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Author Topic: Music and TV  (Read 6745 times)

De_El

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Music and TV
« on: 14 Apr 2011, 18:45 »

So I know that a lot of people don't think very much of witch house, or even if you used to like it you're kind of over it, but I had a thought today that I thought bore a little exploration.

Witch house bands and the diffuse internet scene surrounding it are OBSESSED with Twin Peaks. The first I saw of this trend was about a year ago when I heard of a witch house band called PWIN ▲▲ TEAKS. The manifestations of this obsession are extensive, too.  There's bands named after it, they borrow heavily from its imagery for their artwork and videos. And, to top it all off, earlier this week the video artist Cosmotropia de Xam released a compilation called A Witch House and Okkvlt Guide To Twin Peaks, featuring covers of songs from the soundtrack of Twin Peaks, tribute songs, and even a remix of one of the original songs by Julee Cruise.


Who gives a shit, you may say. Fair. Here's the point: what other genres or movements have had a comparable fixation with a television show? Have there been any? If not tv shows, what about movies? I can think of one or two, but the idea fascinates me, and I want to see what you guys come up with.

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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #1 on: 14 Apr 2011, 18:50 »

The first thing that comes to mind is Wizard Rock. Namely, rock bands like Harry and the Potters, who've created an entire genre of music based on the HP books and films. Cosplay is also an integral part of their stage presence. According to the Wikipedia page, there's almost 900 Wizard Rock bands, which kind of blows my mind.
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Johnny C

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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #2 on: 14 Apr 2011, 18:50 »

PWIN ▲▲ TEAKS

aaaaaaaaaaaahahhahahhahahahahahahahahahahahaha

aghahahahahahahahahahahahaha
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Johnny C

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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #3 on: 14 Apr 2011, 18:51 »

definitive proof that either god doesn't exist or he's a total bastard: nobody involved with witch house has been smote yet
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Scandanavian War Machine

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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #4 on: 14 Apr 2011, 18:53 »

The Misfits named their band after merilyn monroe's last movie, and they stole their logo from...some campy old horror movie. It was the main villain's face/mask. It might have been The Abominable Doctor Phibes, but I'm not really sure.

Plus most of their songs are about horror movies.


for the record: i have no f-ing idea what witch house is, but the name is kinda cool
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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #5 on: 14 Apr 2011, 18:53 »

how do you feel about "rapegaze"
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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #6 on: 14 Apr 2011, 18:54 »

okay i'm being a bit unfair there because a lot of the witch house bands actively dislike the "rapegaze" thing as a concept
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De_El

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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #7 on: 14 Apr 2011, 18:56 »

Johnny, you're looking at the picture without reading the caption.

scarred

Re: Music and TV
« Reply #8 on: 14 Apr 2011, 19:18 »

From my understanding a lot of witch house bands even hate the term "witch house," but I could be misinformed.
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KharBevNor

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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #9 on: 14 Apr 2011, 19:34 »

This is something I was talking about in meebo, with regards to whether there was anything similiar to the doom metal scene's obsession with the film Witchfinder General. What I could never quite work out if some of this is a homage to the film itself or to the band Witchfinder General, who based their entire image, from album covers to their logo, on the film or very similiar ideas. Apart from Witchfinder General (and the band Witchfynde) you have songs by Cathedral, Electric Wizard, and countless other bands with songs about witchfinding and related topics, for example: Reverend Bizarre and The Lamp of Thoth. One of the members of Reverend Bizarre also goes by the pseudonym Sir Albert Witchfinder. More generally, there is a lot of stuff to do with witches in relatively unmolested states, and I suspect the trope might have something to do with the proliferation of crucifix imagery in doom metal logos and art, apart from the obvious reason of Black Sabbath.

There's also a bit of a thing with (particularly British) folk, and especially weird folk artists and the film The Wicker Man, which weirdly also belongs to the same short-lived genre of atmospheric British 'folk horror' films. The Wicker Man thing is very understandable though, as the Wicker Man is, in some ways, practically a folk musical, and the soundtrack has probably been more influential on music than the film has on cinema (sadly). A notable recent example at a slight remove was Agalloch, whose stand-out neo-folk styled EP 'The White' went to the extent of mentioning the Wickerman in song titles (Summerisle Reprise etc.) and sampling the film several times; this is probably related to Agalloch's love for Sol Invictus, as Tony Wakeford often makes oblique references to the film in his lyrics.
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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #10 on: 14 Apr 2011, 19:38 »

So basically this dude Pictureplane (shared spoons with him once at a The Room showing, cool guy) coined the term "Witch House" on his blog to describe actual House DJs who played sort of occult-leaning / "spooky" music (pretty much just to describe Modern Witch, also based in Denver), more in the Psychic TV / Bam Bam vein than anything else. Then some fuckwad on Last.FM started tagging bands who had no real connection to House music but were "spooky" with the Witch House designation, and it took off from there (that's Pendu Sound's story, anyway).

Anyway, here's a thing I wrote about it on SA, where the consensus is that it's a big fuckin' joke.

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Last year I was initially really excited that, with every other 80's music niche strip mined to depletion in the 00's and the economy bringing down the moods of most people, post-industrial / darkwave music was finally getting its turn to be considered worthwhile after so many years of critical dismissal from the mainline indie press. It looked like it was happening, too.

Then some dudes decide to limply ape those awesome 80's John Carpenter synth soundtracks, a few crossed them with Houston Screw music (in questionable taste), and suddenly dark electronic music was something that's never ever happened before. Typical.

Really the only thing that's really irritating is that Witch House is less a music genre or movement than an attempt at a proof of concept for the idea that the internet has, like, fundamentally changed the nature of music. There was a post on Hipsterrunoff back when Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion came out about how AnCo, the most important band in music, had signaled the birth of a new age of bedroom-produced, internet-hyped music and Chillwave was the first iteration of music that was really "of our times", so to speak. Read this defense of Witch House and it's literally the same argument minus all irony (it's also kind of fun to read genre-jockeying as a stirring defense against itself.) Chillwave was pretty much a huge joke from the beginning but the blogosphere seems to have learned a lesson and are really earnestly trying to promote Witch House as a real and vital thing that is also revolutionary.

For further reading, Philip Sherburne follows Witch House's debts beyond Screw music.

But anyway, Demdike Stare is fucking great, am I right or am I right?
...
...
People talk about Witch House (people who take it completely seriously call it "drag music", apparently) as though it were defined by the mood of the music, which is one element of a sensible genre designation but the entirety of this particular "microgenre".

If we were to take it at face value there seem to be two nascent traditions within Witch House - there's the industrial / hip hop crossover of Salem and Hype Williams, and an instrumental variant that seems to form the bulk of the actual volume of artists lumped into the category (Balam Acab, OOooooooOOo, etc.) If we're going to be perfectly honest it would be a lot easier to conceive of the latter as a permutation of the DIY neo-kosmische / new age synth music that's become fashionable through Oneohtrix Point Never and the Emeralds collective in the past few years than as the new, cut-from-whole-cloth aesthetic it's being sold as. The former is what bloggers lube themselves up over, but as argued by the article I posted a few pages back, they tend to gratuitously oversell the disconnect between hip hop and electronic musics.


Anyway, Wingdingcore bands can suck it. And "rapegaze" was a thing that CREEP put up on their Myspace page, briefly. In a just world they would never, ever live that down, because holy shit you guys are fucking stupid on so many levels. Their music is also kinda boring.
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De_El

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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #11 on: 14 Apr 2011, 19:51 »

Oh, yeah, Khar, that's exactly the sort of thing I was thinking of!

Wizard Rock is pretty on point, too. The idea that there's over 900 of them is kind of crazy. Of course, I presume they're mostly unknown outside of HP fan communities, but damn that's a ton.

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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #12 on: 14 Apr 2011, 23:33 »

If we're talking about literature there's a lot more that I can mention. The proliferation of Lord of the Rings references particularly among black metal and power metal is significant enough that last.fm has an (albeit sparsely used) Tolkien Metal tag. This fact forms the basis of my Incredibly Dangerous Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Drinking Game*. Other fantasy and weird authors that are very popular in certain circles are Robert E. Howard (Particularly in old-school American power/epic metal of the Manilla Road and old Manowar vein) and HP Lovecraft, who pops up all over but is particularly popular in certain breeds of funeral doom and drone, as well as being a referent to many dark ambient artists. Outside of these few it's quite hard to think of fantasy authors directly referenced in this most nerdy of areas. The only author I can think of with serious recurring references is Lloyd Alexander (The band Cauldron Born, Manilla Road's 'Spiral Castle' etc.) There's also an, I think, Italian power metal band who base a lot of their material around the Chronichles of Prydain but their name escapes me. Much more common in power metal, both old and new, is the use of the established genre expectations of epic fantasy and swords and sorcery in their lyrics and artwork. Some even go as far as adopting the narrative distribution mode of fantasy literature, treating each album they produce as a new 'volume' in a series of musical fantasy novels. The most outstanding proponent of this is the somewhat eccentric Bal-Sagoth, for reasons that will become clear as you read their liner notes.

Space rock trades heavily on literary references to science fiction and science fantasy. Michael Moorcock was even a mamber of space rock grand-daddies Hawkwind. Prog metal/space rock fusion band Star One's whole conceit is that almost all their songs are about a different science fiction film or TV series. Here is their song about Blakes 7, for example.

On the film front, though it's more about genre than a particular film, but psychobilly culture is almost entirely built on the ethos of 40's, 50's and 60's B-movies, and in fact on TV series (The Munsters and the Addams Family come to mind, the Munsters particularly for the influence the cars had on the hearse scene). Probably worth mentioning at this point the fact that distinctive dress style of Morticia Addams and Vampira has had more than a small influence over goth fashion, particularly for women.

All this stuff is a bit more general than what we should be getting at here though, I think.








*Whenever anyone says the name of a heavy metal band, drink. Canonical list:
Amon Amarth (Mount Doom), Amon Sul (Weathertop), Anduril, Aragorn, Arwen, Balrog, Baranduin (Brandywine), Celeborn, Cirith Ungol, Denethor, Fangorn, Galadriel, Gandalf, Gollum, Gorgoroth, Helm's Deep, Isengard, Lothlorien, Minas Morgul, Minis Tirith, Mordor, Morgoth, Moria, Nazgul, Orc, Orodruin, Osgiliath, The Ring, Rivendell, Saruman, Sauron, Troll, Uruk-Hai, Wormtongue
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Johnny C

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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #13 on: 14 Apr 2011, 23:48 »

Johnny, you're looking at the picture without reading the caption.

you posted the band name PWIN ▲▲ TEAKS i only did what any reasonable human would do
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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #14 on: 15 Apr 2011, 13:31 »

On the film front, though it's more about genre than a particular film, but psychobilly culture is almost entirely built on the ethos of 40's, 50's and 60's B-movies, and in fact on TV series (The Munsters and the Addams Family come to mind, the Munsters particularly for the influence the cars had on the hearse scene). Probably worth mentioning at this point the fact that distinctive dress style of Morticia Addams and Vampira has had more than a small influence over goth fashion, particularly for women.
I remember My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult was all about B-movies, but not any particular one. I think they made their own eponymous film.
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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #15 on: 15 Apr 2011, 14:21 »

There's a really egregious reference to MLWtTKK in the Hunter: The Vigil 'Slasher' sourcebook (the one with rules for playing as a supernatural serial killer).
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De_El

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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #16 on: 16 Apr 2011, 18:00 »

Johnny, you're looking at the picture without reading the caption.

you posted the band name PWIN ▲▲ TEAKS i only did what any reasonable human would do

I mean, okay. I suppose we do have several threads made specifically to point and shout about bands w/ ridiculous names, poses w/e.

But on the real. Yeah, Khar, it occurred to me that a lot of bands draw heavily on other cultural influences for their music.  The relationship between metal and fantasy fiction, especially Tolkien, is a pretty interesting example.  The thing about psychobilly and b-movies is a good comparison, as well. You're definitely on the right track.

I guess what really makes the case with witch house stand out to me, quibbles about the quality or validity of the genre aside, is the singular focus of its cultural obsession. Sure, the Misfits were all about horror movies, and TKK were all about b-movies, but with these witch house characters there's a lot of very direct reference to just this one show.

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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #17 on: 16 Apr 2011, 20:03 »

It's odd, because I'm going through it again and there's not a lot that Witch House is evoking about it, for me. A few of the bands take after Badalamenti, sound-wise (as I said earlier, most seem to be going for some variation on John Carpenter), but the visual and iconographic aspects of the genre don't seem all that Lynchian to me. It seems more... I don't know, Giallo.
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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #18 on: 16 Apr 2011, 20:46 »

Hey nobody said they were any good at evoking Lynch. Witch house is nothing if not a dilettante-magnet
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De_El

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Re: Music and TV
« Reply #19 on: 17 Apr 2011, 18:38 »

It's true, witch house is very Giallo. You may be right, though.  I took a cursory look around at some witch house groups' myspaces and did a GIS, and it's not as extensive as I had made it out to be.  Silver Strain has a lot of stuff like this



and then there's Cosmotropia de Xam stuff like this



A lot of groups throw a few owls into their images and videos, though that's a bit more of an oblique reference. And, granted, it's entirely possible that some of them just like owls or something. Part of what threw me off is that a lot of them will say, post a screen shot from Twin Peaks on their facebook wall, but that's not the same as actually incorporating it into what they do.
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