Jul 22, 2004 · 2 minute read
I'm confused by the whole Sandy Berger affair
. It just seems rather strange. Firstly, who would be stupid enough to do what he did? Surely a former National Security Advisor should know better than that. The reports themselves tend to contradict; some say
that Berger removed files from the Archive, and Republicans have been spinning this to say that he was covering up for the Clinton Administration (admittedly, this is Rick Santorum, so the credibility is not high), whereas the Commission itself says that Berger only removed copies and did not affect their investigation (I can't find a link for this, but I read it last night, I promise). Then there's the odd, unsubstantiated, reports of him stuffing papers into his socks, which his lawyer vigourously denies. Plus, why did the staff of the National Archive set up a sting operation? Surely it would have been better to stop him each time they suspected that he was removing documents? That way, nothing that wasn't supposed to would have left the Archive.
Why is Bush saying that this is a serious matter, when the FBI privately says that it's really not that important? Why has this been leaked now, instead of months ago? Is the Justice Department getting ready to press charges? No, they say that the investigation is still ongoing, but they have no plans to do anything to Berger at the moment. So there's no reason for it to have leaked, apart from, say, the 9/11 report, or the Democrat Convention next week.
(There's an alternate theory going around that says that the Democrats engineered this leak, to prevent it from hanging over them as a potential election spoiler.)
I'm just confused.
(I'm on page 351 of the 9/11 report at the moment (not feeling well enough to do much else today), and there's nothing really damning, although Bush keeps on mentioning that he used to be a pilot, which I find amusing for some reason. And this:
Clarke has written that on the evening of September 12,President Bush told him and some of his staff to explore possible Iraqi links to 9/11.“See if Saddam did this,”Clarke recalls the President telling them.“See if he’s linked in any way.” While he believed the details of Clarke’s account to be incorrect,President Bush acknowledged that he might well have spoken to Clarke at some point,asking him about Iraq.
Jul 21, 2004 · 1 minute read
Who needs a secret identity anyway?
(Plus! English Kellerman! Can Naked Pirate Kellerman be far behind?)
Jul 20, 2004 · 1 minute read
This is a thing of quiet beauty:
That is all.
Jul 19, 2004 · 1 minute read
Apple introduces a new object of lust
, of music as fetish, of gigabytes and gigabytes, of perfect form and factor, of an extra 50% battery life, and of irritating everyone who bought one last week.
The music companies act all innocent and pretend they only just noticed that That's All Right will enter the public domain next year. Because I'm sure that BMG hasn't sold enough Elvis records yet. And if this means that ten years from now, people can quote Beatles lyrics without having to fork over money to Michael Jackson, I'm all for it, personally.
(as a brief aside, does anybody really think that when the new extended copyright period is up, Disney and the others are going to relinquish their copyrights? Or will they pay off a bunch of politicians again and get copyright extended to the heat-death of the universe?)
Bionic Commando lives on!
For iTunes users - Apple has released audio recordings of the 9/11 Commission Hearings. You can get them for free on iTMS. Here's Richard Clarke, for example,
My current musical obsession.
The Daily Show on possible US election 'postponements'.
Jul 18, 2004 · 3 minute read
Summer’s Last Sound / Love’s Stepping Out
Released: January 1991
Highest UK Chart Position: Did Not Chart
Available on: Not Available
POP MUSIC IS A LINE, A ONE-DIMENSIONAL JOURNEY OF ELVIS TO DYLAN TO BEATLES TO SEX PISTOLS TO JOY DIVISION TO NEW ORDER TO THE SMITHS TO BLUR TO OASIS TO THE WHITE STRIPES. A relentless progression, always moving onward, rushing to the future, couple with lists that helpfully tell you that Nevermind is ten places better than What's Going On?
This is, of course, complete bobbins. And limiting. Wouldn't it be better if we thought of it as a two-dimensional plane? We could describe The Beatles as y = 2x + 1963, and plot their influences by travelling along the line, noting cross-influences by intersecting lines. And then extend it into three dimensions, creating an image from detailing all the connections for every band. Would it just be a mess of squiggles and discontinuities, or could we find a pattern, an image, a message in the chaotic noise?
