JELLYFISH were one of the GREAT AMERICAN bands that never made it, putting out two OBSCURE records in the early 1990s. their sound was this highly ORCHESTRATED and HARMONIZED affair with SOPHISTICATED ARRANGEMENTS that made them akin to the more POPPIER side of the BRITISH INVASION or maybe the BEACH BOYS. during an era when the musical tide was more about a STRIPPED-BACK, AUSTERE AESTHETIC of SONGWRITING that supposedly relayed a more EARNEST and AUTHENTIC sound, its REFRESHING to discover a band that was more into LUSH, DECORATIVE SOUNDSCAPES that indulged in a genuine love of layered MELODY and BIG MUSICAL IDEAS.
guess JELLYFISH was just around at the wrong time. i can see their approach in bands MODERN INDIE ROCK bands that spend time on the EXPERIMENTAL and BAROQUE end of the SONIC SPECTRUM like KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD, DEERHOOF, THE FLAMING LIPS, MELODY'S ECHO CHAMBER, THE DARKNESS, UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA and TAME IMPALA among others. it is a COOL sound well worth checking out.
parody by nacrowe
its one of the big musical ironies of my life that it took me moving to WEST AFRICA from SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA to learn about one of the greatest WEST COAST HIP HOP groups of all-time, CYPRESS HILL. that transition happened in 1996 when i was in sixth grade and to be honest, i was completely IGNORANT about HIP HOP when i lived stateside since family didnt have cable television (much less any of my childhood friends) and none of my friends or neighborhood kids were into it. shortly after moving to NIGERIA, a LEBANESE classmate of mine (and MASSIVE POTHEAD) basically EDUCATED and INDOCTRINATED me into the church of CYPRESS HILL as he had the first three records at the time: CYPRESS HILL (COLUMBIA, 1991), BLACK SUNDAY (COLUMBIA, 1993) and III: TEMPLES OF BOOM (COLUMBIA, 1995).
while i never got into smoking MARIJUANA, i was very much taken aback by the STREETWISE LYRICISM and PROPULSIVE DELIVERY of the gifted MC tandem B-REAL and SEN DOG as well as the INGENIOUS PRODUCTION of DJ MUGGS which both had the potential to be FOREBODING as well as PSYCHEDELIC. the combination of those two elements made for a CINEMATIC AURAL EXPERIENCE that was CONTAGIOUS and INCREDIBLY COMPELLING to just get lost in for hours. in essence CYPRESS HILL was my entry point into HIP HOP. end stop. looking back at that period in the mid-1990s, NIGERIA was in a transition period whereby things got more than a little DANGEROUS at times, especially where we lived in LAGOS. years of rampant CORRUPTION effectively rendered the place the wild west. even traveling to and from school was everyday was done with an armed guard with a size-able automatic weapon. i say this to make the point that CYPRESS HILL was the absolute perfect soundtrack to this completely FUBAR situation, one in which people visibly struggled for SURVIVAL. the music at its core seemed to CELEBRATE that STRUGGLE and the FORCE OF WILL it took for those trapped in its INSIDIOUS clutches to maintain a sense of HOPE, DIGNITY and HUMANITY.
from my love CYPRESS HILL grew an appreciation for later HIP HOP artists and groups i became exposed to over the coming years including PUBLIC ENEMY, NAS, A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, ERIC B & RAKIM, THE PHARCYDE, MF DOOM, DE LA SOUL, OUTKAST, RUN THE JEWELS and the WU-TANG CLAN. and it goes beyond HIP HOP, as BRITISH TRIP HOP acts like MASSIVE ATTACK, PORTISHEAD, THIEVERY CORPORATION, SNEAKER PIMPS and TRICKY werent that far removed from what DJ MUGGS was up to on a purely SONIC LEVEL.
i know that much of their public profile is surrounded by MARIJUANA ADVOCACY (which i support), much like other NOTABLE acts like SUBLIME, 311, SLEEP, BLACK SABBATH, THE GRATEFUL DEAD and CANNIBAL CORPSE, but for me what make a CYPRESS HILL such a seminal group is their ability to coherently present a COHESIVE LYRICAL and AURAL PICTURE of life in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA for the SOCIALLY UNDERPRIVILEGED and CRIMINALLY UNDERSERVED. if WEED makes that CREATIVE PROCESS happen, then i am all here for it. they are one of the key musical groups of my youth that helped me emotionally make sense of TRAGIC surroundings and TRAUMATIC events that marked my three-year stint in LAGOS as a kid. for that i am still indebted to them.
embedded below is a DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC that originally aired on new year's day back in 2020. the playlist includes music from throughout CYPRESS HILL's catalogue. enjoy!
ELASTICA's eponymous debut album ELASTICA (DGC, 1995) was the GREATEST record put out during the BRITPOP era. end stop. the album exudes a LYRICAL CONFIDENCE and SONIC SOPHISTICATION that was seemingly presented to the world from the outset as a committed and FULLY-FORMED musical statement. taking influence most notably from POST PUNK bands like WIRE and THE STRANGLERS, main songwriter JUSTINE FRISCHMANN was the master of refashioning ANGULAR GUITAR PASSAGES and ODD TIME SIGNATURES into DEVASTATINGLY EFFECTIVE sonic hooks that separated their sound from their BRITPOP and ALTERNATIVE ROCK brethren. being a SINGULAR recording for the ages, there are no weak tracks on the album, but NOTEWORTHY songs include "BLUE," "STUTTER," "2:1," "CONNECTION," "INDIAN SONG," "ANNIE," "LINE UP," "NEVER HERE" and my personal favorite, "WAKING UP." i know i just named nine tracks (and to be honest there are another two id add come to think of it), but its that kind of TRANSCENDENT album.
my introduction to ELASTICA was hearing their STELLAR single "CONNECTION" on 106.7 FM KROQ during my late elementary school years in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. at the time i had no idea who the band was, or really anything about BRITPOP, but that indelible opening synth lick (courtesy of DAMON ALBARN of all things) with that ICONIC "eeeewwww-wahhhhhh" vocal intro was something absolutely seared into my adolescent FASCINATION and was a part of the soundtrack of my years going to traveling soccer and basketball matches throughout ORANGE, RIVERSIDE, LOS ANGELES and SAN DIEGO COUNTIES in my youth.
