Jeffrey St. Clair, Counterpunch:
Stephen King’s It was one of the five scariest books I’ve ever read, along with Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Clive Barker’s Damnation Game, Tom Holland’s Lord of the Dead (featuring Byron as a very temperamental vampire) and, of course, In My Time by Dick Cheney.
Swayzak notes from Discogs:
Tech house duo from the United Kingdom that consists of James S. Taylor and David Brown. They live and work in London.
The name Swayzak comes from "związek" which means "union" in Polish.
I seem to recall an interview from back in the day where they said they took the name from Patrick Swayze. Much better. (Naming one of their LPs "Dirty Dancing" favors the latter interpretation.)
Taylor and Brown started working together in 1993, under the name "Language Lab" though they first met in 1989, after working for four years of mainly studio evolvement, became Swayzak in 1997. Taylor left the group in 2012 and Brown continues alone.
Alone, alone, to soldier on into the existential fog that is the life of... the techno musician. But seriously, what I admire and envy about Swayzak is (a) the "deep" sound that is tinged with melancholy but also occasionally humor and (ii) the ability to do long songs with a few simple elements, which are made lush and mysterious through the use of reverb and impeccable production skills.
A short history of Swayzak:
Swayzak "Low-Rez Skyline" [YouTube] from 1998 -- CD version
Swayzak "Low-Res Skyline" [YouTube] from 1997. 12-inch. In addition to the change of spelling "low-res," the song is structured much differently. The electro "whonk/zap" sound comes in at the middle and is used to make tunes. The CD version is better overall but the comparison intrigues.
At the peak of the duo's popularity they began adding vocals, some by name musicians. This didn't work, owing to the incompatibility of grafting an overt "humanizing" element into a genre which charms through its essentially alienated, abstract, mental space. Swayzak had already successfully "humanized" techno with the touches mentioned above. You don't need Kirsty Hawkshaw singing on top of that.
One exception is:
Swayzak "Illegal (Bigga Bush Version)" [YouTube] Not because the rasta poetry is great but for the overall development of the song from slow, ambient stabs to full-on house, replete with a disco bassline.
In any case, happily, years later, now that Brown is... alone... Swayzak is back in form.
Swayzak "Shot by Both Sides" [YouTube] from 2016. 13 minutes!
Discogs is helping to make sense of some of the vinyl scarfed up during my days as a professional disc-spinner, mostly around the turn of the millennium. French and German house predominates in this cache. Dan Electro's "I Hear Music in the Air" always sounded good in a bar/restaurant environment -- the EP it came from was sold without the cover (above) so I had no clue what it was. The vocal sample, which I half-heartedly guessed might be Ella Fitzgerald, comes from gospel diva Vickie Winans, who is utterly transformed from a rafter-rattling sonic cannon into a mellow club groovemeister.
The real name of the somewhat ridiculous Dan Electro is Alain Gerber.
Am organizing my "record collection" (with many nerdy visits to Discogs to see which pricy versions I was fortunate to have picked up back in the day for $4.99). As I do this I find songs to "share" -- much as I hate contributing to the YT monoculture (yawn let's get on with it)
Tuxedomoon "Grand Hotel" [YouTube] Blaine is kind of sawing away here but I love the vocoderized Garbo loop and how it comes back in at the end
Tuxedomoon "Conquest" [YouTube] "What do I care for your orders? You can't frighten me." more vocoderized Garbo - nice
Tuxedomoon "Queen Christina" [YouTube] "...Oh, this great joy I feel now. This is how the Lord must have felt when he first beheld a finished world, with all his creatures breathing and living..." (Not vocoderized. Need to watch these Garbo films)
Tonto's Expanding Head Band "Jetsex" [YouTube] Just realized how much this anticipated the trippy "road" section of Kraftwerk's "Autobahn" (long version)
Atomic Robo Kid "Googlex" [YouTube] Some crazy techno sh*t
David Van Tieghem "All Safe" [YouTube] Heavy on the Fairlight; this was right on the cusp, pre-808 State and "Techno! The New Dance Sound Of Detroit," where '80s beats went from crunchy/static to fluid/sexy
Harley & Muscle "Friends and Enemies" [YouTube] Deep house, and the confusion between friends and enemies.
