Daniel B. of Nothing But Noise Interview (Part 2 of 2) [Listen 21:45] Dropping the needle anywhere with Daniel B S04 Ep05[21:45]
Special Guest: Daniel Bressanutti (a.k.a. Daniel B.) (Part 2 of 2): is an electronic music pioneer and one of the forefathers of the electronic body music genre. Daniel B was a founding member of the iconic Belgian band, Front 242, and an essential figure in the shaping of Synth-Punk, electronic dance, and post-industrial music. He and his current band, Nothing But Noise, comprises of himself, the other founding member of Front 242, Dirk Bergen, as well as adding Erwin Jadot into the mix. Nothing But Noise have a new Limited edition 300 copy 10” white Vinyl single called “Music For Muted TV 1” released on Record Store Day 2013. In this podcast we talk about about growing up in Belgium and getting inspiration from the Prog-rock bands of the 60’s, his connection to the visual arts, his perspective on music critics, and we get into some of his Front 242 work.
Does technology make a better musician?
There's no doubt about it, technology is advancing beyond all measure. It has been said that technology is advancing beyond mankind itself; our culture, society, mind, civilization, and ethics haven't risen to meet the demands and conundrums such an advancement carries with it. In fact, the latest technology in today's cellphones have more computing power than the Mars Curiosity Rover. The logical conclusion leads to launching cellphones into space to act as satellites now. The unfortunate matter on this is that cellphone technology is advancing so quickly that by the time that the phones get equipped and launched into orbit, they're outdated and that no one in the market for a cellphone would buy one. Seems rather a waste when most often cellphones get used for acquaintances of yours to post pics of what they had for dinner, doesn't it?
It has been said that technology is advancing beyond mankind itself
Think of what could be created if we put a fraction of that research and development towards new music machines: new sounds and treatments that could shatter the comprehension of the modern mind! However, as mankind, is conjectured to be behind technology, it could be said that musicians themselves haven't advanced far enough to use the capability of the technology. There still has to be a human application of theory and practice. Pressing one key on a synth that has been programmed to the gills to produce the sounds of an orchestra does not make a better musician. I would say that that doesn't even make a musician at all. A monkey could be pressing the key, or a brick resting on the key could just as well produce the same sounds of the programmed synth. There's a lesson in there for budding musicians in there.
Think of what could be created if we put a fraction of that research and development towards new music machines: new sounds and treatments that could shatter the comprehension of the modern mind!
Of course, there is nothing that dates music than outdated sounds, some artists, though, thankfully, manage to escape this limitation; I would use Brian Eno, David Byrne, and the Pixies as examples, but, of course, I'm biased. Although the the reverse is true as well, some musicians sound dated despite using the latest equipment, and no degree of production or equipment tweaking can fix. I'll not name names here; I'll just leave that to your own prejudice.
It's no secret that musicians are an odd lot; some are professed Luddites, some are obsessed to reproduce particular sounds or to use coveted equipment that their heroes used in their impressionable youth to capture the intangible effect.
It's no secret that musicians are an odd lot
Theoretically, considering where the most advanced technology is these days, the best audio producing equipment would be a cellphone. Just wait, there's more to come from that direction.
Of course, there is something to be said about getting the greatest product out of limited resources - to crafting a fine, polished product from within confining boundaries; like the short story is a unique medium in itself with it's own difficulties for writers. And really, so many of the best songs are done with a guitar, drum, and voice. Outdated technology.
But what is there to say except that, of course, there is nothing to show that advanced technology actually adds to the music; the source, the well-spring comes from the mind, and the talent of the musician, and is only limited, or limitless, therein.
So, taking all this in mind I'm going to be the latest to remix Justin Beiber on my cellphone, hurl it to the sky in a ballistic fashion to place it into the atmosphere. It goes on sale upon its return. Who doesn't want the latest limited release remix of Justin Bieber from space? Bidding has already begun on Ebay. Act now!
