Thursday, April 30, 2015

this was tomorrow (cold phuture)

hardcore heroes #1 - Marc Acardipane aka The Mover, Pilldriver, Mescalinum United, et al

hardcore heroes #2 - Guillaume Leroux aka Renegade Legion, DrMacabre, et al

hardcore heroes # 4 - Miro Pajic aka Miro, Reign, Evidence, Hypnotizer, et al

more on Acardipane

Mover interviewed, this week!

"It's a future crusade... Move, don't stop!"

There were sounds you never heard before. I remember being in Dorian Gray the first time I heard Joey Beltram’s “Mentasm” and I thought he was an alien! I remember hearing T-99’s “Anasthasia” for the first time and was thinking, ‘what the fuck is this?....  It's something that people will not experience nowadays.”.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

this was tomorrow (see you in 2017)

Above - The Mover and PCP partner Thorsten Lambart, interviewed in 1990

Below - The Mover, interviewed this week:

There were things you never did before, sounds you never heard before. I remember being in Dorian Gray the first time I heard Joey Beltram’s “Mentasm” and I thought he was an alien! I remember hearing T-99’s “Anasthasia” for the first time and was thinking, ‘what the fuck is this?....  It's something that people will not experience nowadays.”.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"Does Dance Music Have A Nostalgia Problem?"

Some quotes from me in an interesting article by Angus Harrison at Thump, addressing the phenomenon of retro-dance or what Michaelangelo Matos dubbed a few years ago, "permaretro"

Harrison writes about a meticulously planned weekend, an eclectic selection of clubs and styles - and effectively, of eras:

"[We are] people who, for lack of a better phrase, are on trend. That notion of trendiness haunted me all weekend. What 'trend' did we think we were on? The selections we'd made, crudely highlighted with a dying biro, enveloped the best part of the last 40 years of dance music. There was techno, house, acid house, jungle, trap, with the high chance of garage and shades of drum and bass making appearances. We weren't just on trend, we were on all of them....

"This is what has become of the internet generation. We have everything at our disposal and want to dance to it all. That sense of freedom comes at a cost. We're doomed, it seems, to living in the ominous shadow of the mythical 'back in the day,' a constant reminder that however good things seem now, they'll never reach the organic heights of the first time round....

"... There's something to be said for the idea that we are approaching saturation point. Where movements have previously dipped and resurfaced naturally, we're now drawing on 40 years worth of dance music. There's a genuine history. Add in the internet's never-ending process of storage and remembrance — every song, ever, pretty much, is just a few clicks and clacks away — and you've got an environment where new producers and DJs aren't just stumbling across older movements, older forms of expression — they're practically gorging on them."

"By fixating on the 'greatness' of a past we've never experienced, we're turning clubs into dance music Disneylands, replete with themed kingdoms awaiting us in each room. In fact, according to speculative internet music writers (just like me), in the last five years the UK has enjoyed a garage revival, a jungle revival, a drum & bass revival, a disco revival, a house revival, and an industrial techno revival. We are trapped in a perpetual state of revivalism, looking so far back we've forgotten which way we're supposed to be facing."

"... We swamp our lineups with masters, and immerse ourselves in retrospectives, every night knowing how amazing they will be. In this secure safe-space, we block out the risk of the new, the untested. I've noticed this on a ground level. As someone in their early twenties I am consistently struck by how much stock my peers place in history."

"... With all of history on offer at once, what will we remember as being 'now'? I envy the generation before me, who can look at an image or an outfit, hear a single track or step foot in one club, and be returned to a singular moment that was theirs. I struggle to see what crystal of current dance music culture will do the same for me."

In addition to yours truly, Harrison also quotes DJ Harvey, and Oneman, who has this to say:

"I don't see anything coming up right now that I really latch on to. The last big scene for me was the Jersey stuff, the Fade to Mind guys, but I even feel like they are falling away. So in terms of music I'm just waiting. I'm waiting for something big to happen."

Friday, April 24, 2015


Cardrossmaniac2 points to this Jan Jelinek project from 2009 as a Germanic cousin to The Focus Group

"Gesellschaft Zur Emanzipation Des Samples" means Society for The Emancipation of Samples

Jelinek's blurb for Circulations:

... G.E.S. is no official entity, but rather a rough idea, an association without membership or manifestation committed to one primary and pragmatic notion: financial backing and legal support in case of active breaches of copyright – the process of sampling.

On 'Circulations': The idea for this audio collage emerged from random recordings of pop songs played through the PA of a fairground carousel. Picture the scene: Bumper cars racing to Bruce Springsteen's 'Born In The USA', a carousel turning to Marvin Gaye's 'Sexual Healing', but also projector sounds in the cinema or the sine generators of a sound installation: all of these are recordings of public space. And yet, they contain not only the ambient sounds of their specific point of origin, but also a discrete and distinct recognisable moment. We will always be able to decipher and disassociate 'Sexual Healing' from the random noise of public space, irrespective of location.
To what extent does the recording process affect potential copyright claims? Are Marvin Gaye's publishers entitled to royalties because the recording of a merry-go-round conveys traces of "Sexual Healing"?

'Circulations'  aims to restage this particular recording premise. Playback devices are placed in public space and broadcast the desired sampling material. The recordings bear witness to music in public space. Even where authorship is still recognisable, the resulting field recordings relegate music to a casual, circulating background element – just one event among many, equal to the ambient acoustics, casual conversations and traffic noise. Do the rules of copyright still apply?

