November 13, 2008
Outlier Tailored Performance
Outlier is my new venture. Probably find me writing a bit more there then here for a while. Outlier makes tailored performance clothing for cycling in the city. SItes filled with info so take a look. Smart shoppers probably want to head here or here to catch a discount...
January 26, 2008
I knew I left something out in my little musical Hype Check, but I couldn't remember what for the life of me. That can't bode to well for the band, but they still got some hype in them... Anyway, the Virgins? The Strokes if the Strokes were actually any good...
January 20, 2008
Vampire Weekend - The album is not even "out" yet and it's already 6 months too late say that their parents listened to Paul Simon's Graceland too much while they were in utero. They might not steal quite as much from Africa as Paul but they do manage to sound even whiter than he does while in the act. I know they went to Columbia but the African guitars plus indie rock is genius enough that one wonders if they were in the MBA program. Good but not nearly as good as Boubacar Traore. I expect to be guiltily enjoying this while ordering americanos for years to come.
Lil' Wayne - If you say you are the best rapper alive enough times over and over again it just might come true. I'm pretty sure at least half the songs I listened to in 2007 came from a Wayne mixtape. Talk about the album not even being out yet... Fuck "In Rainbows" Wayne is the one blazing the trail for what the future of the music industry looks like. Sure no one quite knows where the money is coming from but you know it works out somehow. Main variable is just how long before Wayne's childstar symptoms take him down the Britney and Michael Jackson path. Plenty of warning signs out there, but so far his growing insanity seems to be more of the musically productive Prince variety...
The Cool Kids - I've been saying it for a while but the music industry really needs to look at the skateboard industry to learn how to monetize a product that's essentially free. The Cool Kids sound like some Columbia MBA realized the same thing and you know it works out somehow. If it comes out in a year or two that some streetwear company cooked them up to sell product I wouldn't be surprised at all. And as long as the beats stay hot I don't really care. As for the rhymes, not bad at all, but they could probably switch up the front men the way skate teams change riders and only the hardcore obsessives would care.
November 25, 2006
That's a photo that completely captures Busta Rhymes ability to completely grab the limelight when given the microphone. What it doesn't capture is the complete over the top requiem for a Mets season costume he chose the wear. From the bleeding logo baseball cap to the massive bejeweled Mets hat pendent around his neck, it pretty much defies explanation about as much as their failure in game 7...
Cut to midtown, Madison Square Garden. Stephon Marbury's $15 basketball shoes might be the complete inverse of Busta's bling in the best way, but dude just should not be the center of attention. I can't be the only one who has noticed how much better the Knickerbockers ball when either Steve Francis or Nate Robinson are running things...
And in other sports news, is there any doubt left that when Lil Wayne is on point he's running that hip hop game like no other.
That's all for tonight, happy Thanksgiving weekend and happy 50th birthday to Kool DJ Red Alert.
August 28, 2006
Paint Jet Printing
Paint Jet Printing is a long running project of mine where I've been building a "paint jet printer". The goal is to print out digital images I've created using sign painters enamel or alternatively to give one particular answer to the question: "How do you get an image off a computer screen?" The site collates the rough history of the project so far, and if things work out will document the future developments of it all too...
August 03, 2006
June 04, 2006
Economies of Design and Other Adventures in Nomad Economics
Ok, time to go a bit more public. That image that should be showing above is the front cover of the public draft of my first book Economies of Design and Other Adventures in Nomad Economics which you can buy by following this link. You can also download the pdf for free. It's a public draft which means its far from done, filled with typos, and due to the magic of print on demand it should be updated frequently. It's also the first(ish) draft of my first book, which means I've learned a tremendous amount just in pulling it together. If things work out the second draft will be a complete rewrite and a far better organized one at that. But the raw ideas are out on paper and I'd love to get as much feedback as possible, so please read, enjoy and comment!
The book also has a site, and like the book it's so far been semi-public. No longer. Feel free to point your browsers to nomadeconomics.org just what will happen there is slightly indeterminate, but hopefully informative and entertaining.
February 27, 2006
November 24, 2005
Metataggers: Digital Graffiti / Empire / Archives
There are certain digital thresholds of history, points in which the type and amount of data available via computers and their networks changes radically. The point in which magazine and news articles are available via Lexus/Nexus for example, or the points in which archive.org started archiving the internet and DejaNews (now part of Google) started archiving the usenet.
It's not quite as clear a line, but I have a feeling one day the point in which everything started to get blogged will mark another such transition. Case to point I started digging around for the web evidence of a show I did back all of 3 years ago, september 2002. Neither archive.org nor google revealed the precise material I wanted, the gallery's original web page for the show. Instead I found a short post on evhead.com, the blog of Evan Williams founder of Blogger. I guess that's worth some geek cred... In anycase if something soon won't exist unless its been blogged, I best document this thing...
Metaggers: Digital Graffiti was the name, featuring the art of Shep Fairey, Paul Miller and 47 which at the time was me, [sic] and Ethan Eismann. Among the pieces I had in it was "Empire" which you can view "after the fold" for this entry.
November 06, 2005
The best thing about releasing work to the public domain (as all the wind is the enemy stuff was) is things like this happen. Thanks Kevin!
October 28, 2005
Last Second SF/ 2 Weeks LA / 6 Weeks NY
A bit of a late notice, but if you are in SF I have a piece in this propaganda show. A generative video collab with [sic] under the name 47. As far as I can tell it both opens and closes tonight in SF. If you are in LA this is your two week warning. In 6 weeks I'll be in a show in NY at Safe-T-Gallery, a collab with Carlos Borges.
September 02, 2005
The Constant Gardener
Not really down with movie reviews, the less you know going into a film the better the experience tends to be. If the films any good of course, the secret is to pick up on the buzz without learning too much. So with that said, go see The Constant Gardener, well worth it.
July 30, 2005
Haven't been feeling much on the music tip lately, rather think about the bicycles its seems (Pogliaghi, Nagasawa, and 3Rensho that's that fire for real). But god damn, that makes me want to get an iPod.. They might be gangster, but lord they sound like they just plain are having fun. The crunk and screwed are fast becoming cartoons, and LA, NY is strictly professionals, 'playing the game' industry style. But these cats, man they sound like they just love to rhyme, sort of revolutionary, no?
January 08, 2005
Musically I pretty much opted out of the new for the back third of 2004, listening to nothing but Sam Cooke and Bob Dylan. Turns out I slept on at least one nasty joint in Nas' . Not too surprising actually given that Cooke meets Dylan is probably one of the better ways to invoke Nas without involving the god Rakim..
It took Greg Tate's all too rare piece of hip hop writing to wake me up to the now, perhaps Nas' best since his untoppable debut with . Of course if you ignore the god awful Nastradamus ever album Nas has dropped has arguably been his best since . And like practically every album since is way to long. But as a double album in the iTunes era, that leaves a slamming hour of music in our hands.
Tate rightfully focuses on Nas the sex, love, marriage man. But the second potent story of the album is the emergence of Salaam Remi as Nas' music man. Unlike his main rival Jay-Z, who actively sought out the best beat makers then brought the best out of them, Nas somehow seems to uninspire greatest beakmakers in hip hop. The top producers seek him out and somehow leave him with beats that max out as unmemorable. But in Remi, who produced some the best tracks ("Get Down", "Made You Look", "Hey Nas") on 2002's , Nas' might have finally someone who can keep the beats hard and raw enough to move on their own, but discreet enough to let Nas' ghetto intellectual flow shine through on the regular.
In many ways "Made You Look" was the prototype of a new Nas, or perhaps more of a return to the Nas who "went to hell for snuffing Jesus" on his debut on "Live at the Barbeque". Remi strips the down the beats, drums hitting hard in the forefront, minimal instrumentation, loads of space. The space is for Nas to explore, space to fill with the complex flow. But the drums stay hard and loud with a gravity that must call him back to the summer jams in the park. If only the rest of hip hop would follow..
October 08, 2004
The Eno Complex
It only took a stray reveller on the runway at last Friday's Terminal Five opening to make that event it's closing as well. Of course as these minor tragedies go, there was an upside, at least for the lazy like me. Travel time to go see Brian Eno speak was drastically reduced. Fitting the theme but not the new location was the subject matter, Mr. Eno's seminal Music for Airports. Also fitting the them was the mindnumbing take off process, Eno's take on complexity theory and evolution is about as exciting as the baggage check line at an airport.
Past those formalities however Eno lead us towards a more intriguing place. Here the real mechanics of Eno's genius and laziness (or perhaps they are the same thing?) emerged. While Eno engaged in the intellectual act of framing his music as some sort of "bottom up" evolutionary process, it became clearer and clearer just how "top down" his work is. And to his credit Eno seemed rather aware of this fact although never quite willing to surrender the intellectual facade. What Eno frames as a large reaction to the rigidity of the solitary composer view of music, is in reality a minor tactic, as small release of control within a highly controlled environment of creation. To place it into a late Faucaultian space, Eno is actually ceding discipline of a composer, but retaining the control.
What a beautiful control it is too. Eno clearly controls a music studio like very few others can and creates pure sound with a tacit sense of beauty. The unsyncing, layer and chunking of Music for Airports spewed long meters of tape loops weaving through entire studio rooms. All essentially in the name of laziness. The sounds are carefully calibrated, and then thrown in offsync loops in part to simply reduce the time it takes to compose a long piece. Like George Soros and many a computer hacker Eno's motivation for innovation appears in part to be an effort to reduce work load. And it his here that the genius it seems might come in.
Perhaps its wishful thinking from a lazy boy like me, but it seems there is a tacit laziness lying behind the drive to innovation. A realization that a bit of hard work up front, developing a better process, can save work in the end. Of all innovator's Soros is perhaps the most upfront about this drive, Eno in his polite English manner steps around the issue, letting it lie obvious but never clearly spoken. Laziness becomes "economy", but the meaning is the same. And it points us to the nasty little secret of the Protestant work ethic supposedly underlying "capitalism" (as if that even exists). It is not hard work that drives success, it is reproduction. The industrialist built machines to force the reproduction, and now its all about brands and algorithms (abstract machines if you will).
I've been wondering about the difference between artists and con artists for quite sometime and I'm beginning to think its just that artists need shiny objects to enhance their word game, while the good con artists can just get by on words alone. Read that as a compliment to con artists not a critique of art please, ok? Anyways in Eno's case he doesn't need any shiny objects, but he does need some shimmery sounds. And man do they sound good..
June 26, 2004
Why Clear Channel gotta own all the radio?
Jadakiss' "Why?" just might the summer song (although Nina Sky appears to have pole position) and given that its the 04, no surprise its political. The surprise is that its Jada, always a second rank gansta in my book, cooked it. And make no mistake the gansta is there deliriously sliced in with the political, seamless. "Why they let the Terminator win the election?" No doubt, say it 'kiss.
Course Clear Channel holds half the hip hop stations cross the nation. And if you tune in there is a line "Why did *bleep* knock down the towers?"
And behind that bleep? "Why did Bush knock down the towers?"
