so tell me, why is Kaputt better or worse than Let England Shake?

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I think that sort of futurism is a specifically what-the-future-was-imagined-as-in-the-past kinda deal

exactly. this is 'the nightfly'.

iatee, Monday, 6 February 2012 02:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

On our local sports talk station, dan ”the common man” cole is originally from detroit, so he likes to troll vikings fans by saying ” the roar has been restored” and then he plays ” year of the cat” but they edit in a lions roar every time the chorus comes in

dave coolier (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 6 February 2012 02:41 (2 years ago) Permalink

\(o_0)/ you guys are so weird

⚓ (gr8080), Monday, 6 February 2012 02:41 (2 years ago) Permalink

I think that typically we can overstate the importance of retro sonic signifiers in respect of stuff that sounds a bit like 1982-1987, certainly as compared to stuff that sounds like 1977-1981, or 1966-1968, or etc.

Which is not to say that a lot of contemp. music isn't just deliberate 80 ephemera, but I think one of the reasons for the popularity of that particular era now is the fact that there are a lot of trajectories bracnhing off of it which can be fruitful to explore, in the same way that people can habitually return to punk or etc. and use it to orient themselves as they move elsewhere.

In the case of Kaputt, the album does strike me as a "what-the-future-was-imagined-as-in-the-past kinda deal" - or, more specifically, a "what-the-present-was-imagined-as-in-the-past kinda deal", but the form of the past-imagined present, especially once vocals and lyrics are factored in, is very specific and relies on following the lines of the music, the lyrics, the vocals, to where they meet as a vector. This is not a generic (I use this term descriptively rather than negatively) vision of the 80s which "we" can all identify with.

This is why I have difficulty with contenderizer talking about this album as comfortable and unambitious; whether you think it succeeds or not, it strikes me as an album where a huge amount of thought has gone into how all of these things come together, how the music frames the words and vice versa. The reductive reading of this album is all "lol he ironically uses saxaphones"; this is wrong of course but in its wrongness still points to something. The album strikes me as being about time and temporality, about fashion and zeitgeist and living in the present and what that mode of living means when it becomes a past viewed from the vantage point of a wisened future.

Tim F, Monday, 6 February 2012 03:02 (2 years ago) Permalink

i do think i enjoy modern music that reflects on the past and uses the past but that feels entirely now. which is one of the reasons i loved PJs album. it was all about the past! but it was very 2011.

and the destroyer sound is now too, but its constantly reminding me of its origins.

scott seward, Monday, 6 February 2012 03:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

so many ppl otm...

why is everyone hating the 80's? Lots of great music came out in the 80's. I don't understand this thread anymore.

― JacobSanders, Sunday, February 5, 2012 5:08 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

the 80s were great! there's value in resisting the lure of nostalgia, but that doesn't mean you have to write off the formative music of your youth and/or the hold it exerts on you. you just have to watch out for getting entirely sealed up in it. it's safe to dance.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

teh destroyer record sounds like al stewart not 'the 80s'

― D-40, Sunday, February 5, 2012 5:18 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

along with 80s new romantic smoothness, kaputt does recall 70s futurist smoothness, al stewart type stuff, and the way that sound moved into the 80s with the likes of alan parsons or w/e. still, i hear it primarily as 80s pastiche.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

? the past-ness, other-era-ness of the sounds in Kaputt seems like a big part of what the album's "about" to me

― unlistenable in philly (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Sunday, February 5, 2012 6:36 PM (36 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

it sounds futuristic imo

― ⚓ (gr8080), Sunday, February 5, 2012 6:36 PM (36 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I think that sort of futurism is a specifically what-the-future-was-imagined-as-in-the-past kinda deal

― unlistenable in philly (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Sunday, February 5, 2012 6:37 PM (35 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

aero OTM. listening to this record only as awesome fresh music, divorced from the things it's very obviously referencing and even explicitly addressing (name dropping New Order, for instance), seems crazy to me. it's like discussing let england shake without acknowledging the debt to english folk and the other forms PJH interpolates.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

"The album strikes me as being about time and temporality, about fashion and zeitgeist and living in the present and what that mode of living means when it becomes a past viewed from the vantage point of a wisened future."

this is dance music to me. techno, house, whatever. and i feel like those are the people who have explored those past 80's trajectories the most successfully. since 1990!

scott seward, Monday, 6 February 2012 03:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

there's a layer of irony that prevents this from romanticizing anything imo

...I mean he's poking fun at 70s/80s signifiers while at the same time making remarkably pretty music w/ 70s/80s signifiers. the tension between those two things is what makes the album. imo.

