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Everywhere I have ever composed, googlestreetviewed - click opera
February 2010
 
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Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 03:30 am
Everywhere I have ever composed, googlestreetviewed

"How can you spend so much time walking around in Google Streetview?" Hisae asks. It's difficult to answer, so I just say I love it. It's something to do with it being this very gentle interactive medium ("locative media", if you want to be posh) that the richest company in the world just decided to make one day, perhaps having read a short story by Borges or Calvino. Maps are too abstract -- linked photographs start to bring in shape, texture, culture. You can then add other dimensions of your own, new layers of meaning. Why not music, or time?

I remember the shape and texture of a particular year by where I was living and what album I was making. So it makes sense for me to expand Streetview by visiting the flats I've lived, written and recorded in and adding the sleeves of the records I made in those apartments, and perhaps the music itself. Because I've lived in so many different decades and different countries, it makes for a ton of "locativity" and a ton of "media". What's more, Google has just put the UK's Streetview online. So come walk with me!



Date range: 1981-3.
Address: 7 Ainslie Place, Edinburgh (Map).
Album: The Man on Your Street: Songs from the career of the Dictator Hall (The Happy Family, released by 4AD Records, 1982)
Notes: Post-divorce, my dad bought a flat next door to where we used to live in the 60s. He gave me a tiny mezzanine below it to live in. It was Kafkaesque; the ceiling was so low I couldn't stand up straight. Google Streetview doesn't approach the building, so you can only see it here from afar. Members of Josef K would come here to fetch me round to the language college on Great Stuart Street, where we'd rehearse in the sub-basement.



Date range: Nine months in 1984-5.
Address: 37 Wavertree Road, Streatham, London (Map)
Album: Circus Maximus
Notes: I moved to London in 1984 and took over a friend's lease on an overheated room in the unattractive suburb of Streatham. Here I wrote the weird songs about the Bible and ancient Rome which became my first album -- partly based on frequent trips up to the British Museum and the National Gallery.



Date range: From 1985 to 1990.
Address: 38 Draycott Place, Chelsea, London SW3 (Map)
Albums: The Poison Boyfriend, Tender Pervert, Don't Stop The Night
Notes: I took over from my french girlfriend a tiny ground room facing Bray Place, and stayed there for five years. The top end of the King's Road was just a stone's throw away. I was poor, but this part of London was rich. I wasn't very successful, but this is where I'd have been living if I'd hit the bigtime. It was weird. I spent most afternoons up at South Ken pretending to be french.



Date range: 1990 to 1993.
Address: 127 Cleveland Street, London W1 (Map)
Albums: Hippopotamomus, The Ultraconformist, Voyager, Timelord
Notes: I had a ground floor flat in the building on the right. I shared with a New Zealand girl who looked a bit like Audrey Hepburn and was dating Lawrence from Felt. From this point on I was recording my albums at home. I loved being right under the Telecom Tower (Streetview makes it look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa here) and being able to walk down to Soho.



Date range: 1994 to 1997.
Address: 108 Rue Caulaincourt, Montmartre, Paris, France (Map)
Albums: The Philosophy of Momus, Slender Sherbet, 20 Vodka Jellies
Notes: I ran away to Paris with my new bride Shazna and rented a chambre de bonne in Montmartre, in the shadow of Sacre Coeur. Started writing and producing successfully for Japanese singers. Eventually moved up to the Butte, to the highest square in Paris, the Place du Tertre (in the big building in this picture).



Date range: 1997 to 2000.
Address: 13 Long Lane, London WC1 (Map)
Albums: Ping Pong, The Little Red Songbook, Stars Forever
Notes: I moved back to London (leaving my bride in the care of a frenchman) and took a penthouse flat atop an office block in Clerkenwell -- it's the metallic windowed cap on the brick building to the right. The flat overlooked the Barbican and the Circle Line, two very inspiring prospects. You can probably hear train noise if you listen to the albums on headphones.



