Thursday, January 31, 2013

This looks interesting - and it's tomorrow, ie. Friday!


Fri 1st Feb
Kunstquartier Studio 1 Mariannenplatz 2 10997 Berlin 13:30 The Death Of Rave: Pt. I UK

Lectures and panel with Mark Fisher, Lee Gamble, Alex Williams, Steve Goodman (Kode9)), Moderation: Lisa Blanning

“The rave legacy no longer lives on, the corpse of rave bears no resemblance to those heady days in the late eighties and early nineties.”

V/Vm – The Death of Rave

Since V/VM's nineteen hour “The Death of Rave” project marked a nails-in-the coffin moment to the foregone UK-rave scene, as well as Burial's symbolic post-rave comedown and, more recently, Lee Gamble's dissection of old jungle tapes, a collective subliminal interest in excavating the sonic architecture of this period seems particularly rife. From the ebullient dissent of the outdoor hardcore and acid house raves, through the period post-1994's Criminal Justice Act which harboured darker variants of jungle, darkside, and drum 'n'bass, the sonic potentialities which unfolded themselves then have undeniably flowed strongly in the bloodline of UK music ever since. Using the “then” and “now” as points of flight, a complex social and musical ecology emerges in which, over a period of more than twenty years, musical aesthetic as well as substantial socio-economic, materialistic, and structural changes have become apparent. Drawing on debates on the “hardcore continuum” and “hauntology” as detailed by Simon Reynolds and Mark Fisher among others, The Death Of Rave focuses on the sonic cycle of death and rebirth, reflecting on the present and future of music via the past.

The accelerated vectors activated by rave and philosophy in the mid-1990s can be no-better represented than in the work of the CCRU (Cybernetic Cultural Research Unit). Although official word maintained, "Ccru does not, has not and will never exist," the work of Nick Land, Sadie Plant, and their graduate students at University of Warwick, which covered the nexus of theory, fiction, cyberculture, technology, and rave, continues to resonate strongly today. The sonic “conceptual apparatus” of jungle, which informed their thought, and the extreme intellectual productivity of the CCRU, invites examination as more than mere coincidence.

15:30 The Death Of Rave: Pt. II Berlin

Lectures and panel with:
Tom Lamberty, Felix Denk, Johnnie Stieler, Alexandra Droener, Ulrich Gutmair, Moderation: Felix Denk

“Es gab einen Moment 1994, wo ich im Tresor stand, da hätte ich heulen können. Jonzon ging das auch so. Nichts mehr von dem, was den Laden ausgemacht hatte, war mehr da. Ich konnte mir das nicht mal mehr schönsaufen. Ich stand da und sah, dass sich die Seele des Ganzen verflüchtigt hatte.”

Rok, quoted in “Der Klang Der Familie”

The unique conditions following the dramatic fall of the Berlin wall created the exceptional socio-political situation in which Berlin's techno scene was born. The euphoria of Germany reunited fuelled its infamous raves Tekknozid, Mayday, Tresor, and Love Parade, and saw the small parties of the early 90s grow to the global techno hub they are today. The inner workings of these early scenes have received in-depth historic interest, recently with Felix Denk and Sven von Thülen's book “Der Klang Der Familie” and Ulrich Gutmair's upcoming “Der Sound der Wende”. In the more than twenty years which have passed, the debate between “underground” and “mainstream” continues within a diverse sonic ecology while the recently hotly disputed GEMA tariff reforms currently threaten the existence of many of Berlin's clubs; as the city transformed into the dynamic capitalist metropolis it is today, the early DIY-days of illegal parties in temporary spaces seem distant compared to the regulated, administered spaces of many of Berlin's most famous clubs today.

QRT (Markus Konradin Leiner) was active in the mid-90s in Berlin. His anarchic media-theoretical writings were published posthumously on Merve. Similarly antagonistic towards the academic establishment as the CCRU in the UK, QRT's writings have hitherto remained somewhat neglected. His writings, inspired by Berlin's early techno scene as the electrification of archaic rituals, the body within the media-war, and the virtualisation of the present, question the current state of techno and techno-culture as part of today's changed discourses.

17:30 Virtual Futures: The Future Of Music

Panel: Christoph Fringeli, Tony Marcus, Luke Robert Mason, Dan O'Hara

“We have gathered you here to bury the 20th century & begin work on the 21st. We are children of the 21st century & live already in the future unknown, uncovering every day vast new landscapes for exploration. We will not know the results of the tumultuous global changes we are undergoing and creating for a hundred years or more, if we can survive them, but we are less interested in knowledge than in experiencing these changes.”

