Thursday, November 29, 2012

James Parker at Tiny Mix Tapes on the new Emeralds (versus vaporwave)

Which is only "new" in the notional sense of  it's the latest Emeralds record (as in "yet another Emeralds record"). And in another sense it's very deliberately not-new, but the recapitulation of a style (Sky Records, late kosmische heading towards E2: E4) that in its own day signified an advance, or at least an evolution (Krautrockers engaging with the latest technology of guitar pedals, sequencers, synths etc), but more than thirty years later is, at very best, a strategic withdrawal from current possibilities. 

"Emeralds are doubly anachronistic. It’s not just that they’re retro. They aren’t even retro in a particularly contemporary way.... These weren’t exactly slavish recreations... [I dunno, my first thought on hearing Just To Feel Anything, was that it was like a Gottsching/Rother tribute band.. but enough interruptions, pray continue James!] ... It was as if Emeralds had simply decided to pick up and continue to explore a genre that had last touched base with the zeitgeist some 30 or so years previously..... The commitment is to the genre itself, to a catalogue of very particular sounds, effects, and techniques. It is these that provide the framework within which any further experimentation must be confined. The problem is that unless you’re already on board in this respect, unless you’re also a fanboy, equally committed to the rules of the game, equally happy to judge a record according to its micro-innovations, or in terms of its ability to successfully inhabit the genre, then it can all feel a little bit… well… pointless. So it turns out that there’s a little of the modernist in me yet. Not even vaporwave could put pay to it entirely. I’m more than happy with appropriation, it seems, a certain kind of totally overt relation with the past, but only so long as that relation feels new or refreshing somehow."

I'm a vaporwave agnostic myself...   a lot of it just sounds like bland music played at the wrong speed, to me, no more or less - vapidwave, more like!  From its textures and techniques to its rationalisation, it all feels like a coda to Ferraro/Onehotrix/Chuck Person...    the       Chapterhouse/Ride/Catherine Wheel to the former's MBV/AR KaneI don't quite see the conceptual leap beyond what was already proposed by Far Side Virtual/Eccojams that is being made here...  It feels less of a surprising extension than hipster house, for instance.  

I enjoy reading about it, very much, but when you get more pleasure and stimulation from the discourse around the music than the music itself, that's a warning sign...

A sign of what? Well, it's now approaching a half-decade of hypnagogic (Keenan's article was 2009, but the underground music currents he marshalled together under that conceptual rubric were in motion from 2008 onwards,  maybe earlier).  Five years is a long time in music (shoegaze, for instance, lasted about that long, 1988 to 1992: from the pioneer stage to the codifying exhaustion of the style, from "You Made Me Realise" to Going Blank Again). You would probably expect some kind of change-up at this point.

(Of course, hauntology has been going even longer (2005-6) than hypnagogic -  good things still seep out from the haunty zone, subtle twists and extensions... But the point perhaps is that, however good to listen to they may be, they cannot be the spur to new thoughts)

Then again, maybe the hallmark of an atemporal age (or not-age) is that genres never really die... the supercessive logic of linearity, of dialectical advances that entail the definitive abandonment of earlier styles and stages .... that doesn't apply anymore.

Zit pop in het slop? / musicomanie 2.0

crack out your Harraps French to English dictionary, because here's an interview avec moi on la retromanie, part Jean-Yves Leloup (author of Digital Magma)

and crack out your Flemish to English one an' all, cos here's another with Theo Ploeg, a version here and a version there (can't tell if they're different, they seem to be pretty identical)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

 "A better question is whether the cultural relativity induced by having all musical histories on tap 24/7 renders the act of attempting to connect historical threads a fool's errand. Being inside this cyclotron of atomized information from my own vantage point produces a palpable sense of vertigo. A feeling that it could be anything in any order by anyone at any time for any reason. Everything pointing in all directions quaquaversally but arriving at no destination. And its effect is a cancellation of affect. A feeling like Baudrillard's screen stage of blank fascination has reached its terminal phase and all previous depths are collapsing into an endless vista of dazzling surface play. In my case, it's caused me to recoil and retreat to engaging with music in the way that I did when I was in my early teens, which is to say with no concern at all for what else I might be missing at the same time or what else "I need to know about," since there's no sense any longer of a beginning, end or causation in the spaces between, so I just tune into a select few things that I then revisit with depth and intensity and block out the rest of the hubbub"--Eric Lumbleau, Mutant Sounds