― iatee, Sunday, February 5, 2012 4:38 PM (2 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

yeah, that's a good point. i acknowledge the irony, but this is a pretty romantic album, and the 80s moves he's copping were romantic in the first place (new romanticism, f'rinstance). so the irony's there, but it doesn't really subvert the romance. that's why i'm inclined to say that it does romanticize the 80s, overall. it uses a period voice to create much the same effect it did the first time around.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

excellent & insightful post from Tim F, as per usual - you rule, dude

unlistenable in philly (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:24 (2 years ago) Permalink

dude is smart and shit.

scott seward, Monday, 6 February 2012 03:27 (2 years ago) Permalink

from an interview fwiw:

What ideas did you have in mind for Kaputt? What did you want to do differently, perhaps, this time?

"I had the instrumentation in mind. Treated trumpets. I had Joseph Shabason in mind, I'd spent a few weeks on tour listening to his playing and it always struck me. I had Nic in mind, cause I always do, and deep down I knew it would be good for the record to have a few explosive moments, which is something he can bring, amongst a bunch of other things. I knew I wanted played drums mixed with programmed drums, cause someone told me that's what [Roxy Music] did on Avalon. And I really like the linndrum sound. I knew I wanted fretless bass, and really loud bass in general, played in that way where what disco and new wave thinks of jazz music seems to overlap. I wanted to barely sing, by this I mean be fiercely casual; I wanted way more time for the music to be music. I wanted an absence of chord structure tyranny —though in pop music you can't really ever get away from that— and synths are a good way of doing that, kind of. And at some point I decided, not that I really wanted back-up vocals on the record, but that I wanted Sibel [Thrasher] on the record. I was also a little hung up on the record Avalon, I should be honest about that. Once in a while I thought about [Primal Scream's] Screamadelica."

iatee, Monday, 6 February 2012 03:29 (2 years ago) Permalink

tbh I think Let England Shake plays with temporality just as much as Kaputt and I feel like Harvey says more with her games than Bejar. I have not heard enough of either album to really dig in exigetically, but this:

...I mean he's poking fun at 70s/80s signifiers while at the same time making remarkably pretty music w/ 70s/80s signifiers. the tension between those two things is what makes the album. imo.

kind of sums up the sort of postmodern nostalgia that Kaputt traffics in, whereas I think the ethereal atemporality that permeates PJ Harvey's album is not so simple and a hell of a lot more profound.

flog this poster for moderation (Drugs A. Money), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:35 (2 years ago) Permalink

no don't think about primal scream...

scott seward, Monday, 6 February 2012 03:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

elsewhere:

AVC: The new album has a vibe reminiscent of the softer side of early ’80s British new wave: Haircut 100, Spandau Ballet, et cetera.
DB: The sonic templates I had in my head didn’t change too much, but they were not Spandau Ballet or Haircut 100. All that stuff is a strident, young, composed version of romantic. And I don’t think my singing sounds anything like those guys. And I don’t think most of the playing sounds anything like the playing on those records. I guess music that has both horns and synths pushed to the fore, and a rigorously ’80s drum sound, is gonna get compared to that shit. Maybe John Collins and Dave Carswell pulled a fast one on me and it sounds exactly like that stuff, I don’t know. I wish there were more sound effects.

iatee, Monday, 6 February 2012 03:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

I don't think pj harvey makes an interesting comparison point to this regardless. you liked it more? great, so did thousands of other people.

iatee, Monday, 6 February 2012 03:41 (2 years ago) Permalink

i think that we have found that there are thematic similarities.

scott seward, Monday, 6 February 2012 03:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah you're right I shouldn't have come into a Destroyer thread talking about a PJ Harvey album xp

flog this poster for moderation (Drugs A. Money), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

what would the "outer reaches" of this particular aesthetic look like to you?

impossible to say until someone gets there, right?

i can only say that, in my entirely subjective estimation, kaputt feels like the product of someone laying back in a comfortable, well-defined place and doing what feels right. let england shake, otoh, feels like the product of someone deliberately stepping out of their comfort zone and pushing through to make sense of unfamiliar territory. neither approach is necessarily any better or worse than the other, but like i said, i get more, personally, out of what PJH came up with in the process. and i'm inclined to describe it as more artistically "ambitious".