Why is "Bush" a word you can't say on the radio?
June 20, 2004
The Champ is Here (Street Fire)
With a hat tip to Jon Caramanica we snag that fire for the streets. Jada as in Jadakiss. "he's been a threat from the hood to the internet". The Champ is Here. Green Lantern branded. Big Mike branded. "this right here is an official doctrine/ from a smart young real nigga with options" The options are the mix tape. Put the streets in a frenzy. Only the permanent button ups call it guerilla marketing. "ya know wha the fauck I'm talkin bout here guys?"
We bootleg the bootleg. Slsk represents true. Options. The "official" release is up there. We don't think twice, all we need is that mix tape. Never had love for the Jada before. Never had love for Yonkers, never felt substance past those beautiful DMX growls. Lox/D-Block always rolled like number 8 batters. Defense, a single here, a single there. No big hits. Major label maybe, but their game is still pick up. Street ballers. "Why is the industry designed to keep the artist in debt?".
When the legal single drops does it still ask: "why did Bush knock down the towers?" Jadakiss. "Currently a slave to Interscope". But does he stay that way? The mix tape economy is strong enough to make the hottest records. Is it strong enough to support the artists, or does record company capital reign supreme? Symbiotic, parasitic, or at war? There are two record industries now. One perpetuates legal crimes, the other criminally illegal. "Why sell in the stores what you can sell in the streets?"
As Far As the Eyes Can See, Alt2, Detail
wind is the enemy || June 20, 2004
June 10, 2004
!!! live. on a boat. enter the lock groove. do not ever leave. do not ever want to leave. an hour is not enough. if was white and grew up on the hardcore. .
May 29, 2004
May 18, 2004
April 28, 2004
Ghostface concert, Roseland, NYC:
All of Staten Island was most certainly on the stage.
Live hip hop was definitively on the stage.
Rakim was not on stage.
Ghostface, he blessed the stage.
Slick Rick did not spend nearly enough time on stage.
Do not for a second think we are not grateful for every second he spent on stage.
Perhaps is Slick Rick wore less then his weight in gold onstage he would have had time to stick around for another song or two. Preferably Sun, but really any would work.
Slick Rick wears a rhinestone studded eyepatch on stage with the full assurance that he and only he can pull that shit off...
Not only was Raekwon onstage, but there appear to have been two of them onstage, what?
Raekwon the voice dominated the stage.
Raekwon the stage presence apparently has absolutely nothing to do with that voice.
ODB was physically on stage.
Mentally ODB was in a Coney Island crackhouse ceramic spark plug cap in hand.
I feel very sorry for whomever's job it was to get ODB on stage and make something resembling lyrics come out. I also suspect said job also includes excessive exposure to Depends.
As sorry as the above job may be it can't be as remotely bad as the job of the person at Rocafella entrusted in recouping whatever they have invested in ODB. This person was almost surely was not on stage.
DJ Kay Slay was not wanted on the stage, but was there anyhow.
DJ Cipher Sounds however was quite welcome on the stage.
Master Killa was not particularly wanted on the stage, but we are damn glad he gave us 3 minutes of his underrated presence.
RZA took about a minute and half to prove why he is the heart of the Wu and then got the hell of the stage.
Method Man was not on stage.
"Beatles", "No, No, No", "the Watch", "Summertime", and "Sun" all failed to emerge on the stage.
In short the absolutely only thing flawed about this show was that it failed to last about 5 more hours, or better yet forever. We would have stayed. Felt like it was just getting started...
April 27, 2004
At the Ghostface show, and they're claiming Rakim got arrested. A set up for the show or truth? I'll know soon enough...
update: according to security, the FBI was waiting for him at the show and grabbed him as he arrived, damn. Hope it's not true...
update2: MTV says it was Suffolk County plainclothes officers doing the arresting.
April 09, 2004
The Sun's Kiss Scrumptious Son, It's Nutritious
So no, this is not a political blog, really. And tone is not always as dark as it is in Iraq. Its springtime and our friend the sun has been hanging around a little. Here is a gift of Ghostface's Sun.
April 02, 2004
March 14, 2004
March 08, 2004
March 04, 2004
A Detail of a Self Portrait, February 2004
March 02, 2004
Swap meets, perfect for the eternal quest for music I have never heard before.
This one was difficult, the homies manning the table where convince they had finally found the man to unload their lonely Linkin Park cd upon. 15 minutes of laughs and miscommunication later I finally walked of with a disc labeled "Huacharacas vol. 1".
Huacharacas? Google spits out a blank, but the music appears to be cumbia from Monterrey, Mexico. Cumbia is music and rhythm of black Columbia, and with unknown history it has taken root in Mexico's northern industrial capital. In 60's Monterrey the rebajada evolved, slowing down the beat via tape machine, a ghostly foreshadowing of the screwed and chopped aesthetic of contemporary Houston hip hop. The full story? Best told in "Cumbia Sobre El Rio".
The music as it hits my ears today? Bass, beautiful bass while the beats shuffle behind. I want to hear it on a sound system, the nervous system would skip a beat with the first swooshing bass kick. But a hour's worth? My ears are not quite ready, I hear only one beat, the variations hidden in a tongue I don't speak.
Those who know though, please reveal...
March 01, 2004
February 26, 2004
February 19, 2004
Grey Tuesday is Tuesday February 24th. Its a coordinated act of civil disobedience to protests EMI actions to shut down the distribution of Danger Mouse's The Grey Album. Abstract Dynamics will of course participate since we actively called for just this sort of action. We urge you to participate as well.
February 16, 2004
Parkour, the Art of the Traceur
source image sampled from kiell.com
One part flaneur, one part breakdancer, skateboarding without the board, kung fu with the city as sparring partner. Parkour is the art of the traceur and it looks and sounds quite beautiful. As an art it was born in France and exists mainly in Europe. But as a practice it must be close to universal, and one wonders how its never been an art before.
While the artistic codes and language of parkour are new, the act is as old as childhood. Leapfrogging over parking meters, hopping fences, running up the walls. The physical appreciation of the urban environment is essential to growing up inside a city. And its almost a shame that we need to invent and art in order to allow adults to share the appreciation.
There have been countless times walking down the street where I've been ready to start jumping on ledges and leaping over the hydrants. Sometimes I do, but at other times the oppression of culture overrides. Its not exactly a seemly thing to do is it? God forbid adults actually have fun in the streets... The traceurs appear to sometimes come in conflict with the law, much like their predecessors in urban reterritorialization, skateboaders and graffiti writers. But while the authorities might not realize it, these are the set of people that the future immune system for the urban infrastructure will evolve.
February 11, 2004
To Everyone Coming Here Looking for Danger Mouse's The Grey Album
So my site traffic is breaking all sorts of personal records today, and a large number of those visitors seem to be looking for Danger Mouse's The Grey Album.
So if that's what you are here for, do yourself a favor and head over to Zero Paid. Once you are there go pick out a file sharing program and start to use it. Within an hour or so you should have the album snug on your computer for your own personal enjoyment.
Of course as you may know using P2P programs current falls in a murky (grey?) legal space. But even if it does eventually get ruled illegal the case for file sharing as an act of civil disobedience just grew a lot stronger as the record industry cracks down on the distribution of The Grey Album.
Up in my comments people are calling this genius, and I'd agree that its at least really f'in good. There is no denying the creativity and talent that went into creating this album. But it's illegal to buy or sell and some lawyers would argue its illegal to trade as well.
That breaks the reality down hear into close to a binary. Either this piece of creativity disappears from the soundwaves, or it lives on due to file trading and bootleg cd distribution networks. So fire up your P2P programs friends, the music industry has just made it clearer then ever that the current copyright laws are about protecting profits not encouraging creativity. This is developing into war, industry lawyers and certain old school record execs vs. new school musicians and the fans. I know which side I'm on.
And yeah, donate to the Creative Commons if you've got the bankroll.
Update: Illegal Art is now hosting a downloadable version of the album, holla!
February 09, 2004
February 05, 2004
Damn Aldous, Never Knew You Could Get So Nasty
Never realized just how much snark Aldous Huxley could throw. Peep this paragraph from the out of print Beyond the Mexique Bay. Devastating.
Prostitution and the sale of curios and antiques seem to be the staple industries of the is very depressing city. And since sailors can't afford to be too particular, the first industry is, only too often, merely a branch of the second.
Ouch. Not going to name the unfortunate city...
February 02, 2004
The Grey Album
Danger Mouse's The Grey Album. Jay-Z's Black Album remixed with beat created from the Beatle's White Album. A gimmick no doubt, but a surprisingly good one. Most of the weaker album tracks actually sound significantly better on the Danger Mouse version and his alternatives to the original bananas beats of "My First Song" and "99 Problems" hold up surprisingly well. Only "Dirt Off Your Sholders" comes off as significantly weaker, proving once again no one can fuck with Timbaland...
Does Jay-Z voice make all beats sound better? I always thought he just had impeccable taste in beats, now I'm not sure.
How criminal is it that Beatles samples are illegal under copyright law?
Do these samples sound so hot cause its the Beatles, or is there a massive world of untapped rock samples... Paging Kayne West, please step to the rock section and get busy...
And yeah, on the subject don't miss Ghostface Killah's "Beatles" mixtape jam, which apparently is now renamed "My Guitar".
January 28, 2004
I never quite understood why all my fellow New Yorkers stay in while its snowing out. The act of snowing is by far the best thing about this snow thing, at least in an urban space. Turns the city into this beautiful pure space. Seas of white, and washed out shapes shifting through the periphery. And best of all you can enjoy New York City with out all these beautiful people blocking your view...
The real time to honker down and stay in front of your fire/TV or whatever is when it slushy out. Slush is the worst weather condition ever, makes crossing every street a logistical challenge. Its like the city needs to beat the snow into submission and the result is a cold dark puddle of nasty on every corner. Stay away, its movies and food delivery time.
But when the snow actual falls, when its actually white. Time to head outside and enjoy it for once, this is as close to natural beauty as NY will ever get...
January 19, 2004
The History of Music Has Officially Ended
There is no need for anything new. We can all dedicate the rest of our lives to The Rough Guide to . . . There is enough in there to keep us musically happy for the next 50 years. By that time there might actually be a better bulletin board thread to read. For those with slightly less time I've compiled a Rough Guide to the Rough Guide thread. Well the first half of it anyway, too much in there...
Rough Guide To Baggy
Rough Guide To Bootlegs
The Rough Guide to New Orleans Brass Bands
The Rough Guide to Harpsichord Pop
Rough Guide to Screwston
Rough Guide to Italo-Disco
The Rough Guide to the 37th President of the United States of America
The Rough Guide to 20th Century Popular American Music
The Rough Guide to the Nintendo Entertainment System
The Rough Guide to Vocoders
The Rough Guide to DJ Premier
Rough Guide to The Dream is Over
Rough Guide to "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You"
The Rough-n-Tumble Guide to Steve Albini, Engineer:
The Rough Guide to '40s R&B
Rough Guide To Ohhhh Yeeeeessssss!: Ultimate Dance Breakdown/Build-Ups
Rough Guide to Sonic Youth Kissing Their Idols
Rough Guide To Timbaland
The Rough Guide to Allen Toussaint
Rough Guide To Thatcherism: An Indie Response
If I Put This Animation on the Front Page My Bandwidth Would Blow Up But Watch it Anyway
don't steal bandwidth, you will regret it.