its funny, because i didnt actually discover ELASTICA by name until my senior year of high school when i found their debut and put the dots together on that "CONNECTION" single. i was stunned by how consistent ELASTICA was with its memorable SLINKY BASS-LINES (a la JEAN-JACQUES BURNEL and PETER HOOK) and SNAPPY VOCALS sung with ATTITUDE and a SNARL. that record was one of the key discoveries from my senior year of high school which i spent largely alone after being moved from the MIDDLE EAST to a unwitting relative in SACRAMENTO shortly after 9/11. other groups i discovered during this period included THE BREEDERS, LOVE AND ROCKETS, MASSIVE ATTACK, SLOWDIVE, FUGAZI, APHEX TWIN and THE CRAMPS. it was a horrible year but in that regard it was quite PRODUCTIVE.
why ELASTICA is not a bigger name in the history of ALTERNATIVE ROCK still baffles me. usually FRISCHMANN only gets mentioned because of her past relationships with DAMON ALBARN (or BLUR) and BRETT ANDERSON (of SUEDE) which is being SEXIST and does her a total disservice. it should be the other way around, that those two dudes once dated arguably the BEST songwriter of their generation. it could be that the band dissolved after another INCREDIBLE record due to cliche tropes of INFIGHTING and UNHEALTHY and ultimately DESTRUCTIVE narcotic habits. maybe, i dont know. it still stuns me that ELASTICA isnt more widely CELEBRATED. so go check out their debut album. seriously, its worth it.
timing really is everything.
generations of musicians limited not to the PET SHOP BOYS, GARY NUMAN, THE MAGNETIC FIELDS, MARC ALMOND (SOFT CELL), DEF LEPPARD, HENRY ROLLINS (BLACK FLAG), THE SCISSOR SISTERS, JAYNE COUNTY and MORRISSEY (THE SMITHS) would fervently attest that the PRODIGIOUSLY TALENTED LYRICIST and SINGER-SONGWRITER BRUCE WAYNE CAMPBELL, who went by the stage name JOBRIATH, was indeed far ahead of his time. TRAGICALLY ahead.
and that is UNFORTUNATE because his legacy is one of a PROMISING TALENT whose career was derailed and prematurely quashed by the OVERZEALOUS PROMOTION of his management and BITTER lack of support from the musical press and RAMPANT HOMOPHOBIA that marked that era. it should be mentioned that JOBRIATH was the first out GAY ROCK AND ROLL musician on a major recording label in a GLAM ROCK period where ANDROGYNY and hinted-at BISEXUALITY was the norm a la DAVID BOWIE, ELTON JOHN and MARC BOLAN of T. REX. it is one of the great FAILURES of modern culture that during this period it was considered HYPER-MASCULINE to take on FEMININE ATTRIBUTES when one was in fact HETEROSEXUAL, yet being HOMOSEXUAL and taking on those same qualities was considered REPULSIVE and seen as surefire CAREER SUICIDE. it should be remembered that ELTON JOHN didnt come out as being comfortable with his own QUEER IDENTITY until well into the late 1980s, no doubt i assume because he valued his career. in order to be a successful musician on a major label with widespread airplay, one had to play the game with a TOXIC HETERONORMATIVE CULTURE that could not handle or tolerate GENDER or SEXUAL POLITICS outside of the REDUCTIVE and CONSERVATIVE variety.
JOBRIATH was a VICTIM of such a cultural heritage and has become a sort of ARCHETYPE to such SOCIETAL MISALIGNMENT right down the line to the present. thus there is a need to revisit and reevaluate his example in the recent JOBRIATH A.D. (EIGHT TRACK TAPE, 2012) documentary that follows his many transitions from the NEGLECTED child prodigy BRUCE WAYNE CAMPBELL to the space clown JOBRIATH to the after hours piano man COLE BERLIN. he was no doubt a TROUBLED man with deep issues stemming from his having to compartmentalize his IDENTITY and PERSONA and be different things to different people, namely his DIVORCED PARENTS who were both TRADITIONALLY-MINDED and never recognized their son for who he was. ever. in fact, after BRUCE's passing from AIDS in 1983, his father DESTROYED all his personal effects (stage costumes and paraphernalia save one journal) attempting in essence to EXPUNGE all trace of him from the earth. it was a different time back then, yet somehow seemingly people want to return to that HATEFUL era.
one INTRIGUING thread that the film presents is the idea of the FAILED MARKETING CAMPAIGN conducted on his behalf. in ROCK AND ROLL there is this loose (often IMAGINED) concept of a MERITOCRACY at play whereby musicians elevate from the trenches of small clubs and bars after garnering a substantial INDEPENDENT following. once major label money is sprinkled on top of such demand then a true mutually beneficial partnership (of sorts) is born. JOBRIATH and his manager shorted that whole route and promoted his act not too DISSIMILIAR from an upcoming BROADWAY production, something he was familiar with as a former cast member of HAIR. with a play that sort of UBIQUITOUS promotion (TIMES SQUARE, subway, buses, etc.) makes sense both within a ROCK AND ROLL context it is a much dicier affair. people dont like being told what is AUTHENTIC or VITAL in music if it is not an established act already. it seemed such promotional efforts were DOOMED TO FAIL from the jump.
in the current cultural marketplace there are countless musicians, artists and actors that run the gamut of expression related to GENDER and SEXUAL IDENTITY. from NON-BINARY (SOPHIE, JANELLE MONAE, SAM SMITH) to TRANS (LAURA JANE GRACE, MINA CAPUTO, KIM PETRAS) and so on its a different, more INCLUSIVE world in some aspects at the current cultural moment. where they are the most SUCCESSFUL is when that part of their IDENTITY doesnt take over their PUBLIC PERSONA. it seems like if someone is a GREAT COMEDIAN and happen to be HOMOSEXUAL than audiences dont really care, but if their whole act is centered around being a QUEER STAND-UP COMIC then their prospects are relatively dwindled in comparison. at least that is how i see the dynamic played out nowadays. for JOBRIATH the publicity was so entrenched with his identity as a HOMOSEXUAL and not his PRODIGIOUS GIFTS as a SONGWRITER, LYRICIST and COMPOSER. which in retrospect was a MISTAKE. or maybe his career was DOOMED either way. again, just too far ahead of his own time.