― Little GTFO (contenderizer), Sunday, February 5, 2012 6:51 PM (45 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

yeah this is complete baloney, if for no other reason than that kaput sounds little like anything else bejar had done to date

tebow gotti (k3vin k.), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

if only he'd been ambitious enough to use an autoharp

mookieproof, Monday, 6 February 2012 03:47 (2 years ago) Permalink

This is why I have difficulty with contenderizer talking about this album as comfortable and unambitious; whether you think it succeeds or not, it strikes me as an album where a huge amount of thought has gone into how all of these things come together, how the music frames the words and vice versa. The reductive reading of this album is all "lol he ironically uses saxaphones"; this is wrong of course but in its wrongness still points to something. The album strikes me as being about time and temporality, about fashion and zeitgeist and living in the present and what that mode of living means when it becomes a past viewed from the vantage point of a wisened future.

― Tim F, Sunday, February 5, 2012 7:02 PM (24 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

that's fair. kaputt is a subtle album, especially in comparison with let england shake, which pushes its concerns, attempts and experimentalism to the fore. i mean, i'd never say that bejar lacks ambition as a lyricist. he's phenomenally gifted, even when he's just laying out a few abstract strokes, as he does here with "song for america". still, to say that a work of art is sophisticated, mature or thematically complex is not necessarily to say that it's particularly ambitious. i'm still a bit confused about why this is such a controversial point. kaputt doesn't attempt to deliver some grand summary statement on the era it evokes or the themes it elliptically addresses. though it puts a fresh new suit of clothes on bejar's sound, it doesn't experiment much within that framework or seem to push terribly hard for transcendent moments. it's more about creating and sustaining a comfortable mood for the duration. these aren't marks against the album. self-evidently vaunting artistic ambition isn't an unambiguous good. in fact, it seems to gives rise to some of the most egregious sins of taste. a great deal of the best music is made by accomplished, mature artists attempting in a workmanlike way to refine what they do best. maybe to experiment a bit along the way, but not in any dramatically "ambitious" fashion. that's how i see kaputt, and i respect it for its modesty, cleverness and skill. the fact that i prefer let england shake says more about me, of course, than the quality of either album.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

big surprise that the Destroyer fans are smug conformists

flog this poster for moderation (Drugs A. Money), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

tbh I think Let England Shake plays with temporality just as much as Kaputt and I feel like Harvey says more with her games than Bejar. I have not heard enough of either album to really dig in exigetically, but...

This may even be correct but if so it would be by accident, I think. Like a lot of records in this vein, Kaputt is both deep and shallow in that you can "get" it very quickly but then it holds and intensifies its resonance, or at least it has for me.

Let England Shake, conversely, is an album that wears its interpretive inexhaustibility very openly - listening to it, you know there's more to get than you've gotten so far.

So the appeal of the engagement process is quite different in that regard. Let England Shake is an actively intriguing listen; with Kaputt insight sneaks up on you.

Conversely the experience of disliking these albums is quite different: I suspect people who don't gel with LES have the listening experience of tl;dr, whereas with kaputt it's more like "is that all there is?"

These differences are worth thinking about but neither approach is determinative either of how profound or of how ambitious these two albums are in their own ways.

Tim F, Monday, 6 February 2012 03:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

like, i'd call "suicide demo for kara walker" an extremely ambitious piece of writing, lyrics as poetry style, but bejar plays it pretty safe musically.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

Maybe one sticking point for me is that as much as I really really like Let England Shake I'm not sure I see how it constitutes "some grand summary statement on the era it evokes or the themes it elliptically addresses." Or at least not any more than other records that deal with past war e.g. Piano Magic's Artists' Rifles.

Tim F, Monday, 6 February 2012 03:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

that seems very fair Tim F; I think 'interpretive inexhaustibility' has a lot to do with why I like it so much. To say I find Let England Shake is not necessarily a diss to the Destroyer album; I think LES is more profound than most albums.

flog this poster for moderation (Drugs A. Money), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

that's an answer to your next-to-last post, Tim; my bad for not using 'xpost'

flog this poster for moderation (Drugs A. Money), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

imo I'm not sure that Bejar on his own intentions/influences is the most reliable narrator in the world

unlistenable in philly (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

this is dance music to me. techno, house, whatever. and i feel like those are the people who have explored those past 80's trajectories the most successfully. since 1990!

Obv rock is playing this game with a handicap.

