Wild Mercury Sound

Dylan vs Ronson: no-one hurt. Plus White Rainbow

John Mulvey

A surprising lack of indignation over at yesterday's Bob Dylan vs Mark Ronson blog, where everyone seems to have responded to the "Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)" remix with commendable restraint.

"It could've been worse," notes Stuart, accurately, and compares Dylan's slightly lost vocal to the way Lennon was overwhelmed on the Lynnification of "Free As A Bird". "It's not the end of the world," agrees Dick Ikin. "In fact I quite like it." The anticipated flood of vitriol seems to have been replaced by a kind of philosophical acceptance, not least because the idea of Dylan being a pop star again clearly has a distinct frisson.

Over at my Mog page, Kate is a fraction grouchier. "Ronson basicallly Dap-Kinged Dylan," she writes. "It’s okay. I am kind of a purist when it comes to Dylan. If something works in its original form why mess with it? I am not outraged, just kind of yawn…. bored."

Good point about the Dap-Kings - that's the horn section Ronson increasingly overuses on his records. And another interesting observation comes by email from Nigel Williamson, who responds to my characterisation of Ronson as "this decade's Dave Stewart, providing Dylan with an ephemeral, radio-friendly glaze."

". . . 0r more like Arthur Baker's mix/production on 'Empire Burlesque'," he writes, "trying to make 'contemporary' an art form that doesn't require modernisation in the first place because it's timeless in the genuine sense of the word." I think this is dangerous territory, because it assumes that there is some kind of platonic ideal of music, which is timeless. I don't agree with this at all, not least because it implies that we can objectively say what 'good, timeless music' is. Some music is less endowed with fashionable production techniques, which make them easier to listen to out of context, but no matter how objective we pretend to be, we can't be entirely empirical about anything. Even Dylan.

Of course you should still trust my hunches. Today I've been playing the new White Rainbow album, a morning regular here for the past week and one which our long-suffering neighbours in marketing have described as "angry whale music". Sounds good to me: White Rainbow is a guy from Portland, Oregon called Adam Faulkner who's also recorded in the past with the lovely Jackie-O Motherfucker and Devendra Banhart (I'll write something about his fine new LP any day now, I promise).

"Prism Of Eternal Now" is packaged a bit like an old Lamonte Young/Dream Syndicate record, and features a slogan on the back, slightly tongue-in-cheek, which reads, "MORE ADVANCED THAN MEDITATION!! FASTER THAN MEDITATION ABOVE AND BEYOND MEDITATION."

Again, this works for me. When Faulkner gets down to it, he's operating around that drone/ambient/Krautrock interface which I love so much, especially this week it seems, following on from the other day's Harmonia and Cloudland Canyon blog. Listening to this one, I can pick up a good working knowledge of Terry Riley's "Rainbow In Curved Air" from the organ flurries; plenty of ultra-minimalism like the aforementioned Lamonte Young; Neu!, especially, those keening guitar lines; and maybe some early Popol Vuh, too (sorry, I can't remember which album). As this excellent and enveloping record goes on, it also feels like Faulkner knows his way round the glitchy, minimalist electronica that was everywhere (in my world, OK) a few years ago; stuff like those first two Pole albums.

Here's the White Rainbow Myspace. How about booking Adam to bring his "WHITE RAINBOW FULL SPECTRUM VIBRATIONAL HEALING CENTER AKA PSYCHEDELIC VIBE-HUT" to your house? I think it's just him playing in a tent for a very long time.


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