'Circulations'  choreographs a recording situation and, at the same time, the utopia of a space unfettered by copyright. A potential solution to the criminalisation of sampling: take your sources and sample them in public space.

The CD contains 20 miniature collages, assembled almost entirely from such recordings. In some cases, the public aspect is palpable, in others, it is hardly noticeable, depending on the degree of processing.

To pre-empt disappointment: Neither Springsteen's 'Born In The USA' nor Gaye's 'Sexual Healing' have found their way into these collages. I am, however, all the more pleased that the collage's author shares my love of Exotica, as suggested by the sounds on 'Circulations'. The author himself purports to be an anonymous member of the G.E.S.

* The premise of the G.E.S.: 
Approximately 90 % of all music copyright disputes end in a settlement. Thus, the damages to the sampling artist are primarily of a financial nature: legal fees and the sum of the actual settlement. So, what if members of the G.E.S. contributed an annual fee to cover such fees and damages? The sampling artist could pursue his work, secure in the knowledge that any legal correspondence or similar would be covered by the society. This financial security, in turn, could pave the way for a brazen sense of legal security. A sense of legal protection to prevent persistent worries about the source material's recognisability – does it require further distortion or modification to avoid infringement of third party rights? In short: the pool would enable the emancipation of aesthetic and content-related considerations from copyright claims.
Naturally, this newfound 'legal security' remains deceptive – after all, it would help to limit, not prevent potential damages in case of a lawsuit. Perceived legal protection becomes the glorious gloss of the decriminalisation of sampling. A valid fallacy nevertheless – as long as the illusion has an emancipating influence on the artist's overall approach.

On a similar Geistologikal tip is the work of Andrew Pekler

Pekler partnered with Jan Jelinek to bring us the work of lost radiophonik composer Ursula Bogner

Thursday, April 16, 2015

retro rave

press release -

"As part of BritWeek’s 2015 celebration, Novation and dublab are partnering to present Second Summer of Love, a special event Upstairs at Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles on thursday April 30th. This happening will be dedicated to the rise of Acid House in the UK during what became known as the Second Summer of Love. This music movement, which spanned the unusually hot British Summers of 1988 and ’89, changed the state of music worldwide. dublab DJs will be playing classic songs from this period amidst projected, archival artwork and photographs. The Second Summer of Love event will pay tribute to influential clubs like Shoom, Trip and The Haçienda while celebrating the legacy of the scene’s producers and DJs whose work influenced contemporary dance music.

"DJ sets by:  Heidi Lawden -  Lovefingers (ESP Institute) - Daddy Differently - Jimi Hey

"Guest of honor (non-performing): Paul Oakenfold

"Upstairs at Ace Hotel Downtown LA -  929 South Broadway - Los Angeles, CA 90015
9pm - 2am - 21+ 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

collect yourself

At The New Inquiry, Rob Horning muses on collecting, triggered by the trauma of packing up his record collection for a move.

A well-masticated subject, between Benjamin and Baudrillard, both of whom  get quoted. And I've given it a good chew myself in the relevant chapter in Retromania. But Horning nonetheless manages to come up with some  interesting thoughts: 

"... The collection’s bulk makes it incredibly inconvenient, though therein may lie its actual appeal. The inconvenience enchants the act of listening, enchants my labor in assembling the collection.... 

"The cumbersome nature of putting on a record and then flipping it over conjures all sorts of other lost experiences — dialing rotary phones, looking things up in books, etc....  

"But is that nostalgia enough to justify all the moving boxes?...  The collection has become a physical manifestation of sunk costs; it makes me feel like I have come too far to stop now."

Know that feeling well!

Switching topic to the dematerialized forms of collection (e.g. image-hoarding and image-bingeing  as social display via the internet and social media), Horning writes: 
"On your own Tumblr, you get to be a taste tyrant; each new post supports the fantasy that you are dictating the rules of style by fiat, beyond the encroachment of cultural-capital anxieties. The mere process of adding another image... can be the means by which you push aside the fear that your choices may be governed by a social logic beyond your control. "
One strategy for fortifying one's sense of uniqueness and idiosyncracy is to play the game of what Matt Woebot once called "Good Bad Taste":

Horning writes that "when I go to record stores, I get caught up in games of aesthetic arbitrage. When I go record shopping I tend to only look in bargain bins....  To me, these records represent a cultural opportunity to buy low, a chance for me to assert myself in a territory revealed by the receding tide of fashion.... 

"By finding “good” records among the refuse, I get to assert a taste I know is highly idiosyncratic.... And even if what I buy never becomes popular again, I can console myself with proof of my unique interest in something. Only in the bargain bins can I shop comfortably, knowing that I am not coattail-riding on someone else’s cultural capital, not following someone else’s fashion. Instead I can pretend both that I am both exercising my sovereign judgment and am indifferent to the whole game of taste, and also fully invested in the game and taking a savvy position within it, letting my taste be wholly guided by tactical positionality within it.

Older readers of my blogs might remember the UBERHIPSTERS UNITED INFLUENCES INDEX  jest (but a serious jest) of 2003, in which I canvassed readers for their stock market tips in terms of which influences were going to be hot for bands to construct their identities around in the near-future and which shares should be jettisoned ASAP.  The original post throwing down the gauntlet to the Blissblog readership is here and the tabulated results are here.  It might be an interesting excercise to do an updated version. 