Tim F, Monday, 6 February 2012 03:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

Those quotes seemed pretty lucid to me. And it's understandable that he'd want to say something to contradict the idea that it sounds like Haircut 100 or Spandau Ballet.

xp

timellison, Monday, 6 February 2012 04:00 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah this is complete baloney, if for no other reason than that kaput sounds little like anything else bejar had done to date

― tebow gotti (k3vin k.), Sunday, February 5, 2012 7:45 PM (9 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

yeah, no, i get that. the soft and faded 80s tones are a new outfit for bejar. kaputt isn't devoid of risk, and dude isn't treading water. but the sound here is (again) similar to certain kurt vile and ariel pink tunes of the last few years, and while i love those guys, i wouldn't hold either as a paragon of artistic ambition, sonically speaking. and they did more to invent the language in question than bejar.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 6 February 2012 04:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

as much as I really really like Let England Shake I'm not sure I see how it constitutes "some grand summary statement on the era it evokes or the themes it elliptically addresses." Or at least not any more than other records that deal with past war e.g. Piano Magic's Artists' Rifles.

― Tim F, Sunday, February 5, 2012 7:55 PM (5 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

okay, then we see it differently. i see let england shake as an attempt to wrestle with the englishness and the 20th century's legacy of imperialism, injustice and violence. it allows itself to come apart at the seams, forces itself to come apart, because PJH knows that she cannot possibly say what she is trying to say, understand what she is trying to encompass. i called it "sharp, bright and ringing" earlier, but it often shares with kaputt a muffled sort of distancing, a gauzy haze that separates sounds and emotions from their origins. it sounds like an alarm, but an alarm that has been ringing forever, has grown so used to ringing that it transmits only faint panic at the edge of exhaustion. the voice of protest when there is too much pain to articulate and no hope of rescue.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 6 February 2012 04:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

lol, "the englishness" = "englishness"

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 6 February 2012 04:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

like, i'd call "suicide demo for kara walker" an extremely ambitious piece of writing, lyrics as poetry style, but bejar plays it pretty safe musically

I don't think it makes a difference one way or the other, but just as an FYI: those lyrics were written by Kara Walker.

jaymc, Monday, 6 February 2012 04:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

i see let england shake as an attempt to wrestle with the englishness and the 20th century's legacy of imperialism, injustice and violence.

I see this, I just don't see how it's a grand summary statement unless that summary is "the issue cannot be summarised (grandly or otherwise)."

Tim F, Monday, 6 February 2012 04:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah, exactly. but it's not just a matter of PJH throwing her hands up in the air and saying "fuckit". she does a damn good job of describing the enormity by embodying the confusion, dissonance and contradiction inherent in the attempt. and she makes music sense of the incoherence without just getting loud and crazy, no mean feat. my main point is that she takes on a huge project and brings all her guns to the table, lyrically, musically and formally. she's attempting to do the undoable, and she takes some pretty big risks in the process. that, to me, is artistic ambition, all caps. not necessarily a virtue, but something i do respect enormously when someone has the skill, wit and soul to pull it off.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 6 February 2012 04:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

"soul". i dunno. compassion, depth of feeling, w/e.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 6 February 2012 04:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

I don't hear any irony in Kaputt, but I don't listen for irony in music, and when it's something I can't ignore, I usually turn the music off, like LCD Soundsystem. In Kaputt, I only hear the romanticism, but I'm a romantic person. I love 70's and 80's AOR wholeheartedly that this record draw from. I haven't listen to PJ Harvey since Rid Of Me, Is LES her folk record?

JacobSanders, Monday, 6 February 2012 04:27 (2 years ago) Permalink

"music sense" = "musical sense" duh

got to start proofing this shit

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 6 February 2012 04:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah, exactly. but it's not just a matter of PJH throwing her hands up in the air and saying "fuckit". she does a damn good job of describing the enormity by embodying the confusion, dissonance and contradiction inherent in the attempt. and she makes music sense of the incoherence without just getting loud and crazy, no mean feat. my main point is that she takes on a huge project and brings all her guns to the table, lyrically, musically and formally. she's attempting to do the undoable, and she takes some pretty big risks in the process. that, to me, is artistic ambition, all caps. not necessarily a virtue, but something i do respect enormously when someone has the skill, wit and soul to pull it off.

I think this is a much stronger attempt at capturing the qualitative (as in categorical) difference between the two albums which you're pressing, contenderizer.

And I think it's a reasonable basis upon which to prefer Let England Shake (not explicitly vis a vis Kaputt, but over and above most albums generally), even if I feel bit differently.