JOBRIATH A.D. is a HEARTBREAKING film about how cultural blindspots can manifest themselves and render us all IMPOVERISHED for not seeing the GRACE and DIGNITY in each other's HUMANITY. BRUCE's gifts should have been given the opportunity to be CELEBRATED beyond a cult following decades later, but that is show business in a VILE, still-very-much HETERONORMATIVE AMERICAN culture. it makes you consider your own COMPLICITY in that enduring dynamic for sure. this film is definitely worth checking out.
to experience a MICHAEL DEFORGE graphic novel is to be submerged in a PHANTASMAGORIC VISION that plays within its own STRUCTURES and MECHANISMS and is visually a feast that has an INTERNAL LEXICON all its own. his graphic novel ANT COLONY (DRAWN AND QUARTERLY, 2014) is no disappointment on either front. he presents ARRESTING DEPICTIONS of GENOCIDAL VIOLENCE on a micro scale between an ANT COLONY and its local competition in PUGNACIOUS SPIDERS, AMORAL CENTIPEDES, UNAWARE HUMAN CHILDREN with magnified sunlight that is almost ZEUS-like in its arbitrary DESTRUCTIVE capacity and especially ULTRA-MILITANT RED ANTS. its a CONFRONTATIONAL VISION of life as a succession of THREATENING NEIGHBORS and the potential for WIDE-SCALE WANTON ANNIHILATION around every corner.
what is INTERESTING is how DEFORGE provides the ants with highly individualized and ANTHROPOMORPHIZED personalities with dreams and objectives, yet MYSTICAL outside forces such as pheromones ultimately govern their FATE. you cannot read this narrative and not come away with the fact that our lives are conducted under a similar thread of WIDESPREAD VIOLENCE and annihilation at the hands of a small number of politicians with access to nuclear codes and the like. all our physical and creative efforts at securing a future and providing for the next generation is just window dressing for a far more SEEDY and UNSTEADY REALPOLITIK that is churning just outside of our VISION that is constantly in TENSION and never not at play.
the DEFORGE visuals are so BIZARRE and so EVOCATIVE that there is a certain VIOLENCE against our own senses of BEAUTY that is under attack when taking in and sussing out the narrative. id argue that the illustrations are so confrontationally VIVID that they effectively endear the story with a PALPABLE REALISM and AUTHENTICITY that is seemingly counterintuitive on paper. it should take you out of the narrative but it draws you further in. i very much feel it is quite an achievement that has MORAL IMPLICATIONS beyond one's sense of AESTHETICS. it makes that graphic novel have a sense of MORAL WEIGHT and GRAVITY, as if these warring tribes whose JARRING sense of INSATIABLE BLOODLUST is normal and justified by their very nature as SMALL INSECTS. the MORAL IMPLICATIONS to our own sense of justification around STATE VIOLENCE is STAGGERING and ultimately UNSETTLING.
i cant wait to seek out more of his catalogue. i am intrigued by how DISCONCERTING the experience of reading ANT COLONY was for my personal sense of individuality. i want more! definitely worth checking out.
MTV's LIVE 'N' LOUD series was one of many LONG-FORM LIVE PERFORMANCE series that the channel intermittently produced in the mid-to-late 1990s. much like with the more famous UNPLUGGED, it was a series that they could resurrect anytime they found talent that fit its structure, i.e. POWERFUL live bands and artists with multiple singles and/or a deep back catalogue. the series was shot all over the world, usually at outdoor venues or MASSIVE theaters that showcased throngs of people enveloped and deeply immersed in the music and the spectacle on stage.
as with all things NIRVANA, there was a MEMORABLE 1993 SEATTLE CONCERT for the series at PIER 48 that was filmed as part of their then-ongoing IN UTERO tour. other prominent participants over the years include CYPRESS HILL, NO DOUBT, SOUNDGARDEN, BJORK, NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS, ALANIS MORISSETTE (with future FOO FIGHTERS drummer TAYLOR HAWKINS in tow) and PAUL WELLER. these PERFORMANCES are genuinely WELL PRODUCED with PROFESSIONALLY MIXED sound and as the series moved through the decade it employed somewhat EXPERIMENTAL visuals (including filters, set design, high angle shots and curious lighting) as well to keep it INTERESTING.
definitely worth checking out as this series is most definitely a part of the historical record of the ALTERNATIVE ROCK movement so prevalent in the 1990s.
i always thought of OZZY OSBOURNE's OZZMOSIS (EPIC, 1995) album, in spite of its being SUBPAR in his discography, a major TRANSITIONAL record in his career. his previous recordings all feel guitar-dominated with the VIRTUOSO contributions from the CELEBRATED likes of ZAKK WYLDE, JAKE E. LEE and most famously the late RANDY RHOADS. arguably such was also the case with BLACK SABBATH and TONY IOMMI. regardless of the revolving door of guitarists there was a sense of AESTHETIC CONTINUITY at play that seemingly ended with OZZMOSIS and has carried on to some extent PERPLEXING ever since. its as if OSBOURNE made a conscious decision to downplay that aspect of his sound and attempt to position himself as more of a singer-songwriter, with varying results.
one major variable on OZZMOSIS is the new producer MICHAEL BEINHORN, at this point no doubt RENOWNED for his production of SOUNDGARDEN's EXPANSIVE SUPERUNKNOWN (A&M, 1994) album the previous year. he would go on to produce other NOTEWORTHY albums such as SOCIAL DISTORTION's WHITE HEAT, WHITE LIGHT, WHITE TRASH (EPIC, 1996), MARILYN MANSON's MECHANICAL ANIMALS (INTERSCOPE, 1998), HOLE's CELEBRITY SKIN (DGC, 1998) and KORN's UNTOUCHABLES (EPIC, 2002) in the coming years. but in comparison to all of those records, OZZMOSIS sounds STILTED and HALF-COOKED, as if he was making a record with a proverbial arm tied behind his back. WYLDE's contributions, for instance are SCALED WAY BACK and often in their place are what appear to be synthesized guitars, which is absolutely INEXPLICABLE. on the previous record, NO MORE TEARS (), WYLDE was absolutely let loose and it showcased his full range as a guitarist from INTROSPECTIVE ACOUSTIC LAYERINGS and FEEDBACK-LADEN DOLPHIN SQUEELS to FULL-BORE, DISTORTED, PINCH-HARMONIC DESTRUCTION. on OZZMOSIS there is so much SYNTHESIZED midi-controlled ORCHESTRATED elements and FAKE guitars that it just comes off sounding BLAND. such can be heard on tracks like "PERRY MASON," "SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE" and "I JUST WANT YOU." thankfully there are a few PROPULSIVE tracks that buck this approach including the likes of "WHOLE WORLD'S FALLIN' DOWN," "TOMORROW" and "THUNDER UNDERGROUND" which somewhat salvage a COMPROMISED, MEDIOCRE album. in short, large swaths of this album dont sound like an OSBOURNE record.
