 minutes,  the MBV remix stands out for length. After about five minutes of interesting feedback squalls it shifts to a high-pitched noise, almost like a drill. After a few minutes of this it shifts into a very pretty electronic song.  By the end it’s a pounding heavy drum fill rocker.  Any resemblance to “Fear Satan” seems purely coincidental, but it’s a wild ride.

[READ: March 11, 2011] The Revolution Will Be Accessorized

I only heard about this anthology when I read the Sam Lipsyte piece from it.  I didn’t really like his piece, but the rest of the anthology sounded intriguing.  It was put out by BlackBook magazine, which I have a sort of vague awareness of, but couldn’t really say anything about (it’s some kind of counter-cultural fashion magazine or something).  But it seems like the counter-cultural aspect really lends sway here.

This anthology is a collection of short stories, essays and interviews.  There’s also an introduction by Jay McInerney

JAY McINERNEY-Introduction
He talks about BlackBook and the essays contained here. (more…)

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