Virtual Futures, 1995

The cybercultural narratives of the mid-90s provided a social, artistic, and philosophical framework to understand and challenge the rapid advances in the development of information communication technologies. Driven by a need to critique the framework underlying society’s newfound anticipation for the future, the Virtual Futures Conference held at the University of Warwick 1994–1996 brought together groups of renegade philosophers to lock horns with the future based on the provocations of evidence provided by the emergence of the Internet. At the time, the conference was affected by a turbulent dynamic between technological acceptance versus a largely paranoid technophobia. Fast-forward to 2013, and this has flat-lined to find the 21st century human docile to the widespread ubiquity of information processing technologies.

Meanwhile, human agency has been subsumed by an increasing automation by non-human agents, as control over identity, society, and economics is relinquished to biases of robotic processes. Techno-evangelism attempts to brand, market, and, most importantly, sell the wonderment afforded by a wilful obedience to the future. They resound with the same transcendentalist fantasies of cyberpunk fiction – indeed speculation and futuristic thinking has become an art, and like any popularist art forms, it has become an industry.

Revisiting 1995’s Future Music panel, Virtual Futures will explore the implications of a new ecology – where music is no longer made but grown, thus demonstrating a quality of artificial life. In 2013 music doesn’t go viral, it is viral. And all the while we are left to question who, or what, is listening?

19:30 Orphan Drift: You Its Eyes 94-13
Screening of video works by Orphan Drift

In this specially commissioned audiovisual work, 0rphan Drift remix their rave-inspired works from the mid to late1990s. This period was characterized by a distinctly analogue, lo-fi materiality. Accompanied by audio from 0D’s Ocosi, Surface and Sadist, and by sound made for the 0D/CCRU 'Syzygy' collaboration in 1999, remixed by CCRU’s Kode9, this screening is a hallucinogenic immersive experience, a meditation on rave, techno culture, and its posthuman potentialities.

Related events:
Rave Undead I
Tue 29th Jan HAU2
20:00 Mark Leckey "Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore" – video screening
20:30 Theo Burt / The Automatics Group "Remixes" – German premiere
21:15 Lorenzo Senni

Rave Undead II
Fri 1st Feb BERGHAIN
Conor Thomas, Samuel Kerridge, Shed, Powell, EVOL, Andy Stott, Mark Archer (Altern 8), Lower Order Ethics

a million first listens

disconcerting parallels to be drawn between the effect of digiculture/internet on music fandom and the effects of digiculture/onlinedatingsites on luv 'n' romance, in this article "A Million First Dates" by Dan Slater, author Love in the Time of Algorithms.

... Most of the online-dating-company executives I interviewed while writing my new book... agreed with what research appears to suggest: the rise of online dating will mean an overall decrease in commitment....  

'Historically,' says Greg Blatt, the CEO of’s parent company, 'relationships have been billed as ‘hard’ because, historically, commitment has been the goal. You could say online dating is simply changing people’s ideas about whether commitment itself is a life value.'...  

Another online-dating exec hypothesized an inverse correlation between commitment and the efficiency of technology. 'I think divorce rates will increase as life in general becomes more real-time,” says Niccolò Formai, the head of social-media marketing at Badoo, a meeting-and-dating app with about 25 million active users worldwide. 'Think about the evolution of other kinds of content on the Web—stock quotes, news. The goal has always been to make it faster. The same thing will happen with meeting.'"....    

An industry survey titled “How Has Internet Dating Changed Society?”... produced the following conclusions: 'Internet dating has made people more disposable'.. 'People expect to... access people anywhere, anytime, based on complex search requests … The whole world (versus, say, the city we live in) will, increasingly, feel like the market for our partner(s). Our pickiness will probably increase'.”

Basically, with both music-love and love-love, excess of options works against cathexis...  non-commital vacillation aka playing the field is encouraged because of the tantalising possibility of something better

Every first listen to a new record robs an already-listened-once record of its chance at a second or third or fourth listen....    the encounter in which a deeper love and attachment and understanding might form....

(Which is perhaps why such a large proportion of the releases released in the post-broadband era, even the ones I loved and blogged about and put in my end of year faves round-ups, have not endured with me... pre-Internet, yes, sure, there was a degree of wastage, of things falling naturally by the wayside (the critic's life involving high turnover, moving on constantly, processing at speed)  but it feels like that ratio of not-stayed-with-me to stayed-with-me has gotten much worse)

Two bits that ring a parallel bell rather loudly:

At the selection stage, researchers have seen that as the range of options grows larger, mate-seekers are liable to become “cognitively overwhelmed,” and deal with the overload by adopting lazy comparison strategies and examining fewer cues. As a result, they are more likely to make careless decisions than they would be if they had fewer options, and this potentially leads to less compatible matches. Moreover, the mere fact of having chosen someone from such a large set of options can lead to doubts about whether the choice was the “right” one.