January 17, 2004
January 09, 2004
January 07, 2004
December 30, 2003
Constantin Boym - Missing Monuments and Beyond
Constantin Boym is the man behind the subtly ironic Missing Monuments and Buildings of Disaster architectural models. If you are ever in need of beautifully cast monuments to the OJ car chase or the Unibomber's cabin, is your man.
has a bit of spirit in him. Both men where born in Eastern Europe and but built their careers in America. Perhaps their brand of humorous and clever commentary on Western culture can only be born behind the iron curtain? Who knows? It'd probably be unfair to attribute the unevenness of both men's work to their birthplaces. Neither is a virtuoso designer, but when work is both smart and funny perfect there is wiggle room on the execution.
Boym might also be the missing link between the early 80's Memphis design movement and the rising Brooklyn industrial aesthetic of the now. Works like his Salvation Ceramics and American Plumbing vases, place him slightly ahead of the pack as designers increasing plunder the cheap and overlooked for inspiration, while mixing in a touch of humor to hold it all together.
December 29, 2003
lego skyscrapers, impressive, and in many ways better then the real thing...
Really wanted to include a link to a designer who make small cast metal models of incomplete monuments, but I completely forgot his name. Google completely failed to compensate for my memory. Anyone know what I'm talking about? Please let me know.
[via No Sense of Place]
December 28, 2003
December 27, 2003
I've always enjoyed being schooled in music by taxi drivers, but damn, Greg Allen truly has the technique down.
December 19, 2003
The Year in Music
Sasha Frere-Jones, Keith Harris, and Rob Sheffield do a far better job wrapping things up in music then I ever could.
What got left out was that 2003 was the year that the music cd finally died. In fact if it weren't for the extreme generosity of the forementioned Mr Frere-Jones, I don't think I would have touched a proper CD all year. A couple DJ mixes on CD-R and that's it. Ce la vie that's the end friend, my wallet is glad to see you go. Course the final nail got driven by the iTunes Music Store, which isn't too kindest on the bank balances either...
In any case its top songs as albums are pretty much meaningless. More on the death of the long player soon btw.
Bit of a lopsided list. 2003 year also market the year I stopped being able to get obsessive over the tunes.
Beyonce - In The Club (bootleg remix)
Jaheim - Put that Woman First
David Banner - Cadillacs on 22s
R. Kelly - Ignition + Remix
Jay Z - My First Song
Ginuwine - In Those Jeans
Outkast - Bowtie
David Banner - Like a Pimp
Missy - Let Me Fix My Weave
The Rapture - Sister Saviour
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Pin
!!! - Me and Guiliani Down By the School Yard
50 Cent - In the Club
Beyonce - Naughty Girl
Beyonce - Dangerously in Love
Beyonce - Work it Out
Bone Crusher - Never Scared
David Banner - It's Christmas Time
Dizzee Rascal - Fix Up Look Sharp
Golden Boy & Miss Kitten - Rippin Kitten
Ginuwine - Hell Yeah Remix
Jaheim - Diamond in Da Ruff
Jay Z - Dirt of Your Sholders
Jay Z - 99 Problems
Jay Z - La, La, La
Jean Grae - Hater's Anthem
Kelis - Milkshake
Lil Jon - Get Low (remix)
Lil Kim & 50 Cent - Magic Stick
Lil Kim - The Jump Off
Lil Kim - Doing it Way Big
MOP - We Run NY
Nas and Pharell - Nas' Angel... The Flyest
Outkast - Behold a Lady
Outkast - Pink and Blue
Outkast - A Life in the Day of Andre Benjamin
Outkast - Ghetto Music
Outkast - Last Call
Playgroup - Party Mix
The Rapture - House of Jealous Lovers
The Rapture - Olio
The Rapture - I Need Your Love
The Rapture -The Coming of Spring
The Rapture - Killing
T.Raumschmiere - I'm Not Deaf I'm Ignoring You
T.Raumschmiere - Monstertruckdriver
White Stipes - There's No Home For You Here
White Stipes - Seven Nation Army
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Date With A Night
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Man
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - No No No
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
by Alex Wilkie
December 17, 2003
Screwed and Swisha'd + Crunk Christmas
Looks like the music blogsphere is waking up to the Texas screwed sound. tufluv has a good article on Screw himself (scroll down, the permalink isn't working). Course the best place to get new screwed and chopped sounds is the Swisha House.
Meanwhile on the other side of the south, is easily the best Christmas album ever (if 4 Xmas songs counts as a Xmas album). Can't wait till they play this shit in Starbucks... I give them maybe 60 years. Wonder how long before the press wakes up to the fact that southern artists like David Banner and Trick Daddy are making some of the most potent political music since Public Enemy?
5 Aesthetics (Linkage: D17)
December 14, 2003
December 11, 2003
Hektor is currently our favorite robot. He spray paints. He is good.
[via IN-duce: DE-duce]
December 06, 2003
Fix Up Correct Sharp
Still not feeling the hype, but "Fix Up Look Sharp" sounds absolutely devastating when played out. Killing me that I can't remember what (obvious?) old school hip hop beat they are redoing on it though.
November 29, 2003
November 24, 2003
November 22, 2003
Juan Zhungur's primitive Christmas decadence at Safe-T-Gallery
Dream So Much 2 was quality all around, but Kenji Hirata stood out strongly. Mean while the post graffiti scene continues to walk the tightrope line between brand generation and art creation. So far so good...
No such worries for Daniel Zeller at Pierogi 2000. More of a threat of his millions of superfine lines inducing vertigo in the viewer as he delicately (and obsessively?) maps a space that oscillates between the aerial topographic and the neural microscopic.
Meanwhile I can't find any images that do any of these pieces visual justice, go view the shows. Also note there is an Artist's Talk for Dream So Much on Wednesday December 3rd at AAAC, 26 Bowery. No word on which artists.
November 21, 2003
Sonata For the Unaware
November 20, 2003
Notes From Something
Either I was missing something important or the Cory Arcangel curated video art at Deitch was truly awful.
Odds of me missing something in that crap are extremely low.
Shame since Mr. Arcangel generally does interesting things.
November 19, 2003
Bruno & Brooke
November 18, 2003
November 17, 2003
Notes from the PFFR/Japanther Show
Japanther actually work better as an aesthetic stance then as actual music. The music however sounds a lot like , which is pretty damn good for a rock band in the now. Punk no dead, it just works hard to look good. And Japanther does it right, stolen pay phone headsets as mics, the drummer's one is taped to his head, while the bassist is missing a string and using a credit card as a pick. The guitars and samples are all on a cheap tapedeck that just rolls. Mix with that good old punk rock energy and its surprisingly effective. Fuck 3 chords, all you need to start a band nowadays is 2 loud noises and a look.
The Art of the Social Network: Mark Lombardi
A fascinating (but sad) article on artist Mark Lombardi. Lombardi's work consisted of hand drawn diagrams of social networks. Fascinating, powerful and certainly a few years ahead of the curve.
[via connected selves]
November 15, 2003
Tupac Resurrection in Peace
It was real tempting to just lead this post "Tupac : Resurrection, tragedy". But that's misleading in the wrong way. Its a damn good movie, and the tragedy is in the story itself, not film. Two thirds of the movie follows Tupac's path through life and fame as a trouble young political leader, truly a son of the Black Panthers. And them bam, Death Row records enters the picture and the dark side wins. Shit, damn, motherfucker. Its depressing.
The flick tries not to drop the blame on Suge Knight, but its the story and we all know it. The bright eyed political insights of Mr. Shakur were always in danger of being seduced by the violent rage of the gangster life. And Knight took him straight from prison into a world that could only emerge from the vicious crossbreeding of Hollywood with organized crime. The result was death, tragedy.
Then of course the big question, resurrection. The movie spends a straight forward 5 minutes on his death. And it spends and hour and a half with Tupac voice narrating as if its the now. It opens with him talking about getting shot, in New York, while panning over scenes from Vegas where he was shot again and killed. The effect of course is to make it seem that he is still alive. Its done well.
And it begs, screams really, the question, did he fake his own death? Its turning into quite a conspiracy theory. And when the movie is called "resurrection" and features a scene where the camera pans over a Christ on the crucifix while Tupac talks about the 5 bullets that hit him, the rumors sure aren't going to stop. Me? Well if he really comes back its going down as the marketing event of the century...
Until then though, RIP Tupac. And peep the flick, for the politics if nothing else.
November 14, 2003
November 09, 2003
November 05, 2003
November 04, 2003
November 03, 2003
November 01, 2003
October 30, 2003
Jason Salavon is a computer artist of the type. He makes his own software to make the art. His latest takes every Playboy centerfold for each decade and averages the results. Beautiful and abstract, but still data rich in a way.
The picture above is me remixing the 70's.
Word Spread: Mutiny
DJ Spooky and Synchronic Records
in conjunction with Mutiny Sounds Productions
invite you to a special preview screening of:
Mutiny: Asians Storm British Music
Directed by Vivek Bald
Produced by Claire Shanley and Vivek Bald
Featuring: Anjali, Asian Dub Foundation, Black Star Liner, FunDaMental, Hustlers HC, Invasian, Joi, Kaliphz, DJ Ritu, Talvin Singh, State of Bengal.
Sunday November 9
Plus trailers for
by James Spooner
Bombay Eunuch (2001)
by Alexandra Shiva, Sean MacDonald, and Michelle Gucovsky
Doors open at 7:30pm
Screening at 8:00pm
So I'm supposed to spread the word, but I'm not quite sure how far... That's all the info, but you'll need to email for the RSVP address until I find out if I can publish it. And yeah just for clarity, its "Asians" in a UK not US context, meaning Indian and Pakistanis.
October 29, 2003
October 28, 2003
October 26, 2003
Touré interviews Ahmir Thompson aka Questlove, the music man powering , in the Believer. Good shit man. Packed with hip hop knowledge...
Here is Quest on sampling and copyright:
My life's goal is to find a happy medium for sampling to be not only legal but for the right parties to benefit from it. There have to be sampling laws. The survival of hiphop is based on that. Just make it legal and have an actual scaled rate for it. I mean, is wasting some of the best years of his life right now because he's being handicapped because he can't sample. It's way too expensive. The reason why was able to make [filled with great soul samples] is because the motherfucker's got a $2 million recording budget. He could pay for samples like that.
So true on Pete Rock, knew a kid, a beat junkie, who had a spot up in the Bronx that no one knew about. Chock full of samples no one knew about. He'd roll buy and spend whatever he had. One day he goes to the shop and its empty. Owner's like "yeah some guy name Pete Rock came by and bought the whole store". True? Probably. Copyright is hindering a whole genre (or several really), so much music ready to be made if the copyright laws where just loosened up...
