Friday, February 24, 2006

beta grande

In the same way that the Wu-Tang Clan watched tons of chop suey Shaolin monk flicks and made such Tiger claw styles into the hip-hop vernacular, I'm hoping someone will do the same for Rio Grande. I have a ways to go to check in with all of John Ford westerns, but this is a good start. The Calvary outfit in the movie answers everything with a boisterous "YO!!!" and there's plenty of dialogue comprised solely of "YO!"s bandied about through the canyons. You can also harvest any number of lines about men as "sol-juhs" and have a new sub-species of dialogue ripe for that next wave of over-sampled movie snippets. Expect Scarface-esque John Wayne embroidery on leather jackets blowing up in the Fader soon.

There's plenty of Sons of Pioneers tunes here as well, marching in and harmonizing at odd intervals. They even sing a song that makes me think of the Animal Collective, called "She was my Purple Gal." How appropo, since that was the obsessive color of Feels, even though they themselves sound way more like the bellering Apaches on the warpath in the movie. (Aside, yet another dispatch from that one-man PR firm that is myself for the Animal Collective runs here.)

Watching this classic John Ford/ John Wayne western, it rekindles an old ritual I once shared with my father. One of my fondest memories was spending his lunch break watching westerns together. Every afternoon, they used to play these old Gene Autry movies and we partook of each and every matinee offering. As I grew more appreciative and adult, we switched to Clint Eastwood flicks (I forgot how diabolical and severe High Plains Drifter was until I re-watched it recently).

For a certain generation, John Wayne was the male archetype supreme, the epitome of masculinity. Christ, what's more American, more manly than John Wayne? Familiar mostly with his drunken swaggering and slurred speeches of later Western boilerplate, he's so young and statuesque here, as if chiseled from granite. As Rio Grande's plot hinges on a father-son relationship, I wonder what my father imagined his father-son relationship would be like in the future when he first took in the film. That I'd one day follow in his footsteps? Prove myself on some imaginary battlefield much like John Wayne's son does here? Make things right in the eyes of the father? We all know about the flame that killed John Wayne though, right?

Monday, February 20, 2006

beta hopscouch


Been battling food-poisoning over the weekend, watching the tube through barely cracked lids. Grateful now that we have cable, as I cannot move from the couch without the greatest of deliberation. Though all two hundred-plus channels melt under an aching body fever that grows worse with the radiators on at full-blast, not to mention that any water poured onto my stomach evacuates.

Trying to catchup on my Curb and Sopranos viewing, I keep mixing up Larry David and Tony Soprano, remembering them hitting each other's marks. As if Richard Lewis wouldn't ever be at Ba Da Bings or Jeff wouldn't be down with Sylvio, too. Seeing the Public Enemy and Anthrax collab makes me tear up for no reason; watching Metal Mania on Classic VH, I cannot begin fathom as to why Salughter's "Up All Night" features this flanged choir singing "America the Beautiful" at the very end. Something to do with that patriotic image of women with wet hair, I presume. The only thing I can recall about L.A. Confidential now is that it has a hooker with a heart of gold. And retroactive from watching Carol Reed's The Fallen Idol, I keep seeing Kevin Spacey in the roles of Baynes. Surely there must be a remake in the works.

Growing slightly more lucid, I watch Walter Matthau in Hopscotch. While one has to wonder how such hatred of Ned Beatty's face can fuel Matthau's revenge (which entails writing a tell-all about the spy trade, setting off both CIA and KGB manhunts), who knew that punchlines about "the Hilton" could still resonate in the 21st century, or that strains within the FBI and CIA would be glimpsed even in an 80's comedy (Beatty's acronym for the FBI is "Fucking ball-busting imbeciles." So Tenet-like, n'est-pas?) I am envious of Matthau's writing habits, to say the least. Waking up to some Puccini and Rossini in a silk robe as he cranks out chapter after chapter would make any writer envious (maybe a portrait of Ned Beatty by the typewriter would help). And let's not forget the tossed-off line about national security: "Yeah, that's a phrase that lost a good deal of meaning lately."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

beath from above


While I believe the final cover of the upcoming DFA remix comp will be like one of those old school marquee joints, this promo sleeve is hilarious, with both Tim Goldsworthy and James Murphy looking downright psychotic and drug-addled.

While at the offices, I get a frustrating taste of the upcoming Delia & Gavin remixes, done by Carl Craig, Baby Ford, and the DFA. I say frustrating in the fact that Delia and Gavin are purportedly trying to shoot a video to accompany the single, which may take awhile. They are making it with a friend of theirs whose name is, no shit, "Assume Vivid Astro Focus."