that's the penultimate, climactic quote in a roundtable of sharity-cases debating "The Rise and Fall of the Obscure Music Download Blog", convened by Mike Allen at the Awl

on which subject, I had been aware for a while now of a discernible dimming of energy in the arcana-provider blog circuit...  some blogs getting very sporadic in their posting.... others coming to a halt without explanation....  others announcing their closedown on account of threats and warnings of prosecution...  but more noticeable still, a dearth of new ones forming...

the loss of Megaupload and turmoil and changes and new strictures institutued in re.  other file hosting services is part of it, obviously

but i had also attributed it to some degree to an exhaustion of the overall Project...  the  obscure-music seam mined out ...  little left of even marginal interest or worth to introduce to the world .... all once-derided/overlooked zones of any construable merit or consequences now thoroughly reclaimed, sucked dry...

(some of the roundtablers disagree with this idea though)

as for Mr Lumbleau's comment, i know how he feels, oh yeah...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wow, what a great piece on the afterlife of the Grateful Dead at the New Yorker... by Nick Paumgarten...  and particularly interesting from a retromaniacal point of view because of its focus "on the Dead’s transformation, over time, from living thing to library", all the paradoxes entailed in "something intended to be spontaneous and ephemeral" becoming "a curated body of work"

 In one of the best passages in this long, long feature,  Paumgarten gets escorted by the Dead's official archivist Dave Lemieux to visit the Dead's tape vault, now in the custody of Rhino and just one zone within the vast cenotaph of sound maintained by Warner Bros up in Burbank:
Are you ready to enter the holy portal?” [the Warner Bros archivist/guide] asked. We passed through a door into a vast climate-controlled hangar of shelves loaded with boxes containing the reel-to-reel multitrack recordings of studio sessions and concerts of hundreds of artists. There was a smell of vinegar—the disintegration of old magnetic audiotape. We wandered the aisles, tunnelling through music. Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Gene Autry, Yes, Coolio, Jean-Luc Ponty, Teddy Pendergrass, Winger. “Three-quarters of this place is unissued,” he said. He pointed to a rack of reel-to-reels: Otis Redding, live, 1967, never circulated. Another set of shelves contained hours and hours of Aretha Franklin songs that have never been released.

“Drool,” Lemieux said.

The Dead’s section was toward the back, surrounded by a chain-link fence. It was a vault within a vault—a Holy of Holies. The funny thing was that the Dead’s stash, sealed off from the rest, had long been by far the most porous of all. Every year, new old music gushes forth. “That’s what makes the Grateful Dead unique within this building,” the archivist said. “David is using it all.”

He opened a padlock. We stepped inside. There were two long aisles, with a line of bays on either side. There were fifty-four bays. Each bay was about four feet wide and nine shelves high, with as many as a hundred tapes per shelf. There were big reels and small ones, cassettes and digital audiotapes. The arrangement wasn’t strictly chronological. The system was arcane


C.f. the previous post on Lee Gamble's 'ardkore 'auntology using his old pirate radio tapes (or that Tape Crackers doc). c.f. also Ariel P's Worn Copy... howzabout this then on the oh-so-particular flava of Deadhead taper's recordings that then get copied and re-copied as they circulate among the community of fans...  

"Even the compromised sound quality became a perverse part of the appeal. Each tape seemed to have its own particular note of decay, like the taste of the barnyard in a wine or a cheese. You came to love each one, as you might a three-legged dog....

"Each had a character and odor of its own, a terroir. Some combination of the era, the lineup, the set list, the sound system, the recording apparatus, its positioning in the hall, the recorder’s sonic bias, the chain of custody, and, yes, the actual performance would render up a sonic aura that could be unique. Jerry Garcia claimed to be a synesthete—he said that he perceived sound as color. Somehow, I and others came to perceive various recordings, if not as colors, as having distinct odors or auras."