Special Guest: Hauschka (a.k.a. Volker Bertelmann) (Part 2 of 2): is a wonderful example of a musician bridging the gap between the vibrant but challenging sounds of modern classical music with a more traditional and conservative style of playing, keeping classical music moving forward but doing it without substituting beauty or taste. Hauschka started his musical education as a child studying classical music on piano, but stopped around 18 to study medicine and economics, only to be drawn into hip hop and electronic music a few years later. His music has shifted away from the straightforward hip hop and electronic sounds that we know in the clubs today to a more classical vein (ala John Cage with his interpretation of the prepared piano), using the piano as an experiment and adopting natural instruments but with electronic music in mind. Recently he teamed up with one of the biggest names in classical music, Hilary Hahn, to record Silfra. In the interview, we talk about his evolution as an artist, the virtue in amateurism, we get into his remix album, wax philosophic on the concept of remixing, and we discuss the next progression in music.
Love for Collectors
According to some academics and professors of psychology, everybody collects something. The reason for collecting can vary, from monetary gain to simply the enjoyment of the pursuit, most people fall somewhere in between. Of course, another distinction can be made; that is, between collecting and hoarding, and this is a subject that has gathered great attention for the psychologists all over the world. The father of Psychology, Sigmund Freud, drew a connection for the collector to the early days of toilet training, I'll forgo all the graphic details, but Freud stated that loss of what the child produced was a traumatic event and the collector is trying to gain back not only control but “possessions” that were lost so many years ago. A lot of Freud's theories can be seen as a little wack, but before you go criticising his theories, ask yourself if you've created a school of science.
But for the collector, collecting is good; a passionate and enriching interest, and in fact, thanks to the collector, vinyl remains, and reigns as the medium to reproduce music. If not for the collector, vinyl may have disappeared a long time ago.
I need to be clear here, what I mean is the collector, not the hoarder. Those who trade in the medium for the love of the music, not those who hoard the records for an item to posess and store away in a closet to keep from others.
Experts have described the psychopathology of hoarding as “repetitive acquisition syndrome.” Fortunately, thankfully, Freud sees nothing wrong with the collector, collecting falls within normal behaviour; hoarding is the abnormality; the abnormality of the hoarder shows up in those instances where the aberrant behavior interferes with an otherwise reasonable life. This can sometimes even include gross interference into the lives of others, even leading to enforcement issues in some circumstances. But we're trying to clarify the distinction here, between the collector and the hoarder; normal, and abnormal behaviour. A lot of times the behaviour of the collector comes down to whomever is making the judgement. Unfortunately amongst the collector's circle of friends and family, some may see spending so much time and money a waste. I'm sure every collector knows one. Often, they're quite vocal in their disapproval. Some place so little value on music that they think any and all time and money spent on music is a waste; unfortunately, I don't think that this article here can save any lost causes. But even if you're not that a fan, or into collecting, you should appreciate the impact on the medium and the influence of consumer demand on the economy.
If, you're still in doubt about the value of the vinyl collector, consider that in this economy, (largely a market economy) the businesses and providers will try to push what is easiest and cheapest to provide. As long as it's bought by consumers and meets demand, nothing better than the cheapest and easiest is going to be provided, and what's cheapest and easiest to provide is digital content, the lower the bitrate, the better. It's the cheapest and easiest to produce, sell, store, and ship. Collectors demand their favouite medium. Stubbornly, thankfully, they trade in the medium that provides the best production of sound. Their desire, love, and passion fueled the drive for vinyl to continue, and is largely why so many have realized it's worth, and have sought it and returned to it as the medium to reproduce music. Thanks to you, collector.
Special Guest: John Densmore - has kept the dream alive, refusing outside pressures, and making it clear that the Doors principles are not for sale at any price. Densmore’s conceptual ideas, influences, and style of playing brought a jazz element to the band allowing them to explore long jazz-like passages including “When the Music’s Over", “Moonlight Drive”, and “The End.” In this podcast, John Densmore and I talk about “selling out” and what that means to him, his new book The Doors: Unhinged - Jim Morrison’s Legacy Goes on Trial we talk about transcendental meditation, The Whiskey a Go-Go, playing with Van Morrison and the band Them, The Doors last gig, and much much more.
What is Southern Rock?