its IRONIC that such a release, which i am assuming was an ARTISTIC CONCESSION to the growing influence of the ALTERNATIVE ROCK movement of the period, was what led to a period that cemented his legacy as a cultural icon years after his BLACK SABBATH and GLAM METAL years. it was during this period that OSBOURNE was famously rejected from inclusion on the traveling national LOLLAPALOOZA festival, thus initiating his own massively INFLUENTIAL rival OZZFEST tour that effectively resurrected the EXTREME METAL scene as a cultural movement in the UNITED STATES over the coming decade. OZZMOSIS is a largely FORGETABLE record with a handful of decent tracks. a better introduction to his STELLAR career would be any of the first six BLACK SABBATH records or BLIZZARD OF OZ (JET, 1980), DIARY OF A MADMAN (JET, 1981) or NO MORE TEARS from his solo career.
first off, its pretty difficult to not already LOVE a band called GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH. its just not easy. much the same with other COLORFULLY BRANDED musical outfits like KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD, THE THE, ENUFF Z'NUFF, PORNO FOR PYROS and TEST ICICLES. chances are if you are that BRILLIANT with your band name, the music has to follow suit, right?!
in the case of GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH, yes. this band has a HUMOROUS INDIE ROCK take on SURF MUSIC that seems to also incorporates aspects of CLASSIC SOUL MUSIC / R&B and LO-FI GARAGE ROCK. as if AL GREEN is fronting PAVEMENT but with a much more limited vocal range. not sure if this is band is still currently a viable entity or is on some type of semi-permanent hiatus. regardless, they are well worth checking out.
parodies by nacrowe
there is something about the OPTIMISM of REVERED NEW WAVE band THE CARS that always gets me. not sure where it comes from, but their SIMPLE MELODIES and INCREDIBLE MUSICIANSHIP always leaves me in a good mood. when you watch their music videos its immediately apparent how UNORTHODOX a frontman RIC OCASEK was, all GANGLY and AWKWARD, but there is a CHARM no doubt. a certain PASSION and SELF-BELIEF in one's ability to communicate POSITIVITY and PLEASURE that transcends the music. and i dont know where it comes from.
i dont like NOSALGIA or false manufactured memories of the past, but i do appreciate GENUINE HOPE and JOY. and i get both of those from THE CARS who remain one of my all-time favorite bands, even if they are from BOSTON.
embedded below is a DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC that originally aired on new year's eve 2021. the playlist includes music from throughout THE CARS' catalogue. enjoy!
as with all things MORRISSEY-related nowadays, there is a bit of revisionism when looking back at his work given his current head-scratching, ARCH-CONSERVATIVE posturing in the press that puts him out of step with his presumed working-class audience and more in league with NIGEL FARAGE, VAN MORRISON and ERIC CLAPTON. while before i thought he was playing with SKINHEAD imagery in concert and largely meddling song titles like "THE NATIONAL FRONT DISCO" with more than a hint of IRONY and RIDICULE towards the political FAR RIGHT, but now who really knows what his intentions ACTUAL were? it is a NEEDLESS, PATHETIC situation that finds an unassisted MORRISSEY completely at FAULT. and in retrospect longtime fans are left questioning everything about their deeply held fandom. such is my experience at least.
all that being said, MORRISSEY's third album YOUR ARSENAL (HMV, 1992) is arguably his STRONGEST and most COHESIVE release to date. for me the only competitor is his debut BONA DRAG (HMV, 1990), but that release is a compilation of early non-album singles and not a proper album. the record was co-produced with MICK RONSON (of DAVID BOWIE fame) and is the first to feature longtime band members and songwriting collaborators BOZ BOORER (of THE POLECATS fame) and ALAIN WHYTE. i grew up listening to this album so basically i adore most of the tracks, from the more MUSCULAR "YOU'RE GONNA NEED SOMEONE ON YOUR SIDE," "WE HATE IT WHEN OUR FRIENDS BECOME SUCCESSFUL," "YOU'RE THE ONE FOR ME, FATTY" and "GLAMOROUS GLUE," the ROCKABILLY-inflected "CERTAIN PEOPLE I KNOW" and the more SOMBER and INTROSPECTIVE "TOMORROW," "WE'LL LET YOU KNOW" and "SEASICK, YET STILL DOCKED." it should be noted that eight of the ten tracks are co-written with WHYTE, who would go on to be a key contributor on future albums throughout MORRISSEY's solo career.
thematically the album rests on MORRISSEY's charisma in relating a certain relatable sense of ISOLATION that comes with being an INTELLIGENT and GIFTED person unable to find the motivation to self-start. when i listen to YOUR ARSENAL i am confronted with questions and concerns related to what the greater point is of imposing your will on the world and initiating relationships. you may see examples of people that have done well in business ("WE HATE IT WHEN OUR FRIENDS BECOME SUCCESSFUL"), romantic relationships ("TOMORROW"), life ("CERTAIN PEOPLE I KNOW") or even politics ("THE NATIONAL FRONT DISCO"), but they are all DELUDING themselves. just running faster on that hamster-wheel of CONSUMERISM leading nowhere but our inevitable death.
at least that was the COHERENT message i took from the album over years of listening to it. but now with MORRISSEY being exposed as a REVANCHIST, NATIVIST thug, im not really sure what to make of his penchant for seemingly advocating SELF-ISOLATION. maybe he has felt such a sense of social distance and exclusion from his immediate community for decades and such has calcified and manifested itself into a PETTY ANTI-IMMIGRANT stance, as if the imaginary "lost community" of his youth being displaced is the fault of new arrivals. its an ABSURD and rather STUPID idea, but it seems to be something that has INFECTED the guy in recent years. and it calls into question his best work SADLY.
i know people will disagree with me, but yeah. whatever.
the SECRETIVE figure of the much REVERED author J.D. SALINGER is as COMPLICATED and ORNERY as his most FAMOUS fictional creation HOLDEN CAULFIELD and the latter half of the 20th century that grew in his image. his 1951 novel THE CATCHER IN THE RYE (LITTLE, BROWN & COMPANY, 1951) was the product of a DISGRUNTLED and MISTRUSTED mindset and CONTRARIAN perspective that grew out of SALINGER's INTENSE experiences as a COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AGENT during WORLD WAR II. that sense of understanding the daylight between official rhetoric and witnessing the unadulterated HARSH realities of war. the success and universal praise of his book resulted in a NOTORIETY and CELEBRITY that he was neither prepared for nor wanted. his retreat from NEW YORK CITY, where he grew up a child of immense means and PRIVILEGE, to rural CORNISH, NEW HAMPSHIRE was maneuver meant to ensure both his PRIVACY and CREATIVE PROCESS. he wasnt a hermit as he was a part of the fabric of the SMALL TOWN, whose inhabitants were fiercely LOYAL to him. but to outsiders and national press with questions related CATCHER or CAULFIELD he had no time for.
