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Musings

Irish DIY label the Richter Collective have uploaded their first podcast, featuring tracks from upcoming records by the Redneck Manifesto, Hands Up Who Wants To Die! and The Continuous Battle of Order, as well as old tracks from BATS, Adebisi Shank and the now-defunct pairing of Marvins Revolt and Kidd Blunt.

I caught a few of these acts at the label’s Christmas party in Dublin last year. Some I was already familiar with (BATS, Marvins Revolt and headliners Adebisi Shank), but the act I was most impressed with was Belfast duo The Continuous Battle of Order (a.k.a. Hornby and Craig Kearney from We Are Knives), who will release their debut album Pattern Seekers on April 16.

As their name and album title suggest, they lean pretty heavily towards the mathy end of things, and the podcast’s opening track, ‘001-2,’ is well worth a listen for fans of Marvins, And So I Watch You From Afar and the aforementioned Shank. Check that out, along with two tracks from the forthcoming Redneck Manifesto album Friendship (March 26) via the widget below.

I have quite the thing with (not for) music books.  Basically, I can’t read one without eventually getting royally pissed off about some stray unneeded inclusion or irregularity or overwhelming example of intolerant ignorance towards fans/artists. This is all the odder considering that I own like seven of them. I mean, I usually don’t start frothing at the mouth, but there’s just always something that will ruin my experience reading a music book, whether it’s an overload of encyclopedic information about something that nobody needs to ever know (not even a fan who’s willing to shell out money to read about the subject) or a fawning, doe-eyed style of writing that pressures the reader to the point where they feel like they must like this shit, as portrayed in David Browne’s not-particularly-reader-friendly Goodbye 20th Century, which casts Sonic Youth as The Most Important Band Ever; you can feel Browne practically breathing with anticipation as his narrative moves from Sister to Daydream Nation to Goo, foaming at the mouth to describe yet another Endurable Classic. Like, there’s a reason the book skims over the band’s later period at a feverish pace, instead of abrasively embracing these album’s shortcomings, which would have ultimately been more interesting. And I even like Sonic Youth, like a lot.

Point is, music books are usually cumbersome, bloated, and tiresome, and often irk me in some way or another. But I keep buying them. Like, incessantly. The two I’ve bought most recently are different, in a…

I earn my living as an IT system administrator. Obviously, the news that Google stops censoring search results in China was quite a bomb for me. This is the biggest impact on politics and censorship in modern media that a single decision by a software firm has, or better, will have on the world and everyday life. At least I can not remember anything similar from the top of my head. Also, nice move from Google for not only telling the world they might do this, but for actually doing it. For whatever their motives might be, it’s a bold move nonetheless, given the weight the Chinese market will undoubtly have in the future.

As I thought about this whole thing for a while, putting the first obvious positives aside – being able to get an “outside view” on China through possibly less filtered and tuned news channels and websites – I wondered: how big will the impact on the music scene in China be? Will this be a chance for artists and new music to pour into the land? Or maybe, pour out of it? I mean, let’s be honest: China is more or less ruled like a totalitarian state, and history shows us that the censorship of those states make quite an impact on the music scene as well. One example I can think of is the government in East Germany/the DDR, where Beat music (think Beatles and Co), Punk and other music genres surfaced, tolerated…

Nujabes

Overshadowed.  I guess that’s the way Nujabes will always be looked at, not just in his life, but also in his death; the date of his death coming at around the same time as fellow jazz-rap pioneer G.U.R.U.’s heart attack, and the announcement coming on the same day as the death of the more famous Alex Chilton.

I can’t help but feel that a man unlucky enough to not be American, and thus finding himself entirely ignored by hip-hop in general, deserved a little bit more luck here.  There really is no way to say this without sounding like a collossal prick, but Alex Chilton’s death was just a shame and nothing more – he was a nice man, and it’s sad that he died, but he’d peaked as an artist decades ago.  Nujabes, by comparison, probably wasn’t due to peak for another few years – his work had just been getting better and better as time went on (2006’s Modal Soul being one of the best hip-hop records of the last decade).  The man was 36, for Christ’s sake.  There were plenty of people in the Western world that thought any hopes of the vibrant Japanese hip-hop breaking out internationally rested with him; that he would be the one that followed DJ Krush (no megastar himself) into having a sizeable international following.  Who knows how important he might have been?

And yet, the likelihood is that he’d always have been a cult figure.…

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