Oh no! Not democracy!

Whatever is the U.S. to do if the Iraqi council starts (gasp) making decisions that benefit their own country? They may have to bring back Saddam from his hidey-hole.

US sees challenge from Iraq council
Interim government pushes toward self-rule
By Stephen J. Glain and Robert Schlesinger, Globe Staff, 9/27/2003
WASHINGTON — The interim Iraqi government, set up by the United States to advise its senior administrator in Baghdad, has surprised Washington recently with a series of increasingly contentious positions as it presses for self-rule, from a push for sweeping economic changes to a move toward normalizing trade relations with Syria and Iran, countries branded by US officials as exporters of terrorism.
For the Bush administration, which is already fending off demands from allies for a swift return to Iraqi self-rule, such assertiveness by the Governing Council is a mixed blessing, analysts and diplomats say: It means democracy is evolving in Iraq, but at a pace difficult for Washington to control and not necessarily compatible with its interests.”

More actions like these would really put the BushJunta in a quandary. Iraq was supposed to be a subservient little imperial outpost, not anything like a democracy. And seeings anybody who appears to favor the U.S. leaders stands a chance of being assassinated, the council may continue to craft policy that acts against the U.S.’s self-interest. The Iraq situation has been a bloody mess. Now it’s getting interesting as well.

Camerata Pacifica: Chamber group opens with a bang

Adrian Spence likes to make it easy for critics. The director and flautist for Camerata Pacifica has not only been bringing the best of small-ensemble music to Santa Barbara for 14 years now, but his love of educating the public has been spilling out more and more into his lengthy introductions to the evening’s performances.

Though his target audience is the general public, the critic can’t help but crib notes when Mr. Spence is breaking down the structure of a string quartet or trying to explicate the wonders of discord. He’s so eminently quotable that we have to keep reminding ourselves that our job is not to quote him, but to have our own honest reactions.
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Famous Breaks

I have a love of digging up the original sources from which hip-hop and now all modern music samples from. This has especially been true since I got into Pizzicato Five, as they cut and paste everything. But let’s go back to the classics, first.
I’ve always wondered where that breakbeat comes from that has been used on everything from Erik B and Rakim’s “Paid in Full” to Milli Vanilli’s “Girl You Know It’s True”–my favorite, however, is its use in Brian Eno’s “Ali Click.” Well, with a little searching, I found out. It’s a record by the Soul Searchers from 1974 called “Ashley’s Roachclip.” The famous two seconds come in about 3.5 mins into the song. You can hear a low-quality RealAudio sample over at this one person’s Milli Vanilli site. But for the muthaload, check out These Are the Breaks, a list of ten of the most recognizable samples in hip-hop, including my all-time favorite, the Apache break. Mmm, bongo goodness!

Goleta: Where the people come to drink

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You can forget your fancy wine bars, your oh-so-trendy dance clubs, Santa Barbara — Goleta is having none of that.

If there ever was a way to show the division between the two cities, taking a look at the bar scene in Goleta reveals the utilitarian nature of this now fledgling city. This is where people come to drink, and after all, isn’t that really what a bar is all about?

This brief guide to the watering holes of Goleta and Isla Vista will give you direction when it’s decided that a trip downtown is just too far to go to slake your thirst.

Big thanks to my friend Chris, who, Virgil-like, accompanied me on my fact-finding mission, sampling the alcohol meant for me so that I may write this in my fullest capacity. Surely a man couldn’t ask for a finer sacrifice.

