There’s No Such Thing as News Music

ABC,Blog,CBS,FOX,NBC,Writing — Tags: , , , — admin @ 10:04 pm

I troll the internet for video spots using CA70 all the time.

I’ve gone through literally thousands of links over the year and ended up with a folder of about 100 promos, mostly news. One of my clients (VideoHelper) has a massive foothold on the promo market and here’s a sizzle reel of 10 spots. They (as a rule) vary wildly in what an on-air producer (or any average Joe) would consider “news music”.

Writing good music is first and foremost. Writing for a specific scenario (setting out to produce “news music”) risks sounding like a cliché and almost always does. Even writing on assignment, my “news music” is (at best) impressionistic.

These are all types, from every major network, and different markets. Want more proof it’s a cliché? Stop the next person you see and ask them what “news music” is. Want your track to be in a news promo? Stuff the title with newsy words.

Note: At 2:00, the track is “Waukeesha Dub”, my remix of Chris Hanson’s track “Wizard of Waukeesha”.

Full Biography

Blog,Writing — admin @ 11:02 pm

CA70 = Circa 70 Music, Inc. aka Chris Jones, composer/producer/sound designer/musician/DJ.

Chris Jones
(1970-) is the son of Terry “Buffalo T.” Jones, a singer/songwriter who penned the country-western hit 1983′s “Red Neck And Over Thirty” (Billboard #71). After some success in Nashville he entered the college/public radio industry and built what would become the Long Island Radio Network.

Chris started playing music professionally at age 16 with well-regarded jazz drummer Jim Chapin. Through Chapin he met Ray Williams, began studying classical contrabass and competed that year in All-State competitions receiving 6A’s in both jazz and classical. The following year, he studied drumming with Chapin as a trade-off for playing bass in his jazz groups and again competed All-State receiving a performance scholarship and 4A’s in jazz (kit) and classical (mallets).

On said scholarship (and tuition remission), Chris attended LIU’s C.W. Post and began a music major with a minor in film. At Post he met faculty member Frank Cassara (Steve Reich, Philip Glass), began studying mallets/percussion and performed with Avant-Garde Ensemble, Opera Workshop, Wind Ensemble, and Orchestra on both bass and percussion. All performances took place at the world renowned Tilles Center.

Two years later he transferred to Berklee College Of Music and enrolled in the Film Scoring program. Marti Epstein, Steve Wilkes, Rick Applin, David Spear, and Bruce Gertz would all prove to be new music mentors. He was an (fretless) electric bass principal, doubled on upright, and went on to play Chapman Stick in the Berklee Performance Center in a concert honoring (ironically) Mr. Jim Chapin. He was an active musician at Berklee playing in ensembles, 100+ recording sessions (FS and MP&E), and in rock bands gigging everywhere in Boston.

After graduating (FS ’95 Diploma), he moved back to L.I. to focus on composing work. First clients included: Nickelodeon (Dora The Explorer designer Helena Gierz/Funline Animation), director David B. Levy (ASIFA, Adult Swim, Noggin), Manhattoons (MTV’s Cartoon Sushi, Atom Films), and producer Robert Charde (Blue’s Clues, Sesame Street, Mo Willems). These freelance projects went on to win Telly, CINE Golden Eagle, and BDA Awards. Between jobs he played GB gigs (jazz/blues/rock/theatre), drove taxi, and DJ’d in both the electronic (live PA) and jazz (public radio) settings. (WPBX LIU Southampton).

He was hired by VideoHelper Production Music Library in 1999 as staff composer/sr. producer. In his period at VideoHelper he earned many credits including: The Sopranos, ABC, NBC, CBS/Viacom, Miramax, HBO, Adidas, Akklaim, and TBS. He licensed music and sound design for over 40 movie trailers, co-developed and produced their ScoreHelper and Modules libraries and served as staff orchestrator. His work while at VideoHelper has been written about in Post, Mix, Pro Sound News, and Create Digital Music.

In September of 2006, Chris accompanied VH to the Czech Republic to produce the Moravian Philharmonic in a recording session of 12-tone/atonal orchestral music and effects composed and orchestrated by Penka Kouneva (orch. Hostel, Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers), CJ, and VideoHelper. Also that year, he co-wrote/produced a track entitled “Fool” for Robin Danar’s album Altered States (Shanachie) with Andy Levin and Holly Palmer. The album is a collection of covers produced and performed by different guest artists including Pete Yorn, Kinky, Lisa Loeb, Paul Buchanan and others.

Chris left VideoHelper staff (still freelances) in late 2007 and formed Circa 70 Music, Inc. (CA70, ASCAP).

Currently, he produces and DJ’s electronic dance music (dubstep/trip-hop/nu-jazz) under the name Overcast Radio. He’s active in the US/UK dubstep community releasing tracks on several labels, getting play on BBC Radio 1, and playing NYC’s Dub War party (with Kode 9) in support of mixing Vol.4 of their well-known podcast series.

