Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hydrochloric Shaved Weirds

This taxonomy of face fuzz has gotten out of hand - as any good beard does, I suppose. But it's balancing the equation from the wrong side: what do we learn of any recognizable subset by, first, isolating them, second, cherry-picking a shared stylistic flourish, and, third, coming to the conclusion that they're a recognizable subset? This is like scanning promo shots of the '89 Sub Pop roster and feigning surprise that the musicians share a fondness for flannel and ripped denim.

If anything, we should seize upon a certain type of facial topiary, find who sports it across various genres, and then ruminate about what the common thread may be. For instance...


Name: Warren Ellis of the Bad Seeds and the Dirty Three
Genre: Dark Americana; roots rock

Name: Pharaoh Sanders
Genre: Avant-garde jazz

Name: Joe Preston of Thrones and Harvey Milk
Genre: Stoner rock; doom; drone


Name: Mos Def
Genre: Conscious/backpacker hip-hop

Name: Thijs van Leer of Focus
Genre: Prog ne plus ultra

Name: Rjyan Kidwell, a.k.a. CEX
Genre: IDM; glitch-hop; noise


Name: Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre
Genre: Psychedelic rock

Name: Sly Stone
Genre: Funk; soul

Name: Glenn Danzig
Genre: Heavy metal; horror punk


Name: Holger Czukay of Can
Genre: Krautrock; electronic; techno

Name: Nick Cave
Genre: Dark Americana; post punk; gothic folk

Name: Glenn Hughes of The Village People
Genre: Disco

Not that facial hair should be interpreted as anything other than a snapshot of an artist, since it changes & evolves over time. I myself have sported all of the above (except the dreadful Abe Lincoln) at some point over the past year alone; Nick Cave was clean-shaven his whole career until Grinderman debuted three years ago; and Robert Fripp, who currently looks like your asshole Tory-supporting grandfather, once rocked the most righteous afro-and-sideburns combo this side of Sly Stone.

This quicksilver quality is, of course, also applicable to hairdos, as illustrated by both David Bowie's career and the Black Flag Haircut Continuum.


Anonymous said...

You forgot Gaz Coombes of Supergrarse under the "chops" category.

Seb said...

Well spotted. That probably is Mr. Coombes' most redeeming feature, innit?