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I first heard the music of jenghizhan (aka John Parker) at the Brooklyn space vertexList, and described it enthusiastically here as "mysterious, sexily-filtered ambient industrial keyboards." He has since posted those performances on this page of his website, as "live improvisation with the Elektron Monomachine." Track 4 is one of my favorites, and I did a "remix," consisting solely of lopping off the intro and cutting straight to the monster, four-note hook that first grabbed my attention: [4.7 MB .mp3].
Later I heard him perform with Man from Planet Risk, his duo with Cave Precise (Ron Ramey), both in a live club setting and on CD. In a post on the band I commented on the differences between their live and studio sounds:
For all its echo-y horror soundtrack atmospherics and Black Sab-like bass riffs, the CD is much lighter [than the live playing]: the beats are spryer, with turntable twists & jazzy piano riffs livening up the doom and gloom. "Triphop" comes to mind because the sound is truly trippy: jenghizkhan approaches music like a painter (and is in fact a visual artist, exhibiting under his non-nom de plume), taking advantage of all the filtering and timestretching capabilities of modern keyboard tech to make layers of artfully mangled sound. Imagine Ennio Morricone eclectism shot through with the kind of dreamy, smeared psychedelia of San Francisco post-punkers Chrome, or the European hardcore tech of The Mover set to a hiphop beat.Since then, I've listened to jenghizhan's solo CDs Hooden Knooks and Brooklyn Sucks. It's great stuff, what the late lamented Throb records would file under "braindance" and what I would call "art electro." By way of comparison, I went back and listened to the Ischemic Folks compilation, which many considered a watershed for this kind of intensely digital electronic music, and found I like jenghizkhan better. Except for a couple of lush Richard Devine compositions, the IF CD is brittle and analytical, with too much of the Miami Bass parent DNA decanted out in the name of art.
Mixed in with jenghizkhan's trademark doomcore riffs one hears a lot of humor, and a strong melodic sense even when he's furthest out there in the drill-and-bass, sound-bending zone. As audio abstraction it's more frenetic de Kooning than faux-febrile Richter, and for all jk's insistence on "modern digital synthesis" over retro styles and sampling (more on this soon), his compositions have the verve and warm texture of early analog and tape recorder music (e.g., Mario Davidovsky, Otto Luening, Richard Maxfield), as opposed to the rather cool "glitch" sound of Oval, Phoenicia, et al. Check out these tracks from the CDs: "Sidewinder Circus" [1.4 MB (excerpt) .mp3], where the digitally scrambled phrase "sidewinder heat-seeking missile" sniggles in and out of overdriven-soundcard-like raunch, and "Outlet Nightjar" [ 3.56 MB .mp3], in which a synthetic bowed string keeps sounding the same ridiculous note in counterpoint to a heavily reverbed pseudo-guitar.
[coming soon: Part Two--how Man from Planet Risk differs from jenghizkhan solo work, and a discussion of gear]
If I'm sympathetic to the New Dumb Little Painting genre it's because I've done my share of them over the years. Here's one from '91: Rot Gut, acrylic on canvas, 10 X 8 inches, currently hanging in the Louvre in Paris, France.
Today is my last day reBlogging for the Eyebeam reBlog. Tomorrow the Eyebeamers will introduce my successor, Tim Shey, who will take it from here. After three weeks monitoring about 100 blog feeds and reposting 15-20 items per day (often with added pictures, text, or gratuitous comments), I would now like to articulate my personal reBlogging philosophy--hopefully you're sitting down. Here are my thoughts, for future reBloggers (and reBlog readers) to take or leave:
1. reBlogging is definitely an art, somewhere between curating and editing. I believe the Eyebeam reBlog can be as important and genre-defining as any of the major umbrella tech sites, umbrella art sites (if those existed) or heaven forbid, regular news sources, as long as original material from a pool of steady dedicated bloggers is given equal weight to clips. The purely anecdotal has value, as does free lance reporting. Accordingly, I tried to emphasize unique, personal blog writing and research over news items recycled from big media sources. By and large I did not reBlog slashdot, boingboing or kottke, assuming that most people were looking at them anyway. I also avoided the major media feeds, such as NY Times, Yahoo, Wired, for the same reason.Because of the rotation system, personal guidelines such as these won't harden into rules, resulting in the "soft bigotry of voluntarism." I look forward to following the reBlog after I Ieave, and invite everyone to visit my personal blog, where posting is about to increase markedly. I'll probably reBlog a few more items today, but wanted to get this up.
