Archive for January, 2013

Obscurity is the path of least resistance…towards art

January 23, 2013

Papers in Capetown wrote Sixto (pronounced “seesto”) Rodriguez, a folk-singing songwriter, off as a self immolator. His legend brewed up in the form of tea-leaf anecdotes which included a successful suicide at his last (obviously) concert in South Africa… the last stand of a genius musician…the creator of  Cold Fact, perhaps the most influential album during the overthrow of apartheid. Then twenty years later strangers from across the world came looking for him on the internet, via his daughter,  to catch him up on all the news.

Until uncovering his own mythology, Rodriguez led a simple life by any examination. A self-described musical-political (he ran for various offices eight times in Michigan), a man for “peace, prosperity, and maybe a little bit of justice” who also described the middle-class as an “arsenal of democracy”… no wonder the world lost track of the guy. He could’ve cared less about his ‘failing’ music career because his day in day out trudge of demolition work offered him purpose…he still sleeps in a house kept warm by a wood burning stove, fueled by supplications of cardboard & plastic nonsense. Construction kept him fed. Philosophy kept his mind hungry (he received a degree after putting down the guitar). He meandered and steadied himself through the 80’s in Detroit (aside from a couple of Australian concerts, a place he was aware of his fame), clueless to the Cinderalla ‘aspect’ that his life was taking on…clueless to the musical conscience of South Africa.

Apartheid not only unjustly segregated along color-lines, it seperated from within. White Afrikanners who supported the evil policies kept away from liberal minded flower-children’s children who supported equality & the preservation of human dignity. At the time Copywrite law was (and still is) extremely convoluted. An African label earned the rights to his album Cold Fact & distributed the sounds of ‘Establishment Blues’ and ‘Crucify Your Mind’ far-and-wide over the southern edge of the continent. These O’Leary grandchildren embraced Sixto’s anti-establishment messages…it was the Beatles first, then Rodriguez. They transformed his energy into their own movement.

An eternal archetype, a life-preserver for the human experience, the People’s Poet searches beyond the hate & the angst & that feeling that God abandoned us to the gutters… a dark-skin’d warrior-child of the streets. Sixto’s picture suggests a Mayan priest, chewing betel on the subways muttering ghetto aphorisms to his scrappy dog. No wonder a soldier in the Afrikanner Army once told Rodriguez, “We made love to your music, we made war to your music.” There is both beauty and death in the dark places. It takes a miracle-1-in-a-1,000,000,000.000 psyche to explore them correctly.

Rodriguez is not only anti-establishment (granted the establishment needs a fixin’), but he is anti-ego. You would think a guy who sold millions of copies and didn’t see a dime might be somewhat, ornery…or fucking livid…but it doesn’t seem to move him an inch…at least from what he has publicly revealed. I hope the money gets back to him, to his daughters, but I think his peace over the whole issue comes from a satisfaction that any artist can empathize with…he was able to affect people for positive effects. And not just people…an entire nation bound by old-dogma, dipped in lies & corruption & violence…and that old dogma fell, with Rodriguez playing an active part in the coup.

At the end of the journey the money stays behind. What Sixto earned he will carry forever on his celestial dance. Listen to him while you still can.


Friday Album Portrait – The Out Crowd’s “Then I Saw the Holy City”

January 11, 2013

Dig!…… were you there? Did you buy the ticket and take the ride on a mid-90’s post-grunge pre-indie (awful word) reinterpretation of suburban malaise? Were YOU the one of the kids in their designer jeans reaching towards the greater beyond? Tweenage strangeness and early-20’s cocaine benders along Pacific Northwest highways, hell-bent after the high watermark & infinity but content with finding anything… chased by the ghost of Kurt & fueled by cartons of Marlboro Red 72s…were you there? I missed the scene but stumbled onto the documentary, like any scout’s-honor digital ager does when he wants to brush up on his/her letters… Dig!…Headlining! ONE NIGHT ONLY! The Dandy Warhols/ Brian Jonestown Massacre!

