1. “LFO’s Mark Bell: 10 essential tracks.” The electronic-music producer, who died last week, was an innovator of electronic sound, from his huge influence on the early club scene to Radiohead remixes and groundbreaking collaborations with Björk.
“Mark Bell was an electronic-music innovator throughout his career, which was tragically cut short last week. Riding the wave of the early-90s dance-music revolution, the Leeds-born Bell and longtime friend and partner Gez Varley defined the northern English ’bleep’ techno sound found in LFO’s music—especially on the group’s bass-heavy self-titled hit. Along the way they helped put Sheffield’s Warp Records (home to Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada and countless others) on the map, and remixed Radiohead, Sabres of Paradise and their hip-hop heroes Afrika Baambaataa & Soulsonic Force. When Varley left the group in 1996, Bell maintained a solo career as a respected underground techno producer. In 1997, his transformative work on Björk’s epochal Homogenic album brought him into the pop sphere and established a long-running and fruitful partnership. Other collaborations followed, most notably with Depeche Mode, as well as movie soundtracks and more acclaimed productions under the LFO guise. The shock of Bell’s death casts a sudden light on a considerable discography, which was marked by adventurism and a consistently recognisable approach to funk-infused, melodic, wonderfully bleepy electronica. His best productions put him in a league with better-known peers like Andrew Weatherall and Aphex Twin. Here are 10 of them.”
2. “Iggy Pop takes aim at YouTube and U2 in John Peel Lecture.” Rock legend Iggy Pop has given his backing to independent record labels in a royalties dispute with YouTube.
“In June, YouTube threatened to block videos by acts signed to indie labels after they refused to sign a new deal. Pop, delivering BBC 6 Music’s John Peel Lecture at the Radio Festival in Salford, said YouTube was ’trying to put the squeeze’ on indies. In a wide-ranging speech, he also took aim at U2, BitTorrent, Megaupload and fans who do not pay for music. The annual speech, named after the former BBC Radio 1 DJ, has previously been delivered by The Who’s Pete Townshend, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church. Iggy Pop, who is known as ’the Godfather of punk’ for his raw rock songs and raucous live shows, praised independent labels as some of the music industry’s ’good guys’. Indie labels look after acts including Adele, Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead, but have not yet signed a new agreement with YouTube over payment for their music. The three major record labels have all agreed terms with the site. In July, more than 750 independent music labels worldwide formed a pact to seek fair treatment from streaming services.”
3. “What Whiplash Gets Wrong About Genius, Work, and the Charlie Parker Myth.” Slate’s Forrest Wickman is one of few people calling bullshit on Damien Chazelle’s film.
“The real story of the cymbal, at least as it’s been told over and over again in biographies and in the press—most famously in Ross Russell’s 1973 Bird Lives!—reveals how Whiplash distorts the Parker legend to fit its twisted premise. Jones didn’t throw the cymbal at Parker’s head. He threw it at the floor around his feet, ’gonging’ him off. In other words, it was not an episode of physical abuse. Perhaps more importantly, according to the usual Parker lore, he wasn’t so much following the charts as flying off them, modulating into unusual keys, and demonstrating the kind of daring improvisation that would revolutionize the art form (though many versions of the story do say that he eventually lost his key). The humiliation of Jones’ gesture did help motivate Parker to keep practicing, but creative genius is more than discipline and how-fast-can-you-play athleticism. There would always be older players, like Louis Armstrong, who wished he would stick to more traditional playing.”
4. “If the 1% stifles New York’s creative talent, I’m out of here.” Rampant inequality is squeezing out the artistic genius that made New York such a vibrant cultural capital. We can’t let that happen, says David Byrne.
“Some folks believe that hardship breeds artistic creativity. I don’t buy it. One can put up with poverty for a while when one is young, but it will inevitably wear a person down. I don’t romanticize the bad old days. I find the drop in crime over the last couple of decades refreshing. Manhattan and Brooklyn, those vibrant playgrounds, are way less scary than they were when I moved here. I have no illusions that there was a connection between that city on its knees and a flourishing of creativity; I don’t believe that crime, danger and poverty make for good art. That’s bullshit. But I also don’t believe that the drop in crime means the city has to be more exclusively for those who have money. Increases in the quality of life should be for all, not just a few.”
5. “Fighting the Nazis with Celluloid.” J. Hoberman on Fritz Lang’s Hangmen Must [sic] Die! and Man Hunt.
“[Bertolt] Brecht evidently intended to use the incident to celebrate proletarian solidarity and popular resistance to Nazi occupation. Traces remain in the scenes where members of the partisan cell responsible for dispatching [Reinhard Heydrich] Heydrich discuss their thinking, and particularly in the composition of the heroic anthem by a humble worker. Brecht also evidently wrote a scene dramatizing the specific persecution of Czech Jews that was excised by Lang (although you can glimpse a character wearing the mandated Jewish star), as was another that criticized anti-Semitism among the partisans. Lang, who had something more lurid in mind, brought on a second writer, John Wexley, also a Communist, to revise Brecht’s script (and purloin his primary credit). The openly gay actor Hans von Twardowski (another émigré, the second victim in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) was cast as the briefly seen Heydrich, mincing, smirking, wearing lipstick and screaming in both senses of the word.”
Video of the Day: Terror!, a 2007 tribute to the horror genre by Ben Rivers:
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