Iain Cameron's Diary
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2004-04-01 - 7:29 a.m.
I did some work on linkages using my old notebook – this bit of text proved really important emerged from Google.
“The words "Westbound" and "Funk" mean virtually the same thing! From the late 60s through the mid 70s, Westbound was one of the key record labels in the sound of raw heavy funk -- working with hit groups like Funkadelic and the Ohio Players to craft a sound that laid the blueprint for countless other groups of the time, and also featuring a wealth of obscurer artists with an even harder-hitting sound! The key styles of Westbound and related jazz label Eastbound were heavy and fuzzy ones -- picking up off the heady and trippy styles of the late 60s Detroit scene, mixing things up with MC5 guitars, Norman Whitfield bass, and deep underground Tribe-styled jazz touches”
I was tracking down Robert Lowe the guitarist who I jammed with in the Ritz Carlton Dearborn about a year ago. It turns that his “Back to Funk” is the first track on the compilation “Westbound Funk”. Of course I was delighted to add RL to my list of “interesting musicians I have jammed with”. He slots in well next to Graham Bond. I might go so far as to say that the jazz inflected funk rock we were trying at the end of 60s with S Pheasant, R Jones, P Bell and J Cole was related to a parallel trajectory. Anyway I was pleased to remember I gave RL a copy of 10 Short Stories and 4 Fifths just in case. And it all strengthens the case for getting Carl Craig’s Detroit Experiment.
There is some RL at:
The issue of the follow through from the turn of the 60s to 70s to electronica is discussed by Simon Reynolds in a piece in the Village Voice which I unearthed yesterday.. As he puts it:
“Industrial music, in its original late-'70s incarnation, was the second flowering of an authentic psychedelia. ("Authentic" meaning non-revivalist, untainted by nostalgia). There was the same impulse to blow minds through multimedia sensory overload (the inevitable back-projected, cut-up movies behind every industrial performance—attempts at "total art" only too redolent of 1960s happenings and acid-tests). And industrial, like psychedelia, believed "no sound shalt go untreated"; both adulterated rock's "naturalistic" recording conventions with FX, tape splices, and dirty electronic noise.”
This sound engineering approach was followed by David Cunnigham – who often works with John Greaves (who replaced Andy Powell as Cow bassist). I bought Cunningham’s “Is this a sentence?” at the Ikon at the end of last year as a CDROM and I was very much reminded of his approach when I went to www.talkingbirds.co.uk yesterday. This website was given to me by Claire – a film producer from Coventry - in the Cutting Room – a bar near the Flat Iron building - during that last US trip as we listened to Askold Bok the guitarist. Talkingbirds are centred on Coventry although there will do art installations anywhere and the URL has sat in my notebook for a year waiting for me to call it.
In fact I ended up in the Cutting Room because Bok had been recommended me by some people who like me were very taken with Jim Campilongo at the Knitting Factory a few days earlier.
The birds site uses very similar artistic logic and functionality to Cunningham CD – so similar that my guess . An antecedent might be the Art and Language conceptual movement at the Coventry Art School – although I think there is a carry over between what Cunningham was doing in the late 70s with dub and elements of BEAST in Birmingham. People also seem to come to BEAST via industrial.
Anotherlink with the VV piece might be that the birds people are after a kind of “total art” using digital vehicles. That psychedelic enterprise mutates into that quirky semi-logical imagistic IT based use of sound and vision Cunningham is very knowledgeable about weird trippy experimental music films from the late 60s and early 70s and curated an evening of them in Birmingham last year.
Reading about talkingbirds I was also very much reminded of Blink Music Beyond Belief and the aesthetic that prevailed there.
I have also been pulling the Campilongo thread. I suggest US amazon for reviews of his latest album which came out at the end of 2003. I was well taken with JC – white Tele and classic Fender valve combination. His genre has been called “Cowboy jazz” – it uses the pure Tele sonorities and some country inflections plus great musicianship to achieve new results. The amazon page for his album also recommends Albert Lee – although to my ears Compilongo is goes deeper. I think he has only been in NYC for a few years and originally comes from San Francisco. One of the reader reviews says that in NYC he has been hanging out with the cluster of musicians around Norah Jones. In fact I think I spotted that she sings a track or two on one of his earlier albums.
I also listened to Gilbert’s duet material from LA which sounds extremely good indeed.
So I sat at Guy’s Mill watching the Avon flow past the Cliff going through my two notebooks checking that there were’nt any leads from 18 months of so back that I ought to bring onto the current maps and records in the latest book. I tried to make out the 15th century chapel through the trees and thought about the green of the willows against the green of the lawns.
As I write I am listening to a MD which carries some of the output from the last few weeks – thinking about its location. I would say it has the Bond-Lowe aspiration to put some of the instrumental techniques of that decade into more disparate musical contexts. The whole industrial through IT to BEAST and beyond stream means that the variety of contexts that can be created for improvisation is vast. That’s really what the Box is about and especially that two loop piece that I am steering clear of this week. (I forgot to mention that it also has an air-synth loop included amidst all those loops.)
And of course I would just love to do more site specific stuff like Blink Music Beyond Belief because it provides a culmination for the work.
The unpopular Plundafonix is the place where a lot of these threads converge – partly because it engages in musical semantics through material which has an overwhelming external reference. It has an (illegal) Sam Taylor-Wood cover and in that sense puts its money where its mouth is (or lack of money). It even has a solo Tele piece on it.
I managed to miss a phone call about that contract but was alerted by the MIT newsletter to the US National Innovation Initiative. They asked me if I cared whether my new car is grey or black. Keith (mice ate my interview with Captain Beefheart) Jordan has been given a very important new assignment.