Anyway, the interview is hot, skip too it y'all.
October 25, 2003
Notes From the Ghostly Party:
Electronic music didn't die, it just turned into indie rock.
October 24, 2003
Notes From the Output/DFA party:
Roll in sort of early. An absolutely generic electropop band is on, complete with an Aryan
So when did
Downstairs was better. First up good shit I've never heard before, mixed badly (James Murphy?). Rhythmic and textured, need to hear more to describe properly. Then came somewhat familiar stuff, mixed well (
The rest of night was dark and northern European. I think I'll be passing on the Belgium New Beat revival, thank you.
October 23, 2003
Proceed to Explore: Kodwo Eshun
October 18, 2003
October 15, 2003
October 14, 2003
Aspen must have been the Visionaire of its day, except er... it was intelligent, you know with actual writing (by actual hippies no less). But yeah, it was a magazine in a box, with all sorts of goodies inside. Ubuweb has archived all 10 issues of the magazine extensively, enjoy the wander.
October 13, 2003
October 12, 2003
October 11, 2003
Chicago Acid Trax
Don't call it a comeback. Chicago acid house is due in for a retrofit, no? 3 trax. For friend's archival use only of course. Limited time offer. Enjoy!
October 10, 2003
They Asked Me All These Questions
And last year they didn't bother to print any of the answers. This year I'll just put them here.
Btw anyone know when all the magazines shifted to the Jewish calendar? They seem to think the new year starts in October...
BEST MUSIC OF 2003:
cause they seem to be the only ones going forward with this looking backward thing.
Outkast Speakerboxx/The Love Below
P-funk on one side, Prince on the other, 2003 ice cold pimping in a dirty south manner all the fuck over the place.
Best Album To Get Busy To
Beyonce Dangerously in Love to get to the bedroom
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever to Tell to take it to the morning light
Best Music Label:
Soulseek - cause they seem to have everyone, good prices too...
Best Live Event/Festival:
The Rapture live
Best Alternative to Dealing Drugs:
Selling CD-Rs of the Rapture album at their show seven (or more?) months before it finally hits the shops.
Best Club or Venue:
The Hole, cause it was a dirty nasty year.
Best Music Trend:
Disco Punk / Rock n Roll with that dancefloor production, cause it can be live raw and well produced all at the same time. At least if the DFA touch it.
Worst Music Trend:
Motherfuckers sounding like Rod Stewart and shit. Extra bullet holes if they look like him too.
BEST ART, STYLE AND CULTURE OF 2003
Best Graphic Designer
Ryan McGinness cause he actually thinks, a lot.
Best Artist / Pimp / Con man
Best T-shirt Line:
Fruit of the Loom, who else?
Best Media Item (book, movie, DVD):
Manuel DeLanda - Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy - because Delueze is dead but he's still smarter then the rest of us.
Best Video Game
September 12 [ http://www.newsgaming.com/newsgames.htm ] cause video games are powerful
Add your own Best of 2003:
Best Ecstasy Song that No One Realizes is an Ecstasy Song:
David Banner: Like a Pimp
Best Band Name:
Crack We Are Rock
Best way to capture the 80's revival in 5 inches and put it in your pocket:
Playgroup Party Mix
Best Funky Political Punk group everyone should have been listening to instead of the Gang of Four:
Beyonce 'In the Club'
Best Explanation of Why Electronic Music Sucked So Hard This Year:
Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music
Best Cultural Trend:
The Black Bloc, cause politics is hipper then music now and it should be.
October 08, 2003
When I ran into Amit Pitaru a few weeks back at the Phunk Studio opening, he mentioned that he had a new project he was finishing up. As usual Amit is exploring the relationship between drawing and sound in highly innovative ways. This time its built in Java. sonicWireSculptor is up now, enjoy.
The picture below is from me playing with the whip tool, believe me the results are better when Amit uses it.
[thanks due tomoockblog for pointing out that is was up!]
October 05, 2003
Stamen Design got a new site and its tasty. Take some Designer's Republic, a little Yugo Nakamura, mix it into a base of usable Flash content management and add a lot of home grown drawings and photography and maybe you sort of have a sense. Make sure to sample this client work too.
October 04, 2003
Ice Cold Music
Ran into some magazine friends on the way to coffee, doing their little man on the street segment. One of the questions: what is your favorite album of 2003?
Er, um, yeah, um...
damn I actually ended up saying . Are things really like that? Don't get me wrong, the album is hot. But underneath all the dirty south heat and fuzz its also so... ice cold. I can't shake this feeling that Andre isn't really flying the freak flag high, he's just acting the part. And he's not quite sure if he want's to play or play . Compared to this live D'angelo bootleg looked in my Winamp he's just faking the funk, and doing a damn good job. I'll take it for now, but damn...
What else is there, ? too thug. ? too much filler and the two of her best songs are albumless bootlegs (the In the Club cover and Ghostface's Summertime). ? too much of the same thing. ? probably not going to actually come out till 2007, really should have followed their tour selling CD-Rs. ? Same live set that's been on bootlegs for 2 years now. Sure one of the Swisha House CD's captures the skrewed and crunk perfectly, but there are too many to deal with... And no, I will not mention any of that wannabe hip hop out of east London. But captured the year's zeitgeist best, with a bunch of semi-obscure eightie's dance tracks...
3 months left...
October 03, 2003
the photos of Michael Wesely. Some excellent work, hidden inside some of the worst navigation I've ever encountered online.
October 02, 2003
Un Animation Du TechnoHouse Musique
In July 1993 I took a Techno Sound-system to West Africa and made a documentary.
dammmmnnnnn! read the whole jammy, you hear?
The film is available too, although it seems to be served off some 56k line or something. Can't wait to peep.
September 30, 2003
Ancient Earthworks of Eastern North America
Opens Friday, reception 6-8pm
134 Bayard St
Brooklyn NY 11222
September 29, 2003
Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music
Oh shit, this is both hilarious and actually useful. No idea who this Ishkur is but he's knowledgeable enough link up nearly every micro genre of electronic music pretty good accuracy and provide several examples of each. At the same time he's one funny mofo and is clearly taking the piss half the time. Check out "buttrock goa" (it exists!) and then finally hear some rio funk. No comment on the way the site looks though...
[via Move the Crowd]
September 19, 2003
Respect to the Tats Cru
A couple of heads over on Wooster Collective have been showing there ignorance of the Bronx's Tats Cru, so here is a quick schooling.
Tats are a graf crew based out of the South Bronx that have made a successful business out of it. The mural kings. They make a real living out of painting, whether its an auto body shop door, a hip hop mural or a J.Lo. They also give a ton back to the community, from memorial walls to teaching art at the Point. They might not get the art world respect of a Skwirm or Twist, or the design world respect of a Futura 2000 or Kaws, but when you're actually in NY you'll probably see more of their work then anyone. Respect is due.
September 18, 2003
fucking brilliant, best net art I've seen in quite a while. Can't believe I haven't seen it before... Seems to play better with IE unfortunately.
September 14, 2003
The new is now playing. Hot. Buy it or something. Making me rethink my opinion of the Big Boi / Andre 3000 relation. Always looked at Big Boi as a talented but not brilliant MC of a pretty traditional mode who happened to pair up with an other freak in Dre. But clothing lies it seems. The Big Boi CD is fucking off the rigging, while the Dre one is just weird, at least on the first run. If anything The Big Boi is actually more out there then previous Outkast albums, but in direct lineage. Dre's seems to have more to do with the black post-rock styles of . A hell of a lot better though, Chestnutt album is unlistenable in my book, while Dre's shit will be listened to further for sure.
Then there is Summertime remix, oh lord. Got me fiending big time. The Def Jam debut was due last spring, where the hell is it.... Odd bit is the song doesn't seem to be commercially available anywhere, wtf? Heard was mad about the Ghost remix, but ever her version isn't on Amazon...
September 10, 2003
September 09, 2003
So how many music artists have websites that read "coming soon"? Pretty much all I think. Well here are 3 from some rising superstars I ran into over the weekend:
Crack We Are Rock (aka Crack W.A.R.) have the best name and design sense of any young band around.
Mathematics are still blowing up what little remains of the world of drum n bass. Look for main man Roy Dank to start rocking a disco punk style behind the decks though...
Ghettotech legend Disco D is about to start dropping the straight hip hop, keep the late night mix shows pumping loud.
September 03, 2003
September 02, 2003
Never been a huge Mos Def fan, way to inconsistent with too many wack beats. And I'll never forgive him for thinking he could do a show with his Jack Johnson band without ever practicing together. A musical lowpoint of my life...
But when the mofo clicks he hits hard, and that new single "Beef" is straight daaaaammmn. Too hot. Heard an a cappella on the radio, shit, gots to get a hold of that.
September 01, 2003
Noney is a new currency. Each Noney note is a hand drawn, hand printed and hand signed piece of art. Each note can also be traded for things. Like all money, Noney is for people to circulate. The result is a combination of public art, performance art and printmaking.
Each Noney note has the same denomination: zero. This doesn't mean each note has no value... just relative value. There's no fixed exchange rate or area of operation. Noney's worth as both art and currency is something to negotiate through each individual transaction - anywhere.
August 30, 2003
August 29, 2003
August 28, 2003
Discovered Move the Crowd through my logs. Damn, nice to see someone is this weblog space likes hip hop. And if someone listing the22 Greatest MCs I'm going to join the fun, as Slick Rick said, here we go:
Few notes on the unconventional and the top.
takes it cause of staying power, a year back I'd say but still blows up a room like no other. What kills me though, was that it was his second single and first hit and he's speaking like he's already made it. Retarded confidence. Peep any freestyle footage you can get, absurd shit.
needs no explanation. is the personal fav, probably deserves that 3 spot, but whatever this is my list. Plus is still ripping it, but then maybe is too...
and round out the god level. The rest are ill, but not immortal. makes it on the strength of one song only, is an absolute classic, never pauses, flows in and out of the choruses seemlessly, flawless. gets no respect what's up with that, didn't get mentioned once in the Move the Crowd list or discussion. is crazy underrated too, same with and . I'm from NY I'll admit the South reps hard.
and get the NY battle kings award. "I'm like Bevis I get nothing but head"... especially is criminally underrated, while gets mad respect in certain limited circles. Aight gots to cut this off I got work to do.
August 26, 2003
Retro + Soul = Techno?
Shit I'll say it, maybe I already did, but somehow the best album of the year so far is . I was thinking that before I notice the hidden gem "Work it Out". On casual listen I must have marked it as quality filler, a Houston girl paying homage to . What I didn't notice though was underneath retro beltings was a slamming track.
Well actually its a beat, yeah another beat, but it may as well be . An angular soul guitar looped with minimalist precision, so fucking tight. And Be cuts lose like she feels pain like Mary J, damn so hot. Can someone hook up with a real singer please?
