Thought For The Day
Thought For The Day
Feed The NME
The 12 by 2 column advert you see to the right will run in the 13th March issue of British music paper New Musical Express. This music weekly, whose declining circulation is currently causing worried murmurs in London media circles, described me in the last Momus feature they ran (1992) as both 'a prat' and 'a wise and future star'. Today the NME gives me zero coverage. I don't care for its values, which put rock over pop, past over future, sincerity over artifice, and sales over innovation.
If a paper has a soul, the NME's, despite a recent relaunch, is in a bad way. It has become spiritually lazy. It doesn't know what to do after the long jingoistic colonial period that was Brit Pop and can't be bothered searching in new places for new ideas.
My musical information comes from other sources. The new issue of Japanese magazine Studio Voice is excellent, even if you don't understand Japanese, because it lists in minute detail the records Japan's otaku DJs are passionate about. The graphics are fantastic, you can pore over the tiny pictures for hours. The breadth of cultural coverage is extremely wide and cosmopolitan. Currently the best culture magazine in the world. Thank god I have a personal translation service (thanks, Riho)!
The readers of Future Music name Jean Michel Jarre's Oxygene as their favourite album.
This British magazine dedicated to 'Making Music With Technology' is atrociously written, poorly edited and a bit of an eyesore. But it's a much better read than the NME if you want to know what pop music in 1999 is really all about -- innovation, sampling, filtration, recontextualisation, black influence, decoration, retro electronics, how to sidestep the music industry, and the crafts and concepts you need to get hands on with pop music and actually make the stuff. They even supply you with free sample CDs. I've used them on Momus records! The Laila France and Ping Pong CDs are choc-a-block with Future Music free loops. I have no problem admitting that. Like Serge Gainsbourg, who came to London and worked with 'loops' named Hawkshaw, Greenslade and Whittaker, I want my records to have the exact, perishable sound of the year they were made.
Crash is a great Paris-based magazine, only five issues into its life, which is currently dealing with a lot of the ideas I'm interested in. It defines its remit as 'cybermusicstylesociete' and taps into the new global culture of editors, people at home in any digital medium and attuned to the most interesting ideas coming out of Tokyo, Paris, London, New York and San Fransisco. The current issue talks to Brian Eno, Jodorowsky and Atau Tanaka, devotes articles to wearable computing and reviews Telex favourably. There's also an excellent feature in which 66 people talk about their creative projects for 1999.
The images from my Space Invaders story come from Crash, although I couldn't find any credit in their pages for the actual artist who appliqued these tiles to the walls of Paris. He or she probably has to remain anonymous for legal reasons.
So, if I don't read it, if I hate its politics, and if media circles agree it's seen better days, why I am paying good money (£412.42, to be precise) to advertise my website in the boring old NME? Why am I feeding the enemy?
Because just to see a fresh idea somewhere in its pages will give me a thrill I'm prepared to pay for. Placing an advert which sounds an oddly girlish and alien and jarring note amongst the corporate PR excites me as much as making a piece of strange music. And if I can just get a little oxygen into that musty place I might give some young Momus-like person, wondering whether a career in pop music will take her somewhere interesting, or whether she shouldn't go into computer games or web design instead, a little hope. Go for it, strange bluesky brainstormer! Pop music can still be a magic carpet ride. It can still take you wherever you want to go.
Don't thank the NME. Thank your imagination.
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April issue features Howie B, Cassius and Moby