Agony Shorthand

Monday, April 19, 2004
STRANGE NOTES, 4/19/04…..Crow continues to be eaten in mass quantities as I hear more and more 1990-2004 material from THE FALL, creators a whole index full of CDs I’d ignored and assumed were subpar. One such proof point to the contrary is 2000’s “The Unutterable”, a very solid and shambling techno/punk hybrid buffeted by three outstanding tracks, “Cyber Insekt”, “Dr. Bucks’ Letter” and “Hands Up Billy” (a guy who’s not Mark E. Smith sings on this one (!), very punk rock, great song), along with a number of good-enough ones. Smith sounds drunk and tired, like the warrior he is. It’s a revelation to me, this Fall “renaissance” that’s not really a renaissance at all…...We ramble on about bootlegs a lot here at Agony Shorthand in an effort to appear mysterious and clued-in. One to probably look askance at is “Studio Demo Tapes”, a 1968-69 effort from German propulsive chooglemeisters CAN – also knows as “Technical Space Composer’s Crew” or “Canaxis 5”. It has a brilliant soft-churn version of “Little Star of Bethlehem”, one of their best ever, and a decent version of “Uphill” – the rest is boring dung, not worthy of 60 seconds of your time, let alone the 47 minutes or whatever it takes to get through the plodding “Dakoda”….One band that I’ve tried to get a jones for and failed is New Zealand 1980s homemade pop hallmark the TALL DWARFS. After another big spin through “Hello, Cruel World”, their early 80s EP collection, I’m still at a loss as to how some rate Chris Knox & his pal higher than, say, The Clean. Whatever, there’s no big contest at stake, but it’s all so….innocuous. When I saw them live in the early 90s it was such a non-event that the only thing I can remember is one dude wore shorts, and there was a keyboard up there somewhere. And I really, really dig Chris Knox’s solo efforts, so go figure….I got my first MP3 player a few weeks ago, a piece of shit freebie I was given by a “vendor” in my line of work (payola is alive and well). And yes, I think I see the appeal. This one stores about 2 and ½ CDs’ worth, that’s it, but the ability to listen to and carry music on an object not much larger than a keychain is pretty compelling, particularly if you spend anywhere between 60-90 minutes every weekday walking to & riding on public transportation as I do. Not being an early adopter on most technology items, but a card-carrying member of the “early majority” when I see a gadget I desire (once the prices have plummeted), I’m strongly considering an iPod after toying with one in a store the other day. Why not – the majority of my music collection is now digital , right, and what isn’t can easily be converted into digital files. I’m going to listen to even more this way. Millions of former "I'd rather fight than switch", LP-loving people making similar half-baked rationalizations will have extreme ramifications on music delivery & listening as we know it, an observation that I know I’m in the late, late majority in making. It’ll be interesting to watch the phenomena unfold beyond the commentariat and into the mainsteam even more than it has.