Hardcore for Nerds

"Why sneer at the intellectuals?"*
punk music, left politics, and cultural history - previously found here.
contact: gabbaweeks[at]gmail.com (sorry, no promos/submissions, thanks) or ask
Dublin, Ireland. 27, history, politics & law graduate
HFN | Best New Punk | HFN 2012 2011 2010 2009 | HRO 2k9 | Hoover Genealogy Project | @HC4N
*from the title of a review of Arthur Koestler's Arrival and Departure by Michael Foot, Evening Standard, Nov. 26, 1943.
Apr 20
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500 (+1) notes! (it seems like a lot more, by the number of times the notifications pop up on my dash)

500 (+1) notes! (it seems like a lot more, by the number of times the notifications pop up on my dash)

(via hardcorefornerds)

grimes vinyl photos vinyl sunday
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Nov 18
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I so admire Grimes. I’m probably around 20 years older than her, and it’s cool to have someone so much younger than me who, in a way, I look up to. The fact that she produces her own music and is proud of it is really cool. I’m glad she calls herself a feminist. With Le Tigre, we considered ourselves a feminist punk band, and we really wanted one of those dividers at the record store—that said ‘Classic Rock’ or ‘Punk’ or whatever—to say ‘Feminist Electronic Punk.’ It would be like us and Peaches. Now Grimes would be there.
— Riot grrrl originator Kathleen Hanna on Grimes, from Jenn Pelly's 5-10-15-20 interview. (via pitchfork)

(via jennpelly)

grimes
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Mar 02
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Jan 07
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grimes vinyl vinyl photos
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But I warn you,
I am living for the last time.
Not as a swallow, not as a maple
Not as a reed nor as a star,
Not as water from a spring,
Not as bells in a tower –
Shall I return to trouble you
Nor visit other people’s dreams
With lamentation.

Anna Akhmatova, from ‘In 1940’, the poem quoted on the cover of Visions. You can read it in a rather stuffier translation (wtf does “stanchless” mean?) here, alongside the Russian original.

It comes just after 'Requiem', a ‘tragic cycle’ documenting her personal experience of Stalin’s Terror. It’s interesting to think about Grimes’ use of this not only in the context of Russian history and literature* but also current events, i.e. Pussy Riot of which I read this critical assessment of their image in the West this morning, and whose connection to past Soviet history I think is worth interrogating (so to speak).

*I’ve read both Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The First Circle, but I haven’t been able to make much headway into Dostoevsky. After the non-Russian Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, which was largely based on second-hand accounts of Stalinist repression, Victor Serge’s The Case of Comrade Tulayev is the best, ‘authentic’ novelistic - rather Joycean, even, if I recall correctly - account of the Terror period itself that I’ve read.

books russia history grimes
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Permalink grimes art
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Jan 03
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girlbands:








GRLBNDS









I wanted to add something in this post about how another aspect of Grimes fandom which I don’t share is the interest in visual art and presentation. I’m not even particularly into the videos, although they are good - to me they run counter to the non-linearity of the internet, and also my computer is currently handling Flash very badly. So for me it’s purely about the sound, but I’m conscious that *looking* around on Tumblr that might be a slightly odd position (even if influenced by the nature of that medium). But to restrict something called Visions to aural experience… there’s a contradiction there. While with the association of fashion and femininity there’s a whole lot of ideas I’m not qualified to go into. I do really like the album cover though, even if I did find it initially misleading; now it seems to be the only place where the image of Grimes herself (so to speak) isn’t front and centred. Pace this, of course.
I just read a very interesting (and educational) piece on Pinterest, and ‘difference’ and ‘dominance’ models of feminism which is perhaps applicable here; but then I also read this post by B. Michael Payne, responding in part to the same Mark Richardson essay, which makes an interesting and critical point:







"I think, perhaps, the whole issue-ness of Grimes (and St. Vincent, and Tune-Yards, and, and, and, and all the way back to Sappho, maybe?) should be the issue. This isn’t to say that Mark’s or Julianne’s essays were unnecessary. Far from it! But it is to say, to paraphrase Wittgenstein, that it’s probably time for woman-ness to stop calling itself into question. That’s all it does. Woman-ness is constantly calling itself into question, having to justify itself, having to apologize for itself. It’s an (obviously — more maybe not so… and that should be the point?) it’s a hard thing, seemingly, but I think it might be time to just let musicians, and artists, and people just be people."