thus there is the somewhat personally INTRUSIVE documentary SALINGER (THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY, 2013) released shortly after his death that attempts to contextualize his LITERARY CAREER and CULTURAL IMPACT / LEGACY as well as provide explanations for his lifelong sabbatical from the limelight. participants include fellow novelists TOM WOLFE, GORE VIDAL, E.L. DOCTOROW and ELIZABETH FRANK as well as playwrights STEPHEN ADLY GUIRGIS and JOHN GUARE, not to mention actors PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, EDWARD NORTON, JOHN CUSACK, DANNY DEVITO and MARTIN SHEEN among others. probably most SIGNIFICANT are the many editors, confidants, lovers and peers that knew him in his earlier years that participated in the film, yet nobody seems to have a handle on the MERCURIAL figure. everyone was presented with a figure in command of himself to the point that he only revealed what he wanted to show and once one's usefulness or prying nature reached a point, were shut out on no uncertain terms.
it would appear every relationship was on his terms post-FAME. pre-FAME he was in love with OONA O'NEILL, daughter of REVERED playwright EUGENE O'NEILL, who left him for CHARLIE CHAPLIN while he was serving in combat during WORLD WAR II. for the rest of his life SALINGER was preoccupied with young women in their late teens and early twenties, roughly the same age of O'NEILL when they were together. it would appear SALINGER was not comfortable with women once they reached the stage of INDEPENDENCE and/or motherhood, which is interesting but SAD. its as if his emotional and psychological development was stunted or irrevocably WARPED after bearing witness to the unendurable HORRORS OF WAR. he had participated in the D-DAY invasion as well as later discovered a sub-camp of DACHAU called KAUFERING IV where the NAZIS forced the sick and dying to work before being exterminated during the HOLOCAUST. due to his proficiency in both GERMAN and FRENCH, SALINGER stayed on after the armistice to hunt down NAZIs and bring them to justice as a COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AGENT. it should be noted that throughout this intense period SALINGER was writing CATCHER. it is no hyperbole to say that the figure of CAULFIELD and SALINGER's own views towards femininity were rooted in his WARTIME EXPERIENCE. in a sense you can view FAME and the burgeoning CELEBRITY CULTURE of the period as a new confrontational front to be weary of resist at all costs.
its hard not to be intrigued by SALINGER the person. his life's narrative is one of INTENSE LITERARY AMBITION and punishingly BRUTAL personal disappointments. he lived a full life even if such was in the shadow of his fictional creations that were so adored, or in the case of three PSYCHOTIC maniacs, misunderstood, by many. SALINGER is worth checking out whether one is a fan of literature or not.
THE SUM OF US: WHAT RACISM COSTS EVERYONE AND HOW WE CAN PROSPER TOGETHER (ONE WORLD, 2021) by noted policy advocate and academic HEATHER MCGHEE is a devastatingly SOBER and EXHAUSTIVE account of how the ZERO-SUM FALLACY of WHITE AMERICA has writ large INFECTED our national sense of SOCIAL SOLIDARITY and COLLECTIVE IDENTITY as AMERICANS throughout our HISTORY. the underlying WHITE SUPREMACIST IDEATIONS that form the root of this CANCER and inform this DESTRUCTIVE PERSPECTIVE counterintuitively harm those who embrace it as well in MATERIAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL and PSYCHIC terms.
so what is a ZERO-SUM view of the world?
it is a perspective that contends that a win for you must mean a loss to me. MCGHEE contextualizes this MENTALITY with the example of the public pools that dotted the country in the first half of the 20th century. they were meant to be a focus of CIVIC LIFE that would find all the races sharing a public resource and lead to SOCIAL HARMONY. WHITE PEOPLE literally leveled and cemented over these pools throughout the country (or made them private and effectively EXCLUSIONARY), rather than share them. that dynamic is shown throughout THE SUM OF US to describe what happens with DOOMED efforts to expand the benefits of nearly every facet of CIVIC LIFE including CIVIL RIGHTS, EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES, HOUSING (and associated LOANS and MORTGAGES), HEALTH CARE, VOTING RIGHTS, LABOR ORGANIZING and so on to non-white populations. at each turn WHITE AMERICA basically chooses en masse to maintain the status quo, and this is key, even when such is not materially in their personal best interest. MCGHEE shows example after example where such PIGHEADED SHORT-SIDEDNESS and BALD-FACED WHITE SUPREMACIST IDEATION actually ricochets and harms them.
it is impossible to read THE SUM OF US and not come away with the bedrock concept that AMERICA, despite what DELUSIONS we were told in middle school, was founded on INEQUALITY and GENOCIDE based on race. to go through the iterations of our HISTORY and examples of such is beyond he scope of this review. just know it is COMPELLING and OVERWHELMING and MCGHEE makes expert use of STATISTICS, recent RESEARCH studies and an EXHAUSTIVE list of CITATIONS meant for academic consideration and review.
my experience reading this book was one of deep INTROSPECTION and PAIN considering how as a WHITE GUY i have benefited personally from SYSTEMATIC RACISM. its a FACILE and ultimately DISHONEST gesture to point the finger elsewhere at this immensely COMPLEX problem that is ingrained in the very SOCIAL FABRIC of our society over generations from even before the founding of our nation. this book forces you to consider your own CULPABILITY and that is where the true VALUE of the dialogue MCGHEE is initiating is located.
i consider this book required reading for all AMERICANS, but especially WHITE AMERICANS. it is an absolutely BRUTAL and personally DEVASTATING conversation that needs to happen (again, especially in WHITE COMMUNITIES) in this country for any sense of growth to be established. a NEW MORAL CENTERING of who we are as a country and how we interact with one another that is based on where we've been and how we avoid the same MISTAKES and IN-GROUP/OUT-GROUP BIASES that currently define the AMERICAN experience despite what can only be described as the DISHONEST, DELUSIONAL and SELF-SERVING PROPAGANDA we deceive ourselves and INFECT our children with. you figure if GERMANY can work through its checkered history with GRACE and HONESTY then so should we as AMERICANS. it is time to BREAK THE CYCLE already.
