Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Great Gang Up

I admit it. I like Robert Wyatt. He ain't perfect, nor does he claim to be. Do you know who hates Robert Wyatt?

The hipsters at Samir Khan had handled ALL of the reviews so far, creating in my mind the idea that Pitchfork is just another bullshit hype machine. The hype machine sat down one day and said, "Hey, why does everyone like Robert Wyatt? He's overrated. He's outdated and he never played in a post-punk group. Let's lambast him, that way no one will ever want to listen to his music, ever!"

And now Michael Sandlin decides to jump on the bandwagon.

Well, I've managed to stay awake through another Robert Wyatt reissue, his latest sleepy affair being 1991's Dondestan. All these heaps of critical praise, and I'm still puzzled. Why all the fuss?

Oh, poor Michael, too hip to stay awake during a Robert Wyatt record. Do you know why you're puzzled, Michael? Because people like this album, and you don't. This puzzles you because:

a) You believe yours and Pitchfork's opinion of music is the only thing that matters.
b) You are actively taking part in a Robert Wyatt smear campaign

His previous releases, especially the likes of Old Rottenhat and Rock Bottom, are embarrassingly feeble and amorphous, not to mention notoriously overrated.

Based on whose opinion, Pitchfork's? Notoriously overrated? YOU are feeble, Michael. Do you understand music, at all? So far the music is sleepy, and he basically compares it to embarrassingly feeble and amorphous. So this guy hates unstructured meandering things. So, without further ado...

Michael's Day

I wake up and make the bed. I brush my teeth. I eat my breakfast. I go to Pitchfork's office. I drink coffee. We choose what is hip and what is not. I eat lunch. I make phone calls. I do some writing. I go home. I eat dinner. I take out the garbage. I repeat this every day, because every day should be rigorously structured. I am Michael.

I would hate Michael if I met him. He writes this review about hating meandering, amorphous music, but I guarantee if you threw on Sun Ra, Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music or Deerhunter he would bust a gasket trying to tell his friends how great this music is. Only because this music is hip. Robert Wyatt is square and overrated. I hate this man.

As far as I'm concerned, when considering the solo work of former drummers in influential bands, even Ringo Starr made better solo albums than this revered Soft Machine drummer- turned- muzak- making- man- of- the- people.

Ah, nothing like evidence to back up my point. Michael makes a sophomoric jab at Wyatt using...Ringo. Terrible drummer joke. Awful. Also, I wonder who wrote all of Ringo's tunes on his solo records? Oh yeah, some shmoes named Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison.

Are you kidding me? Is it that ridiculous of an idea that the drummer from one of the greatest bands of all time, with all three songwriters from said band contributing material, creates one of the great former drummer records? It's not. Most people know that this is a great record, you're just stating the obvious to create more anti-Wyatt sentiment.

Other examples of this outrageous claim, just to add some levity to this bilious entry:

As far as I'm concerned, when considering the work of guitarist in The Yardbirds, even Eric Clapton made better albums than Jeff Beck, that I-wish-I-was-Jimmy-Page-wanna-be.

As far as I'm concerned, when considering the work of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, even Neil Young made better records than David Crosby, that fat coke-snorting harmony-singing fuck.

As far as I'm concerned, when considering the work of solo Wu-Tang releases, even Raekwon made better records than Cappadonna, that taxi-driving-Ghostface-guesting bastard.

See, it's easy. Anyone can do it. It all depends on how much you want to look like an asshole.

His solo work is child- like and primitive compared to the complex modal noodlings of the Soft Machine.

GAHHH!!! There it is, my favorite rendering of the musical term "improvisation", noodling. This is fucking ridiculous. Here we go, maybe a dictionary definition will clear things up:

The act or art of composing and rendering music, poetry,
and the like, extemporaneously; as, improvisation on the
A thin strip of dough, made with eggs, rolled up, cut into
small pieces, and used in soup.
informal terms for a human head

Hmm, the only difference between the two terms is that one is a clinical description, while "noodling" doesn't exist in the dictionary. That's because it's derogatory slang. I could only find "noodle". STOP USING THE TERM NOODLING. If you care not for improvisation, say so. If not, consider yourself gutless.

I had a dream about this recently. I saunter over to the Pitchfork office and sit everyone down. First I slap all of them in the face. I ask if anyone has any formal music education. Almost half the staff is dismissed when their hands are not raised in response. Secondly, I tell them to do research. Actual honest to god research, so they don't end up sounding like morons. Because that would prevent things like this from happening:

Wyatt's songwriting collaborator on Dondestan, Alfredo Benge, actually handles much of the wordsmithing here. Benge seems less overt in his politics, yet likes to clump words and images together in ways only a stoned Allen Ginsburg could have appreciated...

Sounds coherent enough. Until you realize that Alfredo Benge is Robert Wyatt's WIFE, Alfreda Benge. Un-fucking-believable. How much does Michael care about this review? Not at all. If he cared, he would have realized his error.

Or his editors would have recognized the error. Oh, that's right, I forgot, this is the Great Gang Up against Robert Wyatt. No one gives a shit, as long as the albums receive low marks. This is really the height of responsible music criticism. If their purpose was to drive me to self-flagellate, the mission is fucking accomplished. Oh yeah, why not throw some salt in the wound?

And what's with that voice? It's like some sick permutation of Benny Hill and Neil Young!

A sick permutation? Robert Wyatt sounds like Benny Hill how? Because he's British?!? How fucking childish can you get?

Let me also state that Pitchfork LOVES bands with terrible lead singers. The Flaming Lips. Mercury Rev, Pavement (S.M. isn't that bad, but he ain't perfect), The Fall, The Swell Maps, Liars, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, the list goes on and on and on...

Nothing like blatant hypocrisy to spice your day up, huh Michael?

So, when does this sort of lazy repetition wear out the tag of high- concept "English eccentricity" and become simply monotonous sloppily- conceived hippie crap? I mean, whether we're talking about a clumsy offhand phrase or mind- numbing instrumental passage, Wyatt plunks it all down on tape while adoring critics fondle their Thesauruses in anticipation. And what for? Why? Eh, I'll just shut up and go back to bed.

I'll now answer his questions in this final, horrible, hipster hipster hipster paragraph.

1. This sort of lazy repetition will never wear out it's tag. Never. Everything ages Michael, even you. Soon you will 50 years old, bald, fat, still trying to convince people that hippies are idiots.

2. Hippie crap? You couldn't possibly sound more cynical/full of downs syndrome. The anti-hippie movement ended maybe 15 years ago, fuckface.

3. People are allowed to like this album. So are critics. I'm sure you fondle your Thesaurus when Yeah Yeah Yeah's release their all-yellow vinyl single. Don't act like you're above other critics. Michael, you are part of the problem. You don't do any research and you don't even care.

4. Yes, just shut up and go to bed. Dick.


Shatraw said...

god i hope pitchfork people read this site. i mean, they've gotta be egomaniacal enough to google themselves at least thrice a week, right?

also, i don't think i've properly expressed my reverence for this site. i could honestly care less about music criticism and i usually just rely on people like you and mattie-o to hand me music. so that fact that i'm so enthralled by this is good. it makes me want to punch pitchfork in the nuts, that's for sure.

also also, send me your music.

J. Temperance said...

Pitchfork is like the gift that keeps giving. So much horrible criticism, so little time.

Go to

that's a tiny dose. i'm workin on it...