As a musician, Chris plays bass within the New York free-jazz/improv community with Stereophile recording artists Attention Screen and has performed/worked with Daniel Carter, Don Fiorino, Mark Flynn, David Gould, Andy Haas, Michael Leonhart, Mary Lorson, Dafna Naphtali, Robert Reina, Blaise Siwula and others. Attention Screen plays regularly in NYC and Overcast Radio features some of these musicians as well.

He is endorsed by several brands through Artist Relations and is a member of ASCAP (as writer and publisher), AFM (Local 802), and Freelancers Union.

Random Thoughts On Rock Guitar (or When Tapping Thought Outside The Box)

Blog,Writing — admin @ 11:17 am

Also from 2006: These two pieces appear here back-to-back because they don’t self-warrant their individual existence anymore.

The 1980s created a rise in new thoughts toward rock guitar and started some trends that we now know as standards. Look at the playing of folk style voicings (south of fret five)–with great force–through distortion AND a chorus pedal and at a fast tempo. Something will give, it’s not a question of if. As if playing perfectly in tune isn’t harrowing enough. Amid synthesizer mania and an Eddie Van Halen freestyle renaissance, there had to be something else for the idiom of rock guitar.

Electric guitar technique can most certainly reflect the decade like hairstyle, color schemes, automotive design, and other cultural phenomena. Some rock guitar playing became slender, introspective, plucky, subdued. Melody/countermelody was now a focus and people no longer saw electric guitar as a solo instrument. Somehow saxophone saw itself in that role instantly making millions nauseous. Need to guess a date of a film? Listen to the guitar.

We see reactions against this wave of cocksure antics. I love Eddie and Randy. Their playing is musical. But in their wake grew schlock. Extremely annoying, flamboyant, shrieking, rhetorical, non-musical symbols of American rock and roll glut. The Metallization Of America. (See also The Discoification Of America)

There are more factors to consider. Synthesizers (re: New Wave) were in style and guitar had to get out of the way sonically and socially it seemed . New Wave or Metal. The role of rock guitarist had changed forever. Parts relied on known riff pools, solos were based on said parts, formulas arose. It’s truly amazing how expendable metal guitarists were then. It seemed “guitarist”, “guitar player”, and to some…self-important types “lead guitarist” were now three different things.

It’s interesting to listen to different techniques. Clean muted funk lines leftover from disco crept into new wave guitarists’ vocab. Folk voicings played forcefully through distortion begin to moan. As if the tuning did not fully deserve reevaluation after 7 takes, one could and would use a chorus pedal. 7 takes, by the way: the absolute maximum. A chorus pedal being the opposite of tuning. Nice try. To compound problems, voicings are not exactly folk in sound; there are nines and suspended fourths running amok.

The chorus pedal. A flanger? No, no, that would be too wild. Just a touch of gold. It’s like these guitars were 10 year old girls showing their older wilder sisters they could hang by putting on a dash of makeup. Poor new wave guitars want to fit in too. More like a 50 year-old dad showing his son’s karate class his “killer roundhouse”, and wrenching his back.

Exaggerated analogies prove half a point.

Part 2.
When Tapping Thought Outside Of The Box.

I always link the sounds of tapping back to Galaga.

The world in 1979 seemed to be in a post-disco space-age with “video” now prefixing all former words and scads of sci-fi flotsam bobbing in Star Wars’ wake. Also with technology being a parent to culture (as per usual), the sound of tapping electric guitar was the best way to rebel against synthesis and New Wave. (New Wave being the bastard spawn of European electronic musiks and disco–now deceased). Was rock guitar subconsciously trying to join in the futuristic fun or defying the new synthesizers with newer expressions that had hitherto only been heard in the tractor beams of Galaga? In other words, was electric guitar saying “fuck you” again socially? Was Link Wray and Les Paul proud or nauseous?

Box patterns. What we all learn first. I remember learning bass and having afterimages of dice patterns, squares, Rubik’s cubes, and other abstractions. Practicing scales with a drunken starfish for a left hand. The drunken starfish. The claw. The ham fist. All derogatory names in bass playing for a weak left hand. I got that game Simon for Christmas that year and I recall loving it for its musical memorization. Anyone knowing the game will attest and appreciate its role in 1979 sci-fi mania. If box pattern derived guitar solos were the conversational patois of rock, four-finger tapping solos became speaking in tongues. Cavemen witnessing lightning? Horses seeing a Model A?

It’s interesting how electric guitar followed the path of classical soloists. Everything is in virtuosity. Primadonnas and 80′s lead guitarists can (and do) share some traits. The original guitar hero vocabulary seems to have blues roots somewhere. Removing those blues licks that we all knew and replacing them with instant shimmering space beams from California was insane.

