Friday, April 02, 2010

Big iMac

Radio 1's Monday night documentary feature feels like a good idea reaching for something to fill it with, and sometimes it falls victim to planning circumstance.

Here's an idea of what we mean. In two shows, the first of which is a week on Monday, the station's ex-1Xtra early breakfast presenter Dev has taken up a challenge to make an experimental electronic track and have it played by Mary Anne Hobbs (which **SPOILER** it was, three weeks ago) Within this framework is a perfectly decent idea of plunging a knownothing into an alien musical environment and asking him to learn and take things from it, and it starts well enough - the first programme sees him meet the people behind Warp and Wrong Music, Starkey and various label bosses, record shop owners and producers. It's the second show on the 19th that we have issues with. The BBC Press Office takes up the story.

In part two, Dev, whose usual music taste includes R&B and hip-hop with some Barry White thrown in for good measure, explores the outer-fringes of the experimental live music scene, by making a trip to the Mecca of all alternative music festivals – All Tomorrow's Parties.

With his guitar on his back and his music theory revision in his bag, he spends the weekend in a chalet at Butlins in Minehead, in a bid discover what it is about the festival that brings fans from all over the world to a shabby seaside resort to watch extreme noise and weird sound experiments year after year.

Well, there's worse places. Now, remember that this is a documentary about the wilder shores of electronic music.

As the festival celebrates its 10th anniversary, Dev steps well out of his comfort zone to listen to bands like Porn, Shellac and Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse!

speaks to F**k Buttons and Battles, and tracks down the elusive Nirvana producer Steve Albini by doorstepping him in his chalet.

Good god, where to start on that last bit? With "elusive", with "Nirvana producer", or the idea that Dev is making an experimental electronic track, and for advice he's gone to Steve Albini. The man may have hidden depths, but he's been around for long enough for us to make assumptions. Not to mention that his having to moderate on the subject for a 9pm Radio 1 audience is an entirely different matter.

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