Tuesday, January 21, 2014

new desires

Aaron at Airport Through the Trees visits the new Rough Trade megastore in Brooklyn, modeled on the record-store-as-hub of Rough Trade East in Brick Lane (i.e. a place where you can go to not just buy recordings, but shop for gig tickets, magazines, books, merchandise, but also go to attend events, etc, but also just hang out at the cafe). He concludes that "alternative culture is over" and that we should bid it a resigned adieu:

"It'll be hard to jettison. I don't know if I could ever do it myself, and I'm sure it will be harder for those of you who have experienced the Velvet Underground or Joy Division or Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine as something more than a $30 180g repress prominently displayed in a heavily-curated section of a record store whose function seems to be a living museum of what was once deemed oppositional."

He calls for the analysis of "the actual ideology of "post-ideology", to enumerate the characteristics of the bland tastefulness that makes a store like this possible, where all of the competing and formerly vital beliefs as to what music is and should be are all housed together, with no contradictions apparent..."
And concludes: "Only new desires will save us, and they aren't to be found in the music that composes, or is made by people versed in, the archive of old desires."

Of course, that kinda  begs the question, what's to stop the new desires getting recruited into post-ideology/whatever-you-want-to-call it... 

Still, I agree about the 180g vinyl represses*. It's even worse when you find them in a Whole Foods or similar sort of not-where-you-would-go-looking-for-music-normally type places (boutiquey furniture or clothes or nicknack type places). Music subsumed as element of lifestyle, rather than music-as-something-you-live-for-or-through. 
* especially as they're almost always sourced in digital, making the analogue-fetishism purely empty-gestural

Stop press: Aaron's follow up post:

"Maybe I was being a bit dramatic in declaring alternative culture dead, but here's why I feel this way: almost everyone I know who feels that there is/was something at stake in their love of music and art, in their desire to live differently, in their attempt to create some better version of human existence, well, they are suffering, and so am I. It's really hard to live without something to believe in, without feeling that there could be something to be accomplished...  It's out of sympathy that I am declaring this culture dead. I am trying to find a way in which we can all be absolved of our fealties to various pasts which inspired us only to lead us nowhere, which inspired us with visions of possibilities that have seemingly been snatched from even our imaginations. Maybe by giving up on this past, we can begin to imagine a future for ourselves again."

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