[sentence #2 has applications in re. chronic downloading and the "oh what the hell why not" mindset]

Jacob has noticed that, over time, he feels less excitement before each new date. “Is that about getting older,” he muses, “or about dating online?” How much of the enchantment associated with romantic love has to do with scarcity (this person is exclusively for me), and how will that enchantment hold up in a marketplace of abundance (this person could be exclusively for me, but so could the other two people I’m meeting this week)?...  

A final interesting point emerging out of the piece:

"Indeed, the profit models of many online-dating sites are at cross-purposes with clients who are trying to develop long-term commitments. A permanently paired-off dater, after all, means a lost revenue stream"

relates to my long-held belief that obsessively fixated fandom (whether of a group or a sound/ scene / style) goes against the  music industry's interests because at a certain point the obsessive is taken out of the market

although hardcore fans of teenybop or Pink Floyd type bands alike can be exploited with merchandise, spin-offs, deluxes reissues, etc , overall I think capitalism prefers and requires weakly-cathected music fans because the ideal consumer is one who keeps buying, keeps moving  on, temporarily muting "that empty feeling" by snacking at the vast buffet of music to which new dishes keep getting added

of course when music is not just instant-access but free then the whole model collapses... the industry falls foul of the very greed and fickleness it has so stoked for so long!


of course these are old concerns - e.g. the fanatics versus dilettantes debate back in 2003 - during which the analogy with monogamy versus promiscuity reared its head

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

wish I could be in England for this:

Mark Fisher and Justin Barton: On Vanishing Land
6 February – 30 March 2013
The Showroom63 Penfold Street, London NW8

Performances by John Foxx and Raime: Thursday 7 March, 7pm

Discussion with Mark Fisher, Justin Barton, The Otolith Collective, John Foxx, Frances Morgan, Elizabeth Walling (Gazelle Twin): Saturday 16 March, 3pm (free, no booking required).

The Otolith Collective and The Showroom present On Vanishing Land, a new work by British sound artists and theorists Mark Fisher and Justin Barton.

On Vanishing Land (2013, 45m) is a magisterial audio-essay that evokes a walk undertaken by the artists along the Suffolk coastline in 2005, from Felixstowe container port to the Anglo-Saxon burial ground at Sutton Hoo. Fisher and Barton have conjured a new form of sonic fiction from the dreamings, gleamings and prefigurations that pervade the Suffolk coast. The work includes commissions from digital musicians, interviews and the reflections of the artists. Inspired by the cumulative force of the Eerie that animates this landscape, On Vanishing Land pursues affinities between the modernist reinvention of the ghost story in M.R. James’ Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come To You, My Lad (1904) and the atmospheric engineering of  Brian Eno’s album On Land (1982). “Themes of incursion - by unnameable forces, geological sentience or temporal anomaly - recur throughout.” (Kodwo Eshun, The Otolith Collective, Curator,  On Vanishing Land)

On Vanishing Land integrates new compositions by digital musicians Baron Mordant, Dolly Dolly, Ekoplekz, Farmers of Vega, Gazelle Twin, John Foxx, Pete Wiseman, Raime and Skjolbrot. For the
installation at The Showroom it will be accompanied by an untitled  sequence of a wide range of visual references, produced in collaboration with artist Andy Sharp (English Heretic).

Events accompanying the exhibition include a performance on 7 March by John Foxx and Raime of compositions from the project.

On  16 March, Fisher and Barton, with The Otolith Collective, John  Foxx, Frances Morgan (Deputy Editor, The Wire) and Elizabeth Walling (Gazelle Twin), will explore the contemporary cultural
fascination with the illogics of the Eerie. Finally, a  conversation at the Boathouse café on the River Deben, Suffolk  between the artists and Andy Sharp (English Heretic) will discuss the reimagining of MR James’ ghost stories by television directors Jonathan Miller and Lawrence Gordon Clark since the late 1960s.

more information

Saturday, January 26, 2013

retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time - #39

"The fact is, when the period in which a man of talent is condemned to live is dull and stupid, the artist is haunted, perhaps unknown to himself, by a nostalgic yearning for another age.

"He bursts out of the prison of his century and roams about at liberty in another period, with which, as a crowning illusion, he imagines he would have been more in accord.

