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31.8.05 Oval in Kingston  

It's been far too long, hasn't it?

// DJ /rupture, "Rumbo Babylon"

A Brøklyn Beats 7" revived on DJ /rupture's Redux 12", "Rumbo Babylon" has been alternately limned as a track that "strands Oval in Kingston" (JH) & "[c]oiled, ready to jump / jungle cut-up as seething / action painting" (MM). Twisting together knots of warped urban noise, heavy jungle breaks, a chugging ragga two-punch beat, /rupture channels both Todd Edwards' "sample orchestra" & Transparent Records' Roots, Rock, Ravers EP.

30.8.05 Forced marriage  

Beyond mere annoyance, MoMA's new contribution to the endless summer of forced-marriage blockbusters, "Cézanne and Pissarro: Pioneering Modern Art," warrants wrath. Indeed, pace the Times' fawning, "C&P" is a letdown courting the enormity of its precursors (see "Matisse/Picasso") ... [more to be added]

19.8.05 Post-industrious  

Here're my last 2 movie reviews from Stylus.

#1, on Jia Zhangke's The World: "a tranquil vision of a tranquilized society."

#2, on Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know: "a wistful parade of extreme gestures, a document of innocence lost and recovered, of vulgarly loveless sex, and awakenings stripped of romanticizing."

6.8.05 Kosher nostra  

Edward Said (R.I.P.) has been a hero of mine since my only partially regretted Foucaultian salad days. It was thru him (& later thru Jackie du Pre's Elgar) that I came across Daniel Barenboim, with whom he conceived the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. From a recent piece in the Telegraph: "Their idea was to demonstrate that, through music, it is possible for people from warring factions to co-exist peacefully." Why isn't this idea--music as instrument of reconciliation--being taken outside Jerusalem?

4.8.05 Unsafe betz  

I don't even pretend to proffer bleeding-edge, up-to-the-microsecond grime knowledge/trax. But for those who slept on 'em, or have day jobs & a gather-ye-rosebuds worldview with no room for Slsk, & simply prefer to be shepherded to the tried-and-true, well, I'm here to help. Here're a few easy swallows, thought by many to be grime's last hope for puncturing the mainstream. To anyone docking Roll Deep for, God forbid, making catchy songs: zip yr lips & relish the effin' music (q.v. Reynolds on "typical UK undergroundism self-sabotage"). The C19H28O2, the homegrown, hungry, hardscrabble grit hasn't gone anywhere.

// Roll Deep Crew, "When I'm 'Ere"

Sans Dizzee, the 241-member Roll Deep crew gallops out of the gates riding revved-up horror-flick accordions (aka, Danny Weed's "Shank Riddim"), spraying cockneyfied threats in stilted Uzi rhythms, each line capped by the menacing titular condition: Thanatos a Damoclean blade, slung over the track like a thundercloud, Eros curiously AWOL. Here they're churning tribal war cries into bleak urban anthems. And tell me that tuff square-wave low end's not tuff enough. (Tell me, moreover, if I should post the Wiley rmx.) Bonus video, c/o the BBC.

// Kano, "Reload It"

Bulletproof nonchalance, starched-crisp enunciation, hooks--there's a formula to Kano's very-young-Turk crossover charisma. On "Reload It" Kano crumples up this formula & with Diplo's deck wizardry, drags grime forward, meanwhile sacrificing zero cred. We board this wobbly brass rollercoaster of noise, snaking frenziedly through a DnB forest. Our fellow passengers: Kano, solo, unflinching in the front seat, the picture of street sangfroid; Diplo right behind him, telekinetically preventing the car from derailing; Demon & D Double E, backseat, bouncing barbs in a state-of-nature staccato. Fitting that the track fades into squeals of delight.

O & an extra treat:

// Hive, "Krush"

For fans of fine turkish tobacco & dance music, some rhapsodizing (my italics):

From those opening oooh, skycraping synths with orgasmic (in the "touched by a variety of religious experience" sense not the sexual one) male "ohhhh"s to the squealing trumpet spiraling upwards to the Organized Konfusion sample to the grinding mentasm breakdown and deftly (but not overly) chopped roll-out, this is worthy of anything in the Source Direct/Hidden Agenda era, but beefed up on the post-Bad Company workout plan. The drums really slam, but they also shake, rattle, and stop on a dime. And admit it, when those same nape-licking synths come in at the bridge, you love it, none--more-expected-none-more-effective. It's, for whatever it's worth, my fave d&b single of the year so far. I seriously don't think anyone can fuck with the Violence crew right now.

2.8.05 Anti-valedixion  

I only know you three through yr. glittering prose, but congrats to ...

i.) M. Harvell, whose Baltimore regime will soon be installed. ii.) Mlle. Phillips, who will return PFM news to its former glory. iii.) M. Breihan, who will literally loom over a whole village.

Best of luck to all of you; pretty pls. don't slow the bloggin' down too much.

Evacuation artist  

Still reeling from a recent trip to the revamped MoMA. If anyone's work stuck with me, it's Thomas Demand's. At once photography's number-one asset & number-one liability is the realism hardwired into the medium's technical DNA: chemically aping the human eye's sensitivity to light. Demand, now enjoying a mid-career retrospective, tapes & glues calculatedly inexact paper sculptures of documentary photos, connecting him, for better/worse, to Richter & Gursky. Peeling the detail & affect off his appropriated subjects, he outs himself as a mere counterfeiter of reality. Demand is an evacuation artist, shouting Fire! in the crowded cinemas of history & mass media, diminishing once-real, once-dirty milieus into pristine impersonality: serene, banal, unpopulated.

Throughout his corpus, the blitzkrieg on photography's mimetic ambitions is the constant. The subject is the variable, where Demand nests allusions within allusions, Chinese box-style. Each photo drops us down startlingly slippery tunnels of reference. Take the drab-at-a-glance "Staircase":

Attempting a carbon copy of his high-school stairway, Demand channels Bauhaus, & with it both 1) the Third Reich’s rejection of the movement & 2) the fairy tale, rife in postwar Germany, of a virtuous architecture yielding a virtuous democracy. Kimmelman OTM:

A patch of grass that he photographed turns out to be a laborious paper reproduction of a patch of grass, made blade by blade, which brings to mind a photograph by Mr. Gursky of a gray patch of carpet, itself devised as an ironic riff on Gerhard Richter's all-gray paintings, which harked yet further back to Jackson Pollock's drips.

Demand's rabbit-hole worms through the earth's core. Conceptualism & craftsmanship mix impressively, each work a self-reflexive ars poetica that avoids dipping into the murk of pomo onanism.

Ab ovo