COLUMNS

  • 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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  • D. Strauss

    D. STRAUSS

    1. Boredoms, Vision Creation Newsun Japanese Dadaists break from po-mo gamesmanship, embracing pure emotional power, with enough noise that you can’t march to it.

    2. Free Dirty: Best of Ol’ Dirty Bastard Serving a six-year prison sentence for smoking crack while wearing a bulletproof vest. OJ he ain’t.

    3. Angus Maclaurin, Glass Music Speaking of crack, this was recorded on the glass armonica, invented by Ben Franklin, who also, sadly, discovered electricity and created the post office.

    4. Russell Gunn, Ethnomusicology, Vol. 2 Iffy musically, but a primo album cover bamboozling Gunn as a

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  • Nam June Paik

    NAM JUNE PAIK IS OFTEN PICTURED with an instrument: banging his head on a piano; dragging a violin along the ground; stretching a string across his back, to be bowed by cellist Charlotte Moorman. What these images share with many of Paik’s multimedia works is the sense of a dreamed art-they represent a music that isn’t heard, necessarily, but whose effect might be even greater than music that is. With television, the distance between Nam June Paik’s dreams and reality seems starker: Works such as Zen for T. V., 1963, Moon Is the Oldest T.V., 1965, T.V. Buddha, 1974, and Candle T.V., 1975,

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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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  • Dennis Cooper

    DENNIS COOPER

    1. Pinback, Blue Screen Life The year’s most enigmatic, impeccable, swoonily beautiful songs.

    2. Weezer, The Green Album America’s most popular great band brings rock formalism to the masses. Thirty perfect minutes.

    3. Björk, Vespertine She escapes Lars von Trier and Matthew Barney unscathed.

    4. Daft Punk, Discovery Intricate, vapid, irresistible, brainy French electro-pop piffle.

    5. Mouse on Mars, Idiology Electronic music’s creative recession continued this year with a few eccentric exceptions. This was the wackiest.

    6. Stephen Malkmus, Stephen Malkmus Even wiser words and music from

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  • Ben Ratliff

    BEN RATLIFF

    1. John Lewis (Alice Tully Hall, New York, Jan. 18) How inept we seem to have been in not recognizing his swing and sensuality, and what a way to go out, with an almost perfect live retrospective only sixty days before this jazz master’s death.

    2. Carlinhos Brown and Timbalada (Salvador da Bahía, Brazil, Feb. 25) When Brown let loose with the heavy, dense James Brown funk, the crowd froze. When he played this year’s Carnaval hit, a cheery cha-cha-cha, the crowd exploded.

    3. Pantera (Hammerstein Ballroom, New York, Mar. 9) Still impressively hard and loud and direct in their eleventh

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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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  • 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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