Thursday, March 31, 2011

How did I miss this? - Nudity in New York City.

                 I ask a lot of questions. Some questions are more important than others. Will I get to work on time? How am I going to pay for this? Do I have cash on me? Are you going to finish that? What are you doing on Friday? Do you want to hang out? Why does it smell in here?

                Today, all of these questions are made moot upon a particular artist coming to New York, one Erica Simone. She’s a world renowned photographer, winner of many awards, and appears in exhibitions all over the world. With all of her work, she posits important questions to the viewer. Her latest work speaks volumes to me, and forces me to ask an extremely important question:

                Why was there a naked woman walking around New York City and I didn’t notice it? 

                Personally, I feel this is a question we all should ask ourselves. If fully naked people are walking around our cities, how do we miss them? Are we just really busy with our lives, imagining what people might look like naked. Or, even worse, we could be working. That’d be far worse. 

                Obviously if you decide to look at her photos, perhaps you should know these are Not Safe for Work (NSFW, in case you didn’t know the acronym. You’d be surprised how many don’t.) Erica walks around completely naked. When I first heard about this, my immediate hope was that she wore shoes at least for the pictures. I don’t know why this was a worry, the sidewalk is disgusting. Apparently she realized shoes were necessary. 

                Her objective appears to be showing people in their natural state, without clothes to distinguish socials status or ranking. Or, as some art critics have stated “to show off her rocking bod”. A few prudes have mentioned how children might be affected by seeing some woman walk around naked. The retort has been nearly a resounding “Shut up”. 

                All of these photos will be displayed at The Dash Gallery on April 14th, 2011 on 172 Duane Street, NY. In case you are unable to attend, due to living in a more heavily clothed city, well you can see a small selection of about 24 pictures on her site all in various stages of undress (sometimes she wears a hat). 

                Naked, we see all her imperfections, like the painfully lame tattoo she has on the small of her back. Little Stars, are those really that original? I mean, aren’t you an artist, shouldn’t you have better taste in tattoos than a small child? That’s another question she forces all of us to ask. Are artists aware of what good tattoo are, or is the old saying true that 99% of all tattoos are bad ideas born in a drunken debauched haze.

                Gazing through the pictures, people appear to be surprisingly tolerant of a hot naked woman in their midst. Most of the time people fail to react to seeing her naked. Those who claim the subway shows the opposite are wrong. One of the rules of riding the subway is to pay attention to nothing while at the same time figuring out where you’re supposed to go. Subway riding is an art form.

                Whenever I’ve seen papers cover up her nakedness, there have been objections. The Daily News covered up her butt as she shoveled snow, which drew the ire of several commenter s, stating far worse material was in the paper than a little side ass. Most of the humor she aimed for in these photos is due more to New Yorker’s complete blasé than anything she did. Besides, she probably did this on a Tuesday or something, when people were busy getting to work. At least that’s what I’d like to think and not that I missed seeing her over the weekend. 

                Questions were brought up regarding her experiment. Various individuals wondered how this differed from streaking or exposing oneself. The most important question came from one individual who mentioned how they looked at their cat and wondered why they couldn’t walk around naked like their small pet. That’s a question worth asking indeed. Why do small pets get to walk around naked while we need to work to put food on the floor? An even better one would be: why can’t we switch with cats, where they work to keep jobs and maintain infrastructure while we nap on a windowsill for 16 hours? 

                Clearly Erica Simone gives us a lot to think about.

PS: Let me know if you think I should attend this event. I hope I can ‘get off’ that day, from work.

Derek Rogers – Cosmic Overlap 6.5

                 Derek Rogers comes out of a surprisingly strong drone scene in Austin, Texas. Over the course of this extremely cryptic album, he makes illusions to classical music, metal, and feedback. It is a strange collection of influences, which are treated in uneven doses.

                The first track on here is amazing. “Cosmic Overlap” takes a classical sample. Seems simple enough, but the dynamic part comes from how the sample is sculpted into noise and somehow reforms into a new kind of classical noise, with an intense buildup. It is romantic, disorienting and makes me eager to hear more of Derek’s work.

