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It must be a trend !

snej recently snagged a Múm CD, and now I too am feeling the pull; and there's an article, "Electronica's Trip to the Country," in Slate that gathers recent strands from Radiohead's and Bjork's work and gives it a name. This is a very informative article but I do have my quibbles (of course).

For one thing, although Marzorati's comparison of Boards of Canada with Eno's Another Green World album is spot-on, I don't know if it evokes any kind of pastoral feel, at least in me. The rounded melodies that poke through the general murk, and the nearly-wobbly vibrato/wow that are applied to many of the sounds are a recreation of soundtracks to the kinds of nature and science films that a lot of us watched on TV or in school in the 70s, so, to be precise, we are at most looking though another glass at anything pastoral; this is really a evocation of a perception, not actually "nature" itself. On the other hand, since the whole idea of pastoral music as a reaction to artifice is itself artifice, I guess it's just as "real" as the real thing.

Right now I'm listening to Country Gazette by World Standard, which is a yet another worthwhile project of Haruomi Hosono, ex-YMOer who ought to be recognized as probably the most talented of that seminal group, especially if you compare his post-YMO output to that of Ryuichi Sakamoto. He has explored various styles from extremely "produced" sounding synthpop to funk, "difficult" electronic music, ambient dub, and, yes, "pastoral" music especially influenced by John Fahey.

While Fahey has become a touchstone for the American indie scene since the mid-90s (notably for Jim O'Rourke and Cul de Sac, who have covered his songs and even made an album with him), Hosono's first World Standard album was made in 1985. The first album, which I found as a 2CD reissue entitled Lé Train Musical, was deceptively labelled by the record store as "Hosono techno." It combines the Fahey influence in a song-oriented pop mode with some vocals that also draws on Japanese folk styles, including, I suspect, Okinawan. I prefer the less-polished demos on the second disc, but as a whole it's still very interesting.

1998's Country Gazette is less song-oriented, more American-sounding in its use of acoustic guitars, and drags in dub as an influence; the only vocals (so to speak) are to be found on a bizarre cover of Hank Williams' "Cowboys Don't Cry." I find its mix of beauty and spacious sound to be really winning combination.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
angelofrepose
May. 29th, 2002 08:47 am (UTC)
mum. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

that is all.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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