The year 1981 was a heady one for practitioners of performance and conceptual art: Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" improbably reached number two on the UK pop charts and Yoko Ono was bigger than Judas (if not, perhaps, than Mark Chapman.) Meanwhile, in the podunk brackwater of Vancouver, at the Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design, in a diverse local musical context of Skinny Puppy predecessor Images in Vogue, 54-40, Loverboy, and D.O.A. (perhaps taken in at the Smilin' Buddha Cabaret) art student Anthony Seto stayed behind after class penning song lyrics for a non-existent pop music group: "The Pseudos." Since a consummate artist will permit only their imagination, rather than their formal talent, affinity for the medium or compositional abilities, to be their overarching constraint, it was of no great concern to any party involved that neither Anthony nor his classmates / bandmates could sing, read music or play any instruments - for as anyone who has ever filled out an artist's statement card will vouch, it's the intent that counts; execution of the concept is the concern of the lowly craftsman, not that of the lofty artist.

In this case, the intent had everything to do with the blatant trappings and posturings of an poseur avant-garde art-rock music group (think the decline of Andy Warhol's Factory) and, as with many bands, nothing at all to do with the music. Isn't that great? After all, what could be more avant-garde (avant-avant-garde?) than poking fun at the avant-garde? {Waitasec, that's a traditionally conservative, bourgeois response.} {Ah, but only when motivated by ignorance, to things they don't understand and don't care enough to try to! This isn't ridicule, it's satire! How, er, trenchant.) So instead of learning how to play instruments they learned about foppish hairstyles, chic second-hand clothing, behaving in a surly manner when interviewed, perfecting the strung-out manner of a jonesing junkie and infuriating moves such as "playing" with your back to the audience while you lip-synch. Lip-synch? The silence of a mime is not a traditional quality of most musical groups, nor is the cacaphonic racket of evident ineptitude. A prerecorded show seemed like a good workaround to keep the ears of the audience entertained by hearing music recorded by other, actual, musicians, intended for the Pseudos (as in, "not actual") to "perform" to.

Twenty years later, Anthony's art school training had been serving him well as a graphic designer, contributing work to album and CD sleeve designs and posters for gigs, all of which put him in contact with many people who not only know how to play their instruments, but make a living doing so. Recalling his earlier whimsical project in art school, he resolved to pick it back up and carry it through to a final conclusion; rejecting the ephemerality of performances, he pitched to his musical clients a studio recording of Pseudos material, plotted along an imaginary timeline of the band's history, culminating in an actual album release that the band that never was might live evermore in the music collections of a handful of assorted hipsters across the globe.

That-all establishing context belongs in a node named "The Pseudos", about the band; however, you people demand explication and what (eventually) lies below is the song whose lyrics I wanted to node when I started writing. Whatever is a girl to do? Perhaps I will eventually split these up.

I was first exposed to the Pseudos' meme at the 2001 Artropolis exhibition, where Anthony's artist's statement (accompanying three song fragments and various "inauthentic" band paraphernalia - posters, t-shirts, ticket stubs and the like) reads somewhat tersely:

Real songs by Fictional Band. Critical art evaluation as an exercise in definition and logic. Ironic content=Serious art. Sincerity=Critically Unimportant. Pseudo=Sham. Sincere=Honest. Sincerely by the Pseudos=Ironic Intent. Pseudos CD=Serious Art. Serious Art=Sham.
A succinct summation of the original intent behind the work. I slipped on the headphones and thrilled to the following 3:51 song, described as a "Valentine to an aspiring dilettante with... je ne sais quoi. (1982 single.)"

What gets me about it? In short, it's the way he keeps saying "avant-garde" when what he's describing clearly runs the gamut of dubious merits from irrelevance all the way to pretention. He demonstrates My reasons for loving my baby are fundamentally misplaced, if not wholly bogus, but the naive power of love - I interpret this as being this way because I desire it to be so - fills him with such exuberance that even though he must be aware of the vast gulf between his premises and his conclusion, he doesn't care. That's an ironical, cynical, nihilist, punky art-school sensibility for all of us.

For those of you surfing with Macromedia Flash-enabled browsers, you can hear a portion of this song offered as the first selection at - those who aren't are doomed to pine after Xenex's monopolising of the Ereneta collaborative mix-tape on which a copy of it also resides.
Full credits for the version on the Pseudos' album lostsongs lostdreams include Craig Northey on vocals, Scott "Jack" Macleod on lead guitar, Jon Card on drums, Bob Patterson on bass, Gord Nicholl on keyboards, Chris Grove on saxophone, and Anthony Seto, Buck Cherry and Randall T. Carpenter doing the backing vocals. It was recorded at East 3rd Ave. Productions in Vancouver, Canada, where it was produced by Randall T. Carpenter, recorded and engineered by Gord Nicholl.
As I have no baby, my baby is not avant garde. (barring that the minimalist baby is the most avant garde of all - me, I'd settle for an abstractly expressionist baby.)

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