Classical metal (Yngwie, The Great Kat) fits in to this theory, I’m just not sure where.

Note from 2010: There is an immaturity in this writing. I really don’t remember trying to get laughs that much but here we are. Some of it I just don’t agree with exactly but it has its merits. That original collage is analog/digital; printed out photos of arcade screenshots with razor-cut text, then scanned.

The Discoification Of America

Blog,Writing — admin @ 7:16 pm

From 2006:

It can be said with some absolute truth that a cultural mania is near death when it is present in all aspects everyday life. True, all decades had (and have) their trademark crazes and styles, but every generation or so, something comes along that turns society…upside-down…possessed bacteria plagued with trendlust.

Disco music is no exception. Thankfully, we as observers have this sort of fad barometer; we can only hope for these manias to die peacefully in their sleep like loud sweaters or old dogs. If this analogy has any merit, what started as pure murder–a crime of passion–ended in euthanasia. Prior to this almost swift mercy killing, feeling disco-esque had become a stylistic default due to its seemingly mandatory wholesale super-imposition upon all pop music. Deeply song-driven genres like folk and country are generally exceptions for varying reasons.

Blondie. Highly original punk/new wave with definite disco leanings. Kiss. Already huge New York glam-rock gone awry with I Was Made For Lovin’ You. Pink Floyd. English psychedelic/noisy avant-rock innovators into “Another Brick 2″? Jazz? Smooth jazz being the eventual offspring (and black sheep) of this unfortunate mating. Maynard Ferguson springs to mind. The Star Trek theme as a disco samba? Meco’s Star Wars Theme and Other Galactic Funk? Classical? Night On Disco Mountain? Fifth Of Beethoven? What about The Village People? The sheer existence of a project like that is evidence enough of a terminal fad. The fact that America accepted, no, embraced The Village People is proof of the utter stranglehold disco had on us. Dance Fever? A primetime gameshow based on quasi-competitive disco dancing? Is that possible? Rick Dees and his Disco Duck project? Boss Hogg learning to disco-dance on The Dukes Of Hazzard? I’ll let you guess on your own what Saturday Night Fever sung by Kid’s Repetory sounded like (I have it on vinyl). Lionel Hampton recorded a Saturday Night Fever album for fuck’s sake! What is the common denominator?

Not all of these artists were creatively coerced by tawdry producers hired by record companies to gussy up their music in disco wares. It was very hip music then and fun to embrace the disco feeling after 10 years of war, social inequality, poverty, basic Soylent Green-esque turmoil, and all the other socio-economic speed-bumps (try potholes, dead-ends, and ghettoes) of the post-Vietnam America. Disco symbolized/embodied: 1. Something futuristic. We’ve got food processors, Walkmans, and test-tube babies now. 2. New sexual paradigms. Not just free straight love. Freaky costumed donkey love. 3. New music. Not more extensions of FM rock. Elvis is dead. Let’s dance. 4. New drugs. Cocaine + champagne = more dancing and less inhibitions. (Resulting in number 2 hopefully) Maybe disco was just the embodiment of one great, big, social sigh of relief. But for every generation there is an equal and opposite generation. Remember the Disco Demolition at Comiskey Park in Chicago? That was premeditated culture assassination, then being taken out back and shot like a lame duck.

Note from 2010: This could have been better with some fine tuning. I don’t like re-writing stuff from the past so here it will stay, frozen, as is. All part of this latest push for content wrangling and consolidation.

More Owls + Less Avatars

Blog,Writing — admin @ 9:01 pm

It occurred to me that social networking, micro-blogging, etc is a relationship killer. Constantly being made aware of people’s everyday trivia has taken away any desire/impetus for face-to-face contact, conversations, or even direct email. No mystery. While I love getting in touch with old friends, and making new ones, this loss of real contact bothers me. A friend (in real life) shouldn’t be someone with who you maintain your relationship via the comments thread. So I’m off and finished being this way.

If there are any Facebookers, Tweeps, and even MySpace hangers-on that want to get on my regular email list, please email me at chrisjones [at] circa70 [dot] org or just peruse this site and see I’m accessible beyond the scope of social networking and its corporate data harvesting, its ostentatious complaining/fishing for compliments, its near-sycophantic “like” button (of which I use but not in that way) and its annoying bugs. Our singular venue (which is already sad that there is a singular venue for some) for cultivating old and new relationships should not be mono-cultural, virtual, and viewable re: vicarious lurking. I’m just getting out my bud-nippers here. Social networking = great for promo and general contact but IMO sucking the soul out of knowing/hearing/seeing/understanding people. Some people will have Facebook and only Facebook to realize their relationship with and that’s understandable but honestly…why bother then? Online publishing node only with no engagement. Not your whole fucking world. Stop playing online games, and more importantly stop spamming me with play-by-play; I like you and don’t give two shits about games. I horrifyingly visualize getting together with an old friend, travelling to he or she, tucking in to a quiet table + pints and being asked whether or not I saw they found some Mystery Eggs last night.

