So, I was about to briefly touch upon this jazz-pop compilation exemplifying and showcasing the visual interpretation of music, or in their words, “The Physiological and Psychological Applications of Music” until I started reading the blurb on the front cover. This is some fascinating shit! So please bear with me as I transcribe this captivating write-up. I hope you enjoy. (Year unknown. Cat. #H-I (1) 35A. Released by MUZAK.)
New Dimensions Volume 2
MUZAK – SPECIALISTS IN THE PHYSIOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS OF MUSIC
The original oil painting on this album is attractive modern art but it is far more than just that. Artist Ray Harrow was commissioned to develop a pictorial representation of MUZAK programming using colors, forms, and values.
Psychological experiments have shown that people associate mood-tones with definite colors. Wexner found that exciting or stimulating moods remind many of us of red. Calm, peaceful, serene, or soothing moods, on the other hand, suggest green and blue.
Since MUZAK arranges and programs selections into a rising or ascending order – giving more stimulation to offset sagging performance – the painting begins (at the left) with muted colors that suggest calm, peaceful moods. Then, moving to the right, the colors become brighter and lighter to mirror the program’s greater stimulation value.
Vertical strokes rise more gently at the beginning of the program (at the left), to depict milder stimulation. Later in the program, the vertical strokes that are used more steeply represent music that gives workers a stronger boost.
Even the painting’s “focus” ties in with the ascending MUZAK program. The program begins with soft, fuzzy strokes, progressing smoothly to a sharper, almost crystalline quality as the program gains stimulation value.
Far from being purely decorative, then, Harrow’s painting describes the science of MUZAK in capsule form – functional art to show you how functional work music helps workers in office and industry do their jobs better than ever.
Here is a collection of today’s fresh new sounds recorded by MUZAK featuring some of the world’s top music arrangers. Each selection has been recorded to MUZAK’S specifications and sequentially programmed to produce a predetermined physiological and psychological response. Each 15-minute segment of MUZAK contains a rising stimulus which provides a sense of forward movement. Notice the difference in stimulation value between segments A and B. This is accomplished by a variation of tempo, rhythm, instrumentation and dynamics.
Welcome to 1984. Are you ready for the third world war?! So go the lyrics spewed forth by Jello (Wahoo) Biafra in 1981’s We’ve Got a Bigger Problem Now (not featured on the album in which this insert was showcased). The Crass-like art featured within the multi-page booklet from 1982’s Plastic Surgery Disasters by Bay-area social norm killers, Dead Kennedys, acts as a sort of a pictorial accompaniment to this amazing, yet sobering album. Pulling little to no stops, Mr. Biafra and team eject a string of disturbingly accurate observations on every day life back in Cold War 1982. Oh, how strikingly little things have changed some 33 years later. Anyway, enjoy the art!
I very rarely purchase full priced albums solely on their cover art having not heard a lick of the music, but with Damaged Bug’s Cold Hot Plumbs, I had to take chance. The music is good, falling under the stoned-out-experiment-electro umbrella, but with this release, my eyes are much happier than my ears. Frame worthy for sure, yet a little unnerving, and I like that.
I was first introduced to, but didn’t foresee the longevity of, Floyd Friday by my acclaimed Art teacher back in High School. The Wall (the film, not the album), Division Bell, and sometimes the occasional P-U-L-S-E (with its eternal blinking red light nestled atop the compact disc player in a neat row with the remainder of Floyd’s catalog) were always anticipated week-ending ear-treats throughout my Junior and Senior years.
It wasn’t until many years later that I unearthed the “real” essence of Floyd’s work… their early albums. Featured here is a poor man’s comp of their first two albums Piper at the Gates of Dawn and A Saucerful of Secrets. Gone are the wistful guitar-driven soundscapes and jazz-influenced saxophones found in Division Bell, and pleasingly pleasant are layer upon ominous layer of experimental, carnal, and brilliant psychedelic drug-rock. The appropriately titled A Nice Pair is an affordable option for someone looking to bath themselves in the radiant dawn of Floyd, and is, in my humble opinion, by far the band’s best recorded work. Happy Floyd Friday, everyone!
In dedication to a man whose company and friendship I miss on a weekly basis, I offer the gate(un)folded art of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 1973 debut, (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd). “Randall, my dear friend, you are drunk.” At which you would reply, “Yeah, but at least I’m not stupid.”
Famous covers are not unlike priceless pieces of contemporary art (be that yesterday’s contemporary, or today’s). Very seldom, however, does an album’s backside (album ass?) get its proper notoriety. Subtle yet compelling posterior album art often goes unnoticed, as is the case with the poem featured on the back of Van Morrison’s 1968 classic Astral Weeks. Displayed here is a composition by the man, with no title, and no indication of its inspiration. I dig its almost throwaway inclusion on Astral Weeks, taking up such invaluable real estate, and it has inspired me to look much more closely to the array of hidden treasures just an album flip away.