Date range: 2000 to 2002.
Address: 38 Orchard Street, New York, NY (Map)
Album: Folktronic
Notes: I moved to New York and took a flat at the Chinatown end of the Lower East Side. The apartment was tiny and expensive, but I really loved living there. Me and Shizu rode everywhere on Razor scooters, wearing ridiculous secondhand clothes from Domseys. Folktronic is my American album, and also my dot com crash album, and also my diasporic Scottish puritan album. The period ended with 9/11; somehow, after that, it didn't feel like you could be playful in New York any more.



Date range: 2001 to 2002.
Address: 402 Coop T&M, 2-5-9 Meguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0063, Japan (Map)
Album: Oskar Tennis Champion
Notes: Shizu rented us an apartment in Meguro, West Tokyo -- it's the top flat in the boxy building on the left. There were tennis courts and an open-air swimming pool nearby, and behind them the Meguro River, with trendy Nakameguro a pleasant ten-minute ride away on a folding bike. Here (sitting, naturally, on the floor) I recorded a strange, arty album influenced by musique concrete and Cantonese opera. In terms of personal cultural eras, I think of this as "the beginning of now". This particular dynasty still holds sway.



Date range: 2003 to 2004.
Address: Karl-Marx-Allee 117, Berlin (Map)
Albums: Summerisle, Otto Spooky
Notes: Time ran out on my visas and my relationship with Shizu. I had to come back to Europe, and, after a couple of months in Paris, picked Berlin because it was cheaper and cooler. Through friends I got a lease on a communist-era showcase flat on the Karl Marx Allee, and was soon joined there by a fashion student called Ayako. The first album I made in Friedrichshain was Summerisle, my computer folk collaboration with Anne Laplantine. The second was Otto Spooky, a Berlin take on World Music influenced by David Bowie's Lodger. I had to cheat and use my own photos; Google hasn't yet gone live with their German Streetview pictures, though they've taken them.



Date range: 2005.
Address: (Map)
Album: Ocky Milk
Notes: This record was made half on Wuhlischstrasse in Friedrichshain, Berlin and half in Osaka, at Hisae's parents' house in Tennoji. Since there's no Streetview for Berlin, I'm giving you the Osaka site -- or as close to it as the Google car got (it's down that little alley then right).



Date range: 2006 to present.
Address: Somewhere in "Kreuzkoln" or, if you prefer, "Neubeka", Berlin (approximate map).
Album: Joemus
Notes: Again a non-Streetview view. I really love this peaceful, leafy, non-conformist triangle below the Kreuzberg Landwehrkanal. Since the Joemus album recorded here was a collaboration with Joe Howe I could have shown his Glasgow gaff in Bellgrove-by-the-Necropolis, but the sun wouldn't have been shining there, for sure.

Nah, just as I thought, it's dreich:



Joe, sensibly, moved to Berlin. He plays on Saturday night (as Ben Butler and Mousepad, on a bill with Gangpol & Mit) at Tape Club.

46CommentReply

dabroots
dabroots
dabroots
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)

That's great fun! Unfortunately, I'd have to pick up at age 21, as I didn't live in any Google Street View city until that time. Looking at the view for Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side put me into panic for a few minutes, thinking that my home there in the early 1980s had been demolished, but it's actually only the building next door.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC)

Oh, Ludlow! Right next door to me on Orchard!

I was going to say in the entry, people should post links to where they've lived and we can look at the Streetview snaps!


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farblust
farblust
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 04:04 am (UTC)

That Streetview is too addictive. I spent 2 hours playing with it yesterday afternoon.

I was curious how AA, ICA and other Architects' practices in London look and to my surprise most of them got a very unremarkable facade. And many architects' practices are in some narrow or busy streets. I always find it paradoxical that if those offices are dull and constraining, how can they shape a good space?

