Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Ragon Youth

What is it about New York City’s Cult of Youth that appeals so much to Lord Bassington-Bassington? After all, he is now a grumpy old Hound and is usually quite sceptical of anything with the word “youth” in it. Despite these reservations, the band’s releases, the self-titled 7 inch single and the LP A Stick To Bind, A Seed To Grow have been given many a spin on the turntable here at Bassington Manor.

On the surface, Cult of Youth is a pretty typical post-industrial/neofolk band. Frontman Sean Ragon wears his influences, such as Swans, Death in June and Throbbing Gristle, on his sleeve (which is often a good place to wear your influences). But there is something that sets Cult of Youth apart.

It could be the good taste Mr. Ragon shows when he releases his records on vinyl, but probably it has more to do with the youthful enthusiasm the band brings to its performances.

The small world known as post-industrial/neofolk is full of bands and projects that seem to exist just so that people can play some music and say they’re in a band. Cult of Youth feels like so much more, a band that really matters to the people involved in it, a band that wants something, a real band. Not only that, Cult of Youth makes Lord Bassington-Bassington remember why he became interested in this kind of music a couple of decades ago.

Lord Bassington-Bassington is happy to have supported these fine fellows by buying their records, and looks forward to continuing doing so.

Here are Cult of Youth at their most confrontational. You can tell that Mr. Ragon used to play in a hardcore band, can't you?

And this shows the more folky side of the band:

Sigh. It's almost enough to make an old Hound want to be young again.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Fight for your right to High tea

Like many of his generation, the puppy that would later become Lord Bassington-Bassington was rather taken with the sounds of Hip Hop. But even if he did spend part of his upbringing in a block of flats, in an area that would later be seen as a ghetto (by Norwegian standards anyway), he soon lost his taste for rap. The misogyny, glorification of crime and drugs and racial hatred that runs rampant in Hip Hop just became too much.

There were other reasons as well. Lord Bassington-Bassington had been taught by his English teacher to detest all forms of what he (the English teacher) called ”sub-standard English”. Rap has been described as ”the most literary form of music”, but it is mostly performed by functional illiterates, who do their best to mutilate the English language. And as this English teacher happened to be a Black American gentleman of great learning and culture, Lord Bassington-Bassington has kept with him a distaste of most Hip Hop, where, to steal a point from American scholar John McWhorter, Blacks are portrayed almost exactly as they were in the propaganda of the Ku Klux Klan.

Still, Lord Bassington-Bassington has never really lost his taste for good beats and catchy rhymes. So imagine his relief when the last issue of The Chap arrived here at Bassington Manor, carrying an article about up and coming artist Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer. One of the forefigures of an exciting new genre called Chap Hop.

Trading SUV’s for bicycles, hooded sweatshirts for boating blazers and crack pipes for real pipes, Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer has arrived on the scene in a cloud of tea leaves and scented pipe tobacco. His Chap Hop style is truly unique, and is both a clever parody of Hip Hop while his love of the form shows through. A bit like Goldie Looking Chain, but with better rhymes – and better tailors.

Mr. B’s signature song remains his tasteful take on that seminal “gangster rap” song, Black Persons With Attitude’s Straight Outta Compton, which should be familiar to anyone with the slightest interest in the popular culture of the last century. Mr. B's version of the song, though, is surely an improvement.

Another Mr. B highlight, “A Piece of My Mind”, shows that Chap Hop is to Hip Hop what classical Roman oratory is to Tourette’s syndrome.

And not only does Chap Hop provide articulate and insightful MC’ing, it has even given the world a taste of cultured turntablism.

Lord Bassington-Bassington is planning to become an enthusiastic Chap-Hopper, and has just submitted a request with his better three-quarters, Lady Mju, for permission to purchase a striped boating blazer. May he? Please?

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Johannes Høie's black hearts

Norwegian artist Johannes Høie has, despite being quite young, an impressive production. His masterful drawing technique deals with themes that resonate deeply with Lord Bassington-Bassington. As they will with anyone with the slightest interest in subcultures such as Goth, Industrial or Neofolk. Not to mention people with the slightest interest in the Lovecraftian.

Yesterday, His Lordship was lucky enough to attend the opening of Mr. Høie’s new exhibition at Galleri Maria Veie in the centre of Oslo. The evening not only provided intense artistic experiences, and a crowd of lively humans, but also a performance by Gyron V, a band Lord Bassington-Bassington is very fond of (and will write more about later.)

The opening also celebrated the release of the artist’s new book Black Hearts Dawning, a pocket-size art book that provides the perfect introduction to Høie’s strange world.

