Music

  • Glenn McKay

    GLENN MCKAY PIONEERED the ’60s psychedelic light show, a somehow instantly tacky “art form” responsible for everything from Tom Wolfe having images “projected . . . on the back of [his] eyelids” while researching The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test to the Pink Floyd–scored Laserock freakouts I attended at the Hayden Planetarium as a seventh-grader. Like a creaky wave machine dusted off and set Into motion again, McKay’s work has been resurrected by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art under the rubric “Altered States” (until June 1). McKay, who founded his company Head Lights (get it, man?) In

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  • Martha Graham

    THE PLEASURE DERIVED FROM WATCHINGRichard Move reincarnate Martha Graham isnot the same kick to be had from a conventional drag show. The irony is there, at its highest, threatening-to-transcend-tamp level, as it is with a performer like Jim Bailey, who does Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand almost as well as they did themselves. But there is another pleasure here, something akin to the thrill of Jurassic Park or Godzilla: An extinct, or at least endangered, species is brought startlingly back to life. Richard Move is Martha Graham, the performer, the diva, the guru/choreographer. Onstage he

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  • Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg

    GUSTAV MAHLER’S Kindertotenlieder and Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire are dark song cycles written in the first part of this century. The former is a meditation on the death of children, the latter, a hallucination of insanity. Not exactly cheery subject matter, and at only a half-hour apiece, these morose musical journeys wouldn’t seem especially promising as stage productions. This winter, as part of Lincoln Center’s Great Performers’ “New Visions” series, two separate presentations turn to unconventional means as a way of unpacking an evening’s worth of theater out of these haunted

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  • Michel Houellebecq

    ONE OF THE MORE TELLING recent developments in French cultural life has been the sudden nostalgia for Jean-Paul Sartre coinciding with the twentieth anniversary of his death this year. No one really misses Sartre's ideas about “Being” or the Communist International, but a reconsideration of the place he filled in French culture has signaled a genuine EU-era cultural identity crisis. He was the last in a long line of engaged and very public intellectuals, a tradition that included, in the twentieth century alone, Zola, Malraux, Camus; if France is no longer turning out Voltaire-quality men of

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  • the writings of Morton Feldman

    THERE IS A SPACE BETWEEN the artist and his artwork that has been better mapped by painters than by composers. The painter, after all, has the advantage of standing for hours and hours only inches from his painting as it comes into being. The composer spends those hours in a technical act of notation whose relation to the final work is oblique and not entirely determined; then the musical artwork comes into being in a public arena, without the comforting benefit of creative intimacy. One of the achievements of Morton Feldman (1926–87) is that, perhaps because of his connection to so many painters,

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  • Michael Benson on Laibach

    LAIBACH USED TO BE A FORCE to reckon with. To begin with, the band—if you can call this ensemble of sophisticated politico-cultural provocateurs simply a “band”—were the only group from the socialist world ever to make it in the West, signing a long-term recording contract with London’s prestigious indie label Mute Records (home to Moby, Nick Cave, Depeche Mode), and they did it entirely on their own terms. “Art and ideology don’t exclude each other,” was one of their earliest slogans, but I prefer another: “All art is subject to political manipulation except that which speaks the language of

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  • Throbbing Gristle

    WHILE MANY LIVE RECORDINGS are accompanied by disclaimers—invariably apologias for the sound quality—few come with warnings as to their possible side effects. Throbbing Gristle’s TG24, a limited-edition deluxe box set of twenty-four CDs of live Throbbing Gristle (TG) recordings made between 1976 and 1980, is prefaced with the following: “Industrial Records and Throbbing Gristle will not be held responsible in any way whatsoever for the results of any physical, mental or structural damage either inflicted or incurred by the owner of this collection or any third parties.” A coda further suggests

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  • Le Tigre

    FAMILIAR WITH HERM CHOREOGRAPHY? Well, if you’ve ever attended a Le Tigre concert, choreographed by band member JD Samson, you’ve seen it. Herm (slang for androgynous queer) locates Samson and the boy-band-derivative moves one sees at Le Tigre shows—her tributes to how queer bodies negotiate the world. Equal parts dance style and critical intervention, Samson’s choreography is just one element of a performance practice that reopens questions about community, fandom, feminism, queerness, and their conjunctions and differences, by drawing on staged spectacle, audience exuberance, and punk-derived

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  • Electronic Music

    THE TRADITIONAL SCENARIO might be described like this: People onstage make music, and, in response, people in the audience make noise.

    And if the people onstage make noise?

    Sonic Youth’s contribution to the two-CD Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music 1921–2001, the first of eight planned releases on the theme, takes this situation to its logical conclusion: “Audience” is six minutes of applause taped at the end of a 1983 Sonic Youth performance in Berlin, subjected in the studio to the same sorts of manipulations that the band applies to sounds generated by their instruments. The result is

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  • Wilco

    IT’S A GREAT AMERICAN STORY, late-capitalist style. Scruffy heartland band (Wilco) makes its best record (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot) amid internal strife and shakeouts (two members fired); submits master tapes to its record label (Reprise, a subsidiary of AOL Time Warner); receives deafening silence (two weeks without any response), followed by demands for changes (due to “lack of commercial potential”). Then, when bandleader (Jeff Tweedy) refuses to rerecord the songs, label exec (David Kahne, then acting head of Reprise) unceremoniously shows band the back door. Band leaves label with unusual

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  • Bob Nickas

    BOB NICKAS

    1. Rodney Graham, Getting It Together in the Country Is this the sound track to the new reality? Recorded two summers ago but lately on my turntable just about all the time, “Nature Has No Purpose,” “Champagne for Everyone,” “This Is the Only Living I’ve Got (Don’t Take It Away from Me),” and a beautifully resigned cover of Dave Mason’s “Feelin’ Alright” got me through the dusty days.

    2. LiLiPUT A reissue of everything from ’78–’83; an eccentric, electric rush. Never underestimate four bored Swiss girls.

    3. The Fall, The Unutterable Mark E. Smith stuttering all over the k on “Ketamine

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  • Rachel Greene

    RACHEL GREENE

    1. Neu! The perfect sound track to Richter’s “18. Oktober 1977” cycle. With its mesmerizing oppositional and aimless tracks, this rerelease, from the same fraught world (’70s West Germany) as Baader-Meinhof, encapsulates that culture’s urge to self-define.

    2. P.J. Harvey, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea No longer a singing interface to some archetype of a suffering, rejected woman, P.J.’s energy has become less labile, more Patti Smith.

    3. The Strokes, Is This It Like Vanessa Beecroft’s bored mannequins, the Strokes ooze ennui. I’d imagined them as normal kids who’d

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