Linoleum

‘fear, anger and paranoia’

In 1995 Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails won a Grammy award for their live performance of the song ‘Happiness in Slavery’ as captured on Woodstock ’94. The category was ‘Best Metal Performance’. I’m not sure anyone watching the recording – with its military assault on the senses and body-surfing audience – would have seen a possible David Sylvian collaboration on the horizon for one of the musicians.. ..but that was how things panned out. Chris Vrenna had been a performing member of NIN since 1989, contributing powerful drums to their hard-edged live industrial rock sound.

Before any Sylvian connection was made, there was the small matter of double-billing with David Bowie on the US leg of his tour to promote 1. Outside which took place in the autumn of 1995. Nine Inch Nails opened the concerts before Bowie and band joined them on stage for a ‘bridge’ set leading into their own, including songs such as Bowie’s ‘Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)’ and ‘Hallo Spaceboy’ and NIN’s ‘Reptile’ and ‘Hurt’. Bowie gifted Chris Vrenna a head-and-shoulders portrait he had painted of the drummer when the short tour came to an end. At around the same time Reznor and Vrenna combined to produce an alternate mix of Bowie’s ‘The Heart’s Filthy Lesson’ which appeared on the cd single release. Continue reading “Linoleum”

Kin

Melding abstract art forms

I graduated from university in 1987 and was living in a new town with a new job. The only way to keep abreast of the news of my favourite musicians was to pop into the newsagent at lunch-time and quickly scan the first few pages of the music weeklies – NME, Sounds, Melody Maker. It was impossible to dwell too long for fear of incurring the wrath of the shop-keeper. My budget did not allow for weekly purchases, but vital updates had to be sought out… Continue reading “Kin”

The Healing Place

Artist as shaman

In 1983 the cassette-based magazine Audio Arts published a supplement capturing radical German artist Joseph Beuys in conversation with both the magazine’s founder William Furlong and Michael Newman. The recording was made at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum on the occasion of an exhibition of Beuys’ drawings. The artist, then in his early sixties, quickly widens the discussion to his ‘goals’: ‘I decided in my life not to become a physicist but to try to make an experience with the Arts; to widen understanding of the Arts, to become able to change the social order..’ Science, whilst being highly developed so as to render us ‘even able to fly to outer-terrestrial planets,’ is however unable to make clear ‘what it means to be a human being and what the inner goal of life on earth would mean, and what would be the highest quality for the life of the different peoples on earth, and how they could overcome their inner frustration, and how they could overcome the alienation of their working places. So, in being directed to bring a wider understanding of art which is related to everybody’s labour, on every existing working place, it is on the point where it touches the economical system.’ Continue reading “The Healing Place”

In Vogue

Realising possibilities

Tin Drum was my introduction to the music of Japan, and from there I explored the previous releases. These were my final years at school and it was an exciting time with a world of music opening up to me that I just hadn’t been aware of before. A friend encouraged me to listen, passing me C90 cassette tapes of his favourite music which I would lose myself in, then saving my Saturday job money so I could visit the local record shop to buy the vinyl. The skull-and-cross-bones symbols may have said that home taping was killing music, but it also helped to foster a life-long appreciation of some incredible recordings – many of which I now own in multiple copies: vinyl, cd, re-releases, remasters… Continue reading “In Vogue”

How Little We Need to Be Happy

‘a sense of dislocation’

‘I didn’t want the listener to feel comfortable when they heard this record because it wasn’t comfortable to make it. It was profoundly uncomfortable and often disturbing. Although that is the opposite of the way I tend to work, it seemed to be the right approach for this particular project. I know it’s going to alienate a lot of listeners who won’t understand how to approach the work, but I had to be true to the essence of this project and working with Derek enabled me to find another voice with which to deal with these rather difficult emotions.’ (DS, 2003) Continue reading “How Little We Need to Be Happy”