Wednesday, July 28, 2004

further rough notes on noise, soulcialism, the charts:

--- "lovelynoise": transcending the harmony/discord binary,  sounds that if you could examine their harmonic spectra would count as "dirty" but the effect is pure piercing idyllic bliss. Examples:  that exquisite, un-sourceable plangent riff in the Royskopp tune whose name escapes me,  lots of sounds in Boards of Canada, much of the guitar content in AR Kane’s records, Disco Inferno, Flying Saucer Attack, many more....

--- Green Gartside interview, 1988. On the subject of Wet Wet Wet ( who took their name from a Scritti song) and their ilk.

GG: "You're right, there's this wholesomeness, earnest expressiveness, honesty...and yes, that's garbage. I would say that soul and funk are the most WRECKING experiences, you can feel it when a really NASTY groove hits you, there's much more a sense of falling apart, in an affirming way, than of its..." (really sneering now) "...its honesty."

SR: Hasn't soul become over-written and over-determined in much the same way that you used to complain rock was in  1980? It's got so I can't listen to Aretha Franklin's voice without horrid words like "pride and dignity" popping into my head.

GG "I think you're right and it's something we should, um, band together and fight against! No, if that is the story that maintains then it needs to be contradicted and undone, and another story needs to be told about it, because that sure as hell wasn't what appealed to me about black music, even though the 'health' factor was salient at the time, strategically."

SR: Do you follow what happens in the world of rock? I mean, what do you think about the validity of "noise" as an option?

GG: "There is no point at which music stops and noise begins...that's elementary. I've always considered music as noise and noise as music...these are obviously the arcane squabblings that persist in the airless, closeted confines of the music papers."

---  For what we are about to receive, may the Charts make us truly grateful. Believing in the charts is like people who believe in market forces. Forget "like"--it is believing in market forces. Anonymous consumer decisions infallibly generate a weekly smorgasbord of surprises and things you didn't know you wanted until they tugged at your ear. Does it actually work like that in practice though? Is TOTP an accurate scan of the true scope of popular desire? What is its ratio of surprise to tedium? I haven't lived in the UK for years so I couldn't say, but the few editions I caught in the last decade haven't been encouraging.  You'd probably get as good results by stumbling blindfolded into the Virgin Megastore and grabbing the first 16 CDs to hand. Scrolling back and forth across the FM dial would be at very least as effective in terms of exposing yourself to random and unfamiliar delights (if you live somewhere like London anyway), the pirates (of many more hues than just Grime or Garage) and the licensed ethnic community stations vying with the state-owned stations and commercial pop radio.

Instead of the munificence of  the charts/market forces, personally I'd rather trust in "self organising autonomous cultural activity" aka the massive(s) aka scenius aka the global undergrounds to keep on coming up with the goods. Trust in the pressure that pushes up from below, in from outside. Pop today is reworking and recombining materials that in greatest part originally came from S.O.A.C.A. Pop has no resources of its own, apart from the archive of its own earlier reworkings of S.O.A.C.A. material.

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