Wednesday, December 05, 2007


("Ronald" written using the same typeset as "Roland" - LOL! In fact, it's an anagram: heh.)

Speaking of Sparks...looks like the duo may well have the final word on that whole 'classic'-album-as-live-show schtick, as they line up a series of gigs in which they play (eeep!) all 21 of their LPs in 21 nights. Phew! I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

I'm not normally a fan of what's basically just an exercise in pension-fund collection for past-it rockers (MBV take note!), but I have to say, sad git that I am, I kinda wouldn't mind going to the "Kimono my House" show (tho I bet that's prob. sold out already!) or any of their first 5 albums, to be honest...

Sparks have done a pretty good job over the last few years at both retaining their old fan-base and building a new one (itself a rarity in, er, older bands, with perhaps the exception of The Fall) - I heard their last album and it wasn't bad actually (tho maybe not quite good enough to buy tho LOL! Far too many other things demanding my attention)...indeed, it was far better than you'd expect from a group with that many miles on the clock...

...Tho why should it be that most bands get 'worse' as they go on, when the energy of youth can theoretically be surplanted by the, er wisdom/experience/subtlety of middle-age...perhaps a limited pool of ideas gets exhausted and stagnation sets in; or maybe the artist loses enthusiasm or self-belief in his own work, or moves too far musically from what made him interesting in the first place...or maybe they are still good, but the audience's expectation has shifted, or we've become over-familiar with his oeuvre, so critical fatigue sets in...

Interesting what James Murphy said about the fact that it was no longer being enough to just sound like Neu! (or Cluster, or whoever he was talking about)...what he said was blindingly obvious (tho I'm not sure anyone else had pointed it out, or maybe they did but I was having a nap): that what was once innovative or iconoclastic 20/30 years ago has now become a staple of our musical diet/volcabulary, and as much as we might love Neu!, Giorgio Moroder, etc anyone attempting to create those musical shapes now has to bring some layers of serious otherness to the table as well as just the sound - it's no longer enuff for it to just to be Self-Referential or nostalgic or ironic, and we even lapped post-ironic last I looked, so this is where the dreaded H-word comes into's also no longer enough for a thing (object, sound, song, whatever) to be itself and nothing more (Kant's Noumemon or thing-in-itself): it has to be wrapped up in orbital layers of secondary meaning (our memories, expectations, dreams - so that music, through no fault of its own becomes post-physical, oneiric...maybe it always was, but we never noticed, huh?), even an old album has to be, uh, 'classic'/'iconic'/'influencial' or at the very least "a forgotten masterpiece" or "a lost gem"; anything less than that is worse than just an admission of defeat; it means that it's fallen off the bleedin' ontological map. (An idea which I suddenly found strangely exciting when I wrote that!) Context is everything - so what if something arrived that had slipped free of referentiality; it had no apparent provenance....? Is that even possible any more, or is everything, by necessity, soiled by the presence of a listener? If someone played a bar-chord in the woods (a noumenological bar-chord, y'dig) and no one was there to hear it, what would it sound like? Brian fucking Eno, I bet.

Still, hats off to Ron and Russ, I say.