Julian Cope is making me do it

Somehow i got it into my head that this was an Ohio band too, but i must have transliterated Ontario into Ohio. Dumbass. I didn’t really appreciate the uniqueness of the Velvets crossed with early Pink Floyd until recently, when i started going back through Cope’s record reviews to see what i might have missed. This band is no mere curiosity or passing fit of contrariness on my part. This is a truly lost album from a lost band, one that ought to have better preserved legacy. Go read Julian’s take if you like.

Simply Saucer “Instant Pleasure”

Simply Saucer “Bullet Proof Nothing”

Can you believe that Daniel Lanois produced these songs? Me neither.

Cloud Atlas on NPR’s Connection

David Mitchell actually. He was coming on in the car as i was going to get the car’s inspection sticker. I switched it off very quickly, as i have not made it past the first chapter yet (not a reflection on the quality of the book, but my inability to focus on anything.) I have no idea where the conversation went, but they read a passage from the first chapter, and i feared they would reveal things that i don’t need to know yet. Be warned.

Radio show here.

I’m a little proud that i managed to snag the first one that came into the store, as the ones trickling in now seem to be second editions.

God Says Fuck You

This is probably more accurate than that “Be fruitful and multiply” nonsense. Hopefully this will balance out both the primitivist Christian rock and the syrupy sweet balladry of Roy Wood from yesterday. I’m not always in the mood for the Electric Eels, but after a whole pot of coffee and reading a couple of dozen news stories, oh yeah…

Here’s the obligatory Perfect Sound Forever article and even better the Head Heritage one, by Julian Cope full of shamanic madness.

Electric Eels “Agitated” This is one of those primal songs that must have been floated in the ether outside of time and space until 1971. It expresses an emotion so simply, so brutally, that it could be one of those freaky blobby people of a primary color and a weird hat, “Mr. Agitated” that little kids read storybooks about.

Electric Eels “Jaguar Ride” Despite all of their thuggish misanthropy, sometimes it comes to a relatively innocent, if primal, teenage anthem.

Electric Eels “You’re Full of Shit” This one is just thrown in to dedicate to Bill concerning our discussion over the percentage of foreign nationals in the Iraqi insurgency. ha ha ha! Bullshit! Bullshit!

Small Press Roundup

The small presses are, as always, on the cutting edge of American Fiction while maintaining links with the past (mostly Kafka). Like in the music industry, where the indie labels have traditionally “pushed the envelope” in quality, originality, and experimentation, the small presses are churning out some of the most interesting works of fiction. The physical quality of the book is often top-notch as well. The following small presses deal exclusively in “experimental literature”. Tasty.

Fiction Collective Two– I ordered The Dictionary of Modern Anguish by R.M. Berry. It has been compared favorably to Borges, which, while common enough for jacket blurbs, ususally means I’ll like it well enough. FC2 is author-run (which is quite ambitious) and appears to take its mission statement seriously: “Providing a Literary Alternative since 1974”.

Exact Change– dealers in the “Classics of Experimental Literature”, Exact Change has published the poems of Pablo Picasso as well as some Kafka. They also deal in works written by musicians. While relatively young (founded in 1990), this press nevertheless seems well-entrenched in its niche. From the website:

Exact Change publishes books of experimental literature with an emphasis on Surrealism, Dada, Pataphysics, and other nineteenth and twentieth century avant-garde art movements

Graywolf Press– Specializing in high quality books, Graywolf is yet another well-entrenched small publisher. Graywolf deals in nonfiction, essays, poetry, LitCrit, and memoirs as well as in novels and short stories. The translations they have released seem particularly interesting.

more Roy Wood

I was waiting for Damien to write these entries, as he knows more about Roy Wood than i could ever hope to know. Both of these songs are from 1973’s Boulders, his second album after he quit Electric Light Orchestra. .

Roy Wood “Nancy Sing Me a Song” Gentle pop song that would have fit into with mid-period Move, and sounding less and less like a couple of frankensteined Beatles tunes.

Roy Wood “Dear Elaine” Lush, overblown baroque orch-pop.

Before the Danielson Family

everything i know about this band is from the AMG article. I’m not mocking this stuff, even though i find the religion ridiculous and the music laughable inept. There’s a need for this music. Classical hymns and old school gospel have deeper emotional connection than most rock could ever hope to muster. Modern Christian music is pure show biz though, niche marketing to an established audience. Poor New Creation reaches out to the unconverted in the most guileless fashion to reveal themselves to be sweetly naive, preciously daft. If only most fundementalists were as brimstone-free…..

The New Creation “Dig!” It’s Creationist rock! I cannot abide creationism, but i love silliness, and this is endearingly funny. It says the exact things that riles me when drawled by some chump with bad hair and an expensive suit, but when sung by a loopy woman with a hint of a sense of humor, it becomes good rock & roll novelty. It’s a cross between Mo Tucker, the Shaggs and Tiny Tim.

