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Jai Yen

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Tag Archives: ariel pink

just a little addendum to my prior post: everyone’s always yapping on about how ariel pink essentially birthed glo-fi, which is great and all; i mean, ariel pink’s sound prior to before today was nigh revolutionary among indie artists at the time, especially during the painfully precious early-to-mid-oughts, and it was one all his own. so it’s about time he and his band have gotten due recognition. but one name i’ve rarely heard credited for entertaining glo-fidelity before it glew so brightly is that of sound artist william basinski. basinski had been doing his thing long before ariel pink, making odd sound compositions on tape because tape sounds weird while cassettes were actually still popular (!). i surmise that basinski was at least almost as influential on the glo-fi scene as ariel pink, albeit not because of his ultra-hip underground status, but rather because of the widespread critical attention paid to the disintegration loops (music better summarily described as “memory tapes” than any i’ve ever heard). basinski surely wasn’t alone in his practice, but i’ll be damned if these achingly gorgeous hymns to material senescence hadn’t sown some seeds now being harvested by the likes of washed out, toro y moi, memoryhouse, baths, dem hunger, e&e, and whoever else the fuck you know, sounds like 2010 sounding like 1990 all over again (and again, and again, and again….)

no?

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so i know i’m behind the ball on responding to this bit in the NYT, but it merits further musing on the apparently all-consuming sub-genre of indie pop lovingly known as GLO-FI:

1 – what the hell does glo-fi even mean any more when it includes acts like sleigh bells and memory tapes? does glo-fi = synthy indie pop + hella beatz? memory tapes’s unquestioned inclusion in the genre leads me to believe as much, since his sound really does not strongly conjure what the name invokes – i don’t care how many times you pitch bend those synth leads to make them sound “warped,” this is just shoegazey bedroom dance pop (see #1.1). yet glo-fi, as i understand it (as does simon reynolds), spins the hauntology of acts like burial and ariel pink into something more blithely nostalgic, pushing them in a brighter, breezier, more wistful and new agey direction. thus, i don’t care if sleigh bells is even slightly referential to 90’s jock jams-style dance pop, or if memory tapes gets his portamento on atop hazy synth pads – these acts are hardly representative of this admittedly elusive sub-genre of pop.

1.01 – as far as its descriptive quality, “memory tapes” actually kind of works better than “glo-fi.” alas, it’s taken. if only hipster runoff would have suggested “memorex.” (see #3).

1.1 – (re: kuo’s #5) why the confusion over shoegaze vs. glo-fi at all? are we just at the time where enough indie fans have forgotten that shoegaze happened? might as well include deerhunter, wild nothing, and the pains of being pure at heart while you’re at it, then…

2 – kuo seems to like the teengirl fantasy record quite a lot. i am glad! while its glo-fidelity is somewhat tenuous to my ears, this ohio duo’s loopy dub, which falls somewhere between the field and technotronic, fuses trad pop and straight-up electronic dance music with more aplomb than gui boratto. if their upcoming self-titled is anything like their free CD-R from last year, the indie world better be ready for some TREATS (damn you, sleigh bells!!).

3 – i actually kind of hate the term glo-fi, even though it’s pretty much around for good. the fact that the moniker “chillwave,” courtesy of hipster runoff’s carles’s brilliant lampooning of the quest for a good genre name, has actually been eagerly appropriated by fans speaks to our consciousness of the absurdity in trying to establish a genre as it’s being made. with the more recent introduction of (ugh) witch-house (see #3.01), it seems like we’re getting to the point where a sub-genre is invented and hyped before music even exists for it. luckily, this allows for handfuls of artists to cash in super easy on the hype, given a rudimentary knowledge of basic production techniques. thanks, internet!

3.01 – witch-house really is just as dumb a name as glo-fi.

3.1 – though anything’s better than “hypnagogic pop”. awful, just awful.

4 – (re: kuo #6) curious, this snarky bit about how all of this music is primed for commercial use (it’s the only diamond that’s full! ha!). no doubt glo-fi’s commercial readiness results from its self-perpetuated hype; basically, then, kuo here gives further lie to the cynicism surrounding the hype that gave rise to glo-fi in the first place, a sort of “why not make glo-fi the next big thing? it’s not like we have anything better” – which is dangerously close to the “why not put this band in a hybrid car ad? better that than black eyed peas” sentiment that trailed behind iron & wine’s M&M’s ad (i mean M&M’s Iron & Wine ad!). but the latter why-not came first, which just goes to show how once ethical principles go out the window, and music starts chasing the hype, soon the artists come a-knocking at toyota’s front door, rather than the other way around.

4.01 – perhaps inadvertently, kuo’s article contains not one, but two references to apple products! is apple the official sponsor of the glo-fi hype?

4.1 – am i the only one who can’t help but project a trailer to an episode of glee behind sleigh bells’s “infinity guitars”?

5 – call glo-fi a sham all you want (i know i did at first), but as long as it continues to inspire more gorgeous music videos like these, i will be satisfied. (via gorillavsbear)

Toro Y Moi – Leave Everywhere from Heidi Petty on Vimeo.

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