Tim F, Monday, 6 February 2012 04:47 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'm coming to this thread late but I'm reminded that I read no single published review as thoughtful as the stuff posted about Kaputt on this and the main thread.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 6 February 2012 05:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

This is the best I can say about eighties Ferry, the Blow Monkeys, and stuff that SOUNDS like Kaputt without quite evoking it.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 6 February 2012 05:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

I feel like Let England Shake is, on one level, a protest record for aesthetes,--which may be why the record feels like an irgent statement despite having such esoteric subject matter--and being such, it is about war but it makes its points obliquely. Perhaps that is one reason for the preoccupation with WWI: she needs to peer at war from a hazy distance. And yeat, maybe not: the distance between then and now is traversed without comment in "Written on the Forehead": with very little shift in tone or production, suddenly we are in present-day Iraq, and I suspect that through the shoegazey fog that Harvey is intimating that all wars are the same war (a point maede by many creative people before her) and that war, ostensibly what the album is 'about', is also a metaphor of the 'ethereal atemporality' I mentioned upthread. History is the myth of mankind's forward progress through the centuries, but things are the same as they always have been and here is the bloodshed--the deformed children--to prove it.

That view of collapsible history is something she shares with, say, TS Eliot, along with a method of juxtaposing wildly disparate sources and allowing them to comment ironically on each other: Doran has already pointed out how the first half of "The Words That Maketh Murder" are strongly reminiscent of Goya's painting (along with Shirley Collins' WWI-themed folk songs as La Lechera pointed out to me) whereas the ending quotes "Summertime Blues". Of course collage is nothing new in pop music, but the peculiar piquancy that results from those distinct modes scraping up against each other is an effect you wouldn't find in Odelay, for example. And like Eliot, who sbsequently wrote massive annotations crediting all the different sources that went into The Waste Land, Harvey also listed everything that she sampled, or just drew inspiration from. Confronted with the thematic and compositional affinities with Eliot, suddenly the WWI preoccupation comes into sharper focus. Perhaps this is another reason she wrote about that war was that she was confronting a particular cultural moment--early 20C modernism--head on, and that is the legacy she is wrestling with. Of course the question I always end up asking is: why? What is she looking for back then that she can't find right now?

I probably have given this album short shrift: I haven't mentioned much about how she operates in the folk tradition, or how she is commenting on English imperialism; there's likely much about the album I will never fully understand. But there's no doubt that the album is uncommonly rich in potential meaning, and that it sets the bar fucking high for the decade.

flog this poster for moderation (Drugs A. Money), Monday, 6 February 2012 05:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

Wow that's longer than even I thought it was going to be. Good luck :\

flog this poster for moderation (Drugs A. Money), Monday, 6 February 2012 05:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

why does this shitty thread have so many posts in it? should i read it or is it some you had to be there thing now?

Lamp, Monday, 6 February 2012 06:00 (2 years ago) Permalink

i really want to have some cool opinions to share with ilm re: this thread but everytime i think abt listening to 'pj harvey' on utube i start mentally totaling up all the time ive spent waiting for the subway in the morning, staring at nothing and wishing i was i still in bed

Lamp, Monday, 6 February 2012 06:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

Lol I wish I had already gone to bed

flog this poster for moderation (Drugs A. Money), Monday, 6 February 2012 06:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

holy fuck, drugs, thanks for saying what i imagined i might be thinking so much better than it might ever have actually though it, had i had the wherewithal.

Perhaps this is another reason she wrote about that war was that she was confronting a particular cultural moment--early 20C modernism--head on, and that is the legacy she is wrestling with. Of course the question I always end up asking is: why? What is she looking for back then that she can't find right now?

why? because that was the last war with which the folk tradition, the human tradition with which PJH is attempting the engage, was itself meaningfully engaged with the human experience. that was the point at which the mechanisms of society diverged from the course of human affairs, when the "merely human" became truly mere in the grand imperial scope of things. modernism was a reaction to but also a ratification of the culture of the machine, of human demographics, and that's a big part of what she's responding to, the break between the human (individual) and the ostensibly meaningful (the mechanically social). i'm gonna take my problem to the united nations...

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 6 February 2012 06:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

think LES is over-reaching and within that its great at what it does. BUT honestly think 'the good the bad and the queen' album did it much better and more succinctly years ago tbh. 'kuputt' is a uber swazzy and fricking beautiful yacht rock album for the ages

Michael B Higgins (Michael B), Monday, 6 February 2012 06:11 (2 years ago) Permalink


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