The reason we're Cardiacs fans!

The place to talk about off topic, non-Cardiacs related stuff and topics that do not belong in another forum.

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Snardbafulator
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Re: The reason we're Cardiacs fans!

Postby Snardbafulator » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:46

prowler> haha wow, that was quite a bit to take in.

Ya think ? :wink: I do want to compliment you on your editing; you're doing a better job at it than I. Heh. My reflex is to leave everything in ...

prowler> obviously the very fact that the music exists and thrives (commercially, critically or whatever) makes it viable. when i say "artistically viable" i have to be referring to my personal views on art. if that's boring then so be it, i find trying to disseminate/systematise public tastes and trends more boring but i guess that's me :P

You're certainly entitled to that view, but at the very least you need to use the correct terminology. It's really not a good idea to re-define the meaning of a well-understood term like "artistically viable" on the fly and then have to explain yourself afterward. To anybody with a background in reading well-written music reviews, let alone an art education, to speak of artistic viability is to speak of something much broader than one's own opinion. It's to evaluate an artist in the context of his/her milieu. No offense meant, but it's kind of the height of pretentious wankerdom to attempt to glorify your own opinion by couching it a statement about supposed "artistic viability." You don't like it, therefore it's not artistically viable? I don't think so.

prowler> well first of all i have a problem with calling this type of complexity "progressive". it's a confusing term because it hasn't been a new idea in many decades. the whole point of it was to break boundaries, but now that they've been broken, it's time for them to move to the sidelines.

You may have a problem with it, prowler, but that's what things are called. Progressive music goes in and out of fashion, but the description "progressive" has had a stable definition in music criticism for over a century. If you read classical reviews, you'll hear, e.g. certain Beethoven string quartets, certain symphonies, described as more progressive than others. That's the way people who are educated about music talk about it. And sure, breaking boundaries is part of being progressive. But you can also walk into your college-level music theory class and drop your trousers. That'd be breaking boundaries, too -- for no good reason. The punks broke boundaries, but they weren't progressive. Breaking boundaries only takes nerve. Being progressive takes talent.

prowler> sure complexity can be interesting and fruitful, but not as a main artistic focus. that's what I mean by prog, and that's what I consider outdated.

Well this is certainly a debate, with no true right or wrong answer. I'm an advocate for the progressive in music because I think that gives us more of what we listen to music for. But there's another side that sees music differently and questions whether something essentially cathartic or tension-resolving like music needs to require so much mental energy. If you're going to take this side, bear in mind that it becomes harder for you to obect to artists for being "mere entertainers," because this side acknowledges "brainless" entertainment as a positive human good.

Also please understand that you are not entitled to "consider" that complexity in music is outdated, because the issue of whether or not being progressive is fashionable is not a matter of opinion. While that notion became conventional wisdom during the rise of punk rock and was objectively true for several decades, right now progressiveness appears to be coming back into fashion. It seems that every band we Nesters discuss in Cardiacs Alike gets points for being proggy -- and not just by freakazoids like yours truly, but by the overwhelming consensus of Cardiacs fans.

prowler> thanks for the history lesson (not being facetious here.. or maybe just a bit :P )

No problem with facetiousness. I know how overbearing I can be sometimes :axe:

prowler> i'm 25.

I'm 51. It's a pleasure having this conversation.

prowler> i have listened to and enjoyed trout mask replica, and i think it's a product of its time. you may be right about the cause of the prog giant's calcification, i won't argue that. but given prog's bankrupt (and i mean artistically) state circa '77, why not murder it and make room for something else?

For several reasons, as I've tried to set forth a couple times. Okay, let's try it from a different angle this time: Imagine that the economy didn't go bad in the late 70s. Imagine that the money kept rolling in and the record labels got even more indulgently supportive of their prog artists. Instead of selling out with a record industry gun to their heads, odds are most progsters would have gone the way of Yes's Tales of Topographic Oceans: ever-more obscure, ever-more self-indulgent.

