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‘Christianity is Stupid’: Negativland takes on religion in ‘It’s All In Your Head’
08.20.2014
02:20 pm

Topics:
Belief
Music

Tags:
Negativland


 
The other day I was pondering how I would explain the whole “Why are we here?” / “Is there a God?” concept to my (hypothetical at this point) child and discussing this with my wife who is about as religious as I am (i.e: not at all). When I was a kid, raised in a very Christian home in West Virginia, it was a pretty straight line between reading Thor comics, then Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes before I was already having my doubts about “church.” If the Norse gods, like the Greek gods, were all just myths, wasn’t the whole Judeo-Christian thang on a similarly shaky epistemological foundation? What’s the difference? I couldn’t see one. From a very young age, religion had no credibility with me, but I was lucky. Christianity ultimately had very little effect on me.

How to discourage an irrational belief in the bearded sky god without being too heavy-handed about it and causing the hypothetical kid to go in the other direction to rebel will be an interesting road to navigate. Then again maybe not. As everyone knows millennials have left their parents’ religion in droves. Nearly two-thirds of under 30s subscribe to no organized religion. At the current rate of attrition, by mid-century Christians may no longer even constitute the majority in America.

For all kinds of reasons, the movement away from religion has picked up some serious speed in the past few decades, with this in mind, I laughed out loud reading the press release for Negativland’s new album, It’s All In Your Head which describes the double CD set (packaged in an actual Holy Bible repurposed into a “found” art object, modified by hand) as being “millennia-in-development.”

It’s true if you think about it. They wouldn’t have been able to get away with something this cheeky in previous decades. In 2014, it’ll be a sought after collectible, of course. They wouldn’t have had the source material to work with, either. It’s All In Your Head provokes and entertains listeners with Negativland’s signature mix of found music, sounds, radio dialogue and original electronic noises, bleeps and boops fashioned into a musical essay that looks at “monotheism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, neuroscience, suicide bombers, 9/11, colas, war, shaved chimps, and the all-important role played by the human brain in our beliefs.”

It’s monotheism, but it’s in stereo, putting me in mind of the Firesign Theatre crossed with Richard Dawkins crossed with Madlib. If that sentence is even halfway intelligible to you, the “trailer” for It’s All in Your Head, below, is required viewing, freak.

It’s All In Your Head comes out on October 28th, but if you preorder it, you’ll get it two weeks before that (I have one already and highly recommend it).
 

 
Bonus: “The Mashin’ of The Christ” music video:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Fugazi: Red Medicine for the White House, live in Washington, DC, 1991
08.20.2014
10:44 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Fugazi
Ian Mackaye


 
Dischord Records, the independent punk label of immeasurable historic importance founded by Minor Threat/Fugazi/Evens singer Ian Mackaye, made an intriguing announcement recently:

In January 1988, after only ten shows, Fugazi decided to go into Inner Ear Studio to see what their music sounded like on tape. They tracked 11 songs, ten of which were ultimately dubbed to cassette tape and distributed free at shows, with the band encouraging people to share the recording.

The only song from the session that has been formally released was “In Defense of Humans,” which appeared on the State of the Union compilation in 1989. Now, some 26 years later, Dischord is releasing the entire demo including the one song (“Turn Off Your Guns”) that wasn’t included on the original cassette. The record has been mastered by TJ Lipple and will be available on CD and LP+Mp3.

This release will also coincide with the completion of the initial round of uploads to the Fugazi Live Series website. Launched in 2011, the site now includes information and details on all of Fugazi’s 1000+ live performances and makes available close to 900 concert recordings that were documented by the band and the public.

 

 
The label’s coyness about the actual release date of the demos is a bit of a drag, but it may have something to do with the near impossibility of getting timely vinyl pressings done these days. Given that these are finally being widely issued, perhaps one can hope that someday we’ll get an official release of Steve Albini’s demos for the album In On the Kill Taker? They’ve been repeatedly taken down from various blogs, but if you can track them down, you may agree with me that they kicked a lot more ass than Albini or Fugazi ever gave them credit for.
 

 
Those Fugazi Live Series pages are worth a good, thorough combing-through if you’re a fan. They not only boast an exhaustive list of the band’s concert dates (what would you give to have been at “Jan 20, 1988, East Lansing, MI, USA, Matt Kelly’s Basement?”), but also offer recordings of many of them, some made by the band, some by fans. Where they exist, the recordings are offered for sale at the price of—all together now—five dollars per show, in a surely intentional echo of Fugazi’s eminently fan-friendly move of demanding that their concert admissions be capped at $5. One almost has to half-kiddingly wonder if Mackaye’s bed isn’t literally stuffed with five dollar bills.

