Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spook Country

So far this book is nowhere near as interesting as Pattern Recognition. If P.R. and Spook Country were sisters, wait, fuck that metaphor. A book like this is only as good as it's characters, and while Cayce Polland, the protagonist from P.R. has three competitors in Spook-y, none of them really stand up. Hollis Henry, the only female protagonist and some kind of Kim Gordon wannabe, especially pales in comparison to Cayce's hyper-anonymous, dreamlike strangeness.

It's pretty lame to criticize a book i haven't completed reading, but I already feel like I can understand the Tom Clancy comparisons, which really isn't a good thing.

It's strange, because this book was really well received... Gibson has a new book coming out on September 7th called Zero History, I'm hoping I'll like it a little better (although it looks like Hollis Henry is making a comeback...)

Note: I finished this a couple weeks ago (7/9/10). It becomes less boring (and maybe I forget more about P.R.) about halfway through the book. The conclusion was somewhat underwhelming, but overall fairly interesting post-cyberpunk-that's-not-actually-cyberpunk.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Body Hammer

Info pertaining to my "band" Body Hammer:

As you might have noticed, there's been a demo of a new song up for a while. It was a demo I recorded almost immediately after I sent out the final mix of Jigoku. That was almost a year ago, and I have a handful of other demo tracks from a bit of recording I did in December/January. One of these tracks appeared in the film I co-directed with Ben Doty, Naraka (hopefully a dvd release of that this summer). These recordings were held back mainly because of the time I spent working on other compositions and finishing the two Robocop albums (the second of which is almost completed).

Now that I'm (almost) out of school for a bit I'm going to have time to record the follow up to Jigoku, tentatively titled Hara Kiri. That said, it will still probably take another six months or so to record and mix it (due to multiple jobs, and playing with Robocop). You'll probably see it sometime in early 2011. Hara Kiri will be released by The Path Less Traveled Records, the same label that released Jigoku. Nothing is finalized yet, but resources should be greatly improved this time so we'll expand the packaging and design. I'll post more info when it's available.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Japanese Cyber Punk Part 1

As mentioned in the Burst City blog, I'm posting a basic history/overview/rant about Extreme Japanese Cyberpunk. letsfuckinggo.

Tetsuo: the Genre Progenitor:

Tetsuo: The Iron Man* burst onto the scene like a drill dick through a wooden table. Or did it? Tetsuo, and it's daddy Shinya Tsukamoto, have certainly been credited with starting the genre. As with all such claims they begin to look more dubious the closer you examine them.**

Micro-Genre distinctions exist. They really do. You're a fucking asshole if you're telling me that Halloween is the same type of film as Zombi 2. (no offense). The problem is, unless we're talking about classical hollywood works, or exploitation films, there are very few films that follow genre distinctions as nerds like myself would like to impose upon them (power-violence drives me crazy for this reason, I don't even know how it's properly spelt). This being the case, the starting and ending points of Japanese Cyberpunk are very difficult to define.

The Non-Existent Protocols:
The biggest problem is the apparent lack of films distinguished as J. Cyberpunk. If you look at the wiki for it, you've got 5 that count, and only 3 different directors (one of whom is this guy... seriously), with a lot of stuff that's pretty close, but not really fitting with the undefined rules of the genre.

There is definitely an established style and feel to the films, but it's one that is hard to pin down without drawing up literal images and allowing the conversation to devolve into "it's like this and this, but also this".

It could partially be described as a very extreme hardcore to independent cinema's punk rock. It revisits older film techniques, such as stop motion, but accelerates them to a point of violence. All narrative structures appear to be done away with (ultimately this is not the case, it's that the plots are so brutally simple, and are executed in such a convoluted manner that causes them to be perceived complicated, ie tetsuo's robot fighting and morphing). All points of control (logic, the body's physical stability, progression, morality, etc.) are removed from these films. Instability is a constant, as is sensorial assault.

Other than that, the body horror/punk of David Cronenberg's work is a general influence for most of the films, as is Lynch's Eraserhead. Very little of the high technology reflected in the American style of cyberpunk is present, in fact one can detect more than a hint of anarcho-primitivism in Tsukamoto's films, for instance.

A not-so Elaborate Explanation of the Fizzling Out of a Genre That Didn't Really Exist:

So what happened to J. Cyberpunk and why haven't you heard of it? Well, once again, similarly to hardcore punk, the pioneers of this genre seem to have moved onto other things fairly quickly (Shinya Tsukamoto***) or just disappeared (Shozin Fukui). Nobody has really paid much attention to it. MTV hired Tsukamoto to do a tetsuo inspired television spot, but very little else in the way of exposure found it's way into the U.S. One missed opportunity of note was Quentin Taurentino's offer to Produce and American version of Tetsuo (tentatively titled "Flying Tetsuo").

