Wednesday, April 24, 2019

the horror, the horror

A piece at Loud and Quiet looking back on The Horrors's second album Primary Colours, ten years after the fact. 

Writes Fergal Kinney:  

"Of course, British bands have been referencing the electronic utopia of Krautrock since the late ’70s, but the internet afforded those records an ease of access which had always been absent – former collectors items are now just a click and an aux cable away. Simon Reynolds’ post-punk study Rip It Up and Start Again was read within the band too. “Just reading that book gives you ideas for ten different bands,” says Faris [Badwan]. “That book was really influential for me.”"

Well, I'm flattered, naturally - but talk about getting the wrong end of the stick! 


The point you should come away with, from reading Rip It Up, is obviously (or so I thought) "do something new!". That might mean "do something that's a warped and strange-making take on the new ideas bubbling out of your contemporaneous musical surroundings" (generally black music, so at that time, second half of the 2000s, grime, nu-R&B, dubstep). Or it might mean "do something that involves the latest technology" e.g. Auto-Tune, etc etc). 


The "instruction" to come away from reading that book would be "apply the methods and outlook and mentality and procedures that created the legendary music". Expressly not "reactivate the actual substance of the legendary music; repeat the exact same hybridizing formulas that led to it, or recreate the outcomes of those musical equations." 

Still, it's a good inadvertent illustration of the connection between Retromania and Rip It Up (and indeed between both those books and Energy Flash - the three forming an unintended triology, as my Faber editor Lee Brackstone once put it). It explains how doing Rip It Up led directly to Retromania (indeed Rip's afterword contains a section on the "rift of retro" that occurred in alternative / independent rock circa 1983-84, effectively ending the postpunk era.) 

Further, it demonstrates how the person who wrote Rip It Up, who had lived through and felt in their fibres the meaning of that era the first time around and then relived it as an immersed historian, could only respond to the 2000s (the first decade of the 21st bleedin' century) with the perspective that underpins Retromania


And the post-punk revival - although far from alone as evidence for prosecution - was exactly the kind of contradiction-in-terms that spurred the book into being.  




Thursday, April 11, 2019

nostalgia for the future / militant modernism

                                        

Here's something I really enjoyed researching and writing - a feature for RBMA on Luigi Nono, the great "militant modernist" of post-WW2 avant-garde music. This article focuses on his electronic and tape works of the 1960s, his exploration of vocal extremes, his support for liberation movements around the world, and the surrounding context of Italian Communism in the post-war era.

The twin pegs for this piece are the fiftieth-anniversary vinyl reissue of Musica-Manifesto N. 1 by Die Schachtel and the publication of Nostalgia for the Future: Luigi Nono's Selected Writings and Interviews by the University of California Press.











     Nono at work with his prime collaborator, the sound engineer 
  Marino Zuccheri, at the Studio di Fonologia in Milan