That being said, I’ve moved out to Mattituck with my family and studio. Our Brooklyn apartment is still ours and I still consider Brooklyn my home but after almost 12 years of grinding? I will miss 3rd Ward but we had a great run and I made some great friends. NYC: I know you don’t sleep but I would actually like to get some shut-eye. These pics (including a solar vineyard) from today’s 44 mile bike ride are evidence of a new chapter or (at the very least) a massive change in scenery. You cannot go for a 44 mile bike ride together online. My first night sleeping out here I heard an owl. A real fucking owl.

G3 Euthanasia

Blog,Writing — admin @ 5:23 pm

Goodbye Charcoal G3, with your 466 MHz processor, old Audiomedia 3 card, and Photoshop 4.0 crack. You were in pain. I could sense it. Weird human-machine sympathy. At least no one can harvest your organs. R.I.P. 2003-2010.

Leaving Las Vegas

Blog,Writing — admin @ 7:01 pm

I don’t gamble. But when I went to NAB in April…I won 4 dollars playing (at the bar, innocently) video draw poker (which is the best odds in Vegas). I kept it and spent the exact same dollars taking this photo in the Club Riviera arcade (Yep: CA70). Point: Count your stars (if you win and you probably won’t) and do something tangible with your winnings. Even a good memory (5-star meal/vacation/show) is tangible but the bad memory that ultimately follows (losing all that money you didn’t have anyway) will just salt the wound. Not tangible: You will spend the next 3 days on the blot. Don’t give that money back! That Ferrari showroom that has a $25 cover charge to ENTER and OGLE ONLY is there because you let it ride.

Should I Sign With An INERT Library?: UNCUT FREEWRITE

Blog,Writing — Tags: , — admin @ 2:01 pm

*There are some other (valid and/or funny) points in this version.

With master recording licensing and synchronization now being the current revenue-generating (post) and promotional (pre) system in the music industry, we see all the traditional recording exploitation boundaries disappear.

Music libraries take on scoring gigs, produce artists/songwriters, and ad work while maintaining their catalogs of TV-ready production music. Record labels seem to be fully hitched to omni-lateral licensing pie, artist endorsed ad campaigns, single tie-ins, whatever. Add the quick-and-easy factor of digital delivery AND soon-to-be ubiquitous audio recognition tech AND deeper metadata AND the slippery slope of what passes as acceptable quality both audio- and video-wise AND this is America: production = not a poem.

Point: The “production music” pool is one big pattern-recognizing server of every kind of gang. It’s all our turf. Can you dig it?

One of these “gangs” or business models in production music specific publishers is the re-title library or (to illustrate points using metaphor and acronym) INERT libraries. It’s a (typically) Independent Non-Exclusive Retitle music library that will rep your catalog after they give your (only) master a unique title. The library then registers that unique title to their PRO as publisher and can then (in theory) go forward and collect performance royalties on said title and also collect any other fees (direct license, sync) associated with its license. From the research I’ve done, this model has the composer world polarized.

On the surface, one would think: What’s to lose? I have tons of crap sitting on my drive doing nothing for nobody no-how. If someone can make me money and wants to take 50% please be my guest. And it’s non-exclusive? Even better. I’ll look up every re-title library and get cracking. Man, I am sitting on a fucking gold mine.

Should I sign with an INERT? The question creates more questions and that is the universal choking sign of a deal.

Independent: So you are broke and possibly driving around LA with pocket drives. You cannot afford a proper search engine, the likes of which, still gets complaints from end users. You probably do not operate outside of your territory (except the crappy site). You cannot afford admin power to register all 30 billion titles (you blindly signed to bulk up your catalog) in any timely fashion (I read a thread saying over 1 year before INERT x even registered new titles with their PRO). Their are no traditional business incentives between parties with no pay, no budget, no overhead. Get ready for phone-tag and long stretches of radio silence. I bet they’re busy filling out cue sheets for all those local networks they gave shit to. You would do it but–you don’t know the new titles of your fucking tracks. No one does. Am I wrong?

Non-Exclusive: Oh boy. You have special music for me to hear? I’ve never seen these titles before. What business acumen I possess is self-taught (I went to school for music) and rooted in logic: the idea is to be the exclusive rep for the shit people want. Kinda like Jesus is the exclusive rep for Heaven? There are tons of problems here.

1. Ubiquitous audio pattern recognition tech is coming. Super-fast. Practically infallible on buried tracks. Robotically vigilant. Stop thinking about sync windfalls or whether you prefer “tastemaker” or “trendsetter”. Think about that when BlueArrow or TuneSat spits out 10 titles for the same rejected demo. Who gets paid? I dunno. Was it ever properly licensed? I dunno.

