Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Funkadelic album Cosmic Slop is pretty underrated. This is true partly because it's a Funkadelic album, and they're marginalized for all sorts of reasons, largely reducible to "too weird for their time." Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow is one of the all-time great album titles, and Maggot Brain gets some recognition. Cosmic Slop comes after those, as well as the fairly inconsistent America Eats Its Young. Funkadelic is also a band that kind of fell off as they went on, with their final record, The Electric Spanking Of War Babies, coming out in the eighties and being unable to avoid being marred by cheesy keyboards. So, Cosmic Slop might not look so good, coming after a double-album that's not so good, even though it's only not-so-good because it's a double album.

But Cosmic Slop is the first record with Pedro Bell album art! Awesome! And the album title is great, easily reconfigurable in my mind to form the phrase "cosmic slobs," which sums up a whole continuum of great activity and behavior, sort of like the "adventure hippies" designation that I think started off as an Andrew Earles diss and is currently being claimed by Lazy Magnet.

Maggot Brain is totally awesome, of course. But it's got a weird sequence: Spoken-word intro to a guitar solo, another freakout at the end, bookending some pop songs. All the parts are great, although I'm sort of at a loss for how they cohere as a whole, besides being of high quality.

Cosmic Slop is tighter in terms of being almost all songs: It opens with a groove, adds a chant, whatever: Mostly it is a record coming in and out of focus. Start with grooves, gets to songs, slides off. Vocals show up slowed down in deeper pitch. Vocal harmonies show up as these beams of light deep in album sides, maybe degenerated to noise in old vinyl or second-generation tape copies. Then there's more goofy spoken word. "This Broken Heart" is a version of an older song, and it's as straight-up and clear as the record gets, still weirder than the original version, and pretty much completely awesome, with it's simple stripped-down drum beat and vocals. The record might be up and down in quality on a song-to-song level, but that just keeps the groove stronger.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

I saw a little news story: Less pharmaceuticals are coming out on the market, because during the testing process, it turns out the drugs can't beat the control group placebo. Placebos, essentially, have gotten more effective, as marketing has become so prevalent that people have more faith in the idea of drugs.

Last night, I attended a lecture about radionics: Essentially a discredited form of science, which could also be considered a repressed method of alternative medicine. The lecture was interesting, touching on all manner of odd phenomena. I would point you to a wikipedia page, but that largely emphasizes the "this is not real" elements. It's worth noting that some people doing these practices have cited positive results. I'll also point to that story about the placebos, both to say "Hey, the human mind can trick itself into doing things" to explain away such positive results of radionics, and also to say "Modern medicine isn't as legit as it would like to be."

I think there's something tragic about these practices being so repressed- A great many Wilhelm Reich books have been completely destroyed. These ideas now just belong to this library of esoteric thought, uninvestigated, deplored. The idea that they were destroyed as harmful because they don't work is not satisfying. I believe last week was banned books week, and that usually applies to fiction found offensive, but those are things that have not actually been wiped from the face of the Earth.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, the music website Pitchfork is doing a top 200 albums of the decade list, building its own canon for an era over which it was sort of the dominant tastemaker. The list is as insane as their original list of the top 100 albums of the 1990s, with multiple albums by artists not really that notable. It's the multiple albums by the same artist thing that really strikes me as evidence of building an incredibly narrow hall of fame. Maybe it's absurd to think of canon-building as being akin to these other things I'm discussing, but it frequently amounts to the same thing: A discrediting of approaches in the creation of this heroic narrative written by the winners.