Despite being very much not-a-Deadhead, that certainly resonated with me as a pirate tape nut...  There's shows i've had for years recorded with dodgy signals onto poor quality album-advance tape, then heard again as a better quality recording that's someone's uploaded onto the internet.... and all the flavour, the aura, that I'd become attached to, it's gone...


 In the  Retromania section on the Deadheads and the inherent paradoxes of fetishising, decades after the fact, dodgy recordings of something meant to be experienced purely in-the-now, I speculate that the tapers are in some way missing the very thing they're so obsessed with capturing... they are not really fully present, because preoccupied with recording levels, microphone placement....   that sense is strengthened by the bit in Paumgarten's piece where he meets the taper responsible for a particular concert recording  [nicknamed the Fox after the Georgia venue in question] that he and his boarding school buddies were obsessed with in the Eighties...

"He sat throughout the set, holding a microphone in his hand. “I remember it being quite a pain. I can see the band and the house in my mind’s eye, from that spot,” he said. “The sound was so unique and wonderful. There was such wide stereo range on the P.A. It translated to the tape. You don’t usually get that on audience tapes. It’s Dan Healy who deserves the credit. Healy just went for it.” He was referring to the Dead’s soundman, and it occurred to me that his admiration for the Fox had more to do with the quality of sound than with the performance. Tapers listen differently."

Certainly the surviving members of the Dead do not understand the phenomenon at all, think the tapers and the tape-collectors (it's all on the Internet now, of course) have missed the point...

Phil Lesh, for instance, says, "recordings have always seemed to me, personally, to be kind of a fly in amber, which was contrary to the spirit of the Grateful Dead". Of the recent limited edition/sold out instantly box set of every single date on the Europe 72 tour (22 concerts, 73 discs, over 70 hours of music), Lesh says, "I have to admit, I have not listened to it"

Sensible fellow! He lived it, why would he want to relive it?


Also Retromania-resonant is the section on all the tribute bands that the Dead have spawned.  One of them, the Dark Star Orchestra, "perform specific concerts from the Grateful Dead's vast library of past gigs. They reproduce the set list, with the particular song arrangements and sonic configurations that the Dead employed that night...  They have thousands of units of existing material to choose from, and they have yet to repeat one. D.S.O. does not, as some mistakenly assume, replicate the concerts note for note; instead, in the spirit of their progenitors, and in the interest of their own enjoyment, and of performative plausibility, they improvise, within the context of the era they are drawing from. It is a peculiar form of repertory."

In a delicious, vicious twist of irony, the D.S.O. finds itself effectively in competition with a post-Dead band formed by Lesh and Bob Weir, a battle that gets pretty nasty.  Paumgarten drily, mordantly notes that the D.S.O.'s rhythm guitarist Rob Eaton "treats the band (or its remnants) that has given him a living, a body of work, a style, and some measure of transcendence as a kind of adversary. “If you want to get off, you come see us,” [Eaton] said. “We have a bigger repertoire than the Dead ever had, at any one time.” They have the whole career in rotation. “We’re showing the kids what it was like."

Monday, November 26, 2012


"LEE GAMBLE 'Diversions 1994–1996' (PAN 33)

'Diversions 1994-1996' is made up entirely from samples from the collection of Lee Gamble's Jungle cassette mixtapes. The audio has been subjected to analog and digital deformations, whilst trying to extract, expand upon and convey particular qualities emblematic of the original music. The effect is that of a musical body scan, all that is solid melts into air. Sounds are unearthed, dissected on the operating table, melted and unlocked, evoking sonics not unlike the heavy dub processes of Jah Shaka and Scion in a INA GRM frame of mind or bearing  a similar  methodological approach with what explored Mark Leckey in his piece "Fiorucci Made me Hardcore". It can be heard as a ‘memory’ of a period of music and for some could work as a ‘cued recall', which is a form of memory retrieval.    