Since the US is evidently going to be in Iraq for freakin’ ever, it seems fitting to punctuate this post with the show that serves as the subject of Fugazi Live Series FLS0308, the Gulf War protest in Lafayette Park, Washington DC, January 12, 1991. I was in DC for those protests, but to my lasting regret, I had no idea this show was happening right in front of the White House.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Get hypnotized by the psychedelic slo-mo hula hooping for Bishop Allen’s new album
08.20.2014
08:39 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
psychedelia
hula hoops
Bishop Allen


 
Bishop Allen is one of those indie bands that’s been quietly buzzing around for nearly ten years—I knew about them because they’re a former Brooklyn-based group with the weird distinction of being on Dead Oceans, a label based out of Bloomington, Indiana (my home before all the good bartending gigs dried up). The new album Lights Out is full of the kind of sunny, poppy, electronic-infused tunes one might use to round out the last of days of summer. It’s got a lot of darling hooks and bitter-sweet warmth.

However, I’m well aware that the Dangerous Minds crowd can be a bit… anti-sunny—or at least, anti-Brooklyn Indie Rock. If you feel a curmudgeonly tirade coming on, fear not! There is another component to Lights Out that may yet seduce you!

Perhaps in an attempt to humiliate Beyoncé (we can only speculate, but I believe there is a bitter feud going on between them), Bishop Allen has also released a video to go along with every track on the album, connected as a continuous playlist below. The twist is that every video is some variation on the same theme—their friends hula-hooping, in slow-motion. Now we here at Dangerous Minds would never advocate drug use, but I will say that if you’ve partaken of some “entertainment insurance,” then the videos have a hypnotic effect I’d liken to a liquid light show.

If you want to catch some shimmery synths in person, Bishop Allen just kicked off a big tour. If you are personally affronted by the thought of seeing a sunny Brooklyn Indie band, relax and enjoy the hula hoops.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Entertainment: Gang of Four, live in Zagreb, 1981
08.20.2014
07:20 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Gang of Four


 
A blog I will never be able to read recently posted a gleaming gem of a video—professional footage of six live Gang of Four songs, performed in Zagreb, Yugoslavia (now Croatia, of course), around the height of the band’s strength. This was the Solid Gold tour. While that album isn’t quite the stone classic that their debut Entertainment! is, songs like “Outside the Trains Don’t Run on Time,” “Paralysed” and “What We All Want” easily rank with the band’s best work. The performance was recorded at Music Biennale Zagreb in 1981, the first year that long-lived festival featured rock music.

Though Gang of Four were on the rise at this time, they were also near the end of their original lineup. In a change from which the band wouldn’t ever recover artistically, bassist Dave Allen would soon leave to form the more dance-oriented Shriekback. In a dismal irony, Go4 themselves would become a markedly tamer, more accessible, dancier band after Allen’s departure. (Mind you, that incarnation of the band STILL slayed in concert—hell, singer Jon King was still an electrifying frontman even in Go4’s why-did-they-bother mid ‘90s resurrection attempt.) But in this Zagreb footage we can see the band still riding their initial burst of ferocious, jagged, Marxist-inspired salvos against leisure class complacency and economic injustice. God damn, they were glorious.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Dialectics & disco: post-punk Marxists Gang of Four get funky on ‘Dance Fever,’ 1982
Entertainment: complete Gang of Four show, 1983

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Electric Würms: ‘I Could Only See Clouds’ exclusive video premiere
08.19.2014
03:51 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Wayne Coyne
Electric Würms
Steven Drozd


 
The world premiere of the decidedly lysergically-informed new Electric Würms music video, “I Could Only See Clouds” directed by Wayne Coyne. The song comes from Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk (“Music that’s Hard to Twerk to”) out today on CD, vinyl and iTunes from Warner Bros. Records and available via the Flaming Lips online store.

Electric Würms is the side project of Flaming Lips Steven Drozd and Wayne Coyne (who steps away from his normal frontman role here and plays bass) working with Nashville-based psych-rockers Linear Downfall. It’s a spacey, raw cosmic jam that Pitchfork called a “Live-Evil-era Miles (by way of Yoko Ono’s Fly) psych-funk shriek.”

What are you looking for? What are you really, really looking for? Maybe you’ll find it here. It’s worth a try, right?
 

 
Bonus: Würms on Würms…

Posted by Electric Würms | Discussion
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Stockhausen’s audacious ‘Helicopter String Quartet’


 
It was a series of dreams that inspired the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen to write his controversial Helikopter-Streichquartett or The Helicopter String Quartet in 1992-93.

