Wednesday January 26 2022
Time Is Away is back with their second John Berger episode for NTS, “Pig Earth.” From their description: “In 1974, John Berger moved to the remote peasant community of Quincy in the Haute-Savoie. There he worked in the fields and immersed himself in village life. These experiences formed the basis of Pig Earth, a book and documentary film made in collaboration with Jean Mohr and Mike Dibb. This programme uses Pig Earth to take a peasant’s-eye view of rapid social, economic and environmental change in the early 1980s.”
Bono and The Edge recently appeared on a podcast called “Awards Chatter,” and Bono said he was embarrassed by U2’s name and most of his singing. It’s an hour-long show, maybe not something you think you need. I didn’t, and I almost stopped after the host read out what felt like three full Wiki pages of Rolling Stone rankings. (35th best songwriting pair, etc.) Paul Hewson and David Evans are gracious and not all jaded, and I found myself remembering when there wasn’t anything embarrassing about U2 at all. I feel like Bono has maybe internalized some of the mockery people have engaged in fairly regularly for the last twenty years.
I am one of those mockers, or was when I wrote this post about U2 for the The New Yorker in 2014. They snuck that album onto everybody’s laptop and I had to do something. I chose to compare Songs of Innocence to the Beyoncé album that had dropped without warning a week or so before, a move that wasn’t that common eight years ago. Obvious (one thought) comedy, the post enraged many of their fans, including Adam Scott of Party Down, who tweeted at me. I think he said he was disappointed. I found it touching and felt bad for engaging in easy dunks.
Because U2, until some point in the late ‘80s, was not a mockery. I stayed out overnight to get tickets in 1984, for a show in Worcester. When I listen to “Gamera,” by Tortoise, released in 1995, I hear more than a little of “Wire,” from The Unforgettable Fire, or maybe François K.’s “Celtic Dub Mix” of that same song. I don’t necessarily think Tortoise (hi, guys) was thinking of U2 at all when they wrote that song. But a stately unfolding and certain kinds of soft guitar feedback became commonplace in bands after U2, and because of U2. I don’t know where it went south. I liked Bono’s big emotionalism and hammy go-for-it commitment. I think rave ruined them. They looked down somewhere around Pop and Zooropa and maybe began being embarrassed by themselves before we did.
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François Bonnet & Eleonore Huisse made this short film about Éliane Radigue a few years ago. It’s a magical half hour and it’s only up for a few more days without a paywall. I’m writing a long piece for Artforum about Radigue. Watch it, and the rest of the year will make sense. Radigue’s music will heal you. I could have said that in a more magisterial and sophisticated way but it would have been less true.
Last October, Objekt played an all-night set at Nowadays. He broke the nine-hour set into four parts and posted it on his SoundCloud (and made it downloadable). I don’t think I can characterize this much music beyond saying it is a “dance” set. Within that, there is variety and flow. It would, for example, not be unfair to say that the first hour is just a warm-up. It’s a great workday backdrop, the whole lot.
Check out Noz’s best rap of 2012 list (no descriptions, just a list) or listen to the full YouTube playlist of all 100 songs. It bent my mind to hear Nicki Minaj doing “Stupid Hoes,” a template for TikTok nine years ahead of the game. There are a dozen moments of acute relearning, with Armstrong and G Herbo and Chinx and so on and so on. There’s an early Kendrick track that goes so psychedelically hard it was like I’d never heard him.
What is the best Irish kung fu movie? Maybe this one. What was the best live music show? Maybe The Tube, which only ran for a year (1982) on Channel 4 in Britain. The whole thing is up now—for how long, who can say? What is the most relaxing 80 minutes on YouTube? This interview with a Vermont farmer, forwarded by Nick of The Relentless Picnic.