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Congrats to Michael Bell-Smith for the NY Times mention of his cubist remix of R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" videos (that's how I'd describe it, anyway). By syncing and playing all five vids simultaneously, Bell-Smith spares us the agony of having to watch them end to end. I'm still marveling at a link Bell-Smith posted earlier to this "scary splash page for a paint-thinner company."
Sarah Hromack has a good summation of the havoc copyright extremists are wreaking on human expression, starting with a rundown of their recent successful campaign (so far) against Google Print:
Taking their cues from the music industry’s reaction to p2p file sharing, publishers fear that making texts available online will lead to unauthorized reproduction and distribution. I know that I, personally, am burning to print all 1,424 pages of War and Peace on my home printer, before collating, binding, and covering the whole mess in split cowhide. I’m seeing a multiple-volume desktop set here. Gold embossing, the works. Ebay, Haight Street—there is no limit to the pure profit potential of this scheme.Ed Rackley offers an especially clear analysis of what's happening in Darfur and its rich neighbor to the north, Khartoum, after he has spent the better part of this year in the Sudan working as a consultant in the international relief effort.
Musical prodigy Adrien75 has posted some new mp3s. One I especially like is the Neu!-ish "4th Song." [link to mp3 page updated: "4th Song" no longer available]
Art in America-recommended blogger James Wagner recently discovered that the Museum of Modern Art subsidiary PS1, a so-called alternate space in Queens, doesn't allow photo-taking of the "Greater New York 2005" exhibit! Man, considering the critical hatred-shading-to-indifference that show received, you'd think they'd want all the publicity they could get. A "no photo" policy benefits MOMA because its art is high-dollar intellectual property that pays dividends in the gift shop--can't have folks thinking this work belongs to everyone with the unfortunate consequence that Jay Bob sells Starry Night T-shirts in Springfield MO based on his digital camera pictures of same.
But an "alternate space" has a different mission, which is to introduce new, difficult, and/or undiscovered talent to the world. Or in this case, new, difficult, and/or undiscovered talent repped by major Chelsea galleries. One way you do this is by encouraging photographers and citizen-journalists to spread the word far and wide with as many visual aids as they can possibly publish.
Anyway, Wagner has a great idea, which is to post artists' sketches on his blog of works in the show. So far he's only gotten one, and it's not loading in my browser at the moment, but I think I'll mosey over to PS1 and do a drawing, as an act of protest of the image blackout and because the editorial thought-process of deciding what to draw appeals. My prediction is most artists won't want to do this, because so many are, let's be frank, geniuses, who have been told they must patiently wait their turn for institutional recognition: "playas" don't sketch other playas' work. * Fine, be a good vassal, I'm gonna go have me some fun.
*Also 'cause it's hard to use that internet thingie.
"Cock of the Walk" [mp3 removed].
"Feather Duster" [removed & replaced by "Cock of the Walk (Siege Mix)"--see below ].
Two tracks using the same 92 bpm hiphop groove (I think it's called Crack Dealer--great) to rather different effect. The titles are from Auntie Entity's quote from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: "But how the world turns. One day, cock of the walk. Next, a feather duster." (The excellent illustration, by Brent Lucy, comes from a Mad Max fan page.) The second tune has a "nice" melody of the calypso/rave variety. The first, grittier one uses mostly drum sounds from Clay Duncan's CD Kit 1 for Native Instruments. In the manual he imparts the rather fascinating tidbit that "These sounds I started making this year for the movie Thunderbirds and on [the TV miniseries] The Grid and Blade Trinity." So he's sharing in the entertainment industry gravy as opposed to a starving in a garret for the greater cause of techno, if anyone ever did that. Good for him and all, I know music is like acting where you list all your commercials and such in your book.
But someone has to ask: All those projects pretty much suck, though, don't they? The Grid--yeah, making us believe our government has a clue after four planes were successfully used as bombs in 2001. Thunderbirds--the movie that accused liberals of coddling Osama Bin Laden [update, whoops--that was Team America.] Blade Trinity, that's like the second sequel of a vampire superhero movie. I like the idea that music could spin off from these high-tech, high-dollar corporate makework projects, though, cargo-cult fashion: that little people can share the samples and make their own cute music that actually has the potential to be better than the source because it isn't made for some suit whose ultimate goal is to rip off the masses with overpromoted sensationalistic product. Sorry for the antiglobalist ranting but there has to be a better vision of the world than what these companies are selling. Yeah, I know I got my titles from a sequel to a sequel.
Addendum: I'm thinking now I'll combine these tracks, starting off with skronky bass stabs and bringing the "pretty" melody in at the halfway point--or making the bass stabs a long break. Oh, God, structure, I just want to be an obstinate serialist.
Addendum 2: Done (option 2): "Cock of the Walk (Siege Mix)" [6.3 MB .mp3]
Addendum 3 (November '05): Sorry this post is so mean-sounding; sometimes demons just take over. Also, not saying my music is "better than the source"--I just mean potentially someone's could be.
"Green March" [mp3 removed]. Dear J(ake) M(andell), thanks for the "green algae" drum samples you made for Native Instruments, and for throwing in a few tones that could be used for melodies. The samples are fuller and more ominous-sounding without all the volume-shaping that attaches to them in certain instruments (Battery), which is why I played them "straight" in Kontakt, but either way, brilliant work, you are inspiring people (me) to use the kit just to hear all the things it can do.
"Piano Bar" [mp3 removed]. Tickling the ivories with some slightly grunged-out Rhodes sounds. This one just sort of popped out (the best ones usually do)--most of the melody lines were placeholders for the real tunes and sounded good enough not to change.
Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man, opening in movie theatres tomorrow, sounds creepy-fascinating. Herzog acquired the footage of a would-be documentarian of giant Alaskan grizzlies, and framed it with Herzogian narration and editing. From Village Voice writer Michael Atkinson's description, the bear guy sounds like a cross between Jane Goodall and the football-throwing damaged specimen in Napoleon Dynamite. Atkinson says the film awkwardly captures the essential contradictions between the naively nature-loving filmmaker, eventually killed by the bears he filmed, and Herzog, who as anyone who has heard his monologue about the jungle in Burden of Dreams knows, sees the natural world as an arena of grinding implacable forces. The footage included audio of the bear-lover and his girlfriend being killed, but the audience is mercifully spared it--other than to watch Herzog listening to it and then ordering an assistant to destroy it. I can already visualize that scene; not to take anything away from the tragedy, but Herzog is so serious he cracks me up, as he says, "against my better judgment."