Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009

Well, I guess my 2009 can really be distilled into one single moment. Text message sent to Dave from Slaughter Strike upon arriving at our hotel in Baltimore for MDF: "Dude, I just saw Proscriptor McGovern helping an old lady across the road."

The only other significant musical thing this year for me was after seeing Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and Bolt Thrower (alas not on the same bill) I finally got to settle the question my teenage mind of many a year ago could not firmly decide upon: Jo Bench or Lydia Lunch?

It's that time of year when every pratt with a blog (like this guy) wants to share with you their top ten of the year and lo and behold doesn't everyone just love the same Isis/ Torche/ Deathspell Omega/ Mastodon/ Liturgy records?

Personally I've always been more of the "I can see a Kakerlak tape underneath a dog chew toy, there's a Nuclear Hammer CD in the mail that I know I'll dig and I listened to Nazi Dust on my iPod this morning on the way to work" school of top tens.

Definitive top tens aren't worth the effort; the best record of 1996 is not the one I thought it was in 1997 after all (it's probably Duh, The Big City by Hammer Head, but I could change my mind at any second).

My top ten of this decade goes something like:

Infest - No Mans Slave
Iron Lung - Sexless/ No Sex
Grunt - Seer of Decay

And then I start looking at Werewolf Jerusalem CDRs and thinking "fuck it, this one was pretty good" and the list turns to shit.

I used to write reviews for Short Fast and Loud magazine then had to stop for a number of reasons.

One of my reasons was that when it comes to music and art borne from a specific culture (punk, black metal, whatever) I no longer believe you can review the object in and of itself. You have to look at the other aspects of the culture that produced it or its relationships with other objects produced by the culture.

A Mayhem record as an isolated artefact is not 'black metal', it's an object created by a larger current known as black metal that Mayhem happen to be a part of. Mayhem records do not contain the defining essence of black metal.

And if you want to look at neo-power violence you can't just take Eric Wood's word on the subject or look at your local sloppy blast beat and weak screaming about pizza and circle pits band. You have to look at Iron Lung, Hatred Surge and Mind Eraser, three very different bands with very different forces that created them that when looked at together give a clearer idea of the culture they belong to.

Over the last few years I've pretty much come to despise the cult of the individual. Every single person knows exactly what's wrong with the world and how to fix it. I know the world would be a better place if people could understand their utter insignificance in the scheme of things and could accept that measuring time in minutes and seconds is inherently flawed. And my grandfather knew that conscripting young men into the armed forces would solve the world's problems.

Everyone knows everything, so fucking what.

Anyway, all this nonsense just informs my attitude to music; I don't want quirky stand out gimmick bands thinking they've reinvented the wheel. I like and demand bands that have a good sense of tradition in their approach and a sense of internal consistencies. I like bands that strengthen their genre, not those that try and rise above it. Fuck off all post-hardcore or avant-garde shoegaze black metal.

With that in mind these are the two releases that I can honestly hand on heart say are the two full lengths of this year that I can fully stand behind:

Hatred Surge, Deconstruct. Can we stop with the Despise You 2.0 idiocy now? It makes almost as little sense as the haircut in Providence that told me Blockade sounded exactly like a cross between Cryptopsy and Isis. Hatred Surge: "it got girl vocals like Depsise U!"

Clearly there's no great surprise that a guy from The Endless Blockade would pick this as one of his best records of the year, but it's fucking bad ass. Hatred Surge is finally a full band and if anything it's focused the approach even more.

And I'm jealous Alex wrote Infinity before I did.



And the other utterly predictable entry is Slogun's Bloody Roots CD. I've already mentioned it briefly before. The whole disc is perfect and we managed to get John on the Unearthly Trance split doing some vocals.

I like his smart guy approach to death and violence; reading interviews on his site shows he's clearly not the dumb power electronics serial killer fan boy it would be lazy to peg him as.

Music to put on when you're in a foul mood and scream "FUCK LIFE" to the world.

