Thursday, January 24, 2013

VHS Head - Trademark Ribbons Of Gold (Skam, 2010)

A lot of my favorite music these days seems to be archive-diving, cross-referentied works of collageist fury. The Dada cut-ups mutant evolution, surfing on the datastreams, masters of post-modernism. A lot of people seem to hate the flood, blaming it for their weakened attention spans and sex drives. But then you have folks like VHS Head, who has put together a record of VHS splice and dice bangers and clangers.

A lot of it has the glow of the workout video to it, high hair blowing in a laguna breeze. Ade Blacow has pulled the backing tracks and sound effects from his personal stash, obsessively layering the 80s sleeze into a surprisingly fresh onslaught of sometimes brutal breakbeats and channel-surfing plunderphonics. It works as a gallery piece and as a soundtrack to Saturday night.

The modern archivist draws you into a world of their own, a collection of their personal memories and mementoes. Their childhood VCRs and adolescent late nights, there seem to be some so hideously WELL-RESEARCHED and PUT TOGETHER. They have the ultimate taste, or their own taste, at least. Its up to you to decided if you like it. So, here you have VHS Head, who seems to revere the 80s thriller/action flick, Chuck Norris Status, or you have James Ferraro, and his plastic armchair exotica, or Mordant Music's mouldering European gothicness. The archives are linking up, and there's a little something for everybody. These crate diggers act as a guide to the Underworld, a barely glimpsed shadow realm of Video Nasties and ghosts on tape. They are the antidote to the feeling of ennui of the been there down that, easily exhausted Twitterer.

And the best thing of it, is its not merely an Academic exercise. Its pleasurably taut dancefloor material, could get a bunch of hyfy kids hot and bothered, if they knew it existed. Which they should. Which is why i'm writing this. VHS Head, Demdike Stare, Devon Folklore Tapes, Andy Votel, Pre-Cert Home Entertainment; these folks are world builders, and its a sweet Giallo world that i never want to leave. Anybody that can reference Jane Fonda workout films and Dario Argento, simultaneously, is aces.

Some of us legitimately LOVE the archives, take comfort and inspiration in the dusty folds of abstract moldering paperbacks. I think the illusion of progress, of time moving in a linear fashion, is dissolving. There's no getting to the top of yr class and there's a billion classes, anyway. Capitalism taught us that newer is always better, to keep reaching out for that shiny thing. You'll never be content, and you'll never get to the bottom of the mystery of Human Genius and potential. Rather than constantly spewing out endless assembly line vomit, why don't we just chill and rest on our laurels? Watch some movies? Hang out with friends? This attention to detail, the care and craft, that went into Trademark Ribbons of Gold, is the perfect cure for this ADD-addled world. Don't succumb to marketing pressures, don't become a demographic. Be passionate, in all that you do.

For years, i wanted to be an expert on music so that people would like and respect me. What a joke. I ended up awkward, with too much to say, at parties. Highly specialized, you might say. I'm finally making my way through my own archives, and i'll share the results.

We still support music. We're still here.

Follow Along:

find it on AMAZON:  Trademark Ribbons of Gold

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dead Can Dance - Into The Labyrinth

This is the record that started it all. It is single-handedly (pun slightly intended) responsible for my becoming an unrepentant music obsessive. This record, DCD's 7th and the first with American distribution, had an unlikely hit with the single 'The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove' (which also shares a title with a Secret Agent (Danger Man) episode) enthralled my young ears with its ethnic polyrhythms and sacrificial lyrics. I was a drummer at the time, so the beat caught my attention. I struggled to catch the name, and when i did, i hounded every place of musical commerce i could think of. Unfortunately, the record would not be released in the states for several months, and that's when the obsessive record questing began. I would take the train to Chicago, and buy expensive overpriced Belgian imports of their albums, before they were re-issued domestically. Those freezing, icy Chicago sojourns, reeking of incense and cappuccino, would make an indelible impression on me, as would the music contained on this album.

Dead Can Dance's music is like magick personified, given voice, and as such, it is the kind of thing i have always wanted to share, here at J's Heaven. The whole reason i started this blog in the first place was to put sounds out into the world, to maybe colour yr afternoon or evening or night drive. To take a little strand of these beautiful moving moments that i have experienced, and spread it 'round. There seemed to be no shortage of places to hear great music out there, so i sort of stopped for a while. But then i noticed that there's not very many people posting records anymore, and it seems a shame to let the whole thing die. The explosion of the music blogs a few years ago was a time of great imagination and innovation, even if we were all a bit hungry and jaded, not really taking the time to listen to what we had. I've been taking the time, enjoying my life, listening to my favorite records. I've met the love of my life, and we are building a life together. We have a black cat. We cook dinners, sweep floors, buy groceries. This is the kind of shit that music is meant for, as a compliment and an expression of simple, mind-blowing appreciation.

It is this level of contentment that can radically alter yr life. With this contentment, i am exploring and learning how to write about music for real, to take my time and say what i'm trying to say. That's very much a work in progress. Music has brought so much magick, so much joy and inspiration, i just want to spread my particular flavor around. I'm going to do a series of posts of my most influential albums, the records that have made me the bearded, hatted weirdo that is typing here at 12:43 a.m. on a monday night. I'm broke as hell, but certainly not defeated. Still not drunk, still trying to write cool songs. I've been up to a lot, while this blog has been sleeping. I'd love to fill you in. If you care to take a look, i've also started a new blog, called Forestpunk,where i do a lot of philosophical and metaphysical speculating, as well as posting bric-a-brac. I'll be doing these album reviews at The Guardian, as well, just so a few more people might find them, in an effort to further spread the good word about some of my favorite music.

Excited about writing and sharing music with the world. Glad to still be here with y'all.
Read about Into The Labyrinth at The Guardian
Find it on Amazon:  Into the Labyrinth