Thursday, May 31, 2012

[also via Douglas Keeley]

from one of Malcolm McLaren's last interviews, with M magazine, done originally at the end of 2009 for a round-up of pundit opinions type piece, and then reprinted in full in 2010 after his death

"Pop culture is a crumbling ruin, but no matter where we look today that is all we are beginning to care about: The Ruins! Why? Because two words describe our feelings about culture – one is ‘authenticity’ and the other is ‘karaoke’. Most artists today spend their time trying to authenticate, make true, a karaoke culture but you have to be a magician to do that.

"The next decade will determine whether a 21st century post-karaoke school of pop music will replace the Simon Cowell School of Talent Shows, what has been described as the tyranny of the new. The Talent Show, gaming culture and extraordinarily enough, Performance Art, are probably the three distinct cultural arenas that music in the near future will most definitely be best exploited. The latter, I am certain, will inspire a new generation of outsider artists.

"Pop music is unfortunately something we do not listen to anymore unless we are in therapy. We simply watch on occasion, download, and maybe send it off to someone we love as a funny seasonal greeting.

"At the beginning of the 21st century, we had seriously entered an audio-visual world and with it, saw the absolute decline of the music industry. Why? Because they hadn’t the education, artistic sensibility, and real knowledge of new business models to immerse themselves with absolute confidence in this burgeoning new culture, and so had to begin closure.

"No matter what part of the music culture you look at, the near future will unquestionably entertain its ruins. Why? Because the ruins are authentic and unrivalled. There is an ever-growing nostalgic, undeniable, and unquenchable thirst for that authenticity across all generations and ethnicities worldwide. It is, I predict, all we will love for quite a while. The globalised disease of commodified culture will inevitably reach unparalleled success before the next generation starts to build on top of it. They may well sweep away all those who dwelled and worked within ie. the music industry. There is a chance some audiovisual artist might step away from this entire craziness and act like a pause between two epochs attempting to cure the incurable rampant globalised disease by reclaiming the ruins. Let us all scream now, BELIEVE IN THE RUINS!"

from the Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle's original trailer: "Malcolm McLaren -  architect of this fabulous ruin - look on his works, ye mighty, and despair!" 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

reenactment watch

"Top of the Pops Live

Capturing the spirit of the iconic TV show “Top of the Pops”, Top of the Pops LIVE is a nostalgic interactive jukebox celebrating the greatest hits by the biggest stars in the world of pop from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Paying homage to the DJs who introduced the TV show and to the resident dance troops Pan’s People and Legs & Co, TOTP LIVE will offer a feast of musical nostalgia.

During the show the singers, dancers, presenters and a live band will perform song after song and along with vintage chart footage, host a chart rundown covering three decades.  On the night you, the audience, get to pick a song from a short list of five classic hits that will be the evenings’ number one!

TOTP LIVE cameras will be following the host DJs during the show as they interview the audience about their favourite vintage music and bands.
Top of the Pops LIVE is produced by Flying Entertainment in association with BBC Worldwide Ltd."

more info here

[via douglas keeley] 

archive fever, part 1798

(via Wired)

"The origins of the online music revolution are back, thanks to internet archivist extraordinaire Jason Scott. Scott, who works for the internet preservation group, has resurrected the Internet Underground Music Archive, or IUMA as the kids called it back in 1992, when they were uploading songs via Gopher....

"the IUMA’s goal was to create an online music archive for unsigned musicians and bands. The idea was simple: Bands uploaded files and sent them out to fans over Usenet or e-mail. ...

"The IUMA site eventually came to host thousands of bands and hundreds of thousands of songs, many in MP2 and other long-since-abandoned audio formats. Like so many other sites of that era, IUMA was eventually sold off during the dot-com boom years to a series of clueless owners who let the site die a slow death of neglect until it was shut down completely in 2006.... Fortunately John Gilmore — perhaps best known for helping to start the Electronic Frontier Foundation — had the foresight to grab a copy of the site....