Having discussed with the couple their love of movies from directors like Alejandro Jodorowsky, Dario Argento, and Vera Chytilov√° (not to mention their own videos done as the Fancypants and Black Leotard Front dance troupes), the video should be perplexing to say the least, but to hold off the mixes is a shame. The Carl Craig one is epic, ludicrous, taking its sweet-ass time to build up only to toyingly deflate and slowly balloon upwards once more. And that's before getting into the kick and these random piano figures that are askant, unexpected, fragrant, perhaps kin to Villalobos when he would drop harpsichord records at random into his mixes. Fine, call it "ketamine house," but this will be huge in Ibiza.

As will the DFA mix. Not to give it away, but they have a "new secret weapon" (no, it's not another set of those damned go-go bells) that they purportedly found at the Yoga Health Food Store next door to the studio. Yes, all the percussion is made with a cannister of hemp granola. Packed with all the Omega-3 goodness and soluble fiber that you'll need for those imminent foam parties where you'll no doubt be hearing the remixes.

And while Woe rightfully has Allison Goldfrapp in the compactor, I'm not sure how he can deny the ridiculously opulent guilty pleasures piled on the remix of "Slide." Frilly uvulala, a Bronx-bound 5 Express train full of clang and dink, followed by these heavenly guitar harmonics that accumulate into a...well:
"Slide In"

When I asked the office if they were holding out on me with the Tiga remix, they said they didn't even have them yet. The fiends apparently edited this out of a Tim Sweeney podcast, and so:
"Home"

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

beta inch space

I am simultaneously grumbling about the sudden dearth of space in which to write (editors seem to be dropping like flies, or else they're booked out till Chinese Democracy drops) and posting links to two recent pieces:

The Deep City label and Willie Clarke in Miami New Times
Beth Orton and AGF in Village Voice

Saturday, February 11, 2006

heep see

Islets in the polypropylene stream, that is what we are.

Mickey Newbury : Looks Like Rain, 'Frisco Mabel Joy

Kris Kristofferson considers him an artist in the Blakeian sense while the Man in Black simply huffs: "Mickey Newbury is a poet." I corrected a new editor when he said Kenny Rogers Roasters wrote "Just Dropped In (to see what condition my condition was in)," perhaps the first psychedelic country tune. Mick wrote it, and his version has some sick sitar on it. He also made Looks Like Rain, which may be the most perfect rainy afternoon record ever, and it's also doing the trick for an afternoon blizzard. It's one bizarre Nashville country record: melancholic with haunting chorale arrangements, backed with windchimes, orchestral sighs, and subtle electronics, with the sound of rain and thunderstorms filling out the hushed spaces of his quavering sound.

Moondog : The Viking of Sixth Avenue

This is my favorite record of the year so far. Ten years back or so, Moondog was a gateway to modern classical music for us young ears, when his Moondog 1/2 was readily available on disc, and I could come across a cache of his Columbia record at a shop (which I did, handing them out as gifts one year), making folks like Glass and Reich somewhat more sensical when seen through the man's mighty prism. Alot of the ten-inch records I'd never auditioned before, and collected here by Honest Jon's, it's a heavenly delight to hear how his square drums and sung tong rounds mingle with taxi horns and biznessman traffic in Midtown. Hearing him anew now, he places folks like No-Neck and Animal Collective firmly into the tradition of Gotham's tribal sound (not to be confused with the sound of 'urban hippies').

Number 1 de Dakar

Yahya Fall is my new favorite guitar hero. The Sonny Sharrock of Senegal? The Keith Levine of Dakar Afropop? My friend warned me that there's a track on this recent No.1 retrospective where it sounds like the guitar amp is melting, and sure enough, Fall pulls some Ray Russell/Sharrock/Dead C brain-melt four minutes into a long, spritely jam that takes it deep into some dark places only to somehow pop back out into the sunny din.

Mountains : Sewn

Subtle is the word, but it isn't. Humble though, hiding the use of computers on the list of instruments here, and showing that they can both pick nimbly here as well. It's a continuation of the last Mountains album, and sounds born out of their recent tour, meaning there's more straight playing here than segueing, very much the sound of them strumming guitars first and then coloring in the forest clearings later. Hence the computer at the end. Parts remind me of that Brotzmann/ Bennink record from the Black Forest, where they play astride rivulets and little streams. There's plenty of gurgling springs, sticks snapping, and at the moment, the static din of a waterfall that merges with their campfire-warm drones. Ever so subtley, they lift it all so that it buoys on some new stream of sound.

Anthony Manning : Islets in Pink Polypropylene

Apparently Manning now makes his name as a visual artist, but he's a key figure in early 90's abstract electronic music, too. I cannot quite get a handle on what he is up to here. Islets is oft-considered his greatest work, but I can't really measure it against anything else from the man. On it's own terms, it's an exquisite esoteric listen. I wonder what would've happened had he made himself into a brand name rather than say, Aphex Twin. The software is not quite there for him in '93 or '94 it seems, but he gets great effect from how he runs his tapes backwards, simultaneously letting lines bubble up and get sucked back down to the river bed.