Lee Gamble started out as a teenager dj-ing on pirate radio and on the emerging Jungle scene, however his own approach to music has taken a more experimental direction. Exploring the outer realms of abstraction through digital synthesis/resynthesis, Lee has described his current compositional process as: “…The configuration of material (ex nihilo) via various digital synthesis methods, prompts further disfigurations and reconfigurations. What you then have left is often the detritus or debris of an idea. Phantasms of both previous and current musical, pseudo-scientific and sculptural influences are manifest as new material abstractions, created from the digital blank canvas. This abstraction allows several interests to appear in the works simultaneously…”.  

So precisely targeted to my audio-erogenous zones (pirate radio tapes! INA GRM! Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore! Hauntology!) it almost feels like i made this up to take the piss out of myself... 

I mean to say, one of the tracks on this is titled "Rufige"!

But it's great. It deserves to call itself "Rufige". It does not take the sacred name of "Rufige" in vain.

Here's another tune off the album, "Dollis Hill", named, for the non-junglists out there, after the bit of North West London where 4 Hero and Reinforced Records hailed from.

 And here's another track from Diversions

  And here's one, that seems like it really ought to be on the album, cos it's called "DTI" after the old 90s name for the government outfit tasked with stamping out the pirates (now known as OFCOM) but it isn't on the eMusic version of the album i've just DL-ed, although the YouTuber who posted it identifies it as being from Diversions (confused? so am I)


Check out a video made by Lee Gamble and Dave Gaskarth to go with the album 

Beck, retromania, art versus craft

 Bourgeoiseaux with some thoughts on Beck and retromania:

"His record club project, while great fun for its participants I'm sure, (the recording sessions certainly seem like they were a blast) is perhaps the most damning example of this: track for track covers of "classic" albums (something that the Flaming Lips have also gotten into as they've settled down into increasingly less interesting work), without even the wink and nudge of the Moog Cookbook or Camper Van Beethoven's version of Tusk. Was this retromaniacal turn an inevitability for Beck? Hidden in his gleeful appropriation of junk culture and slacker attitude, was it a time bomb waiting to appear?

Never heard of this "record club".

Was is it that makes talented, in the case of Flaming Lips pretty darn creative, outfits go down this recreative route?  (The Lips, in addition to the Dark Side of the Moon remake, have also recently down an interpretation of King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King, titled 'The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs feat. New Fumes and Linear Downfall with Space Face Present: Playing Hide And Seek With The Ghost Of Dawn'.)

Is it a form of work-as-relaxation? Or even craft as therapy: recreating an existing album, either exactly as possible (Rundgren with Faithful) or loosely, liberates the enjoyable aspects of  art-making (the technical, doing-it aspects, which can it's true be challenging but in a specifically practical, technical, how-to-achieve-that-sound way) from the more difficult part which is the en-vision-ing of something new, something that didn't exist before... 

Remaking an album means you can have all the demanding fun of making an album, without the pressure of actually contributing anything new to the world.  If you make an album that is trying to be new, a valid contribution to a crowded artistic field, the chances are still very good that you'll fall short, add to the redundancy and clutter of music. But if you remake something that already exists, then the redundancy of the project is built-in, pre-accepted. You're off the artistic hook.

This reminds me of something I saw in at LACMA in Los Angeles recently, a retrospective of the work of the ceramics sculptor Ken Price (who turned a craft, pottery, into art). One of his quotations, from 1993, was stenciled on a wall:

"A craftsman knows what he's going to make and an artist doesn't know what he's going to make, or what the finished product is going to look like"

So art, properly, involves an element of discovery...

Which chimes with a sub-theme in Retromania, my hunger to be surprised, continually, by music...  in a sense Ken Price is saying that the artist should be surprised by what he or she comes up with...

(But perhaps a retromaniacal, or retrolicious, artist -- if there's enough creativity in their recreativity -- can feel that way too, e..g. Ariel Pink "Interesting Results":  every time I pick up the pen I get interesting results / every time I sit down and I try I get extraterrestrial results / I get these interesting results")

Craft and art also seem to correspond roughly to the difference between talent and genius.... between skill and generative capacity (the paradoxical proof of which is precisely its tendency to incite, in your contemporary others, imitative work, skilful emulation....  and to invite, for decades to come, retro-replication)

Bourgeoiseaux , again: "Certainly, by Mutations (named after Os Mutantes), Beck's urge to cite, to curate and to copy, had already begun to overwhelm him, parody clearly slipping into pastiche (a transformation completed in toto on Midnight Vultures)....""Mutations is about its influences. Not doing anything with them, not transmuting them, but instead making them very apparent. They are the surface and the content, the purpose of these songs".