"Now Scott has used Gilmore’s tape archives to resurrect the IUMA site.... ” The rescued archive doesn’t have everything that ever appeared on IUMA, but it does resurrect some 25,000 bands and artists and over 680,000 tracks of music. That’s 243 days worth of music for those of you more accustomed to iTunes than IUMA"

who on earth has the time to trawl through this tranche?

as with private press stuff, can't help thinking that anyone who couldn't get signed in the 90s, to one or other of the myriad small-scale, niche-market oriented labels in existence.... perhaps they were deservedly unknown... 

but i suppose it's Good that It Was All Documented, for the sake of future anthropologists / sociologists / historians of amateur music production...

intro to the reclamation project from that Jason Scott dude

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Great men, like great epochs, are explosive material in whom tremendous energy has been accumulated; their prerequisite has always been, historically and physiologically, that a protracted assembling, accumulating, economizing and preserving has preceded them – that there has been no explosion for a long time."--Nietzche, Twilight of Idols 

a hopeful interpretation of retromania? archival and recombinant and consolidatory activity as just a storing-up of energy, the build-up to a future explosion 

let the count-down begin then...

in his piece Meet the New Boss, Worse than the Old Boss, at The Trichordist: Artists for An Ethical Internet, David Lowery is talking some serious sense  about the effects of the Internet / filesharing etc on music, especially on the innovation-generating class that had once upon a time entertained prospects of maybe someday eking out a modest livelihood through cult-level record sales

"Musicians are constantly derided by the Digerati.  It’s usually after someone like myself suggest that if other people are profiting from distributing an artist’s work (Kim Dotcom, Mediafire, Megavideo, Mp3tunes,) they should share some of their proceeds with the artists.  At this point the Digerati then proceed to call us “dinosaurs”, “know nothings” or worse.... When it comes to the web, we not only understand the consumer side of the Internet we understand the producer/supplier side as well.  And like any producer or supplier we want to be compensated.  The reason the Digerati are so fixated on “what the consumer wants” is simply because most of them have only experienced the web as consumers.'The consumer wants music to be free'  they shout as they pound their tiny fists on their Skovby tables. The consumer also wants cars to be free.  And beer.  Especially beer.  But any market involves a buyer and a seller.  A consumer and a producer.  If GM can’t afford to give away their product for free it ain’t gonna happen.  No matter what the consumer wants."

reflexive quasi-Leftist anti-corporatism ("cmon comrades, let's stick it to the Man!", "those evil artist-exploiting/consumer-ripping-off major labels finally get what's coming to them!!", etc) is confusing folk, blinding them to the fact that it is just another version of the Man (the  legion of poorly paying or outright pirating Netcorps) who benefit from the new music-distribution landscape, and it is the small DIY-level operatives that are really suffering, not the music/entertainment mega-corps

reminded me I need to read Robert Levine's book  FREE RIDE:How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back

"I blame the Gallaghers for even more. For starting that idea that facsimile of finer moments by finer bands can be enough so long as you seal it with 'attitude', with frontmen willing to spout utterly conservative viewpoints, reassuring-enough viewpoints about how shit chart-music is, how hip-hop doesn’t belong at festivals, to never alienate their audience, delivered arrogantly enough to be called 'outspoken'. Beyond Green Day's necrophilia, beyond Radiohead's spawning of a generation of corduroy choirboys, Oasis have been the most damaging band in the last two decades of British pop. Fuck 'em and their fans, and the bands those fans formed, forever."
 -- prime rantage from Neil Kulkarni, pointing the finger at Noel & Liam for The Enemy (principle target of this rant) and their ilk. And that's just from the blog offcuts of the review proper at Quietus

Sunday, May 27, 2012

sometimes i can be trundling along happily as a listener, sticking within the relatively narrow sphere of my habitual interests, and i'll start to thinking, "well things ain't so bad...  after all, that new Laurel Halo record, it's pretty weird,  untaggable, real close to an honest to goodness New Sound" or "hey this footwork album is futuristic"....  so yeah, i'll be cruising along as this fairly contented and catered-for consumer,  but  then something or other will jolt me outside those regular reliable channels and back into the larger world, where  I'll be rudely reawakened to the actual state of things, just how dire and retrograde they really are


the NME cover story on them of a few week ago said they takes cues from Bowie, Reed, Otis, JB, or My Morning Jacket or Kings of Leon

Alabama Shakes say their dream collaboration would be with Jack White and Jim James (of MM Jacket)

 the writer of the piece argues that

"for all their retro elements, it's not just nostalgia that makes Alabama Shakes the hottest thing since self-immolation. It's the honesty, pain, and redemption that gushes from----"

i cannot finish transcribing this sentence

the piece is laced with boxed endorsements from Bon Iver, Vaccines, Alex Turner, their hero Jack White

Shakes singer Brittany Howard: "A lot of people are like, 'I want to be different, I want to be original, I want to be an electronic band that mixes this and this', instead of just writing songs together as people and being sincere about it." 