THE SUM OF US is probably the most CONSEQUENTIAL book ive read since starting this review column almost four years ago. cant advocate on its behalf any stronger.
along with SWEETWATER and maybe REVERB, the retailer CHICAGO MUSIC EXCHANGE has grown in recent times to be one of the LARGEST online sellers of INSTRUMENTS and MUSIC-RELATED PRODUCTS (RECORDING, LIVE SOUND, etc.) on the internet. famously they have a WELL-STOCKED showroom location in CHICAGO that is a MUST-VISIT for touring MUSICIANS of all levels. much like other vendors and MUSIC INDUSTRY adjacent businesses, during the pandemic they kept their profile up with a series of in-house produced LIVE PERFORMANCE videos of mostly local UP-AND-COMING ACTS. you have a sprinkling of national touring entities like TORCHE and BARONESS thrown in, but for the most part they have kept CME SESSIONS as a venue to promote EMERGING TALENT of varying ROCK AND ROLL genres.
its still very much ONGOING and definitely worth checking out.
WARREN DEMARTINI. it is definitely all about WARREN DEMARTINI.
dude was one of the hands-down GNARLIEST GUITAR PLAYERS of the 1980s METAL scene; GLAM METAL, THRASH or otherwise. his TASTEFUL LEGATO runs are all over RATT's debut OUT OF THE CELLAR (ATLANTIC, 1984) album, adding TEXTURE and a sense of ENERGY and excitement to some of the CATCHIER GLAM METAL from that era, right up there with heavyweights MOTLEY CRUE and VAN HALEN. of course, like most bands from that SUNSET STRIP era, the MACHO POSTURING and RIDICULOUS fashion was OUTLANDISH and LAUGHABLE at best (just look at KISS and OZZY OSBOURNE from this period) and CRINGE-INDUCING at worst. i know to some extent this was a scene built on the idol worship of ICONIC acts like T. REX and THE NEW YORK DOLLS, but like all religious converts they all took it too far. vocalist STEPHEN PEARCY was as guilty of this as anyone, but i'll admit i appreciate his relative RESTRAINT on lead single "ROUND AND ROUND," which was one of the better tracks of that scene.
all that being said, whenever i tire of listening to THRASH, HARDCORE or EXTREME METAL sub-genres like DEATH and BLACK METAL from the period, i definitely put on OUT OF THE CELLAR for the genius of DEMARTINI. easily on of the most UNDERRATED and CRIMINALLY OVERLOOKED GUITARISTS in ROCK AND ROLL history. at some points its not even about the songs, just his guitar phrasing, technique and feel for his INSTRUMENT. i definitely here reverberations of his influence in the likes of the CONSIDERED pyrotechnics of ZAKK WYLDE (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY), SYNYSTER GATES (AVENGED SEVENFOLD) and even JOSH MIDDLETOWN (SYLOSIS, ARCHITECTS). if the guy was born in a different era he'd probably be a LEGENDARY BLUES or JAZZ player, not the OVERQUALIFIED lead guitarist for a CHEESY, also-ran 80s HAIR METAL band. but those are the breaks.
do i recommend RATT? no. not at all. but i do recommend checking out the work of WARREN DEMARTINI. dude is an ABSOLUTE wizard.
when i first heard the SPASTIC SONIC VIOLENCE that was THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN back in undergrad, the only band that even remotely prepared me for such an AURAL ONSLAUGHT was this EXTREME, MASKED HARDCORE PUNK band out of SAN DIEGO called THE LOCUST that a childhood friend had previously clued me onto my senior year of high school. both now DEFUNCT bands gleefully defied expectations related to both GENRE and SONG STRUCTURE, and have an INDIVIDUALIZED sonic AESTHETIC that is entirely their own. not exactly the easiest thing when your POST-HARDCORE and GRINDCORE peer group is often hyper-aware of and effectively made prisoner to genre prescriptions that limit ARTISTIC EXPRESSION.
the INTENTIONAL ANONYMITY of THE LOCUST provided a vehicle to truly go off the rails sonically. they were not alone in this decision, as artists around their time in different scenes like DAFT PUNK, THE AQUABATS and SLIPKNOT latched onto the same CONCEPT and ETHOS, which they probably got from either THE RESIDENTS, GWAR and/or KISS beforehand. you can still see such utilized in GHOST, SLAUGHTER TO PREVAIL and even PUSSY RIOT for the PASSIONATE promotion of varying ARTISTIC and POLITICAL agendas. i believe that with THE LOCUST, such ANONYMITY enabled them to push their sonic inhibitions as far as they could take it, which was beyond EXTREME even by today's standards. definitely a band worth look back on and checking out again.
RIP GABE SERBIAN.
parody by nacrowe
when i think about how i got into HIP HOP, there is pretty much two eras: before hearing the WU-TANG CLAN and after hearing the WU-TANG CLAN. i was somewhat naive about RAP in general during my early years in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, but when i arrived in middle school to NIGERIA i learned about a whole host of artists ranging from CYPRESS HILL, NAS, TUPAC SHAKUR, A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G. and so on. it was an EDUCATION to say the least and alongside my EXPOSURE to WEST AFRICAN artists like FELA KUTI, KING SUNNY ADE and LAGBAJA, it provided a foundation for APPRECIATING the COMPLEXITY of modern music from across the AFRICAN DIASPORA.
enter the WU-TANG CLAN.
i was in boarding school in MASSACHUSETTS and the mixed-race son of a UMASS professor who lived next door had an ENTER THE WU-TANGE (36 CHAMBERS) (LOUD, 1993) poster proudly displayed in plain view from the hallway. remarkably somehow the WU-TANG CLAN never made the journey to NIGERIA. still boggles my mind. hearing them for the first time really triggered something in my UNDERSTANDING and APPRECIATION of HIP HOP from there out. the idea that the objective was to have the most CLEVER people spitting the most CLEVER shit over the most CLEVER production possible. in WU-TANG you had all of that, with ten MCs tagging themselves in one after the other, attempting to outsmart and essentially outcompete their fellow bandmate. it was POETRY as a sport envisioned through the LEXICON and VISUAL ICONOGRAPHY of KUNG FU films as stand-in metaphors for the black experience in STATEN ISLAND. there was literally nothing out there as INTELLIGENT and CREATIVE as WU-TANG in any genre. that debut is one of those turning point records that hasnt been topped since in my opinion. and just for the sake of honesty, i worship at the high altar of A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, my all-time favorite HIP HOP group, along with PUBLIC ENEMY, OUTKAST, THE PHARCYDE, GETO BOYS, DE LA SOUL and the BEASTIE BOYS. but in reality none of those groups produced anything as TRANSFORMATIVE as WU-TANG's debut. its a PERFECT record. period.