August 24, 2003
Its been a long time coming and its so close I smell it. Creative doldrums have dominated the past few years in music and style. These are dark economic times and creativity has been nursing a major hangover after partying like 1999 for most of a decade. But I see buds breaking, rhizomes reemerging above the ground. A new mutant aesthetic is on its rise. Imagine it as a building. It has history, 100 years back it was a tenement. 2 years ago it was crumbling husk of shattered brick wall. Weeds growing everywhere, graffiti covering all smooth surfaces. Today you enter through a side door, black painted steel covered in tags, stickers and stencil. You are in the back, you are in a garden. Bamboo shoots and white orchids. A small stream wanders through. The walls are covered with the original graf, throw-ups mixed with fantastic wild style pieces. You turn and head up the stairs, clear plastic meets plate glass, you are back in a dream of the future. Hi tech form and function. You reach the landing and pause, the wall is a shifting plastic, the latest of tech you presume. But the door is almost floating in it. The doorway has moldings, left over from a past life perhaps? Layers of paint are peeling of the door like a beach shack, the knob is dented copper.
You enter to a space of pure light, projections dance around you all walls, floors and ceiling, this is pure information transformed in pure beauty. Needless to say the sound system is slamming. Your eyes shift to the corner, an space between the walls you missed on the first scan, you head into it. Another staircase, heading up. The walls are covered with drawings, their are hundreds of stories on these walls, dozens of artists intertwined as they tell their tales. Perhaps you spend years deciphering them, but more likely you reach the landing and a door slides upon for you. Now the floors are hardwood. Large windows cut into exposed brick on three walls give you a view back into the street, you are still in your city. The back wall is bookshelves, the collection is of course flawless, there are comfortable chairs, you'll need to return to read. Display cases filled with scientific curiosities are scattered through the space, their is much to learn. But first you push forward rooms splattered with paint, rooms that make you think you are pac man, a fireplace someplace, a rec room, low ceilings for intimacy, high ceilings to uplift the soul. Intricate carvings contrasted with minimal simplicity. This is a meshwork, a space of cross breeding. At first perhaps you attempt to localize everything, give it a name, a place, a time. But this doesn't last long, the handcrafted weaves back and forth with the digital, the historical melds seamlessly with the hi tech.
Who created this space, a graf artist? media mogul? perhaps a woodworker, but then maybe it was a plastics designer. You look for the cracks separating the spaces, and they are not there. There must be a point where one craftsman transitions to another, but you can not put your finger on it. Could it be that this space was not created but grew instead? I suppose that means its still growing.
Sort of sad that Simon Reynolds is talking about nadirs so much lately, cause its looking increasingly like the best music critic of the 90's is dangerously close to his own nadir. ? please Simon, how long before you realize that the British just can't make hip hop. Like all British hip hop the beats are solid. And like the best of the bunch the content of the lyrics is pretty intelligent. But fuck he could have wrote a book or something cause it ain't hip hop unless the shit flows. And Rascal's flow is about as forced as the case for the invasion of Iraq...
Now lets get to the irony. Not sure what's up with Mr. Reynolds, but he claims not know whether is hip hop's nadir or the start of something entirely new. Truth is its a manifestation of something Reynolds predicted a few years back in more astute times, black American ecstasy music. A song of pure E stabs, makes my skin tingle just listening to it. Who needs a groove when the beat keeps lifting that E higher and higher? goes one better with an E rushing voice, who needs Mentasm when you can just use your lungs?
I'm beginning to think much of the British Rave Explosion E was laced with major amounts of speed. Would certainly explain the constantly escalating BPMs of the early 90's. Its not a property of the E at all, and the dirty south is showing just how effective the slowed down E sound can be. Finally, been waiting for this music for a while now. This is the sound of ecstasy plus soul, lets hear it multiply.
One last thought, could it be that Timbaland, in all his genius, might have actually slowed down this development? Don't think he actually eats the pills, but his excellent ear has been offering up audio close enough for the crowd. Fake black ecstasy for the club. And being on top of his game and commercial gold equals soundwave domination. But now the homegrown producers have found the space to emerge; the real black ecstasy sound is stepping forth. Tellingly their models seem to be DJ Screw and Manny Fresh, not Timbaland and Dre. This is music for the mixtape economy not the major label economy.
August 20, 2003
August 16, 2003
antics and gang rape
hallucinations & antics . tobias c. van Veen .. ./ /. . ./ .. /. /. /. . .. . ./ ./ . /. .. . .. / /. has been playing fast and loose with its text size and now has the best looking weblog around.
On a more serious note tobias also brings ill news: 'Polish artist DOROTA NIEZNALSKA was sentenced to 6 months of confinement in her community for "violence to religious feelings."'
Among the suggested punishments *GANG RAPE*. An ill world indeed. Damn.
August 10, 2003
Ragga Fashion + Dance
Check the videos, wish their was more. Good intro though.
August 01, 2003
July 31, 2003
good piece covering the quite small (as far as I can tell) music journalism blogsphere. I would really like the see this realm grow, but I have to say I'm really frustrated with the lack of RSS feeds in this world. Makes it damn hard to keep up with a weblog if they don't have a feed. Perhaps if the pioneers had feeds things might grow a bit faster?
So I'm making an offer to anyone currently music weblogging without an RSS feed or who would like to start one, I'll set you up with a free moveable type site on my server. Ad free and what not. Only caveat (for tech reasons) is that it needs to be on one of my current domains, preferably stateofemergence.com. Oh and of course you'll need to convince me that you have reasonably good taste in music. But I'm open. Just shoot an email to me if you are interested. Feel free to spread the word. Over is open ended until I decide to stop it.
July 28, 2003
Barnstormers Bass Storm
So I was lucky enough to be at the Barnstormers warehouse as they fired up their latest piece(s). A massive sound system of hand built and hand painted speakers. A calm barbeque transformed into a just won the world series style celebration as the hundreds of speakers all pumped noise together for the first time. A premium moment for sure.
The piece itself is fucking out of control. The post graffiti art world seems to be overrun with gimmick group shows lately, paint a gas tank, paint an Eames chair, paint some adidas. This is not a gimmick. The sound system is real, the speakers work and its seriously impressive visually. 20 artists I think. Don't want to show too much, you need to see this for yourself. The show opens in North Carolina the end of this week. NY in the fall, and hopefully the Punch Gallery in SF in the spring.
And yeah, some Barnstormers history can be found here.
July 20, 2003
Flags (DJ Spooky Tour Visuals)
47 [for this project just me and [sic]] is finishing up some new DJ Spooky, if you catch him on tour, keep your eyes open for them. The new ones are all about deterritorializing flags. Not sure if they'll be any web release or not.
July 08, 2003
more too on the "vicious speed of the blogworld".
With the introduction of AOL, I think we're going to see... well: let's think. While maybe this will spurn the same online energy that propelled the "everybody should have a homepage era" (which led to such increased dot-com speculation, for one thing), I also think the speed at which the massive accumulation of blogs will slow down the whole operation will be increased. Thus the entire blog phenomenon will crash & burn much faster than even the dot-bomb. Which is too bad--because for years I've been toiling away on the Net without feeling much response anymore. Netnumbness. Mailing lists are still the best bet, but "online communities" like Rhizome.org have failed to create a cohesive connectability--in part because the digerati have been somewhat resistant to such attempts (perhaps the bitterness over previous online communal failures still rings to close). But blogging is reversing that trend. In only just under two weeks of getting my feet wet in the blogworld, the response has been exponential. I guess the responsibility now lies on me to keep up with the pace.
And yes its true the blogsphere does seem to reward the frequent posters (hence the success of the odious Instapundit). But quality gets rewarded far more. Like in music, "faster!, faster!" can only go so far before some slows it down and concentrates on making it good. One quality post a week should keep any blog alive.
As for AOL introducing blogs. Gets a shrug from me. Don't think it will change a thing. Its another isolated live journal world. Blogs will outlast most failed online communities because they don't try and be communities. All it takes is one person to make a blog. More then that though, blogs allow for a far greater degree of subtly and nuance to develop then say mailing lists or bulletin boards. That's why you don't see the rapid acceleration of disagreements into shouting matches that plagues email lists. Well its part of the reason.
and yeah, reading tobias' site has got me back to listening to electronic music for the first time in months. An old mix of his from 2000 fills my headphones right now, premium techno styles. [warning RealAudio].
Also in rotation, a downtempo mix from by an old friend dijon. The problem with many ambient mixes is they try really hard to sound like they were recorded on a train following the silk road. Dijon's mix actually was done on his laptop as he crossed China, a far better proposition.
Finally to make it three, is quite possibly my favorite mix of all time. I usually not one for smooth, but this one I can taste in my mouth, sublime.
July 01, 2003
June 30, 2003
I'll Trade you Two Pinochets for One Franco
Remember the Friendly Dictators? Well America want's you to forget them. But way back in the day (1990) one of my favorite comic artists illustrated a set of Friendly Dictator trading cards. Beautiful in that twisted dictator sort of way. Not sure if I used to own them, or just got to rub my grubby hands on them at some point, but they seem subtly pertinent in this day and age. How? Well, now we don't need to hire freelance friendly dictators in other countries, we just keep them in house. You know, the white one... Anyway enjoy em you sick mofos.
[via Social Design Notes]
and since we brought up Franco, lets make it positive by mentioning the other . A true master musician. Hopefully he's remembered far longer by history.
June 26, 2003
Earth to the RIAA
June 24, 2003
On the Web Art Roll...
June 23, 2003
Insert Silence (latest version)
InsertSilence 2003 not sure how long this beauty from Amit Pitaru and James Paterson has been up, but its as sublimely beautiful as the rest of their work. So nice to be diving back into the design world a bit.
A Firebird Began
June 21, 2003
The Evolving Front Door
(no I didn't put my name there, although I may be guilty of a layer or two...)
Breakdancing with Scissors in Your Pocket
Just got back from my friend Brion Nuda Rosch's opening. He's one of the most talented young artists in the bay area, watch out for his work. A touch of Basquiat post graffiti , a bit of superflat and ton of originality.
Show is at Mimi Barr, 3153 16th St in San Francisco and it runs till August 20th.
Look out for a big group show (I Dart SF) on July 12th as well, Brion is in it, and its co-produced by Oliver Halsman Rosenberg, another talented young painter on the rise.
June 13, 2003
Dali v. Disney
...two bizarre figures, humanoid heads deformed by "persuasive and triumphant madness" dali quotemounted upon the backs of tortoises. As they converge, the space between them takes on the shape of a bell that turns into a ballerina. In the last moment, her head abruptly becomes a baseball that disappears into the bleak, mountainous Catalonian landscape.
This 53-year-old snippet of nitrate film is all that remains from a forgotten animation project called Destino, a curious collaboration between Salvador Dali and Walt Disney that was never completed.
...As for the plot, it varied considerably, depending on which of the two men was doing the telling. "A magical exposition of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time," Dali expounded in his own publication, "Dali News."
"Just a simple story about a young girl in search of true love," Disney modestly described it.