Back in 2011, two gents (Andrew & Matthew) ventured into the vinyl-unknown, and desecrated (but in a good, magnificent-type way) the listening medium. In their own words:
We laser cut vinyl records to become pieces of monster art. We ship cut records that you can break apart and build. (2011)
Using Kickstarter as their platform, Record Monsters conjured up 303 backers (myself and 302 others), and proceeded to kickout a series of various insects, dinosaurs, and creepy-crawlers, all laser cut out of upcycled vinyl. Ingenius… until some unknown, safety-conscious cloud rushed in. Again, from the lion’s mouth:
No on vinyl, yes that is final. Don’t cut vinyl with a laser cutter kids. We had a way to do this in a safe way, but we will never match the two again. Don’t do it, for real. (2012)
Saw this in the kitchen at work yesterday and had to yoink it. An esteemed apology to my coworkers for a missing Arts section in Tuesday’s edition of the Times. (I’ll be more than happy to return it now that this has been posted.)
I’ve yet to fully read the article, but it looks as though Mr. Claas Brieler and his 25k collection made it into the new book, Dust & Grooves. Congrats to him and to record collectors everywhere. The bar has been set, if only momentarily.
Might I suggest a little heavy, summer reading? The Story of Crass by George Berger is a fascinating explosion of intricate and fundamental knowledge of perhaps the only true punk band the world has ever known. The art collective formally known as Crass has always been somewhat of an illusive mystery to me, save for the rough, crude, and politically charged music. Whether you’re a fan of social equality, anti-war sentiments, or just plain into rock music history, The Story of Crass is nothing short of essential reading material, and comes highly recommended by the Prudent Groove.
I broke the mold of tradition yesterday and removed the shrink wrap that bound my copy of Double Nickels on the Dime, the Minutemen’s timeless magnum opus. It has become habit for me to neatly slice the plastic along the sleeve opening, preserving the virgin cover, back, and in this case, gatefold center.
I’d never owned Double Nickels in any format until I found this reissue, so I was more than amazed when I released the fruits of this gatefold for the very first time. Aside from the usual credits and a collage of action band shots are seven drawing by Raymond Pettibon I’d never seen before. Famous first throughout the Southern California early punk scene, then the world over, Mr. Pettibon’s art ranges from morally exposing to minimalist shock, which, after reading this again, does absolutely no justice to either the style of his characters, or the weight of his foreboding, and ominous messages. His often humorous take on the vulgar details of moral principles (many struggle their whole lives to ignore) raise a sense of loaded guilt that makes you want to go out and punch an elected official in the face, but you know… in a good way.
I have very little time this morning (which unsurprisingly turned into late evening), so I’m going to get right to the point. Crass. That’s my point. To sum up something as historically imperative as Crass would be beyond devastating… so here goes: Dangerously accurate art punk done right.
Because I know the majority of you don’t care for in-your-face social snarls, here is a less than typical Crass song called, Walls (Fun in the Oven). No jabs at the Queen, declarations of a corrupt system, or stiff middle fingers saluting traditional moral values (there may be a hint of that). Roughly, Walls is a thick, spoon-fed helping of the conformist “rule” that husband + wife + baby = happiness. Enjoy!
Rock ‘N’ Roll gets kicked in the teeth with this fire-themed gauntlet of raging energy. Led by Speedo’s spitting vocals and Petey X’s stabbing bass work, the glorious Rocket from the Crypt, over just six songs, show everyone within shouting distance why they’re helmed as the best Rock ‘N’ Roll group ever to walk the Earth. The State of Art is On Fire, and Rocket from the Crypt lit the match.
The State of Art is on Fire was the first in a trilogy from RFTC (Rocket from the Crypt) in 1995, followed by August’s Hot Charity and October’s Scream, Dracula, Scream!. This particular release is, well, a bit peculiar since side A plays at 33rpms and side B plays at 45rpms. It should also be noted that this EP was the first to feature JC 2000, the band’s trumpeter, and also included a lyrics sheet, which was rarely included in releases by this band.
The hair-raising back-to-back shots from Rid or Ride and Human Torch are arguably the best one-two punch by any band on any album ever. I know this statement is subjective, but you’re wrong if you think otherwise. Like a violent flame, this album starts to burn your ears, your neighbor’s dog’s ears, your feet, the pear on your kitchen table, your memories of Senior Prom, and the blood flowing through your veins, and it doesn’t let up until the needle breaks on the final groove. The State of Art is on Fire is an experience. One that is not quickly, or let’s face it, EVER forgotten.
Only 300 copies exist of this blue marbled staple of Rock ‘N’ Roll awesomeness. Currently none are for sale of either this or the pink marbled version, but the black version can be had for only $8 at Discogs.
Art has been burning now for 18 years. Sit back and enjoy the flames.