Friday, February 15, 2013

At Tiny Mix Tapes, Rowan Savage argues for Bryan Ferry's new album of Twenties jazz-style remakes of his own songs -- an album on which he neither sings nor plays --  as a hauntological excercise:

"The Jazz Age both embodies Ferry’s political conservatism — a return to a nostalgic past, a valorization of what is now canonical — while also referring to an (or perhaps the) era of “cool.” The choice to record such an album in itself reflects this division: on the one hand, slavishly recreating the past is now precisely what pop music does; while on the other, the unusual particularity of the age and aesthetic chosen for reconstruction works against the typical paradigm — as does the holus-bolus reinterpretation of one’s own work, a kind of self-cannibalism (Ouroboros redux) but with a side of Baby Ruths and Wonder Bread... We have a literal reinvention of Ferry’s own material, but one embodied in the absolutely and unashamedly unoriginal, and in delving back ever closer to the zero point of popular music — which seems like a logical endpoint to the process.

"The project can easily be compared to other left-fieldly archaic interpretations and cratediggings — R. Crumb’s justifiably well-received compilation That’s What I Call Sweet Music, for example. I was consistently reminded of The Jolly Boys’ Great Expectation, a Mento (pre-ska Jamaican folk) interpretation of indie standards from Iggy Pop to Amy Winehouse. And there is a precedent within Ferry’s own oeuvre, in his long-held penchant for jazz standards — think of 1999’s As Time Goes By.
But in another sense, The Jazz Age is more fruitfully understood through the lens of acts like The Caretaker ... The distressed patina of age is not re-presented, but purposefully reconstructed — not so much shabby chic as swanky chic — the heartache without which no dream home is now complete."

Enjoyed also this bit at the start about the "bereft yet cornucopian" conditions of archival overload,  a snowdrift of precedents that impedes (your) progress and makes giant steps  so much harder

 "We live in an age in which a lack of destruction is itself the cause of destruction. As data pile up to unmanageable quantities, pop has no choice but to eat itself, Ouroboros-like, and grow fat in the process. Music lives (so the lament goes), but only as a monstrous revenant, capable of mimesis and mitosis, but not reproduction...."

                                                        Yes that's "The Bogus Man"!

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