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Recent Faves from the WFMU Record Library
December 2002

Reviewed by Music/Program Director Brian Turner

VARIOUS / Shut Off your Cel Phone (No Label)
GOLAN LEVIN/ SCOTT GIBBONS/ GREGORY SHAKAR / Dialtones: A Telesymphony (Staalplaat)
People are already screaming at me for putting this into the new bin, but what a snapshot of the state of music in relation to our society and culture in 2002. As the ringing interruption of cellular telephone communication now bristles us in every avenue of our social lives: movie theaters, restaurants, etc., we now see the development of a new phenomenon. That is: people who want to project their musical tastes with their ringtones. This disc samples the myriad of available songs you can put into your celphone to delight/anger those around you: classic rock (Doors' "The End", the guitar solo in the middle of the Eagles' "Hotel California"), punk (Sham 69, the Sex Pistols), rap (Ol Dirty Bastard, NWA), and even today's modern rock (The White Stripes, Andrew WK, and Hives hits are all here, even Calexico's "Crystal Frontier" for crying out loud!!). Someone next needs to create a video documenting the facial expressions of people who surround a guy whose cel phone rings to "Deutschland Uber Allies" (also included here).
On a similar note, Dialtones: a Telesymphony documents a large-scale concert production from Austria in 2001 where composer Golan Levin (recent guest on Kenny G's show here) carefully choreographs the ringing of audience's cel phones after registering the individual numbers on a secure website (which then assigned specific seats to the participants). Initially starting off as quiet waves, the performance culminates in a roaring finale of over 200 phones, created for the intention of altering participants' perceptions of how the world shares its space with the bleeping little buggers.

VARIOUS / DJ Drank's Greatest Malt Liquor Hits (No Label)
Actually put out by a west-coast hip-hop label impresario (whom we will keep anonymous), this is the first in what we hope to be a long line of the "Hip Hop History Series". Basically, this collection features 30 tracks of musical commercial spots commissioned by St. Ides Malt Liquor in the early 90s, as produced by Alkaholiks DJ E-Swift with King Tee and DJ Pooh. Historically interesting because it reflects an ad campaign that quickly went sour when various African-American and Hispanic groups vented anger over the campaign's omnipresence in inner-cities, not to mention the overall outrage over using a medium worshipped by kids (even though rap wasn't as huge on radio as it is now) to push alcohol. Add to that Korean grocers' boycott of the brand due to some ugly anti-Korean lyrics Ice Cube had used in his music in the past (Ice Cube's St. Ides spots were pulled for a time), and it became a campaign that disappeared quickly. BUT, thanks to "DJ Drank", you get to hear some AMAZING music and rhymes, from the Geto Boys' "Malt's Playing Tricks On Me" to Kool G Rap/DJ Pooh/Sir Jinx's "Getta Grip, Take a Sip". Wow! Here's hoping for future volumes in this series.

INSTANT AUTOMATONS / Not So Deep As A Well (Waterden)
The Instant Automatons were a mere blip on the radar screen of the UK Post-punk scene that flashed and faded before the word even got out. Revolving around Mark Lancaster circa 1979-80, the Automatons revelled in being part of what was then called the "Bad Music" scene (and today would be called "lo-fi") that splattered itself all over releases on 7" and cassette from such genius labels as Fuck Off Records. Cheap synths and drum machines abound on this music, along with clattery guitar, and barked vocal that sound a bit suspiciously like Mark E. Smith (this disc's liner notes are pinned by Grant Showbiz who did Fall sleeves as well, hmmm....) railing against materialism, bad new romantic music and other concerns of the angry British youth of the day. While generally high-spirited, there are bits of Joy Division gloom (the notes point out that one song is called "Catacomb" to mimic JD's one-word song titles), but overall, the inventive miminalism here is truly charming, and even stretches itself to utilize a full Welsh choir on one track. If Tony Wilson's Factory empire was worthy of a flick, there's bound to be quite a few tales to tell in regard to the Automatons and their involvement with the Fuck Off label scene and Street Level studio.

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