2. Undercutting. Again these INERT libs have no overhead. They don’t pay upfront in either creative fees or advances and don’t necessarily offer a piece of sync. How do you know you are getting a fair price when 5 INERTS have your catalog in LA and everyone knows it? What about cheap direct license deals for say zero dollars? Depending on how postal they went stuffing their drive with orphan one-offs you might earn (besides nothing) but .00001 of zero. Even if they sell a direct license. It will be cheap and percentage based for you: the composer. The person who invented the thing.

3. Someone wants to pay real money for your track. The catch is they want to own it. Sorry composer even though it’s an INERT deal there’s a 2-5 year term. Exclusive buyout = better gig liken to a marriage or long-term meaningful relationship not the pathetic guy who thinks a stripper is in love with him, wants him to take her away from this harsh life of money, sex, drugs, and partying. Point: these INERT tracks are sluts and no network or any other worthwhile broadcast venue is gonna touch them. Worse what if a big publisher buys INERT x while you are under contract? See what people are saying about being under a 50/50 sync deal with Pimp née Pump when Getty came in and slashed prices to 65/35. Seems breachy.

Re-Title: So yeah I thought the master was copyrighted not a title. Re-titling started as a poor-man’s watermark so composers when reviewing their statements could see that Library “A” made them $10 richer than Library “B” because my track “A01″ was licensed (the editors must have been inspired by that title). I’ve seen some shit titles. Like “0022933397″ and “qqqqq_9″. Thanks INERT. The task of finding music that fits a production is anathema to editors even in the most state-of-the-art situations. Proper music libraries are constantly trying to improve this process. Forget the unethical implications and near-fraud scenarios available in the INERT lib world. If I was an editor and saw a huge list of bullshit titles like those I’d erase the drive and put mixes on it. As a composer I feel disrespected by a wannabe publisher. I’m the one making you money not the other way around. I invented the product and you are selling it.

To the INERT libs: You are devaluing production music in terms of quality, ease of use, and fair sync fees. There seem to be bigger name INERT libs that also have generated polarization. I’ve read horror stories about them all ranging from inclusion after rejection, months of incommunicado, the Pump-Getty debacle, launches and shutdowns. You are setting a bad precedent that will fail and if your shit is that good (can’t be if it’s free) then go exclusive and form a proper library. This happens in dance music labels all the time: DJ Tink forms Tink Recs = no split.

To the pro-INERT composer: OK fine do what you want. Some of you are awesome and probably friends of mine and there are exceptions to any editorial. But those on your high-horse about copyright control and demanding the right to exploit this type of revenue stream? Please that sounds so desperate and bitter and lazy. You always leave room for ownership in projects don’t you? You know deep down it’s shady and is setting up for a fall. You know the placements INERTs get are small potatoes, few and far between, shrinking.

Some of those tracks sitting on your drives are there for a reason. I know that indie you scored last year paid zero and your girlfriend thinks it could be on Sundance Channel but even so here’s $100. Now go email INERT x for months trying to get it. I’ve worked for the major exclusives down to the guy driving around LA with a hard drive and the rampant re-titling deal not only seems wrong…it just seems lame. And vehemently hanging onto the INERT model like some shred of hope for some orphan masters that no one has the balls to kindly tell you suck? It’s Loman-esque. Re-cut it for proper exclusive library consumption for two reasons: a. you believe in audio recog tech. b. your work deserves better repping. If you refuse to re-cut, you are a precious lazy bastard. If you cannot re-cut, it probably won’t be used on TV anyway. Hear that through-composers? Put your best foot forward and pay for your lunch. No matter what, you must go away and make amazing tracks appear out of thin air.

2010: Getting Nostalgic For The Future

Blog,Writing — admin @ 12:39 pm

I wanted to continue the thoughts about generational/decade identity somewhere else besides character limited social network threads.

I don’t know what factor contributes to the challenge in seeing what the present will read like in the future. The 1980′s cultural tag cloud could read: Videogames. Michael Jackson. Reaganomics. The Cold War. Heavy/hair metal. Cocaine. MTV. (And Cold War metal: a sub-genre of metal to be later discussed)

Maybe the 1990′s could read: Computers. Alternative/electronic music. Clinton/Lewinsky. (Because really, what other legacy besides the Telecommunications Act of 1996 will he leave? What? Look it up.) Compact disc ubiquity. MDMA and heroin. What else? Goatees.

What would read in the double-zeros/Y2K? Well, the whole “Y2K” brand for starters and general millenium gimmicks. Boy- and girl-bands. Internet (and all that follows). Tween market consummation. George Bush. Iraq War. “Green” culture (ironically). What else? Rediscovery of black clothes. Baroque pop and disco-rock.