The New Creation “Wind” What if Ray Davies couldn’t sing and was a fundamentalist with no sense of poetic meter? Now we know. Poor bastard. Daniel Johnston has loads of fans though. Why not this guy?

Update: Sheesh. And i thought i was prejudiced against fundamentalist Christians! Almost no one has downloaded this stuff as of noon today. I swear this is as good as the Langley Schools Music Project which everyone was swooning over awhile back.

Banned Books Week begins with a bang…

Some of the lit-blogs to your left have linked this story as well, but what the hell…

Censorship?

The article itself gives little substantive information. Apparently the Association of American University Presses, the Professional and Scholarly division of the Association of American Publishers, and the PEN American Center belives that the government is “blocking the works of authors in countries such as Cuba, Iran and Sudan from reaching the United States. ”

Interesting. Where is Guy Davenport to snidely announce that “we don’t need ’em anyway?”

What is in store for Iraq?

September’s Atlantic has a wonderful article by Reuel Gerecht on the future of democracy in Iraq.

Before I put my two cents in, I’ll just say that my forays into current events and politics will be limited. My illustrious, hoary, and somewhat bitter colleague has that well covered.

Gerecht has written a cogent and persuasive article on the role of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani in Iraq’s future democracy that has the ring of truth to it. Whether you were for or against this war, it happened. I say were because only the most vitriolic and nearsighted individuals hold the position that we should simply “pull out” of Iraq. I am by no means an advocate for occupation, but abandoning Iraq now would be disastrous. We all know this. What, then, to do?

Gerecht has provided the sensible person with a stance to support. The conservative party line is that elections cannot be held haphazardly lest a fundamentalist Islamic regime take hold of the country a la Iran. The differences between Iran and Iraq are quite large, both in ethnic makeup and in the particular character of the religious leadership. We are all familiar with Ayatollah Khomeni’s repressive regime in Iran and violently fundamentalist demeanor. We recall the fatwa on Salman Rushdie. Why on earth support a character like al-Sistani?

Friends, this is a different Ayatollah who has issued a different fatwa. The link to the article above cuts off right before the good part (unless you are a subscriber to the Atlantic). I’ll just have to cheat and give you the good stuff. From al-Sistani’s June 29 fatwa:

The Occupational Authority in no way has the authority to choose members for the drafting committee of Basic Law. In no way does any authority exist for such a drafting committee to represent the lofty interests of the Iraqi people or to translate into law the wishes and basic identity of the Iraqi people, the pillars of which are the glorious faith of Islam and society’s values. The current plan discussed is fundamentally unacceptable.
Accordingly, popular elections are necessary so that each Iraqi who is of voting age can choose his representative for a constituent assembly. And then any Basic Law written by this assembly must be approved by national referendum. It is incumbent upon all believers with their utmost commitment to demand this, and asserting the truth of this path is the best way that they can participate in this process.

Now, this fatwa was widely denounced in the West, but what few noticed (and what is the crux of Gerecht’s argument) was the fact that “it was a flawlessly secular proclamation that clearly and concisely established ‘the people’ as the final arbiters of Iraq’s political system.” Nevermind the fact that an Iraqi democracy as proposed by an Ayatollah would look almost nothing like ours… I cannot believe that anyone hopes Iraq would adopt an officially agnostic-and in some cases outright anti-religious- form of government. Anyone who heard the speech given by Iraqi’s interim Prime Minister last week can deduce that he is a puppet. Hell, his remarks sounded like a watered down version of Bush’s stump-speech.

If our aim is truly the “liberation” of the Iraqi people, we should resign ourselves to the fact that the Shiite clerics who hold so much sway over public opinion over there will play a HUGE role in how things go. We should also pay close attention to the fact that this is not so bad. Anti-Western? Sure they are. So are many people IN THE WEST. Materialism, Consumerism, and haughty anti-spiritualism simply don’t fly with some people.

I can live with that.

maybe the Wire of the name was in reference to the pasture’s fence

Pink Flag is the album that i usually go back to, but it’s because i’m a simple-minded bastard a lot of the time, who likes mininal, a little raw kinda sounds. I need to appreciate the next two albums more….

Wire “Sand in My Joints” My favorite song off of Chairs Missing right now. Not much of a difference from anything off Pink Flag, and not very different from a dozen other punk bands in my underinformed opinion.

Wire “Map Ref. 41 Degrees North 93 Degrees West”
A godlike hymn of a song. It’s practically an epic compared to Wire’s other songs at 3 minutes and 40 seconds. Between the regal keyboards, disruptor staccato guitar bursts, and the coy chorus announcment, it’s sonically perfect. Probably one of the only songs that references crystal palaces and does not suck or sound fey. It’s practically a Borges story musically, but could someone explain why the coordinates of 41°N 93°W, because according to this, it looks like a quiet field in Iowa.