Why should you care? Well, put simply these are some fucking intense films. There really isn't anything like this anywhere but these few flicks.

There have been a few semi J. Cyberpunk films in recent years. Save the Green Planet contained some imagery stolen directly from Shozin Fukui. Converge's latest music video looks like they spent a lot of time watching Tetsuo. I put out an album pretty obviously inspired by Japanese Cyberpunk as Body Hammer (the title of the second Tetsuo film, for those keeping score). Otherwise, the genre's deader than dead. That's probably for the best. The last thing this world needs is a hipster E.J.C. revival.

Check in over the next couple weeks for reviews of various J. Cyberpunk films.

*translation: Iron Man: The Iron Man (Tetsu is what they call Iron Maiden in Japan?)

** or more pixelated (no more attempts at humor I swear)

*** Lies!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Burst City

This is a weird one. It features some of the better Japanese punk bands from the 80s (no sightings of G.I.S.M. or Gauze, but the Stalin's here), and contains some really weird visuals that set the precedents for the Extreme Japanese Cyberpunk films that followed (The tetsuos and Shozin Fukui's film's). I'm planning on doing a larger piece on that later.

I wouldn't say I liked the film, necessarily. It's not as kinetic or original as Tetsuo, and the visual style really isn't as interesting as the later Extreme Cyberpunk, but it's pretty fucking cool to see the Stalin in a movie...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mongolian Death Worm

The name is great. The fact that it is supposed to spit acid and shoot electricity is even greater. It also sounds like a pretty great song title. I really hope this creature is discovered.

Here are some other gems about this future pet of mine:

"Sausage-like worm over half a metre (20 inches) long, and thick as a man’s arm, resembling the intestine of cattle."

"It is believed that touching any part of the worm will bring instant death, and its venom supposedly corrodes metal."

"Its colour is dark red, like blood or salami"

"...said to bear spiked projections at both ends. They are said to be thick bodied and between 2 and 5 feet long..."

Leng Tch'e

This randomly came on today, and I totally fucking realized that Naked City's Leng T'che is the first first drone doom album. Even moreso than the first Earth albums this 30 minute song has all the genre hallmarks; droning guitar, screeching feedback, drums keeping a higher tempo than all the other instruments, screaming vocals, and an encompassing dissonance. If you haven't heard it, check it out. It's certainly an underrated piece of music that definitely predates, if not defines later drone doom bands like Sunn and Ocean.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Francis Bacon

(Self Censorship in reverse)

Henry Darger

Fuck. I am not sure what to make of this. I don't want to shock and awe summarize like wiki (actually how I got most of what I've heard about him). But seriously take a look into this guy, and outsider art. I don't think I'll be able to have enough time to read his book for a very long time (it's 15,000 pages), but I really look forward to it.

It's times like this that the world seems like it still has a few interesting people left in it.

Here's a doc on homeboy.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Come to this

Robocop is not on the flyer (strike that, it's fixed), but will be playing. This looks like it will be really great. Andy from Slouchback is putting it on. They are one of the few Maine bands I think has any place making music (in case you're wondering that list includes Ocean, Eld, Waranimal, A Primitive and Savage Land and not much else).

The Satanic Rites of Dracula

I've been watching this in the spaces in between sleep. It's really the best way to watch these movies. The first time I watched Argento's Profondo Rosso, it was the same thing. Viewing films in this state creates an odd feeling that I don't think I can't describe properly without sounding like a complete fucking asshole. It's probably best explained by invoking the old cliche of dream logic. It's what I used to hope would happen when I got high, but really has nothing to do with it.

I'm actually killing the feeling the more I describe it. I could get really lame and bring up that part at the beginning of the Tao Te Ching about how definition only reveals the manifestations of concepts, but then once again, I'd be a fucking asshole. Too late you say? Yeah.

I can already feel this is going to be one of those posts I look back at and cringe.

The Information Glut has a friend in me

I made a blog a while ago that I wrote maybe two posts for and nobody read. Now I'm making another.

It's really sad, but it probably took me and hour while I was packing to come up with this title. Fuck. I laughed for all of 16 seconds before deciding this was a good idea. Too late now... Right?(no, but the real issue is the Url)What I really wanted was a sweet title like survivalist death cult, but the only name I could think of that sounded like that was "survivalist death cult".

My name is Ryan. I play in a band called Body Hammer. It's not actually a band. It's me. Making grating music. I put out an album called "Jigoku" (according to decibel because I was aping D.A., which really isn't all that true, I just name songs after obscure movies, and not in a cool hipster way, more like an endless "get the reference" kind of way {people contact me when they find them... }). It got good reviews and sold a few copies....

I also play in a band called Robocop. Like the movie. We play "powerviolence" because it's an open enough genre description.

I only mention these because I will mention them from time to time. I'm not really going to define what I'll cover because it's bound to change.