Stockhausen had been asked to compose a quartet for Professor Hans Landesmann of the Salzburger Festspiele in early 1991, but the composer had no interest in writing one, that is until he had a dream. Stockhausen was at a party, where the guests snubbed him, were rude to him, whispered behind their hands about him, and he dreamt he could fly away, quite literally:

l don’t have any philosophy, but all my life l’ve dreamt that l can fly, and that l know what it means to fly. ln lots of dreams l leave earth. l often dream that l’m in a cellar, surrounded by people in tuxedos, holding drinks in their hands, and l know l could shut them all up in one go. They don’t want me there.

Then l’m on tiptoes and l let myself go, l just take off and l end up on the ceiling. And then…l swoop down to the floor and fly up again, and everyone says, ‘‘Oh!’‘

l turn elegantly at the wall. l dream that the people are all speechless, watching me—a man, fly.

In another dream, Stockhausen dreamt he was hovering high above four helicopters in which of each four musicians were playing his music. On waking he saw the potential of such a work and made a series of notes and sketches. However, Stockhausen had never written a quartet, as he later explained in a documentary about the Helicopter Quartet:

lt’s the first and probably the last! All my life, l’ve never composed anything for a classical formation.

ln fact, the string quartet is a prototype from the 18th century. Just as the symphony and the solo concerto are the stamp of a very particular era in composition, both as regards interpretation and form. All my life l’ve kept away from that. l haven’t taken up the classical forms.

l’m a pianist but l’ve never written a concerto, and l’ve refused commissions for concerti for violin or piano. The same goes for symphonies and quartets. This quartet is the result of a dream. When the work was commissioned, l said, ‘‘No way, never!’’ Then l dreamt it.

And that’s when everything changed, because l started imagining the four musicians flying, playing in a completely different room. The show is put on for an audience sitting in a concert hall. They imagine the musicians in the air, playing in four flying objects.

ln the future, they could be in flying objects that go up even higher.

This idea was progressed by two further dreams: one in which Stockhausen saw and heard a giant swarm of bees, buzzing, swirling, turning in the sky like a helicopter blade; and a third in which he saw a violinist play music that captured the magical sound of buzzing bees.

Though often performed as a separate piece, the Helicopter Quartet is only one part (“Scene Three”) of Stockhausen’s opera Mittwoch aus Licht or Wednesday from the cycle of seven operas Licht (Light).

Light or “The Seven Days of the Week” consists of 29 hours of music with “neither end nor beginning” that Stockhausen composed between 1977 and 2003.
 
333helistocknotes3.jpg
 
Stockhausen sent his score for Helicopter Quartet to Professor Landesmann who welcomed it enthusiastically. Of course, Stockhausen has not always been received with such all-embracing support—many considered him to be the P. T. Barnum of classical music, eschewing content for showmanship. One can imagine the sharp intake of breath from some when reading of the requirement list for Stockhausen’s airborne quartet:

4 helicopters with pilots and 4 sound technicians
4 television transmitters, 4 x 3 sound transmitters
auditorium with 4 columns of televisions and
4 columns of loudspeakers
sound projectionist with mixing console / moderator (ad lib.)

Of course, Stockhausen was used to the criticism (perhaps the most famous line coming form conductor Sir Henry Beecham who when asked if he had heard any Stockhausen, replied “No, but I believe I have trodden in some”), and he showed it the disdain it deserved. These “negative critics” were part of that group he had once described, at a lecture on electronic music in 1972, as those who would fail to evolve as humans. Stockhausen believed that not everyone is equal and that his music would only help some people evolve to the next stage—whatever that may be.
 
helistock1.jpg
The composer at work on the ‘Helicopter String Quartet’.
 
Stockhausen is described as one of the most important and influential composers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, who casts a long shadow over composers like Harrison Birtwistle and Jean-Claude Éloy; jazz musicians such as Charles Mingus, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis—who cited his influence on the album On the Corner and later recorded with him on an (as yet) unreleased track in 1980; to The Beatles to Frank Zappa to Krautrock and beyond—Roger Waters, Björk, Kraftwerk and Can—whose members Irmin Schmidt and Holger Czukay both studied under him at the conservatory.

And this is before we get to his influence on novelists Philip K. Dick and Thomas Pynchon.

The Helicopter Quartet is one of Stockhausen’s most outrageous and incredible works, performed by four musicians, one in each of the four helicopters, who keep in sync with each other by monitors. The whole piece last 30-minutes with the helicopters hovering in the sky—the sound of the rotor blades adding to the music—as a long series of string tremolos (based on complicated formulae set forth by Stockhausen) are played over and over, in relation to the quartet’s three themes of Michael, Eve and Lucifer.

Surprisingly, the complete opera Mittwoch aus Licht was not performed in its entirety until 2012, when the English Birmingham Opera Company gave the opera its world premiere. This is the complete Helicopter String Quartet as performed by the Birmingham Opera Company on August 22nd, 2012.
 

