Nicole Lanctot

  • culture June 29, 2009

    Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers on the Albums That Changed Their Lives edited with an introduction by Peter Terzian

    “Writers love music,” observes Peter Terzian in his introduction to Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers on the Albums That Changed Their Lives. “A good ear is almost a requirement of the job; the best writing has voice, has rhythm.” Indeed, John Ashbery has spoken of his poetry’s indebtedness to music, and Samuel Beckett gave precise attention to the cadence of his plays. In Heavy Rotation, however, technical discussions have been traded for highly personal—and highly readable—accounts of the relationship between music and literature.

    For anyone interested in what cultural producers are listening

  • culture May 26, 2009

    Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen by Mark Rudd

    Although recent novels have presented sophisticated tales of the 1960s and ’70s political underground—including Dana Spiotta’s Eat the Document, Christopher Sorrentino’s Trance, and Hari Kunzru’s My Revolutions—latter-day radicalism continues to be fetishized, from the recurrent use in fashion and art of a beret-clad, gun-wielding Patty Hearst to Shepard Fairey’s ubiquitous Che Guevara–inspired poster of Barack Obama. But any romantic notion of this revolutionary period is dismantled in Mark Rudd’s memoir, Underground, a sober account of his time as a member of Students for a Democratic Society

  • Land 250 and Trois by Patti Smith

    IN STEVEN SEBRING’S DOCUMENTARY Patti Smith: Dream of Life (2008), the godmother of punk is seen roaming cemeteries, scribbling in notebooks, reading poetry, and peeling open freshly snapped Polaroids. Smith’s music anchors the film, but Dream of Life’s unspoken theme is that she is an old-school romantic, one whose art-as-life approach to creativity makes her a sanguine torchbearer for the Beats and the nineteenth-century French poets she deeply admires.

    On the occasion of Smith’s exhibition at Paris’s Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain last spring, Thames & Hudson published Land 250

  • Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture

    For a true music nerd, there is nothing more satisfying than listening to a piece of music, parsing out its samples, and hunting for the albums on which those sounds originally appeared. But while many fans view sampling as breathing new life into long-forgotten songs, others, of course, see it as infringement. Issues of appropriation—audio and otherwise—pervade Sound Unbound, a new anthology on digital music and culture edited by conceptual artist and musician Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid).

    Miller’s first book, Rhythm Science (2004), presents a semiautobiographical

  • Noise/Music: A History

    An intertwined crash course in outsider music and cultural studies, Paul Hegarty’s dense new survey, Noise/Music: A History, traces noise music’s avant-garde and experimental roots—from Futurism, Fluxus, and musique concrète to 1970s progressive rock and punk—and examines its more recent incarnations. In his attempt to characterize “noise,” Hegarty (who, in addition to teaching philosophy and visual culture, plays in two noise outfits) admits that the concept doesn’t have a static definition; it can be designated only by context. Still, he asserts that the music “largely avoids song structure,”