The Null Device
Posts matching tags '2002'
In under 4 hours, 2002 will be over. It was a mixed year; on one level, things were still going to shit. The belle epoque of the 1990s, which we didn't recognise as such of course, is still over; in its place, an age of recession, random terrorist attacks and perpetual war. The world is still sliding closer to World War 3 proper, with the Iraq invasion still on track, and creepy neo-Stalinist cult-state North Korea making the most of this opportunity to build up its doomsday arsenal (and possibly open up a second front). The economy is still fucked (other than Lockheed and such, of course, who can only keep going from strength to strength). We now all know what the good burghers of Tel Aviv must feel like wondering whether the person next to you on the bus is a suicide bomber. George W. Bush is still the most popular president in US history, and this was borne out in Congressional elections, where Republicans swept to victory. That ol' Bush magic is rubbing off on his regional deputy in Australia, with the formerly much derided reactionary PM now seen as a Great Wartime Leader. Total end-to-end copy-denial mechanisms are well on their way to appear in all PCs and anything capable of receiving copyrighted signals, further stomping on our rights in the name of our corporate masters. Global warming is still here, and still being ignored. Brunswick St. is like Chapel St. only less authentic. Things look like they could get a lot worse before they get better.
(OTOH, there are signs of hope. The Greens have made big gains in elections in Australia, and if they keep it up, they'll actually end up winning some seats outside of the Senate. We still don't have suicide bombers blowing themselves up in crowds or on buses in Australia. And there is the chance that things may not quite go to hell, and that if nothing else happens, the world may snap out of it and things may in fact start to get better. Well, we can hope.)
On a personal level, 2002 was an eventful year. A lot of things happened. The big one was, of course, going to the UK in October, which was a profoundly perspective-changing experience. (There's nothing like travel to shake you out of the relaxed and comfortable complacency that grows on you like a crust if you live in one place for too long; but more about that later.) Other than going to the UK, I also bought a proper digital camera, entered an art exhibition, and saw a lot of great live music (including Morrissey and New Order). So, all in all, it wasn't too bad a year.
See you in 2003.
4 1/2 hours remaining: Favourite CDs of 2002:
- Club 8, Spring Came Rain Fell. Very nice indie-pop from Sweden, with just enough electronica.
- Victor Lancaster, Mr. Mention Yes, the guy who plays the plastic bucket drums in Melbourne. And, with the attention of local remixers, this disc is better than you'd expect.
- New Order, Here To Stay (single). New Order back in fine form.
- Ninetynine, The Process. Their best album so far; quirky, sophisticated and with all the energy of their live sets.
- Parsley Sound, Platonic Rate (single). Very laid-back and mellow.
- Stereolab, Sound-Dust. It's Stereolab. Naught More Terrific Than Man is probably my favourite cut.
- Various Artists, Can't Stop It! Australian Post-Punk 1978-1982. Contains a wealth of stuff from proto-synthpop to Dadaist noise to jangly guitar-pop.
Honourable mentions: Sigur Rós, (), Letraset, Snowy Room, Architecture in Helsinki, Like a Call (single) (especially Jeremy Dower's remix), Qua, Forgetabout (the title track is great, though much of the rest is a bit too generically laptop for my tastes), Season, 2,551,446 seconds, Pipas, A Cat Escaped, The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
CDs I meant to get but didn't manage in time for this list: Happy Supply, Crucial Cuts, GY!BE, Yanqui U.X.O., Ivy, Guestroom, some local spoken-word/electronica thing titled Every Third Breath.
Older CDs I listened to a lot in 2002:
- Belle & Sebastian, The Boy With The Arab Strap
- The Field Mice, Where'd You Learn To Kiss That Way (yes, again; I just can't leave it alone, honestly I cannot...)
- FourPlay, The Joy Of
- Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions, Bavarian Fruit Bread. Very nice.
- Lush, Split.
- Mogwai, My Father My King. Intense, immersive noise.
- Radiohead, OK Computer, and I Could Be Wrong
- Slowdive, Pygmalion. I travelled a bit, and it made excellent music for journeys.
- The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead. This is becoming my favourite Smiths album.