Terry Riley : Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band "All Night Flight"

Speaking of someone who plays against himself in a suspended state of time, Riley is the originator. Due to a recent watching of a bootleg copy of Robert Ashley's Music with Roots in the Aether series, I am seriously obsessed with the master right now. Going back to stone classics like Persian Surgery Dervishes, I always wonder why he is considered a minimalist, seeing as how his music draws on the entire keyboard tradition (Bach to Monk to LaMonte) and he gurgles forth like some untapped spring, eternally letting flow a pure crystalline stream of nectar. Or should I say goat's milk? The first half of the doc has him milking a goat and talking about how the subtleties of the environment are reflected in the taste of the fresh goat's milk that he offers to Bob Ashley. The second half then shows the man in his barn, putting on a jaw-dropping recital of "Shri Camel." Pure milky bliss.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

beta luvs l.a.


I haven't inhaled smog since I was a 'tween, and I can't recall if I scaled Magic Mountain or Space Mountain, but two recent pieces touch on or emanate from la-la land. (sidenote: I tried to find an online link to the recent New Yorker article by Tad Friend about LA car chases, which is hilarious/disturbing, but to no avail). One is about a recent (and much-needed) spate of post-punk releases, and I talk about This Heat, Delta 5, and Maximum Joy over at the LA Weekly this past week.

The other is about Beverly Hills troubadour Ariel Pink, up now at City Pages. While perhaps not nearly as obsessed as either Simon, Mike, or Woe, it was something else to be immersed back in that scuzzy jacuzzi of Pink's, and the resin stains of House Arrest stayed with me much longer, lingering like stale bong smoke. My line comparing Pink to a screwed and chopped CD got edited into just a line about music as the drug.

Since I made some sort of beat connection between Ariel and Brian, here are two selections to compare:

Brian Wilson "Hey Little Tomboy"
Ariel Pink "West Coast Calamities"

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

beta luv streams

"Let me ask you something: Do you believe love is a continuous stream?"

The Anthology snuck in a quick triumvirate of John Cassavetes's less-vetted late-period flicks over the weekend since the Elaine May movie Mikey & Nicky got nixed. As the beer-guzzling, seven-layer dip devouring and bleu cheese'n wings dipping ceremonies kicked off, I missed both Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Opening Night, but since I had seen the latter recently, I settled for the last movie John Cassavetes made, Love Streams.

It's not on DVD stateside (neither is Husbands, my favorite) and I hadn't seen it in a good eight years or so. Trying to recapitulate the plot for my friend as we walked through the drizzling gusts of afternoon rain, all I could remember is that John looks ancient: hair dyed, eyes carrying heavy baggage, rapidly aged, his swollen distended belly hidden under dirty tuxes. That and that there are a bunch of animals in it. Everything else about the movie flows so subtly yet constantly that it's hard to hold such water in your hands.

I'm surprised at the copious amounts of blood that get shed in the movie. Who doesn't have blood from their forehead, their hands, the corner of their mouth, their ears at some point here? Also, I forget how fall-down hilarious it is at points. It's both his bloodiest and funniest movie I can recollect. Cassavetes and Rowlands are kooky siblings, deluded on their notions of love. For her, it's 'the ultimate,' the biggest chip on the table, the greatest bet there is in the universe; for him, love is just about a woman giving up her 'secret' to a man; 'secret' meaning 'lady-yum,' 'man' meaning him. The beginning scenes of him at some weird tranny wine bar with Bob Marley lip-synching and with a mansion full of honeys (peep the one in the swooshing white jumpsuit that just screams Falcon Crest) are brilliant, with John smirking through all the insanity, even as he protests to be sane himself.

Conflicts are like clockwork, all a-grind, continuous, and unresolved even by movie's end. Lovers cannot communicate and neither can generations. Parents and children squabble, the former unable to reign in their crazy tendencies, the latter young but quickly learning to be in such an unstable state, making life miserable for all. The product of divorce, I feel for both the eternally-single man and his abandoned child. As the movie continues to float well past the 2 1/2 hour mark, I can hear the rain still brushing against the Anthology's walls.

In a similar on-screen deluge, decisions are quietly --almost imperceptibly-- made by both Robert and Sarah, and whether there is hope of true change, or just irrational deluded hope, the change is decisive, if slight, and the last image of the movie is of our man, soaked from the downpour, behind windows blurry from the everflowing water. It's his last role, and knowing that death is imminent, he waves goodbye to his sister and to us.

Back outside, waiting for a bus, soaked myself in my raincoat, I watch from a leaky kiosk as the wind blows the droplets into rippling patterns all along the broad blackness of First Avenue.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

beta remembers blind joe death (ep)

extended play:

an unreleased Fahey performance from 1972.