09 March 2007
ICY HOT RIFFS FOR WILL WELCH
RIFF MARKET GRAPESHOT #I'M NOT SURE NO MORE, FEATURING:
-ICY HOT RIFFS
-UNAPOLOGETIC NONSTOP RIFFING
Melee Beats presents Bel Esteem [Stream]
CKjokes and I ended up on Chrystie last night in one of those bars that's supposed to look like somebody's basement, though whose I don't know. The only basements I've been down in had plush carpets and pingpong tables and somebody's boombox playing the Aerosmith best of. Lots of blankets too. 74 DAFT PUNK RIFFS
Kalabrese: Rumpelzirkus [Stream]
Sherburne teased this pretty hard last month but the thing he left out was that this might be the record that (finally) breaks smooth jazz into the sub-40year-old demographic. 2007, I have found you your Jamiroquai. 81 INSANE RIFFS
New Shit New Shit
-->Dan Park, apparently writing about Antarctica, also living in Antarctica. 82 RIFFS
-->Matt Janicak launches new webcomic with Ben Dougan, called Brunch. 82 RIFFS
-->Paul Salveson starts website for his brilliant photographs, preps for next gallery show which opens March 15 here. 82 RIFFS
07 March 2007
GUEST REFF WEDNESDAYS: JEREMY REFF
Grizzly Bear, Beach House, Papercuts
from: Jeremy Reff
to: Riff Market
date: Mar 7, 2007 9:34 AM
subject: reverb, black voiceover
so i was kidding, but i also wasn't kidding.
Reverb (not pop reverb, but submerged psych-genre reverb) is like one part Rhodes organ, one part stolen Robert Johnson riff. It's this time machine, offering murky authenticity and meaning, but it can come off super-fake (reverse-hybrid fake?), covering tired voices and phoned-in-efforts. Like the character I'll call Stephen (Spike Lee calls this character the "helpful negro"), reverb adds structure, familiarity, history, a mystic overlay to the proceedings, but also is used by people like Jerry Bruckheimer and Stephen King to mkae crap seem shiny: a pyrite prism of faux-minstrel fantasia. True fact: Song of the South would have used reverb on Zip a Dee Doo Dah had reverb been available.
Now, since I think GB is working on a project continuing from the late 60s and pretending that a lot of intervening space didn't happen, it works for them. (And I would love to hear them do an entire set full of wonderfully weird soul covers - (post-Motown!, wouldn't that be funny?). When they rock out, it sounds very distant from either a) consciously rocking out (hey look, I'm S/K and Jumpers is so Zep), or b) consciously not wanting to sound rockist while rocking out, or even c) parodically noting the awareness of rocking out by rocking out with hyperintentionality (note that c) also covers bands not smart/good enough to realize that they are self-parody: Jet/Louis XIV). And reverb helps GB in the same way that a low-talker you like can create intimacy; it defamiliarizes (whoa, shit, sorry Shlovsky) so that the re-entrance to the trope doesn't smell like kitsch.
Points other: Beach House definitely doing b) above, anyway, which is irritating. Also pulling a King to use the effect to hide narrative/technical flaws. Not that I didn't think they were fine. They were fine.
05 March 2007
HOW LONG, ETC.
Ace: How Long
[Fruit of the Loom: Tempted By the Fruit of the Loom]
Lipps Inc.: How Long
Justus Koehncke: Timecode
Justus Koehncke: Elan
Justus Koehncke: Elan (Prins Thomas Diskomiks) [ft. Full Pupp Strings]
There's this weird bug at iTMS, actually probably not even a bug but it's annoying, that prevents me from downloading Ace's "How Long" and then running it through my DRM stripper and posting it here so you'd have an idea of what I'm about to talk about. Instead Apple wants me to buy the entire Invincible soundtrack, which famously includes "Free Ride" by the Edgar Winter Group, and I have like ten copies of that song on my computer already so this just isn't going to work. Granted it's pretty awesome to think that Mark Wahlberg was in a meeting about this and said something like "fuck no, the soundtrack is not a collection of tracks, it is an album motherfuckers" and then went back to cutting Vs into his t-shirts to give his shoulders more space, but anyway: This is a start.
I don't know I just found this pretty interesting. Paul Carrack wrote the original "How Long" as a ballad for that band Ace in 75. It didn't do too much for me but as you know I'm not much of a "pub rock guy." This is the same guy who sang "Tempted" for Squeeze, which was borrowed by Fruit of the Loom's advertising department for the commercial about being tempted by sexy underwear, which is how I first learned about Squeeze and sexy underwear in general. I swear, fifteen years ago, if I knew I could get underwear in all sorts of crazy "cuts" and colors, I would be much further along in the blog world than I am today.
The shitty "How Long" became the awesome "How Long" by Lipps Inc. in 1980, which I had never heard until all your blowhard "I know every sample ever" types stunted on Justus Koehncke's "Time Code," which had sampled the Lipps' big riff with minimal camouflage, to the point that it really did sound like an instrumental dub of the 1980 vocal one. A great case for "destruction is an act of creation," "subtraction as addition," and all the other paradoxes art people use to defend things they like, when really it was just that the Lipps' vocals were just so sad, so hopeless, just way too much.
Koehncke doesn't have too, too much of a troublesome history of samplage, the kind that begs people to ask whether "the song is only as good as what it sampled," a question which comprised the bulk of my parents' initial case against MC Hammer's Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em, besides Hammer being black and dangerous and misleadingly wearing glasses even though he wasn't a jazz musician (don't ask). But people are weirdly suspicious of him anyway it seems, always trying to get to the bottom of it all, "figuring out" or "cracking" Koehncke as if music is something meant to be cracked.
Anyway all this is now extremely fun because Prins Thomas really liked JK's "Elan" and just rerecorded the whole thing with live strings and what sound like live drum sounds and an electric bass guitar played by a sweet live dude. The transformation at the moment is synth to acoustic, very very respectful. Though while the original "Elan" really popped, the remake just sorta thumps along, as if PT and friends are just happy to have the music course through them, to get closer to the tune by playing it themselves, something romantic like that.
Yet there's no reason not to think that JK, whose initial are in fact "JK", didn't swipe a sample of "Elan" and tweak it here and there. The song really does sound like one long vamp before a verse that never does come, which is partly what makes the song so much of a whirl, a second-before-action kind of power that brings to mind Bernini sculptures, my mind at least.
So now I'm preparing to wrap my head around the possibility that Prins Thomas's take could be a cover of a sample of a song--or a cover of a totally different song--and figure out what that means for me and you in terms of riffs. Not just the final product, and not just the process either, since anybody who's had to walk around Chelsea or learn about Mark Twain's translation gag knows neither is new. I'm sorta trying to get into PT's head here though, like if he knew there was already an acoustic version of "Elan", i.e. the original piece of music that "Elan" sampled, would he be so amped to rework it and rerecord with live instruments, would he be disappointed if he found out JK was JK, etc. Because I have a hard time dealing with the idea that there isn't a little guilt or pressure involved in sampling--I know I feel it and try to run it all through the "what am I trying to do or say" machine whenever I catch myself about to rip somebody off (this whole article was plagiarized, btw)--and I have as hard a time believing that artists are driven to cover another artist simply because they like how the song sounds. Especially a song like this, which doesn't have lyrics so it really is about cosmic disco kinship PT feels for JK, and the homage is in no small part in service to that relationship, especially with JK's employer putting out the slab in the first (or second) and second (or third) place.
Don't hurt yourself. I got this one: 75 RIFFS