A piece from the Grauniad kvetching about the state of pop music in 2002, for the most part dismal:
While R&B forged ahead, dance music appeared to turn up its toes. No wonder: the dreary trance singles that struggled to make the top 30 were indistinguishable from those that topped the charts five years ago. There are people who dress up in doublet and hose and play the lute who have a more progressive musical attitude than your average superstar DJ, who these days looks less like a vibrant youth culture figurehead than a Soviet propagandist's notion of a capitalist oppressor: fat, moneyed - the only thing missing is the top hat and monocle.
The time is nigh upon us for the obligatory "top 10 albums of the year" lists (Graham already has his, for example). I'm not going to post my best CDs of 2002 just yet (for one, I'm still not through with all of this year's releases, and am still awaiting a particular consignment from Twee Kitten); however, I am going to do something related, that is, look at the lists for 2001 I wrote up a year ago, here and here, and see how they hold up a year later; which of my picks of the year have stood the test of time, which have fallen by the wayside, and which discs have emerged subsequently as favourites of that particular year. So please allow me this exercise in self-indulgent omphaloskepsis.
Firstly, the RAN list:
- New Buffalo, About Last Night. I'm still rather fond of this quirky little EP, though haven't listened to it much lately. (Apparently, Sally's off in LA recording an album with EMI/Capitol money. Hopefully they won't turn her into Danielle Spencer or Geri Halliwell or some generic pretty girl singer, though history doesn't give one many reasons to be optimistic.)
- Lush, Ciao! Best Of. Haven't listened to it, but have since then picked up the entire Lush back catalogue, plus some unreleased MP3s. Split and Lovelife still get played every so and so (in fact, I'm listening ti Split right now, and it was one of the discs I burned to CD-R and took to London with me.) As such, Ciao! has done its work admirably.
- Radiohead, Amnesiac. Still gets played every now and then; though of the Radiohead back-catalogue, OK Computer gets the most play around here.
- Spearmint, A Different Lifetime. Since last year, I've picked up their previous 3 discs as well. A Different Lifetime and its more baggy-oriented predecessor A Week Away would be my favourites.
- Black Box Recorder, Worst Of. Gleefully sardonic, and some of their best work (funny how B-sides sometimes tend to be that way).
- Prop, Small Craft Rough Sea. This CD still rocks. Groovy, cooler than cool and yet with powerful momentum.
- Radiohead, I Might Be Wrong Live Recordings. Haven't listened to this much over the past six months or so, though I prefer the version of Like Spinning Plates to the Amnesiac one.
(Of the honourable mentions, I've listened to the Angels of the Universe soundtrack and the Sealifepark album since. The Zero 7 album sort of got shelved, as I really only liked one track of it. Jan Jelinek's Loop Finding Jazz Records suffered a similar fate, having failed to hold my interest with its ultimately less than satisfying combination of deep-house-like rhythms and chords and Max/MSP laptop glitchery; and TISM's De Rigeurmortis lasted about one and a half listens. Oh, and as for the Field Mice best-of, that's still one of my favourites and is usually not far from the CD player.)
And now for the unsung favourites; the CDs that didn't make the list, but ended up redeeming themselves after further listening:
- A Silver Mt. Zion, He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts Of Light Sometimes Grace The Corner Of Our Rooms. Bleak, desolate, existentially despondent, and beautiful.
- Models, Melbourne: Their early tracks. The whole thing didn't grab me, but Party Girls and Atlantic Romantic are pretty cool.
- Mogwai, My Father My King: a 20-or-so minute wall of intense, immersive noise. Put it on, turn it up, and feel it engulf you. It's all good.
- Vivian Girls, The, The Vivian Girls: like a slice of dimly-lit early-80s post-punk claustrophobia; it's great, especially Black Chair In A Black Room. (To be fair, it probably slipped the list because it was released in 2000, but I think it still rates a mention.)
So there it is. Watch this space for the best of 2002.
And here are the Ig Nobel prize winners for 2002. Though given that the belly-button lint study was by pop-science pundit Karl Kruszelnicki, chances are it was intentionally flippant. Come to think of it, there probably are occasions when calculating the surface area of an elephant is a useful exercise...