5 Biggest WTF Music Moments in 2012

nirvana-paul-mccartney (source unknown)

Have you ever listened to an album for the first time and just stared in disbelief for several minutes afterwards? It’s not like you hated it, but it just baffled you so much that you were completely unable to assemble any kind of opinion on it whatsoever: precisely what the f*** just assaulted my ears?

1. Thinking Plague – Decline and Fall

Amusingly mistitled ‘Decline and Fail’ at Amazon, Decline and Fall was the eagerly-awaited (at least by me) follow up to A History of Madness after nearly a decade of absence. Although they’ve always been on the quirky side, Thinking Plague used to be generally quite accessible. While I wouldn’t rule out suddenly deciding that Decline and Fall is my favourite album of 2013, right now it sounds an awful lot like the band-members turned up at the studio and just all started playing the first thing that came into their heads without reference to any kind of musical sense. The made-up-on-the-spot feel to the lyrics doesn’t help, either.

Youtube comment: “a fan for the last 10 years, i can say this : it requires a few listenings, but it gets better each time ! after a difficult start with it, i wonder if this may not be their best recording yet...” Continue reading

#musicmonday : Chewing With Gusto – A Way

I’m still digesting Chewing With Gusto. It sure does make a meal of things. One of those eight course banquety things that goes on till heaven-knows-when and everyone’s fallen asleep into their gravy. I’m still not sure what I think of it, but I know that I like it. I’d call it drug music, but I don’t like to cast aspersions. It’s a big murky soup of a record.

Chewing With Gusto is a collaboration between Chewing Magnetic Tapes and Gusto Extermination Fluid:  Continue reading

The Age of Clank: Why Genres are Important

Written for Collapse Board

A few weeks ago, Chris Razor wrote about clank – a new genre title he’d coined, and I was grateful, because I’d been trying to think of a word for it for ages. I was getting fed up of saying “experimental electronica”, because that makes it sound like it sounds more like this and it doesn’t. Instead, it sounds like this.

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Who makes the rules for music?

Written for Collapse Board

“…there must be room for some sort of experimentation in how music is written? Of course there is, but those who subvert the rules must understand them in the first place – why they’re there, how they work, and only the people who have a complete mastery of music can bend or break those rules” – Princess Stomper

“Who set these apparently rigid rules for what’s a great song and what isn’t? Where are they? Who wrote them?” – Darragh Murray

As with any of these things, they evolved naturally. Most of what we think of as pop and rock music is descended from blues and jazz, and mutated somewhere along the way into the common 32-bar form and verse-chorus form. In either case, the crucial elements are the verses and the chorus.

Pop songs typically begin with an introduction – a unique section that leads the listener into the song. The verse is the poetic stanza that follows. Some songs include a pre-chorus or transitional bridge, which often uses subdominant transitional harmonies. These can add variety when the verse and chorus have the same harmonic structure. You then get your chorus – the bit that repeats at least once musically and lyrically – and this is the most identifiable part of the song, where you normally get the main hook.

Connecting the chorus to the next part of the song is, of course, the bridge. It’s something different from the verse and the chorus and unlike those doesn’t need any lyrics. The bridge can either precede or replace the next verse. (If the latter, you then get the chorus again). The bridge is intended to surprise the listener, who is expecting the chorus, and the chorus will often be repeated to stress its finality when it is at last heard.

The middle eight is an eight-bar sequence that can appear mid-way through a song after the second chorus. The structure of that song might be intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle eight-chorus-chorus-outro. Alternatively (or additionally) you might get a solo of the guitar or sax variety, and any song indulgent enough to include one will plonk one anywhere it bloody well likes. Lastly, the outro might include vocal ad-libbing, which is where pop divas play Look How Much I Can Sing. Umbrella has the pattern intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle 8-chorus-outro:

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