The film diagrams ecstasy-induced come-downs & deep-fetter’d emotionalism & the natural state of art, which is conflict. The lead singer of Brian Jonestown Massacre (Anton Newcombe) acts always out of insanity but (at the same time) usually out of vision, from a mind within a man that every musician interviewed in the film described as ‘genius.’  Along BJM’s road of drug use, stardom, maladjustment and (ultimately) schism, the viewer is introduced to Anton’s supporting cast… a freak-out tambourine player, a sylphy Eastern girlfriend (with an equally destructive heroin sweet-tooth), and a bitching guitarist who quits at every other stop along their ever-defecting, Gulf of Tonkin bus tour… the lead man behind The Out Crowd, Mr. Matt Hollywood.

After wiping off enough of Anton’s bullshit, Hollywood jump’d out of the tour bus (but in the last couple years he grew weary and re-jumped back on…which may or may not bankrupt the thesis behind this write-up…ahh fuck it) and formed his own psych-rock-anarcho-feel good orchestration. Anton probably laughed and plugged-in & went back into the insular world created for, by, to, from and of himself… Maybe he did or maybe he didn’t, but Matt Hollywood tells the strange story of collaboration & inspiration & explains why the collaborative nature of music separates it from most of the other arts… the neurotic sculptor digging remains out of a cemetery, the forsaken novelist destined for another alcoholic night of cigarettes & regret… music depends on fitting into a whole, while other mediums require piecing together one.

Hollywood once confessed to a reporter, “I will always love [Newcombe], and I will always miss the fact that musically he’s one of the people I really connected with, and it’s hard playing with other people knowing that there’s this other guy who’s like an extension of my own mind.” His last remark unearths the lynchpin… an overlap of consciousness & a leap of faith.

So what happens when Luigi heads down the drain, leaving Mario to fight Bowzer on his own? Sometimes the outcome is less than ideal… see: prime example… Mick deciding in the mid 80’s that he didn’t need Jagger and released She’s the Boss, it became obvious to the rest of the world that the album’s misnomered title should have been christened Keef’s the Boss. Sure John & Paul put together fine solo careers…but it wasn’t Sgt. Pepperworthy. There’s no way a guy named Matt Hollywood could lose the genius responsible for BJM’s output & create an album on his own that not only extends BJM’s sound but proves that he might have been the major player all the while… Oh, you want proof? Enter –>The Holy City… a testament of the strongest, the survivors of the People’s Temple Agricultural Project.

“Little Elf” starts off on a drone… a voice, a decaying tape bleeding television strange… slow and incoherent then funky and recognizable… like many BJM openings, an invitation to trip. As the rhythm carries and the membrane bursts,  the BJM sound is uncanny…I was listening to Her Majesty’s for the first time … “All the people standing in their lines, going nowhere wasting all their time, they’ll drag you down and screw you, mess you up and do you in, we’ve got something they could never find.” Simple psychedelia, homegrown like a basil plant on the window ledge slurping up the last photons of an Indian Summer… loose but taught & tambourine driven…spreading love, spreading life, spreading energy.

“Be Good” (I know I’m reviewing the first two songs of the album and you’re thinking I didn’t listen through the entirety because the time happens to read 4:00 on a Friday… but what reality matters?) is prototypical slow-stop-heavy-slam mushroom bliss… “Be one of us because you’re everybody”… Hollywood’s lyrics hang subversive & anarchistic, within a context of melody and blinding shamanic fractals… jungle cats & river monsters & a vibrating ancestry… the whole song grips. It beams up to the point where none of the flowery-freelover’s  claim they’ve been pushed out the front seat & into a Gallic conquest, but keeps the speed-freaks & octane huffing gonzo’s content in a chakratic rush of tongue sex (see: album cover).