And so we find ourselves, as we inevitably do, with Disco Inferno. A band that, if rendered upon our imaginary graph, would find themselves out in the distance, passing through The Art of Noise for the briefest of moments before heading out into the unknown. A band turned inside out, guitars hooked up to computers which triggered samples, resulting in a tuneful cacophony of sound, the final evolution of Spector's Wall. And here, with this EP, Disco Inferno sent back a message to the rest of music, much like the Voyager probe sending images as it flew past Pluto and out of the confines of our solar system.
Summer's Last Sound is a mash of computer-generated tones, the cries of seagulls, and depressing lyrics. Immigrants being kicked to death, the increasing price of bread, mass graves, and the desire of wanting to keep moving. The computer shimmers and shines, sounding like the sea as the gulls come in for their carrion and we fly away again to a new destination. It is settling and unsettling, nervy and calm, centred but distanced. And almost without peer.
But it's Love's Stepping Out that reveals the heart of the band, a core that clings to romance and optimism as the world crumbles around them. Love's Stepping Out is the band approaching the wall of the universe, the point when they can travel no further on our graph, they have reached the edge of the page and there is nowhere else to go. But at that edge, they can see glimpses of another world, of new dimensions, of an undiscovered beauty. And they sent it back, with something that sounds like a harp, yet is clearly not a harp, with church bells in the distance, with an otherworldly sound that could be a screech, that could be another seagull, or could just be random noise, Against this, singer Ian Crause delivers ugly lyrics; kicking, screaming, fighting, and self-obsessed. Perhaps it's the conflict between the words and music that make this song so beautiful; the music wins in the end, cooling the rage with the sounds of the new universes, the new possibilities that await us all.
This was just the first of five EPs that Disco Inferno released. They would continue to explore the far reaches of the music cosmos before tragedy struck when their equipment was stolen. They were forced to return to the centre, cursed with the knowledge of not being able to recreate their earlier glories. The centre closed in around them, sealing off the hidden knowledge, and today, they are almost erased from history, But not quite. The Internet came along and gave us hope. In the dark corners of file-sharing networks, you can find them, waiting. Waiting for you to listen.
Jul 17, 2004 · 2 minute read
Released: September 1998
Highest UK Chart Position: 19
Available on: Beautiful Insane
Considering Britpop's rock reputation, it's a little surprising to discover that most bands had a rather alarming tendency to indulge in ballads. Electrasy were described in the UK music press as being the British answer to Beck, but there's no sign of that here. This is a straight-forward ballad, plaintive and simple, both lyrically and in the string-drenched melody. It holds a special place in my memories, but that's because of the time that it's attached to; of playing it on a Saturday morning during the September Manchester sun (yes, sometimes the clouds parted up in the North). Listening to it now, I can't quite separate the memories from the song. And this is not a good song, really. A song for lighters. A cynical stab at plucking at the heartstrings and attempting to drain emotion away from the listener. A void, a vacuum, the sound of an airlock being opened and the oxygen being sucked out into space.
Which, coincidentally enough, leads us to the b-side, Lost In Space. There's another article to be written about how Britpop extended the life of the b-side for a few more years, but that's for another time. In contrast to the lead track, this remix of an earlier single is still worth a listen; a joining of angels, spacemen, lullabies, and other nonsense.
But I can’t write any more of this review. I can’t draw up enough enthusiasm. I can’t summon the person who I was. I can’t listen to it like I did. I can’t read the music papers anymore. I can’t remember. I can’t understand. I can’t. I.
Jul 16, 2004 · 1 minute read
A special music day today. The first time I've ever posted something of mine! Yes, today, I have been using Garageband to compose this astounding cover of John Cage's 4'33". Prepare to be amazed!
ME! — 4'33"
And, a nice, Oliver Postgate-style jaunt through space, I think, for the second song of the day. Have a good Friday everyone…
Lemon Jelly — Spacewalk
Jul 15, 2004 · 1 minute read
Summer fun in Oxford
Jul 15, 2004 · 1 minute read
Oh, and the Paul Morley night was great fun!