The post a couple weeks back with Lynyrd Skynyrd got me thinking, what exactly is "southern rock?" The question might strike some as being a silly one and spark a quick reply of a guitar heavy, blues influenced rocker sound, but the truth of it is more complicated, or rather, paradoxically much simpler. "Because a certain type of blues music, and essentially, rock and roll, was invented in the South, Gregg Allman has commented that 'Southern rock' is a bit redundant; it's like saying 'rock rock.'" 1 It can easily get convoluted and pointless really when trying to place music into a sub genres and classifying what music necessarily is, and isn't to rigorous scientific standards, to the effect that Gregg Allman is absolutely right. But it's true, so many of the early rock musicians came out of the southern United States. Elvis, of course, born in Tupelo, Mississippi near the Mississippi Delta, home of the Delta blues, or, if we were to learn anything from Gregg Allman, simply home of the blues. And Elvis, unabashedly a figurehead of bringing black music to white audiences along with Jerry Lee Lewis, out of Ferriday, Louisiana and, like Elvis, recorded with Sun records in Memphis, Tennessee, whose owner, Sam Phillips, was the one who wanted to bring black music to a white audience. The proof can be stated simply with John Lennon himself stating that if it weren't for Elvis, there would have been no Beatles; and so, the lineage begins to take form and crystallize back to the rural south and the artists that spread the music from there.
"If it weren't for Elvis, there would have been no Beatles." --John Lennon
Artists such as Bo Diddley, born in McComb, Mississippi. Unfortunately, not as revered as he should be today, but he truly deserved his nickname of "The Originator" not only for his innovative rhythm, but also for shifting the focus from blues to rock, with his heavy guitar sound and style. So much of what rock is today can trace a direct line back to Bo Diddley, and sadly, history seems to have forgotten that. Probably the majority of rock bands today are completely unaware, and it's wrong to not pay due respect to the forefathers. Rock and roll really came on in a storm. Think of the fervour of the screaming girls in the audience of the Ed Sullivan Show at the Beatles performance. And the Beatles themselves didn't win America over completely; there were rallies protesting the Beatles and record burnings. Bo Diddley got swept under by the own wave that he helped start; but it simply would have been unthinkable and forbidden for good, white American girls and boys in the 60's to show any interest in a black man who didn't play his guitar correctly. Mostly because he was black, but the crazy sounds he made didn't help his cause in mainstream white America. That sort of thing could get you excommunicated from your family, church, and community.
Bo Diddley got swept under by the own wave that he helped start; but it simply would have been unthinkable and forbidden for good, white American girls and boys in the 60's to show any interest in a black man who didn't play his guitar correctly.
In fact, it was largely the influence of the British Invasion that led the focus further away from the rural south to the industrial big cities of England, and the big cities in the States quickly followed suit. It might be said that rock was taking a new form from Southern rock when becoming influenced from the British invasion and psychedelica and further away from the roots of rock and blues, but that's where the lines get blurred. The Doors themselves, more often considered psychedelic rock, arguably owe a greater deal to the roots and music from the south, notably including a recording Willie Dickson's "Back Door Man" on their first album. How appropriate Charlie Daniels' song"The South's Gonna Do It (Again); while being a nod to the South's rallying cry after the American Civil War, was more of a defiant premonition to a resurgence of southern bands.
Charlie Daniels, with his rallying cry of "The South's Gonna Do It (Again)" proved itself right, and echoed throughout the music world, and more times than once.