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Cornelius – PM

Polystar PSCR6118
2003.07.23

PM is the companion remix album to Cornelius’ “Point” and by far the worst of all his remix albums.
Having opened up the remixing challenge to any and all who came to his web site in 2002, Cornelius then collected the best of the lot and put them out here. He has said of his delight in receiving completely crazy remixes from people worldwide, none of whom have record contracts. He doesn’t mention that none of them are any good.
Maybe some of it rests in the samples he posted. Instead of full vocal lines or some serious loops, there were nothing but a few solitary drum samples, a bass note, or a single word. What could be made of it? Anything, really, but nothing that remotely resembles the album it comes from.
Worst of the remixes is “MC Cat Genius’ BomBassTic Re-bomb” by Animal Family featuring MC Cat Genius, the sort of tedious self-reflexive, self-defeating undergrad stuff that dares you to like it. No, we don’t need three minutes of you telling us how hard it is to finish your remix. Stop moaning.
The rest is chop-up ProTools-y stuff, with very little groove, just a lot of stop-start business.
Accompanying this, I also listened to some of the hard-to-find Nova Musicha e.p.s that Cornelius put out at HMVs and Tower Records in Tokyo (collect all 8, suckers). There’s a few pleasant tracks: The very brief “Star-Spangled Gayo” which reconfigures the national anthem and reveals its musical roots (very baroque), and “Search,” which is not by Cornelius I just found out but Takashi Tsuzuki, of whom I know nothing. “Search” is a collection of hiccups, bubbles, and sound bites that exists and goes away, but just by doing so has more going on than the entirety of PM.

World Standard – Le Train Musical

Polystar PSCR 5916/7
1985 (rereleased 2000)

Wow, I never expected this, it’s like Penguin Cafe Orchestra or some other more acoustic Editions EG record from the early ’80s.
I thought, being on the Non-Standard label, the music would some burpy electronica. No, this is happy little miniatures of acoustic guitar, punchy barrelhouse piano, a few minimal effects, a gong or two, and Meredith Monk-like vocals. Completely charming, working out a few simple chord progressions. Adding to the effect is the low-fi, recorded at home feel. “Music Train” is a a cheerful number with “la laaa la” vocals and a drum that reminds me of the There’s bits of Harold Budd and Saboten in here too.
Very few things date this: there’s a bell sound that comes straight out of a Yamaha, but for the most part this could have been recorded anytime. There’s nothing very “Japanese” about the group either.
I’m listening to this as I read a very long unpublished Lester Bangs interview with Brian Eno just posted on Perfect Sound Forever. And the Eno theories are coloring my experience of listening to it (of course, it helps that they are coming from some similar places). The minimalism of World Standard reminds me of some of Eno’s Music for Films pieces.
And then there’s the live track, tucked away at the end as “Ishi no hana”, where the arrangement is exactly the same as the studio version, but now the whole thing is bathed in echo (real echo, too), and the audience (sounding like about 20 people–I’m thinking it’s one of those ultra-cramped Tokyo basement clubs, full of smoke) gets processed along with everything else, their murmurings turning into a little black stream of sound. Majestic.
Bangs’ interview (it seems to be around 1981) ends with the author’s anxiety about Eno’s comfort of working with machines:

There is something just a little too comforting about this insistence that this stuff takes place totally outside of the world’s arena. Music stirs people, in one way or another; it can be used for evil purposes, it can make evil things happen. One thinks of the stories of Jews in World War II who reported finding themselves excited by Nazi songs even as they knew there were the anthems of their own destruction. Rock is a form of music, let it be admitted, particularly susceptible to the creation of mass states of pointless rage and destructiveness, although Eno’s music, if it ultimately has any social consequences at all, points in the opposite direction: towards pacification. His stance makes you sometimes wonder if he couldn’t go merrily along creating his pleasant little ambient tapes under the most totalitarian regime, which leads you to further speculate that it might have been amoral in the first place.

Of course, Eno’s outspoken essays against the Iraq invasion, his criticism of more modern technology (CD-ROMs, synthesizers and software made by programmers for programmers–not artists), have put those anxieties to rest. How threatening those analog machines must have sounded back then, how warm they sound now.
Addendum: Actually, the above description above applies to “Youthful Standard,” the 2-CD of bonus tracks and demos that came with the 2000 reissue of this album. Because of various factors, I wound up listening to it first about five times before I even put on the studio version. And I can say I like some of these demos better! The studio versions do indeed have lots of synths and are exceedingly clean and airy, and “Coconut Fruit” reminds me of the first Pizzicato Five ep. In fact, Konishi appears on tracks 1 and 4, singing chorus. The album is produced by YMO’s Harry Hosono (as was the P5 e.p.) and is a chirpy thing and good in its own way. But I’d rather put the second disc on first!