Friday, August 28, 2015
Phil concedes that these moves are not "entirely without precedent. Arca’s Xen carries within it textural and rhythmic echoes of Harold Budd, digital dancehall and Purple Rain-era Prince. Lotic’s music interpolates the gelatinous riff at the heart of Masters at Work’s ‘The Ha Dance’ (1991), a ballroom staple, with the melancholy pings of mid-1990s Autechre and Black Dog Productions.
Yet "even when certain elements of the music have clearly traceable lineages, nothing about the final product sounds quite like anything that has come before..... At their most extreme, they can convey, at least upon initial listens, the same sort of brain-rearranging rush that accompanied a first encounter with jungle or grime.... As beats come undone from conventional timekeeping and notes twist in the artificial winds, the brain struggles to catch up; you can practically feel new paths being blazed through your cortex, new neural networks congealing around unfamiliar tropes."
Sherburne points to a key rogue factor behind the weirdness: queer theory, trans sensibility, a sense of the body as "malleable, grotesquely beautiful and fundamentally post-natural".
Cross reference perhaps with works like Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity by (the late)
José Esteban Muñoz, who wrote that "queerness is that thing that lets us feel that this world is not enough, that indeed something is missing”....
or Judith Halberstam's work on queer temporality (In a Queer Time and Place) which explores the idea that "queer temporality destabilizes linear time and challenges the prescribed heterosexual narrative" (which arguably underpins ideas of progress, growth, (re)production, moving-forward, etc, and identifies retro-campy decadence with "sterility" and immaturity)
or Elizabeth Freeman's "temporal drag" and "queer asynchronies" in Time Binds
earlier thoughts of mine on Arca and Phil's first broaching of the "something new's happening" idea when reviewing Xen for Pitchfork