                Some of the other tracks don’t have this same grace or poise. Instead, tracks like “An Unexpected Glow” sound like a sort of lazy attempt to capture the Zen of Earth’s track “Phase 3”. After that comes “Guitar Bloom” which appears to be a faceless, personality-less drone. 

                Right as we reach the end we return back to better quality productions. “Over the Ether” comes across as the most traditional drone song on here. “Reich Phrases” might be the second best song on here, after the beginning. Derek has an intense focus for this track which is surprisingly fruitful.

                Overall, I feel Derek is a good musician but a poor editor. A lot of these ideas don’t go anywhere, especially in the beginning after the great “Cosmic Overlap” introduction. I’d imagine a lot of people would tune out before “An Unexpected Glow” even finished. Had Derek perhaps removed that track and the following one, or reduced the length of a lot of these songs, it would have a stronger impact. 

                I’d say definitely listen to it for the first and last tracks; otherwise it tends to meander a bit too much, even by drone’s tolerant standards.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Neon Glittery

                The way I understand people on the internet is the same way I do in real life: through music. Knowing whether or not they have similar musical interests to me means a great deal to me. So when I saw they not only had ‘Super’ compatibility to me on Last.FM but had their own abstract DIY electronic project as well (see here) meant I probably should check out more for the potential hope she might be awesome. She is. 

                Neon Glittery (aka Elizabeth Ashley Arnold), the name suits the Arkansas native well. Whether it is her music, photography, or poetry, she radiates happy colors. The music comes across as some lo-fi experimentation which references bits of glitch, particularly my favorite song “dragonflies”. The pictures are this weird combination from a multitude of sources. You can see what I mean by looking at the illustrations she did for Loop Loop Endogenous Nightscape. She did the lettering as well, painfully reminding me how awful I did in calligraphy class.

                Besides all of these accomplishments, she’s also a poet. Her writing is published on her own blog and in various online publications such as Metazen and NewWaveVomit. I’d suggest reading both, but I’ll go over her NewWaveVomit submissions.

                “SHHHH…..” makes me hope someday I can see the Gulf of Mexico, a place I’ve never visited. I really liked “Untitled 3” a lot. A kid sleeping in for weeks on grey cotton sheets reminds me of May 2006. Somehow I find its short length to be reassuring, like comforting me that such behavior is okay, a kind of ‘Virtue of Laziness’. Personally I think laziness is underrated but then I’m a sloth.

                “Untitled 7” is perfect. I just want to republish it because it is exactly what I wish I could have as an email signature for some office job where I’ve developed senioritis and no longer care about my responsibilities because I’ll be gone shortly. Of course, that’s just a fictional made-up scenario with no basis in reality. Personally I’ve never done that and gotten sat down by a supervisor being asked to politely not do it again. 

As I put this poem down via copy and paste, I want Neon Glittery to know this made me so absolutely happy. It conjures up the spirit of the CoBRA art movement. CoBRA drew inspiration from children’s paintings and such, so I feel it’s a somewhat apt comparison. For wonderful work see the below:

.make sense of this (NON)sense-tence.




                Dedicating a poem to a compost rock n’ roll (Untitled Haiku) and drawing inspiration from Valentine’s Day are both great. I like how she’s able to pack so much into such little statements. The rest of the poems express the happy images of hammocks and greasers. Good memories to capture. 

                Going through all her material, she’s a one-person art movement. It is pretty impressive resume to touch upon poetry, music and poetry with the same attitude. You could call it flippant. That wouldn’t exactly capture the sheer overflowing, over-pouring of ideas. She maintains six TUMBLRS, several blogs, and has collaborated with others over the internet. I like what she does. You should too.

Colored Mushroom and the Medicine Rocks – Sea Channels 7.0

                Another Emeralds-side project comes to me. I’m glad they have so many, since they literally create a whole new movement of this kind of kosmische music. Sometimes when I think I’ve discovered a new band in this field, it is just another Emeralds side project. 

