Like I was saying in the last post, it’s very difficult to write well about music. Especially good music. So, in this case, rather than make any effort to do so, I shall simply recommend you visit Frank’s Mixes, from the Internet Commentator.
Archive for February 17th, 2006
Super Furry Animals’ latest, Lovekraft, is easily their best. One of the songs on it, Ohio Heat, sounds a bit like A Horse With No Name by America, which I happen to think is a good thing.
Anyway, I see one of their songs, Fire In My Heart, is praised in the Guardian today. The writer says:
Their purest, most ecstatic love song sounds like a children’s hymn recorded on a space station by Brian Wilson.
I never liked the song in question myself, but I think the description here is interesting, in that it is the perfect example of a long-established device in music journalism, that is, if the song has anything in the way of barbershop harmonies, make an extravagant comparison to the Beach Boys or Brian Wilson.
Normally what happens is you give Brian Wilson or the Beach Boys a particular drug, like crack or PCP, and you introduce them to another musician, like Johnny Cash (it doesn’t really matter: whoever else the song reminds you of), and you’ve got the song encapsulated in a nifty little soundbite. So it sounds like the Beach Boys after a week spent smoking crack with Johnny Cash. The standard description for such a track is ‘achingly beautiful’, even if a more appropriate description would be ‘arse-achingly awful’.
No doubt the practice had been going on a long time since before I first noticed it, but the first time I remarked on was some 13 years ago, in a review in Select Magazine where the reviewer said that ‘Walking Away’ by Sugar sounded as though Brian Wilson had died and gone to heaven, or something very similar. Listening to the track a couple of weeks ago, and mindful of the comparison, I thought it sounded more like Brian Wilson had been abducted and held for a couple of months in Guantanamo Bay.
In fairness, writing well about pop music is very difficult, unless you’re someone like Paul Morley.
I’d never given any thought to slash fiction at all until I read this piece by John Sutherland in the Telegraph. In the main, it seems to consist of fictional accounts of homosexual encounters between celebrities or characters from popular culture.
He describes its roots thus:
The slash prefix, as in Roland Barthes’ classic post-structuralist treatise, S/Z (1970), signals unconventional (ie homosexual) relationships, as opposed to the soothingly conventional (heterosexual) ampersand of, say, Fun with Dick & Jane. A different kind of fun that is.
I like the idea of an ampersand being conventional and heterosexual. This raises an interesting question about gay marriages, but I don’t know what it is. It also lends a new subtext to thinking about things as diverse as Bangers & Mash, Tango & Cash, not to mention Axl & Slash.
I can’t imagine any sub-genre of Irish slash fiction cropping up any time soon. There is not enough mystique surrounding Irish celebrities for it to work. Most Irish celebrities are too mundane to bother with. I’d be interested to see a sub-sub-genre of Irish sports slash fiction though. Rugby/GAA crossovers. What I mean is, it would be interesting if it happened, not that I’d be interested in reading it.
Slash-fiction none the less inspires some serious reflections about the human propensity for story telling. For literary historians (as with biologists and the fruit fly) it is fascinating to observe, in clinical conditions, a literary form coming rapidly into mature existence. Literary sociologists will find confirmation, as with the samizdat novel in the Soviet Union, that the human species has an ineradicable need for narrative which rebelliously refuses to conform to the arbitrary norms and regulations of its host society. Slash-fiction is unprintable in a culture controlled, as ours is, by libel law. It flourishes on the web because that medium is, at the moment, beyond the reach of the libel lawyer. For literary psychoanalysts, slash-fiction is revealing about the mysteriously powerful, irrational and erotic emotions that feed fandom. In short, it’s very interesting. A pity it’s not more readable.
Y’know, this got me thinking too about the technical language of blogging. The core component of blogging is the post. People ponder the qualities of a post – good/bad, short/long etc. Is this a phallocentric enterprise? Consider other meanings of the word ‘post’.
The Cuban healthcare discussion on Wulfbeorn put me in mind of an amusing story an aunt of mine once related to me. A Russianist, she visited the Soviet Union in the 1980s, and once got chatting with one of her hosts, who began to praise the Soviet healthcare system. She asked about infant mortality rates. Her host informed her that there was no infant mortality in the Soviet Union.