[via the excellent fUSION Anaomalog]
Hacking the Art World
Bunch of art links:
and of course:
June 11, 2003
Music Going Backwards Nowhere
Listening to I-F's
Mixed Up In the Hague vol 1 right now. Strange as it may seem 3 years ago this exploration of obscure 80's electro seemed fresh and new. It predated the electrocrash fad by a year and change. What's scary is that its better then anything the electroclash movement has produced, including any dj set I've heard. And it a movement can't make a single moment as good as its immediate predecessors something is wrong. Are all the young musical punks really choosing the Black Bloc over music?
June 10, 2003
Break For the New Music (Critics)
Sometime in the past year or so my favorite music critic Simon Reynolds has gotten miswired and now somehow thinks UK Garage is the only music that matters. Perhaps its an overdose of the post 9-11 patriotic air that's got him thinking only of his country? I don't know, hopefully he recovers soon and realizes that UK Garage is a crap imitation of hip hop on a similar level to say greek or russian hip hop. Lets face it every nation in the world has a bunch fools fusing their native music with bad rhymes, and it all sucks universally.
Thankfully we have Sasha Frere-Jones and now he's got a weblog, 2, 3, BREAK. Good stuff although his epic review of the new live Led Zeppelin album has disappeared somehow. Its good shit though, enjoy.
May 25, 2003
Musical Clean Up
Super exciting Saturday night catching up on shit work, got to happen sometimes... Using the opportunity to listen to some albums that have been sitting on my harddrive far too long without being properly listened to. The reviews:
[va] red hot and riot:
The latest in the Red Hot series is a tribute to the late great Fela Kuti. Well tribute is stretching it, more like a pale imitation. Most of it sounds like over produced and smoothed over Fela. A waste of great talent. Like the albums of Fela's son Femi, this would have been much better if it was recorded live. Sounds like the producers spent hours stripping out all the raw soul from the sessions.
[yeah yeah yeahs] fever to tell
Hot, hot, hot. Not sure what's happening to me, along with the White Stripes and the Rapture, this is the third contemporary rock band I actually enjoy. Third in a decade. Had only browsed through this album, yet it sounded intimately familiar. Catchy, yet raw, with real emotion bleeding through the tracks. Good stuff.
Shit I can't imagine how out of control it would be if Manny Fresh actually made a record with a super talented MC. As always his beats shine. And Baby is a decently talented MC, a bit of New Orleans freak shines through in his birdcalls and flow. But like all Cash Money MCs he doesn't have jack shit to say. I have a pretty big tolerance for bling bling and gangsta talk, but how many times can you rhyme about the size of your tires? Yet another collection of 4-5 star Manny Fresh beats marred by 3 star rhymes. There is an Cash Money instrumental album I saw once and have never tracked down since. If you see it grab it quick.
[johnny cash] the essential johnny cash 1955 - 1983 (3 discs)
The name says it all. This is the shit, extra premium.
[ginuwine] the senior
The nastiest. I love this mofo, he's dirtier then both R. Kelly and Prince at least for the moment. Who else has the balls to sing "Is there any more room for me in those jeans"? As always this album is hit or miss. But the hits hit so sweet. Pick hits, Hell Yeah, Get Ready, In Those Jeans, Sex, and the Hell Yeah remix featuring a very drunk R. Kelly.
[lil kim] la bella mafia
Speaking of nasty, Lil Kim is the queen bee of course. And this album has her on some ridiculously raw beats. Hot shit. When it hits of course, like every 16 track hip hop CD there is a lot of filler here.
May 23, 2003
May 21, 2003
For the Design and (abstract) Animation Fans
May 19, 2003
Once Again We Present the Architecture of Tomorrow
Almost missed the NYT Magazine's architecture issue.
May 16, 2003
Crib Notes From the Rapture
The Rapture were designed for stardom from the moment they were named. It just makes great headlines. Tried to actually moblog a post titled "Live from the Rapture" but the software failed. The problem with moblogging is ifs its an experience worth logging then the act of logging it is going to take you out of the experience.
The experience? Yeah, the Rapture put on a damn good show. Start out a bit too close to their indie rock roots for my comfort, but all the soul and funk that the DFA whipped into them shows up soon enough. Are the Rapture here to finally kill rock and roll or are they here to save it by making it danceable again? Give me a year or two to get that answer.
Had way more to say but I think the failed moblogging killed it. Noticed this effect before, if I try to moblog but don't get the fully info into that attempt then its really hard to motivate to re-blog the whole story. Oh well, go see the Rapture. And yeah if you are smart burn a ton of CDs of the album. Its not out till August and most of the crowd did not seem to have heard it. Its pretty strange to be recognize a song and watch a crowd that doesn't btw. Anyway I could have made serious cash selling advance burns of that album to the mass of fans starving for its release. Not that I would ever advocate anything illegal of course, so check with your friendly RIAA rep before proceeding on that plan.
May 07, 2003
Flight Risk: the Blog as Future Fiction
Intriguing. Visited a few times, never been able to dig deep enough into it. I like what I see though. May be real. Probably not.
I'm all for blogs a medium (or part of a medium!) for fiction. Wrote about it a bunch in an altsense thread a while back. Good discussion. My comments are under the name abe1x or a variant thereof.
May 06, 2003
Musical Frictions and Breakthroughs
Is the musical stagnation of the past few years finally about to break?
A hour ago I watched the new Rapture album explode across the network. Its not due to August but in the course of an hour I watched the number of copies available on soulseek go from 0 to 10. Should be permanently available only by tomorrow.
The second listen is just starting, but the first round lived up to the hype. Electroclash and indie rock fused into a form that moves forward rather then looks back. Rock hasn't been so danceable since the Talking Heads. Have the dancefloors finally moved beyond the faceless DJ era? The DJ is here to stay, but lets hope the faceless music is over.
Over on the other side of the dial things are getting interesting too. The rhythmic frenzy of Nas' "Made You Look" is all over the new Lil Kim record. Like nearly all 70 minute CDs its a bit spotted, but when it hits its hot. "The Jump Off" is Timbaland besting himself once more. "Hold It Now" gets raw to the "Paul Revere" beat. "Thug Luv", "Magic Stick", "This is a Warning", hot shit. 50 Cent guests on "Magic Stick" and drops yet another ridiculous pop hook, he'll be reigning hip hop for a while, if he can stay alive...
Finally something really strange seems to be happening on hip hop radio, check Anil Dash and friends on hip hop + bhangra. Gives me hope for some soon to be born musical mutations.
May 05, 2003
Photography of Edward Burtynsky
Big thanks to Anne Galloway for highlighting the photos of Edward Burtynsky. Really nice images from a variety of man made landscapes. Sort of like an inverse of Gursky. All of Burtynsky's work focuses on marginal industrial spaces that few people ever see, while Gursky takes a very similar eye to areas right in the core population areas.
May 04, 2003
Pynchon + 1984 = 2003?
The road to 1984, a Thomas Pynchon introduction to Orwell's suddenly timely classic. ...and while on the subject of newspeak, I'll be posting some thoughts on the first Democratic Presidential Debate in a few.
April 25, 2003
Actually I'm slow on the uptake/disengaged from the graphic design world. Been back for a bit it seems. Nice stuff Jemma. As always. Of course.
April 11, 2003
That Strange Home of Mine
Chris Bishop - Fine Art has a bunch of photos from the last openning at my current (for a day more) home in San Francisco, the Culture Cache Gallery. Yep I get to wake up to all that art. Nope I don't curate the shows (this last one was guest curated by the excellent Jeff Soto). Be there 12-5 tomorrow, Saturday, if you want to check out the show. Packing off for NY right after that. Not sure if or when I'll be living in the gallery again, but its been and interesting experience.
And for those that don't know I'm in the midst of nomadic experiment. When I leave town my life fits in one carry-on bag. Expands to about one closet + one desk when I settle down for more then a week or so. Going on two years living this way. Is it normal? Not in this day and age, but you know what William Gibson said about the future being unevenly distributed...
[via the Reverse Cowgirl]
April 09, 2003
Topic: New Media Art
Channel 'new_media_art' is a new topic at Topic Exchange. Set up by the one Ethan Eismann. Be interesting to see how it develops.
Personally I have some reservations on Topic Exchange. Too impersonal. No editing. People want their information served up in a friendly manner, and the best way to do that is customize the design to the topic. Templates seem to be in the works for Topic Exchange, but I'm not sure that's enough. I think the concept is cool, but it needs to be decentralized so that people can fully customize their topic channels or whatever they will be called. And they need to be able to edit who can post. Otherwise the signal to noise will destroy all topics as soon as the spammers discover the concept. Plus editing equals vastly higher quality.
All coming soon I think, but I'm not sure Topic Exchange will be the enabler.
April 06, 2003
Invade Tile Space
The Space Invader comes from France. Graffiti continues to evolve and this maybe my favorite manifestation. Mosiac tiles as graf. Hot shit. Worldwide.
I'm going to take a wild guess say that at least half the painters and illustrators under 30 in America were involved in graffiti to some extent. I'm sitting in Culture Cache right now, looking at Robots Have Feelings Too. Great show, and the graffiti influence pulses throughout it. It'll pulse even stronger in a few days at the Barnstormers opening at Punch Gallery. Creativity grows on the street.
March 24, 2003
As the World Gets Darker Does the Music Follow?
Dark nasty drum and bass (the kind that made me stop liking the style) seems to be creaping back into the corners of my life. Haven't heard any of that stuff in years. Saturday night found me in a warehouse/squat with a seriously tight intstrumental punk band playing. Reflections of the war? Probably
I'm hoping its short term. I'm hoping music can lead the way, and bring back some hope and positivity to our world. Guess we'll find out soon enough.
March 18, 2003
In Times of War We Need More Art
More art links today, guess its to combat those violent vibes from the Washington to Middle East Axis. Reading this interview with Takashi Murakami you'd have no idea he's a PhD art scholar who runs a Warhol style art factory in Brooklyn, Japan and China and whose work sells for more then any other living artist. Not all that was true when the interview was done of course, but its still a very odd look into a very different world then I know of. I guess Murakami calling himself a failed otaku is a bit like George Soros calling himself a failed philosopher. If you succeed the way they do who cares what you failed at?
Tiffany Bozic may have left San Francisco, but she seems to be gaining some well deserved hype from the design community. Don't think I've linked to her before, watch out cause she's one of the most talented young painters out there.
HiFi, Low Art
March 13, 2003
Drinking Green Art (and Politics)
Had drinks with Sam Bower director of the excellent Green Museum last night. Talked about the way that art movements don't take off unless there is a portion of the establishment that finds the philosophy of the art useful. Modernism for instance was a tool for the US government to push American ideals onto the world after World War II. A artistic complement to the Marshall Plan. The book to read apparently is How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art. Its now on the top of my wish list.
Interesting to see how our new school imperialists in the Bush administration just don't get it. They push with raw power, without understanding that the war can't be won without a cultural victory. Of course winning a cultural war is just as distasteful to me as winning a military one. A cultural marriage on the other hand is quite intriguing. What happens when Islamic and Western culture mix? Could such a cross breed (if allowed to exist) lead us closer to a political movement of unity and peace?