               Sea Channels really does it well, probably better than a lot of their other projects. Everything’s kept perfectly focused on movement. Yes, it does move, not just in traditional evolutionary forms, but from left to right. There is a lot of panning done on this EP, so if you’re not a fan of such kinds of gracious sweeps of sound, you might not enjoy this that much.

                It is book-ended by two of the longest tracks. “Sea Channels” includes the actual sound of flowing water before breaking into glorious light at the end. The two middle tracks even include a light drum machine; something generally frowned upon around these ambient parts. A slight beat only adds to the rhythm of the sounds rather than turning it into lame ambient with a beat. 

                “When We’re Both Gone” is the saddest piece on here. It has the slowest evolution out of all of the tracks, and for a while you might think it is just repeating endlessly. There’s more going on than what first meets the eye, which makes it a great closer.

                Hopefully John Elliot releases more stuff in this vein. I’d like that a lot.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Universal Sigh

            I couldn’t think of a better name for the new Radiohead newspaper. Well, maybe “the European Shrug” might be equally as apt. Because they have officially become a disappointment, it’s the nail in the coffin of “The King of Limbs”. At least now the King has a proper burial.

 Radiohead usually has some form of gimmick associated with its music, whether it is giving away the music for free, some overriding concept that Computers are OK, or honey is made by some guy named Pablo. Newspapers appear to be the latest fad of theirs. Like most of what they’ve done this year, they’ve arrived to the party late. That dubstep influence on their last album, James Blake did a better job. Maybe for Radiohead’s next album will have a chillwave influence and the giveaway will be old maps of the Ottoman Empire.  

                Why did Radiohead choose to use this medium? Personally, I’ve been a bit befuddled by their recent behavior. Thom Yorke jerking around, spastically I’m fine with, that’s par for the course. But when they began this descent lately towards the abyss, towards the dregs of viral marketing, I feel embarrassed. Constantly I have to explain to people far younger than myself that they used to be good. Now with this newspaper they’ve made my argument just a little harder. And I’m sick of trying, I give up. Here comes that sigh. 

                The Universal Sigh embodies the attitude I have towards them now. I say to myself:

 “Really, we are doing this now? When will the gimmicks end? Can you stop chasing everyone else’s coattails now? How about you write some interesting material? ” 

Of course they’d release it in New Zealand first, New Zealand’s lucky to have any attention to it since “Flight of the Concords” ended. New Zealand will drool over it, they’d put up a mediafire link just so kids in more important and geographically less isolated countries can get some of that material. And sure Radiohead, how about you have in translated into English. Forget those other non-English speaking countries. 

                People claim this is a ‘genius’ marketing strategy. Those might be the same people who purchase newspapers instead of reading them online. Or the people who think best-selling equals quality.  Ask countless newspapers how they’re doing financially; it isn’t going so hot right now. If the purpose of this artifact was requiem for the newspaper industry, then mission accomplished. 

                Radiohead, I stayed with you as long as I could. I’m not angst-ridden anymore. Those aren’t problems I have. People understand me now.  Most of my bands grew with me, or, when they realized they were repeating themselves, called it quits. Each time I insult you I don’t want to feel so negative. You used to have great albums. What happened to those? I miss those. Maybe everyone has a Radiohead moment, which fades away. I guess mine’s gone. 

                According to their release, it contains short stories, poetry, pictures and so on. Lately I’ve been covering a lot of people who do fantastic jobs with all this kind of media. To save you from the potential awkwardness of reading mopey poetry from people who really should have grown out of this phase long ago, I am going to suggest some things to read and process. 

                Go read Richard Chiem’s short stories. See what Steve Roggenbuck and Poncho Peligroso (better known as the 2011 Poet Laureate) are up to. Follow NewWaveVomit on Tumblr brought to you by the caring Ana C. Look at Joe Karwacki’s art work. Find Metazen, spend some time there with the lovely (or manly) Frank Hinton. These people deserve the attention. Once you begin understanding what they do, you’ll realize they are on an upward trajectory while Radiohead’s a ship a-going down. Spare yourself the cruel fate of a Radiohead apologist. Thank you.