I thought Midnight Vultures was execrable, embarrassing.... I can't even remember Mutations. Perhaps I had stopped listening by then.

Other stuff Beck's done has teetered on the good side of retro-collage aesthetics, the Stereolab/Wagon Christ side

As Bourgeoiseaux argues, Odelay is kind of undeniable, still

And I did find myself surprised to really love Modern  Guilt, the  2008 album he did with Danger Mouse, the mash up man.

Particularly this track, titled, funnily enough, "Replica":

It's sort of his Low, this album....  those nervy, jittery drums...   he seems hollowed-out, sunk in a malaise...  feels like  maybe the masks have dropped away, and much of the clever-cleverness too...

It's the sound of the record I like, as much as the tunes (great as several of them are).

Friday, November 23, 2012

"Not wishing to resurrect some ancient notion of creativity ex nihilo, but underlying and unifying all the above, I sense a tendency towards entropy: indistinctness, inertia, ultimately indifference. Whether it's good (Since I Left You) or bad (most bootlegs), what we're witnessing is the kind of sonic grand bouffe only possible during a late era. Could it be that the age of retro-mania / file-sharing / sampladelia--where time has effectively been abolished--enables us to use the abundance of the past to obscure the failings and lacks of the present? Well, it's a thought..."

The germ of Retromania?  That was written in early 2002, for Unfaves of 2001 (it's in the section called "Lameness on the Horizon",  about mashups, or as they were called then, bootlegs / "bastard pop")

Well, it's one of the germs--these questions have been a back-of-the-mind preoccupation for ever, really, and sporadically a front-of-the-mind preoccupation for a really long time too.

In fact I discovered recently that the working title for a piece I wrote in the early Nineties (pegged to the launch of mags like Mojo and Vox, but also dealing with reissue-mania, reformations, etc) was actually "Retromania". But the Guardian went with something else as the headline.


I suppose I do sort of wish to resurrect some ancient notion of creativity ex nihilo

Or at least, I'd rather not unilaterally abandon the idea... I don't quite get the appeal of dancing on its grave with merry abandon, proclaiming good riddance to bad rubbish, and  it was only ever  a myth in the first place, and an oppressive myth that's "holding us back"

The talk I did in Central Europe was a kind of remix of the Slate piece on recreativity plus elements on the all-new chapter  I did for the Ventil Verlag edition of Retromania plus other stuff that occurred to me since. And one of the ironies I pointed out was that :

The old-fashioned ideology of innovation/originality/genius remains the best way of encouraging people to produce new-fashioned music

Whereas the (allegedly) new-fashioned notions of "everything's a remix/we use the old to make the new/"even the Beatles were derivative, were retro", these are a sure-fire route to fostering old-fashioned-music,  old-fashioned anything...  they are propaganda in favour of underachievement

(Actually, my further point was that these seemingly cool, latest-thing, trendy, hot-off-the-academic press ideas about appropriation/quotation/"unoriginal genius", etc are in fact rather aged themselves -- you could in fact just as easily talk about old-fashioned postmodernism as you could of old-fashioned modernism)

Which mindset gets the best results, that's the question, I think...

Choose your illusion, the most useful delusion...


Speaking of  "time has effectively been abolished"...

Here's an interesting interview Bruce Sterling did about atemporality with Renata Lemos-Morais
nano y nano 

(a hardly baked blog-in-progress from just under a year ago, revived in oblique reference to the recent hoo ha about the mis-appropriation of seapunk, itself a form of 'appropriation art')

I suppose a lot of my problems with the concept of nanoculture boil down to the word "nano"

the prefix nano is defined in the dictionary as “indicating extreme smallness”