If that were the case, I'd agree with you wholeheartedly. It'd be like Baroque, which became ever-more ornamented and complex, finally collapsing of its own Rococco weight into the clean geometry of Classical (i.e., straight-ahead punk / New Wave guitar rock). And I understand where you're coming from because this is half-true -- but half true in a (to me) tragic sense. The big acts of progrock had big record contracts and had gotten used to fat advances, lots of studio time to perfect their big, quasi-experimental ideas. The were told sorry guys, party's over. We pay you to make music, and now you're going to have to justify what we fork over exactly like every other act on our rosters. You're not special anymore. The moment of youth culture aristocracy has passed. You're entertainers first, artists only as an afterthought. So get cracking on your new albums, and move X amount of units by such-and-such a date or consider your contracts cancelled.

The albums the prog establisment put out in the late 70s are not only betrayals of progrock, but they're all uniformly bad, unmemorable, uninspired. Their hearts weren't in it anymore (check out the lyrics on Gentle Giant's The Missing Piece). This gave immediate fuel to the punks and their supporters in the press who hardly needed a reason to dislike prog to begin with. And so thus arose the conventional wisdom that progressive rock had become "artistically bankrupt."

prowler> obviously the 80s mainstream was mostly dire musically, but there was lots of awesome music being made underground that maybe hadn't existed had prog still been king.

There's a reason that the 80s were an extremely lame decade for mainstream music and the 60s and 70s were not, prowler, and the reason is the available cash of the record industry. The entire dynamics of the music industry changed and many artists simply gave up on the mainstream because they had no choice. So, absolutely, you had this incredibly vibrant underground scene, but you can't compare it to the 70s, because the underground then wasn't so essential for survival. Some of this was quite salubrious -- the whole DIY ethic emerged. It put artists in charge of their output through the emergence of truly independent labels, while dismantling the myth that making music could lead to overnight riches. And you're correct that this wouldn't have happened with major labels sloshing buckets of money around for artists who had to sign in blood for it. But if anything, the popularity of progrock and the examples of weirdo 30-second superstars like Captain Beefheart were the positive result of these deals with the devil and helped inspire countless future creators, not least Tim Smith and Cardiacs. -- but don't forget who the devil was.

Snardbafulator>> Of course not. But it does have something to do with being progressive. [...] These are not problems that blues rock bands need to wrestle with.

prowler> again, just because they're more difficult problems doesn't make them more valid or interesting.

Actually, this whole section involved a central point of our entire conversation and I'm sorry I didn't put it as directly as I probably should have. We were talking about the difference between being musically progressive vs. the so-called genre of "prog," and using neo-prog Genesis sound-alike bands as the example. So I'll state directly that I don't think any band that slavishly copies any style of music deserves to be called progressive -- even if they're modeling themselves on a band that defined progressive rock like Genesis. And that's what makes "progrock" a different sort of style label than, say, blues rock. This is probably a heated argument I'd have with the editors of ProgArchives, but that's okay. Progressive is as progressive does, and that's why I'm a fan.

prowler> I've heard the evil-phil-destroying-genesis theory many times and i don't buy it. i think it's presumptuous to think phil had so much power within the band. mike and tony (especially tony, who despite being so musically gifted failed to succeed as a solo act himself) are equally to blame over genesis' change of direction.

:lol: That's perfectly valid and probably true -- I was really just enjoying yanking yer crank a little bit :razz: I was thinking of the Southpark episode where Phil Collins tries to corrupt the leader of the "TimMMEH!" death metal band :twisted: But make no mistake -- I do sincerely believe Phil is the Antichrist. I was a huge Genesis fan in highschool, even managed to appreciate Trick and Wuthering, and then my sis gave me Seconds Out for Crimbo. Phil anally rapes the spirit of "Supper's Ready" and "I Know What I Like (in Your Wardrobe)" with a blunt, splintery stick.

prowler> what, where did i diss free jazz? i agree with that statement and i love free jazz and improvisation beyond jazz.

Prowler, my brotha. Two threads ago you were talking about "dead genres" like blues and "arguably jazz." I wrote one sentence back: "my goodness, jazz is not a 'dead genre,'" and you responded last thread with a paragraph about how you find both "academic" and "smooth jazz" as lifeless as can be imagined, and then you asserted that jazz reached "the end of its evolution" with free jazz.

Perhaps this is not what you meant, but you sure can't blame me for misinterpreting you.

prowler> well ok, but that's because RIO as a movement wasn't musically explicit. you could say they, purely musically, had as little against punk as they had against prog. with the actual music it's debatable from case to case, and I stand my ground that UZ was essentially different from stuff like Yes and Genesis.