So it follows that the 10′s could read: Obama. Economic crisis. War in Iran. Death of cable TV and retail. Extra-terrestrial disclosure. Full blown streaming video standard in cellphones. Electric cars (with heavy taxes, subscriptions or fees). Steampunk in mainstream. Sexual Revolution # 2 via LGBT outings on a massive mainstream scale. Possible merging of Canada, Mexico, and the US. Climate and/or epidemic fronting for martial law.

Point: My gut is saying 2010-20 could be a sea change. A total paradigm shift via super-state formations or extra-terrestrial disclosure, this last one dispelling (or proving depending on your POV) all mono- and poly-theistic religions. I don’t know. Futurist thought is purely speculative. It’s not required to be correct or even realistic. When it comes to big questions such as these, I’m a gullible skeptic: any answer the political, religious, or social Establishments give the masses are probably merely marinated in some imitation of truth and all mankind has is his story: history that is far from complete, completely biased, re-written by the victors. The same people that blindly embrace, revere, (and kill in the name of) God, trust their “un-biased” history books (including the Bible), and basically go along with the program are the same people who will blindly deny any prehistory, science, and existence of other life in the universe. Try to understand that faith works both ways.

I want to stay on topic. Point: We are entering another decade with another set of (eventual) cultural, political, religious/spiritual, and social attributes to come. And these too will seem quaint one day so be nostalgic for the future; it is guaranteed to be the past one day. To paraphrase Gil Scott-Heron, people say the end is nigh but the truth is much worse: the shit is going to drag on and on and on for eternity. Have a great new decade, keep an open mind, and be ready for anything. Most important? Stay positive and live in the present. This is Heaven not the other way around.

That Top 25 List That I Cannot Post Because Of Character Limit

Blog,Writing — admin @ 12:12 pm

I think the question was: what are your top 25 albums of all time? Or most life-changing? Here’s two lists of 25 because that’s a ridiculously small amount of music to choose from. Eh, this list became a bit blurred because “life-changing” and “favorite” seemed to overlap. Whatever here’s 50 all-time musts in music for me.

Steve Reich: Sextet
Vangelis: Blade Runner OST
Mark Isham: Vapor Drawings
Noah Creshevsky: Sonata
Philip Glass: North Star
The Smiths: Hatful Of Hollow
Skinny Puppy: Bites
The Cure: Disintegration
The Police: Outlandos d’Amour
Billy Cobham: Spectrum
The Who: Quadrophenia
Pink Floyd: Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Rush: Permanent Waves
Talking Heads: Fear Of Music
King Crimson: Discipline
Yes: Close To The Edge
My Bloody Valentine: Loveless
Sonic Youth: Bad Moon Rising
Laurie Anderson: Mr. Heartbreak
Jane’s Addiction: Nothing Shocking
Boards Of Canada: Music Has The Right To Children
µ-ziq: Urmur Bile Trax Vol 1 and 2
Squarepusher: Go Plastic
Public Enemy: Apocalypse 91 The Enemy Strikes Black
De La Soul: De La Soul Is Dead

Slint: Spiderland
Primus: Suck On This
Suicidal Tendencies: ST
Black Flag: Family Man
Witness: OST
Emerald Forest: OST
Deep Red: OST
Rumblefish: OST
Fred Frith: Step Across OST
Stylistics: Round 2
Gil Scott-Heron: Revolution
Four Tet: Rounds
Autechre: Tri-Repeatae
Kode 9: Memories Of The Future
BBC Radiophonic Workshop
William Ackerman: Visiting
Miles Davis: Bitches Brew
Eivind Aarset: Light Extracts
Forss: Soulhack
Bjork: Vespertine
The Streets: Original Pirate Material
Mercury Rev: Yerself
Tribe Called Quest: Low End
Wynton Marsalis: Black Codes
Peter Gabriel: Security

Inflatables @ 3rd Ward

Blog — admin @ 5:08 pm

This was a class offered by 3rd Ward and then a corresponding opening/event. It was crazy and I took my 3.5 year old daughter Katrina. She didn’t want to go inside at first. But after some gentle cajoling, she puffed up and said “Let’s go see the robot!”. Yes, please.

This robot shot is right outside my studio door.

And The Gods Made Jimi

Blog,Writing — Tags: — admin @ 4:45 pm

I recently wrote a joke-essay about absurd rock and roll worship called Why The Ramones Should Be Crowned The Best Rock And Roll Band Ever or something to that effect. One hook was the idea of letting go of any pretext of living in a non-Roman empire and just say that the best band is who all dies first. Let’s not forget what rock and roll was, the phrase “hope I die before I get old” and the culture its sentiment codified, and quasi-religious FM orgies of weekend-long praise does not a God make.

