Tuesday, November 24, 2009

George Pringle. Salon des Refuses (2009).

Connoisseurs of electronic music might scoff at her canned beats and off kilter MIDI programming, but George definitely has it - I just don't know what "it" is.

There are four CDs in my car right now, Immolate Youself by Telefon Tel Aviv, Pop Ambient 2007, and 2008, and Salon des Refus├ęs by George Pringle. Today I was listening to Row by Thomas Brinkmann on my iPod, but the CD I can't stop playing again and again from the beginning is the one by Ms. Pringle.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes George Pringle so different, so appealing. Her clap-trap drum tracks won't give Xenomania any sleepless nights. She can sing, but hardly ever does, preferring to deliver her lyrics/stories as monologues with F. Scott Fitzgerald's powers of social critique. Her mind is like a closet stacked with overflowing shoe boxes full of trivia and details, you pull one out and the rest tumble down. But it's more poetry than stream of consciousness I hear. It must be the voice: an upscale, cynical, yet vulnerable instrument she uses to depict her tales of observation and loneliness.

The last year has revealed a raft of electropoplettes, and some are quite good, but I don't recall any of them being described with the words, "outsiderness" and "self-parody," as the
Independent did when discussing George.

She first got attention on Myspace, which, if you do music, and are actually making an effort to get noticed there, is (as some of you must have found out by now) virtually impossible (although it's happened a couple of notorious times). George has pretty much gone it alone, using the built-in mic on her Mac to record tracks all by her lonesome on GarageBand, releasing her own record and getting gigs without a booking agent. She's been subsequently profiled in such high-profile journals such as The Independent, The Guardian, and The Times (London). This is the type of exposure you don't get just because you're a girl doing music on your own.  You have to stand out from the crowd, and she does. 
I was thinking of contacting La Pringle for an interview, but then I found this, and realized I couldn't do it any better myself. It even includes embedded videos, so I won't bother posting any here - just give it a click, please.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Joy Division / New Order

I can't think of another band that lost it's frontman and focal point, yet regrouped and emerged as an even greater popular and critical success. Genesis lost Peter Gabriel and enjoyed an upsurge in appeal, but critical esteem - well, no.

Joy Division, with it's epileptic and depressed Ian Curtis, seemed to find a shadowy corner somewhere at the end of the punk era, hinting at a haunted netherworld that was both raw and spooky. They foreshadowed Goth bands like Bauhaus, and contemporary post-punk revivalists such as Interpol.

After Curtis's suicide, the band stayed together and brought in Stephen Morris's girlfriend Gillian to play keyboards. Now renamed New Order, the band turned out sleek, terse music that flirted with the dance club but retained its punky muscle.

As you can see in this video, the members exude what I would call an attitude of "ordinary genius." In other words, they don't look at all like gods of rock and roll, but they possessed an aesthetic sensibility that set them above just about anything else going on in popular music at the time. Things I love about this video: Gillian turning the knob of a synth module, Stephen looking sheepish, and the Joy Division poster on the wall. The serenity displayed on their faces opposes the cliched depiction of the Romantic "struggle" of the artiste. This is about as far as you can get from "Rock" and still remain "Rock." Their almost militant stance against the Rock stereotype actually seems "punk" to me. It's "cool," in the sense of detachment, but it still rocks like a sledgehammer. It's an enigma.