Issue 1

Fall – Winter 2014-15 contents by and with:

In brief:

• Iconic music photographer Glen E. Friedman in conversation
• Sound ecologist Hildegard Westerkamp on (y)our addiction to music
• Musician Oren Ambarchi tells of his adventures in Japan
• A survey of Yugoslavian Punk, Postpunk & New Wave
• The photography of Joe Dilworth (with an unpublished selection)
• A challenging dive into the Voice Studies series of recordings
• Conversation with the KCHUNG Radio collective
• Anonymous Thoughts on Music
• Editorial on “Publicity” with original essays by Ian F. Svenonius, Johan Kugelberg, Maria Minerva & Mathew Dryhurst
• A look at the Exterior Sounds box on 1st Street in New York City
• A thorough interpretation of Kraftwerk’s peculiar performance on German Television in 1978
• Interviews with The Cairo Gang and Stargate (aka Lorenzo Senni)
• “Letters from the Past” includes perspectives on the Pop-trunk era in Houston, The Boredoms’ 111 Boadrum concert in Byron Bay and a Gang Gang Dance Tour Redux by Brian DeGraw
 

Excerpts:
 
…Radio stations used to exist before these music streaming websites, where music cartridges were played non-stop and someone was sitting there changing these cartridges. But of course, listeners then could not choose the music. That’s the new thing, now you choose your own songs. That’s the appeal, of course. You feel like an active participant creating your own music culture and in a way you do, of course. But the more unconscious one is about the source of this choice, the more one tends to participate in the proliferation of one’s own addiction to and need for a non-stop music soundtrack, and one’s own oblivion towards…

— Interview with Hildegard Westerkamp
 
…There are times I have taken pictures of subjects that no one knew about, no one cared about yet, only the people who were very close, and I portrayed it in a way that helped others see what I saw, even if it wasn’t true. I saw in my subjects what was going to come forth, something that I was going to bring out of them and that would inspire something positive— to move forward politically and artistically. So if I’m not adding anything, then why am I…

— Interview with Glen E. Friedman
 
…As in the West, punk in Yugoslavia had its roots in suburban alienation and anger at the establishment, and in Yugoslavia the establishment meant the Communist Party…“The first step for punks was to cry out against boredom and what you might call ‘greyland’,” says Slovenian music journalist and author Igor “BIGor” Bašin. “The second step is that you need a target, and the political system is just waiting for you to take a shot at it. One of Pankrti’s first songs was ZK Punk (‘Zveza Komunistov’ = ‘Communist Party’) and the communist system was a very good target for punks…

— “Peering into Yugoslavian Punk & New Wave”
 
…On the second release in the series, Tom White…explains, “the ‘performers’ are both deaf actors but the majority of the collaboration was with Stephen Collins, who is quite successful in deaf theatre. I invited them to communicate to each other, through cut-up scores and text pieces and respond in British Sign Language. I would record close-up their vocal and bodily sounds during communication which formed the source material for the work.” Interesting then, that the performers of this work cannot even hear themselves and are producing sounds, free of a conscious “recording arts.” White then takes the raw audio and produces a recording that is…

— “Voice Studies”
 
…Indie fans, like yuppies, were extreme connoisseurs, having found groups to love that were so remote as to be essentially only rumored to exist. American indie groups took on the homemade aesthetics and subsistence economy of the US hardcore and post-punk bands— something not typical in the industry-driven UK music scene— and merged them with the yuppie’s taste making and post-hippie civic sensibility. Stylistically, indie was usually…

— “Indie Rock as the Gentrification of Punk” by Ian F. Svenonius
 
…remember the time when musicians/bands didn’t have stylists and were (most likely) wearing stuff their mother got from a charity shop. This self-conscious and carefree approach to fashion has by now been colonized and commercialized by retailers such as Urban Outfitters and American Apparel; the new “old” denim jacket is carefully bleached and dyed, and later Instagram-filtered…

— “You’re Just 2 Cool 2 Be True, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Maria Minerva
 
…after an absence of five years Kraftwerk returned as a stylized polymorph machine performing itself, using replica mannequins of the musicians interchanged with their own real bodies. The assemblage of men-machine declares its identity and presents itself as cyborg in this manifesto song, arguably among the most important in Kraftwerk’s performative and sonic repertoire. The spare lyrics processed through the signature Kraftwerk vocoder are an insistent, repetitive claim of their existence: “Wir sind die Roboter” (We are the Robots). The lyrics seems like commonplace statements, but it is the implied sentience that disturbs. In our…dreams and nightmares…

