COLUMNS

  • 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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  • 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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  • Downtown 81

    DOWNTOWN 81, A “LOST” NO-BUDGET FILM shot on location in Manhattan some nineteen years ago, finally had its debut last month, at Cannes. Directed by Edo Bertoglio and written by Glenn O’Brien, this lighthearted document of the East Village scene stars a twenty-year-old Jean-Michel Basquiat as himself, with countless hipster cameos, including hip-hop pioneer Fab Five Freddie, ’80s Fiorucci designer (and the film’s producer) Maripol, record-label guy Marty Thau, and Blondie chanteuse Debbie Harry as the fairy princess.

    But the real star of the film is the gritty milieu of a New York long gone. A

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  • Fischerspooner

    You may not actually have known any of the songs, but with their pleasingly familiar New Romantic techno-pop beat, you felt like you should. In any case, by the time you filed out of Gavin Brown’s Fifteenth Street gallery—filled to capacity for every performance of Fischerspooner’s five-night run—you were more than ready to shell out twenty bucks for the CD. And weeks later, it has become your sound track. Every time “Fucker” or “Invisible” comes on you’re back in the strobe-lit, sweaty heaven of Fischerspooner’s synching and dancing extravaganza.

    Transformed by black fabric and a series of

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  • Charlemagne Palestine

    HUGE POOLS OF SOUNDS coming from one undifferentiated tone: This is the dizzying, precision work of Charlemagne Palestine and a Dutch organ, stretched out for seventy-one minutes. The single note sounded gives rise to more notes, a sustained single chord, that in turn establish their own spatial existence, even some aural architectures. Perpetual performance. By consumer-culture standards the thing is unlistenable, yet at the same time it is ready to teach you some kind of deep listening. Only, it won’t teach anything. It just does what it does, and those who listen become involved in the acoustic

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  • Lunapark 0.10

    Lunapark 0.10, released as part of the “Aural Documents” series by the Belgian label Sub Rosa, is more like a séance than a CD. Compiled by Marc Dachy, this spoken-word anthology begins with the ghostly voice of Apollinaire declaiming his poem “Le Pont Mirabeau” in 1912 and ends with Caetano Veloso performing the Brazilian poet de Campos’s work in the late ’70s. In between, Dachy includes scraps of recordings by Mayakovsky, Joyce, Artaud, Duchamp, Stein, and others, piecing together a personal survey of twentieth-century sound art. To those for whom the historical avant-garde constitutes a living

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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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