If today's update to Gevorts Box weren't sonic stimulus enough, AND IT IS, but if it weren't, and in fact even though we both know IT IS, here's some more. Thought I'd share with you the last half dozen music videos I've bookmarked at YouTube. Yeah, yeah, that's right, there's this thing called YouTube now.
And so, in what may yet become a regular feature -- hence the optimistic numbering -- the Controlling Thompson beneficently presents Implausible Jukebox #1.
1. Stimmhorn live at the Paleo festival, July 2000
I first heard the Swiss duo Stimmhorn on Radio 3 about ten years ago and spent a long time trying to track down their atrociously pleasuresome CD Schnee. (This is back in the day, remember, before Amazon, or at least before I had access to Amazon. People had email addresses made entirely out of numbers. Sometimes you'd come across someone's home page and it would all be done with coloured pencil. Those were the days.) Nothing they've done since has touched me in quite the same way but I've never seen them live -- weird that, for example, the LMC has never brought them over for their annual festival -- and this footage suggests that I've missed a treat. The talkative audience for this set is baffling, like talkative audiences always are.
2. The Avalanches, "Frontier Psychiatrist"
I loved this record when it came out but only ever caught a glimpse of the video. I think this is really smart: it's very interesting to have such a strong visual play-out of the grammar of turntablist pop like this -- it really brings home the relative promiscuity of sound, and its entirely different order of logic, even when it seems to be operating in an unusually illustrative matrix. This looks like a really great theatre event -- obviously reminiscent of early Robert Wilson, or Richard Foreman. Yet another reason to be utterly mystified by the continuing popularity of Tom Stoppard's "Rock 'n' Roll".
Incidentally, what put me in mind of The Avalanches in the first place was spending too much of the day watching Beardyman & JFB. If you don't know Beardyman yet, go fetch. Now! Don't mind me, this'll all still be here when you get back.
3. Vivian Stanshall and band, "Wasting Away" (from 'Crank', for The Late Show)
'Crank', the half-hour autobiographical musical that Viv Stanshall put together for BBC2's (still sorely missed) The Late Show in 1991, just four years before he died, is so rawly sad in itself and so poignant in retrospect that I find it awfully hard to watch -- though I'm glad I had the presence of mind to tape it when it was on, as I think it's only ever been repeated once on terrestrial tv. In my late teens and early 20s, Stanshall was a real hero of mine, I was always hungry for information and recordings but most of his solo stuff was out of press and (have I mentioned this before?) there was no Wikipedia in them days my dears. In fact I don't think anything he did musically post-Bonzos, on record at least, comes close to the success of 'Crank', and this opener is one of the best numbers.
On the day that Stanshall's tragic death was reported, I was due for a session with my then therapist, and arrived still reeling from the news and sufficiently upset to feel the need to explain the cause. My therapist's suggestion was that the real reason for my disproportionate distress was a subconscious fear that the ardour of my passion for Stanshall had somehow caused the fire in which he perished. That seemed very silly to me at the time and rather odious, but I now find it rather an impressive idea. As well as silly and odious.
4. Truck, "Devil's Land"
This song has been resolutely jammed in my head since January 2nd, when I heard it for the first time. In times gone by, I'd have applied leeches to my temples and tried to suck the tune out; regrettably, modern science has nothing to match that, so I'm stuck with the song. Well, fine. It's great work and I love the lyric, which is cool because I never pay attention to lyrics. This is just a homemade video but all the more appealing for that. A real band! Very good. You can download the song from Truck's MySpace page; alternatively, MySpacephobes like me can hear it on rotation at Gevorts Box, where it comes on every four hours or so.
5. Captain Sensible, "Wot"
Today's madeleine moment comes courtesy of the enduring Raymond Burns Esq: neither eminently sensible nor, presumably, an actual captain, but nonetheless an unlikely stalwart of 'Cheggers Plays Pop', and what, dear Bertolt, actually keeps mankind alive, if not that? Before today I hadn't seen this video in the best part of 25 years, and yet it all came rushing back -- the piledriver man (with his tremendously achieved facial expressions), Jeanette Charles (I think) as HMQ, the incident with the Adam Ant lookalike... I'm a little surprised to see the great Hugh Lloyd tangled up in it all, but compared to Neil Kinnock turning up in the back of Tracey Ullman's taxi, it's a piddling trifle. What's too easily forgotten is how great those breakthrough Captain Sensible hits sounded: due entirely (no disrespect to the Captain himself, but let's face it...) to the immaculate playing and production by the great, wretchedly underappreciated, Tony Mansfield -- prime mover of the peerless New Musik, and later producer of A-Ha's "Take On Me".
6. Stockhausen, "Set Sail for the Sun", from Aus den Sieben Tagen
A real find, this: what looks like a front-room performance (by a diverse and characterful group of individuals!) of one of Stockhausen's crucial late-60s text compositions. Listen first, if you like, but it may be of interest to read the score the musicians are using:
play a tone for so long / until you hear its individual vibrations // hold the tone / and listen to the tones of the others / - to all of them together, not to individual ones - / and slowly move your tone / until you arrive at complete harmony / and the whole sound turns to gold / to pure, gently shimmering fire
I think this is a really good, acutely sensitive performance, more searching and argumentative than you might expect. (It's worth listening to more than once, as the phantom of narrative can tend to mislead, in a way.) There's also an immense pleasure in the guy turning the lights out after the first minute. No visible shimmering fire, then, but that's a big ask...
Ay ay, that's yer lot. Might do more though, in a while, if there's any sort of positive response to this little outburst.
My attention probably ought to be on my tax return for a couple of days (not that I'll necessarily be troubling the scorer overmuch), but I'll drop in again soon enough. Want to post something on the Pompidou video art exhibition at Sydney MCA, and also on the remarkable new Prestel coffeetable biog of Robert Wilson.
In the meantime can I just share this delicious (sadly anonymous) comment that I've only just come across at the Encore Theatre Magazine blog?
"That's what I want to be part of. A theatre that's big enough for everyone - Stoppard, Crimp, Hare, Churchill, Gill, Stephens, Craig, Buffini, Kelly, Jones, Nagy, Hannan, Barker, Edgar, Ravenhill."
That big, eh? Fancy.
We're going to need considerably bigger buns.