Pretty, Ugly


Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.

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14 Responses

  1. Tod Kelly says:

    Wait — this is from dhex? But there are capital letters…Report

  2. Stillwater says:

    Man, this post is … merciless. I liked the last song, tho! And the third from the last (I think, the one that sounded like a brutal rendition of Explosions in the Sky). Also, the musical terms you use sound nice. Better than most technical terms, anyway.Report

  3. Saul Degraw says:

    I liked the William Baziniki piece. It reminded me of an old sound recording which is largely disintergrated which is probably the entire point of the piece. And I can see how your day in September comparison worked.Report

  4. Glyph says:

    Lots of thoughts, in no particular order:

    The Bazinski piece was going nicely with the torrential downpour outside my window this AM.

    I’ve never listened to Coil before, I was expecting something more ‘industrial’ and less ambient (not that there are no corners of dark ambient industrial, obvs.) Also, DOET is a Shulgin (RIP) compound.

    I guess I’m not entirely clear on what differentiates “breakcore” from jungle – like, on that Venetian Snares track I CLEARLY hear the Amen break, again. Is it just more chopped-up/rhythmically stop-start?

    The only APTBS I have is the first one, and I am somewhat lukewarm on it (though, my usual complaint about “all the good bandnames are taken” doesn’t apply to APTBS – always go with a biblical reference!). Are there others I should check out?

    Just SEEING Alec Empire’s name got another song stuck in my head:

    Pioneer of digital hardcore
    (Alec Empire, Alec Empire)
    Thought other music was a big bore
    (Alec Empire, Alec Empire)

    (Speaking of “brutal” music in general, I’ve always been kind of annoyed that “hardcore” and “garage” generally mean ENTIRELY different things in the US and the UK. I realize that there are a limited number of terms out there, but you can’t just re-use ones that are already taken. Like, if I just start making beatless drone loops of my ACTUAL Hoover, I can’t call that “House” music just because I vacuum there.)

    Last, I was searching for a representative gabber track, to show a variant of “brutal” techno that my German friend was into for a while, and I stumbled across this AMAZING documentary about it from ’95. It’s pretty short (20 min.), make sure you turn on the closed captioning so you get the subtitles, it is totally worth your time for the comedy value:

    Also, I wanted to talk about your Autechre post, but I’ll comment on that separately. Back in a little while.Report

    • dhex in reply to Glyph says:

      re: breakcore

      jungle never gets into ultra-high bpm areas; it doesn’t do a ton of distortion; it tends to the melodic, or at least straight rhythmic; it tends to keep to a */4 timesig; it tends to have a tremendous amount of bass.


      • dhex in reply to dhex says:

        shorter version; compare alec empire’s the destroyer (1996) with roni size+reprazent (1997).

        and then punch yourself to get the taste of roni size out yer mouth.Report

      • Glyph in reply to dhex says:

        Roni Size was just awful. I bought that one highly-recommended, and quickly became very annoyed at it.

        The technology was there to chop things up into small-enough slices to rearrange them into brand-new, complicated configurations (you might even say, into “new forms”).

        And yet all he/they did with it was take some simple-as-heck drum loop, speed it up, then repeat it ad infinitum.

        I know you aren’t a fan of “Timeless”, but listen to that track on some good headphones – the beats (even the bass hits, which form their own “melodies” – but you need some serious speakers or ‘phones to catch them all, they are DEEP down there at the bottom) are all over the place. Just massive and complex and hyper-detailed.

        Roni Size sounds like there was some “jungle” preset button on his keyboard, that they pressed and then went out for lunch.Report

      • dhex in reply to dhex says:

        i recognize timeless is a classic, i just don’t personally enjoy it much. i prefer my straightforward drum n bass in the vein of third eye foundation.

        can we get “roni size was just awful” as the new site tagline? i think everyone would agree on that.Report

  5. Glyph says:

    RE: Autechre and the myth of ‘difficult’ music.

    I may be missing the point you are making, but is it your contention that all music is (at least theoretically) appreciable by anyone, anywhere, anytime?

    Or, is your meaning more that it’s best not to prejudice someone against a piece of music (we shouldn’t, for lack of a better word, ‘spoil’ them for the shock of the new) by warning them of its potential “difficulty”?

    Because when I warn someone that something is “difficult”, I am not attempting to keep them out, but rather to ease their potential transition in, which I suspect may be jarring to them (depending on what I know of their personality or personal/cultural history).

    IOW, I probably wouldn’t just hand my mom a stack of Cronenberg/Jodorowsky/Lynch films without some sort of explanation of what she was getting into.

    It’s a very worthwhile record, but The Terror is, as its name implies, a little harrowing – if a Lips fan like me finds that particular record a little “difficult” to spend time with, what should I say when I am asked about it by a more casual listener (of either the Lips, or psychedelia, or rock music in general)?

    Or, is your meaning more that, while “difficult” may be a property that adheres to the work due to any of the aforementioned factors, it’s nearly always a mistake to assume that the work was *intended* to be experienced as “difficult”, just for difficulty’s sake?

    (Also, I see I mostly got off the Autechre train right around the time you think they got interesting, having purchased no full-lengths between LP5 and Exai, and the last EPs I got prior to the 1991-2002 compilation box were EP7 and Peel Sessions 2 – the latter of which was a gift that came in a white-on-white sleeve, so for the longest time I wasn’t even sure what exactly it was, aside from “Autechre”.)

    (Also, my CD copy of Tri Repetae is shaded somewhere between ‘avocado’ and ‘brass/gold’).Report

    • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

      I have heard of a composer being difficult with the horns section (deliberately writing music to make it sound as if the horns had screwed up!).

      What would being difficult for the audience mean? I think highly contextualized music — Weird Al, except done for composers. Parody — or satire, if you will, of musical styles and stylings.

      “Beneath the trees where nobody sees
      They’ll chop off your head and cut you off at the knees
      ‘Cause that’s the way the
      Teddy Bears have their picnic.”

      … that’s a lyrical change, but it’s a waggish one that pokes fun at the oddly grim tone of the musical accompaniment.Report

    • dhex in reply to Glyph says:


      “I may be missing the point you are making, but is it your contention that all music is (at least theoretically) appreciable by anyone, anywhere, anytime?”

      that is my contention. the “eat your vegetables” style of explaining cultural artifacts – it’s so very “i don’t even owwwwn a tv” – is frankly disgusting.

      and i don’t think that’s what motivates fans so much as snobs and anti-snobs – fans like yourself would use it very thoughtfully. i might even use it to answer “oh mang i loved the seer what are early swans like?!?!?”

      i think the core of my objection to “difficult” – particularly at the time that essay was written which was A LONG TIME AGO – is that it’s almost as useless as “brutal”, and not just because personal taxonomies are personal. it has a lot of baggage, namely – and to quote myself – “HOW DARE YOU PUT ON AIRS v. LOOK HOW SMART I AM YOU REDNECK”

      that’s almost as boring as the donkpublican arguments.

      i mean, it’s useless for me to use “difficult” in this context, because love shack is the most difficult piece of music in my personal taxonomy, and that’s only if i’m trying to be kind. i’m currently trying to beat it into another form to make it less difficult for me*, though it would likely increase the difficulty of people who didn’t think it was difficult in the first place.

      it’s complicated.

      * and in one sense, blunt the harmful intent of its creators. a tiny voice in the darkness crying out for the light.Report

      • dhex in reply to dhex says:

        addendum: the chunk of music snobs not between the ages of 14 and 20 is very, very small. like, a subset of a subset of actual human beings.Report