Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Welcome to... the Internet -  XLR8R magazine's  platform for monitoring "sounds emanating from a particular locale, even when that locale happens to be more virtual than geographical"

In this episode, Brandon Bussolini argues that the post-everything music of artists like  Nguzunguzu, Fatima Al Qadiri, Matrixxman, Physical Therapy, Brenmar, RL Grime. et al, and labels like Hippos In TAnks, etc is the next stage on from retromania, Because it is based around:

"a more radically decentered aesthetic, one that rejects references to analog culture in favor of the hall-of-mirrors self-referentiality of the internet itself. These artists refer to the past, but through the flattening viewfinder of the web; there's no longing to return to an earlier time or style because it's all here, right now—all equally valid and equally LOLworthy. The space away from media-conveying screens that "IRL" once described has collapsed rapidly, to the point where—philosophically at least—there's no lack, no difference between this and the real world. For many of these artists, the internet has gone from a mediating force—giving partial, finite access to the past or the present, but remaining fixated on another world out there, away from the screen—to a closed circuit actively opposed to linear time and hierarchical values. Despite what the design savvy we're surrounded with on the web may be suggesting, we're living in an achronological, carnivalesque present, both appalling in its smooth gaudiness and perfectly, reassuringly frictionless."

Well yeah, stage 2 from retromania is atemporality, where the sense of past-ness has gone, but so has the possiblity or conceivability of future-ness.

(See also post-Internet, "it's everything time", tumblr-pop, "Zones of Alteration", vaporwave etc)

But also relevant is that atemporal - or as Bussolini has it, "achronological" -- is half the story: atopological, ungeographical, that's the other half.  Atopological is to xenomania, what atemporality is to retromania. Which is to say that the sense of distance is almost abolished in the instantaneous access and absolute proximity of netspace. The gap created by  distance (temporal, spatial) is the gap in which desire, longing, projection, exoticism, etc takes place. This is what strikes me about the New Music, it feels desireless. It's hard to see what motivates it to exist, what motors it in terms of either individual psychological energy or social energy. 

These arrangements of incongruous but slickly annealed sounds, these chimerical agglomerations of disparate influences and far-flung sounds -- what are they here for? It's not just that there is no longer much in the way of utopian or progressive charge to all this border-crossing (as there was with early, analogue-era forms of fusion and hybridity -- "One World" music, etc). It's that you don't get much sense of  libidinal charge, of mechanisms like cathexis, sublimation, transference, etc, being in play.  Digital means that fusion is effortless, but also eros-less.  ("Frictionless", Bussolini's word choice, makes me think of netporn, and of responses to its bounty like the curated porn tumblr). Or it is a different kind of eros - diffuse, floating, easily distracted, ultra-tenuous, as happy to fasten on the simulated as the real...


I was sure Fatima Al Qadiri was a made-up person, a Ferraro-esque alter-ego for some bespectacled geek in a stained T-shirt. But there's a picture of her. Still a bit suspicious, though. Seems a bit too good too be true.



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