Monthly Archives: March 2006

Festivals and corruption (Barcelona’s never been so much fun)

Finally, I have succeeded in getting around to buying tickets for Primavera Sound (June 1-3). After three years of humming and hawing, I bit the bullet and bought two three-day passes to see such luminaries as Lou Reed, Motörhead, Lambchop, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Flaming Lips and er… Baby Shambles.

EDIT (6th April): I’ve just realised that I really hate the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I now think they’re the worst band I’ve ever heard. Were they made by robots?

This year, we’re also seeing the Rolling Stones (May 27th, Olympic Stadium), and we’ll be revisiting Benicassim for a scorching FIBERFIB 2006. At FIB, we’re looking forward to seeing the Strokes, Scissor Sisters and numerous bands I’m supposed to like but don’t really know much about. I don’t much like Morrissey or his old band, but (the) Pixies should be fun. I’m expecting some more acts to be added to this lineup as we get closer to the summer.

Meanwhile, spring has sprung. ERC and CiU have been caught using some very naughty party funding tactics in the Generalitat. Hmmm… if they were a little more sophisticated they could have used the UK Labour party’s “yes, it’s a problem and we’ll legislate to stop it” line, but unfortunately they look a bit stuck for the moment. This is one of those cases where they’re so patently in the wrong that no one, not within the party or sympathetic to it’s aims can defend them. Drop it, apologise, move on.

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Spring music selecta

This is what is rockin’ to this spring:

Dr Alimantado – Best Dressed Chicken In Town

Silver Jews – American Water

Royal Trux – 3-Song EP

The Howling Hex – 1-2-3

Neil Hamburger – Raw Hamburger

(looking at it, everything except the reggae is from one record label too… visca Drag City!)


Aged 13, free jazz was something I couldn’t understand. It sounded to me like Iggy Pop’s description of punk rock: it sounded to me like “a load of trashy old noise”.

I hadn’t realised that it was in fact “the brilliant music of a genius”.

That genius, Ornette Coleman, is one of the key proponents of free jazz and the inventor of harmolodics, a music theory associated with the avant-garde music scene, dedicated to freeing composers and performers from the rigid structures and rules prevalent in the western tradition.

It is a theory employed in rock music too. Yes, this is about Royal Trux. Talking about harmolodics, Neil Hagerty says:

“harmolodics is not a comprehensive controlling or rigid philosophy (at least not to rock and roll) but almost a substitute for that language and efforts to control music (which is an entirely abstract thing) and make a metaphor of it. It returns the composition back to the musician and allows each musician to select functions for their labours rather than solicit a class of intervention because of the misconceptions that always arise when music meets commerce.”

Harmolodics, together with jazz as a whole, deserves recognition as one of the great gifts America has given to the world. It’s about music without the rules, and it sounds all the better for it. For me, its influence on Royal Trux’s music is magnificent: they forced me to listen to music in a new way. I still find it hard to completely understand it, but harmolodic theory lies behind some of my favourite music. So let’s hear it for Ornette Coleman and harmolodics!