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Opening Portals, Closing Dreams


PAPER TRAILS, MOUSE TRAILS: Doomsayers’ death knells and newspaper business travails notwithstanding, there’s nothing like a newspaper. On a good day, it seems a stopgap measure against tyranny. On a bad day, newspapers can seem a grand exercise in clutter, in terms of abused or indifferent language and piled-up detritus in the living room. On any day, you can read it on trains, planes, and toilets. We’ve had them around for hundreds of years, and the prospect of life without seems somehow untenable, and much less fun.

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All that said, the one-click-away fluidity of the Internet has rearranged our way of thinking about hard, cold, crumple-able realities, and in that spirit the Independent is getting evermore web-wise in its old age. (This would be the start of the 20th year we’ve been fighting fights and generally meeting deadlines. For the record, this column began in 1990 and gracefully refuses to die, as long as there are fringe matters to address.)

Our website is still cutting its teeth—or is the proper cliché “growing its wings?”—and becoming more and more a place to go hang out in. That reach includes this column, which now features more clickable items, links, arbitrary detours, and, soon, streams of music (that part’s a work-in-progress). Stay tuned, start your engines and point yer browsers. Yowza.

ANOTHER ONE BITING DUST DEPT.: The news it out all over town. The gutsy, sweat-and-foolish-love-fueled Goleta venue known as the Hard to Find Showspace will be impossible to find after its final show, next Wednesday. They dared to give a forum to bands from far and wide who appeal to select and/or underground followings and tastes, and generally keep this town from becoming too dry and smug. At least the space ends its valiant run with a strong show, being Xiu Xiu, which makes a musical tossed salad where poetry, experimental instincts, pretty tunes, and loud noises: all are fair game.

ACRONYM-BASED TASTE TREATS: Next Thursday, November 9, experimental/computer/avant-garde affines should make haste to Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall, for the first CREATE concert of the academic year.

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CREATE (Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology), led by director JoAnn Kuchera-Morin and associate director Curtis Roads, has provided some of the more provocative digital concert sounds in the area. This concert will feature works by electro-acoustic composer-in-residence Natasha Barrett, from Norway.

FRINGE PRODUCT: Speaking of sound-visionary Norwegian females, the thrilling experimental noise unit known as Fe-mail—being painterly sound dramatists Maja Ratkje and Hild Sofie Tafjord (pictured)—have recently added another album to their bin, Blixter Toad. A delicious, subversively mesmeric two-disc album, it appears on San Francisco’s Asphodel label, also home to the upcoming new version of Lou Reed’s infamous noise-rock classic Metal Machine Music, by the German group Zietkratzer. Santa Barbara has Reed—a fool-suffering rock legend who really just wants to make noise and songs—on its collective brain, after his appearance last night at Campbell Hall.

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Not to indulge gender-based stereotypes too much, but the all-female energy of Fe-mail is a great shot in the arm in a realm too often occupied by testosterone and nerdy laptop marauders. They have given new life to the exciting expressionistic corner of the electronic music world where beats, harmonies, and melodies are verboten. The psychedelic Lewis Carroll meets Peter Max-on-downers cover art finds the pair dressed as toads, with spare visions of hallucinations in some fantasy forest mashed into weird Rorschach test blobs. The musical contents go in similar directions, abstract at the core but full of sonic evocations of goblins and insect life, with vocal mutterings mixed in with a dense palette of sounds which are borrowed, mixing board-tweaked, live-generated, and otherwise coming from planet Fe-mail.

These Nordic girls rock and get under your skin, in a way that makes traditional music, the kind propped up on order and conventions, seem a bit silly and confining. (got e? fringebeat@aol.com).



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