Monday, November 29, 2010


I don't go to many live shows anymore. I've seen more awesome shows than any one person is reasonably entitled to in a given lifetime. Maybe it's just me being an old fart, but the past few non-jazz shows I went to were far more trouble than they were worth. At my advanced age, I can neither bear the disappointment of a mediocre show nor the audience which usually attends such gigs.

There are a few exceptions. And by few I mean maybe two or three bands I'd gladly fork over the dough to see because I can go into it with a fair degree of certainty that they won't let me down and the crowd won't make me want to dismember them. Einstürznende Neubauten is one of those bands. I was so stoked that I would be seeing them play in the next few days until this announcement turned up in my inbox:


It is with great regret that Einstürzende Neubauten announce the
cancellation of their planned thirtieth anniversary appearances in Los
Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto and New York. While the US
Department of Homeland Security did issue approvals for the band’s
visas, it was not done in time to secure the appointments at the
overseas embassies and consulates that represent the necessary final
step in the process.

The band members are tremendously disappointed by this turn of events
and wish to thank all those fans who purchased tickets for these
performances for their support. The band would have loved to do the
tour and meet their overseas fans. Because this tour was a
time-sensitive production, it will not be rescheduled. Ticketholders
can obtain refunds from their point of purchase."

I've seen the mighty Neubauten 4 times in the last 20 years or so years. And each time, they were better than the previous time. The last time I saw them was about 5 years ago, when Perpetuum Mobile came out. They were astounding. Majestic. Wonderful. I was really looking forward to this show, the whole 30th Anniversary thing being the icing on top. But this news is a serious bummer.

November 29, 2010: The day Leslie Nielsen died and the day Eintstürzende Neubauten canceled their North American tour. I think I'll have a drink and watch this performance of "Youme & Meyou" for the millionth time.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Amon Tobin - Esther's

Amon Tobin's sinister yet sweet Esther's is the coolest music video I've seen in a while.

Jazz in the workplace

I love this video by Dutch jazz group De LP Fabriek. Featuring Han Bennink and Ernst Reijseger (behind the plant.)

The Animation of Piotr Kamler

I love all kinds of animation. As a parent, I've probably watched more animated feature length films and shorts in the past two years than I care to admit. They've run the gamut from truly inspired and wonderful movies like Coraline and Despicable Me to dreadfully dull fare like The Tale of Despereaux.

I grew up with Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry-- which is weird come to think of it. Was there such a dearth of cartoons available in the 1970s that they had no choice but to show cartoons from the '40s and '50s? I haven't figured that out. But ever since I was in high school and could rent things like Wizards and Fantastic Planet, I've been enthralled by the potential of animation to take me places that regular films cannot. It allows for a total suspension of belief that even the best science fiction or fantasy films aim for, but for me at least, usually fall short of delivering.

My eyes were peeled wide open after I got out of high school and discovered Japanese animation (even though it was really there all along, what with Speed Racer and Star Blazers-- I just wasn't aware it was what would later become known as anime) and the experimental animation of Jan Svankmajer and the Brothers Quay. This was the stuff that truly resonated with me.

Over the summer, I was turned on to Polish animator Piotr Kamler. I found quite a few of his films on youtube and bookmarked them but most of them have now been deleted.

Anyway, some have reappeared so I'm going to post them before they're gone again. I love his stuff because it's like some of my favorite surrealist painters' work come to life and most feature soundtracks by prominent musique concrète composers. Jean-Pierre Jeunet claims Kamler's films inspired him to get into filmmaking. Enjoy while they last.

Coeur de Secours (Heart of Relief) features a score by Francois Bayle.

L'Araignéléphant (the Spider Elephant) features a score by Bernard Parmegiani and text in French.

His 1982 award-winning film, Chronopolis, featuring a score by Luc Ferrari, can be viewed in its entirety here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Worst selling Guitar Hero titles vol. 4

This idea for creating fake Guitar Hero game boxes has been knocking around in my head for some time. It took a cold night with nothing to do to make me to sit down and waste time(*) actually creating them. I've thought of about 20 guitarists I'd like this way. And I'm absolutely kicking myself for not having Keith Rowe on that list.

No one has changed the very essence of "guitarness" more than Rowe. He didn't turn guitar playing on its head so much as he put it on the table. Instead of adopting the axe as any sort of substitute phallus, Rowe chose to put the instrument on a table and then poke and prod at it as if it were a biology lab project. Call it tabletop guitar if you must, but that makes it sound so clinical. You wouldn't call Frankenstein clinical, would you?

