:: Sounds

Magick, Sex, William Blake & Lewis Carroll: Brett Anderson’s Apocalyptic Visions published 16/08/2018

The video to Suede’s early single ‘Animal Nitrate’ would see the cameras eye hurry from outside a Brutalist tenement, along its bleak walkways and inside a tower block. The interior is revealed as a sleazy performance space. In it, a shiny Taffeta curtain suggests transformation from a bleak urban flat into a liminal space that recalls the pre-war Berlin nightclubs. This is an impression enhanced when drag artists in masks frolic around the band in leopard print. With the band playing amongst figures dressed in pig masks (‘pigs’ being a key feature of Anderson’s psychic landscape and the name of his schoolboy band), the allusions to drug-induced conceptual room are clear.

By Guy Mankowski.

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The Other Morrissey – Euro 96, TFI Friday and My Summer With Des published 22/06/2018

When England’s baser enthusiasms – for beer, patriotism and football – had coalesced to exert pressure on those who did not buy into them as mean-spirited and dour. Even though Morrissey’s character at the start of the series (from the vantage point of 1998) bemoans the contemporary presence of sleaze, Teletubbies and New Labour he does not realise what halcyon days of fleeting hope he is living in. A brief time in which the slovenly behaviour and lack of ambition of the English ‘lad’ could credibly elicit the affections of a woman like Weisz’s character. As England perform on the pitch, their followers perform to each other their identity with a lack of apology that is almost charismatic.

An extract from Albion’s Secret History – Snapshots of England’s Pop Rebels and Outsiders, by Guy Mankowski.

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Norkore – Excerpt from See You Again in Pyongyang published 04/06/2018

We know from Dennis Rodman that the Marshal’s two favorite songs are the themes from Rocky and Dallas—tunes that undoubtedly implanted themselves in the young Jong Un’s brain during his own adolescence, growing up in Switzerland—which were played over and over again by an orchestra on the night of their banquet together upon the basketball player’s first visit to Pyongyang. In addition to this stylistic influence, the Moranbong Band has layered electronic beats, dance breaks, and soulful vocal acrobatics that channel Whitney and Mariah. Concerts are replete with synchronized dance moves, laser light shows, and digital video backdrops showing footage of missiles blasting off into the sky, ecstatic marching soldiers, and the biggest rock star of all, the Marshal himself, swarmed with hysterical citizen-fans.

An excerpt from Travis Jeppesen‘s account of life in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea.

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The New Europeans – Depeche Mode, Ultravox, Hurts and Disco Lento published 08/05/2018

The album that accompanied ‘Vienna’, on its cover photo, hinted at a ‘post-punk uniform’ that other bands such as the Scottish Orange Juice adopted in this era. That of the sharp blazer, the fastened top button, and the side-parting; eyeliner an optional extra. Such photos portrayed a young aesthete, deeply preoccupied with a matter just out of shot, doubtless with his eyes fixed on some real or conceptual European horizon. The album’s song ‘New Europeans’ suggested that the mysterious realm over-the-water was being viewed in aspirational terms, through its overall aesthetic tone, if not its content.

Guy Mankowski on Albion’s Secret History.

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Cherubs, Zeros, Glass Children & Swans – Symbolism in Lyrics of The Smashing Pumpkins published 24/04/2018

But within this new aesthetic palette was also room for darker devices, reflecting the tone of the album sleeve. Tracks like ‘Shame’ and ‘Daphne Descends’ utilise drones, to give Flood’s ornate, layered production a sense of dense layering. Flood’s production evokes moods that are at one claustrophobic and expansive. In the album’s single ‘Perfect’ the glacial production and clean guitars offer a backdrop to a painful lyric concerned with Corgan coming to terms with a breakup. The clashing guitars in ‘Daphne Descends’ sit behind the choruses words; ‘You love him’. But they sound far from romantic, instead evoking an approaching emotional storm.

By Guy Mankowski.

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Excerpt: Quadrophenia: A Way of Life published 31/03/2017

Outside of Toyah’s mum’s wardrobe, the film’s producers were taking the acquisition of clothes very seriously. One company approached to secure the necessary period pieces was called Contemporary Wardrobes. More than just a clothes-hire operation, they’d earned a reputation by supplying genuine items for films and other productions. Overseen by two former Mods, tailors Jack English and Roger Burton, they recalled their joy at being called in for duties on the film for a Who fanzine in 1979.

By Simon Wells.

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Excerpt: In Echoed Steps: The Jam and a Vision of Albion published 13/03/2017

The first Riot Stories publication to host Weller’s poetry would be the first issue of December’s Child. Weller had already utilised the back pages of the songbook for All Mod Cons to host some of his poetry, and with the burgeoning market for poetry fanzines in an ascendancy, he’d already contributed a few poems to several publications. While adept in imbuing his songs with his poetic words, it was clear that a lot of his verse would benefit from a far wider canvas.

Simon Wells on the literary influences of Paul Weller and The Jam.

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Emancipative Disillusionment. Subversion/ Agitation/ Transgression/ Critique published 25/02/2017

They pose – like Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will – the question of cinema itself: fascism was the only major ideology to be born of a cinematic consciousness – it was (and is) cinematic to its core. Its subtle expansion into all aspects of daily life, via the evolution of TV and new media, the pervasive seductions of advertising and the omnipresence of computing algorithms designed to reinforce our collective narcissism, represent an almost insurmountable dilemma.

Louis Armand on subversive cinema.

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Mark Fisher, Neoliberalism and The Hall of Mirrors published 15/01/2017

In his book Ghosts Of My Life he eloquently reframed the work of artists such as Joy Division and Burial to try and understand (and to an extent lament) the lost futures portrayed their work. Neoliberal policies deny the realisation of alternative futures, instead forcing a recreation of past moments until they become stultifying.

Guy Mankowski on the polemical message of the late Mark Fisher.

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Abstract Journalism published 23/12/2016

Song Machine is a paragon of today’s dominant form of narrative journalism, the longer stuff you can read in nonfiction books and magazines like The New Yorker, Wired, and The NY Times Sunday Magazine — what Robert Boynton called “The New New Journalism.” While Seabrook’s industry is less remunerative than pop music, no doubt, the two have more in common than you’d guess.

Trevor Quirk gets to grips with the new abstract journalism in John Seabrook‘s Song Machine.

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