The Blow Parade was a five-part music documentary series created by Chris Taylor, Andrew Hansen and myself. Each half-hour episode told the story of the making of a classic rock album – Lake Deuteronomy’s epic Spool in the Pits of Prometheus, The Fatcocks’ explosive punk masterpiece Corgi Scum, and legendary folk singer Egg Zagar’s tragically posthumous Whale Song.
Never heard of them? That’s because none of these bands or albums really exist. They’re fictional creations, hatched in the mind of Chris Taylor. Their music – which runs the gamut from 70s space-funk to 80s stadium rock – was single-handedly composed by Taylor’s Chaser comrade Andrew Hansen, and performed by a team of expert musicians – including triple j’s own Lindsay MacDougal. The voices in the doco – the band members, music journalists, studio engineers, record company bigwigs, news reporters and assorted innocent bystanders – were all performed by Taylor, Hansen and me. And the whole thing was produced, polished and tweaked in the triple j radiophonic workshop, to give it that special glow of ‘music history in the making’; that certain sound that lets you know in advance you’re about to hear a bunch of blokes in their fifties reminisce at length about how they came up with the guitar sound that changed the world.
The Blow Parade was a new challenge for me as a producer – almost three hours of new music recorded especially for the series; an elaborate conceit involving fake archival recordings, demo tapes and verite studio chat presented as part of a radio documentary being played within a classic oldies radio show; and a series of increasingly preposterous sound effects directions from Taylor (‘Sound of hippopotamus banging head vigorously against cathedral bell’, ‘Drumkit slides off roof of skyscraper and falls to the street below’ and ‘Dawn of time: cosmic wind and universe particles’).
If you'd like to download the rest of the series, you can get it here.
"What if I tell you now that I have often longed even for plays I have seen performed - frequently the very ones which bored me most - or for books I have read in the past and did not like at all? If that is not madness, there's no such thing."
"And you must not let yourself be misled, in your solitude, by the fact that there is something in you that wants to escape from it. This very wish will, if you use it quietly and pre-eminently and like a tool, help to spread your solitude over wide country. People have (with the help of convention) found the solution of everything in ease, and the easiest side of ease; but it is clear that we must hold to the difficult; everything living holds to it, everything in nature grows and defends itself according to its own character and is an individual in its own right, strives to be so at any cost and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must hold to the difficult is a certainty that will not leave us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; the fact that a thing is difficult must be one more reason for our doing it."
'Acousmatic, the Larousse dictionary tells us, is the 'name given to the disciples of Pythagoras who for five years, listened to his teachings while he was hidden behind a curtain, without seeing him, while observing a strict silence.' Hidden from their eyes, only the voice of their master reached the disciples.... In ancient times, the apparatus was a curtain; today, it is the radio and methods of reproduction, along with the entire set of electro-acoustic transformations, that place us, modern listeners to an invisible voice, under similar conditions.'
Pierre Schaeffer, 'Acousmatics', 1966
pierre schaeffer | musique concrete | sonorous objects | acousmatics | pythagoras | phenomenology | twin peaks | red room
'Imagine a traveller from a hundred years ago arrives at our doorstep and asks us why the music of the 20th century operates so frequently on the basis of cyclic repetition. Not just the rap and dance genres of popular culture, but also minimalism - perhaps the single most viable strand of the Western art music tradition... why does so much of our music work this way? What kind of needs do these patterns satisfy?'
Susan McClary, 1999
stardust | daft punk | susan mcclary | minimalism | loop | chaka kahn | repetition
"Could it be that we come to the city in order to achieve solitude? Such has been the unspoken premise of the modern city of utopian individualism. By solitude I do not mean isolation. Isolation is a state of nature: solitude is the work of culture. Isolation is an imposition, solitude a choice."
walkman | ipod | iphone | isolation | solitude | city | the crowd
"The whole human species, looked at from its origins, appears to the philosopher as an immense whole, which, like an individual, has its infancy and its progress … The totality of humanity, fluctuating between calm and agitation, between good times and bad, moves steadily though slowly towards a greater perfection."
Said nobody, at any time in the last one hundred years. Nowadays, our view of the future is more like the one seen from the middle ages than the Enlightenment. But from where he stood in 1750, or perhaps sat, on a chair a bit like the one pictured above, the French statesman and economist Jacques Turgot could look back on the past five centuries and see a gradual transition from primitive agrarians torturing and killing each other over superstitious nonsense, to the confident era of the Enlightenment, with its stupendous advancements in astronomy, medicine and physics.
enlightenment | progress | history | kubrick | 2001