I saw AMM play in Houston, Texas many centuries ago. The show was recorded and released as Before Driving To The Chapel We Took Coffee With Rick And Jennifer Reed (aka the most ridiculous album title in the history music.) It was an absolutely mind-bending experience. I hate to bust the tired music snob cliche out on you, but the recording doesn't do the experience of AMM proper justice. The things Keith Rowe did to his guitar were positively revelatory. I'd never seen or heard anything quite like it. Since then, it's become a fairly standard practice, at least to a certain Wire-reading population of eggheads. You know the type-- the ones standing around before the show, pensively stroking their facial hair, wondering aloud whether Rowe is the guitar's Picasso or Beckett.

So, I'd like to thank my friend, Paul Booker, for planting the seed. I believe the instructions for this game require the player to push the buttons with items found in your dad's toolbox.

Keith Rowe & Toshimaru Nakamura live in ST.Louis Feb 02-03 from joseph raglani on Vimeo.

* "Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time"

-Bertrand Russell

Monday, November 8, 2010

Worst selling Guitar Hero titles vol. 3

You only thought your parents hated your music. This one guaranteed to have your parents paying you to stop.

Oh, Jandek. I love the way you creep me out.

Some youtuber has posted the Jandek documentary: Jandek on Corwood.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Worst selling Guitar Hero titles vol. 2

It's about time Sony reduced this guy's oeuvre to 5 buttons and a toggle switch. You know, for the kids.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Worst selling Guitar Hero titles vol. 1

The first in a series.

I'm pretty sure this guy's a genius

After all, he's from Finland. This is the work of the Santeri Ojala, aka StSanders. You may remember the "shreds" videos he did a couple of years ago. They were brilliant, but lately he's edged into full on genius territory. Instead of just bad guitar solo synching, he's now doing full on covers of entire songs. I guess one would call it a parody. But I think it's something more. I'll call it a "parodigm." It is an art form that would be impossible without the webbernet.

I wanted to embed his Rolling Stones homage, but he's disembedinated it. Watch it. Empty your bladder first.

Kammerflimer Kollektief - Wildling

Kammerflimmer Kollektief is one of the few bands that send me into giddy anticipation when I get news they’ve released a new album. Maybe that’s because they’re one of those bands I can claim as “mine,” and I still get that sophomoric kick when I mention a band my friends have never heard of. And they have a cool name to boot. Just saying “Kammerflimmer Kollektief” makes me feel cool. How many band names do that anymore?

The band is a collective in the true sense of the word. The lineup has shifted constantly over 11 years and 8 albums. Only one original member remains. So it’s a remarkable testament to the vision of the “kollektief” that the music has remained so consistent.
For their newest album, Wildling, the group is paired down to just a trio. This has focused their sound considerably, though the sound is unmistakably “kammerflimmer.”

“Kammerflimmer” translates literally into “shimmering,” which is not a bad way to begin describing the music the band makes. Though it is a peculiar kind of shimmering -- more like the way stars would shimmer on the surface of a lake at night. There’s always a bit of a spooky element just under the surface that makes describing their music difficult. I could tell you that they basically find a subtle, comfy groove, settle into it and let various avant jazz-inspired acoustic and electronic sounds wash in and out of the cracks, but that would be a bit like saying the Ramones played three-chord punk rock. It’s just not fair.

The main thing that separates this new album from the others is the prevalence of Heike Aumuller’s vocals. Though her voice appeared on a few tracks of the last album, Jinx, it is on all but two here. Normally, the addition of vocals is something that would elicit much moaning and gnashing of teeth from yours truly. I adore instrumental music. And Kammerflimmer has produced many albums of astonishing instrumental music. I know I’m in the minority, but usually the addition of vocals usually means the affair is over for me. It certainly ruined my love for bands like Papa M and Mice Parade. So I was fully prepared for the potential of something ghastly. But once again, Kammerflimmer deliver beautifully and surpass expectations.

Not only do Aumuller’s vocals match the eerie qualities of the music perfectly, but they add a new, even more ghostly quality. Her vocals alternate between actual lyrics that you can almost understand and the sort of bewitching, shamanic scat vocalise she debuted on jinx. It’s exactly the kind of thing that could go terribly wrong. Not only is there something truly artistic about the way she pulls it off, but she might actually be exorcizing demons.

I’ve always thought Kammerflimmer Kollektief would be an obvious choice for film music. There is an inherent soundtracky quality to what they do. Many of their pieces would be right at home in a David Lynch movie. Come to think of it, that’s a fairly apt comparison and maybe one of the reasons Kammerflimmer aren’t more popular. They tend to want to explore places that can be a little uncomfortable. But they do it gracefully, fearlessly, and without any sense of irony -- qualities lacking in much of both popular film and music today.

Never Stop

Let's just say I learned a lesson and move on, shall we?