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


  1. Since that show was recorded in Houston, I have started wondering if they were referring to the Rothko Chapel in the title? It makes more sense to me the more I think about it. The Rothko Chapel is right in the arts district and certainly would have been a destination for them. Especially seeing that Keith Rowe was trained as a painter in the "abstract expressionist" tradition as well as the fact that Morton Feldman wrote that beautiful piece of minimal music about it.

  2. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's what they're referring to. It doesn't make it any less awkward of a title though. I only know Keith's painting through the AMM covers. Judging from that, I'd have to admit I'm not terribly fond of it.

    I tried to leave a comment on your page but it didn't register. I'll have to try again. I really like the new work. Makes me wish I had a record to put it on....