March 11, 2003
Lee Bul Korea artist of note at the moment. Text section doesn't see to work for me though, be interested in knowing more.
March 10, 2003
Back Back Y'all
Saw Wild Style director Charlie Ahearn do a talk with DJ Shadow last night. The occasion, promoting his new book Yes Yes Y'all over at the Punch Gallery (which just happens to also be my office when in SF). An interesting dive into the history of Hip-Hop from an unlikely first hand observer. The show of photos is up at Punch for a while well worth checking out.
The most interesting aspect of the talk was the real sense of the flow of history. Charlie got to see and document hip hop go from an obscure ghetto party style to an international phenomena. Almost more interesting was the way the old school was shoved aside and ignored before the culture matured enough to respect its history. A bit of a dark ages for the originators in the late 80's as the young thoughts claimed their territory.
What really opened my eyes up though was a conversation I had with him the day before where he described the scene in 1973 when he moved to New York City. The world he entered was of long haired tail end hippies, shooting dope while carrying on an anti society stance. A diametrical opposite of the world of hip hop. And no one could have possibly predicted the rise hip hop culture. When Wild Style first played in Germany they thought it was science fiction. A strong reminder of just how quickly the world can change. Wonder where the next hip hop is coming from, can't wait.
March 08, 2003
Bring Back the Ecstasy
Standing in the back of SF's Arrow bar listening to the electroclash/sub 80's retro trash, all I could hope for was the early 90's revival. How much nicer is it to be in a big warehouse with people on E instead of a dark cramped club filled with cokeheads? tobias c. van Veen captures it better with warehouse . space : rave culture, selling-out, and sonic revolution.
And on a related tip, I've always wondered what fashion subgenre will magnified into a 90's revival? Candy raver brightness, grunge grime, Prada minimalism? The funniest I think would have to be guido take on the minimal, what a fitting way to piss on modernism...
March 06, 2003
Paint Fast, Young Revolution
March 05, 2003
DATA DIARIES is a trip through the real cyberspace. Raw data turned into raw visualization. Information has never looked so good.
February 28, 2003
Mix it Back to the Street
MTV isn't a name usually associated with good journalism but Mixtapes: The Other Music Industry is damn good piece. In the attention based economy music is advertising. As in a song is an advertisement for the artist. And as usual the streets understand first. Wish they got deeper into the shady economics of bootleg distribution. Black market economics, anyone know of a good study or book?
February 23, 2003
The new White Stripes album, Elephant is loose on the web. What can I say, they are the only brilliant rock and roll artist out there making new music.
First time I heard them was in the Verb cafe in Williamsburg. "Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)". It was almost a shock, first time in years I heard a new rock song I wanted (needed) to know more about. Thought that change was in the air, rock was not dead. Wrong. The White Stripes are rocks last gasp of brilliance, they blow away the rest of the competition by 20 years. And the new album is as good the previous ones. The cleverist lyrics, the masterful electric guitar, no bass. Stripped down raw rock. They mix it up a touch on this one, piano and an occasional bassline. But the essence is the same. "There's No Home For You Here" is the early favorite.
Of course you can't buy it in any stores for more then a month, and thats with a new pushed up release date. The record labels minds must be rotting even further. I couldn't buy this thing if I tried, file sharing is my only recourse. Perhaps the labels are begging us to kill them and put them out of their suffering. Its one thing to have a competitor with better prices and a quicker delivery system, but when the same competitor is beating you to the market by 2 months you know you are in trouble.
February 20, 2003
What's Going On???
A year and change ago an all star cover of Marvin Gaye's classic What's Going On was released. It featured the biggest names in American pop music, Britney Spears, Ja Rule, Jennifer Lopez, Nelly, Christena Aguilera, etc, etc. Huge stars. Lots of them. All to benifit an AIDS charity. How often have you heard it on the radio?
Marvin's masterpiece happens to be one of the best antiwar songs ever made. "You see war is not the answer / For only love can conquer hate" (sung by the Backstreet Boys in the new version). Is that too risky of a message be played on the radio? The song peaked at #27 on the Billboard charts. Not awful, but at the same time completely out of line with where a record like that could go if marketed correctly and given proper airplay? Guess the music execs are just too busy whining about file sharing and avoiding thinking of new business models to stand up and properly market what they've got.
February 13, 2003
Pazz & Jop 2002 is out. Damn what a bad year for music. Singles list is ok though. 2003 has to be better, 50 cent maybe over hyped but his album is still better then almost anything to drop in 2002...
February 10, 2003
Street Art Salvation
Wooster Collective is a great NYC street art blog, well worth a visit (daily?). No 47 stickers up there yet though...
February 06, 2003
One Step Closer to New World Trade Order
So the contest is down to two. Two plans left for the rebuilding of the world trade center site. Libeskind vs. THINK. Herbert Muschamp puts for a forceful argument for THINK in the NYT. The core of his argument? That Libeskind's design is violent and hawkish. An argument that I've seen put forth a few times. And an argument that completely mistifies me.
Just how can a building, a static object (on a landscape scale), is not a weapon of war. The thing doesn't move, its got a vertical garden growing in it, how is it violent? Edgy and sharp, yes. But to compare a building to armed combat means taking architecture a bit too seriously. A skyscraper is an environment, not an action.
I'm not a huge fan of Libeskind's proposal, but its certainly not an attrocious act of war the way Muschamp wants to frame it. It's sharp, with a crystalline beauty. Its main flaw to me is the sunken monument, which cuts much of the structure off from the street. It is dark and overwealmed by the weight of concrete, a sharp contrast to the lightness of the thin tower above it.
A far better binary between Libeskind and THINK's projects is inner vs outer beauty. Libeskind is all about looking good in reality. THINK's beauty is conceptual. Its a beautiful theory of a building. A dream of a structure. You can play with it in your head endless, reshaping it into wonderous configurations. With Libeskind you get what you see. Sounds a bit shallow, except when you factor in that wonderous concept of reality. Theory like THINK's building rarely translates well into the real world of concrete, steel and glass.
It is reality that makes this binary different then the classic "style vs. substance". Libeskind has the style, but it also has the physical substance. This a building that can be built sucessfully. I will look similar to its final plans. THINK's theory is strong, but can it be built right? My bet is no? Not after the government, contractors, leaseholders and taxpayers are through with it. Yes if the dice fall perfectly, repeatedly, it could be fantastic. But I think reality will show us its a lot more fun to talk about the concept then actually create and live with it.
February 03, 2003
As the Musical Oil Runs Dry...
Bruce Sterling does one of his classic dissections of the news for his Viridian pseudo cult/ mailing list. This time its a Fortune article on how oil has actually ruined Venezuela. Apparently discovering a large abundance of a valuable natural resource actually tends to harm countries economies in the long run. When one product is producing all the wealth the net result is that proper economic development is ignored as everyone takes the path of easy money.
Why work hard developing a strong product when you can just siphon off some of the massive cash flow from the oil wells? Its the classic putting all your eggs in one basket deal. And history shows it to be a path towards failure. Venezuela is just the latest example. Saudi Arabia could be next...
Even more interesting to me though is the parallels it draws with the music industry. For the past 50 years or so record labels have been making all their money from one resource: their control over the distribution of records and cds. What gets overlooked is the fact that the record labels are basically running a handful of business, only one of which, distribution, directly makes money.
The first business the labels are in is filtering, or as they call it A&R. There are thousands upon thousands of musicians out there. Many of them just plain suck. Most are decent but nothing special. A few are amazing, the ones that make you cry, the ones that write songs that get you through lifes worst moments, the ones that make the party go out of control. The labels are out there looking for those artists. They don't bat 1000 that's for sure, but they do a much better job then many give them credit for. You certainly don't have the time to listen to every band in the country do you?
Business #1 = filtering
Once the A&R cats have found the talent, the next step is artist development. This involves two businesses in itself. One is providing a unique form of high risk loan, in the form of an advance on royalties. These advances are often criticized because of the way they can be used to manipulate artists. And they often are misleading and exploitative. But what is forgotten is just how risky these advances are. Would you lend a band $400,000 to record an album, higher stylists and party like rap stars? And in the off chance you would lend that money, would you agree that they only need to pay you back if they produce a hit record? If you were stupid or bold enough to lend that money, odds are your terms would be pretty exploitive too...
Business #2 = high risk loans for artists
The other side of artist development is management. Guiding the band to making good decisions, writing good music and winning fans. This role is usually played by a person or group outside of the record label. Too much work for the lazy mofos high off of cd sales... But the labels do manage to a degree, helping pick producers, studios, music videos, etc. And they are in pole position to do more.
Business #3 = artist management
Once the artists are developed enough (maybe) its time to present them to the public. Here is where the labels excel. Marketing. Lifestyle manufacture. Selling the concept. Inside any record label is a world class marketing company. One that could charge big time dollars for their services. They sell artists, trends and fashions to the world. And are damn good at it. And they don't charge for it. Instead they take their cash from the CD sales. How nice. Worked great for decades. But now its just retarded. CD sales are going to hit 0 in the next 10 years. But the demand for high quality lifestyle marketing is just going to increase. This is the record industries parachute, perhaps they'll wake up soon enough to use it...
Business # 4 = marketing
The final stage of record industries current business model is the selling of physical product, at the present CDs. It's been enormously profitable for years. But it only worked because it required an extensive and expensive manufacturing and distribution network. And that network is no longer needed. MP3's and internet have made the whole process practically frictionless, and free. It costs $0 to make a copy of an MP3, and to try and make money selling a product that costs nothing is plain idiotic. That doesn't seem to stop the record industry... The distribution business is over. Dead. But the music industry is not. They have skills that are in demand.
Its time the record companies wake up and reformulate their business plans. The MP3 is the start of a new era, a new way of making music. And there is plenty of money to be made. The longer the current market leaders cling to their old ways the closer they get to death. They can make money in the new system or die in the old. Some one will step up and take their place. Get rich or die trying to cling to old traditions. Which do you prefer? There is a future to build, I know which way I'm heading.
January 31, 2003
The Twenty Two Towers
So the finalists for the new World Trade Center plan get picked some time next week. Time to pitch my 50 cents.
Gawker sums up the popular opinion the best:
"The Leftists love Libeskind; the Artists want THINK. From SUVs to bank accounts, bigger is better for the Wall Streeters, so they're going with the Foster Plan. The structural engineers like United because it works mathematically and confuses the hell out of everyone else, and we're not sure anyone likes Peterson/Littenberg."
Libeskind has emerged as the favorite horse. Its not much of a surprise. His ideas translate to paper and web the best. His design is indeed striking, and bold. And he wrote up his thoughts the best. Perfect for a newspaper pitch. He was my first favorite, but seeing the models and plans up close changed that. There is a gloominess to his work. His sunken memorial looks like a pit of dispair, hidden from the street, surrounded by concrete. Correct me if I'm wrong but he's from Berlin, no? And I'm not so sure NY needs some Berlin style concrete oppresiveness. Not that I've ever been to Berlin...