as if that wasnt enough, there is also the less spoken about BUSINESS SAVVY and GENIUS of WU-TANG CLAN. signed to LOUD RECORDS, a subsidiary of ZOO RECORDS (of GREEN JELLY and TOOL fame), the label in essence had the rights to the catalogue of the band but not its members, which allowed all of them to sign deals with various labels, such as DEF JAM (METHOD MAN), MCA (GZA), EPIC (GHOSTFACE KILLAH, CAPPADONNA), LOUD (INSPECTAH DECK), ELEKTRA (OL' DIRTY BASTARD), BMG (RZA), PRIORITY (U-GOD), RCA (RAEKWON) and NATURE SOUNDS (MASTA KILLA). in essence this mean that most of the conglomerates at the time had a financial stake in the WU-TANG enterprise, supporting one in essence raised the profiles of the others. previous to this arrangement, all solo careers of PROMINENT members were pre-arranged to be developed and promoted by the same management and label as the main group, which effectively straddled momentum. this INNOVATIVE arrangement WU-TANG employed is now commonplace in the industry and has led to more OPPORTUNITY and DIVERSIFICATION of risk in the music business pre-NAPSTER and widespread internet-enabled file sharing.
i find myself always going back to the WU-TANG CLAN debut. you hear a verse you love and then find out that the next few hours is all about GHOSTFACE KILLAH's SUPREME CLIENTELE (EPIC, 2000) or FISHSCALE (DEF JAM, 2006) or maybe even OL' DIRTY BASTARD's RETURN TO THE 36 CHAMBERS (ELEKTRA, 1995). its a ride that is worth repeat visits.
embedded below is a DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC that originally aired more than three years ago. the playlist includes music from throughout the WU-TANG CLAN catalogue, both the group and its members' various solo and outside projects. enjoy!
by the time i discovered during my senior year of high school the DANCEABLE INDUSTRIAL group MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT through the GREGG ARAKI film NOWHERE (FINE LINE, 1997), my conception INDUSTRIAL MUSIC had expanded beyond the popular ALTERNATIVE band NINE INCH NAILS into something else entirely. along with the more INTROSPECTIVE and SUBDUED SKINNY PUPPY, the more CONFRONTATIONAL and explicitly METAL-focused KMFDM, as well as the sonic deconstruction-minded originators in THROBBING GRISTLE, INDUSTRIAL MUSIC proved to be a fruitful vehicle for a whole host of artists with varying POLITICAL, ARTISTIC and MUSICAL agendas.
for MY LIFE WITH THE HTRILL KILL KULT, that agenda seemed to be a tongue-firmly-in-cheek rhythmic exercise in RUSS MEYER-themed SEXPLOITATION cinema samples. such a pleasure agenda is more than apparent on their third release SEXPLOSION! (WAX TRAX!, 1991) with its moans of ECSTASY and SEDUCTIVE purrs. this record through tracks like "SEX ON WHEELS," "LEATHERSEX," "A MARTINI BUILT FOR 2," "SEXPLOSION," and "THE INTERNATIONAL SIN SET," seems to be a celebration of all things SEX and INSTANT GRATIFICATION. its compelling to me since my understanding previous to MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT was that INDUSTRIAL MUSIC was in essence the pursuit of a musical lexicon devoid of humanity. here the same deconstructive elements are used to provide a PHANTASMAGORIC and almost psychotically PSYCHEDELIC experience of SEXUAL GRATIFICATION devoid of an object. just the aural enjoyment of PLEASURE and ELATION as an INTELLECTUAL CONSTRUCT and organizing principle.
in other words MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT are thematically concerned with HUMAN CONNECTION, which is counterintuitive and even antithetical to the previous almost NIHILISTIC ethos of INDUSTRIAL MUSIC as i understood it. my assumption was always that these bands were concerned with exploring the outer reaches of one's social and psychic ISOLATION from society, or even from their own tenuous grip on their own sense of identity. to construct a sonic aesthetic utilizing unassociated identifiers of PHYSICAL PLEASURE is pretty INGENIOUS and signifies the potential of future HUMAN CONNECTION and even GRATIFICATION from that interaction. which is a long-winded way of saying that MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT remain such an ICONOCLASTIC band decades on in my opinion. and SEXPLOSION! is arguably the high-water mark of their career and well worth checking out, regardless of your familiarity or relative interest in INDUSTRIAL MUSIC. it is that good.
any retrospective documentary on the career of FAMED DIRECTOR QUENTIN TARANTINO in a post-HARVEY WEINSTEIN era is fraught to begin with. its this IMPENETRABLY DARK and SEEDY UNDERBELLY of the HOLLYWOOD infrastructure, that always existed, that effectively trades on SEXUAL ABUSE and ASYMMETRICAL POWER dynamics. TARANTINO was able to make UNCOMPROMISING motion pictures in part because he had WEINSTEIN and his CORROSIVE power maneuvers as his ultimate backer and imprimatur.
needless to say, it is more than DIFFICULT to look away from that LEGACY.
but the recent QT8: THE FIRST EIGHT (WOOD ENTERTAINMENT, 2019) documentary attempts to do just that, focusing on the AUTEUR approach and uncompromising vision to the humanity of his characters that made TARANTINO a first name WRITER / DIRECTOR of the same ESTEEMED echelon as MARTIN SCORSESE, ORSON WELLES, BILLY WILDER, INGMAR BERGMAN, JOHN HUSTON, PRESTON STURGES, JEAN-LUC GODARD, FEDERICO FELLINI and FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA that all came before him. attesting to such include various members of his longtime production staff and NOTABLE actors ranging from SAMUEL L JACKSON, MICHAEL MADSEN, TIM ROTH, ZOE BELL, CHRISTOPH WALTZ and KURT RUSSELL to JENNIFER JASON LEIGH, ELI ROTH, ROBERT FORSTER and LUCY LIU among others. much is made about his ability to write AUTHENTICALLY and IMAGINATIVELY from multiple perspectives with little to no filter for modern accountings of POLITICAL CORRECTNESS or the MERCURIAL whims of GOOD TASTE. his focus and objective is fidelity to the script, the characters and the choices of actors in bringing said narratives to fruition.
