All posts for November 2000


Music: So Far (Faust)

The first time I read anything about Faust was from a reviewer who helplessly confessed that he couldn't come up with even a snotty put-down for the band. They were that difficult to pin down. Similarly, many other reviewers have...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2000/11/29 23:34

The first time I read anything about Faust was from a reviewer who helplessly confessed that he couldn't come up with even a snotty put-down for the band. They were that difficult to pin down. Similarly, many other reviewers have come out and tried to pigeonhole them as part of the Krautrock aggregate (Can, Amon Düül, Guru Guru, etc.), but they didn't even like that label themseves; in fact, they went so far as to mock it openly on their fourth album.

Faust's first record (pressed on transparent vinyl and inserted into a clear plastic sleeve) was a long, freeform assemblage of influences that weren't so much worn openly as swallowed whole. The second album, So Far (black record in black sleeve), isn't as shapeless, but that's not saying much—it's still one of the most indescribably interesting albums ever recorded. It's possible to pick up and put down the needle at random throughout and hear nothing but fine songwriting and playing, but if you simply let the album play all the way through, it's disorienting. Faust, more than almost any other band around, made whole records, not easily chopped-up singles.

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Tags: Krautrock


Music: Some Deaths Take Forever (Bernad Szajner)

The word "influence" gets slapped around like a red-hot badminton shuttlecock among music critics. Talking about how "important" an artist is, say some, is only because they're important to other musicians, not to people who actually listen to music. Then...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2000/11/17 23:38

The word "influence" gets slapped around like a red-hot badminton shuttlecock among music critics. Talking about how "important" an artist is, say some, is only because they're important to other musicians, not to people who actually listen to music. Then again, a good many of the people who listen to music are also musicians, so charges of elitism can cut both ways. There's also the very good chance that the influential works in question are, in fact, really good.

Bernard Szajner was one of the largely unsung pioneers of the 80s synth movement since he started his career as a technician, not a player (he helped engineer the laser light shows later used by Klaus Schulze at his concerts). His first album, here reissued on the French Spalax label, is a moody and striking mixture of progressive rock constructions and electronic-music instrumentation. It's easy to see how it's influenced a lot of people, from Michel Polnareff to Aphex Twin. The connection to the prog-rock axis is more than passive: Bernard Pagniotti (a sometime member of Magma) chips in here on a couple of tracks, and Spalax has reissued more than a few Amon Düül records in its time. You could probably argue whether Larry Fast was an influence on him or was it the other way around? … but the same set of basic sonic ideas do come into play with both musicians.

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Movie Reviews: Gemini

The doctor always wondered, idly, what was obscured by his wife’s faulty memory. Being an ex-army surgeon, and having seen the worst of the Russo-Japanese war, a trauma of the mind was hard for him to fathom. A scarred face,...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2000/11/11 11:26

The doctor always wondered, idly, what was obscured by his wife’s faulty memory. Being an ex-army surgeon, and having seen the worst of the Russo-Japanese war, a trauma of the mind was hard for him to fathom. A scarred face, a scarred body—but not a scarred soul. She’s clearly disturbed, but can’t remember why. And in the rather smothering atmosphere of his house, where he practices medicine with his ailing mother and his sullen adoptive father, there’s little chance of her feeling normal.

This is the premise for Shinya Tsukamoto’s Gemini, which loosely adapts an Edogawa Ranpo short story and turns it into a movie of remarkable power. Tsukamoto is of course the “punk” director of such techno-modern nightmares as Tetsuo the Iron Man, Tokyo Fist and Bullet Ballet. His early productions were done under the collective name of the “Man-Sized Monster Theater,” and his focus has long been on monsters in human form in the modern era. With Gemini, he plunges into the early part of Japan’s 20th century—the dawn of Japan’s modern times—and finds monsters there as well.

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Tags: Edogawa Rampo Japan Taishō / Showa movies review


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