"In some cases there is a return to past ages, to vanished civilisations, to dead centuries; in others there is a pursuit of dream and fantasy, a more or less vivid vision of a future whose image reproduces, unconsciously and as a result of atavism, that of past epochs"-- J.K. Huysmans,  Against Nature.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Life moved a little slower.... the future was bright” -  Child of the 90s / Internet Explorer commercial

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Seeds of Retromania, #1

from an interview I did in 2006 around Rip It Up and Start Again

"I had this experience recently in a bar in the East Village.  I go there a lot, it's a basement bar where hip people go to transcend the game of hip -- they play really rocking, All-American tunes there -   Aerosmith and James Gang and AC/DC.  Anyway, this song came on and I recognized it and it was driving me nuts, I couldn't place it. So I had to go ask the guy at the bar what it was. The barman didn't know and was too busy to look at that moment. But this twenty-five year old guy hanging at the bar, he wanted to help me out. And he suggested, "it might be The Fall, or possibly The Alarm, but I don't think it's The Fixx”.  Now, being a rock critic and having come of age as a rock fan during the Eighties, those three bands don't seem like they'd be capable of being confused with each other at all. But it was also very obviously, to my ears, a 70’s sounding song. You could tell by the production, the style of playing -- it was pre-punk.  Old Wave. That struck me, the fact that for this young person who clearly knew quite a bit about music -- he'd heard The Fall, at any rate - the history of rock could be jumbled up like that.

"Then the barman came back and he still didn't know but he'd managed to find out that it was from the soundtrack to Goodfellas . And then it clicked, it was the soundtrack to that exciting sequence of scenes when Liotta's character is coked-out and frantic  -- the paranoia and the pasta sauce and the helicopters overhead.  The song was the song that wasn't The Stones, "Monkey Man" -- it was the other song. But I still didn't know what it was. Later I found out it was Nilssen, 'Jump Into the Fire". So definitely pre-punk. 1971, in fact.

"In Rip It Up, there is a strong differentiation between music in ’78, ’79, ’80, '81. But I lived through that sequence, through the big changes that happened each year, the memory of that is still vivid to me, the distinctions very real.  I think young people now hear stuff from so many eras at once all jumbled up, those distinctions don't matter to them. All that is unrecoverable, the sense of historical sequence.

"Its fascinating to me.  It's actually something I’d like to write a book on – time, nostalgia, timelessness… "

retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time - #38

“I consider it to be post-creation. We're all now just pulling and pulling and pulling.  Someone like Prince was thinking of people in the past, but it didn't feel as funneled and as specific.  We're a bit derivative, unfortunately, and it's not to our detriment always-- but we are direct descendants and there are all these lineages. It's an interesting time for music because people aren't trying to create anything brand new...  Originality is not a thing anymore" -- Amanda Brown on the state of the art in music", May 2011 (interview with me for The Wire cover story on Not Not Fun)


“I think the Simon Reynolds perspective is the least modern attitude one could have toward art. And it’s a little unfortunate that it’s infected so many people’s way of thinking. There’s been almost no era when art hasn’t been hugely about the past – whether reacting to it, recreating it, destroying it. Once in a while, a new piece of actual music technology is invented and for the small window of time after that there is a fresh, truly “new” style. But that’s not the norm, that’s the fluke.... Rockabilly was retromania, Morrissey was retromania” --Amanda Brown, November 2011

"It's like, 'I've just stumbled across a thing that nobody else has referenced yet'....   Everyone's more inspired by a style, and the desire to be creative. It doesn't mean there isn't emotion in the process.... But it does feel a little divorced. That's why a lot of contemporary styles can have a sheen of irony, because there's not a ton of people really fervently standing behind what they do.  There's no Fugazis anymore"-- Britt Brown, May 2011, (interview with me for The Wire cover story on Not Not Fun)


 “I think reinterpreting old tropes (whether primitively, abstractly, offensively, surreally) has always been a strategy of artists for moving forward.... Everything's always been referential, we just have more hyperlinks now"--- Britt Brown, date unknown.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Giant Steps Still Being Taken!

 "We're the people with the smile on the box. We're the reinventors of normal. We dream of making things that change your life, and then disappear into your everyday. Of making the revolutionary routine. Our accomplishments are things you barely think about, but can't imagine not having. Connecting your mouse to your front door is our moon landing. Creating Kindle, our four-minute mile. Customer reviews, our light bulb. And when we build you something new, you can expect everything to change a little more. Look around: What once seemed wildly impractical is now completely normal. And normal just begs to be messed with."

Amazon's minute-long Kindle Fire 2 commercial, aired during the NFL's first game of the season last year

Sunday, January 20, 2013

tomorrow's almost over 

the day went by so fast

it's the only thing to look forward to 

the past


 "remember when when we thought we had forever/now we're not so sure....  city cowboys/live for now boys/tomorrow's never gonna come"

But hang on through the washed-out sub-"Maggie Mae" of the The Likely Lads movie intro theme  for (at 3.38 mins) a delicious squiggle of into-the-Future synth, just as the camera cuts away from the Second World War black-and-white footage to the full-color 1973 Brutalist cityscape of Newcastle-upon-Tyne....

Later: a scene of working class slums being cleared, including Terry and Bob's beloved pub The Fat Ox... 

"I've just seen my past bulldozed away," says a distraught, bedraggled-with-ale Bob to wife Thelma. "Do you see this brick? It's my house -  it survived the Blitz but not the march of Time"