Here’s a story that deserves greater attention. I first noticed it on Tim Shiel’s blog (aka Faux Pas) a couple of weeks back. It’s been churning around at the back of my mind since then, and now it’s got me annoyed enough that I want to write about it myself.
Q&A is the third release for bleep-meister Qua – known to his parents as Cornel Wilczek – one of Melbourne’s cut-and-paste hipster collective (Mountains in the Sky, Pivot, etc) who, thankfully some might say, rarely ply their trade outside the 3065 postcode.
Previously dabbling in more ambient electronic sounds, Qua moves into more stabby synths and avant-garge beats on Q&A, which apparently features more instrumentation – guitars, analog synths and drums from Pivot’s Laurence Pike – than laptop action, but you wouldn’t know it. I liked Sonic the Hedgehog in the early ’90s too, but that doesn’t mean I want its bonus points music re-interpreted into postmodern arcade fusion.
There are a few nice electronica moments on Q&A, but just as one relaxes into what begins as a promisingly Air, Daft Punk, or even upbeat, squelchy El Guincho-esque tune, blistering blips (not in a good way) and what I assume are achingly hip knowing nods to atonal composer Pierre Schaeffer jar the listener into skipping to the next track/putting on something better. Q&A would be an interesting exercise if Qua was a 14-year old boy fiddling on his Mac. But he’s not.
Now apart from being a complete slam of the album, it’s also a load of crap from a journalism standpoint. Witness these sins, some of which Tim pointed out on his To and Fro radio show blog (get on that, by the way – highly recommended) (correction: Dave, Tim’s co-presenter, wrote that post as Tim pointed out in the comments)
- Shocking writing everywhere. The second paragraph is dizzying when you spend time parsing it: check out those three uses of the word “more” in quick succession!
- The word “hipster” is one I’ve never heard used positively, and who is a reviewer to judge this?
- … and how is the reference to “3065″ not a hipster-ism of its own nature?
- Using “Air” and “Daft Punk” as your comparisons – only some of the most well-known electronic music in existence
- For that matter, I’d be curious to know if the El Guincho album was one of the others on her review pile…
- Pivot are not from Melbourne. Mostly Sydney. And Perth. And kind of London.
But here’s the real kicker. You’d think the snide tone and badly executed research would be enough, but Kylie also jumps in and plaguarises two obviously original parts of a review by an Adelaide blogger called Spoz. It’s far from being a study in journalism itself, but this is someone’s blog remember – not a newspaper with state-wide circulation.
… one should never underestimate a healthy disregard for copyright law, a broadband connection, a 160Gb ipod and writing for a music website as idiotic as this one for encouraging some truly ecclectic tastes; such as a finer appreciation for the works of Qua. Part of a growing Melbourne cut-and-paste aesthetic (spawning such contemporaries as Mountains In The Sky and Pivot) Qua is the sound of third world rhythms, chants and jubilation set to bombastic beats. Think 90’s Gerling at their most avant garde mixed with The Avalanches, St Germain crossfaded with Squarepusher, or 50 smashed ipods singing the blues in an inner city cafe. Wank intellectuals will obviously find knowing references to composer Pierre Schaeffer and the musique concrète movement of the 1950’s, whilst the rest of you alcoholics will simply recognise this as the whacked out ditty that accompanies that bizarre Toohey’s Extra Dry ad campaign with all the big hair bogans and oversized hair sprouting corn husks..
So: Kylie lifted both Spoz’s unfortunate Pivot inaccuracy, and the completely left-field reference to Pierre Shaeffer (which I assume was just Spoz taking the piss). Perhaps she didn’t know who Squarepusher, The Avalanches or St Germain were? (that being said, these are rather obvious electronic music comparisons also)
I have two questions:
- How many other blogs did Kylie read to put her “review” together?
- How many other journalists are doing this exact thing with their reviews?
Basically, I can’t help but wonder if we’re all a target for this kind of thing.
I’m sure journalists have been finding ways to avoid putting effort into writing their work since the day the media industry was invented, but exploiting the efforts of an unpaid but enthusiastic music community as a quick way to avoid a bit of effort seems ridiculous.