I think London in general got so many places that don't look special, but in fact they are some sort of epicentres of whatever in the world. Like AA, or Downing Street...

by the way, I think I passed by Ainslie Place when I was on a bus to the National Gallery of Modern Art. It looks really spectacular!


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 04:10 am (UTC)

A corner of Ainslie Place (and I learn via Streetview that that part has been resurfaced, they took the cobbles out) is part of the A1, which is the main road up the East Coast, from London to Scotland. It's pretty amazing it stayed cobbled for so long, considering it's this major transport route leading from England up over the Forth Bridge.

The other side of Ainslie Place, my side, is quiet. My mum still lives around the corner from there, and her part (Moray Place) is even quieter, because they've blocked the roads to traffic.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand


(Anonymous)
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)

Home sweet home (http://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&ll=40.778835,-73.953996&spn=0,359.980688&z=16&layer=c&cbll=40.778909,-73.953922&panoid=NtNlAhBR8BtPwgWbzrZexQ&cbp=12,67.2680241906285,,0,6.800000000000012)


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 06:05 am (UTC)

Sorry nick. You might want to fix that link...I'm clueless when it comes to posting shit on LJ.


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hadleyburg
hadleyburg
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 06:55 am (UTC)
Parallels

That's interesting.

I lived in Moyer Rd in Streatham in the late 80s, and while in London became a fan of Felt. During that time I worked in Fitzroy Sq. just under the Telecom tower. I now live in Tokyo.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 07:29 am (UTC)
Re: Parallels

Aha! Three degrees of locative separation!


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aidaho
aidaho
honeybunnyroo
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 07:57 am (UTC)

lovely. i may do this on my own journal. i've moved around a lot...


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 08:47 am (UTC)

I don't think anything could be quite so un-Momus as those mock tudor houses of Streatham.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 08:54 am (UTC)

Could it be that I never experienced otherness so extreme, ostranenie so estranged? Yes, it could. STRET... HAM. Weird.


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pulled-up.blogspot.com
pulled-up.blogspot.com
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 09:58 am (UTC)

Cardross Street looks uncharacteristically tidy and empty in that photo. Don't know how they managed not to get a pile of discarded matresses and tv's in there... or women in dressing gowns smoking on beach chairs outside the close!


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 10:21 am (UTC)
The only sign of life...



...a few doors doon from yous, hen!


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pulled-up.blogspot.com
pulled-up.blogspot.com
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 10:19 am (UTC)

Joemus was finished in the Tigerbeat legacy flat on Taborstrasse (http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&client=safari&q=taborstrasse+berlin&ie=UTF8&split=0&ei=FG3DSevNMpCv-AbR5sjoBg&ll=52.498328,13.44615&spn=0.004768,0.013819&z=16&iwloc=addr)


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sarmoung
sarmoung
The Empire Never Ended
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 11:18 am (UTC)

One that Hisae might enjoy is the iPhone/Touch application Crimemap (防犯マップ) which is a feed of crime and traffic incidents around Osaka. It shows the location on Google Maps, but not Street View so far as I can tell.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC)

out of all those pictures, London has by far the most miserable architecture. Those people should be ashamed of themselves.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC)

it really does... reminds me of streets here in Astoria, Queens, NYC. just as repetitive and bland as cookie cutter suburbia, but with a weathered, defeated facade. Berlin on the other hand, has magnificent architecture, very strong and gracefully aged.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 04:07 pm (UTC)

One interesting question is whether the relationship between a particular place and a particular album is arbitrary. Would it have been possible to make Folktronic in Paris, Joemus in London, Oskar in New York?