That being said, practicing what I preach, and just following the point through, I am both happy and sad to announce the winner is The Jimi Hendrix Experience. I mean no disrespect to family/friends of any member of TJHE and point to the context of what originated this topic. The truth is, based on the previous blog and what I suggested we do in regards to the ever-raging invisible Holy War of Rock, I think we should bow down. If Elvis Presley is God (ranked at 100% dead), this makes The Jimi Hendrix Experience into Jesus Christ for me. And why not? It makes sense. You can put your faith into that. I’ve accepted this as truth now.

What does this suggest about The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones…The Christians, The Jews, The Hindus? (not respectively)

What about Black Sabbath, Velvet Underground, The Stooges…The Satanists, The Taoists, The Atheists? (respectively that time!)

I say we listen to this silly parallel as hidden messages from the Gods, the real ones from well before recorded time of which every human culture has record of. The great Question Of Rock And Roll Existence is finally being answered concretely. Other Questions like, “Why do humans allow war” or “How can there be a Heaven or Hell without being alive?” should have as fool-proof a generative answer matrix as How To Canonize The Rock Saints!

REMIX CULTURE anagrams to CRUEL MIXTURE

Artist/Musician,Blog,Graphics,Writing — Tags: — admin @ 3:36 pm

You’ve seen these in the subways. Without embarking on a point-counterpoint discussion about street art, remix culture, vandalism, and the unpredictable bullshit the NYC subway system often deals out causing the boredom that compels someone like myself to create these collages in the first place, just realize that these can be extremely creative. These pics are of some collages I discovered as well as some I made myself. Now that this phenomena has been addressed let’s never speak of it again.

Never Say Never

Blog,Writing — admin @ 12:57 pm

(Another Myspace Mygration)

It’s funny. Now that recorded media, storage, and distribution have blown up…the only left (for some artists) is playing live. The rule of thumb is: if your band was releasing tapes…you may want to consider a tour. This says a lot. First of all, no one seems to buy records anymore. You don’t even need the material. It’s just a file. The dying of “album-culture” is proven by (a) the constant re-issuing, re-mastering, re-bonus-tracking, and other re-othering. And (b) records aren’t made anymore. Everyone knows that singles/tracks are all that matters. Record companies got lucky by inventing new formats to sell records all over again. Once a digital media arrived, the clock started ticking.*

*I swear the rumor I heard in 1990 about how compact discs “breakdown” and the film “evaporates” was Barnum-esque marketing/mind-control to generate sales. Fucking please. I’ve dragged discs on the street face-down and played them.

**And I also remember in 1982, hearing how cassette-recorders would kill album sales, and how my Dad would ambiguously joke-threaten the illegality of that act!
“What if someone stole something of yours?”, he would say, deadpan.

No. This time the media was perfect and had arrived. Judging by publishing dates of some books on CD’s, they were getting mainstream by 1987-89. I fully crossed-over later in 1992, but I’m a musician. I’d quickly say that record companies had a great 10 years selling the shit out of CD’s. Once computers and burners became mainstream and ordinary, that was the first nail. Then high-speed Internet, second nail. MP3 technology, final nail. This is not necessarily a bad thing, unless we miss albums. I do and I don’t.

John Entwistle. (is another topic entirely)

The image of John Entwistle skeet-shooting gold records, his house full of basses and other (safe) gold records has and always will impress me to envy. I’m talking Baroque-Surrealist, 1970′s rock n’ roll excess worthy of Ken Russell/Stanley Kubrick. I’m unfortunately opening more topics, like commerce of art, IP thingies, and super-conglomonomics. The rock n’ roll (now) caricature isn’t exactly what it was.

Once we take this all in, you notice how calculated the music industry is; the entire entertainment industry is. No more risks. The masses aren’t seekers. 30 years ago the masses seemed to think more, even if we weren’t necessarily smarter.

Combined with shorter attention spans and other Future Shock-type truths, we have a relic in the “album”. And not so much the literal making and appreciation of “albums” but death of an sub-industry. Everyone loves The Police or Pink Floyd, whoever. But I only need one copy of their catalog. The only thing novel I can experience with any artist is performance. And even bootleg culture (another whole essay) gets predictable, which sucks. It’s like a blowhard friend and you know exactly when the same droll, scripted joke is coming…way in advance.

Every old band will re-unite to play gigs. Look at these fucking ticket sales! The whole thing is a conspiracy.

1. Constantly invent new media to replace old ones. Meta-macro-planned obsolescence. Not a real word.

2. Plundering and closing recording vaults. Rationing the shit out of any sound committed to tape by anyone. God Bless completist dorks.

3. Underbooking events so two things happen. Ticket prices are already high, then gouged by other avenues of acquisition. They’re re-sold, auctioned, bribed with, bribed for, horded. This also creates a “next time” effect securing the franchise.

4. Corporate sponsors. Corporate sponsors for the tour. Corporate sponsors for the theatres/venues. Corporate sponsors for the food available. Corporate sponsors for the video screens because you’re so far away from the fucking stage you can’t see shit because good seats are $2000.

