Thursday, 29 August 2013

Mark Fisher: Ghosts of My Life

Soon on Zer0 books, Mark Fisher's Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures . Excerpt below, but more here.

The slow cancellation of the future

It is the contention of this book that 21st Century culture is marked by the same anachronism and inertia which afflicted Sapphire And Steel in their final adventure. But this stasis has been buried, interred behind a superficial frenzy of ‘newness’, of perpetual movement. The ‘jumbling up of time’, the montaging of earlier eras, has ceased to be worthy of comment; it is now so prevalent that it is no longer even noticed.
In his book After The Future, Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi refers to the ‘the slow cancellation of the future [which] got underway in the 1970s and 1980s.’ ‘But when I say ‘future’’, he elaborates,

I am not referring to the direction of time. I am thinking, rather, of the psychological perception, which emerged in the cultural situation of progressive modernity, the cultural expectations that were fabricated during the long period of modern civilization, reaching a peak after the Second World War. These expectations were shaped in the conceptual frameworks of an ever progressing development, albeit through different methodologies: the Hegel-Marxist mythology of Aufhebung and founding of the new totality of Communism; the bourgeois mythology of a linear development of welfare and democracy; the technocratic mythology of the all-encompassing power of scientific knowledge; and so on.

My generation grew up at the peak of this mythological temporalization, and it is very difficult, maybe impossible, to get rid of it, and look at reality without this kind of temporal lens. I’ll never be able to live in accordance with the new reality, no matter how evident, unmistakable, or even dazzling its social planetary trends.
After The Future, AK Books, 2011, pp18-19)

While the background is of less relevance, I was reminded of the final episode of Quantum Leap, where Sam, after completing his final mission, disappears within - or outside of? - time:

Given that this was 1993, as futuristic thinking was beginning to close down, this seems strangely relevant and portentous. More here.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Oneohtrix Point Never: R plus Seven

Oneohtrix Point Never is one of the few artists these days whose new releases I eagerly await and R Plus Seven, his latest and first for Warp, is impressive right off the bat. The Wire describe it, and indeed all his music (using 'Describing Bodies' as the perfect example), as sensual, and I'd agree, in a highly contemporary, fractured and digitised way. Trite and overused cliches perhaps, but it does seem to evoke the sexiness of shiny mass produced contemporary objects: plastics, silicone, chrome; shapes and forms that could only be generated by computer.

These ideas have been the subject of his cover art and concert visuals, both in his solo 'free from' show in Melbourne last December, and in <i>Reliquary House, the MOMA commissioned modern-sculpture-soundtrack work he produced with Nate Boyce (also performed in London last October). In the former, he began by focusing on static shots of humdrum household objects - chair, teapot, hammer - these remaining on screen for far longer than expected, developing a kind of Dadaist absurdity and charm through prolonged repetition. It didn't stay like this, but Ive forgotten how the rest went. Maybe like this:

With Reliquary House, absurdity and humour, again through repetition and prolongation, was even more prominent, the music seeming almost secondary. Many in the audience got up and left throughout the show, some within the first moments, and the music was noisy and harsh, glitched shards of white noise, a seasick, woozy low end, and skipping voice samples, all of which could be perceived as irritating. I thought it wonderful, a beautiful pitched dialectic between grand portentous dread and silliness, never quite resolved.

Something present in all his music, especially the Echo Jams.

Not much to say about the new album, seems similar to his December live show, but it is extremely immersive. His synths have always been thick, viscous things, and here they're massive. Even lighter passages seem to pierce like shards, with jittery samples like echoes reverberating around your head. Again cliche, but does seem to accurately reflect our era of pervasive capitalism, the all-sensory-overload of malls and business parks. That it does so with such frightening seduction is a telling comment on the workings of our modern world.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Klassikal Kompakt

Despite a few golden moments, can't help but be disappointed by the recent Gregor Schwellenbach Kompakt chamber instrument remix project. With Voigt's clear interest in classical music one hoped for better, but it comes off - for the most part - limp, like so much techno played by neo-classical types on real instruments (Hauschka, Brandt Brauer Frick, etc).

But - couple of standout tracks, particularly Closer Musik's 'Departures', which with the bleeps stabbed out on high-low piano, works a treat. Kinda like Mazulis. The tension doesn't really go anywhere with the cello however... No sign of embedding, and can't beat the original:

I saw them play it live in Hoxton back in 2002, they were very humble in a small under-populated dive. Were shaking everyone's hands and getting appreciative backslaps after their show. 'Departures' was the finale.

Also reminiscent of Escape From New York on piano:

The masters of classical techno, and more, are Zeitkratzer:

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Music for Merce ... continued

This is dragging on, but who cares! Now something that lives, unattended to for the most part, on the portable digital device, in its own playlist, where related pieces of long abstract drone / pointillist composition get filed (currently Feldman’s Trio and CM von Hausswolff’s 80,000 Over Harrar), but it's comfortable and it belongs, and offers a particular kind of listening focus/respite for when I’m so inclined (and/or jaded, exhausted and sickened by the flowing digital stew which I usually listen and seldom pay enough attention to).

On my last session I heard the highlight of the set so far: Cage’s Inlets from 1977. It’s the quintessential Cage piece, and the work I always imagined Cage wrote without ever having heard it – long, slow, placid, all sounds made from the elements.

Some great notes on the work here from James Pritchett:

Cage's Inlets (1977) is for three performers, each with four conch shells: small,
medium, large, and very large. Water is poured into the shells so that they will
gurgle softly when the players tip and turn them about. Each begins with any
shell, then, after a short time, changes to another one. A somewhat longer
time is spent playing the second shell before changing to the third one, which
is then played for an even longer time. The rest of the performance — the
longest time period of all — is spent playing the final shell. The watery sounds
of the shells are at the heart of the piece. Their unpredictable outbursts and
soft burbles are mesmerizing and relaxing; the gradual slowing down of the
performance mirrors the setting of our own minds. About midway through the
piece the shells fall silent and the sound of fire — of burning pine cones —
emerges from loudspeakers. The water gurgles pick up again, and, a little later,
the sound of a blown conch shell trumpet is heard. That is the whole piece:
water, fire, air. The materials are elemental (only earth is missing . . . I
remember, though, that when Cage performed it he used a box of sand to catch
the dribbles of water). They do not need Cage's assistance to become powerful.
What they need is for him to leave them alone. Each of the elements is
presented so plainly that its identity shines brightly: the splashing of the
water, the crackling of the fire, the wailing of the conch trumpet.

And here it is (as an excerpt) performed in 2008 by Inagaki Takashi, Takemura Nobukazu, Nishijima Atsushi and Miyajima Saikou:

The following Weatherings by David Toop ain't bad either. But more on that another time...