And as he notes, there is an obvious political counterargument to that - but he also questions how much it should apply to ‘indie music’. It’s probably unfair to dissect and problematise all these elements of Grimes’ music, even in a deliberatively positive manner, when I’m not doing the same with Woods or other bands I really like. In fact, most of you are probably sick of me writing about Grimes so much - which can add to the negative image of an artist that is ‘talked about’ more than actively enjoyed, and thus becomes counter-productive in broadening tastes. That may be overthinking it though, and I - like most others, I imagine - blog about what interests me as well as what I enjoy. It just happens that the phenomenon under the rubric of ‘Grimes’ is both.

girlbands:

I wanted to add something in this post about how another aspect of Grimes fandom which I don’t share is the interest in visual art and presentation. I’m not even particularly into the videos, although they are good - to me they run counter to the non-linearity of the internet, and also my computer is currently handling Flash very badly. So for me it’s purely about the sound, but I’m conscious that *looking* around on Tumblr that might be a slightly odd position (even if influenced by the nature of that medium). But to restrict something called Visions to aural experience… there’s a contradiction there. While with the association of fashion and femininity there’s a whole lot of ideas I’m not qualified to go into. I do really like the album cover though, even if I did find it initially misleading; now it seems to be the only place where the image of Grimes herself (so to speak) isn’t front and centred. Pace this, of course.

I just read a very interesting (and educational) piece on Pinterest, and ‘difference’ and ‘dominance’ models of feminism which is perhaps applicable here; but then I also read this post by B. Michael Payne, responding in part to the same Mark Richardson essay, which makes an interesting and critical point:

"I think, perhaps, the whole issue-ness of Grimes (and St. Vincent, and Tune-Yards, and, and, and, and all the way back to Sappho, maybe?) should be the issue. This isn’t to say that Mark’s or Julianne’s essays were unnecessary. Far from it! But it is to say, to paraphrase Wittgenstein, that it’s probably time for woman-ness to stop calling itself into question. That’s all it does. Woman-ness is constantly calling itself into question, having to justify itself, having to apologize for itself. It’s an (obviously — more maybe not so… and that should be the point?) it’s a hard thing, seemingly, but I think it might be time to just let musicians, and artists, and people just be people."

And as he notes, there is an obvious political counterargument to that - but he also questions how much it should apply to ‘indie music’. It’s probably unfair to dissect and problematise all these elements of Grimes’ music, even in a deliberatively positive manner, when I’m not doing the same with Woods or other bands I really like. In fact, most of you are probably sick of me writing about Grimes so much - which can add to the negative image of an artist that is ‘talked about’ more than actively enjoyed, and thus becomes counter-productive in broadening tastes. That may be overthinking it though, and I - like most others, I imagine - blog about what interests me as well as what I enjoy. It just happens that the phenomenon under the rubric of ‘Grimes’ is both.

art grimes feminism
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Jan 02
Permalink grimes pop gender
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Dec 31
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Grimes - ‘Skin’ from Visions

Why I like this album: it’s fun to listen to. Although I started off doubting that fact, considering it ‘too poppy’, it quickly grew on me - mostly as background music via Spotify, something that’s helped cement the oft-quoted if nebulous association between Grimes and internet culture. In fact, the first time I downloaded (bought!) the portable mp3s and went out for a walk with headphones on it took some adjusting  to hear the full bass and the rest of the songs foregrounded, with relatively undivided attention. It might sound like a negative mark against an album to appreciate it through distraction (at least when one’s conception of a ‘work of art’ is a standalone piece or object of reflection, itself a quaint notion in a world of multi-tabbed browsers and live-anything commentary) but I think Visions’ strength is precisely in the way that certain of its disparate elements punch through the virtual fog.