Alongside Benjamin, Baudrillard, and the great Will Straw, another theorist Horning bring into the discussion is Boris Groys (On The New, etc), who, according to RH, believes that "such salvage missions are the essence of cultural innovation, the hallmark of the artist’s function since the time of Duchamp’s ready-mades. Art..., stems not from the creative unconscious or from the technical ability to represent objective beauty or truth but from redrawing the boundary between art and not-art. It comes from understanding “cultural-economic logic” and fashion cycles, and having the social wherewithal to affect them. Craft is more or less discarded, and art becomes indistinguishable from curation, collecting. Once the ubiquity of reproduction (mechanical and now digital) makes technical skill superfluous, a kind of mystified ornament, the only significant artistic medium is the cultural archive itself, and the ability to shift things in and out of it."

Doesn't sound like a terribly new idea, Groys's,  to be honest -  recreativity / curativity. A/k/a record collection rock. Just another redescription of the same old, same old.  (See also Nicky Bourriaud's postproduction art). But perhaps there's more that gets unravelled in the book itself, which is sitting on my shelf, alongside another 110 books awaiting my attention. See, in addition to records, I'm also a chronic collector of books... 


I read Baudrillard's famous essay on collecting for Retromania,  but I don't remember it as being quite as bleak and negative as Horning's quotes on the same subject from  Jean B's The System of Objects

"[Collectors] invariably have something impoverished and inhuman about them.... never … get beyond a certain poverty and infantilism....  No matter how open a collection is, it will always harbor an irreducible element of non-relationship to the world." 

"What man gets from objects is not a guarantee of life after death but the possibility, from the present moment onwards, of continually experiencing the unfolding of his existence in a controlled, cyclical mode, symbolically transcending a real existence the irreversibility of whose progression he is powerless to affect....   [Collectors] recite themselves, as it were, outside time.....  What you really collect is always yourself.

hauntological poptimism

For reasons unknown both Ghost Box and Ariel Pink get namechecked in this retrodelic oddity

Don't remember Daphne & Celeste from the time except as a name on others lips. Before YouTube it was actually hard to check out chart hits from overseas (see also Girls Aloud) and although they were actually American in origin, they were a Shampoo-like mini-sensation in the UK. So living in NYC I'd not have heard them on the radio either.

Max Tundra has made a series of  influence-omnivorous albums that entertainingly mish-mash analogue, electric, electronic and digital sounds to MAXimalist-by-name, MAX-imalist by nature effect . Check out his stuff here.  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

"digital necromancy" and "Delebs"

Hannah Ellis-Petersen at The Guardian on how digitricknology is opening up new vistas of zombie afterlife for iconic actors and actresses, as movie corporations take steps to exploit their legendary charisma even though the physical source of it is long since decomposed....

"Death, once the finite end to a celebrity career, is now only a marker for the next stage, and digitally resurrected celebrities – be they Paul Walker or Audrey Hepburn – are now posthumously making their way back onto our screens....

"It was announced at the end of March that plans are in the works to digitally insert Bruce Lee, 42 years after his death, into Ip Man 3, the third film in a series about his former teacher. It’s not the first time computer graphics (CG) technology have been used to bring the martial arts star back to life on screen – his digitally reanimated figure recently starred in an advert for Johnnie Walker Blue whisky. However, the Bruce Lee estate is now seeking legal action to prevent his CG likeness appearing in the film, with their lawyer stating the family are “justifiably shocked” at the idea....

"While the practice has mainly been restricted to finishing off performances of actors who died midway through filming – such as Paul Walker in Fast and Furious 7 – it has also been utilised by advertisers, keen to attach famous faces to their brands. Most notable is the recent reanimation of Audrey Hepburn in an advert for Galaxy chocolate."

Digital necromancy? She could equally have written "digital necrophilia". Shudder! Either way, the kingdom of anecronosis extends itself....

"Mike McGee, the co-founder and creative director of Framestore... predicted the phenomenon of reviving dead celebrities was only just beginning.... 'It took Framestore four months of work to create the lifelike Audrey Hepburn, for just 60 seconds of advert, and managed it by using a combination of old photographs and a body double to build an accurate CG digital form of everything from her skin to her eyelashes – even going on location to get the lifelike light and shadow. We found that we could create a realistic still image of Hepburn quite quickly but as soon as she has to move, turn her head or open her mouth, that’s when things can start to look uncanny, when things don’t look 100% real.... The human eye can spot it because we’re so used to looking at our own reflection, so we subconsciously know all those tiny details and it’s that final 5% of realism that takes the most time to achieve. It’s all about getting the moisture in the eyes to look right, getting the eyelids to flutter correctly when someone blinks, the corner of someone’s lips to turn up a little just before they smile, because it’s those subtle signal and movements that make a great performance by any actor. And to ask an animator to copy that onto a computer model and capture a human performance is really challenging.'”

" '.... I see no reason that in the future we wouldn’t see a CG performance by a dead actor up for a Bafta or an Oscar'.

"McGee also predicted this technology trend would have serious implications in the image and ageing obsessed world of Hollywood, with it already increasingly common for actors to have their faces and bodies scanned while they are still young to 'cryogenically preserve the digital image of their youth in case they are able to sell or lease it in the future.'

“ 'If you are an ageing actress, and you want to take a role where you have to be 20 or 30 years younger, that can now be done digitally” he said. 'It is very possible studios like ours could even become digital make up artists, where on screen actors have their hands, or nose or anything that gives away signs of ageing, replaced with a CG version of their younger self. It’s what the technology now allows, so it’s just a case of seeing whether the film industry and actors will go down that path.'”

Of course postproduction bods digitally retouch and smooth-out the skin of performers already, don't they, in films and promo vidoes and TV....

Ellis-Petersen further reports that an academic called Denzer D’Rozario "coined the term ‘Delebs’ to describe the digitally resurrected icons". D'Rozario points out the ethical issues, e.g. Johnnie Walker Blue using a digi-sim of Bruce Lee in a commercial even though he never drank in real life.

Actually wrote about all this back in 1995 when interviewing John Oswald about Grayfolded , the Grateful Dead sampladelic project that involved the concoction of audio-ghosts of Jerry Garcia

Garcia's death does shine a peculiar light on the whole
project, in so far as it suggests that a kind of involuntary
immortality for artists may soon become widespread. Oswald
has shown that a sympathetic ear can 'play' another artist's
aesthetic like an instrument....  But what's to stop an unsympathetic,
money-motivated ear doing the same thing?  In the future,
will artists copyright their 'soul-signature' and then sell
it to the highest bidder to be exploited after their demise?
Fond of visual and filmic analogies, Oswald mentions that the
movie business has been trying to devise ways of taking dead
stars and creating simulations of them to play new parts.
The mind boggles....

However as Ellis-Petersen shows, Arthur C. Clarke got there first:

"In Arthur C Clarke’s July 20, 2019: Life in the 21st Century, his 1986 novel speculating what a day in the 21st century might look like, Clarke envisions a cinema listing of the future.

Still Gone with the Wind: The sequel picks up several years after where the 80-year-old original left off, with Rhett and Scarlett reuniting in their middle age, in 1880. Features the original cast (Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, and Vivien Leigh) and studio sets resurrected by computer graphic synthesis. Still Gone sets out to prove that they do make ‘em like they used to.”

Clarke’s book was pure science fiction, but almost 30 years later his predictions have proved prescient."

Friday, April 10, 2015

holding on to what's golden

Flicking through Albert Goldman' s collection of pop culture writings Freakshow: Misadventures in the Counterculture, 1959-1971 I was surprised to come across  - in the preface - an account of his sudden affliction by nostalgia for the music of his childhood. Surprised because this nostalgia eruption occurred in 1955 - when he was 28 -  and it was for the music of  the late Thirties and early Forties.

After years of taking studious (and studenty) interest in high culture, classical music, etc, some impulse draws him to "a couple of dusty old shellac records by Benny Goodman".  What interested me was that he characterises this fit of yearning for bygone simplicity and freshness not as limited to himself or a few others, but generation-wide:

Also interesting was the way this reverie about a bygone episode of nostalgitis then develops, over the next page or two, into a notion of pop's rejuvenating raw force as an alternative to the aridity of high culture (abstruse, absurdist, angst-burdened etc). What he calls rock 'n' roll's "lumpen-puerile" energy serves as a barbarian invasion that, while brutish and brainless, reinfuses an effetely over-civilised culture with savage vigour. This argument reminded me both of popism's "thrill-power" paeans and my own exaltation of the lumpen sectors of dance culture. It's also quite Nik Cohn-y.

However, contradictorily, in the magazine essays collected in Freakshow, Goldman is a High Rockist, taking the opposite of Cohn's anti-art, pro-pulp stance. Goldman, now edging into his forties, is someone who only takes rock seriously from about 1967 with the rise of psychedelia, concept albums, the emergence of rock theatre, Dionysian performers like Morrison and Hendrix etc etc. In part one senses because it's then that he can ladle his own academic, high culture learning onto the music.

What's more Goldman deplores and denounces the back-to-innocence-and-simplicity, back-to-the-raw-beginnings move when it occurs within rock culture itself as a form of weak, confidence-sapped nostalgia. Viz this 1970 New York Times piece:

Incidentally the whole diatribe culminates in a rant against The Band, which, while unfair does contain a grain of truth and even seems to predict the stifling all-grown-up cosiness and smugness of The Last Waltz fraternity. .

"Endearing, amusing, bouncy and bathetic by turns, packaged in homespun and hominy, peddled with homilies about integrity and respect for old folks, the Band, or the Bland, is a promo man's dream. They don't have to be edited, cooled, controlled or explained; they run no risks of offeding anyone; they fit in perfectly with the worship of mediocrity that is beginning to take the place of the old devil cults. With their twangy, rubbery, pogo-stick beat... the Band is ideal for the adult bubble-gum market"

Thursday, April 9, 2015


More information here -

earlier post on Curationism and the curatiorial moment (a bloody long moment too)

retro-quotes #549

retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time #  549

"Exhaustion has no place in Western culture, and this is a problem right now, because exhaustion
needs to be understood and accepted as a new 
paradigm for social life. Only the cultural and
psychic elaboration of exhaustion will open the door to a new conception and perception of
wealth and happiness." -  
Bifo, a/k/a Franco Berardi

swagger jacker

Cardrossmaniac 2 with thoughts on "revival spiral" (Lauren Cochrane's coinage), the Revival of Everything, and a term new to me, "swagger jacker":

Re. "The Revival Of Everything", he says: "I thought this revival started somewhere in the mid to late 90s. The interweb was taking off. The Beastie Boys were making eclectic records likeill Communication that had funk, soundtrack, rock, jazz, rap, latin, reggae, world, punk and many other vibes. Grande Royale, The Beasties own magazine was getting into all sorts of things that seemed to not make sense at the time. All of a sudden in the streets it seemed like anything from any era was up for grabs and hey why not mix and match eras too in fashion, music, furniture etc. This is where today's atemporality was forming."

