Month of June, 2010

Neil Sweeney is The Music Issue

In 2002 I started this blog, in part, as a way to continue the conversations that I had with my dear friend who was living in Melbourne and whose long distance calls were filled with moments where recievers were held to stereos, parts were sung, records discussed, shows deconstructed, and sounds generally worshipped. The Music Issue became a way to close the distance between us, to continue my thoughts and share them with him even as he went about his day a half globe away.

I am very happy to say that I will return to New York City this fall and once there, I will find this fabulous person on my doorstep - my new musical partner, my best friend, my brother. And since we are closing that gap, I would like to close this gap too, by making The Music Issue a collaboration between us, and hopefully between other great music lovers I know.

I've been rambling alone for eight years. It's time for new directions with the sounds and people I love. So welcome Neil Sweeney to The Music Issue. His first post will appear shortly, and soon the site will be redesigned to more fully show our collaborative writing, as well as other collaborative projects.

Thanks for staying tuned.





swimming in backwash of the '90s

Sitting on detesteble couch at the entrance of Fleda in Brno after an ill-advised decision to hop a Student Agency bus to try to do everything at once - work on the bus, go see a friend's exhibit, go see another friend's collaborative art project. Hot as hell day in second city, the kids are in the fountain and the loud talking girls on the bench next to me are nails in my skull. I wandered with my too heavy laptop through the dumb torn up streets near old town wondering why corrupt Czech Republic had to decide this was the year to dump all the money in construction struction struction. "Just like in the '80s, the streets were always torn up," a friend says as we walk over tram tracks and tar and barrels and wooden planks where there should be paving stones. Same shit, different regime.

It's Tuesday, the taxi driver had the tv on in his super-future-tv-mp3-player thing, "economic crisis," people rioting in the streets in Greece, something about the Minister of Culture complaining that all the despair will drive away the tourists, he drops me off at the museum. Closed on Tuesdays now. Ha ha ha, hot summer sun and a bench - a bench. Public Display of Affection. I ask where's Fleda at the Hilton next door and get a weird look like I asked for a ladder to the moon. They give me a map and point off the top of it - somewhere around...there. Soon enough I am on the tram and to the club, no longer unfamiliar but only now seen for the first time in day. Last time I was here was 2am and it involved a failed attempt at vegetarian food: the punk rock map of CZ just got a daylight check point.

Fleda. Wooden windows with curtains masking utility rooms, folk symbols stenciled oversized on cigarette stain green walks. Gum stains on the floor like every square inch of the NYC public transport system, and a guy with a tip top of head pony tail DJing progressive house, or something, a vaguely tangible feeling of long done ecstacy in every corner. What is going on? The disco ball is on even when no one is here, I know it. Admission 50 kc but there's a free CD. The star of the night and her friend argue if this is embarrassing. "It seems wrong to do it." "But if you give away 500 and 10 people come to your show because of it, that's something." "That's not the solution." "Ecch." We stumble into the back room, there is a sad balloon covered in rhinestones spinning slowly and a work table covered in glass tindersticks.The project has been sponsored by the EU - playing in five cities, a sound and video document of the end of glassmaking in the Czech Republic.

Brno is known for "experimental" music, or as Craig would say "more art than sound." He means it in a bad way, although I am all for a concept. The opening band involves a guy squatting at a laptop and a woman in a long polyester dress declaiming fairies in a helium voice with ballet posture while animated nightmare cartoons float by on the screen. I am finding something good to say about this -- she never backs down no matter what. He occassionally catches her phrase to turn the thing into magic, even when its an accident, or maybe it only works that way and anything else would be cynical. People cheer wildly, more like "hoooooooo" than clapping, a loud sound like something I heard the other night up by the castle in Prague, something like a continuous rolling thunder that moved across the whole landscape for some five seconds, too big to be ominous.The duo slink off and it is time for my friend. I sit in the front row and am conciously trying not to hold my legs like everyone else in the room is holding there's - cross, bouncing slightly, expectant.  There are maybe 15 people in the room. The mix is weird, the rhinestone disco ball was made to droop and looks perfectly wretched. Tuesday night in Brno. Hoooooo.