The Internal Tulips – Mislead Into a Field by a Deformed Deer 8.3

                Brad Laner (of countless side projects) and Alex Graham (from Lexaunculpt, no idea why he’s been hiding) came together to make this delicate project. How does it play? Well, think of it as fragile pop sketches with Electro-Acoustic influences. The pop influences help keep the experimentation warm and give the music soul.

                Coming in at exactly 39 minutes, each piece nicely melts into the other. A unifying theme brings all these quiet pieces together. Brad shows off a shockingly sweet voice, anchoring some of the more experimental impulses of Alex. Alex isn’t a stranger to affecting arrangements, as he did work on Lexaunculpt for many years before falling off the face of the Earth.

                Planet Mu does a lot more accessible music now. Having them offer up an album as inventive as this, with songs like “Mr. Baby” is a real treat. On that song you’re treated to Alex’s love of string arrangements, along with piano and guitar. A fractured beat keeps it all together. Using an unconventional structure allows them to show off a bit more emotion than either is accustomed to. 

                Interesting, they end the album with the only fully produced song, “We Breathe” to perhaps offer a taste of what they might explore on their next album. It feels fully formed, but still has enough quirkiness to be considered a true pop song.

                Sadly, this received very little attention. Had this come out a few years earlier, I think people might have been more receptive to it. But at this point, this kind of pop-structure experimentation, involving glitches, skipping, and so on have fallen out of fashion. That is a pity since this is such a strong release.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Re: Hipster Runoff

March 28th, 2011

Dear Gawker,

Remember video games? You know the fun first person shooter ones. The ones where you’d be shot by your dorm roommate in a rather unflattering matter (you were sniping as they shot you in the back with a shotgun). In case this wasn’t enough, they proceeded to do a dance on your corpse. After this, they’d laugh and say “You got owned” over and over again, until the words lost their meaning.

Well, you got owned by Carles, of the popular weblog Hipster Runoff.

I’m sorry. Carles does this on occasion in order to gauge interest in his blog. Usually it garners enough advertising revenue from this event to help him purchase a new computer, wide screen TV, finance a vacation to the Apple Store, or just a wild reckless night out on the town. Apparently whoever at Gawker received the email might not have been aware of this gimmick, though Carles puts it into his own bio on his website.

No job with his uncle existed. When you saw the interest he had working for another blog that was a ruse. Though to be honest I could see him working for Gawker, he has a lot of affection for your site, doing interviews, winning Hipster of the Decade and whatnot. But I’m not sure if he could work in an office. Reading his older posts, he has reservations about office work, like so many creative twenty somethings. I mean, who wants to live under the glare of emotionless white bulbs. Nobody does.

This time he did act a little differently. By emailing you he wanted to heighten the sense of drama involving his periodic meltdown. People wouldn’t have gotten as upset had he not notified the authorities. According to Carles, you are the internet authorities of culture. I mean, look at all the coverage you give to other internet-based writers. 

Signs had been present which might have suggested Carles was at the end of his rope. Introducing the Museum of Modern Alt alongside the Mainstreamer might have hinted perhaps Carles was running out of ideas. Constant competitions for Hipster Runoff involving people’s submitted pictures gave the impression Carles was ‘running on empty’. The post he had on his own firsts policy could have lead you astray, I grant you that much. 

But really, I am trying to apply for a position as the new coverage man for Hipster Runoff. I know Gawker has some serious blog bucks. Honestly, I’m pretty poor right now. Your money would be put to good use in keeping a sleepy, poverty stricken part of the internet alive. Don’t worry, I won’t cover Hipster Runoff like HRO Exegesis, there’s already a guy doing it. Plus, as an added bonus, I’m a respected poster on the Hipster Runoff blog, if that means anything, which it doesn’t besides to show off what I read during my lunch break.

                Various other people from Hipster Runoff called Carles’ gimmick out as well. Claiming he’ll have some vaguely ridiculous, possibly hour-long Podcast explaining nothing in many words, they were validated. After being proven right, they got some sweet tweets thrown their way. Maybe one or two of them might like a cushy office blog job. 