I think it's something that people often feel about their era - I felt like that a bit in the mid to late 80s. And I'm finding that similar feelings of malaise, directionlessness and omnidirectional nostalgia surfaced in the middle Seventies.  It's a recurrence, rather than how it feels when you're in it, which is that the time you're living through is uniquely going to the retro dogs...  Then there's another surge phase and retro-eclecticism and concurrent multiple revivalisms can be banished to the margins again.

Re: "Swagger Jacker", he notes that it's a term for "rappers who mimic other rappers unique style, flow and, well, their entire vibe really. It appears that in 2006 Cam'ron had a tune called 'Swagger Jacker'that was a comprehensive dis of Jay Z. Cam'ron juxtaposes Jay Z's lyrics and flow against the swagger of Biggie, Snoop & Slick Rick to make the point that Z ain't too original."

Back in the day they used to call that biting - biting someone's style.


Tiny Mix Tapes's Stefan Wharton on the bulemic beatscapes of Djwwww's U.S.M.!

"It’s a world where Djwwww is simultaneously omnipresent and unbodied, interacting with almost every URL in your SoundCloud feed....  On U.S.M!, Djwwww sounds like he’s shuffling through your housemate’s iTunes library, skipping, unsettled, through Pusha T’s “40 Acres,” Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools,” Grimes’s “Be a Body,” D’Angelo’s “Devil’s Pie,” Janet Jackson’s “Doesn’t Really Matter,” and all the while intercepting your Skype calls and feeding off your news feed.... Stylistically, it’s the CPU equivalent of Naked City’s jump-cut abstractions, comprised of 26 cybernated avant-garde miniatures, an unfolding from vaporwave’s early fluidity. It’s like the internal mechanisms of Shazam on automatic attempting to discern popular song from a barrage of noise, as you navigate your environment yet ultimately fail to disentangle any familiar meaning from the battery of militaristic bangs, media interference, breaking glass, or the neighbors’ ghetto blaster." 

Reminds in spirit / approach, if not result, of John Oswald's maximalist plunderphonia on Plexure:

From the Flamebait bandcamp page for U.S.M.!

"Lost somewhere between intensified contemporary life, a clinical; high-tech digital aesthetic and paranoia unravelling in panicked energy lies Djwwww’s U.S.M! and it’s avant-garde micro-collages. 

Djwwww throws any understanding you once had of sample-based electronics and song structure into disarray from the opening blast of sound and sampling on U.S.M! There are no traditional methods of structure, musical forms or developments here, just moments of calm and subtle bliss before you’re pulled back into the violent cold. Spliced and sparse sound-bites, concerted clashes in style, hyperactivity and clinical reflections of an interceded environment are governed by sometimes obvious, sometimes surprising but always lovingly re-imagined samples. Somehow they collide and make sense of each other in Djwwww’s self-developed purgatory: A place in between worlds, utopia, dystopia and heaven and hell. 

Where Djwwww’s contemporaries rarely deviate from religious connotations and Djwwww’s collaged purgatory may have its own such reflections, it’s a world built in science fiction rather than Christianity. Previous work has sampled science fiction videogames, particularly communications between spaceships and AI alerts, building a sense of danger and panic reaction, even paranoia which generally results in chaos. This chaotic and high-tech digital approach abandons the world of electronic music still pining over nostalgic synth sounds and drum machines for one which embraces editing, compiling and mutating data. 

Samples are broad, anything from Science Fiction videogame and film to R&B collide but they always feel relevant to contemporary subcultures, whether that be the musical underground, fashion or our obsessions towards social/multimedia applications. Even the briefest clip will relate in this way, as 30-odd minutes unfold like a desperate search for a very specific radio frequency, catching moments and static as the tuning dial turns. More importantly the record is built on sounds collected for sound’s sake and the artist’s personal admirations. That much is obvious, but what happens to them once they are processed and tinkered with is an altogether different beast. 
Djwwww refers to his work as ‘Replica’ or ‘Dummy’ and that’s not a bad cogitation - like a new age Frankenstein’s monster, a replica being or dummy, an imitation but with emotional flaws, the work presented here gives the listener a glimpse into a terrifying idea of what kind of world and society could be lurking just around the corner."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A little bit of futchology

A polemic by Joanne McNeil at Medium:

"We have reached a point where titling something “The Future of” looks antiquated, a blast from the internet culture near past.

"I suggest we borrow [Kanye] West’s coinage the “futch” to describe the “futurism” of snake oil internet gurus....

"Tech conferences incubate the futch...

"The futch ignores complexity. The futch denies how the internet amplifies existing hierarchies and upholds structural inequality. The futch is every broken promise of every new app or internet service... 

