September 7th, 2008


Alice, Uovo, mongoloids and meat

Hisae and I went last night to a launch party for the new Berlin offices of Uovo magazine, which happen to be directly below where my Berlin record label, Bungalow, used to be ten years ago.

We managed to miss the Davide Balula performance (though we chatted with him awhile) because we had to rush off to see the performance Ujino Muneteru was giving in a warehouse in Mitte.

Muneteru uses drills and mixers and hairdryers and things to produce "domestic-industrial" sound. He also has turntables rotating physical objects which produce rhythm loops, and rigs up smashed vehicles (a Trabi and a truck, last night) with chandeliers and blinking lights. His work reminded me of Pierre Bastien's:

Tonight we're having a food-and-film supper, projecing for Japanese neighbours a recent NHK programme about Japan's food self-sufficiency -- or lack of it. NHK shows what the average Japanese supermarket would look like emptied of food not grown in Japan; pretty threadbare! They also make two men live on a diet of Japanese-only food for a week. They soon get pretty bored -- there isn't even any soy sauce!

After the NHK doc we're showing Our Daily Bread, the award-winning 2005 commentary-free documentary showing (with stunning Andreas Gursky-like photography) the industrial processes of food production usually hidden from the consuming public:

Ever since having vegans Joe and Emma to stay, Hisae and I have cut way down on our meat consumption. We both used to be vegetarians at one point (me for four years). It's interesting to see headlines in today's papers relaying advice from the UN Climate Change panel saying that eating less meat could temper the ill effects of global warming.

Finally, here's my favourite pop song of the week, discovered in Polypunk 34, the latest DJ mix from Digiki. It's Schneider TM's take on Popchor Berlin's take on Devo's classic satire Mongoloid (which I bought in 1977 when it first came out as a single, c/w Jocko Homo -- I was a teenage Devo fan, naturally!).

Mongoloid (Schneider TM's take on Popchor Berlin's cover)

Schneider TM's version came out in 2007; here's Popchor's a capella version, from 2004. But wait, can that chronology be right? Because if you listen carefully you can hear the Schneider TM version spilling from Popchor Berlin's cans.

The Wikipedia entry on the song says, cautiously: "Although it is a positive song (a rarity for DEVO at the time of the song's recording), it has received much criticism due to its controversial title. Alternatively it is an ironic song referring to the level of intellect and education of the average American being equivalent to a mongoloid, so that he was undetectable in modern American society."

Finally, a rather spookily addictive song someone called Pogo has made using only sounds sampled from Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" -- a film I've never seen, by the way, and never will; I absolutely don't accept Disney's right to have made it in the first place. I do, though, accept the right of someone to cut up the Disney version for scrap and samples. Which raises an interesting spectre: that some of us are encountering recontextualised appropriationist art without having experienced the original contexts in the first place. How do we know how much of what we're responding to is Pogo's and how much is Disney's? It's a bit like eating a vegan burger that simulates meat just a wee bit too well.