by carl wilson

Freakin' is Our Business &
Stock Options Are Peakin':
Fairies, Turtles, Ninjas ... and Me


Matt Collins of Ninja High School, with NHS followers rocking out at rear, at Sneaky Dee's last weekend. Photo by The CJM.

Reviews of le livre (see left) are beginning to trickle in: a hefty one in New York magazine ("this book goes very deeply right") and one in the Gazette in Montreal (I love that they call it "a compulsively quotable book"). The Las Vegas Review-Journal also had a column about it this weekend, coinciding with the last night of Celine's Caesar's Palace run. And I'm honoured to have been "felt" by Simon Reynolds (whom I hope will pursue his asterisk'd caveat too).

Meanwhile, Claire Colley has a cuppa-tea-comfy chat with Robert Wyatt about his recent Comicopera, surely one of the albums of the year, about his "karaoke" songwriting process ("I play really nice records and when the record's over I keep playing, and of course I can't play the tune so I come up with something else, and that's my tune") and other things. Of Comicopera, he says: "The first part, Lost In Noise, is about loss and relationships. The second, The Here And Now, is more objective, about things I like, don't like, don't understand, like religion ... and do understand, like nice cosmopolitan music in a town square. Side 3 is, you know what? I'm fed up with English-speaking people. I'm going to go away with the fairies. I sing in Italian and I do a bit of surrealism, free improvisation, and end up with a romantic revolutionary song of the '60s, a hymn to Che Guevara."

John Turtletop has a long essay in response to Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise. There's a bit of throat-clearing at the top, but it picks up steam around the point he says, "The Rest Is Noise does not subscribe to the outdated theory that popular music is ephemeral while 'classical' ... music is for the ages." John, being generally a pop guy, pays particular attention to the contrasts and parallels and overlaps between 20th-century composers' music and jazz and pop. One strong claim John makes is that there seems to have been no sequel in popular culture to the figures of Duke Ellington and George Gershwin, no one further who's so successfully melded the roles of formal composer and pop musician in recent decades. My impulse is this is because the "classical" realm has lost its special status of ultra-respect, becoming simply one more cultural niche, and so it's not an aspiration in the same way anymore. (Although I'm inclined to say that in a different way, Lennon & McCartney - with or without George Martin? - could claim to be Ellington and Gershwin's heirs; someone [not me] might also point to Philip Glass.) Also, John hints that Alex slants his account toward The Battles of Harmony/Dissonance, wondering what other story might emerge from thinking through 20th century's rhythms, timbres, durations. But mainly it's an appreciation that certainly reminds me that I need to clear some time to finish Alex's book.

I was too swamped last week to pen any sort of eulogy to Ninja High School, which disbanded after four-and-a-half years with a show at Sneaky Dee's last Thursday. But sometime Zoilusian Chris Randle had one over at Eye. The demise of NHS (as well as the apparently stalled Barcelona Pavilion reunion?) does seem to cement the sense that a certain phase of the Torontopian moment has been over for a while now; what follows is perhaps the less starry-eyed, more methodical work of crop rotation and diversification that makes for a sustainable scene. What I'll miss most is NHS's ability to generate slogans that worked as self-fulfilling prophecies - the slogans would come true through the very act of shouting them: "It's gonna be us-us-us-us-us!" "We know we're not the only ones who think this way!" "These ideas kill!" (Or in the case of "It's all right to fight," they would be fulfilled, playfully, in the mosh pit, where the silly-wrestling energy tended to mirror the friendliness-through-mock-aggro mood of the lyrics precisely.) After their follow-up album to Young Adults Against Suicide was lost in a computer-hard-drive incident, and a few of the rounds of interpersonal drama that bigger ensembles are especially vulnerable to, the momentum went out. Fortunately, various fractions of NHS are planning to re-emerge in '08 with new projects (including one from Steve Kado and Matt Collins rumouredly called Serious [or was it Seriously?]). Hey hey, my my, iPod'sitivity will never die, but the way it's seeming right now? It was gonna be us, and then it was us, and then it wasn't. RIP NHS: You always sent us home in a fuckin' ambulance.

General | Posted by zoilus on Monday, December 17 at 1:37 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

COMMENTS

RIP Torontopia?

Posted by Graham Preston on December 29, 2007 12:27 AM

 

 

The main problem w/Torontopia is it didn't - and doesn't - translate well outside of that wee enclave bounded by Sherbourne Street on the east, Bloor St on the north, Lake Ontario on the south, and - oh, i don't know - the Queen/King merger point in the west end.

All these bands have to hit the road and get evangelical about it.

I know the price of gas is prohibitive, but Kitchener, Guelph and Hamilton are all within 90 minutes driving distance.

Posted by Bf Mowat on December 26, 2007 1:32 PM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson