01/12 - 02/12/2005

Unternehmen Form
Niesenbachstr. 48

«the Diedrich Diederichsen Listening-Corner» (DVD version) at the 18th Stuttgart Film Winter

Note: the new media and art work installation selection commitee (Hans D. Christ, Benjamin Fisher, Till Franitza, Karin Hinterleitner, Xenia Leydel, Ulrich Wegenast) initially rejected this project.
Commitee-member Xenia Leydel overruled the decision (a privilege alloted each member on a one-time basis), thereby allowing «the Diedrich Diederichsen Listening-Corner» to be shown in the town where Diederichsen teaches (at the Merz Akademie, a private art/advertising school).
The work was installed in a shop selling records and second-hand furniture, and featured as a "godmother installation" (none of us has met Xenia yet, so thanks all the more) in the Festival´s programme.

Liner Notes accompanying the DVD

"Quadrophonischer Kunstkopf": The Diedrich Diederichsen Listening-Corner
(Diedrich Diederichsen: Former writer/publisher of the Cologne-based music monthly Spex; former member of the Bundeskulturstiftung (German Culture Foundation), currently writes for Texte zur Kunst, Parkett, Artforum; Professor at the Merz Akademie (Stuttgart), author, "guest-theoretician" of the Hamburg Art Center (Kunstverein) for 2006-2007).

Headphone A
Bands/releases which received enthusiastic reviews or top-of-the-year rankings from Diedrich Diederichsen in the magazines Spex and Sounds.
Page number references are from his book 2000 Schallplatten 1979-1999, (Cologne: Hannibal Verlag, 2000), hereafter abbreviated 2000S. Other references are noted in full. 

Headphone B
Bands/releases which were not featured on Diederichsen's top-of-the-year rankings and whose new releases were never reviewed for the period 1979-2000, unless designated by a *, in which case the band received a review after having released over 5 LPs or after breaking up.
In some cases (designated by a #) the bands received negative reviews, or reviews which contain completely inappropriate comparisons, or put them in a negative light compared to the band which is featured on Headphone 1, see notes.

A: Talking Heads "I Zimbra" from the Fear of Music LP (Sire)

Track 1

B: The Static "My Relationship" from A Theoretical Record 7'' (Theoretical)

Diederichsen's 1979 review of the Talking Heads' LP begins with the line: "This is how music should be, 1979. Were I to write a normative aesthetics for modern music, I would refer to this record. The music one needs." (2000S, p. 21). The Static was a New York trio featuring Glenn Branca, Barbara Ess, and Christine Hahn. Glenn Branca had a few insights to provide about the Talking Heads' roots in a 1990 interview: "There was a band in Boston, they were so fucking popular, and they sounded exactly like Talking Heads—Orchestra Luna. Everything about them was like Talking Heads even the nerdy lead singer; every move was David Byrne. And David Byrne lived in Providence, and there was no way he didn't see this fucking band. There's no way. So he moves to New York, he does his band; immediately within six months they've got a major label contract. It's bad enough that his music is horrific, but that he ripped it off from this jerk-off Boston band that couldn't get anywhere..." (Excerpted from Forced Exposure #16).

A: Young Marble Giants "Music for Evenings" from the Colossal Youth LP (Rough Trade)

Track 2

B: X "Beyond and Back" from the Decline of Western Civilization Soundtrack (Slash)

"And here comes something, I predict it, that within ten years will unquestionably confirm the words from the group name and the LP title: colossal, gigantic, young." (2000S, p.28). What's wrong with a band with a name illiterates can write and a chanteuse who's got a loud voice?

A: The Human League "Circus of Death" from the Reproduction LP (Virgin)

Track 3

B: Throbbing Gristle "Hometime" from The Third and Final Report LP (Industrial,1979)

"Of all recent British synth-products, Human League deliver the most professional and perfect. Throbbing Gristle, just to name an example, is more interesting and more exciting to me, but without the least hope of being heard by many people... The Human League have a great future ahead of them." (2000S, p.28). Throbbing Gristle's "Something came over me" did make Diederichsen's 1980 song chart, after Diana Ross and Der Plan. Soon hereafter, he completely stops reviewing or referring to noise/industrial music (i.e. whatever came out on United Diaries, RRR, Metamkine, Staalplaat, or Touch).

A: Red Crayola "Portrait of V.I. Lenin in the Style of Jackson Pollock" from the Kangaroo? LP(Rough Trade)

Track 4

B: DNA "New New" from A Taste of DNA EP (American Clavé)

Ex-Pere Ubu members on both, Red Crayola obviously get points because of "major-independent" record label (Rough Trade) and art-world connections. Too bad, DNA leaves them in the dust.

A: Psychedelic Furs "She's Mine" from the Talk Talk Talk LP (Columbia)

Track 5

B: The Birthday Party "Nick the Stripper" from the Prayers on Fire  LP (Missing Link)

Psychedelic Furs deliver "...true, powerful sandpaper-poetry with guitar-wall-of-sound and Sartre-saxophone." Right description, wrong band (see also 1989 and 1991).

A: Dexy's Midnight Runners "Let's make this Precious" from the Too Rye-Ay LP (Mercury)

Track 6

B: Mission of Burma* "Learn How" from the V.S. LP (Ace of Hearts)

Diederichsen first got around to reviewing MoB seven years after their breakup. His 1990 review contains the useful information: "Over the last two years Mission of Burma has indeed received scatttered mentions in this magazine (most recently and thoroughly in Dirk Schneidinger's article about the legacy of Roger Miller and of the  Volcano Suns), which is really ridiculously little..." (2000S, p. 274). Dexy's was our reviewer's #1 LP of '82.

A: Defunkt "I tried to live alone" from the Thermonuclear Sweat LP (Hannibal)

Track 7

B: Music Revelation Ensemble "Baby Talk" from the No Wave  LP (Moers, 1980)

"Defunkt are the sharpest black group that I know." (2000S, p75). Diederichsen got around to reviewing James Blood Ulmer's MRE in 1998, after they hooked up John Zorn as a sideman. In between he managed a 40-word review in 1984 in which he says "this man keeps up his level, unnoticed by the public-at-large." (2000S, p.106).

A: Spandau Ballet "Nature of the Beast" from the Parade LP (Chrysalis)

Track 8

B: The Meat Puppets "I'm a mindless idiot" and "Lost" from the Meat Puppets II LP (SST)

Spandau Ballet's Parade was Diederichsen's top LP of 1984. A 1991 Meat Puppets review concludes with the condescending aside "for all those who have missed a great band up to now"—he missed their first five LPs (2000S, p.287).

A: ABC "Tower of London" from the How to be a Millionaire EP (Mercury)

Track 9

B: Big Black "Seth" from the Bulldozer EP (Ruthless)

"ABC still make the best maxis..." (2000S, p211). In a June 1982 Sounds article, Diederichsen wrote (about another boy group): "Good art destoys certainties and still gives you strength, courage, joy of life. We'd rather not talk about 'subversion' and 'affirmation strategy', these terms are becoming overused and are a giveaway for feature-page writers. Haircut 100, like the Beatles, are going to make their way up the charts with 'time', and not the other way around. And I've bet two cases of champagne that they do reach the charts." ("Fantastisch! Haircut 100", Sounds 6/82, p.42. See also 1997 / Wyclef Jean).

A: Gaye Bikers on Acid "Git Down" from the Drill Your Own Hole LP (Virgin)

Track 10

B: The Pagans "Nowhere to Run" from the Pink Album LP (Terminal, 1983)

His review of GBOA's '87 LP on Virgin Record ends "Yeah, really one of the best PUNKROCKECORDS of the last five years." (2000S, p.159).This Pagans LP from the first of those last 5 years makes one doubt Diederichsen's ability to pass such a retrospective judgement. But then again, it was probably the first "punk"-segment release that Virgin had marketed since Never Mind the Bollocks, so maybe that's what our critic had in mind, and maybe Richard Branson is a real punk ( i.e. a PUNK), too...

A: Sonic Youth "Teenage Riot" from the Daydream Nation LP (Blast First)

Track 11

B: Mars "3E" from the untitled 7'' (Rebel) and "Hairwaves" from the No New York Compilation (Antilles, 1978) 

Diederichsen's two page review has Sonic Youth play the role of common-sense good guys, (and gal) (or, as it were, future David Geffen minions), with thoughts such as "Sonic Youth are Madonna-fans, they are a pop-band, and the fact that pop can only happen for them, and today in general, in a sort of expanded underground-scene not only means that one doesn't have to rule out or despise the overground-pop-culture, but that one is not allowed to do so..." and  "as a pop-fan, one wants something binding. On this point, Sonic Youth have done what they had to, recorded a masterpiece in both senses of the word..." On the other hand, the no-wavers (guys and gals) of the late 70s, whose ideas SY totally ripped off for whatever good material they ever recorded (Confusion is Sex), were terminally deficient: "No New York undertook the apparent logical extension of certain punk-theorems, without realizing that whatever theory could be gleamed from punk was not actually its nature..., in the sense of this theoretical period, it was wrong; in the sense of building up what was to come [Sonic Youth stealing their ideas], it was right." (2000S, p. 204).

A: Art Phag "Golf"

Track 12

B: Drunks with Guns "Beautiful Happiness" – both from the Beautiful Happiness Compilation (Shigaku Ltd.)

Art Phag gets 11 lines in Diederichsen's Beautiful Happiness review; Drunks with Guns, no lines. (2000S, p. 193).

A: World Domination Enterprises: "I Can't Live Without My Radio" from the Love from Lead City LP (Caroline)

Track 13

B: Einstürzende Neubauten "Ich bins" from the Fünf auf der Nach oben offenen Richterskala LP (Some Bizarre)

"A heavyweight indie-rock songwriter... an alternative to Steve Albini on the one hand, and Neubauten on the other (when the point is to sink existential worry into dirty human-friendly beats)." (2000S, p. 196).

A: Ornette Coleman "Bourgeois Boogie" from the Virgin Beauty LP (CBS/Portrait)

Track 14

B: Cecil Taylor "Stylobate und The Old Canal" from the Leaf Palm Hand LP (FMP)

"After Coleman's last tour people were talking about 'easy listening jazz', which should actually be stating the obvious considering all the years Coleman has been playing his music." (2000S, p. 184). Taylor's been playing even longer, his intensity ever increasing, and no new release of his has ever merited Diederichsen's attention...

A: Giant Sand "Pathfinder" from the Center Of The Universe LP (Restless)

Track 15

B: Savage Republic "Mapia" from the Customs  LP (Independent Project)

His Giant Sand review begins: "There were the centers, the periphery, and the province: you all know their specific type of production. It's time to talk about a new location—the desert... " (2000S, p.205). Right description, but completely wrong band (that is, if Diederichsen is writing a music review, and not a band-name/lyrics-review). Savage Republic, the other Arizona band, remained conceptually and musically watertight through seven releases issued on their own label, pulling off an aesthetic thouroughly alien to  Disneyworld 'desert' clichés (slide-guitar overdubs), quite unlike college-rockers Giant Sand.

A: SWA "Conquest" from the Winter LP (SST)

Track 16

B: Slint "ron" and "nan ding" from the tweez LP (Jennifer Hartman)

Diederichsen's #1 Lp of 1989—really not Chuck Dukowski's best (Diederichsen is about seven years off, as usual).

A: John Zorn-Naked City "Shan Kuan Ling Feng" from the Torture Garden LP (Toy's Factory)

Track 17

B: Gerogerigegege "Gero-P" from the Senzuri Power Up LP (Vis A Vis)

The most extreme LP in music-history." (2000S, p.283). Zorn is an excellent sax player, if a cut below Dolphy when it comes to combining speed and intervals. His noise stuff stays at the simulation level (maybe his obsession with "game theory"). Gerogerigegege was recorded at the time when Zorn was still busy assimilating DNA (see 1981).

A: Wynton Marsalis "Levee Sweet Moon" from the Thick in the South LP (Columbia)
Track 18
B: Anthony Braxton "#23M" from the Willisau (Quartet) LP (hat Art)

"This quality that jazz has of being bindingly inexact, absolutely precisely undecided between two terms and between two descriptive states, this quality finds its full accomplishment here [the Marsalis record]." (2000S, p. 328). Right description, wrong band; another instance of Diederichsen in the service of neoconservatism (and Sony Music).