Sure. We really aren't disagreeing. And even if RIO was reacting directly against late 70s progrock, that's completely understandable as well, because the fans were reacting against late 70s progrock because late 70s progrock blows the proverbial goat. I'll just point out that Canterbury rock -- an important precursor to RIO -- was also essentially different from the TRO-Total prog axis on Atlantic Records and got a certain amount of critical praise for being so at the time.

prowler> have you read 'American Psycho' ? i think it's got the best possible defense of phil-genesis. of course i don't fully agree with all the musical judgments, but Patrick Bateman's reviews have the perfect attitude towards that music. so i don't think i ought to match your verve :D

There isn't an emoticon that would capture the way I'm chuckling inside right now. No, I've not read American Psycho but I have seen the movie. And that scene is not only quietly hysterical, but I think it's a central part at least of the screenplay because it so perfectly illustrates his modus operandi. Lemme 'splain: Patrick Bateman, you doubtless recall, is a sociopath. While he's giving his little musical talks he's also planning grievous bodily harm to his listeners. He can hold these two vastly disparate things in his mind simultaneously because sociopaths are often otherwise normal, even high-functioning, successful people, save that they have no conscience. Bateman is a Wall Street wheeler-dealer who's quite adept at running the BS and telling people exactly what he knows they'd like to hear. That's the secret of his success with women, his social circle and his colleagues at work. At the moment he's with someone, he becomes like a perfect mirror -- as all the while his highly brilliant mind is off somewhere else -- usually a dark and anti-social place.

I don't know how Brett Easton Ellis framed these "reviews" in the book, whether they were little set-piece asides or what. But in the movie, they occur in interactions with people. And the first thing you notice about them is that his eyes light up (Christian Bale did a brilliant job) and for the first time it appears like he's talking about something that he actually cares about. The whole movie is framed like a long existential crisis; even at the resolution we're unsure of whether all the horrble gristly serial killings he actually committed or whether they were only fantasies he scribbled down in his notebook that his secretary discovers. Prior to the climax when he starts unravelling, every word he utters to people, even the voiceover interior monologue, appears entirely tactical, at a remove, designed to elicit a particular response. But here, talking about the brilliance of Phil Collins and Whitney Houston, he appears genuine.

The next thing that you (I think are supposed to) notice is that what he is saying is completely and totally fatuous. It's empty magazine-speak, something you might have heard on Oprah or talk radio, the very essence of conventional wisdom. But he says it with deep and passionate authority, as if he took it somehow personally that Genesis was lost in pretentious art-rock before Phil took charge and reinvented the band. And he wants the people he's playing the music for to really get it the way he does, that it would somehow spiritually uplift them -- even as he's simultaneously plotting to chop off their heads with a Sterling-plated designer-catalogue axe.

As I say, these scenes are quietly hysterical. I think they're designed to really wallop home just how completely empty and lost Bateman is inside -- his life's passion is secondhand Oprah-speak on the greatness of Phil Collins and Whitney Houston. Which is of course a nice subversive slam on the artists in question. It's also a sly social commentary on how, when influential and powerful people like a Patrick Bateman lean into you to impart some wisdom they honestly think you should know, you might want to pause for a sec and contemplate just how much of your best interests they truly have in mind. Yep, prowler, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Brett Easton Ellis was a not-so-closet Peter Gabriel man :D

prowler> again you're overreacting a bit. my dismissal of jazz wasn't broad, i specifically named what sides of it i find lifeless.

I "overreact" a lot for effect (and take nothing in cyberspace personally), but I think you need to exercise that scrollin' finger o' yourn and have a squint at what it is you actually wrote.

prowler> i'll gladly concede that, by that definition, cardiacs are progressive. and hey, so would be miles davis. i think it's a boring and arbitrary way to define things - cardiacs and miles are not primarily prog, they used advanced harmonies and structures as part of their expression. the complexity isn't the main focus, and that (+ the outdatedness of romantic fairy-tale music) has been my point all along.

You're entirely welcome, of course, to choose to focus on whatever aspects of music you personally find relevent. Tim himself spent a lot of time in interviews downplaying the prog connection (although not prog music itself, which he admires) and saying that "it's all tunes, innit." It doesn't change what's objectively in the music, and that's the particular focus I choose.