His Lordship recommends that you go see the exhibition, if you are in the vicinity of Oslo. And that you buy the book, wherever you are. This artist should be supported.

(All pictures are stolen from Mr. Høie’s website, with kind permission of the artist.)

On the Street... Or rather, at the Cellar, part II

On the Street... Or rather, at the Cellar

Lord Bassington-Bassington’s project of ripping off The Sartorialist continues. Last time, His Lordship reflected on the ear trends of the Norwegian capital. This time, The Bassington-Bassington Chronicles casts its gaze upon what some fine humans were wearing when the club The Heretical Cellar celebrated its 6th year, 6th month, 6th day anniversary. While all these humans’ ears fail to keep up with current ear trends , of course, by their unconventional choice of clothing they helped brighten – or perhaps darken – the evening.

Thank you for coming. You're the reason this club exists.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Canadian human-canine communication

Monty Python once asked: Whither Canada?

Today, more people should ask the same question, as Canada is on the forefront of cross-species communication, as this sign clearly indicates.

Lord Bassington-Bassington has just embarked on some heavy research into the Canadian Basset community.

Go Canada!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Die Weisse Rose debuts – finally

Die Weisse Rose's debut album has been a long time coming, and its arrival at Bassington Manor has been held up by delay after delay. But now it is finally here, in glorious green vinyl (it's also available digitally for you modern people out there).

It might be seen as sneaky of Lord Bassington-Bassington to just use Die Weisse Rose's own press release to describe this remarkable record. However, as His Lordship's paws contributed a little bit to the writing job, it's only fair that he can use it for his own blog, don't you think?

Die Weisse Rose
A Martyrium of White Roses
Cold Meat Industry

It might seem strange that a band without a single release to its name has played concerts and festivals all over Europe. But anyone who has ever experienced Die Weisse Rose on stage knows why.

More than concerts, Die Weisse Rose’s performances are elaborate rituals, caleidoscopic (or even psychedelic) experiences. Elements such as uniforms, burning torches, snippets of old schlägers, segments from documentary films and philosophical proclamations are wowen together by orgies of live drums and electronic sounds.

Die Weisse strives towards what Wagner called ”Gesamtkunstwerke” – total works of art. When most other bands talk about Gesamtkunstwerke, it sounds pretentious. When Die Weisse Rose do it, it makes sense.

Die Weisse Rose also like to think of their songs as “audiodocumentaries”. Again, such a seemingly pretentious term makes sense, as Die Weisse Rose’s art is just as indebted to the History Channel as to Throbbing Gristle.

To bolster Die Weisse Rose’s lineup (which really consists only of the band’s mastermind, Thomas Bøjden) over the years the unit has recruited collaborators to its ranks that makes DWR smack of an Industrial supergroup. From Marco Deplano (Foresta di Ferro), Gerhard (Allerseelen), Kim Larsen (Of the Wand and the Moon) to name but a few.

In return, Thomas Bøjden has returned the favour and played with a who’s who of of the Industrial and Neofolk underground, from well-established outfits like Rome, Blood Axis and Foresta Di Ferro to up-and-coming Austrian neofolk band Klammheim.

Now, Die Weisse Rose are for the first time available on record. If you fear that we have another ”martial” clone band on our hands, prepare to be pleasantly surprised. The music is painstakingly crafted and orchestrated to perfection to include electronic elements, field recordings and real instruments, and its creative merits really stand out in an underground culture where bands of far lesser talents than Die Weisse Rose would release three albums in the time Die Weisse Rose have patiently worked on theirs.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Ronny: Androgynous goddess

These days, the New Romantic wave of the early 1980s is usually associated with groups such as Culture Club and Duran Duran – rather gaudy, uninteresting pop groups.

However, there was a darker underside to the New Romantic era that not only was far more interesting and stylish, but has also aged much better.

Ronny was French fashion model who moved to London to be a part of the music scene there. It is difficult to find information about her, and she was in no way a prolific artist. However, she produced one 12” single, produced by Visage frontman Steve Strange, which is one of Lord Bassington-Bassington’s most treasured slabs of vinyl.

The song on this video, “Blue Cabaret” is taken from this 12”, and represents not only Ronny at her best, but what a New Romantic singer could be: A Marlene Dietrich with Kraftwerk as a backing group.

A dear friend of Lord Bassington Bassington, one of few Norwegians whose taste in headwear can stand up to that of Ronny (he wears a fez), once perfectly described “Blue Cabaret”: “If I had cruised down the Autobahn in a Porsche, and this song was playing on the car stereo, I would have thought it was the Porsche itself singing.”