Plug: Back on Time (Ninja Tune)
After I first plucked Plug from my shelves, I assumed he was some new retro-electro guy, but actually he's minor techno legend Luke Vibert, who I've always preferred under his Wagon Christ moniker, just not so's I felt any need to testify about it. (Very) roughly speaking, say Vibert is trancey, Wagon Christ fanciful, and Plug‑-who in the mid '90s released the Drum'n'Bass for Papa album hard upon three EPs, all still findable as a twofer on Trent Reznor's label‑-a necromancer. Although the story is that Vibert stumbled upon 10 old Plug tracks and declared them an album on a whim, I'm betting they stayed in the can because they were just too all-over-the-place for 1997. But for those of us who find electronica too functional anyway, all-over-the-place equals content: the willful structures, sonic shifts, interrupted grooves, and goofy vocal bits are as eventful as a good lyric. For once drum'n'bass's impossible Conlon Nancarrow beats, which Plug does pretty well with on those EPs, are the bed where the real music crinkles, crashes, chimes, swoops, swells, squiggles, gurgles, cracks wise, and just generally hooks you. Start with "Come on My Skeleton" and "Back on Time." Then do yourself a favor and listen fore-to-aft. A MINUS
Seefeel: Seefeel (Warp)
The gears that never quite mesh in this disquieting but hardly apocalyptic industrial ambient may be metal and may be plastic but are probably both. Over steady drumming with a martial feel, they evoke two kinds of bum transmission, one automotive and the other an AM station breaking up on a late-night four-lane. Phones ring occasionally. Doors squeak. Pretty people murmur and croon. But that bird you hear chirping isn't‑-isn't chirping, isn't a bird. Think the part of a Tricky album that's no way funky. Stabilized by nary a foolish word, the unease is so unapocalyptic it's almost comforting. B PLUS
Bit on the windy side but Margaret Atwood has some good stuff on Ray Bradbury.
GOOGLE: The Guardian / Margaret Atwood on Ray Bradbury
Not quite. More the culture of Napster, torrents, sharity blogs, etc. In short, Adorno would've loved Pan Sonic.
Anyway, Scott Walker the musician = kitsch
Scott Walker the governor = a stromtrooper
Exclusive Company = crappy WI record store
In addition to Pole (good call, Bradley!), Pan Sonic fans (MBV fans too) might seek out Pita and Oval. Even Greil Marcus liked Oval iirc so...yeah. And Pita helped satiate those of us longing for a Loveless (s(rew italics!) followup. Here's an absolutely gorgeous, tear-in-my-feedback Pita track: http://goo.gl/C1KPz
I find the weird Scott Walker you can listen to without the guffaws is Tilt. Strange creature it is. A newer one called Drift is supposed to operate in the same territory, but I thought it fell way short. Needed a blood transfusion.
Those seeking the opposite (and a possible critique of late capitalist abundance) should check Pan Sonic and hear how minimal things could get. And I do mean "things" - their music sounds like an industrial landscape ineffectually scrubbed of various noise objects.
I love that it turns what was a negative feature into a positive, at the same time curtailing alienation factor. Hearty endorsement.
On the topic of the book, I'm very much looking forward to it whether I visit New York or not, here's hoping I do. But I also wonder at the latest installment of the Consumer Guide, if it's coming. Thank you!
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.