As for "romantic fairy-tale music," I'm tempted at first glance to simply agree with you and let it go. But I also know that one person's romantic fairy tale can be another's horrific ghost story. All good art, let alone the great stuff, is charged in one way or another with evoking and hopefully capturing the imagination. I think it's nothing but a good thing that music is capable of evoking whatever kind of inner movies (romantic or entirely otherwise) people choose to fancy.

Happy holidays, bro. I really enjoy the opportunity to write these threads afford me.

Bob
Deconstructing conventional wisdom since the birth of punk

2112
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Re: The reason we're Cardiacs fans!

Postby 2112 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 15:23

Snardbafulator wrote:This is a great thread, prowler. Thanks muchly.
I've never heard Marillion but I'm sure I'd loathe them from the first ginormous Mellotron chord. Progrock isn't a "style" to begin with, so when you try to calcify it into one you defeat the purpose in a way you never would with blues.


Well for starters I don't think Marillion ever used a Mellatron except maybe in their pre-recording deal days some 30odd years ago.

Secondly, Marillion have been trying to shake a tag that the music press have pinned on them since day one which bears no relation to where the band have been for some decades now, i.e. a "a prog-rock band that sing about goblins" (to quote whatever orifice Jonathan Ross excreted that one from).

Sure, there are elements of what one could consider "prog" just as there are in Cardaics, but then there's other influences in both bands music across the whole range of styles, but for some reason its the "prog" on that always seems to stick - after all using a drum machine doesn't make a band "dance" does it?

While I'm a newly converted fan to Cardaics (after seeing them 28 years ago mind) I'd wager there's a lot of - albeit non musical - similarities between them and Marillion, i.e. ignored misunderstood by the music press or treated with hostility, marginalised by the mainstream, musically diverse bands that refuse to fit neatly arranged labels, loyal fan following who have equally eclectic musical tastes rather than being fans of one genre of another.

And I'll tell you what - there's an awful lot of long-time Marillion fans who remember Cardiacs with a lot of affection and respect. I often wonder whether time has filtered out the musically intolerant element who even rejected the band for not doing the same old shtick over and over again.

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Re: The reason we're Cardiacs fans!

Postby Fugazi » Tue Mar 13, 2012 20:19

2112 wrote :
And I'll tell you what - there's an awful lot of long-time Marillion fans who remember Cardiacs with a lot of affection and respect. I often wonder whether time has filtered out the musically intolerant element who even rejected the band for not doing the same old shtick over and over again.


Several good points, well made. I know of a few "fans" who drifted away in the early 90's (Holidays In Eden was generally held to blame). If only they'd waited for Brave...

As a litmus test I'll wear a Cardiacs shirt to the next Marillion convention :) I'm always pleasantly surprised by the breadth, diversity and sometimes downright oddness ;) of the fans musical tastes.

cheers

Steve

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Re: The reason we're Cardiacs fans!

Postby 2112 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 16:01

We had Jon Otway at one of the conventions - a lot of people "got" him, a far few walked out, it was their loss!

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Re: The reason we're Cardiacs fans!

Postby Fugazi » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:34

Yes, I remember it well, including the complainers. I chatted to him later that evening, and told him we has a "legend, but only underground", which tickled him :D I actually ended up seeing Otway three times that year :D

He certainly made an interesting contrast to the equally excellent Martin Grech.

cheers

Steve

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Re: The reason we're Cardiacs fans!

Postby 2112 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 13:53

It was the 2002 convention that introduced me to Aziz Ibrahim and his wonderful "Lahore to Longsite" album. I managed a chat with him and said the title track was how Rush would have sounded had they come from Pakistan - he laughed at that one!

Nice guy, ridiculously talented musician.

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Re: The reason we're Cardiacs fans!

Postby Fugazi » Tue Mar 12, 2013 00:57

Fugazi wrote:
As a litmus test I'll wear a Cardiacs shirt to the next Marillion convention :) I'm always pleasantly surprised by the breadth, diversity and sometimes downright oddness ;) of the fans musical tastes.

cheers

Steve


Which said weekend I've just got back from, I wore a LMAAH t-shirt on Friday night and within 30 seconds of walking into the concert venue tent thing a guy came up to me and said something along the lines of "Cardiacs - brilliant! I just found my old LMAAH t-shirt the other day". :D

And I had a chat with Mark Kelly who said nice things about Cardiacs, talked about that tour in 1984 and enquired after Timmy's health :)

cheers

Steve