                For all those who called out the hoax, there were far more who were deeply worried. Believing falsely Carles was serious since he’d never punk Gawker, they fell for it. Just like you. So don’t feel bad, plenty other Hipster Runoff watchers read this one wrong. 

                Really though, would you prefer he followed through on his idle threat? I guess occasionally Carles just wants some coaxing. He needs phone calls telling him how important he is in generating content we all consume. Whether or not we like it is no longer important. Instead, he deliberately stirs up the pot. If Gawker decided Beach Sloth would do a good job covering Hipster Runoff, I promise you I’d needlessly create blog beefs between Gawker and Carles. They’d be similar to Tao Lin, who you now adore, but the build-up and drama between the two of you kept things interesting. Hipster Runoff needs beefs (whether it is between him and Best Coast) so I feel an entire website versus him might result in something even better than him versus a perpetually stoned cat lady. 

                Carles I’m certain would be game for this beef. Anything which could drum up attention for his blog seems like a win-win. I promise I might do a better job of figuring out when Carles will quit his blog, which I know will be never. Blogging is a hell of a drug.  Forever and ever, he’ll stay in our hearts. Even when people hate Carles, they heart him deep down on the inside. They want to get vulnerable with him, via Facebook, via Twitter, via the comment section. So beloved was Carles they even started a relevancy funeral Tumblr to celebrate one of the fallen fearless few. 

                I hope this reaches you before you before you have to do some silly about-face on the internet. With me in charge of Hipster Runoff Relevancy coverage, I offer to do nothing but provoke the anonymous blogger. For we’re all a part of this great blog-o-sphere, constantly trying to outdo one another, and what could be better than a blog battle? 


                Beach Sloth

The Wrens – Secaucus 9.0

                Right from the beginning, you’re hooked. I enjoy it when I hear the first song and get the impression everything else is going to be just as good. Though I have a definite bias towards more experimental music, I also love a good pop album. “Secaucus” a name belying The Wren’s New Jersey roots, is just that: a fantastically good album with no fat whatsoever.

                Take a look at the track list. 19 songs might seem like a lot of songs, but they come at you at a blisteringly fast pace. Each song stays at exactly the amount of time you’d want. It’s like they know what you want before you know it. As soon as you feel overwhelmed by the sheer tempo of the songs, they throw in a quieter, laid-back track such as “Jane Fakes a Hug”. Sure, I talk lot about pacing, but not every band pulls it off well. The Wrens are a quartet who understands this important skill.

                “Yellow Number Three” introduces you to the album in the best way possible. Comparisons to the Arches of Loaf are inevitable, especially regarding the vocal delivery. However, The Wrens maintain a higher quality product than those College Radio darlings. Constantly I heard songs where I longed for the 90s all over again. Songs like “Surprise, Honeycomb” and “Joneses Rules of Sport” made me wish these guys had more money and success. Quality is consistent all the way to the very end of the album with “I married Sonja” building up nicely into a chorus which I’d hug if it was a person. Even at the last song “It’s Not Getting Any Good” they manage to have this interesting guitar work with literate lyrics.

                Overall, as I read about them, I’m a bit saddened. Apparently their label Grass Records decided to drop them for the appalling awful Creed. The Wren doesn’t have anywhere as big of a discography as you’d expect for a band founded in 1989. However, we’re just entered a new decade, and that means another release called “Funeral” slated for this year 2011. If it is anywhere as good as this, I might have my album of the year.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Richard Chiem

                When I first met heard of Richard Chiem, I noticed he began following me on Twitter. Then he invaded my blog with a question for Steve Roggenbuck for an interview called the “Pseudo-Social Scavenger Hunt” for the (Youth is Write Series). After I discovered why a question was on my blog for someone named Steve Roggenbuck, I told him it was awesome. He thanked me for using my site. 

                “Old Tampons” is the first short story of Richard’s I’ve encountered. It is about long distance relationships. Richard originally submitted it on “NewWaveVomit” and it resonated with a lot of people. First he read it aloud and you can hear it here. Personally, I enjoy his delivery of it. If it is possible for someone to sound like a poet, Richard Chiem sounds like one. He sounds similar to my college poetry teacher. Though my college poetry teacher was called “Mr. Beardsley” (which he might have legally done in order to teach poetry more ironically) one of the most ridiculous names I’ve encountered in my entire life besides “Bea Trout”. Richard’s work is well-thought out with an emotional core that makes the effort more than worth it. 