 
A German documentary was made in 1995 about the preparation, performance and recording of and Stockhausen’s Helicopter Quartet. This film can be seen below, though you’ll have to click through to YouTube in order to turn on the English captions.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Red Headed Card Shark: Card Tricks with Willie Nelson
08.19.2014
09:22 am

Topics:
Amusing
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Willie Neslon


 
It doesn’t get any better than watching Willie Nelson working some fancy card wizardry on his sister, Bobbie Lee Nelson.

I’ve watched this video twice now, and I still can’t figure out how in the hell he’s able to do this.

What can’t Willie Nelson do? Amazing!

 
via The World’s Best Ever

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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MAGMA’s cheerfully insane brand of sci-fi avant garde make them prog rock’s weirdest outliers
08.19.2014
07:59 am

Topics:
Music
Unorthodox

Tags:
prog rock
MAGMA


H.R. Giger’s cover for 1978’s Attahk album

From the Dangerous Minds archives:

French progrockers MAGMA sing their lyrics in “Kobaïan,” a made-up phonetic language based on German and Slavic languages constructed by the group’s founder, Christian Vander, after he had a “vision of humanity’s spiritual and ecological future.”

MAGMA’s albums tell the multi-part sci-fi saga of humans who have been forced to leave a dying Earth behind and settle on the planet Kobaïa. MAGMA’s unusual sound is described as “zeuhl” in Kobaïan, which means “heavenly” and Vander claims his biggest musical influence is John Coltrane at his most celestial. One can also detect some Zappa, Stravinsky and “Carmina Burana.”

The mysterious MAGMA are considered somewhat tangential members of the progressive subgenre (“avant garde” might be a bit more accurate) and have little in common with the likes of Yes, Genesis or King Crimson. Certainly it can said that they hoe their own row! Often they sound like an extremely dark heavy metal band. You can’t really compare MAGMA to anyone else, they’re just that weird. Give me MAGMA over Emerson, Lake & Palmer any day!

As on YouTuber quipped:

If anything could be more twisted and insane than Magma, it’s early Magma.

They’re even weirder than Gong and that ain’t easy!
 

 
More MAGMA after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Trance out to the gorgeous sounds of Cluster and Eno
08.19.2014
05:57 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Krautrock
Eno
Cluster


 
Cluster, fittingly, is the name of a band around which the Krautrock family tree starts to look more like a tumbleweed. Founded in 1969 as Kluster by Dieter Moebius (Amon Guru), Hans-Joachim Roedelius (Aquarello), and Conrad Schnitzler (Tangerine Dream), the band released three albums, whereupon Schnitzler left. The remaining duo enlisted new collaborator Conny Plank (Guru Guru, producer of too many crucial Krautrock and New Wave albums to even start listing them, insulter of Bono) and changed its name by one letter, to Cluster.

Plank ended his tenure with Cluster in 1975, and Moebius and Roedelius joined with Michael Rother (NEU!, Kraftwerk) to form the group Harmonia. That band was freakin’ incredible—Michael Rother doesn’t do a whole lot wrong, really—and their third album, recorded in late 1976, was a collaboration with their very big fan Brian Eno. (That album, Tracks and Traces wouldn’t see release until 1997, credited to Harmonia ’76, and was reissued in the late oughts under the band name Harmonia and Eno ’76.) Upon its completion, Rother went solo, and Moebius and Roedelius reverted back to the name Cluster, and soon made another album with Eno, under the name Cluster & Eno.

Seriously, with all these back-and-forth hair splitting name changes, I don’t know how the hell even a devoted maven like Julian Cope can keep all this shit straight. There was a a really good Cluster album shoehorned in between Harmonia albums, too, I may as well add.
 

 
Anyway, that eponymous Cluster and Eno album is, I dare say, some of the loveliest music Krautrock produced. Unsurprisingly, given the band’s personnel history, it contains echoes of Tangerine Dream and NEU!, but it conspicuously lacks that defining NEU! element, the “motorik” drumbeat. In fact, the album has almost no overt beats at all. Eno’s innovations in ambient electronics were a fine match for Cluster’s love of repetition and intertwining looped passages. The songs sail past you almost frictionlessly, unencumbered by any needless ballast.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Flaming Lips talk Krautrock


 
Steven Drozd and Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips talk about their favorite Krautrock groups. Their Electric Würms side project Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk (“Music that’s Hard to Twerk to”) comes out on CD, vinyl and iTunes via Warner Bros. Records on August 19th.

Electric Würms will be playing in the UK at the End Of The Road festival in Dorset on August 31 followed by a headlining show at the Village Underground in London on September 1.
 

Posted by Electric Würms | Discussion
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