SO we grind to the end of another year, and I appear, like some kind of obnoxious groundhog, ready to dispense my wisdom. If, by “wisdom” you mean “half-assed picks of Stuff Which Was Pretty OK In This Terrible Year”.
I’ll insert a caveat here: like, well, everyone, this year has been a struggle for me. We’re rolling toward the third instalment of 2020 and increasingly I find that concentration takes a kick in the nuts for every COVID variant found. A lot of the plans I had made at the beginning of the year haven’t come to pass because I’ve either lacked the bandwidth to execute them, or because I’ve been so goddamned tired. I haven’t read as much as I would have liked, and I haven’t listened to as much music as I’d hoped. There’s been a bit of persistent fog around through the year and it’s made it difficult to do anything than just exist, sometimes.
I came to this book as many did, I suspect, because it featured on that list of David Bowie’s 100 favourite books which circulated a couple of years ago. (The list also is explored in a podcast, if you’re interested.)
It makes sense that Bowie would be a fan of this work, given that it’s an enthusiastic, bitchy exploration of early rock. After all, the work is titled for Little Richard’s protean good-time yawp from ‘Tutti Fruitti’, the song that made Bowie “see God”.
After a couple of years of looking, I found a copy replete with terrifying cover. It was written in 1968 and revised in 1972. Kit Lambert, erstwhile manager of The Who introduces the work and sets things rolling: the text covers a brief period in music, but one of supreme importance for everything rock-related that came afterwards. All that’s covered is the period from Bill Haley’s initial popularity until 1966 – that’s it.
I suppose this year hasn’t exactly been kind to my interpretation of, y’know, time, so it’s not a surprise that this has crept up on me. Anyway, for the benefit of me and the dick-pill spambots that flood my comments section, I guess it’s time to chunk out some words about things I liked this year.
As ever, I’m a bit uncertain as to why I do this. It feels like a bit of an indulgence, but I suppose it does allow me a bit of breathing space to look back at the year through the prism of entertainment and formulate some thoughts about it. Whether they’re any good is still up for debate, but before we get too deep in the ontological weeds, let’s get on with it.
Doom? Doom. DOOOOOOOOOOOOM. It’s a good word. One of those multiple-vowel words that have a plasticity turned to enjoyable goop by repetition. It’s also a type of metal music, though it furcates into numerous equally heavy (though to outsiders, often similar-sounding) strands.
Doom music is an unmitigated bummer, a reminder that Life Is Hard So Why Bother sung from basements at brain-rattling volume through equipment that smells like spilled bong water and hot dust. It’s a release in only the way realising you’ve reached the bottom of the barrel can be. It’s about [dis]comfort with horror, and in its original form emerged as a reaction against post-war austerity, industrial isolation and the general Shittiness of Living. It’s something you’d expect to be extremely un-fun, which it is, but luxuriating in that precise bummedness is, well, if not fun, enjoyable.
It’s a genre that’s only bound together by a spirited fuck you. Its denizens run the gamut, from church-burning nihilists to hairspray-supported hedonists; from kvlt blackness to tits-out stupidity. From funereal dirges to brain-freezing speed runs. The sublime to the ridiculous. Speed to heroin. True to poser.
It’s got it all. It just adds studs and unreadable logos.
Once more, it’s the point of the year where I write a usually-lengthy post about the things I’ve enjoyed this year. I write a bunch of stuff about the cultural bits and pieces I’ve consumed through the year and figure out what was good and what wasn’t, in the hope of providing something of a portrait of my entertainment consumption over the past twelve months.
I guess we’ve reached the point where, traditionally, I put up a post detailing what it is that’s taken my fancy in 2018. It’s become a bit of an annual thing, and far be it from me to disappoint the couple (?) of people who might nose through this thing in its entirety. So here we are: my wrap up of what’s been taking up my time.
Relatively accurate, though he swims more than I do.
A group I’m part of on Facebook wanted to make an album of vaguely game-related songs. The idea was you had to write it in a week or so. Obviously I’m not very organised. So, this is a track I came up with in an afternoon.
Most of that afternoon was spent dicking around with Logic Pro X in an attempt to figure out how to make it actually record things. So it’s not a particularly brilliantly inventive tune, but it’s vaguely spaghetti western in feel, largely because I was playing a fair bit of Red Dead Redemption (of which, more later) at the time.
Yes, there’s about three chords.
Yes, it’s a baritone guitar.
No, I can’t really play.
But at least now I know I can record my abilities, so that’s something, eh?
It’s a nice reminder: two guitarists busily strumming away is a jam; a hundred playing for dear life is a fucking movement.
That quote is something I came across a couple of days ago. It’s Tristan Bath writing in The Quietus about A Secret Rose, a piece by Paris-based composer Rhys Chatham. The whole review is worth reading because it bears some resemblance to a piece I took part in, A Crimson Grail.
As Malcolm Young would have said, hit the bugger!
The piece, performed as part of this year’s Sydney Festival, is pretty enormous. An antiphonal piece, it generates a huge sound – though not as loud as you’d assume – with elements passing around the audience, who sit in the middle of the performance space. Players can’t really get a sense of how the whole works – not the way the audience can – because they’re so close to their particular section. But for those in the middle, it’s epic, to say the least. (more…)