The Turner Music Prize 2008

I was burning CDs for this guy—impoverished and starved for new sounds as this wandering stranger was when I first took him in—compiling playlist after playlist that all seemed, ironically, to contain only '60s music, when it dawned on me that he must think I suffer from a bad case of Obsessive Compulsive retro Disorder. Suddenly, I was gripped by a fear of becoming one of those people who grumble about no valid music having been made after 11:20pm on 6 December 1969.

So, beginning in 2007, I started keeping tabs on newfangled music by adding to a playlist freshly released songs whenever one caught my grubby little ears. About this time last year, I was going to send an end-of-year compilation to this hapless victim of mine, but I proved too lazy, and if other people wanted some new sounds as well, I wasn't about to send out three-CD sets every which way.

The bloke's name was Turner—and to my knowledge still is, even though he just got engaged (congrats, Dave!)—and there's a prestigious (if ludicrous) annual art award called the Turner Prize. So here you go: The first disc of my 2008 round-up of great music—my out-of-touch guide to modern sounds, all designed to impress upon some fellow music lover that I am not a crackpot!

TURNER MUSIC PRIZE 2008, Vol. 1 [.zip file]
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2008 was a p-r-e-t-t-y good year—in music. Hell, it was pretty damn great. A lot of moody noise was recorded, and on some days as I listen to the music on this first volume, I daydream that it was all to vanquish the inanity that besets our beleaguered world. Then I got a job working on the Norwegian pre-contests anticipating the international Eurovision Song Contest.

1. The Black Angels: «Mission District»
Their ’60s psychedelia/Native American drone’n’roll schtick is a tad corny, perhaps, but the Black Angels have bottom. There’s groove and balls, two qualities there's a desperate shortage of in contemporary rock’n’roll (the combination of which is even rarer). And DAMN! is that scuzzbucket fuzz bass nasty!
From Directions to See a Ghost

2. Endless Boogie: «The Manly Vibe»
I don’t know what’s going on «in the basement,» but listening to this pub blues rock gone horribly wonky, I wouldn’t go down there if I were you. (Actually, I would—and especially if I were me.) I don’t know if «Manly Vibe» refers to some sort of masculine essence or just a butt-plug. Whatever it is, I’m feeling (practically smelling) it. This is bearded, sweaty, bear music—what Kings Of Leon would sound like if they weren’t such pubescent pussies, but bald and furry and subjected instead to something David Lynch wouldn’t touch…
From Focus Level

3. The Fall: «50 Year Old Man (pt. 1)»
«I’m a 50-year-old man / What you gonna do about it?» Whoever said rock’n’roll is a young man’s game? Just because most rock’n’rollers slink off into irrelevance after a couple of albums doesn’t mean everyone has to follow the precedence set by Sirs Mick, Paul, Elton and Cliff. On this monster, rock’s foremost maverick coot, 51-year-old Mark E. Smith, slobbers and rants about the advantages of getting to that age where it only makes sense to give the whimpering ageism of obsessive mortals two crooked fingers up: «I’m a 50-year-old-man / And I like it / I’m a 50-year-old man / I’ve got a three-foot rock-hard-on». No wonder he likes it! (This track is an edited excerpt from an 11-minute-plus opus that degenerates into a banjo ditty. I thought it best to keep it short and sweet—unlike that three-foot erection.)
From Imperial Wax Solvent

4. TV On The Radio: «Halfway Home»
Hand claps! And «ba-ba-ba-ba-ba»s!
From Dear Science,

5. Goa: «Au dessus des nuages»
GLORIOUS NOISE! Everything about this track is primal. If they'd had video games back in the Stone Age, this is what they would sound like. Grit yer teeth and enjoy!
From Goa 3

6. Dan Friel: «Ghost Town (pt. 1)»
Imagine what all the pop hooks that have persecuted the populations of this planet could have sounded like with a little bit of drugged-up disco balls? Thankfully, you need strain your imagination no more; here’s a little taste.
From Ghost Town