"Futch-peddling is about as noble a profession as astrologer, and one with about as little accountability."

"I became interested in “tech” more than a decade ago, with the naive, romantic notion that the internet would lead us to a better world. To talk about the future of the internet back then was to confess to this unrequited love.... It was a chance to dream aloud and reveal one’s desire for humanity. Then the futch happened."

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

cela a été demain

Bollops finds charity shop treasure: "a 7" single with a catalogue attached... some groovy abstract covers within, but most exciting of all, a section devoted to the Prospective 21e Siècle series..... note that the fancy-sleeved 21e Siècle records were actually cheaper than a lot of the standard classical LPs.  22,90 F vs 34,90 F.  Qu'est ce que that all about?"

[via  Found Objects]

talking Retro in Finland

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Revival of Everything

The New York Times Style Magazine, front cover, March 29th 2015.

Still haven't dared look inside yet.

backwards Move

"... Everybody was trying so hard to progress last year they converged and sounded the same. We're going back about three years! We're going back to the days of the Beatles' 'Please, Please Me'"

- Carl Wayne, The Move, Melody Maker, 17th February 1968

In Retromania,  I discuss the back-to-rock'n'roll move that first stirred in late 1968 and gathered momentum in 1969 to become a full-blown Fifties revival that would sustain through much of the early Seventies. I suggest that ironically it was two of the leading forces in rock progression who actually led the way with this rock regression: The Beatles and Frank Zappa.

While they were no doubt hugely influential in that regard (with "Back In This U.S.S.R." / "Revolution" and Cruising With Ruben & The Jets)  as the quote above demonstrates it was actually The Move who got there first. 

Wayne further comments in the Melody Maker interview: "We have our first LP out in two weeks' time. It's no great shakes. No sitar or electronics, just 12 commercial numbers. Roy [Wood]'s written ten of them and they have titles like 'Useless Information', 'Kilroy Was There', a song about the toilet wall poet, 'Yellow Rainbow', 'Hey Grandma' and 'Cherry Blossom Clinic'. He gets some good titles does Roy. There are also two rock 'n' roll numbers, 'It'll Be Me' by Jerry Lee Lewis, and 'Weekend' by Eddie Cochran."

In fact The Move made the backwards-in-time move as early as April of 1967, with "Wave the Flag and Stop the Train", the B-side of "I Can Hear The Grass Grow". 

The A-side is absolutely a la mode, psych-pop with druggy lyrics, in the vicinity of Tomorrow's "My White Bicycle".  Basically, they are attempting, like everybody else, to keep up with the Beatles. 

But the B-Side goes back to the Fab Four sound circa "Help" and "Ticket To Ride" - two years earlier. 

Although not going back as far as the Fifties, it's an intriguingly heterodox gesture (albeit tucked away on the B-side) of going against the progressivist dogma of 1967.  

Ahead of its time in being behind of its time, you might say.... a flash-forward to Todd Rundgren's Faithful and The Rutles... but also a preview of what Roy Wood would do in Wizzard... 

the dialectic of decadence

“Modernity can be defined as the desperate search for means of rejuvenation - symbolized by the value placed on newness – to counteract decadence.....  Modernity seesaws - often violently – between feelings of decadence and rejuvenation, the sense of imminent decline and unexpected rebirth.... [Moderns are prone to] a peculiar feeling of self-decay”`

“Avant-garde art... involves a wish to regress to the primordial beginning to escape the decadent end”

["The artist of today  a/k/a the neo-avant-garde artist, a/k/a pseudo-avantgarde artist] is a necrophiliac of art, more in love with it – especially if it is dead – than with life”

“Behind postmodernist celebration of the copy and mockery of modernist orginality is disbelief in primordiality and its transmutative power. Simulation is one postmodernist strategy of discreditation and mockery of modernist primordiality, and destruction of the boundary between avant-garde and kitsch—between the authentic and the inauthentic, the high and the low – is another”

The neo-avant-garde artist “is concerned about surviving in a world that seems to have no future and so has become all past, which is the ultimate decadent attitude... the neo-avant-garde artist lives among the ruins of the avant-garde past. He preys on it like a cynical vulture on a rotten carcass.... He is a kind of castrato, singing art falsetto. His is an ultra-arch art masking the return of the anxious feeling of decadence..." 

“He gains fame and fortune for no clear accomplishment, but simply for being a stylish symbol... Novelty is proof enough of his artistic power and credibilty”

“Fame and fortune are the neo-avant-garde artist’s reward for forfeiting the therapeutic criticality of avant-garde art”

“Appropriation art is informed by the decadence syndrome: the sense of the decline and impending death of art. This is expressed as a feeling of déjà vu and a sense of art’s loss of significant human purpose.....". This results in a vampire-strategy  “as though to suck the dregs of that faded vitality and ambition from it”

“The appropriation artist is not at all influenced by what he appropriates, in the traditional sense of the term, for what he appropriates is not an inspiration and catalyst to him”

"As long as there is a famous art to appropriate he feels vitally young, even as the act of appropriation announces his decadence.”

