Wednesday, 8 January 2014

RēR Records Quarterly -- A Series, Part 11: The Quarterly Vol. 3 No. 1

I had high hopes to make it through all 13 editions but even I am getting tired of this stuff-- particularly after hearing this disappointing number.  And if it was that way for me I imagine it will be really unsatisfying for most.  So I'll leave the other 3 for later.  These remain to be posted: Vol. 3 No. 2, Vol. 3 No. 3, and Vol. 4 No. 2.  No coincidence that they are mostly from the tail end of the series post-1989, since now we are definitely way beyond the glory days of progressive rock and RIO-- oh boy are we ever.  Perhaps someone might have them on CD for all to hear?

I have the magazine for this one and will discuss it shortly.  First, the music.  We start with composer Steve Moore's Iranian Rock composition, taken from actual recordings.  I wonder if the Ayatollah would have approved.  Certainly I don't.  The next and most approachable track is by a band called Overflow, who as far as I can tell did nothing else other than this composition, called "Bakerloo Bugaloo." The curious title is explained by the fact a subway train on the Bakerloo line of  'the tube' in London takes part in the ungodly proceedings towards the end.  Note that, as you can read in the magazine, these kids built their own homemade instruments to perform their music out of such materials as slates (for a xylophone-like instrument), and 'overflow pipe' for brass instruments.  There is even a hubcap immersed in water somewhere in the mix!   Though it starts in a marvelously well-composed way with some Bartok-like dissonances, I find, and I hope you don't disagree, it peters out as you get to the end with Philip Glass-like hammering simplicity.

The last track (on the first side) is all about bells and ship's horns and all about fast forward as well.  On the second side, we are treated to a really bizarre mixture, like an open house on a psychiatric ward in which medications are in short supply.  On the first track about War you will have Fred Firth on bass and Rene Lussier on electric guitar performing a quasi-punk song quite bizarrely.  The next track is a series of voice recordings and computer distortions of voices.  A band called ZGA that must have been the most unpopular band in all mother Russia performs a bizarre little RIO opus next-- their commentary contains that wonderful self-deprecating humour that is typical of the slavs and is really entertaining, all about how "10 concerts in 4 years had an audience of a dozen in total," etc.

Now I want to talk a bit more about Canadian avant-garde composer René Lussier, who was such a genius in Conventum in the late seventies and his first magnum opus "Fin de Travail" with its brilliant extended composition "Manifeste".  The pieces here apparently were throwaway elements of the later work "Tresor de la langue Francaise" which won some award or another-- definitely not for the music since I have heard it once or twice and decided to avoid it for the rest of my life.  Most amusing to me is the Manifeste Du Front De Libération Du Québec [different from the above piece despite the word in common] -- how was it that an advanced and wealthy western democracy required liberation like Angola or any other former colonial African country being tortured by the cold war heavyweights (USSR and USA) with untold billions of dollars of weapons and fighter jets to pursue wars whose only purpose was to make egomaniacal politicians in each of those empires fluff with pride like roosters at the thought they were 'winning' the cold war; today, this amusement at the Fronts' (as they appeared in every Western country) almost childish naivete is tempered with the horror at the thought a communist revolution like in Cambodia could really have been possible, with one tenth to one fifth of the population exterminated in a self-genocide.  Make no mistake about it-- I'm not a 'reactionary' or radical capitalist, finally, when it comes to ideal societies, it's enlightening to think it's not just any democracies that have the most equable and successful governments, but the Scandinavian democracies which combine intelligently and maturely socialist concepts with capitalist ideals, demonstrating yet again that moderation is the only road to human happiness.  Not only do they have the highest satisfaction with their condition but they are far more likely to be proud of their governments, in contrast to the US.

The track "Government of Love" by Bing Selfish & The Ideals reminds me of those ludicrous horror movies in which a simplistic and childish fifties song suddenly appears in the midst of the most horrifying or gory murder, completely incongruously, a cliché that just makes me weep it has been so overdone in Hollywood's both conventional and 'arthouse' movies, starting with for ex. David Lynch in his "Blue Velvet" (though it's quite possible he, as directing genius, initiated it).  At this point it's a cliché, like "Showtime!" exclaimed before action sequences, that must absolutely be retired from the form before it results in mass suicides.

So there you have it.  Nothing too impressive, a bit too experimental even for me.  In the next post I'll review the magazine.



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  2. new reup by request