Thursday, February 18, 2010


"Everything sounds like Talking Heads."

Well, it does, doesn't it. And not usually in a good way, either.

Of course, I don't necesarily mean this in a literal fashion, more as a shorthand metaphor for a certain form of East-Coast Post-Post-Punk Laziness; the co-opting of certain strains of faux-ecstatic AfroFunkEthnoGospelPop. Marketing in place of innovation.

Byrneisms: I'm bored with 'em.

*Sounds of kitchen peddle-bin opening and slamming shut*

Apart from Gala Drop, where's all the Fifth World music I so gamely predicted a couple years back? I'm not going to have to go and do it myself, am I, you fuckers?

I only mention this because I detected a certain unquantifiable...something in the recent rehersals for Orchestra Intangible '73 (wh/ I wish I'd bloody recorded): there was a weird bubbling echo of something I couldn't quite put my finger on amongst all the smeary, bleary psychfrottage, broken loops and echoblur I could hear traces of something that sounded like a weird third cousin-by-marriage to John Hassell's "Earthquake island" - the stuff he did before he hooked up with Eno and was still in thrall to the ethnodrone of Riley, Young and Prandit Nath. But when I listened I realised it was my wife making those sounds. Chris has no knowledge - or interest, for that matter - in Hassell or Miles' PreWorld Musics, so it's my own imagination/audiolobe that's making the connections and projecting my prejudices onto a set of random sound interjections...but, fuck me, I'm hearing Hassell and Miles in those echo/verb'd contact strokes on a toy kettle; I'm hearing woozy space-trombones when she bows the ukele...and I'm starting to hear grooves...wrong-as-fuck, fer sure, but I'm hearing grooves, nevertheless...

"Everything sounds like Talking Heads."

See, now hard it is to escape their orbit, to not be drawn into certain conclusions?

But, I've got a jagged path that takes me back from Talking Head / Byrne/Eno via Jon Hassell's earlier material into something more interesting, back to the 60's NY loftdronescene. Back towards the source. I can now see how to psychelicise this stuff. How to stamp my own paw-prints on it.

Hassell says: "From 1973 up until then [the late 70s] I was totally immersed in playing raga on the trumpet..."

See: another example of The Discontinuum reveals itself unexpectedly.

On monday morning I heard the best piece of music I'd heard in ages. I was getting coffee take-outs in a cafe on Park Row, Bristol, and they're playing some music too quietly to properly hear through a tiny speaker parked on top of a cold-drinks chiller which is going Hurmmmmmm...hrmmm.whrmmmm...and the expresso-machine is going Bwusssshqqh.fwusssmssh...

(And it's fucking Brian Eno all over again, laid up in hospital, unable to hear the record Judy Nylon brought in for him to listen to - Pachebel thru a single broken speaker/rain pitter-pattering against the window, so he invents Ambient Music - bloody fucking Brian Eno again: "Everything sounds like Talking Heads".)

...except this...this is, like, Funk, but Funk gone wrong : bubbling bass-line, a sudden surge of vocal-chorus you can't quite hear, clattering percussion pushing against the fridgenoise and the expresso-machine hissss: it sounds like a mutant.funk version of "You Have been Duplicated" by Chrome dubbed off a cassette in Western Africa and played as Muzak in a foundry in Chicago. Pop sabotaged by circumstance. Transformed by accidental alchemy.

"Everything sounds like Talking Heads."

Blessed Be. But it was beautiful. Bewitchingly alien.

I stood there completely transfixed, wishing I could HeadTape it. Fifth World music, for sure.

And yet another piece in a never-ending puzzle suddenly slid into view.

I asked the waitress what the music was and she apologised for it being so loud.

It wasn't Talking Heads.

It was **** ******.

Fuck me.


At 9:39 pm, Blogger Daniel Poeira said...

I was thinking about all this last night... Listening to that Blondie song called Rapture... there's even a BAND called like that! It's like people pick up one single song from the past and build a whole career by sucking it's dick. Fuck.

Nobody plays around anymore, there's no fun in their music. Everything is fucking calculated, like they're building a fucking jet airliner or something.

At 10:34 pm, Blogger I am not Kek-w said...

It's so easy to sell the past to a generation that hasn't heard it before.

Change one note of a Joy Division / Cure / Gang of Four / [Delete-as-applicable] song and you've got an album. Sample the drum-machine off [fill in yr favourite once-trangressive early 80's song].

In fairness, it isn't always the bands; it's the 30/40-something producers playing them "something cool that they might like" (from their own youth) and then suggesting that "maybe they should do something like that". A&R, Marketing, etc are all complicit in this; as a music writer myself I see it all the time: editors jumping on something that sounds like something else; it's a PR tag, an angle for an article, the first sniff of a "scene"...

Creative bankruptcy.

At 2:34 am, Blogger Jason Gusmann said...

my favorite recent 'sounds like talking heads' moment was with clap yr hands say yeah (who are certainly not a good band) who were obviously completely influenced by talking heads but wrote a song called 'underwater (you and me)' that is a better song than anything the talking heads ever wrote. so i think i entered a particularly mundane realm of the discontinuum. i dont recommend it. good song, tho.

At 4:31 pm, Blogger Martin said...

Then again, it sometimes works wonders: check out "Do The Mental Twist" by Myelin Sheaths - a complete JAMC rip off, but it's my favourite song, like, today. (verification "knonasom")

At 5:04 pm, Blogger I am not Kek-w said...

"Myelin Sheaths" LOL

Best band name of the day!


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