2. I favored items with text or pictures over blind links with pithy 3-word captions.
3. I tried to keep a balance of tech and art writing.
4. I included a heftier dose of politics because the major media are failing us in that regard and we have to do what we can.
5. I added a few feeds where people are posting original art to the Web: Look, See; SCREENFULL; Wooster Art Collective.
6. I was disappointed in the music coverage out there. A lot of electronic dance bloggers, for example, don't have RSS feeds or seem to be in a post-coital slump after they all found and linked to each other about two years ago.
[Obviously this was written with self-reBlogging in mind.]
I have an animated .GIF in the online exhibition "Sunday Afternoon," curated by MatCh-Art (Matthew Fisher and Christina Vassallo). The show of approximately 25 artists, described as "an interdisciplinary exploration of leisure, love and obligations," showcases, among other things, what Jerry Saltz has called "puberty escapism" and what I would call The New Dumb Little Painting, a style sweeping New York, if not the world. I don't mean the term disparagingly at all: antecedents would be Laura Owens and Karen Kilimnick and the reigning queen, I suppose, would be Dana Schutz (even though her paintings aren't very little). The style is marked by faux naive paint handling, disguising sharp, emotionally punchy, and/or socially-tinged observations; MatCh-Art and its earlier incarnations specialize in fairly intimate and ambiguous twists on the genre. Here's a great example, from the "Sunday Afternoon" show, Jeffrey Lutonsky's Fuck Ken Schrader, 2004, ink and pencil on paper, 14 X 17 inches:
Did you read Robert Novak's recent column? The Bush inner circle appears to be telegraphing to the non-neocon righties that they plan to pull out of Iraq soon after the election! While in the meantime Bush continues to talk tough for the security moms.
Well-placed sources in the administration are confident Bush's decision will be to get out. They believe that is the recommendation of his national security team and would be the recommendation of second-term officials. An informed guess might have Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, Paul Wolfowitz as defense secretary and Stephen Hadley as national security adviser. According to my sources, all would opt for a withdrawal.Novak is a paleoconservative and kinda sorta opposed the invasion so this may be wishful thinking on his part. But I don't think so. The neocons may have decided this thing isn't winnable and are looking to save their front man so they can fight (Iran) another day. I wish I could say Kerry/Edwards were an antidote to this craven duplicity but they also speak with bifurcated tongue on the issue. "We'll win this thing with European allies" and "We'll be out in four years" are just a lame campaign message.
Getting out now would not end expensive U.S. reconstruction of Iraq, and certainly would not stop the fighting. Without U.S. troops, the civil war cited as the worst-case outcome by the recently leaked National Intelligence Estimate would be a reality. It would then take a resolute president to stand aside while Iraqis battle it out.
My print criticism continues to surface on the Web like submerged bodies rising in a Meadowlands pond. Here's my Artforum review of Randy Wray's 1996 Kagan Martos exhibition. I enjoyed looking at Wray's website, about which more later. Missed the last couple of shows, unfortunately, but in the paintings I've seen, the tension between abrupt bursts of ideas and obsessive time-filling noodling within the same piece is compelling. It's tempting to say they're Seinfeldian in that no subject becomes the subject. I still think I prefer the earlier, punchier works, but it's fascinating watching his thought process...mature? deepen? not sure yet (you, too, can follow this development by paging though the slightly-too-small but kilobyte-intensive website pics). He does use the computer now for developing ideas, but too much could be made of that--they're still about painting, sculpting, drawing, and paint-by-number handicrafts. You don't feel much "cyber" in the work--it could just as easily be elaborate Polke-esque stencilling.
Old scores: this piece, Nest, was the image I wanted to accompany my Artforum review, instead of the one they ran (it was the dealers' fault for sending in something else). This would have popped off the page in AF's black and white postage stamp format.
Trax Records, the seminal Chicago house music label, just re-released some vintage recordings, and the Seattle Weekly's review of them is worth a read. I just purchased Acid Classics and my jaw elevatored down to hear this music I completely missed when it came out in '86 (!) through 1990. (I knew about House but had no reliable way to get my hands on the vinyl.) By now we've heard these moves a million times--the trancy squiggle of the Roland TB-303 is a musical institution--but these early, stripped-down psychedelic funk engines still sound radical. "Acid" is the most techno-y side of house, and the beats are as minimal as it gets, but still seductive and completely up to date. There's simply no comparison between this music and the "industrial" style of pre-techno that was appearing around the same time--Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, Single Gun Theory--whose beats were much more pounding, metallic, obvious, and, now, dated. (Although I still have a soft spot for Nitzer Ebb.) Laurent X's "Machines" and Adonis' "Two the Max" are brilliant.