Thursday, October 21, 2010

Uffie. Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans (2010).

Uffie polarizes critics.  From “catchy, fresh-sounding and brilliantly self-referential” on MusicOMH, to “Uffie sucks at just about everything” on Tiny Mix Tapes, writers are at odds on whether Uffie’s debut is treasure or trash.  Critics hating on her get themselves tied in knots attempting to express their indignation: “This is an anti-review. It’s supposed to be bad. Therefore you cannot raise an objection. See?”  Or,  “I’d rather not have to endure seeing someone eat their own sick,” both of these from the charming  Drowned In Sound review.

Collaborating with French producers, Mirwais, Mr Oizo, and Feadz, Uffie came up with this debut album four years after she became a sensation at age 19 with only a few tracks posted on her Myspace page (where the stats for plays are stratospheric).  Since then she got married, got divorced, and had a baby.

As soon as I heard Uffie’s album I wanted to listen to it over and over.  Its appeal only strengthened with repetition.  Many of the tracks sound classic to me, in the sense that they could become reference points, or maybe already have done (see the debate over Ke$ha).  

Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans is like a kinetic sculpture made of Jolly Ranchers.  The colors are bright,  it’s transparent, it’s sweet with a slight edge of tartness.  So, why all the critical objections?  She does brag quite a lot about being a success, and she outrages some by saying she’s not a lyricist, but just an entertainer.  Whether or not she’s a good or bad rapper isn’t even the point, I think she’s just using her voice as one part in a musical thing which we’ll call a “song,” for lack of better terminology.  I find her lazy lack of “flow” a refreshing relief.  I believe she’s playing a role that happens to be based on her life, similarly to how Andy talked about himself in the 60’s. It all comes off as a little too ironic and artistic to be taken at face value.  It’s not what it is, it is what it’s about (claro?).

I think I figured out what the fuss is all about.  Her music is neither ground-breaking Electro, nor is it innovative Hip Hop.  It’s actually just another hybrid sub-genre of Pop.  Hip Hop, Electro and Synthpop are simply reference points push-pinned up on Uffie’s personal inspiration wall.   And that irritates purists with no sense of humor.

Pop The Glock

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Edvard Grieg - Notturno Op 54, No 4, for Piano (1891).

I first heard this piece at an exhibit of Norwegian art at the Elvehjem (now the Chazen) Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin, around 1980.  It pretty much overshadowed the most beautiful paintings in the exhibit and stopped me in my tracks while I took in its chilling and deep mournfulness. 

Thirty years later, it retains its spell over me.  It's performed here by Mark Gasser: