‘Technology/Transformation’: Funky ‘Wonder Woman’ mashup from 1978
05.26.2016
10:28 am

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Art
Feminism
Pop Culture

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I was recently on vacation in Vancouver, BC and was lucky enough to take in a massive pop culture retrospective called “MashUp: The Birth of Modern Culture” at the gorgeous Vancouver Art Gallery. The show, which took approximately four years to curate, featured a huge array of works from pop culture heroes like filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and many, many others.

One of the many delights the show had to offer fans of pop culture was an almost six-minute video by American video and installation artist Dara Birnbaum, a woman at the forefront of the feminist art movement in the mid-1970s. The video, “Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman,” was made in 1978 and 1979 and features Lynda Carter as her television super-hero alter ego Wonder Woman; explosions, imagery, and audio tracks taken from from her show, which ran from 1975 to 1979; and Carter’s trademark “Wonder Woman” spin—all scored to the show’s own cheese-tastic soundtrack as well as a few added disco fillips. According to Birnbaum, her use of repetition in the video is meant to expose the illusion of “fixed female identities in media” and attempts to show the emergence of a “new woman” through use of technology.

Since I first saw Birnbaum’s Wonder Woman video, I have not be able to get it out of my mind—it’s a strangely compelling and hypnotic piece of work. The video wraps up with an on-screen transcription of The Wonderland Disco Band’s homage to Wonder Woman, “Wonder Woman Disco” which is nearly as fantastic as the video itself. If you’re planning on visiting Vancouver, BC, I highly recommend that you check out “MashUp,” which runs through June 12.
 
“Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman” by Dara Birnbaum:

 
More after the jump…

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Ralf Hütter reviews Kraftwerk’s albums, 2009
05.26.2016
10:20 am

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Music

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In 2009 Uncut magazine managed to get Ralf Hütter of Kraftwerk to go through the entire Kraftwerk discography and comment on the albums one by one. Because of his role in creating these albums it’s a bit silly to call his comments “reviews” but you know, it’s close enough.

When this piece was executed, the split between Hütter and Florian Schneider was quite fresh—Florian had played his last gig with Kraftwerk three years earlier, on November 11, 2006, at Feria de Muestras in Zaragoza, Spain, and the news of Florian’s exit from the band was only a few months old. Uncut addressed the situation in the introduction:
 

The acrimonious departure last year of Hütter’s fellow Kraftwerk founder, Florian Schneider, is still a sensitive subject. “We haven’t seen him for a long time,” Hütter shrugs. “I cannot speak for my former partner, friend and co-composer, but he always hated touring and concerts.”

 
Perhaps it was to assuage any doubts people might have about a touring four-piece Kraftwerk with just one member from the classic 1970s/‘80s lineup in it that Hütter chose to discourse so expansively on the legendary band’s illustrious catalog. Uncut skipped a couple of releases, notably Kraftwerk 2, Electric Café, and The Mix, but covered covered the entirety of what they surely saw as the meat of Kraftwerk’s golden period in the late 1970s.

For every album, ranging from 1970’s debut Kraftwerk up to 2003’s Tour De France Soundtracks, I’ve excerpted a paragraph or so from Hütter’s full comments. For the full scoop, by all means check out Uncut’s page or the large-format images of the pages we’ve provided below.
 

KRAFTWERK, 1970
We were finding Kraftwerk, setting up the Kling Klang studio, finding musicians to work with, discovering composition, discovering the German language, human voice, synthetic voice. Me and Florian had our Kling Klang studio since 1970, and before that we had a free-form music group. We used to play at universities or parties or art galleries. And one day we said: OK, there must be a mothership, a laboratory, a studio HQ where we put things together.

RALF & FLORIAN, 1973
We listened to quite a lot of electronic stuff at that time. On the art scene, and on the radio. We were brought up within the kind of classical Beethoven school of music, but we were aware there was a contemporary music scene, and of course a pop and rock scene. But where was our music? Finding our voice, I think that was the use of the tape recorder. So that’s what happened, we tried to forget all the things we knew before. I think our contact to the tape recorder made us use synthetic voices, artificial personalities, all those robotic ideas.