— “Plural-Machine Self-Manifest”
 
…My relationship to my own music isn’t to be a record-making machine. It’s what I do constantly, but I don’t feel like I need to share everything I do with everyone. Some things are private. Of course I would be happy if The Cairo Gang was getting offers to play gigs all over the world and making a ton of money, but I don’t know, I question that a lot. I wonder if I could even understand what comes with that. Working with others clues me in a little as to how people can put themselves out there. I have had the great opportunity to know at least a few extremely admirable people who put themselves out there in a healthy way. I think part of my upbringing has soured my attitude toward the music industry at large. Seeing my family…

— Interview with Emmett Kelly
 

Contents in more detail:
 
Our first issue opens with sound ecologist and artist Hildegard Westerkamp discussing her personal sound works, a brief history of background music and how we’ve all become addicted to music. Then, iconic photographer Glen E. Friedman shares the work ethos, creative vision and resolute stance he has maintained in his decades-spanning career. Friedman reflects and comments on the past, present and future of the music cultures he has documented as he reengages with his archive for his latest book, My Rules. One of the first interviews for My Rules, this lengthy and candid discussion is accompanied by a selection of photographs selected by Friedman.
 
Experimental musician Oren Ambarchi corresponds with the magazine about his adventures in Japan and his collaborative efforts in one of the most lauded trios in recent memory, together with Keiji Haino and Jim O’Rourke. Next, journalist Ian Martin takes time to look back and peer into the political and revolutionary potency of the Yugoslavian punk and new wave scene of the ‘70s and ‘80s with help from local witness and organizer Igor Vidmar. Martin’s text is accompanied by a selection of over 15 unpublished photographs by Matija Praznik at one of the movement’s central events in Ljubljana, “Disco FV.”
 
Photographer and musician Joe Dilworth has traveled and toured extensively and recently shared a selection of his photography with the magazine. Most of the photographs are rare or unpublished, among the selection: a proof sheet from My Bloody Valentine’s album shoot for “Isn’t Anything” in 1991.
 
Issue 1 presses on with a piece on the Voice Studies series released by London-based imprint My Dance the Skull. Writer Jeff Daily revisits and dives in where few have ventured, chronicling parts of his engagement with this vast and experimental series of recordings. The magazine then corresponds with the KCHUNG Radio collective to check in on their free-form web broadcasting, off-site operations and how the group has maintained their independence. “Anonymous Thoughts on Music” presents selections from the website whythissound.com, of which we only know is based in the Midwest and is open to submissions.
 
Our “Publicity” editorial features original and commissioned responses to a selection of publicity photography from the past starting with writer and musician Ian F. Svenonius (“The fall of college rock and the rise of indie, or indie rock as the gentrification of punk”), followed by writer and exhibitor Johan Kugelberg (“Your heroes had to be compulsively made fun of”), singer Maria Minerva (“You’re just 2 cool 2 be true, can’t take my eyes off you”) and artist, thinker and partner in electronic music label PAN, Mathew Dryhurst (“Scattershot Practice”).
 
This issue turns the corner with New York-based gallery Audio Visual Arts briefly discussing their Exterior Sounds box for public listening in addition to recent exhibition activity. An essay by artist and thinker Nine Yamamoto-Masson titled “Plural Machine Self-Manifest” considers Kraftwerk’s peculiar 1978 performance of “Die Roboter” on German Television as the debut of the group’s aesthetic program we have come to know (or stand bewildered by). Yamamoto’s essay is followed by a conversation about the life and times of steadfast musician Emmett Kelly of The Cairo Gang. The conversation spans years and touches on Kelly’s tours and years playing anywhere and everywhere with everyone from Beth Orton to Will Oldham to street buskers abroad. Then, a brief check-in with the hard-to-pin-down electronic musician Lorenzo Senni about his side project STARGATE as well as his forthcoming label activities with Presto!?
 
This first issue of HIGHWAY concludes with Letters from the Past. First, local film producer Cliff Mack gives a brief on-the-ground look back at the Pop-trunk era in Houston as it coincided with the rise in popularity of DJ Screw. The final two letters come from the 2011 under-reported 111 Boadrum concert by ever format-shifting artists The Boredoms, and to close, a brief tour redux from the 2011 Gang Gang Dance US-Mexico Tour penned by musician Brian DeGraw.