Archive for March, 2020

For the entirety of Saturday 21st March, 100% of revenue on Bandcamp will go directly to musicians – Bandcamp will waive it’s 10-15%. Given, here in the U.K. and across many western countries, we’re confined inside it’s the perfect time to fill the world with some tunes, take time to explore beloved or new artists, while simultaneously doing something to help a community hit very hard by the current events worldwide.

Across the music ecosystem, there have been major impacts from coronavirus. Touring cancelled, venues shuttered, recording plans on pause. Among my friends are sound engineers with no work for the foreseeable future; venue staff and managers who have seen their opportunities to earn a living shrink to zero for the time being; tour managers who rely on being on the road to make a dime and who are now stuck at home…And, of course, musicians who make the music and who have now lost the crucial component of their cash in pocket that hasn’t already been stomped by tech bros.

One of the best things about Bandcamp is that your money goes to the musicians you’re supporting. This is in stark contrast to Spotify where even if you spend 100% of your time and investment with a single artist, your money is added to the pool and divided according to the total share of streams for each artist – much of your money (minus the 30% that Spotify keeps) goes to people you’d never dream of listening to (at $0.006-$0.0084 per stream). The user-centric model of Bandcamp is another reason to support it and the attitude of Bandcamp, that they’re there to help musicians not just use them as product, is evident in their effort to move more money direct to musicians.

People I’ve been listening to a lot recently – not to say anyyyyyyone has to pay attention to my taste – include:

My Cat Is An Alien – perfect distressed ambience…

https://ellipticalnoise.bandcamp.com/

Ames Sanglantes and others at Hospital Productions:

https://hospitalproductions.bandcamp.com/

Myrkur’s new album of Scandinavian folk song:

https://myrkur.bandcamp.com/

And a lot of Weasel Walter’s wild activities:

https://weaselwalter.bandcamp.com/

Today might be worth spending a little of the money saved not going out on a Friday or Saturday night.

 

PS Just bought the new Phil Puleo release too:

https://philpuleo.bandcamp.com/

 

 

 

HOME

If one believes in a god, then that god provides rules and meaning for one’s actions – though, of course, even then no one else is required to accept your meaning. If one doesn’t place meaning in the hands of a supernatural being, then the meaning of life becomes whatever one chooses to devote one’s own time and energy to – it’s your choice and no one can tell you you’re wrong because it’s something inherently and specifically personal to you. I think there’s amazing freedom in that. By that same virtue, I love seeing people dedicate themselves to labours of love that aren’t underpinned by other motivations like career plans, financial rewards, a desire for influence – no one else may care, but you do, so you do it in spite of obstacles, dismissal, lack of interest, because it means something to you.

HOME

The Love Buzz 7″ site is a recent favourite on that score. Massimo Salerno and Mattia Cuda built on work by Joris Baas and Enrico Vincenzi, to create this rather nifty website where they identify and log the owners of the 1,000 hand-numbered copies, and the 200 unnumbered copies with a red marker dash where the number would be, of Nirvana’s first single. Original copies go for several thousand dollars and there’s a quite substantial quantities of fakes out there – a bit of a minefield. What the guys have done is provide a source indicating the features that identify an original, a listing so it’s clear which numbers already belong to a known owner, a map showing where in the world copies have wound up over the years, and a guide to the known test pressings too.

They’ve gone beyond that by adding the stories volunteered by individual owners explaining how they came across their copy, the pedigree of each one and so forth. It’s a rather fun read, for example the way a test pressing of Love Buzz wound up with an east coast distributor called Pier Platters, was purchased by a gentleman called Nihility X, then sold to Discourage Records. Or Chad Channing’s personal memory of snagging the third copy of the single, or the story of Nils Bernstein found under #6.

The photos too are interesting, there’s a certain fascination in the way these repeated shots of the ___ / 1000 box vary in terms of photo quality, position, condition…

The home page scrolls beautifully and intelligently through the core details of the release, the counter indicating that 355 of 1,000 copies have been identified so far – rather impressive for an object as small as a seven inch record and one released 32 years ago – links to the genuine copies currently on sale, and the mission statement to get rid of the bootleg copies…All leading to the submission form at the bottom where people can choose to remain anonymous but are invited to provide their story and/or to have their copy studied remotely to prove its genuine.

Parasite

We’re in the midst of what looks like being the longest ever drought between significant official releases of Nirvana material. The six year pause between From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah (October 1996) and the greatest hits record/unveil of ‘You Know You’re Right’ (October 2002) has now been superseded by the gap since September 2013’s In Utero anniversary or November 2015’s Montage Of Heck compilation of home demos by Kurt Cobain. The big difference is that the earlier pause was due to legal disputes but everyone was aware that, as documented on numerous bootlegs at the time, there was a lot of unreleased material to come – now we’re contemplating an empty well.

Doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some fun this year! A real pleasure, for me, was receiving Marcus Gray’s art collection “Parasite: A Photographic Wake for Kurt Cobain.”

https://www.blurb.co.uk/b/9897611-parasite

It kicks the hell out of the embarrassing ‘coffee table book’ that the estate put out last year. Gray specializes in making visual suggestions, specific to Kurt Cobain’s life and work, that provoke thoughts that spill well beyond the edges of the photo frame – memories, additional facts, associated moments, spiraling out from the initial image. Substantial work has gone into sourcing era-specific objects (a Mrs. Butterworth’s jar, for example); or selecting non-obvious media (Cobain’s grandfather’s phone book entry, a back page newspaper advert for X-Ray glasses that ties to the 1990 In Bloom video); or combining items that resonate with meaning to those with fair background on Cobain’s story (a card from the Marco Polo Motel inside a Tom Moore cigar box). The initial selections are already impressive but what elevates them is the visible thought that has gone into how to move beyond blank documentation into artistic imagining. Images are treated, slurred, magnified, placed against a range of backdrops, every single work presented here has a specificity of both image and effort that makes them art. I particularly liked how subtle the work could be: the famous red-and-black striped jumper Cobain wore in 1993 is rendered in a way that looks like neon light and would be impossible to identify as a jumper if one’s own mind didn’t make the leap to that item of clothing, with the photo caption providing a useful pointer.

There was a bit of an outpouring of books collecting photographs of Nirvana and of Kurt Cobain a few years back, and they all had their virtues. It’s just really nice to see someone going way beyond that and taking Cobain – a quintessential outsider artist – as an artistic muse prompting hard work, significant skill and deep thoughtfulness. It’s not a huge volume but I’ve found myself returning repeatedly to the book because it’s not of an intimidating length or size, and because each image rewarded fair lengthy contemplation, I can spend 5-10 minutes thinking outside of the edges of the image at the events, times, places and actions that the photo points to.