meanwhile Jeremy Gilbert, with exasperated incredulity, directed me towards The Cribs and their "Glitters Like Gold"

which i thought was not far off Teenage Fanclub Revivalism if such a thing could exist

so far this year (see also Best Coast, Beach House, Blunderbuss etc etc) is not doing much to disprove Retromania
so I was flying to Berlin earlier this month and I picked up the KLM in-flight magazine and lo and behold what i did see but....

that's right, an issue themed around Retro Culture

it's everywhere!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

some TV series are remembered, commemorated, auteur-ised, annotated...

others are completely forgotten

i don't remember the theme music sounding like this at all, sort of breakbeaty shufflefunk!

and where's the "you dancin?/ you askin?/ im askin / i'm dancin " bit in the intro eh? EH?


ah it's in the outro sequence here -- "you dancin?" etc - right at the end


more on Liver Birds here

one little treat for the modernist-nostalgic, in the intro sequence, when the girls are seen with the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in the backdrop - i.e. that magnificent brutalist construction i was ogling in this post a month or two ago

in fact in this episode, just a a few minutes in, Beryl mocks the Cathedral as "the Mersey Funnel"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

[contradicting the previous post slightly]

recreativity part 439

an example of the UK garage / 2step  unofficial remix aka R&B bootleg, which i remember fondly in this listicle for Red Bull Music Academy
[fragment discarded from a larger whole]

... the UK dance music scene  for several years now has been a “relentless churn” of micro-genres, with journalists, bloggers and fan, competing to find the next new thing and then moving on.... One genre briefly proposed as a potential next big thing was called “dubbage”, basically a subgenre of house music,  centered around a club called Circle and irregular raves called Yellow. And the way that the DJs tried to develop a unique sound for themselves struck me as archetypal in terms of the rise of curatorial aesthetics within music. 

In an interview Tippa talked about how he and the three other key dubbage deejays “used to buy vinyl, searching all the sites and shops and Ebay for new tracks and hard to find gems. Then the focus shifted to MP3s .” He explained that when they were starting the club, in three  months, they downloaded around “20 gigabytes of music” –new tracks and lesser known tracks from the last 10 years or so of house music -- and then “sieved through it” –“we all have a go at and then pass on to each other. It's part and parcel of staying on top and playing sounds that we feel fit into what we want others to hear and follow."

I was really struck that he talked of music in terms of weight, gigabites like kilograms. The approach to genre formation struck me as a revealing approach: to find something unique by tracking through a great mass of existing music, made by producers operating in the wider genre of house and its various subgenres – and trying to identify a kind of specific vibe that appeals and is distinctive – a through-line. I suspect this increasingly applies to musical creativity in the broad sense, it’s about either filtration or it’s about making strange connection across zones that would otherwise be considered separate.

But the fact is, to most ears, dubbage sounds hardly any different from house music, a style that originated in the mid-Eighties. And the scene, while having a devoted following based around its club and parties and a pirate radio show, has not taken off in any wider sense.   

that to me suggests the limitations of the strategy in terms of either renewal for music or differentiating oneself as an artist or scene. The weakness in the case of Circle/Yellow scene is that it never REALLY developed beyond a DJ strategy – for it to go to the next stage that would have to have producers producing new music inspired by the mix of existing tracks they had come up - -that has actually happened in the past, with disco, with hip hop, with house music, with jungle – but it seems to be happening less and less.

I think the weakness of this strategy – sifting, filtering, tinkering – relates to the fact that it is basically editing.   (No offence to editors, they improve writers work no end, whether it’s articles or books;  I’ve been an editor myself. But it is a secondary process, in the same way that being a DJ is a secondary process, or a curator, or for that matter a critic). This is I think where I think the problem lies with postproduction art, configurable culture, and all the other Portrait of the Artist as A Prosumer versions of how creativity works nowadays. If we see the artist as someone who a consumer whose sensibility is defined by good or interesting taste in the already extant body of pre-existing material in the world --  that strikes me as a severely reduced notion of what art can be and should be.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Monumental Retro-Avant-Garde

Laibach's "reconstruction of a show from 1983" at the Tate

from the Mute webpage:

"Laibach present a unique show at the prestigious Tate Modern Turbine Hall on 14 April 2012, with an overview of their history, from 1980 to the future, with music from the forthcoming Iron Sky soundtrack.