Neo-avant-garde / pseudo-avant-garde art  “shows that there is no way forward in art today, only different ways backward toward a past that is only technically usable, not emotionally and existentially convincing. They show that a kind of plagiarism has become the ideal of art’

all quotes from Donald Kuspit, The Cult of the Avant-Garde Artist

bonus quote, via Kuspit's book: "In art there are only two types of people: revolutionaries and plagiarists” - Gauguin

retroquotes # 544

retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time #  544

"I guess why I've been cool with listening to old records is not because the past was so, so, so much better. There's plenty of good records out there now, I'm sure, that are new and competent and listenable and etc. But the future the past believed in is better than the past the future believes in. And also, of course, the future the future believes in isn't really that interesting, either.

"But the fact that the future the past believed in hasn't arrived, well, now it's making those old records hard to listen to"  -- Aaron Grossman at Airport Through The Trees

to je sutra

+ bonus Croatian concrete

Detta var i morgon

"Will the Web Kill Nostalgia?"

A piece by Paul Hiebert at Pacific Standard asks "Will the Web Kill Nostalgia?":

"2015, sometimes it seems as though our not-so-distant pop-culture past is just as prevalent as our pop-culture present. In the movie world, for example, producers are currently developing new live-action films based on the animated adventures of '80s fixtures He-Man and Jem and the Holograms. .... Then there’s Throwback Thursdays and Flashback Fridays, the weekly reminiscing fests that involve thousands, if not millions, of people sharing bittersweet memories across social media.... 
Nostalgia is everywhere. Childhood merchandise, music, and music videos are archived and readily accessible on sites such as eBay, Spotify, and YouTube.....

But here’s the thing: For nostalgia to work, the objects that evoke it have to go away for a while, or at least be beyond reach. There must be distance. With the Internet, smartphones, and a 24-hour news cycle, however, everything from the recent past is relentlessly present. There's simply too little to long for if it's always available. If we take nostalgia to strictly mean a wistful longing for, or melancholic memory of, someone's past personal experiences (as opposed to, say, someone alive today yearning to live at the height of the Roman Empire), it seems conceivable, then, that for coming generations the feeling of nostalgia might eventually disappear—not due to over-exposure or diminished effect, but because of its inability to form in the first place."

1985, the year of doublethink

An example of  "old becomes new", a/k/a fashion doublethink infiltrating rock discourse:

"Nobody was looking at anything pre-1977... The first time I noticed somebody doing that was when we first went up to Seattle and saw Green River. I realized that there were people up there making reference to music that pre-dated punk, which was such a radical thing to do at the time" - Thurston Moore, talking to Punk Planet.

So Green River - Pacific North West proto-grungesters who contained future members of Mudhoney and Pearl Jam - get the nod from Sonic Youth's mainman for being ahead-of-their-time in being behind-of-their-time.  The first ones to dare to go back before the cut-off point of 1977.

"Such a radical thing to do at that time"

Now, obviously, someone like Moore is not going to big up a group like The Cult, who were harking back to Led Zeppelin and hairy hoary pre-punk heaviness on 1985's Love, possibly earlier with Dreamtime, which I've not heard.

Still, I'm not sure if this is completely true even in the parochial way Moore meant "nobody" - ie. nobody within the post-hardcore noisy-gtr world of bands who might get reviewed in Forced Exposure.

After all, Meat Puppets had already been reactivating aspects of Grateful Dead and Neil Young on II and Up On the Sun...  Black Flag had started to get Sabbath-dirgy and stoner-burnout vibe with My War. Husker Du verge on Mahavishnu zones of foaming abstraction on "Reoccurring Dreams" on 1984's Zen Arcade. I think there are a few other examples too.

Well, there's also Sonic Youth's own "Death Valley 69", released late 1984, although that is more a case of late Sixties iconography than a musical influence.

Nonetheless, 1985 - the year of "Swallow My Pride", off Come On Down E.P. - does seem right in terms of being the pivotal year in terms of when it all goes in reverse.  When indie-rock / alt-rock comes to mean non-contemporary. When post-punk principles cease to apply (albeit having a half-life in areas like industrial and EBM).

"Such a radical thing to do at that time"

Of course, what Moore really means is not just pre-1977  -  more precisely, he's talking about pre-1977 but also post-1967.  Green River, he is asserting,  were the first to go into the off-limits late Sixties and first-half Seventies.

Because of course prior to '85 there'd been all manner of indie groups ripping off The Byrds, The Velvets, Love.... there'd been the garage punk revival....  lots of Sixties-pasticherie from Hitchcock to the Paisley Underground.

No, it's the punk-decreed 1968-1975 Wasteland that Green River are inching into.

"Such a radical thing to do at that time"

And certainly 1985 was when I personally really started to assimilate that kind of double-think into my own evaluative mechanism, the "old is now new" switch....  within a few years I'd be praising, say, Walking Seeds for sounding like Blue Cheer and Iron Butterfly, or Saint Vitus for cloning Sabbath brilliantly.  Making deities of Butthole Surfers, rather than prosecuting them for being rock parodists (an equally tenable viewpoint).

And from 1985 roughly onwards, you might say that this is nearly all that Forced Exposure is about.... praising new underground groups for their resemblances to or reactivation of things prior to the 1977 cut-off.

That, and Albini style liberal-baiting.