There's a big invisible here, which is culture itself, and culture has been pretty internationalised recently. A big influence on me from 2000 onwards has been German electronica, but I was buying that first at New York record stores. Living in Berlin, probably, if anything, diminished the influence of German artists like Tarwater or Holger Hiller on my music, even if I was able to pass them on the street or invite them round for dinner. Things are powerful for me, culturally, to the extent that they're strange and distant, so there's a certain "grass is greener on the other side" thing going on. Here in Berlin, Japan is probably a stronger influence than it would be if I were actually in Japan.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)

Cultural attraction, in other words, follows "cat diet" rules. Cat lacks protein, feels the need for fish, heads to the river to try to catch one. Lacks certain vitamins only found in herbs, heads out to the herb garden to nibble stems. Once at the river or herb garden, though, cat is likely to need something else, not more of the same.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)

Great post, all your best albums were done in London. Is it not time you were relocating again. Some dump in Shoreditch no doubt.


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subalpine
subalpine
subalpine
Fri, Mar. 20th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)

This is wonderful! I love mapping music & memory onto place (& vice versa), and Streetview images make an interesting element.

> I was going to say in the entry, people should post links to where they've lived and we can look at the Streetview snaps!

With some of the new additions, Google is now up to about half coverage of the places I've lived, so..



First, I grew up about 10km beyond these trees. The car-oriented town where the image above came from is no fun to walk around in either in Google or in real life, so I won't bother to link to it. (The mountains nearer to where I lived are endlessly interesting to me, though, and I visit them whenever I have the chance, bypassing the town altogether if possible. Grainy but more representative photo here, shot by my mom from the mailbox. If Google ever fulfills their goal of providing street views of the entire world, then I will probably spend a lot of time walking through those hills online...)



In 1996, I went to Japan for the first time, staying in Sendai. This is the only neighborhood in the list that might actually be fun to walk around in with Streetview, so I'll link to it.



In 1998 I found very low rent subletting a tiny room at the front of the ground level behind the scooter in the photo. It looked a little nicer at the time, with juniper bushes and a rhododendron tree outside, instead of this ridiculous landscaping they apparently have now.

The landlord was a certain conspiracy theorist who told me, when I came to check it out, "I kind of know too much... There are people who might want to kill me. But don't worry - I don't think they would try to do it by shooting through your room to get to mine."

I decided the same evening to start renting it and lived there off and on until around 2005, doing almost all my own cooking despite the total lack of kitchen access, and finding that the cheapest and most effective method of making it into a nice living space was to put down orientalist goza mats over the floor, also eliminating the need for any furniture.

I could let you roam around the neighborhood, but we can't have any new tenants getting shot at, so this location must remain undisclosed.



In the middle of that time, I also lived in Shizuoka, Japan from 2000 to 2001. Shizuoka is the city I would most enjoy walking through with Streetview, but so far it's not covered at all. It's still enjoyable enough to look at from straight overhead, though, especially with Google's arrows pointing the way to walk and ride the rail and walk again between the 2 places I lived there.

After that I also spent a few months in Shanghai and some time in a garage on the Washington coast. Neither of those places are covered by Streetview, but you can take a listen to the seafoam there, if you like.

And right now I'm living below the flying bird encapsulated in the pink sun-bubble:


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Mar. 21st, 2009 01:34 am (UTC)
how and with what do you work?

absolutely fascinating momus loving this post
.is it true you recored some albums on a roland workstation
.if you had the money to spend on expensive studio time would you still record at home.. is it not a bit solipsistic .i know youve recently collaborate with mr howe but usual you work alone true?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Mar. 21st, 2009 03:02 am (UTC)
Re: how and with what do you work?

Well, if money were no object perhaps I'd record in a Chateau in the south of France, and invite my friends to "jam". But, you know, that would end up involving Joe coming with his laptop and programming in some quiet room by himself anyway!

Or I'd send a mobile unit out to the tribal areas in the hills of norther Laos and collaborate with the village musicians and shamans, but that's "parachuting", isn't it? I'm probably best where I am. Which, thanks to the internet, is approximately everywhere.


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eptified
eptified
H. Duck
Sat, Mar. 21st, 2009 02:49 am (UTC)

more like LOLcativity


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