7. Portishead: «Machine Gun»
Sadness, anger, loathing, hopelessness and a sense of foreboding; respect to those very few who aren't only able, but willing to stare down depression long enough to convey it. Portishead announced, shortly before the release of their long-awaited and hotly anticipated third album, that it would be a bit of a «fuck you» to all the chill-out muzak their insipid imitators have long since turned into a widespread genre afflicting anyone wishing to go out for a cuppa joe. This track's a destroyer, alright, merciless but righteous!
From Third

8. The Notwist: «Alphabet»
A weird rhythm and bits of noise scattered here and there, with a static, psychotic, high-pitched synth drone throughout and something that could be a skipping CD broken up with intermittent jazz drumming. These fragments and more come together to form a whole that is, inexplicably, frail and vulnerable—some kind of magic trick.
From The Devil, You + Me

9. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band: «13 Blues for Thirteen Moons»
Where to start? The tense strings? The releasing noise? The funky drumming? The sexy riff? The plaintive vocal, stretching into a hoarse indignation, the vocal cords cracking with anger to the point of silence? Upon hearing this band—the heirs to Nina Simone’s badass activist attitude—most recording artists should and surely would hang their heads in shame. «No heroes on my radio!» yells Efrim Menuck, something I’m trying to do my bit to correct by putting this piece on here—one of the foremost musical accomplishments of 2008. (No «indie rock creeps» with personal stylists and sycophantic press here, castrating the legacy of early '80s post-punk for the teenage demographic.) Q: How do you spell «relevance»? A: S-I-L-V-E-R-M-T-Z-I-O-N.
From 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons

10. Megapuss: «Sayulita»
«Dancing whore / Dirty floor…» (Could easily have been the other way around.) This song makes me want to curl up into sleep, the sound of being too tired to feel depressed gently, distantly guiding you into the weird and wonderful world of dreams, where the miracle of consciousness, and so reality, unravels and is revealed in all its unfathomable illogic, taunting the pretensions of science and rationality (if you could remember such things). And just as you no longer have any awareness of self, nor any understanding of the senseless imagery you’re not apart from, but merged with in this non-place where nothing carries meaning nor bears any consequence, you recognise just about the only intelligible words falling out of Greg Rogove’s lazily sorrowful mouth—the mutterings of someone talking in their sleep suddenly clear now, tender, and content at last, as it sings the wishful thought: «I am where I want to be…»
From Surfing

11. Larkin Grimm: «Blond and Golden Johns»
I’ve been accused of all sorts of witchcraft and told that I am a perverse and disturbing influence, and have been kicked out of churches, schools, hippie communes, and the town of Skagway, Alaska…
So says Larkin Grimm, one of those people who's All Woman. Eerily backed by Fire On Fire, «Blond and Golden Johns» may or may not be inspired by Grimm’s time spent with the prostitutes of Bangkok: «I got no hooker’s heart of gold / My hooks are sharp, my heart is cold.» Say what you will about her intensity and unconventional perspective, in a worldful of crooners passing themselves off as sensitive singer-songwriters and menstrual folk girlies dabbling with «eccentricity», how refreshing it is to hear an artist with a different vision—one who takes risks, who has an edge, who gives things a slant, who sees it her way (not yours). Finally. She has arrived. «This mouth has wrapped around something / More delicious than the songs I sing…»
From Parplar

12. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: «Hold on to Yourself»
Well, cities rust and fall to ruin
Factories close and cars go cruisin’
In and around the borders of her vision
She says, «Oh woah woah woah»
As Jesus makes the flowers grow
All around the scene of her collision

Oh, you know I would
I would hold on to yourself

It’s in the middle of the night
I try my best to chase outside
The phantoms and the ghosts and the fairy-girls
On 1001 nights like this
She mutters, «Open sesame,» and Ali Baba and his forty thieves
Launch her off the face of the world

Well, you know
One day I’ll come back
And I’ll hold on to yourself
You better hold on to yourself

Aw, babe, I’m thousand miles away
And I just don’t know what to say
’Cause Jesus only loves a man who bruises
But darling we can clearly see
It’s all life and fire and lunacy
And excuses and excuses and excuses

Well, you know if I could I would
Yeah, I would lie right down
And I’d hold on to yourself
From Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

1 comment:

  1. Noise Floor Crew's 'reimagination' of Machine Gun is even more of a destroyer. Have a listen.