Thursday, March 24, 2005

tired of taking it to the bridge?

Here are a few recommendations of bizarre but rewarding music that is most likely off your radar. This post was inspired by my recent exposure to "The Most Unwanted Song" (described below). People with a healthy and/or nerdy interest in music will enjoy these.

Negativeland - Dispepsi. I never listened much to Negativeland, I think because their deliberate efforts to provoke copyright litigation seemed contrived. But the truth is I ignored them into I heard Dispepsi yesterday, which was awesome. It's a sound-collage on the subject of Cola Wars, marketing, consumerism, and market greed, set to music and interspersed with original songs. Incredible richness of archived sound footage from commercials, talk-radio, news broadcasts, and interviews, as well as internal memos from Pepsi marketing. Hilarious, thought-provoking, sad, angry. Serious background work went into this album, and it shows. Plus it's pretty groovy.

Komar & Melamid (w/Dave Soldier) - The Most Wanted Song/The Most Unwanted Song. You might have heard about this on This American Life, but in essence: two guys did an online poll of likes and dislikes in music, then composed the Most Wanted and Most Unwanted song. The most wanted song, incorporating as it does every one of the elements that people like (moderate tempo, volume, smooth instrumentation, lovey-dovey lyrics, etc.), is fucking awful. The Most Unwanted Song, however, is a wonderful achievement and unbearably hilarious. I'm not kidding, it's physically impossible not to laugh when an operatic soprano (opera hate) begins kicking rhymes (rap hate) about being a cowboy. And, of course, since it's the Most Unwanted Song it's also over 20 minutes long. The precise moment when I fell on the ground uncontrollably weeping from hilarity was when the kids singing holiday songs scream out the following: "Ramadan, Ramadan, lots of praying but no BREAKFAST!" That is an actual lyric.

John Oswald - Plunderphonics. You can't buy a new John Oswald CD anywhere because he's been sued so many times that he now gives them away to avoid litigation. However, he graciously allows other small record labels to bootleg and release his albums, which are entirely constituted of uncleared, pre-released, recognizable sound material (albeit heavily manipulated). Dolly Parton sings "The Great Pretender" with a pitch-modulated male version of herself. Every grunt, growl, and scream from James Brown collide with hiphop samples of Brown, making a stuttery funk that pays tribute to the Bomb Squad and Eric B. while also presenting them with a biting critique of their parasitism. Michael Jackson's "Bad" becomes a Reichian phase pattern. And Carly Simon duels with Chocolate Starfish over who does a better version of "You're So Vain." Luckily, the gimmicks rarely get in the way of compositional craft, so Plunderphonics is anything but a novelty. It contains a great deal of humor (including the now-unfortunate Michael Jackson lyrical pastiche "your butt is/love"), but overall the mood is fairly serious. Get the "Plunderphonics 69" two-disc set if you can find it on Gemm or elsewhere.

That's all for now. I can burn some of this stuff for anyone who wants. Review of last night's Rainer Maria/Minipop show coming up tomorrow or the next day.


Julia Consuela said...

Just a thought: When's the new New Plastic Mix coming out? I mean, it's been over a year.

Jared said...

"Pepsi. I need a Pepsi."

Negativland is CRAZY.

Also Oswald is a straight up visionary. Angry. Genius.