What’s wrong Pink Floyd? Not selling 1000 Dark Side Of The Moon’s every day anymore? Welcome to the machine, pal. Better reconsider that reunion quick.

The point is not to say bands will reunite because the original record industry is dead…although that is true…but our only fresh interaction or novel experience with a beloved band is seeing them play live, in front of our eyes, for once.

Why The Ramones Should Be Crowned The Best Rock N’ Roll Band Ever

Blog,Writing — Tags: — admin @ 12:47 pm

(Repost from Myspace. The Myspace clock ticks.)

Some holiday weekend ago (either Memorial or Labor Day), some FM dinosaurs had this Battle For The All-Time Greatest Rock ‘N Roll Band Weekend Countdown. This tired catch-all gimmick is used media-wide for movies, moments, hot-bodies, songs, child-stars, and anything else. A riskless, capitalist, nostalgia orgy for everyone to mildly enjoy and not have to think too hard about. At the end of the Countdown, the radio station took calls. All the major religions had their zealots. Zeppelinites. Beatles-dorks. Rolling Stones dirtbags. Drunken Who/Townshendites. These are the Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and Christians of Rock. (Growing up, I was always taught the Beatles were #1…and the #2 spots was a battle between The Who and The Stones.)

Here’s the hook. Let’s be really Roman and just say whatever band dies first is the Greatest. Makes sense to me. What else could be more Rock ‘N Roll? The Circvs Maximvs Of Rock. If we follow this sickness, The Ramones, T. Rex, Lynrd Skynrd, and The New York Dolls are all on their way to Official Rock Greatness. (It’s hard to be scientific considering all of these bands have complex family trees…I tend to stick with peak line-ups) The Beatles and The Who are tied at 50%. The Stones are 20% with Brian Jones. Led Zep in at 25%. This satire also makes Elvis Presley the undisputed King at 100% dead. But we should focus on LP rock, Beatles and on. Don Fiorino (Attention Screen, Radio I-Ching, Hanuman Sextet) played Tonic with Tommy Ramone’s bluegrass band Uncle Monk. He said it was fucking great!

I know this whole essay seems unedited (it is), unfocused (it is), and dark (black comedy)…but seriously, the pedestals that house the Pantheons Of Rock are so high. People treat rock bands like deities. Look at the Rock ‘N Roll Hall Of Fame! Who cares? They only induct bands that sell tickets! And what’s up with props from U2′s Zoo TV tour? Gimme a break! This is a museum? American culture honors, reveres, and even worships the dumbest shit! When did Rock ‘N Roll become so honorable? “Stairway To Heaven” is not a good tune! I’ve seen big jocks brought to tears, broadsided by “Wish You Were Here” 15 shots deep. Grown men holding each other up, testifying to the Rock-Gods. I’ve seen masses of people, speaking in tongues to the strains of “American Pie”. Taking communion in the form of beer and curly fries, they sway and feel the Holy Spirit, falling to the ground, saved. When did “Hotel California” become a hymn? We should exhume Jim Morrison’s body, make him even more powerful.

Six degrees of separation: In 2002, I licensed theme music for VH1′s RNR Hall Of Fame Award Show. Inducted that year: The Ramones. Three years later in 2005, RNRHOF founder Jann Werner inducted himself with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Anyway, sorry for the Bangsian speed-rant. There’s a piece of popcorn out there that’s the spitting image of Jimi Hendrix and I’m going to find it!

BTW, Black Sabbath and The Sex Pistols both declined nominations and were inducted to RNRHOF anyway! Who’s not in? Sonic Youth, MC5, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, The Ventures, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, and Link Wray. But Eric Fucking Clapton? He’s in there three times!

Contribution is to Make Love as Bribe is to Bang

Blog,Writing — Tags: — admin @ 10:55 am

To me, a bribe is a last resort action of a relatively small entity such as a person or small business to get out of trouble. Usually the action is (hopefully) a discreet offering of cash or service of worth. Most bribes are desperate and insulting in every possible way made by tragic first-timers. But hold on. “Donations” and “contributions” to entities’ phantom organizations or the corporate entity itself are maybe “premeditated” bribes or “insurance” bribes. Even a donation to another charitable organization in the favored parties name/ssn/tax id (and therefore a generous tax break) can be an invisible bribe, whether you like the charity or not. The government is just another corporation that sells legislation favors and the court system. And since capital and political business is so borderline legal as it is, it only takes shrewd lawyers (or just more donations) to protect the guilty and frame the innocent.

Re-install

Blog,Writing — admin @ 3:33 pm

So I installed some themes (and then deleted some) and I’m told one of them changed the wp files causing the defaults not to load. I’m sure I could have looked longer for an answer on how to revert back a version but I figured just reinstall. In the end, I had to clear database tables anyway, so maybe I could have done that first? Anyone know what else can be done?

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