What that translates to, in nanoculture, is a host of affects and effects that are extremely small, both in impact and in duration

it's not so much the concept, though, as the actual practice of nanoculture -- the day to day, week to week, weak to weaker flow of nanostories... micronarratives, ever petit-er recits

it feels like entropy

the digitally-empowered particulars might have changed a fair amount but in substance and in spirit, these practices of sharing, enthusing, parodying, nerding, etc existed before the web... they took place in informal real-world contexts - -down the pub, in the schoolyard, in fan communities (tape trading, zines,

What has happened with the web is (on the positive side) the extension of those activities to existing friends who are outside your geographical reach these days plus new friends who you’ve never encountered in a geographical sense... and then to strangers with whom you enter into this fleeting relations of comity

And there's a massive degree of facilitation to these processes in terms of physical and financial effort, speed of response (close to real-time)

On the negative side though there is a quasi-public aspect, where it sort of feels like “broadcasting”.... but it isn’t... which leads perhaps to over-estimations of the value and power of these activities

I don’t think global judgements can be made about netlife as a whole... it's about assessing the specific trade-offs between any given analogue-precusor-activity and its digital enhancement/replacement -- in most cases, digiculture is a new way of doing something we used to do before computers and the internet

Blogs retain a lot of what is good about fanzines (in depth writing, eccentric viewpoints, informality) and remove a lot of the stuff that is bad (delays between transmissions, back-breaking graft, the cost, the waste of unsold copies)

Twitter (nano in the nth degree) retains little of what is good about blogs but keep the aspects to do with pseudo-socialisation and self-advertising -- twittering is good for people who have lonely-making professions and like to feel in contact, or self-publicity purposes

What I’m interested in an exploration of the phenomenology of netlife, what it feels like to be “in touch” all the time, to be moving around these great wodges of data, acquiring constantly, attempting to digest and cross-reference

and then on a larger level, what does it mean for the future of a culture when so much energy – psychological, libidinal, emotional, cathectic, also social, the economy of attention – is going into these pursuits and directions and spheres - the endlessly twining stream of discourse, this merging-then-diverging traffic of meta-chat

how nano can nanoculture get before it forfeits any claim on the word "culture"?

what is going on in these streams is definitely not culture in the capital C sense, no Works are being made, this is stuff that is avowedly transient, completely disinterested in passing the Test of Time

but nor is it culture in the subculture sense (the creation of a bounded world, insular, a set of invented rituals, tribal, an ethnos; oppositional to the mainstream, expressive of dissident values and minority worldviews)

if nanoculture isn't sub- then what is it? or rather, where is it, in the topology of culture/society,

the word, i think, is paraculture

something that runs along side the mainstream

a side-stream so very closely entwined with the mainstream as to be inseparable from it, yet not able to affect it to any great degree.... very close, yet beside the point

the prefix ‘para’, as well as suggesting "beside", also contains an insinuation of parasitism -- this stream depends on the creative industries for an endless supply of new material to comment on, recombine, parody, gossip about

(para, or paro? an entire microculture of Weird Al Yankovichs?)

one thinks of the Jaron Lanier quote from You Are Not a Gadget:

"It is astonishing how much of the chatter online is driven by fan responses to expression that was originally created within the sphere of old media and that is now being destroyed by the net. Comments about TV shows, major movies, commercial music releases, and video games must be responsible for almost as much bit traffic as porn. There is certainly nothing wrong with that, but since the web is killing the old media, we face a situation in which culture is effectively eating its own seed stock."

for every creative, or cleverly recreative, response within the nano/para-cultural realm, there are thousands upon thousands of pointless, redundant, content-free emissions from "prosumers"

i think of when i was doing a thing on the Video Music Awards and looking on YouTube for footage clips to illustrate the points... but instead of performance excerpts all i could find was dozens and dozens of fan videos... not shaky videos of the performances taken off the TV screen but videos of the fans, in profile, watching the show on a screen (TV, computer) that was invisible to us out there in youtubeland... with the fans commenting in real-time on the show as it happened... the comments all being on the level of "beyonce looks so great", "chris brown's performance is off the hook", etc etc....


in hot, hectic pursuit of the trivial

i think also of Drake's on-the-money comment from last year:

"The thing that scares me most is Tumblr... Instead of kids going out and making their own moments, they’re just taking these images and living vicariously through other people’s moments.... Then you’ll meet them and they’re just the biggest turkey in the world. They don’t actually embody any of those things. They just emulate. It’s scary man, simulation life that we’re living.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Reenactment of The Last Waltz, the Band's Farewell all-star-friends-and-heroes Concert of 1976

from Benjy Eisen's Rolling Stone story:

 "On Saturday, an all-star lineup of mostly indie musicians will come together at San Francisco's Warfield Theater to perform "The Complete Last Waltz," a tribute to the Band's marathon farewell concert. The players will include Nels Cline of Wilco, Dave Dreiwitz of Ween, Joe Russo of Furthur, Erick Slick and Scott McMicken of Dr. Dog, Ira Elliot of Nada Surf, Jason Abraham Roberts of Norah Jones' band, Cass McCombs, Trixie Whitley and Marco Benevento.

"The original Last Waltz was held just across town at the now-defunct Winterland Ballroom on Thanksgiving night, 1976. That affair began in the late afternoon with a turkey dinner and ended well past 2 a.m., some 41 songs later. By the end of the night, the Band had welcomed more than a dozen special guests to help them go out with a bang, among them Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan and Neil Young... "

Wilco's Nels Cline to play the role of Eric Clapton

"All the musicians who spoke to Rolling Stone during a recent rehearsal day emphasized that the show will be a tribute – but not an exact replica – of the original Last Waltz. "This is not going to be some totally archival thing," Cline says. "It's going to actually be a living thing."

yeah, right.... sure it is, sure it is....

On Saturday, an all-star lineup of mostly indie musicians will come together at San Francisco's Warfield Theater to perform "The Complete Last Waltz," a tribute to the Band's marathon farewell concert. The players will include Nels Cline of Wilco, Dave Dreiwitz of Ween, Joe Russo of Furthur, Erick Slick and Scott McMicken of Dr. Dog, Ira Elliot of Nada Surf, Jason Abraham Roberts of Norah Jones' band, Cass McCombs, Trixie Whitley and Marco Benevento.

Read more:
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook
On Saturday, an all-star lineup of mostly indie musicians will come together at San Francisco's Warfield Theater to perform "The Complete Last Waltz," a tribute to the Band's marathon farewell concert. The players will include Nels Cline of Wilco, Dave Dreiwitz of Ween, Joe Russo of Furthur, Erick Slick and Scott McMicken of Dr. Dog, Ira Elliot of Nada Surf, Jason Abraham Roberts of Norah Jones' band, Cass McCombs, Trixie Whitley and Marco Benevento.

Read more:
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook
On Saturday, an all-star lineup of mostly indie musicians will come together at San Francisco's Warfield Theater to perform "The Complete Last Waltz," a tribute to the Band's marathon farewell concert.

Read more:
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook
On Saturday, an all-star lineup of mostly indie musicians will come together at San Francisco's Warfield Theater to perform "The Complete Last Waltz," a tribute to the Band's marathon farewell concert.

Read more:
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

On Saturday, an all-star lineup of mostly indie musicians will come together at San Francisco's Warfield Theater to perform "The Complete Last Waltz," a tribute to the Band's marathon farewell concert.

Read more:
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook
Some months ago I had a very enjoyable conversation with Lisa Hix from Collectors Weekly about retro aesthetics, vintage, collecting, et cetera - it is now up on their website, with some nice illustrations

Monday, November 19, 2012

retro politics (part 34)

The schadenfreude glow has yet to fade completely...   the joy (the relief) of seeing
"the reality-evading bubble" burst, the flood of "real knowable facts out there" break through the ideological levee that protects the "reality-distortion field" that is Republicanism "epistemic closure"
All the justifiably gleeful scorn on our side ("enconsced in an alternate reality",   "triumph of ideology over the real world",  "superglued to the past" ,“retro in-the-bubble ideas”) sent me back to that infamous quote

You know the quote, the one where the term "reality-based community" was first uttered in public earshot: Ron Suskind's 2004 New York Times Magazine article on George W. Bush... the passage where he's talking to an aide, a very high up one (some believe it was Rove)...

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

Chilling stuff

And yet...