And by the 70's, Southern rock had made a vigorous resurgence, not only from bands from the south, but the southern rock sound spread it's influence to bands like Credence Clearwater Revival, who were from the San Francisco Bay area, and "The Band" who were Canadian except for Levon Helm, who was the only true Southerner, from Arkansas. But the 70's revival fostered the success of bands that came from the south, like the Allman Brothers. Charlie Daniels, with his rallying cry of "The South's Gonna Do It (Again)" proved itself right, and echoed throughout the music world, and more times than once. Take, for example, ZZ Top in the 80's. They were notable standouts in the days when synth pop, and post-punk was the going norm. The Black Crows, out of Atlanta, Georgia were a breakthrough in the 90's when the focus was on grunge, and everything out of the Seattle area. Most recently, the Southern rock resurgent echo can be seen in the Kings of Leon, and The Black Keys. The Black Keys are out of Akron, Ohio, but, like The Band, owe nearly everything to roots of blues and rock from the south. Whatever new trend, or influence, nothing can kill Southern rock, or better to call it the roots. Deep roots. Really, so much more can be said about the importance of the south on rock; it could fill a book, but there isn't the space to address everything that deserves mention here, but I wanted to point out the notables and direct your attention to the figureheads, and influences, and hope it sparks your interest, broadens your horizon, and sets you on a path of things to look for at the record store. Thank god Jack White, who seems to have the world's attention, pays due respect to the ones who helped forge his path to prominence today. I wish you all well on your search.
--Guthrie Alan Corwin
Gerry Leonard Interview (Part 1 of 1) [Listen 46:00 min] – Getting Voodoo on Zero Seven Two S04 Ep02
Special Guest: Gerry Leonard - is a Dublin born freelance guitar player/writer and producer who (as of today) has worked on three David Bowie albums, including “The Next Day” Bowie’s latest album released today, March 12. Leonard secured the coveted position of a David Bowie axe man, along-side such greats as Mick Ronson, Adrian Below, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Earl Slick, Robert Fripp, David Torn, and Reeves Gabrels. He has also worked with other artists like Laurie Anderson, Susanne Vaga, Duncan Sheik and Cindi Lauper. But many fans of his know him for his solo projects under the name Spookyghost and the Dublin based duo Hinterland. His style of playing has been described as ambient in nature, mixing, looping and layering sonic sounds over top of one another, creating a cool and original psychedelia that is unmistakably his.
David Bowie: "The Next Day" Album Review
As the title of David Bowie’s new album “The Next Day” seems to suggest, time has passed, but not by much, relatively speaking. Musically speaking, I think the past nine years that Bowie has been away was mainly because he was aware he was entering another creative low in his life. One of the things I’ve learned about Bowie and his career's trajectory is that his best work comes in waves. The reason for this, I think, is that his creative output has always depended on feeding off of other creative people who are on the cusp of new discoveries and then fostering those ideas to create for his own work – for example, feeding off of the androgynous energies of people like Marc Bolan to create his Ziggy Stardust album or pinching innovative concepts from Kraftwerk to make his Berlin Trilogy. And I would say that by the time that his Reality album came out, he scoped the landscape for new ideas, found nothing to feed off of and decided to retreat from the public rather than put out something that sounded rehashed. Only Bowie knows the true birth of the songs, and most likely, being as secretive as he is, we'll never know the origins of their initial spark.
“The Next Day” is Bowie emerging from the shadows, knowing that he hasn’t missed much in 10 years, (musically speaking) but is now confident to surface with enough interest in music to excite him again. And although this is not a ground breaking Bowie album in the sense that these are innovative sounds to usher in a new epoch of musical innovation, it is one of the best albums of his career. It’s too early to safely say exactly where it stacks up overall in his catalogue, but, I'd say it's better than any of his later day (second phase) Tony Visconti material, and if history repeats itself, his next album will be even better. His albums launched after a creative struggle are always fantastic and always followed by albums that build upon that energy. After having taken at least 2 years whittling away secretly on the album we can deduce two things - first that this album was a struggle for him, and second that this album was extremely important for him to get right. This is a calculating Bowie like we have never seen him; laboring over songs then allowing the ever important time to be his compass.
After having talked to musicians with whom Bowie has worked, I realized some of the techniques Bowie makes use of. One of the techniques that keeps popping up in Bowie's recording sessions when talking to people like Earl Slick or Gerry Leonard is that Bowie has a bunch of unfinished songs that he is constantly working on. He has just a skeleton framework of songs that he pulls out and tries now and again to see if they go anywhere; one such song is “Bring me the Disco King” off the Reality album. Mike Garson told me that he first was introduced to that song way back in 1975 during the Young American sessions and was told to play it yet again during the Black Tie White Noise sessions using a different style but only got the approval during the Reality sessions. I have a feeling after listening to this album that many of these songs were first conceived of years before, and so, in this review of the album, I try to place what album and time period these songs first came into existence.