Two other acts i have to mention are Bastard Noise and Magrudergrind.

Bastard Noise for challenging their audience in significant ways. In this micro information era of Tweeting and instant downloads who the fuck releases a five disc full length? Let alone mere months after the truly inspirational Rogue Astronaut CD. Well, Bastard Noise did it and it and Our Earth's Blood IV is an incredible piece of work, all five discs of it.

Bastard Noise released more exceptional music in 2009 than i've been able to manage in the last fifteen years of playing in active bands. Perhaps that's not saying much?

Anyway, two stunning albums, one of which is five CDs long. Fuck, that's committal to the cause.

Magrudergrind for proving me wrong. Hmm, how to start? Fuck it, bluntness: Magrudergrind to me were the benchmark for circle pits and pizza party. In a word they were as lowest common denominator as it can get; the Labbatts Blue of Grindcore. Anyway, this year I finally said yes to Avi's annual request to play shows with them. Their newest LP is very good indeed (I also love the totally incongruous cover art) and live they were a blast and great guys to tour with.

Anyone who knows me knows this is probably the highest praise I can give someone, to publically state that something i formerly thought was terrible is now actually really good. I still haven't heard the previous LP but i'm sticking to my opinion that their earlier recorded output just wasn't worth much.

Anyway, Magrudergrind 2009, no longer the embarrassing little kids you'd run across all over the continent.

I doubt many of these were published in 2009 but of everything I read this year these are the books I enjoyed the most:

Fiction

James Ellroy - Blood's a Rover
David Peace - 1974
Samuel Beckett - Stories and Texts for Nothing
GK Chesterton - The Man who was Thursday
Will Self - The Book of Dave

Non-Fiction

Howard Bloom - Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century
Nicholas Schreck - The Satanic Screen: An Illustrated Guide to the Devil in Cinema
Gary Lachman - Politics and the Occult: The left, the Right and the Radically Unseen
Dan Falk - In Search of Time: Journeys Along a Curious Dimension
Mark Sedgwick - Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the 20th Century
Charles Freeman - AD 381: Heretics, Pagans and the Christian State
Joseph Campbell - The Power of Myth




13 comments:

Papst Benedikt XVI said...

I saw that you got J. Campell's Power Of Myth book on your reading list - in case you know his video series of the same name: does it cover the same topics?

Survivalist said...

it's conversations between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell that were edited and turned into the TV series in the 80s. The book is more in depth.

Worth a read if you're a fan

Papst Benedikt XVI said...

I haven't watched all of the series yet, just "found" it on emule recently and find it quite interesting.

I also got a B. Moyers' vid that's quite interesting too.

the books, with the exception of David Icke's books, are hard to get in Germany so I have to rely on videos I find on the web.

Survivalist said...

speaking of David Icke, if you haven't already read it i highly recommend Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson

Papst Benedikt XVI said...

never heard of him, thanks for the hint!

speaking of U.K.'s authors: what do you think of Michael Tsarion's work?

Survivalist said...

he's probably a nut, i don't know to be honest. I'm put off by the presentation of his work which looks like it falls into the very "nowadays" space somewhere between Gnosis, rampant paranoia and new age bullshit

He might be saying some smart things but it's hard for me to get past the presentation. He's almost definitely someone that can't stop making connections; sometimes a skull just looks cool after all.

Papst Benedikt XVI said...

agreed! he _probably is a nut..._

what I find strange is that he praise's Jordan Maxwell as the ultimate scholar but at the same contradicts him with his own work.

Survivalist said...

That side of things is where i start to lose interest.

To me it often seems to be like Oprah Magazine for empty souls looking for an answer to the universe.

This doesn't strictly refer to what we're talking about but too often people blindly reject a dominant belief system without thinking about their reasons they tend to replace them with equally stupid and flawed systems of thought

And hell, i don't think i've ever met a more irritatingly Christian bunch of people than modern hardline atheists.

And i'm sure you have your own observations about German youth movements that reject the sins of their fathers

Papst Benedikt XVI said...