"The 1st part of the concert will be focusing on their works between 1980 – 1983, recreating moments from the historical shows like the notorious Music Biennial Zagreb 83 concert which led to ban Laibach from the ex-Yugolsavia, leading to the Occupied Europe tour 83′, ending with a reminder of their first London show.

"The 2nd part will relate to Laibach between 1983 – 87, with music from the Laibach, Nova Akropola and Opus Dei albums.

"The 3rd part will be associated with their IRON SKY film soundtrack, with tracks composed for the movie and music from the film teasers while the 4th part will deal with the WAT album and newer works."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

time has come today

"I've spent my entire life fearing the end of the world, researching all through my teens. The sign of the end of the world is when man is filled with too much information. You're going to have this younger generation who are so fucking tuned in, and their brains are so wired, that we're going to be obsolete. There will be no need for us. People are really foolish, they see Hollywood or read the Bible, and think it's literal, but the end may be happening now. That's just the way I live: the end is today, this is the end"--Dean Blunt, Hype Williams

this makes sense: their music has struck me before as a kind of inertial end-zone where signifiers go to die...  atemporality / hyperstasis as a perfect, fully achieved state...  out-blanking even Ferraro, where there's still the ghost of a wink, of irony a la Devo/Koons (irony relying as it does on a sense of the normative, of values-against-which)

c.f. Paul Morley's term the Aftermath:

"These days, in any given seven-day period, you can find plenty of examples of something that historians will one day describe as the key moment when rock, or pop, or whatever in the end you decide to call it, came to an end. The moment will be marked when the vinyl and CD era is truly finished, when there was an anxious retreat into the past, even as the future was taking over, and what I've taken to calling The Aftermath began, when the history of rock and a certain sort of pop culture stretching between Elvis and Lady Gaga had all but dissolved into the internet and turned into something else"

also developed, with a more cheerful, apocalypse-aint-so-bad-really gloss, here

"As pop music has spiralled back and forwards across its own time and space over the past 20 years, while simultaneously fragmenting into thousands of genres and sub-genres, and as sampling, MP3 culture and a fundamental collaging mentality has got carried away with modifying the past, some music, which seemed doomed to stay stuck in the past, has resurfaced in the present and sounds just about as fresh and pertinent as ever. We now live in The Aftermath, where all pop music is either actually from the past, freed from its imprisoned context by the internet, where everything recorded can happen at once, or is a mutant, intoxicating transformation of the past, randomly, attentively mixing up genres, eras, instruments, styles, beats, fashions. The Aftermath is where the past gets gossiped about; it's a series of colliding echoes about the past; it's a gathering of rumours about what happened to pop music up to and including and beyond the vinyl era."

now i think of it a real kinda-sorta prototype for Hype Williams is that record Tricky did with DJ Muggs and Dame Grease in 1999, Juxtapose

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

too much memory / the internet as hyperthymesiac

piece at the Atlantic by Megan Garber on "making the internet more like our brains" and how "the next wave of digital products won't just be about archiving the web; they'll be about destroying the archive":

"Anti-archival tools provide a countervailing force to one of the defining features of the Internet: that, with its nearly infinite space, "save all" is its default setting. Without even trying, the Internet remembers. And that doesn't just mean that the comment you left on that Joss Whedon fan site that one time is still sitting there, emoticon-ed and gif-ed and captured for posterity within the all-knowing neurons of Google. It also means that the web, as a broad space, operates on both an assumption and an architecture of continuity. Within it, and all around it, archive is assumed. Even when we die ... there, still, we are.

"... But there are also drawbacks to digital omniscience. It's telling that people diagnosed with hyperthymesia have described their limitless memories not as blessings, but as burdens -- ones that are "non-stop, uncontrollable, and totally exhausting." Near-perfect recall of their experiences doesn't make these people smarter; it makes them miserable.

(Hyperthymesia (wiki says) is a syndrome in which individuals possess superior autobiographical memory... its two defining characteristics are 1) the person spends an abnormally large amount of time thinking about his or her personal past, and 2) the person has an extraordinary capacity to recall specific events from his or her personal past. Hyperthymesiacs can recall almost every day of their lives in near perfect detail, as well as public events that hold some personal significance... it takes the form of "uncontrollable associations", recollection occurring with out without hesitation or conscious effort)

now what did Jim say about this?"Speak in secret alphabets/Learn to forget"...

these bits (from Gerber's piece)

"when we talk about the Internet, we talk about feeds and flows and rivers and currents -- things determined by their dynamism and their lack of obvious containers....  The only problem, however, is that constant flux-and-flow is not actually how we humans are programmed to move through the world. We live in fits and starts, in cycles and phases, and we divide our time not just socially, in shared minutes and hours, but physically. We wake. We sleep. We have beginnings. We have endings.... When we disparage the digital environment as "overwhelming," what we're also faulting it for is its lack of a narrative. The Internet moves, but it doesn't necessarily move forward. It expands, but it doesn't necessarily follow any particular trajectory. It lacks, in that sense, a purpose. It lacks a plot. "

 reminded me (again, as so often) of Rem Koolhaas's "Junkspace". Specifically...