1. "The Next Day" 3:51
The album starts off on an apocalyptic note, sounding like it could have been pulled off the “Scary Monsters” a la the “Screaming Like a Baby.” Bowie’s delivery has a desperate feel to it and the song has great screaming guitar sounds that bounce along to Bowie’s hypnotic chant “Here I am, not quite dying / my body left to rot in a hollow tree.”
2. "Dirty Boys" 2:58
Starting off sounding like a Tom Waits song with horns; weird time signatures and all. Who knows where he pulled this from. Although sounding nothing like “Sweet Thing” you have to love hearing the interplay between Earl Slick (guitar) and Steve Elson (sax). I’m looking forward to hearing this live someday, hopefully.
3. "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" 3:56
This is classic Bowie covering a topic that he’s familiar with – the absurdity of fame. One of the stronger songs on the album, the song is reminiscent of something off his “Hours” album.
4. "Love Is Lost" 3:57
My favourite track on the album; Gerry Leonard owns this track and speaks to his unique and amazing guitar style. The rhythm section is something also phenomenal. It sounds like it could have been written for the “Earthling” album.
5. "Where Are We Now?" 4:08
One of the most somber and reflective songs that Bowie has ever released, and a song that only gets stronger with repeat listens. Although I think this is a new song, if I had to guess which time best incorporated it, I would say between “Heroes” and “The Buddha of Suburbia.”
6. "Valentine's Day" 3:01
A song about a massacre style tragedy. Bowie exploits an ironic doo wop “pop” element reminding me of a track off his “Aladdin Sane” and mixes it with shocking lyrics that don’t hit you right away. A commentary about the disconnect from humanity that these shooters who carry out these awful catastrophes possess.
7. "If You Can See Me" 3:15
It has those weird voices that he used on “Outside” but with the energy of “Scary Monsters.”
8. "I'd Rather Be High" 3:53
One of the catchy, ear-worm songs on the album – this song will get in your head. Bowie delivers the lyrics like a British infantry drill sergeant “I’d rather be flying, I’d rather be dead, than out of my head and training these guns on those men in the sand.”
9. "Boss of Me" (Bowie, Gerry Leonard) 4:09
This song could have been included on Bowie and Tony Visconti’s excellent B-side EP off the Heathen album. I wonder if these lyrics are a reference to his marriage with Iman?
10. "Dancing Out in Space" 3:24
This is the song that got me thinking of how his songs on this album could have been written earlier and updated for this album. It sounds like something he could have been working on when he released “Never Let Me Down.”
11. "How Does the Grass Grow?" (Bowie, Jerry Lordan) 4:33
This song could have easily been a release from the Labyrinth soundtrack and even has the goblin chorus in the background.
12. "(You Will) Set the World On Fire" 3:30
Having a “Tonight”, or something off of Iggy Pop's “Blah Blah Blah” album (at their best moments); this track is dripping with classic 80’s Bowie energy.
13. "You Feel So Lonely You Could Die" 4:41
One of the best in the business when it comes to expressing a reflective sadness and desperation, this is one of Bowie’s ballads that he often includes on his albums. Once again, I think this is a new track but is closely related to “I Know It’s Going To Happen Some Day” off his “Black Tie White Noise.”
14. "Heat" 4:25
Not my personal favourite track on the album and a bit of a bummer to me; sounds like something off side two of “Earthing.”
Bonus Tracks [Extended Edition]
The first question people have about the Expanded Edition is "Is it worth it?" The answer here is a resounding yes.
15. So She 2:31
This is happy Bowie and takes me back to the first time I heard “Lucy Can’t Dance”; another bonus track off Black Tie White Noise.
16. Plan 2:02
A neat guitar instrumental ditty that fits perfect with the overall atmosphere of “The Next Day.”
17. I’ll Take You There 2:41
Another high energy track that seems to incorporate elements from his 80’s period and a really strong ending to the Extended Edition.