So, last week I was going off all the time about old people like Mick Jagger, Mark E. Smith, and Sonic Youth. (I wonder if, when they started, they ever thought they'd exist long enough for that name to take on the extra layers of meaning that have accumulated with age?)
In any case, I apologize. Alec Bemis doesn't care about old people. But he really wanted to explore the way sincerity and referentiality is being explored in music these days. And, sure, he's probably undercutting that message a bit by referring to himself in the third person. So, again, he'll apologize, and leave you, instead, with this newish track from These New Puritans -- his greatest current object of musical obsession.
"Navigate, Navigate" was originally created as a soundtrack to Hedi Slimane's Autumn ‘07 collection for Dior Homme -- Slimane being clothing designer of choice for skinny rock dudes. It was released last week, and it works its post-punk groove obsessively for over 15-minutes. I think what makes it work is the sense of mystery to the track. It sounds less like the band was playing than they created, cutted, pasted, and built this thing out of scraps found on the rehearsal room floor. You don't know what is coming from people, what is coming from machines, and if any of it could or will be reproduced anywhere beyond. It's as ephemeral as a Prada shoe -- expensive, disposable things being coin of the realm in our modern world, a society in which luxury itself has been turned into something of a commodity.
And then there is the vocal line -- a stupid yelp, a stutter, an approach that has more than a little to do with Mark E. Smith's manic ranting in the Fall. As with Smith's lyrics, there's very little you can be sure of. "Image! Image!" he yells. Or was that "Cinders! Cinders!" Then "you know, you know." (No actually I don't.) Or wait, did he just say "regal is strange," or "regal is straight"?
Just goes to show, fashion and rock can mix without a hitch.
More about how These New Puritians deal with our increasingly mediated culture after the jump.
Ha ha ha, I lied to you so bad. I don't have much to tell you about These New Puritans because I don't know much about them yet other than the evidence I can make out from recorded documents like this one. There are no good pictures of the band on their website. And the ones I found via Google image search portray them as shadowy figures with their faces turned from the camera:
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I'm reminded of the intentionally shadowy blog presence of the new(ish) Canadian hardcore band Fucked-Up. This interview with These New Puritians from November provides some insight into their approach.
INTERVIEWER QUESTION: There’s something quite elusive about your “online presence.”
BAND RESPONSE: Yeah, we started off as an internet-only band, just doing webcasts and podcasts and stuff. We do like to keep it quite elusive. I really like the aesthetics of terrorist videos - how grainy and far-off yet immediate they seem - there’s something about the fuzzy screen which let’s you add layers of meaning. So it was weird when we first started playing around and about. Playing live still feels weird - I don’t really know how to react when someone talks to me afterwards.
Here's one more example of that aforementioned mysterious (online) presence.