I'm not sure if I know what you mean with "that side". Astrotheology? the Aliens from outer space?

"And i'm sure you have your own observations about German youth movements that reject the sins of their fathers"

to quote Jordan Maxwel: "you can bet your bottom dollar on that!"

David Cereghini said...

Jo Bench or Lydia Lunch?

-So what’s the answer, once and for all? But remember she was giving ME the "eye" at MDF.

Remember when you mention Werewolf Jerusalem to plug the one that I put out this year over the 30 others than came out.... Did you enjoy that one, could you even get it out of the silly packaging I came up with?

Thanks for that gushing Slogun review you posted earlier this year, checked that one out and was not let down.

The WZA'd said...

Hatred Surge does what they do better than most.

It seems like your views on what music should be are pretty conservative (as are any that insist that tradition must be upheld). While I'm not the biggest fan of prog myself, the history of any genre is filled with people that got tired of what they were doing and decided to go off and do something fresh because it just got boring. Projects like Cathedral or Godflesh are evidence of this.

However, there are probably just as many people who are content to keep doing that one thing and try and do it better - Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Brutal Truth, etc.

What about new genres? New genres come from bands trying to rise above their original genre.

Survivalist said...

WZAd, my musical opinions are very conservative yes, to me it`s not a dirty word.

Regarding Godflesh and Cathedral i`m sure you could come up with far better examples than those two who just happened to be selling old sounds to new people. Sigh and Man is the Bastard i`d give you...

Cannibal Corpse i`ve never been a fan of, all post Earache Brutal Truth bores me and strangely enough i prefer what little of later Suffocation i`ve heard over their earlier work.

At some point the question of intent arises and i`m that guy that believes you should give up on something when you`ve done what you set out to do. All those three bands are pretty much career bands looking for energy drink and car sponsorship shows, nothing that enters into my sphere of interest very often.

I guess a half lucid example for where i`m coming from would be the whole post His Hero is Gone thing where legions of the unwashed were foucsing on the heavy melodic breakdowns that the band stood out for but were entirely neglecting the framework it was born out of.

The end result was far too many bands who were merely sappy emo bands withpunk drumming or worse yet band like Buried Inside or Remains of the Day who just sounded like intro after intro placed one after the other with no ability to write an actual song that went somewhere.

People just latched on to the obvious differences in that bands sound and thought that was the defining element of what made them interesting. What made HHiG interesting was that one they were a great fucking band and two they were a great fucking hardcore punk band that had an eye on an external influence that made made stand out more because they could tastefully appropriate it.

Sure, new genres come into existence, but not very often. Usually they`re just extensions of currents that have come before.

But when they do come up and survive it`s generally not because they`re gimmicky. Face it, who the fuck will even remember any tattoo and autotune crunk (is that what the kids are calling it? Do i sound like my grandad yet?)bands in three years with anything other than total scorn and schadenfreude?

Yup, sometimes bands come out of nowhere and they're awesome. Swans, Hijokaidan, Man is the Bastard, Throbbing Gristle there's probably more but i'm drawing a blank on clear cut examples.

And there are those that take something pre-exisiting and do amazing things with it; Coil, Khanate, His Hero is Gone, Godflesh, Neurosis i guess (haven't cared for them since Enemies of the Sun), Kyuss, The Rita etc etc

and fuck, i love Magma, prog isn't necessarily a bad thing.

But yeah, shitty bands trying to do something different for the sake of being different i could do without.

And David, my answer is Lydia Lunch.

Thanks for the Werewolf Jerusalem CDR a few months back. Mr Ramirez does two things in noise very well. HNW is not something i can bothered investing too much time in, but the stand outs of the micro-genre are always worthwhile (Skate/ Snorkel by The Rita would almostly definitely be in my real year end top ten)

Andres Wade said...

holy shit,kudos on the mentioning of sigh and their lasting power. people dont even realize that infidel art is a#1 when it comes to them.