THINK, are true to there name. Their design works best as a concept. Its fun to play with in the mind. Its open, its flexible, its creative. A perfect thought experiment. Two towers as an open framework in which various structures can be built. An architects wet dream.
But how good is open in architecture? On a work place level its great, as Stewart Brand has argued well. But on a building level. Already the THINK plan suffers by letting team members other then Shiguru Ban design structures in the towers. Whose CAD program took a dump up on the 80th floor? Sure computers make it easy to make turd shapes, but do we really need to build them? Guess its better then the potential reality of the THINK plan, an open framework filled with structures designed by the Board of Ed, cheap real estate developers and the city government. It won't be too artistic then...
Foster's design suffers from the opposite, its too well thought out. Too rational, too well designed, makes to much sense. In other words its so boring you'd think he was Dutch. You know the people who made sex and drugs a bland part of the urban fabric. It gets a royal yawn, although it probably get the least complaints from the future tenents...
My suggestion, skip all this WTC crap and spend the money on Gehry's Guggenhiem Downtown. A brilliant surrealist example of what happens when a CAD program gives birth to a love child with an alien graffiti writer. In other words a whole world better then the shit Gehry's imitators pump out. And a true masterwork for Manhattan's downtown.
24 Hour Subway People
1/9 uptown 2am Just saw 24 hour party people. Great flick, gives me hope. Hope that creative vision (madness?) can exist on a large scale. That it moves beyond the individual and the small group and into society. Hope that creativity can be manifested in economic structures, in firms, corporations and governments.
Of course I shouldn't need a movie to that. Our current US government is infested by a creative energy of the worst sort. Bloodthirsty oil men and military officers high off power, partying with war like its 1999. But for every evil there is at least potential for good. These are troubled times, but perhaps they will birth a positive reaction...
January 27, 2003
Soundtracks from Future Marketing Campaigns
At 01:59 PM 1/27/2003, someone on the Pho list wrote:
"With the dismantling of the big labels, will people still be as interested in music? Why should they? If the demand was engineered as part of a 'lifestyle' on sale, what happens when there's no longer someone to engineer it?"
Well its painfully obvious that the music isn't going disappear anytime soon. Maybe all the dirty details haven't been finalized, but musicians will be doing just fine without the labels. There will always be a supply and demand for music, it core to human nature. That's been discussed ad nauseam. What hasn't really been discussed is the opposite, the fact that if cd sales went to zero tomorrow, there would still be a tremendous demand for "lifestyle". And who better to supply that demand then major label marketing departments?
If this were the 80's the majors would prime targets for a leveraged buyout. A hostile takeover of struggling companies by businessmen who realize that the parts are worth more then the whole. The car might only be worth $1,000 but the engine is worth $800, the wheels and tires $200 and the steel frame $200. Record labels as tools for making that dying technology called Cds? They ain't worth too much. But their marketing departments as tools for manufacturing lifestyle. That's commercial gold. And those A+R departments for filtering talent are worth at least a few bucks too. Course the labels themselves are so hung up on monetizing their assets by monopolizing distribution that they can't figure it out for themselves. And if they can't figure it out they'll be bankrupt soon enough...
How much are you willing to bet that Britney Spears made a large amount of money even without her revenue from CD sales. Between the tour, the merchandise and those Pepsi ads we are talking big time dollars. I'd take that sort of cash any day. And while she might have been constructed with record sales in mind, her counterpart 5 years down the line will be built by other means. And make no mistake there will be a new Britney Spears in 5 years or so. The Pepsi's of the world demand it, and they'll pay for it. The harder it is to make a new teen star the more they'll pay to be associated with the one that emerges. Supply and demand, real basic.
The Skateboarding industry offers a telling example of what might come. Skateboarders are giving away their "music" for free already. Doesn't cost a dime to watch the pros execute tricks down at the Brooklyn Banks in NY, 3rd and Army in SF or the local skate park. They don't get paid to do interviews in the skate mags or appear in skate videos. But they get paid to where brand X shoes, brand Y shirts and ride brand Z boards with brand whatever trucks. And if they are good they get their own board a then the all stars get their own shoes. Sponsorship through and through. And the skate kids eat it up.
This is lifestyle marketing at it essence. Different teams have different styles. Hesher, punk, pure athlete, hip hop, etc. You don't get sponsored unless you have a marketable style. You need enough raw skills to fake it, but pure skills will only get you as far as Joe Satriani, pure niche market stuff. But cop a fresh attitude, a new twist in the style department, say the right things in the interviews and pull off some decent handrails and you have a money machine. A kid who sells mad product, skates a bit and parties like rock stars used to. Its a formula dying to sold back to music industry, and I'll bet good money it will be...
The hip hop artists are halfway there already. Mixtapes and bootlegs are seen as promotional materials, just as MP3s will soon be. And can you name a major rap star without their own clothing line? Not to mention that fact that a hit album is more of a short cut to an acting career then a step towards a music career.
That's the pop/lifestyle way of doing it. The "pure" musicians will have their own paths. Live shows, session recordings, music for movies and tv, etc. Free MP3s will ensure they have a bigger audience they ever could have in other eras. And with more fans comes more support, better touring opportunities and so on. Not always the road to a mansion and a private jet, but a good life none the less.
The only losers in this whole process are the stubborn execs who stand against the wind as it turns into a hurricane. The industry is changing, and those that change with it will do just fine. Try and stand against the forces of history? History will just stomp all over them, or worse yet forget...
January 23, 2003
Does the Beat Go On?
Well we all know the music industry is the midst of a trauma. Convulsions with the strong risk of death. Technology vs. Tradition. The future business models are up in the air, or if we are lucky getting cultivated in some low rent basement somewhere.
But what good is the new model if their is no new music left? Make no mistake 2002 was a bad year in music. Got to see it in action as I made a hipster hopping tour of NYC.
Started off with the Manhattan upscale crowd at the Tribeca Grand, with James Murphy of the DFA on the decks. DFA is the production team of the minute, and a record label to boot. They are strength behind two of few 2002's songs worthy of being called anthems: The Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers" and LCD Soundsystem's "Losing My Edge".
If any songs sums up the state of boredom that infects todays music its "Losing My Edge" a flat voice music nerd talking about all the good old obscure music. Like we need to be reminded. The DFA get buzz by making dance-rock mutations that rip off Gang of Four endlessly. The Rapture is as close to enjoyable as it gets. But its not even close to those early Gang of Four records... Needless to say no one paid attention to the music as Mr Murphy spun. Not worth the time. The crossbreeding of indie rock and electronic music is a stop gap, there is no music salvation in this.
Shot off to Williamsburg for the boho hipster scene. The Stinger Club gets raw no doubt. Kill Whitey is the night and music is booty. 5 year old music made in Detroit by taking 10 year old Miami Bass records and mixing them with Techno. It was innovative once, and its damn good party music. But its more house keeping then anything. Hipsters running out of music so they mine the interesting corners of recent history. Only genre left is the slowed down DJ Screw sound of Houston. At least they know how to have fun, the party was as live as the music uneven.
Musical highlight of the night was Avenue D, two girls rapping sex like Too Short over electro beats. Post Electroclash is already hear, and ready to die too. There are only a finite number genre's left to recombine, and after a year in which hip hop featured a handful of hits sampling Indian film scores we are getting damn close. The "bootleg" or "mash-up" scene takes it to the limit recombining the most diverse music is the name of the game. And the game is almost over.
The excellent Simon Reynolds places his hope in "gangsta garage" coming out of the darkside of London. A repeat of the birth of Drum n Bass. Sadlly its not happening. What's missing from the formula is the technological revolution that paralleled the creation of Darkside, the proto Drum n Bass music that Reynolds sees being mirrored in current UK garage. There are surface similarities in the darkness and ghettoized nature of both genre's. But the innovation in the Darkside music didn't come from the evil vibes, it came from Cubase, a program that revolutionized the use of sampled breakbeats.
Reynold's points out the constant use of the words ice and snow in UK Garage song titles, but doesn't connect them to their source, Cocaine. And Cocaine just doesn't make for good music. Good vocals yes, so there is hope on the MC tip. But the crappy Timbaland meets Dancehall tracks that underscore the music aren't taking us anywhere. Nope sorry Mr. Reynolds musical serendipity doesn't strike twice in the same place.
Back in New York the future is just as grim. Hip hop's king of the streets 50 Cent is about the only live thing out there. And he's nothing new, another MC claiming to be the realest of them all. "Me, I'm no mobsta/ me, I'm no gangsta/
Me, I'm no hitman/ (yea) me/ I'm just me/
Me, I'm not wanksta/ me, I'm no actor/
But it's me you see/ on your tv/ cause I hustle baby". No doubt he's got skills, but he not advancing the music either, look for more of the same from hip hop in 2003.
So where is the future music? The live shit that grabs you by the eardrums and into otherworldly states? If I knew I'd be listening not writing, but there are some hints around. Retro trends are rushing through the 80's and simmering on the edges of grunge. As always retro season tells a lot about what's wrong with the current music.
The 80's trend screams of a need for character to return to the music. A need for narrative, drama and straight up fun. DJ culture is bland and faceless, and laptop even more so. And people aren't having it anymore. The next wave needs singers with personality and flair. It needs humor and stories, and once again straight up fun. And it needs to be liver then electronic music, the return to rock is a call for a return to the band. The sampler and computer are instruments, not the end all be all.
If there is a model for the next wave, perhaps its Barcelona's Manu Chao. In a musical world filled with pastiche, Chao is about the only artist who effortlessly blends genres and styles, but at the same time makes it sound unique. Before Chao and his band Radio Bemba Soundsystem, only hip hop artists were able wield samples without sounding overly referential. Rock, reggae, ska, hardcore, hip hop, flamenco and more all get drawn into is world, and the flavors meld flawlessly into a unique, polylingual Manu Chao flavor.
More then that, Chao is a real star, something missing from "serious" music for quite sometime. His personality shines through the music, his anarchist politics bite hard at the establishment, and his nomadic lifestyle a sharp break from the norm. Pull in sample artist and or DJ and the result might look a lot like the future of "serious: western pop music.
While writing this, I started reflecting on how many people I've met recently have mentioned being into jam bands. And it struck me how similar Chao is these bands. Now I avoid listening to jam bands the way I avoid sleeping with HIV positive lepers, but they just might be a model for the future. Reynolds has commented on how innovative music often comes out of the most overlook backwaters of the music world. And jam bands fly way south of both the mass media and the trend media's radar.
More telling is the way these bands present an alternative to the dying major label system. Tour endlessly, encourage file trading, and sell a lot of merchandise. Tighten up the sound with a dose of electronics, reduce the self indulgent jamming, add a flamboyant hip hop punk singer and things get interesting. Get a multinational to sponsor the tour for big bucks, film a slick music video, sell live streams of each show and make merchandise like the band is Yu Gi Oh, and its a highly profitable enterprise.
Right or wrong this musical stagnation can't last much longer...