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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