AUTOBAHN, 1974
It’s not about cars, it’s about the Autobahn. People forget that. It’s a road where we were travelling all the time: hundreds of thousands of kilometres from university to art galleries, from club to home. We didn’t even have money to stay in hotels so at night we’d be travelling home after playing somewhere. That’s very important, it’s not about cars, it’s about the Autobahn. It’s also a road movie, with a humorous twist.

RADIO-ACTIVITY, 1975
It’s a science fiction kind of album. Horror and beauty. The concept was infiltration by radio station – which is maybe more dangerous than radioactivity. We worked with tapes, editing pieces, glue. All electronics. And more singing and speaking, like speech symphonies.

It was written in two languages, English and German. Autobahn was just one. It was not a statement, just these lyrics came to our mind—“Radioactivity, is in the air for you and me…” Just ideas coming together, and then anticipating the next album, which was all in two languages, like in films. There were always talks about Kraftwerk working with films, but they didn’t happen – apart from [German director Rainer Werner] Fassbinder, but he used finished pieces of our music in different interpretations in his films. Radio-Activity was a favourite of Fassbinder, he used it in Russian Roulette and in Berlin Alexanderplatz.

 
Much, much more after the jump….....
 

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Please Respect Our Decadence: The arch minimalism of Algebra Suicide
05.26.2016
10:13 am

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Music

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In turn-of-the’80s Chicago, Trouble Boys guitarist Don Hedeker and the accomplished poet Lydia Tomkiw forged a romantic and creative partnership when they married and formed the band Algebra Suicide. They announced their existence to the world in 1982 with the 4-song 7” E.P. True Romance at the World’s Fair, and the title song earned the honor of inclusion on Trouser Press’ Best of the American Underground compilation the following year. The E.P. set the formula for the band’s entire 12-year career: Hedeker would play dreamy, unchanging guitar lines (I wonder if Lungfish were fans) over a simple drum machine pattern while the admirably advanced wordsmith Tomkiw cooly and astutely riffed on romance, culture, alienation, and death, delivering her recitations in tones that could have approached the snideness of the Waitresses’ Patty Donahue were Tomkiw’s delivery not so immaculately dry.
 

 
The band’s live performances were minimal but memorable. Taking a cue from the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, they dressed all in white and played side-by-side in front of a screen, immersed in projected art. The time I saw them, Hedeker was even playing a clear lucite guitar, allowing just that much more of the projected material to engulf him. Frustratingly, I’m unable to locate any motion footage of the band performing in that manner. Can you just trust me that it was freakin’ cool?
 

 

 
The band released several EPs and cassettes between 1982 and 1987, when RRR Records released the LP/CD The Secret Like Crazy. It was a best-of, but new fans could be forgiven for thinking it was their debut album, and it serves as a singular and definitive statement of the band’s most vital period. But though it’s essential, it’s out of print. Fortunately, Dark Entries came to the rescue of the fans and the curious in 2013 by releasing Feminine Squared, a compilation whose content overlaps Secret’s by enough to forego the crate-dig, and it’s bundled with a live DVD of excellent quality.

A 1992 European tour for the album Swoon produced tensions that ended Tomkiw and Hedeker’s marriage, but the band continued until the 1994 release of Tongue Wrestling. Tomkiw released a solo album, Incorporated in 1995, enlisting musical assists from smartass Midwestern art punks Sosumi, Pigface’s Martin Bowes, and Legendary Pink Dot Edward Ka-Spell, but that was her last musical release. She continued to publish poetry until her death in 2007.
 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Waxwork Records, the leader in beautifully packaged soundtracks on vinyl (plus a DM premiere)
05.25.2016
01:40 pm

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Music

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Waxwork Records
 
I love movie soundtracks. The best films usually have awesome scores (which is part of what makes them extraordinary), so whenever I really dig a particular flick I almost always NEED the soundtrack. I used to scour the used LP bins, searching for soundtracks that I wasn’t even sure existed—keep in mind this was pre-web, before you could easily look up such information. I’m not a “vinyl only” guy, but the size of LP packaging (especially if it’s a gatefold sleeve) seems to go hand in hand with the larger-than-life images projected on a movie screen. I’m especially drawn to horror scores from the ‘70s and ‘80s, when greats like John Carpenter and Goblin were creating amazingly frightening works that stand on their own as incredible pieces of music.

