Thursday, November 13, 2014

isn't it too early for the hypnagogic pop revival?

a review almost certainly superior to the record (Torn Hawk's Let's Cry and Do Pushups At The Same Time) it's reviewing (as the three dots out of five pretty much admits) - by Hydroyoga at TMT.

"....Is this music nostalgic? Yes, and no, but mostly no, and I’ll explain why. Somewhere in the 80s and 90s are cultural treasure chests, locked away and hidden, and  [Luke] Wyatt’s propagated them, dusting them off and giving them a new breath like a scientist in Jurassic Park. In his musical project, the TV (as an object) is prominent, and anything from bad sci-fi to sun-drenched porno is okay, basically... It’s not so much as adoring the past, thinking that times were better back then (the main forward thrust of nostalgia): it’s learning from the past, seriously, and recycling what you want to as you go. As in, learning how documentary music worked back then, or how a song in a movie or video game is structured, or how a flanger works, or how to saturate an electric guitar properly, or how to create the idea of emotion, even if it’s blatantly melodramatic and plundered to its very last depths....  
"Favoring the outdated over the vogue, the analog over the digital: it’s a worn-in practice, and the past compels us to it because we want to preserve, and are preserved (digitally).... The hits of the 70s, 80s, and 90s: they last forever. Elton John is immortal, in an electromagnetic sense: the satellites in space know of him. The past frightens us so much we want it to be part of our future, which it can’t be. Let’s Cry And Do Pushups At The Same Time works because it’s emotional and pins us down somewhere between the computer and life, where we want to be. It makes us want to cry or workout or take a lonesome drive amidst Douglas firs or palm trees, in cold or rain or hot weather, like in southern Florida, in Miami, or somewhere in the ouroboros of Texas. It at least compels us to think about respecting the material reality of VHS. It at least compels us to think about the infinity of broadcasting and of archival transcendence.....  His music just gestures at things, these things, these embedded and encoded things of the past that simultaneously are and aren’t part of some of us....

"But onward, toward the end of 2014, and our Tumblr feeds confound us. Mine, right now, in real-time, goes from some nudes drawn by the Austrian painter Egon Schiele, to a picture of a man riding a motorcycle in the 1950s, to updates from the New York Public Library. Culturally, we’re drawn to images, discovering them and preserving them. Today, we mix and match with a fatty, hyperreal intensity: we jump through worlds in instances, sometimes not even aware that we were fragmented. The same thing here with Torn Hawk; we might as well call Wyatt as much an archivist as a musician, because there’s a library science behind it, and he respects what already exists and translates those contexts into a form that complicates the simple truth of historical time, of A leading to B, of C coming after B, of digital equipment triumphing analog. Codex replaces scroll, Wi-fi cables replace dial-up...."

Of course my jest about a premature Hypnagogic Revival is misplaced. For this is no revival, this is just persistence, this is a sort of stuckness. Ideas and practices that nobody seems to be able to get past.  
That ole linear time in which a sonic-episteme would be superceded and supplanted by another, and then by another - and onwards ever onwards -  creating a thrilling illusion of teleology - all that's completely unravelled. 
So Hypnagogia persists. The New New Age persists. Retro-rave and nu / tru jungle are caught in a repeat-rinse cycle. Vaporwave vaporates still. The Eighties revival goes through half-lives, hasn't fully sputtered out, even as the Nineties revival gathers momentum and, quite soon, the early 2000s will come up for grabs. . 
But to take an example nearer and dearer to my heart - Hauntology is edging towards celebrating its tenth anniversary (if we take Ghost Box's first releases in 2005 as the ignition point). Now in 2014, Hauntology (and its hinterland subzones) had a pretty decent year -  nowhere near its best years, but far from its low ebbs. This year there have been some solid, in a few cases superb, releases from the established names; some promising new(ish) recruits; even a book  (okay, in that case decidedly deja vu-du). 
Chances are 2015 will be another pretty good year for Hauntology, as it will be for the other Zones of Alteration, 
In Atemporality,nothing ever really dies. But nothing ever really gets born either.  

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