25 September 2007

“I’ll work me some jazz riffage around this punk shit”

I saw the reunited Bad Brains last night at Slim’s. Not bad, but not as good as they used to be (HR was just plain goofing around). But here’s a great interview with bassist Darryl Jenifer.
Well to me, when I first heard punk rock, being a dude that was open-minded and into Return to Forever, the first thing I thought was, “If the Ramones think they’re playing fast, and if they think that they’re playing some hot shit, watch this shit that I'm going to rip, listen to this riff that I’m going to make and how fast I play this shit ’cause I got Return to Forever that I’ve been feeling that’s really technical,” and I thought, “I’ll work me some jazz riffage around this punk shit.”

23 September 2007

William Gibson’s Wonderful Writing on Music

William Gibson’s new book, Spook Country, which is excellent, has perspicuous writing about music (“the most purely atemporal of media”, p. 102). In fact the heroine, Hollis Henry, was the singer in a seminal (fictional) band called The Curfew. Here are some snippets that I just love.
And it hadn’t hurt that Bobby was himself a musician, though not in the old plays-a-physical-instrument-and/or-sings modality. He took things apart, sampled them, mashed them up. This was fine with her, though like General Bosquet watching the charge of the Light Brigade, she was inclined to think it wasn’t war. Inchmale understood it, though, and indeed had championed it, as soon as it was digitally possible pulling guitar lines out of obscure garage chestnuts and stretching them, like a mad jeweler elongating sturdy Victorian tableware into something insectile, post-functionally fragile, and neurologically dangerous.

“In the early 1920s,” Bigend said, “there were still some people in this country who hadn’t yet heard recorded music. Not many, but a few. That’s less than a hundred years ago. Your career as a ‘recording artist’ ” — making the quotes with his hands — “took place toward the end of a technological window that lasted less than a hundred years, a window during which consumers of recorded music lacked the means of producing that which they consumed. They could buy recordings, but they couldn’t reproduce them. The Curfew came in as that monopoly on the means of production was starting to erode. Prior to that monopoly, musicians were paid for performing, published and sold sheet music, or had patrons. The pop star, as we knew her” — and here he bowed slightly, in her direction — “was actually an artifact of preubiquitous media.”

“Of — ?”

“Of a state in which ‘mass’ media existed, if you will, within the world.”

“As opposed to?”

“Comprising it.”

Kai Ryssdal/Bob Moon Story on 4 Years of RIAA Lawsuits

The old goats at the RIAA have now been suing file-sharers — and innocent people, including grandmothers and small children — for four years now. Kai Ryssdal on public radio has a three-part story on the absurdity and cruelty of the RIAA. Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

In Part 1 we learn that the RIAA harrasses a single mother and her 7-year-old girl. They refuse to look at the woman’s computer, presumably because forensic examination might show that she is innocent (a key part of the RIAA’s strategy is to maximize pain while minimizing due process). The kid is deposed, and the RIAA accuses her of illegally distributing gangsta rap.

EFF’s Fred von Lohmann sums up the RIAA’s “legal” strategy:
VON LOHMANN: One of their spokespersons once said, “Sometimes when you go fishing with a driftnet, you catch a few dolphins.” And that, I think, really is their attitude about that.

Meanwhile, wonderful music is available legally and for a decent price (DRM-free high-ish bitrate MP3s, playable on any platform) from emusic.com. Some of my favorite, non-RIAA-affiliated artists:

The RIAA has made a helpful page so we can check the consumer abuse factor before we buy: RIAA Members.

Ultimately, the solution to this whole mess will be something like collective licensing.