"Such a radical thing to do at that time"

"Such a radical thing to do at that time"

"Such a radical thing to do at that time"

"Such a radical thing to do at that time"

"Such a radical thing to do at that time"

"Such a radical thing to do at that time"

"Such a radical thing to do at that time"

"Such a radical thing to do at that time"

"Such a radical thing to do at that time"

"Such a radical thing to do at that time"

Thursday, April 2, 2015

"a 70s revival seen through the prism of the 90s revival .... the latest example of a revival spiral "

"After seasons of squeaky-clean minimalism, retro is unequivocally back in fashion,asserts Lauren Cochrane in The Guardian.  And she says Pulp are the big influence. 

"Pulp are a band with a look. Throughout the 90s, the six members dressed like it was the 70s. They wore enough secondhand spoils to stock a branch of Oxfam – Jarvis Cocker in his now trademark 70s tailoring and NHS specs, sole female member Candida Doyle in her skinny-rib stripy jumpers, hotpants and ankle boots.

"Twenty years after the release of Common People – a No 2 hit in 1995 – the Pulp look is having a moment again. Fashion is looking at the 70s, but not the glamour and gloss of disco. The look now is less the actual 70s, and more the decade seen through the prism of the 90s revival – with the good bits already selected. The video for Common People is this idea in action – the flashing nightclub floor with boys in secondhand suits and girls in lycra and flicked hair. And then there’s the sleeve of Different Class. With its borders and old-family-photograph filter, it predates the Instagram aesthetic by 15 years.

"After seasons of squeaky-clean minimalism, retro is unequivocally back in fashion. Nicolas Ghesquière’s Louis Vuitton shows so far have centred around a sort of late 60s, early 70s uniform of leather jackets, A-line skirts and ankle boots – not that different to what scenester Jo Skinny wears in the Disco 2000 video. Prada’s spring/summer men’s collection was the Pulp look all over: trousers with piping, blazers, bobbly jumpers and candy-striped shirts that looked a bit airline uniform. There were even Jesus sandals.

Cochrane almost immediately dials it back: "let’s not exaggerate this. Pulp’s style influence isn’t overt – I don’t imagine pictures of Jarvis et al are on moodboards at these mega-brands – but it is innate, particularly in a cohort of designers who came of age during the band’s mid-90s pomp. "

(Interesting biographical aside: "I was an extra in the video for Disco 2000. Blink and you’ll miss it, but my secondhand spoils are there to see: the velvet dress and diamante necklace were highly-prized charity shop finds, while my sister, also in the video, is wearing our mum’s leopardprint coat.")

"You couldn’t exactly replicate Pulp’s look but you could make your own version. ... Of course, as with all club trends, fashion eventually cottoned on. It was christened geek chic and, by 1996, Prada’s spring/summer collection was all synthetics, pencil skirts and cardigans, and Plum Sykes was writing about it in Vogue. At the time she reasoned the trend was happening because “when clothes get as chic and classic as they did last season the young and wannabe bohemian find them bland and lacking in individuality. Suddenly ordinariness and bad taste seem refreshing.” Jarvis, meanwhile, was dubbed “king of the nerds”.

And now the moment repeats: "The Pulp look means the 70s as seen by the 90s, tweaked by 2015. It’s the latest example of a revival spiral, but one that, like Pulp’s albums, we’ll no doubt be playing again and again."

So fashion, currently, is repeating its own copying / coopting of a style that in the late 90s was itself a skewiff repeating of the 70s. 


Starting as early as the 1970s, fashion journalism pioneered a kind of double-think * that later on would become second-nature in rock criticism over the course of last few decades, which is the idea that the old becomes new, when enough time has elapsed. Inevitably once you've made that move, you open up the possibility of a total collapse of linear / teleological time into an endlessly recursive and involuted pretzel of repetitions of repetitions, reflections of reflections, echoes of echoes, homages to homages. "A revival spiral" as Cochrane niftily puts it (and a line I might well find myself purloining, just like  a top fashion designer, in the future) 

* I use double-think to reference the way in 1984 history is constantly being rewritten, the records actually physically altered, every time Oceania switches allegiance between Eurasia to Eastasia, or vice versa - so that  Oceania has always been at war with that particular empire, always been allied with the other empire. Party members have to revise their own internal archives, i.e. erase the memories in their heads. 

 Although vastly less sinister, the way fashion annuls the recently-cool as passe, and then anoints the slightly-less-recently passe as cool once again -- it's unsettling.  But what's really unsettling is how the mechanism infiltrates one's own perceptions. E.g. the other week, put on a pair of trousers I hadn't worn in several years. Had them on for about 20 minutes and then I had to take them off and put something else on. It was almost physically impossible to keep wearing them - they looked so wrong, felt so bad. Yet only a handful of years ago, they were .... well, not the height of fashion (don't get me wrong, I'm not particularly with-it) but certainly something acceptable to wear in public. But now it was inconceivable that I could go outside in them. More than that, I was uncomfortable being encased in them even indoors, with no eyes observing. They looked wrong. Yet of course they had a great amount of use potential still latent, weren't anywhere close to being worn out.  So even someone not very fashion-conscious like myself is affected by processes that occur subliminally, and that make the beautiful into the ugly after an interval of very little time. Or to put that in 1984 lingo, that transform style into unstyle. 

Until it's time for unstyle to become style again. 

So it's possible, if not inevitable, that those trousers's time will come again. While the trousers I put on to replace them,  to feel "all right" again - they will certainly, sooner rather later, feel all wrong.