A fog in part created by its own ambient textures, perhaps, or the mechanical impetus of electronic music. Which is another thing, that I started talking about in relation to Burial - I’m not normally very good with beat-driven music. It’s only certain artists that I enjoy - tolerate, even - listening to, and generally I think it’s because I feel there’s something more to them, that makes them more accessible or more interesting (to me). It’s not that I don’t like a good beat in itself, just that it’s still something a little awkward in listening to and talking about it. In that respect a lot of the groundwork has been done by Elite Gymnastics’ RUIN (and before that, Robyn). 

I like the sort of magpie approach to sound taken by both Grimes and Elite Gymnastics, and the fashioning of that into emotionally resonant soundscapes. Though there’s a strong contrast between the two, as well: Grimes’ beats are more languid than EG’s anxious freneticism, and while RUIN overlaid its energetic pop with sombre tones, it’s almost the opposite on Visions where the airy vocals often seem to be undercut by a base sinisterness. Neither is probably a very original approach to electronic music, but it’s the flair with which the combinations are carried out. 

Another comparison-and-contrast which naturally occupies my mind is with my main favourite of last year, EMA. Apart from them both being artistic projects of hugely talented young women, there are probably more differences than similarities. In a way, they’re almost total opposites: EMA looking backwards to the past of guitar-based blues and folk, analogue recording and manipulation; Grimes embracing a digital future of technologised, immaterial sounds and electronic pop. But there’s a common thread of self-production, experimentation and control of process, in an attempt to forge a wholly authentic artistic vision - where ‘authentic’ means nothing more and nothing less than ‘true to self’.

Nothing in Visions is as lyrically visceral as 'Marked', although the subject matter and import of ‘Oblivion’ probably comes close, but issues of sex and physicality are there as well on songs like this one. It sounds to me like ‘Skin’ has at least four different vocal styles running through it, and their audibility and textural qualities convey the multifariousness of human thought and (internal) ‘voice’ (“you act like nothing happened/but it meant the world to me” softly spoken, “you can’t see the wind in the trees” beautifully sung). The dream-like quality of the following album closer, ‘Know The Way’ seems like a commentary on knowledge itself and its eternal evasiveness.

The structure of Visions as an album appeals to me, with an intro (‘Infinite Love Without Fulfilment’ - one of many great titles) and outro which work well both as bookends as and short songs in their own right. ‘Genesis’ and ‘Oblivion’ are the obvious singles, although ‘Be a Body’ and ‘Skin’ are my real favourites. In fact I much prefer the calmer section in the latter half of ‘Colour of Moonlight’, ‘Symphonia X’ and ‘Nightmusic’ to the punchier, more electro first half - but old sensibilities die hard and I’m now starting to get a more natural appreciation for the earlier tracks. ‘Circumambient’ in particular is an intriguing mixture of doom-laden beats and klaxon-like vocals - but to pick individual songs out of the mix is almost to abandon my original experience of the record. Which is to sit back and let it carry on around me.

(Source: Spotify)

HFN 2012 grimes HFN
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Dec 29
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Suicide - ‘Why Be Blue’ from Why Be Blue? (1992)

For some odd reason a lot of Grimes songs from Visions put me in mind of this. This Allmusic review might offer an explanation (I love how weird Suicide’s post-1970s punk electronic albums can be):

"The Ric Ocasek-produced Why Be Blue?, originally released on Break Out in 1992, is notable for its upbeat temperament (the title isn’t ironic) and its display of Alan Vega and Martin Rev at a point in their career when they were neither ahead of nor with the times. Despite "Mujo“‘s resemblance to Peaches & Herb’s "Shake Your Groove Thing" (a disco reference, very out-of-place for 1992 music that wasn’t house or shiny dance-pop) and the mid-’80s sophisti-pop melodic structure of "Flashy Love" (it could almost be an ABC cover), they weren’t exactly behind the times. They were somewhere else entirely, if vaguely in line with the groups that continued to look to Suicide’s past work for guidance."

(Source: Spotify)

suicide grimes pop electro punk
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