Hearing Something Else (Three Remixes)

I’ve been reorganizing media files this afternoon, and suddenly decided that these three remixes needed to be grouped:

The first remix is of the theme to the crowd-sourced independent film satire, Iron Sky. The original song was very neo-Bond, but I heard something else–something sadder.

The second reimagining derives from the compiled classical tracks that are scattered across the three albums Peter Hammill released in 1996. I found myself wanting to hear the best parts of them knitted together into an organic whole.

Finally, “Chemical Wings And Excuses” was sculpted from two Pet Shop Boys studio songs and one demo shard recorded on a cell phone by Chris Lowe. I always thought that together they told a larger, more resonant story.

Happy/Sad/Inevitable: Pet Shop Boys Remix Project

Lucy’s wearing vintage

Boy’s in a rented tux

Safety pins for cufflinks

Please dance with me

The party’s still in full swing

and you’re such a bright young thing

Nancy’s got her monkey

on a silver chain

Pose for Stephen’s camera

then dance with me

Forget what the future brings

Surrounded by bright young things

Sometimes a party’s

a port in a storm

No one is weary

or lost and forlorn

Listen, a nightingale sings

in Berkeley Square the bright young things

are flying on chemical wings

intent on their one-last-flings tonight

It’s time! It’s time!

It’s time! It’s time!

When I get you home

there’ll be sunlight on your bed

Close your eyes and drift off

imagining

the promise of a diamond ring

You the queen, and I your king

Sometimes a party’s

a port in a storm

You won’t feel weary

or lost or forlorn

Listen, a nightingale sings

in Berkeley Square the bright young things

are flying on chemical wings

Share with me one last fling tonight

It’s time! It’s time!

[‘I’m All Alone Again . . . I’m All Alone’ Movement]

I walked into the room

Imagine my surprise

you were sitting close to him

staring in each other’s eyes

Each of you looked up

but no one said a word

I felt I should apologise

for what I hadn’t heard

A silence filled the room

awkward as an elephant

In the crowded court of your love

I was now a supplicant

And clumsy as I felt

at stumbling on this theft

to save further embarrassment

I made my excuses and left

So long ago

I felt like such a fool

for crying

All that I know

is when you feel inside

you’re dying

it all begins again

defying

your excuses

[Movement One Reprise]

Every Cover Is Like “Sunday” (Proving Once Again That Morrissey Isn’t Less)

I awoke this morning with Morrissey’s “Everyday Is Like Sunday” lodged between my ears, and it’s stayed there right up to lunch. Thus the best way to see this improvisational project is as a kind of pop exorcism.

So welcome to seemingly everyone in the world having a run at that deserted beach and cheap tray–from Mozza himself to a guy with a ukulele. As aways, the sequencing is everything . . .

DIY PSB

Being A Curation of Pop Groups, Passionate Fans And Musical Reviews Tackling The Pet Shop Boys Catalogue (With An Afterword by PSB)

The Pet Shop Boys’ 12th studio album will be released next week and it’s made me wonder once again about the resistance of mainstream American music buyers to the boys’ sneaky brand of pop. In one sense, it’s their own fault: PSB deals in Trojan Horse songs–smart, Sondheim-eque music and lyrics that are carefully disguised beneath a glittering surface of dance beats. This is the shared secret of the fan-base–the knowing glance that passes between Pet Heads when they meet: the knowledge that, stripped of their clubland trappings, PSB songs rival the Lennon/McCartney songbook in terms of craft and persistent quality.

The tactic of slyly camouflaged songs is of a piece with Pet Shop Boys’ carefully distancing George-and-George approach to pop music (and is part of their ongoing critique of pop, although that is another essay unto itself). Thus, if the PSB won’t help me demonstrate what’s going on beneath the swooping synths, maybe crowdsourcing will.

This is a curation of pop groups (some less known than others) and passionate fans (some less talented than others) who have one thing in common–each in their own way has managed to tease something emotionally resonant out of the PSB songs they chose to cover. I’d like to think that this was entirely due to insight, but I’m prepared to accept some of it was sheer luck–a getting lost in the songs in exactly the right way. But however it happened, they all got there–to the substantial and often moving writing that is at the heart of the Pet Shop Boys’ releases.

These covers are bookended by another kind of deconstruction–that of PSB’s public image. The first is the classic send-up of Pet Shop Boys on the French and Saunders show; the second demonstrates PSB’s own ironic self-awarness through the casting of David Walliams and Matt Lucas as themselves in their  video of the drolly titled “I’m With Stupid.” See it as the boys’ reaction to all  the covers of their work–cryptic but not obviously displeased . . .

 

Featured

About This Site

Welcome to the soft roll-out of the new, unified CultureHack site. And by soft roll-out, I’m suggesting that it’s best to see the next six weeks or so as a kind of beta test.

The question you’re not asking (though my ego insistently clings to the delusion that you are) is Why? To which the shortest possible answer is Twitter (the second-shortest response, however, is the much more pleasing to me: Fucking Twitter.)

Over the years, I’ve distributed content across an array of sites via a number of platforms and hosting services, including most recently the soon-to-be vaporized Posterous. And why is it about to vaporized? Because–wait for it–Twitter bought Posterous for the express purpose of shutting it down. So yes, Twitter is the reason we’re gathered here right now. Fucking Twitter. (It really is more pleasing with the adjective.)

The impending demise of Posterous has forced me to migrate a number of my sites elsewhere, and in in doing so, I decided to centralize the stuff I’ve been posting–well, the things worth preserving anyway. This time around, I’ve created one place for the iPhoneography, book excerpts, essays, political punditry, recent entries in my Twitter stream, rants expanded from tweets and, of course, my blog.

So yeah–welcome to my newest virtual atelier, brought to you by the crack Business Plan Division of Fucking Twitter . . .

Does this site compile everything I’ve ever tossed online with trademark hubris and insouciance? Of course not–are you insane? Instead, I’m treating this centralization as a kind of reboot. The legacy content here can be thought of as a curation prior to moving forward into new territory. (I’ve given a lot of thought about what this terra nova might be, and there will be screed on that in due time.) But right now, this is me editing myself and blatantly eliminating the boring, the thin and the dated. And also–it goes without saying–anything that’s become embarrassing. Screw the inviolate rules of perpetual posts with retrofitted strike-throughs: I’m talking image management-cum-manipulation here.

A word of warning at the outset is indicated–lots of things here remain to be tweaked. For instance, in many cases, the multimedia links didn’t survive the migration from Posterous and will need to be tended to manually. So yes, there’s still a thin coating of construction dust on almost everything: typefaces, kerning, formatting and, of course, the aforementioned videos and music. (But to balance things out a little, there’s also the delicious New Site smell that we all love so much.)

I’m making April Fool’s Day my deadline for getting this fit-and-finish stuff done–which pretty much gives the game away, don’t you think?