Friday, June 7, 2013

Yesterday's Harvest

TimH Gabriele picks up on a recent FACT magazine story on the excessive number of  returns by legends in 2013, which he describes as "a litany of comebacks and reunions, the past regurgitating itself, a perverse ouroboros wherein death is staged, sometimes only for a few years, only to facilitate the cycle of rebirth". 

He argues that this is not revivalism but "the zombie vanity project... a ouroboros that doesn't engender recreation, just reaffirmation", i.e. "brands" who rematerialize in a swirl of hype. "The reaction to the music itself"--The Next Day, m b v, Random Access Memories, Tomorrow's Harvest-- "is almost secondary. Simply returning in and of itself reestablishes the brand, and thus pushes the act into the contemporary.... The result is a 2013 in which a flood of old names have become the zeitgiest."

 Gabriele finds something "almost heartening" in this trend, evidence of "a  collective nostalgia" for the Album as Event. Certainly Daft Punk have explicitly restaged the mass psychology or mass fan-libido structure of anticipation/delay/witholding/mystery as a renegade act of time travel, a return to the Analogue System. 

I would also argue that these acts -- Bowie and My Bloody Valentine, but to an extent also Daft Punk and Boards of Canada, whose rise to eminence predates the broadband era - are Analogue System creations, whose high stature in the popular imagination stems from the ability of the old Analogue System (i.e. major labels, centralised music media, etc) to build  legends (even semi-popular legends or cult legends in the case of My Bloody Valentine,  in which particular case it also worth remembering that the music of m b v wouldn't even exist without the extraordinary largesse of Island Records for the better part of an entire decade, their belief in investing in music's outer edge).  

In other words, these comebacks are the reactivation of latent or dormant or stored monocultural energy.... the recapitalization of assets accrued and built up in the past  through a system that has now almost wholly crumbled away and whose replacement, the Digital System is not, I suspect, creating phenomena with equivalent mythic profile or durability....  or future reactivate-ability.  

Our God Is Speed's thoughts on this and related subjects can be found in a post titled All Tomorrow's Yesterdays


 Gabriele also notes gloomily that "there hasn't been a whole lot that has popped up from the margins to demand attention like Death Grips did last year" and that "as I scan the blogs and the zines... it still seems like music at the current moment is being swept up in investment into (diminishing) returns rather than the shock of the new."

With which I would pretty much concur. Unless you're placing under your magnifying glass  fluctuations  in the history of IDM, or prepared to argue that vaporwave is anything more than hypnagogic 3.0, or can somehow convince yourself that a House Resurgence is any kind of future..... I think you'd have to conclude it's been a year of small beer, so far at any rate.

No comments:

Post a Comment