"Junkspace is often described as a space of flows, but that is a misnomer; flows depend on disciplined movement, bodies that cohere. Junkspace is a web without spider; although it is an architecture of the masses, each trajectory is strictly unique. Its anarchy is one of the last tangible ways in which we experience freedom. It is a space of collision, a container of atoms, busy, not dense... There is a special way of moving in junkspace, at the same time aimless and purposeful."
sacre bleu ! / sacrilege?

Radiophonic Workshop to be reopened

"Yesterday it was announced the renamed New Radiophonic Workshop will compose fresh work as one of the highlights of The Space, a new freely-available digital arts service. Part of the London 2012 Festival, The Space will offer a platform for contemporary artists as well as historically important archive film, accessed on mobile and tablet devices and Freeview. The New Radiophonic Workshop (NRW) will be led by Matthew Herbert, the electronic composer who has collaborated with Björk and been nominated for an Ivor Novello award for his soundtrack work"

Matt H is great, but can this really be a good idea?

The Space are the outfit responsible for the archive-febrile idea of turning John Peel's home office and record collection into a virtual museum -- you can look but not listen to the records

(at Quietus David Stubbs reviews the discs under 'A' while  Everett True reviews the discs under 'C' )

(sweet that Peelie clung onto so many albums by Camel)

they also have some Peel shows, but not many

meanwhile at Pitchfork,  Eric Harvey has a think about what the Peel collection and Dilla's collection mean in this age of music as dematerialised data

Monday, May 14, 2012

the anechronosis * rush

heard this on the radio yesterday and simply could not tell if it was a record from the mid-
Sixties or a contemporary release

*  “anechronosis” = anachronism + necrosis = my ungainly but necessary coinage, first unpacked properly in the Haunted Audio Wire piece,  to pinpoint that curious “undead” quality exuded by musical artifacts that seems neither fully modern nor properly period-bound, but instead belongs to some ersatz limbo, a Zeit without a Geist.  Back in 2006 Jack White's works were prime inspiration for this neologism, along with Goldfrapp

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chris from Dream Transmissions blog has some good Questions for the Post-Everything Multiverse

"As a concept in mass media, “future” is associated with whatever upcoming movement or far-reaching cultural shift will inalterably change what things sound, look, and feel like. But mass media don’t necessarily work that way anymore. We are no longer moving together as a single culture in a straight line; we are individuals zigzagging between different worlds with their own self-contained ecosystems....  It has completely unmoored us from our former sense of time. When people have the freedom to travel rapidly between different eras in the space of a single iTunes playlist, time as a descriptor of a musical aesthetic becomes irrelevant. Certain guitar or drum sounds that might normally be described as “’60s-sounding” are as common today as they were then. And they’re free to be combined with other sounds that older listeners associate with bygone eras, while musicians see them simply as colors on a generously expansive sonic palate that can be dipped into and slathered together.... "-- AV Club's Steven Hyden, riffing off White Fence (aka Ty Segall and Tim Presley) and off of Retromania

I only use sounds that I know and love. I can’t concern myself with trying to be ‘modern’ or whatever that means. Electronic music? What is modern?” -- Tim Presley of White Fence

All this strikes me as a pretty notable and radical development  - the end of cultural synchrony, the obsolescence of concepts like "modern" and "future"!  

As it did Rem early in this, the 21st Century....

"When did time stop moving forward... begin to spool in every direction, like a tape spinning out of control? ... Change has been divorced from the idea of improvement. There is no progress; like a crab on LSD, culture wobbles endlessly sideways"--Rem Koolhaas, Junkspace


"Hair is not “innovative” as the word is commonly defined."--Steve Hyden, on White Fence aka Ty Segall and Tim Presley 
recreativity, part 9975

a/k/a,  if i were (a) Carpenter...

actually an improvement on the original in lots of respects