The feminine croons that hover over “Big Brother” & “Eyes of Blue” turn me on. Period. Then emerges the resurrected, a Lazarian-phone-a-friend… “Bring out Yer Dead,” a call to arms between a call to life after a call to the local dope man. “Treaty Breaker” represents the be-all-end-game to spirit hymnals, a saddle-back’d ride onto one of Arizona’s oldest corners of desert…a flute, indigo-driven and contingent on the wind & sky…the brother of “Instant Dharma,” another fire-circle song for the aesthetes with nothing better to do than Get Busy Waitin’ under the porous firmament… “Sports” had to have been written by Anton, surely? Sex, drugs and rock? The extended jam, riffing and riffing past the thermosphere & into the realm of Spacemen 3… you’ve heard it a million times before with BJM, but not quite like this…this sunny-day in the middle of winter music…stoned & freezing & smoking a cigarette outside the library with a knapsack full of Apostolic Traditions & wellness magazines…having recently been the victim to mind theft.

Then I Saw The Holy City brims with jangle-room effect’d guitars and sly production moves (horns on “Your Highness”)… it runs long, an expansive LP…Spector wall-of-sound’ing..but it doesn’t usurp any early highs by adding unnecessary gulleys or streams to wade through at the end of a long day’s night…its no shit-cook’d hit of E after hour 3 on a smokin’ fine legged hit of LSD…no no, this a fever-inducing Pink PlayBoy Rabbit…Dig! A balance of drone & of haze, of late night cigarettes and early morning grindhouse amphetamines… melody and mystery and just enough quiet to offer the listener a chance to contemplate something like ‘Maybe that Anton fucker isn’t a genius after all?’

Correlation vs. Causation – An exploration into the mental-masturbatory techniques of 1st World Academians

January 10, 2013

Don’t you think we could’ve saved the American Academy of Neurology a couple of bucks… spared them the cost of a 260,000 person study (aka survey)? I mean did it really take all this effort to figure out if you handed the following social groups a Goldberg depression test they might score a bit on the high side? Or really lowww…because here’s whose REALLY drinking diet soda = overweight caffeine junkies, chain-smoking haggard&divorced single professionals, neuroses-clogged fiancees & a whole pile of baby boomer’s (minus the psilocybin)… off their personalized-family-picture-drink-coasters designed to protect a mahogany desk top at all costs.

Call me a loon, but I could see all of these poor bastards feeling a bit shitty every once in a while… maybe a month-long mental-health-day from work? Or the wife & kids? Or any sort of general insanity that cricks and creeks into all of us?

Dr. Honghei Chen & the White Coat Magicians came up with “Our findings are preliminary, and the underlying biological mechanisms are not known.” Dr. Bullshit & the Also Known As’s covered DHCWCM’s title track song and reinterpreted it as, “We spent a couple years pissing away a bunch of money and exchanged quite a few e-mails in the process.” But the real enlightment staved off until Chen’s boat-rocking solo of  “More research is needed to confirm these findings and people with depression should continue to take depression medications prescribed by their doctors.” (A warning those flash-flooded by ennui that sadly no, soda-pop is not going to heal your existential wounds). 

Even more sadly is that this is not science… it is a case of correlation vs. causation: two things may trend similarly across a statistical sampling, but their independent behaviors/scores/game show tokens have absolutely no bearing on each other i.e. there is no ‘biological mechanism’ that binds the two i.e. me lighting a cigarette outside of work has nothing to do with the scoffing woman hoity-toiting past with her wretchedness… And these are the same high-brows (Dr. Chen and the other medicine men & women) who witch-hunt anyone equipped with an IM-179 Geiger Counter, Thermal-Imaging Systems, or Digital EMF Readers (see: un-liscensed ghost adventurer equipment)…hmm? Will the real pseudoscientist please stand up?

This is the nature of acadamies, of the United States’ university system, of donor-funded scientific research, of lecture halls & symposiums & conferences where hoardes of sexless experts align their agendas (kiss eachother’s asses) for the better of mankind. For the pursuit of knowledge… this is why any sort of true progress is vague & impossible and will be thrown into sterile hamburger grinders by the FDA.