Note to Jeff Mangum: Do Something Worthwhile Already!

Categories: pondering
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According to Pitchfork, the long-stalled art film Major Organ and the Adding Machine has finally been assigned a DVD release date. On Sept. 14, record label Orange Twin will release the film along with a double CD featuring the music of various artists as well as additional film footage.  A project of the famed Elephant 6 collective, the film co-stars notorious recluse Jeff Mangum, the driving force behind legendary '90s indie band Neutral Milk Hotel. The film was directed by Joey Foreman and Elephant 6 participant Eric Harris, it features a coterie of indie mainstays from such bands as Of Montreal, Elf Power and Apples in Stereo. Judging by the YouTube clips, it looks as dreadful as its title implies. Have a look:


Compelling stuff right? First question--when will Mangum attach himself to a project that is both artistic and entertaining such as he did with 1998's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea?

Follow up question: why spend over a decade evading such a brilliant artistic triumph? Since the dissolution of NMH, Mangum has adamantly avoided the spotlight, save for the occasional solo appearance or contribution with a "cow object" to one of his friend's bands (see Apples In Stereo's 2007 release New Magnetic Wonder.) There has always been a vocal minority of armchair musicians who cluck their tongues at songsters who pursue commercial success at the expense of artistic integrity.

And while such critics might make a good case about the demise of modern music, I contend it's people like Mangum who make an airtight argument for rabid commercialism. I would rather see Katy Perry shoot cream from her mammaries than witness images of  children wearing metallic Devo while hats flying WWII-style airplanes.

Is Mangum just selfishly indulging his own excessive artistic hedonism, or is he mocking those loyal fans who wait with bated breath for him to do something riveting once again? Is there something about getting a lick of the brass ring that flips the switch irrevocably inside some artists' heads? Compare the following clip to the trailer you just watched and judge for yourself:


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