                A few fine individuals created a short film based off of his poem. Michael Inscoe, Meggie Green, and Melinda Wheeler star in it. All of them match the energy I get from reading the poem. If you’re more of a visual person, or don’t enjoy reading poetry, then you can watch the Youtube video right here. They have a well-chosen soundtrack as well, which is important to someone as obsessed with music as I. 

                “Long distance relationships are like believing in God and do you want to believe in God again?”

                The above introduces you to the poem. For me, it was strong. I’ve never been in a long-distance relationship. I wonder; what if I fell in love with someone. Could I manage to have the faith needed to let that connection stay strong, or would I just let it be, parting with one last hurrah as I moved away. I’m happy then that Richard’s story basically ruminates on that very emotional decision.

                A lot of religious metaphors are in the poem as well. They are beautiful. Using “Christ” in two different situations gives both the absolute highs and lows of a single word with all the baggage it entails. Having it mean the hurt and suffering Christ had at being so alone. Having it mean the pure joy and kindness he literally embodied as he embraced others to make them whole again. 

                Personally, I adored this poem. The hurt both of them feel is vividly portrayed. I couldn’t have asked for more direct language. As I read it, I feel sad at the amount of space and time countless others must have felt as they started out on a long-distance relationship. Both parties feel an unequal amount of hurt as they leave each other, her to go to Boston, him to stay on the West Coast. It was well-paced and gorgeous. Even as it was sad, it had hope for the times they met and were happy together. 

                I’d strongly suggest checking him out. He’s number #23 on Online Literary Power along with the editor of Vertebrae, an online journal of literature and art. If none of this means anything to you, he’s also really nice. That counts the most.

William Basinski – A Red Score in Tile 4.9

                William Basinski can be thought of as a reverse Brian Eno: whereas Brian Eno created ambiance by building up, William does it by breaking things down. In his greatest work, Disintegration Loops, he even made the process romantic. You could hear and feel those loops breaking down into mere fragments. A Red Score in Tile explores slightly different territory.

                This piece, originally written in 1979, doesn’t break apart. Rather, it mediates on a single theme for 45 minutes. At moments you can detect a slight variation on the theme, a slight bending of pitch. Unfortunately, the amount of work and focus needed for this discovery is ultimately a let-down. Sure, the sound is great, William doesn’t exactly create tasteless recordings, but it feels unusually empty for a composer who deals with larger scale pieces in a more meaningful way.

                Basically a recording like this was inevitable. With so many releases, at some point he would eventually release a dullard. I’d strongly suggest his Disintegration Loops recordings for those with time and patience. That experience is rewarding. For those with less time, Melancholia offers a better presentation of his ideas in a short period of time. But sadly, this piece is not worth the effort the listener puts in. Fine wallpaper music but not something worth engaging on a deeper level.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Pink Noise – Graffiti Youth 5.9

                The Pink Noise is probably one of the best-named bands I’ve seen for a while. Single-handedly, they’ve been able to define their brand of noised-out lo-fi meanderings. In their own words, they state they are a mixture between ultra-hip bands Suicide and Chrome. Listening to this, I hear fragments of both, but they aren’t as good or as ambitious as either.

                Chrome dealt with way more distortion than what these guys muster through the course of the album. Meanwhile, the Suicide comparison does fit some of these songs, especially the tighter ones like “Wild Love” which is one of the main highlights. Later in the album we hear echoes of their attempts at a tighter focus with “Flow into the Void”. 

                What makes a lot of this boring is how gray the sounds are. I adore lo-fi, and think a lot of it is quite good, but this sounds exactly like pink noise. Nothing is differentiated. I do hear enough interesting results coming out of here to prevent me from dismissing it completely. But for the most part, this is something you could listen as something in the background. There simply isn’t enough going on in the songs themselves for me to recommend deeper listening.