Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lost & Found

Alright- so there is this argument (and elsewhere) that rock aesthetics are defined by recordings. There are limitations to this insight—like the way it tends to break down if the discourse you’re surveying for evidence favors the participation of musicians, jam band fans, or happens at certain places and times, etc. but basically it’s usually been true in many places during rock’s now glimmering and fading postwar hegemony in the US and the UK. Rock occurs in objects that reproduce recorded sound in moments and spaces different than those it was recorded in. And more often than not the original space/moment doesn’t/didn’t literally exist and is described and surrounded only by that recording; that created arrangement of vibrations over time that I’ll call the sound object. So there’s a very deep affective relationship that gets built up between the sound object and the artifact it’s encoded in. The music industry that exists through rock/as rock has defined itself according to it’s ability to deliver new kinds of sound encoded objects, and it’s depended to some great degree on its monopoly on the legitimate and efficient production of those objects, including the ability of its major actors to define what’s legitimate and efficient (and vice versa) in their interests.

So what happens to rock when the sound object becomes separable from the found object? Well, a bunch of things that I’ll address in another post, though a lot of it is likely familiar, if heatedly debated stuff. What I’m interested in is: if the musical form and the object are coequal, what happens to that musical form when the object goes away, when not just specific kinds of objects become each progressively obsolete, but when the idea that there is a specific, legitimate physical object at all that exists to deliver that sound, what happens to the sound? Not to the record company, the record stores, the musicians, the radio stations, etc. What happens to the music of objects when the musical object is obsolete?

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Alright, so this is for those people up on capitol hill doing the Republican's dirty work for them. Like the song says "If your words are no damn good, maybe you're no good..."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Misc. on the passing of Alex Chilton

1. I'm struck by the sudden blooming of video tributes on my Facebook page. Lots of homemade videos and those songs- ! This is what we do now, right? We seek simultaneity of affect and "Years ago, my heart was set to live, oh..." you know?

2. Rcvd. 1 (1) Cassette [Maxell XLll90] #1 Record/Radio City from the Rev. Wayne Coomers in winter 1987/88. Aassoc. Images: #1 Record sitting in front of a stack of LPs in the living room of the California House/D-Luxe Kitchen, that round dish machine that Barry washed his clothes in/noticing that the "astrological" poster that's in the Willliam Eggleston photo on the cover of Radio City was on my living room wall when we lived on Rush Dr./Millie's Deli, Springfield, Mo.

3. I remember being worried that he wasn't going to make it out of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

4. Chilton was "famous" in a strange way, it was at first a kind of negative fame or conspiracy by record collectors and rock critics. Eventually it would seem like this fame was what he was most famous for.

5. You can really hear just how things are gonna go with him in the second verse of the second song on side one of #1 Record:

There's people around who'll tell you that they know
The places where they send you, and it's easy to go
They'll zip you up and dress you down
and stand you in a row
but you know you don't have to,
you can just say "No."

You can also hear, I think, why his constituency was so broad and deep. Because we all needed to hear someone say that in a pop song, in a great pop song, just like that.