Traveling at the Speed of Thought

Ultramagnetic MCs'coming up on the A-train iPod Mini shuffle lottery more than once this morning on the way to work got me thinking about the poetics of Kool Keith. The rapping on Critical Beatdown is classic 80s dramatic formalist self-consciousness: rapping about rapping. So the degree of uniqueness in the vocabulary, and the inventiveness of the similes are the things that stand out from this self-imposed constraint. And Kool Keith is especially inventive, often coming up with "what did he just say?" head snappers. "I'm like a bird when I'm pecking your skull." It's the relationship between the predicable and unpredictable elements that cause a certain kind of energized effect. You wouldn't get anything like this if it was totally constrained or totally unpredictable.

Traveling hard, ill off, another lunatic
Smacking germs, eating bugs, biting mouse
Roaches wonder why I'm traveling
On to Bellevue because I'm sick
Traveling hard at the speed of thought


Dai Griffiths points out in his 33 1/3 book OK Computer that when the capacity of CDs was being decided by Sony in 1980, sixty minutes was first proposed as the maximum length, but Sony president (and conductor) Norio Ogha insisted that this wasn't long enough because Beethoven's Ninth symphony wouldn't fit on it, and many operas would have to be cut before the end of the first act, thus is we have 74 minute capacity CDs today.


from Simon Reynolds, Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk, 1978-1984


Exuberantly mixing informality with ineptitude, early Mekons gigs were "complete art noise chaos," recalls Burnham. "They opened for Gang of Four at our second show ever and they had a sofa onstage representing a spaceship. It had the word 'spaceship' painted on it. It was genius and hilarious."


Deliberately simple, (Vega's) lyrics risked corn and trusted in the timeless power of cliché.

Teenage Jesus and the Jerks:

James Chance was an early member of Teenage Jesus, but Lunch kicked him out for having too much contact with the audience, even if to attack them. "Don't touch those bastards, let 'em just sit there in horror!"

James Chance:

"Anyone with any semblance of a brain should know by now that it's time to forget about all this out-dated, cornball 'new/no wave' drivel," sneered Chance. "Anyone who stays on the Lower East Side will become the inevitable victim of provincial mind rot… so dislocate yourself. Get slick, move uptown and get trancin' with some superadioactive disco voodoo funk."


…with Bernie Worrell stacking multiple Moog bass tones to create the most lubriciously gloopy B-line ever heard.


Because making statements or self-expression wasn't the point, nobody was precious about the words. They were simply material to be messed around with.


Flipper stared into the abyss only to hock a lugie into it.


A confessed TV addict and lazy sod, Lydon told Sounds, "If I could get away with it I wouldn't even walk. I'd love a mobile bed. One thing I've never understood is people complaining about bed sores. That's a luxury, isn't it?"


It was almost as if Bono was consciously preparing to take on the role vacated by Curtis. According to Tony Wilson, that was pretty much the case. "Two months after Ian died U2 were brought round to my office at Granada TV by this plugger looking to break them, and I remember Bono sitting on my desk saying how incredibly sorry he was about Ian's death, how it had really hurt him… how Ian was the number one singer of his generation, and he, Bono, knew was always only ever going to be number two!" laughs Wilson. "And he said something else. Something like, "Now he's gone, I promise you I'll do it for him." Not quite that silly, but along those lines.


Kevin Killian on Rodney Koeneke.


Gary responds to Gabriel
Alan Gilbert on Lisa Robertson.


Michael Gizzi and Michael Magee making news.