Rebel sits down at the bar in the neighborhood yuppie restaurant and orders brunch.
He's the only customer sitting at the bar; about six people are seated at various small tables, and otherwise the joint is empty.
Rebel: I'd like the Asian Marinated Skirt Steak Salad, please, and sweet potato fries, and coffee.
Waitperson: Cream or sugar?
Rebel: Black is fine.
Waitperson: OK, I'll just need your card so I can start a tab.
Rebel: I'm paying cash.
Waitperson: Well, I still need your card.
Rebel: What for?
Waitperson: So we can get you in the system and keep track of everyone.
Rebel: There's no one in here!
Waitperson: It usually gets crowded around 1:00. Card?
Rebel (obviously lying): I don't have one.
Waitperson pouts and begins keying something into the register.
At 4.2 MB it exceeds my self imposed GIF size limit but I like it so much I'm willing to give these folks a plug: [amusing GIF]
Have been neglecting my Vimeo account, mainly because I hate video and think there's too much of it in our world. Yesterday I posted a couple of laid-back efforts from late 2014 I had been sitting on:
Was sort of briefly interested in the idea of home movies as art -- taking that trope of ultimate boredom and elevating it to festival material, as a form of protest or Dada or what have you. I even went as far as to submit Idyllic Bike Ride to the festival "Migrating Forms" (where it was rejected). What happened was, I get a lot of press releases going back to my years as a pundit. Some are welcome and some go to spam. Migrating Forms sent me an announcement with a call for entries. It took about five minutes to submit Idyllic Bike Ride -- I thought a dude's bike ride might be an amusing break or palate cleanser in several hours of heavy identity exploration. It was rejected, and also lessened my spam traffic because I stopped receiving Migrating Forms announcements! Unlike moi, they do not hate video.
MIDI Users' Group performs at an electronic music event, Oscillate:Pittsburgh 2017 [YouTube]
Travis Hallenbeck tweeted: "my set in Pittsburgh was described by the organizer as like being stuck in an office"
On the other hand, it was kind of refreshing not seeing an Apple laptop or a rack of modular gear. These not-quite-ancient MIDI devices have their own unique sound and seem to have their own mind. Hallenbeck treats them like a flock of erratic sheep, letting them go where they will and savoring their little bleeps and hums as events in themselves. The caretaker approach to (dis)organized sound.
When lab-grown meat was first announced a few years ago, science fiction fan Paul Krugman (whose economic theories in support of the Clintons have also been called science fictional) mentioned the "Chicken Little" episode in Pohl & Kornbluth's book The Space Merchants. That was P&K's name for a monstrous mound of non-sentient chicken flesh, filling a small underground cavern, flensed off in strips to feed the populace. The meat Krugman was comparing to it was pork, or perhaps nu-pork, but last week the feat was achieved in San Francisco startup-land with actual chicken, or nu-chicken. (hat tip m.po)
Since the source is Business Insider they don't call it Frankenfood, but rather a form of venture-capital-funded disruption. If brainless meat ever becomes economical, the idea is, its various purveyors will do to chicken farmers what Uber does to cab drivers. Or, as BI puts it:
They're all hoping to disrupt America's $200 billion meat industry (and $48 billion poultry industry), by offering foods that mimic meat but are more environmentally friendly.
The details are pretty disgusting, even if you aren't excited by a food that is "eerily similar" to real meat (BI's telling phrase):
...lab-grown meat still requires fetal serum, which comes from unborn calves and chicks, to start the cultivation process. Memphis Meats told The Wall Street Journal in 2016 that it expects to replace the serum with something plant-based soon.
Right, sure. It's the nu-ethics: Disrupting baby cows is bad, disrupting family farmers is OK.