SPECIAL PEOPLE CLUB
he vaguely resembles a wispier version of David Kleiler in the above photo, but trust me, NICK CAIN is much better looking in person. About 3 years ago this young New Zealander contacted me via e-mail expressing the heartfelt desire to meet in person. He was a new arrival to London, as was I. And hey, I'm a handsome healthy dude ready for action, what the hell?
Anyhow, our eventual meeting at a darkly lit pub was less than eventful. I kept trying to steer the discussion towards universal subjects like "turn ons and turn offs", but Nick seemed very determined to learn all sorts of inner secrets about the business dealings at Matador Records. Where did the money come from? Who were the big sellers? What was the health plan like?
I felt uncomfortable with this line of questioning. Nick hadn't even mentioned my cologne! I tried to placate him with some typical rock biz puffery (eg. "Jon Spencer once slept with a Cadlillac.""Stephen Malkmus once had his urine changed," "you should see my office --- I've got Klaus Nomi's skull for an ashtray") but he seemed very frustrated. Finally, Cain stomped off into the night and I had to go home to the wife with some feeble excuse about "lots of paperwork".
So imagine my surprise a few years later when I found the following review on Nick's Opprobrium website :
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS Existence Period CD [Parallelism] Being of course the contemporary "improv" duo of Gerard Cosloy and Claire Pannell, who a remarkable number of professional music critics (like two or three) seem to think are anything other than absolute garbage. One can only conclude that said opiners have been "listening" with their arses: to these ears this - like its three predecessors and two successors, all 70+ minutes in duration, all five released within the space of the last 24 months - plays like a very large pile of excrement indeed. These clowns blur the line between "improvisation" and "making it up as you go along" with breathtaking stupidity. Cosloy's guitar-playing is embarrassing: go-nowhere, do-nothing, idea-less fumblings, so inept they struggle to resemble even doodles; Pannell's laughable and pathetic cardboard-tap drumming is at best unresponsive, thoughtless and utterly limp. Place the two together and the "result" is some of the most hapless, overlong and clueless "improv"/"noise" "music" on offer anywhere - dunderhead blunderings of the kind that no reasonable human being should have to endure. Might I suggest that the two culprits' respective musical "backgrounds" - one a demagogue purveyor of substandard American independent pop and rock music (for further information, check out this really exciting link), the other a crime partner in several unspeakably bad Palmerston North shit shock-rock outfits - disqualifies them from this type of artistic endeavour, and such exhaustive documentation thereof? Unquestionably the worst recording of purportedly "improvised" music I've had the misfortune of hearing in the past 12 months. -Nick Cain
Wow. I mean, if the personal rejection wasn't bad enough!
Nick is obviously entitled to his opinion, though there are a few points to ponder which call into question his credibility. First of all, is this review directed towards his readership, or is it a response of some sort to the "professional music critics" that we've somehow duped into praising our recordings? That some of the most effusive praise came from the pages of Cain's own publication courtesy of Tom Lax, one can only conclude that Nick grants his staff far too much autonomy. Either that, or Tom has been listening with his arse (sic). I'm no doctor, but this just isn't possible.
thankfully, others are of the opinion that 'Existence Period', the 4th ATC album (not the third, as claimed by Cain) is not only seriously hot stuff, but it is substantially different from the prior and following albums. That much of the playing on the recording in question came from guest musicians (neither of whom play the guitar or drums) wasn't worthy of comment or identification--- perhaps that was insignificant, or perhaps Nick didn't listen to the album. (in general, I think the best solution for anyone thinking of writing a negative review like Nick's is to listen to our CD again. And again. Maybe a few more times. If you're still not impressed, you really need to concentrate harder.)
Either way, Nick Cain doesn't need any real reason to dismiss our stuff, not beyond his own arbitrary gauge of what is or isn't interesting. In that sense, he's no different than anyone else. The part that is highly suspect is the lack of disclosure about our fateful encounter (had I known my actions that night would trouble Nick so profoundly, I really would've kept my hands to myself), as well as the blatant prejudice shown by the review's penultimate sentence. Hey, ask anyone, I'm a demagogue purveyor of all kinds of substandard music! If anyone else seriously believes that my role at Matador Records sums up everything there is about me, that's their fucking loss. But I am surprised to learn that Cain thinks my Matador involvement automatically precludes my having anything else to offer --- based on prior conversation, he seemed to take a particularly keen interest in the label's operation.
Simply put, this sniveling shit doesn't know the first thing about my "musical background" and no amount of social climbing disguised as research is gonna help him sort it out. As far as his comments about Claire Pannell are concerned, there's clearly some kinda ancient NZ grudge happening that I can't worry about too much. I mean, if every guy that got shot down by the lovely and talented Ms. Pannell decided to write a bad review, we'd be drowning in bad ink. But I'm to understand that participation in some (alleged) crap bands eons ago eliminates Claire or anyone else from serious consideration? Going by this twisted logic, you could've ended Alan Licht's career after the first Love Child album.
Anyhow, let this be a warning to all the other multi-talented, goodlooking musical virtuosos in greater London. If Nick Cain wants to "hang out" you'd better have some serious dirt to dish. Having brushed up against a journalistic superstar that burned so bright, I now prefer the simple life. I stay of out the bars, the afterhours clubs, the used record shops, all the haunts that users and predators like Nick Cain are prowling in search of new prey. I've got my guitar, my record player... my paintings, my yoga, my ferrari, my horses, my live-in massuse, my back issues of Sick Teen...and that's all I really need.
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