A: All "Dot" from the Percolator LP (Cruz)

Track 19

B: Timber "Stupid Reasons" from the Parts and Labor LP (Rift)

"I [...] find Percolator to be almost too brilliant. The first of these talented pop-songs almost sound like the Police, but in the decisive moment they do actually whip out the old tricks again, for instance: breakneck acceleration in the middle of a song. Once again, All qualify themselves as serious auteur-pop, like XTC ages ago." (2000S, p. 336).

A: Boogie Down Productions "13 and Good" from the Sex and Violence LP (Teldec)

Track 20

B: Killa Instinct "the Bambi Murders (Vocal mix)" from The Bambi Murders  EP (Music of Life)

The Boogie Down Production LP is praised as "the best rap-record (irregardless of since when and for how long) because they don't allow relativizations for Europeans either." (2000S, p. 329). Killa Instinct show how "behind" those Europeans are.

A: Freestyle Fellowship "Respect Due" from the Inner City Griots LP (Island)

Track 21

B: Charles Gayle "Sanctification" from the More Live double-LP (Knitting Factory Works)

Diederichsen's Freestyle Fellowship review ends: "The future of Afro-Americain collectives? As if Mingus, Scott-Heron, Roland Kirk, Rakim, Monk, Oliver Nelson, Just-Ice und Zappa started a band? With Malcolm X and Captain Beefheart." (2000S, s. 344). It's hard to imagine that someone who wrote "jazz is dead" in 1980 (2000S, p. 24) could have any knowledge of Afro-American culture which is anything other than second-hand (i.e. The Source). Here are Diederichsen's ideas about hip-hop a few years earlier: "Losers:...Hip-Hop: very strongly on the way to the oblivion. We've let ourselves be told long enough that, in this case too, practice makes perfect. But what we can't learn, despite all the bruises, can't be worth it. No wonder Break-Crews are hardly to be found in world metropolises anymore. The only place they still strut their stuff is in small German towns." Das ABC des Jahres 1984 (1984 in review), in: Spex 1/85, p. 34.

A: Melvins "Pitfalls in Serving Warrants" from the Honky LP (Amphetamine Reptile)

Track 22

B: U.S. Maple "Mountain Top" from the Sang Phat Editor LP (Skin Graft)

"The Melvins are in all likelyhood the only active band stemming from the US alternative-rock context that maintains the same abstraction-level as the better actors of the international electronic avantgarde. Their last releases stood out for the way that they took the music that they started with—slow metal and hardcore—and dismantled its musical and symbolic elements into endless abstactions, as well as submitting them to all the techniques new music/sound-art/Kagel/Stockhausen etc. have devised; also submitting other elements to this process." (2000S, p. 381). I guess rhythmic monotony (and critical monotony—Diedrichsen's review, with its electronics comparisons and talk of breath and atmosphere, sounds suspiciously like a 1993 Byron Coley review in Forced Exposure #18) resembles abstraction if you spend enough time with the Texte zur Kunst people. Too bad the abstraction of newcomers U.S. Maple was outside the bounds of Diederichsen's "human-friendly beats" (see 1988).

A: Wyclef Jean "Perfect Gentlemen" from the Presents the Carnival Featuring Refugee Allstars LP (Sony)

Track 23

B: Sensational "Freaky Alert" and "Umm" from the Loaded with Power LP (Wordsound)

Wyclef was on Diederichsen's top 10 of the year. His review mentions that "here, the increasingly redundant grimness  of HipHop is confronted with a cheerfulness that isn't just affirmative." (2000S, p. 382. See also 1985 / Haircut 100).

A: Neil Young and Crazy Horse "Pocahontas" from the Year of the Horse LP (Reprise)

Track 24

B: Halb "Dear Old Village Churchyard" from the Ad Similis LP (Fidel Bastro)

The live Neil Young was also on Diederichsen's top 10 of 1997. Fifty bucks may be a lot to pay for the arena-rock version of someone way past his prime, but hey, he's got to pay for all those wine-connoisseur biker roadies!

A: Whirpool Productions "Mampee Models" from the ???  LP (PolyGram)

Track 25

B: Helgoland "Groindl", "Save Changes", "(Walkin' on) Crystal Drive", "Interstate Gold Fischli", "telecombat03", and "Evil Rustico" from the 20 Minutes with Helgoland EP (NWN)

Diederichsen describes this release by his Whirlpool buddies an "art rock record" (2000S, p. 390). Neither nor.

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