being the WRITER and the DIRECTOR, arguably the most INTRIGUING aspect of his scripts is his portrayal of both RACIALLY and GENDER DIVERSE characters. women feature as power brokers throughout his films, most notably JACKIE BROWN (MIRAMAX, 1997) and the KILL BILL (MIRAMAX, 2003-04) series, without much attention necessarily being attributed to such. almost as if this was a natural occurrence in his CINEMATIC UNIVERSE which is arguably the most ENLIGHTENED manner to do such. direct actions rather than FEEBLE, WELL-INTENTIONED sentiments and words about gender and RACIAL EQUALITY. same could be said about his portrayal of BLACK PEOPLE in his films. much has been said about his use of INFLAMMATORY language regarding RACE in his films, such decisions make him CONTROVERSIAL. its an INTERESTING dialogue that is continuing unabated to the present and i will admit i am unsure of where i stand on such. all i can say is that having them not employ such HARSH and UNFORGIVING language in the intense CINEMATIC SCENARIOS depicted by TARANTINO in his films would seemingly come off HALF-HEARTED and ROLLED BACK. just my opinion but i can see the validity of the other side of that argument shared by the likes of SPIKE LEE most famously.
all that being said, these first eight films in his FILMOGRAPHY will forever have the stain of WEINSTEIN on them as the audience is empowered to know the IMPOSSIBLE professional choices presented to key TARANTINO collaborators such as UMA THURMAN, ROSE MCGOWAN, ROSANNA ARQUETTE and DARYL HANNAH. either play ball with a PREDATOR or get blacklisted and watch your career drift away (dont believe me, just read any interview with SEAN YOUNG). UNFORTUNATELY for a film that was seemingly constructed to counteract the prevailing popular narrative of TARANTINO as the material beneficiary (over decades) of a professional relationship with a SERIAL SEXUAL PREDATOR whom he knew was SEXUALLY EXPLOITING his FEMALE CAST and STAFF, such is the real LEGACY of his work. he should have shielded and protected his co-workers. fought back. did something.
if this film really wants to talk LEGACY, his LEGACY will be one of SILENCE when it mattered most in real life. when he had leverage to execute change in a CORRUPT hierarchy of men. his MORAL FAILURE was in real life, not some fantasy world of his own creation. such is his ACTUAL LEGACY.
HEADS OR TALES (FANTAGRAPHICS, 2012) is a FANTASTICAL collection of INTIMATE short fiction stories by the UNCONVENTIONAL LOS ANGELES-based MULTI-DISCIPLINARY visual artist LILLI CARRE. currently instructs at CAL ARTS in EXPERIMENTAL animation department.
what i appreciate about her cartoons is their ability to evoke a passing TRANSITORY EMOTIONAL STATE, sometimes even multiple ones, at the same time. in life we are often looking for external cues to help navigate us through what is in essence an INTERNAL EXPERIENCE of being alive. her stories often populated by characters that are either OVERWHELMED or UNINHIBITED by said guideposts which allows the reader to consider what the trajectory of their own sense of IDENTITY would be like devoid of such external cues. all those small choices we make every day concerning AESTHETICS or GEOGRAPHY or people we surround ourselves with shape our lives in totality, but what if we were INDIFFERENT or not in control of such. how would our sense of SELF be affected? would it?
i think about this sort of thing all the time given that since i left SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA at age twelve ive had a pretty PERIPATETIC existence ever since, traveling to over sixty countries and living in eight over five continents. i wonder all the time how id have turned out if id never left ORANGE COUNTY as a pre-teen. would i be a DIFFERENT person? a BETTER VERSION of myself?
the work of CARRE seems to be focused on TRANSITORY expressions of IDENTITY and how one transitions from a TEMPORAL EMOTIONAL STATE to the next while maintaining a core sense of SELF. its an INTRIGUING METAPHYSICAL DYNAMIC to consider. is there a core ESSENCE to any of us or are we just reconfigured atoms in a never ending state of FLUX and TRANSITION. id argue the latter but its FUN to consider. regardless, HEADS OR TALES is well worth checking out.
with ever more ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY the line between what is IMAGINED and what is POSSIBLE has long been blurred and is starting to become entirely INDISTINGUISHABLE. as is the demarcation between GAMES and FILM and virtually any and all VISUAL CONTENT. it really is an exciting time in terms of technical development, but in essence what comes into focus is the need for a vision since these new TECHNOLOGIES are a TOOL after all.
i remember when DEER GOD started shooting promotional films for local recording artists and how the pressure seemed more about the QUALITY of the RESOLUTION rather than the QUALITY of the CONCEPT. this was FRUSTRATING to no end since it felt like the cart leading the horse with priorities being completely ASS BACKWARDS.
and that is a little bit of my frustration when watching the CORRIDOR DIGITAL youtube channel, which is a small INDEPENDENT, SELF-CONTAINED, IN-HOUSE production collective that produces SHORT-FORM content utilizing modern SOPHISTICATED GAMING ENGINES, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, COMPUTER LEARNING and MODELING SOFTWARE. in terms of the quality of the effects, the company punches well above their weight. and i must say that they are providing a RELEVANT service by providing a behind-the-scenes look at the SOFTWARE itself, no doubt engaging new filmmakers to get involved. all this is POSITIVE and should be COMMENDED, if not CELEBRATED.
the CONTENT itself is what i take issue with. most of the time i am BEFUDDLED by the concepts themselves and am constantly asking myself "why are they spending all this time and energy producing that?" it often feels like EFFECTS are made for the sake of integrating EFFECTS. what i always found COOL about SPECIAL EFFECTS, was when it is difficult to gauge when something actually is a DIGITAL or PRACTICAL EFFECT (or perhaps not a visual trick at all). that is the MAGIC of filmmaking and projecting one's dream on a film screen.
there is also their apparent OBSESSION with GUNS and VIOLENCE in film. maybe it is because the two founders SAM GORSKI and NIKO PUERINGER are from the midwest and raised on STEVEN SEAGAL and JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME films, but the theme of MINDLESS cinematic VIOLENCE with no real weight or emotion is NUMBING and seemingly RECKLESS given the demographics of their channel. i am not saying that there shouldnt be PHYSICAL ALTERCATIONS in film, but at least it could be done with some intelligence or at least recognition of the human toll involved. i understand that much of this content on their channel is usually a send-up, parody or extension of the intellectual properties found in gaming culture, but seemingly it is an unquestionable fact that AMERICAN GUN CULTURE is completely out of whack and some of this content seemingly further normalizes the instinct to solve issues with FIREARMS. or at least CELEBRATES a warped sense of MASCULINITY that wraps itself in it.
again, the TECHNICAL WIZARDRY of these guys is beyond COMMENDABLE. i just ask myself "why" all the time regarding their choice of plots and tired cinematic cliches that our culture is attempting to move past towards a more EMPATHETIC, INCLUSIVE reality and not one bogged down in TOXIC MASCULINITY.
because in essence this channel is all about dudes and their GUNS. how phallic indeed.