Saturday, August 20, 2016
Latest in my series of "black and white" paintings. Acrylic, pencil, medium, and modeling paste on 4 wood panels (18" overall). It's always seems a balancing act between intention and chance, the meaninglessness of the final product, and the fracturing of form. Is this good or bad painting? Who really cares in a world where everyone who has painted a barn or lighthouse without investing themselves intellectually or emotionally calls themselves an "artist"? And they love company!
Sunday, August 7, 2016
John Foxx and Steve D’Agostino’s all instrumental EVIDENCE OF TIME TRAVEL (2016) reveals its conceit through the use of vintage analogue instruments (especially drum machines) that provide warmth and grit beyond the “boiled” (thanks, D.H. Lawrence) code of software programs. A visual component is provided by Karborn, whose images dissolve and morph as in a dream. While sound and imagery remind me a bit of electro-noise pioneers Cabaret Voltaire, let’s remember that John Foxx’s METAMATIC (1980) is probably the finest “synth-pop” record ever recorded in its use of skeletal electronics in the context of “popular” song. EVIDENCE OF TIME TRAVEL has been criticized for its use of pop structures instead of more experimental strategies, but let’s face it, John Foxx never travelled the noise as art road at all. Just listen to “Hiroshima Mon Amour” from Ultravox’s HA-HA-HA album (1977) for the drum machine and synth sounds that are explored and expanded here.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Both Alan Vega's music and art have been essential forms of Lower East Side expression, combining his love of the detritus of its gnarled streets with Rockabilly and the sounds of machinery. I remember his exhibition at O.K. Harris Gallery, proprietor Ivan Karp allowing heaps of found objects, dirt, and electricity free reign in his pristine space. This was an amalgam of salvage, garbage and one man's street stories. Like his work with the provocative electronic duo Suicide and solo records, there was little or no attempt to smooth rough edges or foster commercial surrender. Even a single like "Dream Baby Dream" offered repetitive menace in Vega's nearly stuttered motivational "sprechgesang", meshing beautifully with Martin Rev's skeletal vintage drum machine and cheap keyboard synth. Their early performances were a kind of performance art punk, recordings of which only hint at the commotion Vega caused. And let's not forget "Frankie Teardrop", possibly the most intense and harrowing track to wander the dark dirty corners of Alphabet City... ever! Vega will certainly be missed.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
This Zoom pedal is specifically designed as a multi-effects stomp for guitar, but works just as well with modular synthesizers (in this case my Serge M-Class). Its selection of effects is wide and varied (Splicer, T Scream, anyone?), and its three pots (no feet, please) give the synthesist the ability to tweak parameters. Merely stomping won't give you much.