Be honest now-- shove to one side the fact that it's (probably) Rove who said that...  forget if you can the context of  the Iraq War... 

Isn’t there a tiny bit of you that thrills to the idea in that quote? The idea of being History's actors...  not subject to reality, but bending it to your will...  Isn't it actually reminiscent of that saying about how "the point is not to understand the world, but to change it"?

Regardless of the ends that this particular historical manifestation of will to power/will to truth  directed itself towards... the underlying idea there is a larger conception of politics than the one (modest improvements in things-as-they-are) envisioned (visionlessly) by the side I'm so very very glad won the last election (the sensible side, the sane side) 

One of the things that perplexes people on the Left about heartland middle-or-low income Republican voters is why they vote against their own economic interests, why they side with plutocracy and corporations...  as in. What's The Matter With Kansas?...  but (once again disregarding the reactionary nature of those ideals and value from our point of view) surely voting for something bigger than or just other than your narrow economic interests, that's what politics should be, right?

Demographics-derived calculus of  the Silver sort is a factsist regime that can't really account for things like tidal surges of fervour or interest-transcending idealism... 

"The refusal to let facts get in the way" --  it sounds really bad, so pernicious. But then wasn't that what civil rights was? What abolitionism was?

Or what a counterculture is: the refusal of the limits of reality as currently understood and accepted.

The difference is: the counterculture defeated in the last election was refusing reality in the name of a past that never really was....    But (c.f. Mark Fisher's Capitalist Realism) it is possible for countercultures to refuse reality, to fly in the face of "facts",  in the name of a future that could be.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

“All things hauntological, atemporal and future past nostalgic in music and ideas” 

hauntology resources, curated by sean albiez

Thursday, November 8, 2012

retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time, #38

(via Found Objects)

(whose Bollops provides the background: in Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men, various stages of Humanity have come and gone, now it's the Fifth Men, who've "developed a pseudo-time-travel technique which enables them to experience the past by hitching a ride in the minds of people who lived hundreds, thousands, millions of years ago"):
"The access to the past had, of course, far-reaching effects upon the culture of the Fifth Men. Not only did it give them an incomparably more accurate knowledge of past events, and insight into the motives of historical personages, and into large-scale cultural movements, but also it effected a subtle change in their estimate of the importance of things. Though intellectually they had, of course, realized both the vastness and the richness of the past, now they realized it with an overwhelming vividness. Matters that had been known hitherto only historically, schematically, were now available to be lived through by intimate acquaintance. The only limit to such acquaintance was set by the limitations of the explorer's own brain-capacity. Consequently the remote past came to enter into a man and shape his mind in a manner in which only the recent past, through memory, had shaped him hitherto. Even before the new kind of experience was first acquired, the race had been, as was said, peculiarly under the spell of the past; but now it was infinitely more so. Hitherto the Fifth Men had been like stay-at-home folk who had read minutely of foreign parts, but had never travelled; now they had become travellers experienced in all the continents of human time. The presences that had hitherto been ghostly were now presences of flesh and blood seen in broad daylight. And so the moving instant called the present appeared no longer as the only, and infinitesimal, real, but as the growing surface of an everlasting tree of existence. It was now the past that seemed most real, while the future still seemed void, and the present merely the impalpable becomingness of the indestructible past."

"At all times, in all pursuits, the presence of the tragic past haunted them, poisoning their lives, sapping their strength."

Sounds like Olaf had maybe read Nietzche's On the Use and Abuse of History for Life (from Untimely Meditations) e.g.

"Antiquarian history itself degenerates in that moment when it no longer inspires and fills with enthusiasm the fresh life of the present. Then reverence withers away. The scholarly habit lives on without it and orbits in an egotistical and self-satisfied manner around its own centre. Then we get a glimpse of the wretched drama of a blind mania for collecting, a restless compiling together of everything that ever existed. The man envelops himself in a mouldy smell. With the antiquarian style, he manages to corrupt even a significant talent, a noble need, into an insatiable new lust, a desire for everything really old. Often he sinks so deep that he is finally satisfied with that nourishment and takes pleasure in gobbling up for himself the dust of biographical rubbish