These days, there are a number of independent record labels that specialize in putting out vintage soundtracks on vinyl, but one label clearly stands out from the pack, and that is Waxwork Records. The label issues stellar, creative packages, complete with new liner notes, high-quality jackets, and thick pressings on colored vinyl that often reference the movie itself. New album artwork is also commissioned for every release, with Dave Rapoza of Marvel Comics creating the images for Waxwork’s latest: an expanded edition of the soundtrack for the cult classic The Warriors (1979). Barry De Vorzon’s spooky, pulsating synth rock score—complete and on vinyl for the first time—sounds fantastic. Like many Waxwork releases, it’s going fast, with the colored vinyl editions, including a deluxe package, already out of print.
 
The Warriors
The Warriors

In just a few short years, Waxwork has put together an impressive discography of 21 titles, many of which surely required a ton of legwork to secure the rights for. Perhaps their biggest coup was landing the original soundtrack and the complete score for the monumental Taxi Driver (1976). Penned by the legendary Bernard Herrmann—arguably the greatest film composer ever—the dreamy jazz pieces by now are synonymous with the film. As Martin Scorsese writes in his liner notes: “You can’t pull the images and the music apart. There’s no point in trying.”
 
Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver

Earlier this year, Dangerous Minds told you about Lalo Schifrin’s unnerving, rejected score for The Exorcist—and guess what? Waxwork is readying that one for release as well. They’ve also got a 2016 subscription service, in which subscribers are the first to get their hands on five different titles—plus loads of other of goodies—including the previously unavailable soundtrack for the ‘80s slasher, My Bloody Valentine.
 
My Bloody Valentine
 
My Bloody Valentine package
First looks at Waxwork’s ‘My Bloody Valentine’ package

More on the MBV release in a bit. First, I had a bunch of questions for the co-founder and CEO of the label, Kevin Bergeron, which were asked via email.

When did you start Waxwork Records? What was the impetus?

Kevin Bergeron: Waxwork Records launched in January 2013. The label was started out of necessity, really. I had played and toured in punk bands for many years, and I truly enjoy being in a recording studio and then pressing vinyl. Playing in punk bands for years is good conditioning for running your own business. You learn a lot on your own. There’s lots of discovery and character building skills you acquire that you just can’t learn anywhere else. I live in New Orleans, and it’s a very poor city where not very many people are motivated to do much of anything. I knew that when my last band split I wanted to continue working, putting out music. I was seriously broke, but I really went for it and started Waxwork with a lot of intensity and attitude. I knew that I didn’t have a lot to fall back on. Before Waxwork, I was a cremator at a mausoleum and after that a student majoring in biology. Just depressing stuff. I needed to make music in some form and put it out. I walked away from everything else, and started Waxwork with my partner, Suzy Soto. We pushed very hard, and still do now, over three years later.
 
Rosemary's Baby
Rosemary’s Baby

How do you think that Waxwork stands out from the pack of other labels that specialize in vinyl-only pressings of vintage movie soundtracks? And why exclusively vinyl?

Kevin Bergeron: Waxwork’s releases are the most deluxe, definitive, and true to the way the audio was originally intended to be heard. We seek out the original master tapes. We work from those tapes because they’re the very first recorded source of the soundtracks that we release. Like, those tapes were in the studio with the performers, recording everything in real time.

I use this example often, but it’s very true: If you hold up a Waxwork release in one hand and a record from a different label in another hand, you’re going to realize quickly that a Waxwork release is of better quality. That a lot of thought, time, effort, and man hours went into creating it. That it’s worth your time. Worth owning. That’s how we stand out, at least, amongst the other record labels specializing in soundtracks. Waxwork isn’t a hobby for us, or something that we divide up our time with something else. We exclusively run Waxwork. So, we put a lot of effort into everything.

Why vinyl? Because it’s the sexiest way to listen to music. With a decent stereo set up, it sounds the best to me. It’s a really fun, interactive way to experience recorded music, as well.
 
C.H.U.D.
C.H.U.D.: “Toxic Waste Puddle” vinyl

Much more after the jump, including an exclusive listen to two side-long tracks from the My Bloody Valentine set…..

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment