October 17, 2007

Find the ladder in the back of Jammyland to go to Hospital Productions.

Ah, here it is. At 60 East 3rd Street.

Hospital Productions

Hospital Productions

It's run by our old friend Dominick Fernow. You remember this Village Voice article about him.

You saw pictures of him here, remember? (With the tongue?) I told him that the pictures made some of you readers angry... for reasons we couldn't understand. And he's the guy painted fuchsia in this blogged-about performance.

And he painted this, remember, from the old "Mysteries of the Althouse house" post?

The lower level

Anyway, Hospital Productions is about noise music, but the music Dom was playing in the shop when we were there wasn't very noisy. It was actually the sort of atmospheric music that I like. It was Muslimgauze, and I bought the CD "Syrinjia." Here's the Muslimgauze website.

Dom's mother is Jean Feraca, who does that radio show — "Here on Earth" — on Wisconsin Public Radio. (I was on the show that time.) She's a writer with a new book, a memoir, called "I Hear Voices."

ADDED: Here's the NYT obituary for Muslimgauze — Bryn Jones, who died of "pneumonia derived from a rare fungal infection in his bloodstream" when he was 38.
Muslimgauze occupied a strange place in the musical world. He was a powerful, prolific innovator, releasing albums that were alternately beautiful and visceral, full of ambient electronics, polyrhythmic drumming and all kinds of voices and sound effects. The recordings earned him a devoted following in underground, experimental and industrial music circles worldwide.

But the albums' liner notes and titles were dogmatically pro-Palestinian, a rarity among Western musicians in general but especially unusual in one from Manchester who was not Muslim and had never visited the Middle East. Some said Mr. Jones was aiming for shock value, but those who knew him described him as a shy, mysterious man who was serious in his political beliefs and never wavered from his commitment to music....

Mr. Jones recorded 92 albums with titles like ''Hamas Arc'' and ''Vote Hezbollah,'' references to militant Islamic groups....
Note that I'm not buying the politics, nor did I inquire into his politics before buying the music. Do you think I should have? With all musicians or just ones with "Muslim" in their names? I heard the music and bought the music.

36 comments:

New York said...

Nice poster for "The history of AIDS" album by "Prurient". Reminds me of "Noe's Knife" by Pure ....

and also vinyl shopping in NYC back before it became trivially easy to noise music online.

New York said...

Jones' politics were particularly extreme (or perhaps just extremist chic). After the Oslo accords he released "Salaam Aleykum bastards"; "Rape of Palestine" includes a track titled "Odour of Semtex" etc. etc.

Joan said...

I wouldn't buy an album with such political content no matter how much I liked the music. I don't think it's possible to separate the political content from the music, given that the political content extends to the song titles.

There's no shortage of beautiful music in the world; there are many other choices.

P. Rich said...

AA said: "Note that I'm not buying the politics, nor did I inquire into his politics before buying the music. Do you think I should have?"

Interesting question. Nowadays many entertainers use their acquired fame as a platform from which to spew uninformed political garbage, and some impressionable types actually listen and are influenced by said garbage. Buying a ticket or an album creates the platform and indirectly supports the politics. To the extent you don't want to do that, don't buy.

Ann Althouse said...

Joan, it's instrumental music. Do you think it has political content because of the claimed inspiration for it? I heard the music. The politics was imperceptible.

Ann Althouse said...

p. rich: You're assuming a situation in which I knew the politics before I made the purchase. My question was whether I should have inquired into the politics, either because I should always check the politics before buying music or because the word "Muslim" should have prompted me to.

former law student said...

Ann, I don't know where to leave this comment, but stick with today's picture. It looks like a senior class photo; you look as perky as a flight attendant in a good mood.

bill said...

Note that I'm not buying the politics, nor did I inquire into his politics before buying the music. Do you think I should have? With all musicians or just ones with "Muslim" in their names? I heard the music and bought the music.

Like the music, buy the music. No big deal. And even if the music had lyrics with a political message, liking doesn't mean agreeing. If you advocate only buying CDs for artists who spout messages you agree with, do you do the same with books and authors?

Pogo said...

I used to listen to Muslimgauze all the time, unaware of the politics behind his titles.

I stopped buying them when I began to wonder if he funded Hamas or Hezbollah with any of my money. Plus it really started to piss me off.

I also would avoid very nice instrumental music entitled "Kill the Blacks". Of course, Wagner had a similar problem. It would be harder to explain him away if Die Feen (The Fairies) were instead Die Juden.

New York said...

Ask Dom for the French artists "Vox Populi!" They're an atmospheric noise group with ethnic influences but without the disturbing politics.

Joan said...

Joan, it's instrumental music. Do you think it has political content because of the claimed inspiration for it? I heard the music. The politics was imperceptible.

I don't care about the inspiration for the music, or how it sounded. If the title of the album or the song has political content, you can't separate the two. Could you honestly enjoy listening to a song called "Kill the Jews" even if it were musically beautiful? Maybe I'm different, but when I hear music, I root around in my memory until I can identify it, it's an aural puzzle to be solved. If finding that solution means realizing that the artist is a terrorist-supporting wingnut, I'm not going to have pleasant associations with the music no matter what.

With an innocuous album title and non-descript song titles, I could see buying work from this artist, but I would later come to regret it. Like Pogo, I don't want to give money to someone who may use it to fund terrorist organizations.

I think it's fine to avoid artist that you disagree with politically, if that's what you want to do. For the most part, I don't; some of my favorite actors are political idiots, but I still watch their films. The difference is, I believe that they do not actively support terrorist organizations. If Leo DiCaprio started talking up Hezbollah instead of global warming, I'd never go see another movie of his, ever. And if I liked the Dixie Chicks' music, I'd buy their albums, even though I disagree with them, politically -- I just don't like their music.

Palladian said...

Would you put an Arno Breker sculpture in your front yard?

Anyway, I'll take counterpoint over shit-smeared cds any day. But I don't like "Noise" on records. The noise of nature and life is beautiful enough.

Ann Althouse said...

People who are banned as commenters here need to leave forever. I don't care what you have to say. You are permanently banned and can never earn the right to return. Don't send compliments. Don't say anything. Get the hell out and stay gone.

Simon said...

Ann said...
"Note that I'm not buying the politics, nor did I inquire into his politics before buying the music. Do you think I should have? With all musicians or just ones with "Muslim" in their names? I heard the music and bought the music...."

It does become difficult when art is commingled with politics. When you're anywhere to the right of center, I think one fast learns to either tolerate musicians, comedians and actors with radically different views and enjoy their art to the extent possible, or one gives up listening to music, laughing at comedy and watching movies. If one's a conservative, virtually all pop culture artists have politics radically askew to your own - so really, what's the difference between simply rolling one's eyes at the liberal skew of Clooney's recent movies and just enjoying them (or not enjoying them) qua movies, on the one hand, and simply rolling one's eyes at the political leanings of this record and just ennjoying it (or not enjoying it) qua a record? It doesn't detract from my enjoyment of Pink Floyd that Roger Waters is politically quite wrong. If I could understand a word that the shouty fellow from Rage Against the Machine was singing, I'm sure I'd disagree with him, but I'd still find many of their songs very enjoyable and groovy. And really, couldn't one argue that to do otherwise to buy into their artist's conceit? If you disapprove, isn't it far better to metaphorically pat them on the head condescendingly and let them know that their opinions don't really matter that much?

The flipside of this I'm of the view that the whole "shut up and sing" meme is rather silly, and that there's nothing wrong with musicians using one's cultural platform to advocate a political agenda, but that having done so, artists can't then complain if fans who came for the music leave for the politics.

Simon said...

Joan said...
"Could you honestly enjoy listening to a song called 'Kill the Jews' even if it were musically beautiful?"

How do we feel about "Fuck tha Police"?

PatCA said...

Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers was written 37 years ago. Things haven't changed much, have they?

http://www.tomwolfe.com/RadicalChic.html

Ralph said...

It looks like a senior class photo; you look as perky as a flight attendant in a good mood.
Was that supposed to be a compliment?

She may very well pass for 45
In the dark, with the light
behind her.
(Gilbert & Sullivan, describing the rich attorney's elderly, ugly daughter, not Ann, who doesn't look a day over 44 in that photo)

john said...

Ann,

Who are you banning? To the uniformed, and that's me and maybe a few others, it reads as if you just flew off the handle, kinda like Mrs. Boyle, 4th grade teacher at Holy Rosary. We all behaved for a while after those but we rarely knew who were the subjects of her wrath.

Be specific, please.

Regards,

john said...

And don't say "You know who you are."

former law student said...

Was that supposed to be a compliment?

Never. On the internet, the line between anonymous complimenter and creepy stalker is too fine to walk. "Nice photo" is as far as I care to go.

Joan said...

Simon: How do we feel about "Fuck tha Police"?

I don't listen to music with lyrics like that, and I don't allow my children to listen to it, either. They're a bit young for it, anyway, but they already know that parents have to vet any book, movie, music, or video game purchases they make.

All the bad attitudes towards police, women as hos, all that crap -- that's adolescent talking-up, which may or may not contribute to acting out. Isn't most of that music bought by white boys who live in the suburbs who want to seem bad so they can appear less bland? It's all a put-on, and it's ugly. Destructive to the social fabric? I'll go so far as to say it's not helping, that's for sure. But Hamas and Hezbollah are in an entirely different league.

Simon said...

Joan,
Well, I don't listen to it either, but for sake of argument, that begs the question: how was the baiting of cultural conservatives' sensibilities during the Rennaisance any different? Couldn't you make the argument that the Medici played the "white boys who live in the suburbs who want to seem bad so they can appear less bland" to Botticelli's N.W.A.? What separates it apart from our approbation of the one form of art and disapproval of (or tacit uninterest in) the latter?

Justin said...

Simon said...

The flipside of this I'm of the view that the whole "shut up and sing" meme is rather silly,...

I think it goes beyond silly. It's demeaning and dehumanizing. It's saying that the musician can't have their own opinions. They exist only to entertain the audience.

It's also quite hypocritical. I find it very hard to believe that the people who so quickly scream "shut up and sing!" would not use their own fame (if they had any) to further their own political agenda.

...and that there's nothing wrong with musicians using one's cultural platform to advocate a political agenda, but that having done so, artists can't then complain if fans who came for the music leave for the politics.

Exactly.

Trooper York said...

I thought Jammyland is where Maxine gets her sleepwear with the little footies at the bottom.

Ann Althouse said...

John: The person who is banned knows who she is. She has been harassing me for years. I delete all her comments (in a way that erases her name), yet she keeps coming back. She is a former student of mine whose name I could write out, which would affect her reputation via Google, quite badly. For some reason, she doesn't seem to care. Being a vicious nuisance is too important to her. None of the names that you see here are hers. People who've been here a while know I have reason to speak to her as harshly as I have here. And more. But ignoring her is really a better policy, and I will go back to that. Alternatively, I could turn on comments moderation, but that would slow things down for the good people here.

Ann Althouse said...

Jammyland is a reggae music store.

john said...

Ann,

Thanks. I guess it couldn't be LOS then.

John

Joan said...

how was the baiting of cultural conservatives' sensibilities during the Rennaisance any different?

Well, for one thing, it didn't involve such copious use of profanity, and I don't think Botticelli was intending to create something that was purposefully ugly and destructive. I'm skating on very thin ice here, as I know next to nothing about Renaissance Art ('cept that it's pretty), but re-envisioning beauty and creating something from that new vision is different from trying to destroy a system you don't wish to participate in, just because you don't see any merits in that system.

Which is not to say they shouldn't write that stuff. I don't think it has any value, but time will tell. If people are still playing NWA centuries from now the same way we can still admire Botticelli, good for them, their "message" (whatever it's supposed to be) will have endured. Just don't expect me to buy it or let my kids listen to it.

Ann Althouse said...

I have never even considered banning LOS. I don't consider him a problem. People who don't like him need to learn how not to take the bait.

. said...

althouse a fan of muslimgauze? somehow, this makes you seem even sexier than i originally thought

may i suggest:

the vampire of tehran

lo fi india abuse

fatah guerilla


btw.. nice new profile pic

Ralph said...

For a while, I thought "This post has been removed by the author" referred to the author of the blog, not the comment, and I wondered why you were so arbitrarily heavy handed. I can't figure out how people do that, but I've never felt the need to withdraw my (uncultured) pearls of wisdom.

Kev said...

Ralph--when you view your own comments on the main post (assuming you're still signed in when you do so), there's a little trash-can icon next to your comment that will allow you to scrub your own post if you so desire.

Joan: If people are still playing NWA centuries from now the same way we can still admire Botticelli, good for them, their "message" (whatever it's supposed to be) will have endured.

This reminds me of something my friends and I have talked about: In 20 years, will there be "classic rap" radio stations like the "classic rock" ones we have now? I can just imagine a commercial for that station, with a velvety-voiced announcer touting "the rap you grew up with."

Ralph said...

Thanks, Kev. I'd never looked at my old comments before.
The way they "sample" each other's work, how could anyone tell what's old from what's new? In 30 years there will be a lot more middle-aged deaf people with poor grammar and bad homelives.

El Presidente said...

There is an inverse correlation between the quality of a musician's politics and the quality of their music.

Buy what sounds good.

. said...

el presidente: yea!

i've never been interested in bryn jones' politics... however, there is no other muslimgauze ...this music has appealed to me in a way that no other music can..

and, i find it absurd that anyone would get so upset about the pictures of dominick fernow ...what a bunch of babies

Revenant said...

I normally ignore the politics of musicians, but I don't think I could justify giving money to a person who supports terrorist groups (if I knew that he did it).