Monday, 12 October 2009

El Condor Pasa No Pasaran!

I have a massage on my knee over the weekend at a “Healing Arts” centre, where Alternative Medicine is practised. This is “Alternative” in the sense that :

a) Nothing whatsoever can be proved to have any effect . (If it did it would be, uh, “medicine” )

b) It costs an arm and a leg

c) There are lots of self-help books around like “Who Moved The Cheese?” ( Elevator pitch: who gives a fuck ? Get over it! )

d) You are forced to listen to terrible musak

It's the last that gets to me. I’ll happily waste discretionary spend on a dippy masseuse fiddling with my cruciate; I’ll put up in a manly way with being relaxed , which always makes me tense ; but I draw the line at being forced to listen to plangent library music produced in some masturbator's bedroom.

This rubbish will drive you to the Samaritans: retro synth washes, quasi-Indian nods & winks to quarter tones, and , worse , duff samples of instruments you never want to hear, ever. We’re talking Tabla. Wind pipes. And - cruellest cut of all - Northumbrian bagpipes! All in 4/4 . WTF! No, MAC obsessive Garage-Band producer dude, they don’t use this time signature in classical Hindustani music.

The melody line goes on and on and on and on , stoner-style, bar after bar after bar after bar of undecodable voices, Gregorian chanters meet The Cocteau Twins on drugs,with gear so stepped on you can see bootprints in the snow .

It's as pointless as the wallpaper tunes that cod Peruvians mug you with in the Underground; the bowler hated muppets who you’d rather pummel to the ground and do six months bird than hear a single hemi-demi-semi quaver of El Condor Pasa. Not on your nelly, cabron!

In this alt-world of emotions and scented candles, the music’s not optional. & here's the rub, if the operation is successful ,the patient will pass away, assassinated by a cheap smile. Not me, pal. I break the rules & ask for the CD player to be turned off.

A froideur falls like an ice storm.

Black clouds gather .

It looks like rain.

In the end we are all dead.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Bennett & the Golden Amex

Thinking about the myriad dumb things I've done, Gang of Four recording "Hard" in Miami with the useless Albert Brothers is right up there.

This potentially career murdering choice was bulldozed through by our machiavellian manager Bennett , because he thought Nile Rogers, our No 1 choice of co-producer ( when Chic was uncool & pre Let's Dance) cost too much and the Alberts were the nuts! And we gave in! Doh! Which meant Hard didn’t become what we dreamed of it being - a post post-modern post-disco confection ( which made Green's brilliant Wood Beez era work so irritating to hear when it came out 2 years later.) We should've been insomniac in a New York loft with Arthur Baker & an 808, not with 2 bearded fuckwits in Hawaiian shirts reminiscing about Dionne & Aretha .

Whatever, one night we're dining in a ritzy Miami restaurant after a hard day laying down tracks in Criteria sound, a marching powder addled BeeGee's studio . The band's joined by Bennett and his pneumatic Personal Assistant, H- . He's wearing, as always, tennis whites and his assistant has forced her impressive rack into a rib-breaking boob tube. We look like shit, as always.

The next table, a plaid clad salaryman and pant-suited partner, dressed like they spent a million dollars in Woolworth’s, are angry. We're ruining their evening . “It’s disgraceful they let anyone in here dressed like that” says the man to the woman, “ They should throw them out!” He won’t give it up.

We're professionals and ignore this, since Andy’s busy ordering the most expensive wine in the world because we think that someone else, like EMI, is paying! No! We're ripping off ourselves! Brilliant, not! But H- is wound up by the backchat from the dead zone and grabs Bennett’s wallet to leap over to the suit's table. “See this!” she says , waving it at the man in tartan as the credit cards concertina down in their little plastic pockets “See this!” she says “ This is a GOLD Amex! THIS IS A FUCKING GOLD AMERICAN EXPRESS CARD!”. It's getting out of hand, so Bennett says he’ll schmooze things out. He pulls H- off, jabs fatboy in the chest and says “I wore clothes like yours when I was poor! ” Good gag, but when the guy heads out of the restaurant, we’re told by the sommelier a few minutes later, he's seen in the parking lot with a handgun to maybe pop Bennett when we leave! It would've been a dream come true! But, sadly, cops are called . We've all had a drink. We've all got homes to go to.

But if you don’t have a dream how you gonna make a dream come true?

Friday, 2 October 2009

Sitting on a Virgin train is horrible. Two-tone announcements ruin my fitful dozing, ugly augmented 5ths, is it really a G sharp followed by a C, who can tell with these tired ears, but what philistine came up with this torture?

In mainland Europe, steeped in the Romantic tradition , a dream of democratic pluralism and joy is embedded in the mellifluous beeps and bongs of public announcements ; even Mussolini wouldn't mess with it; concordant thirds , sweet memories of Beethoven seducing us as we optimistically careen through the night toward the Mediterranean sun, life enhancing bings and tings doppler effecting by.

Not on Virgin , with its vicious neo-Schoenbergian frequencies haplessly knocked out to remind us that modern life doesn't deliver Le Corbusier but high rise slums built on the cheap by lump labour . It says : the misery of private equity will grind your dreams of happiness into the dust. Outside the trains don't run on time. True!