Sunday, March 05, 2006

Interesting to read the NYT magazine piece last week on Broken Social Scene and the whole "Torontopia" milieu. Obviously post-Rip anything to do with a renaissance of collectives in rock is gonna to intrigue me, with its echoes of Scritti Politti and London Musicians Collective and Rough Trade as cooperative (plus that larger history of rock collectives: Faust at Wumme their former schoolhouse turned into studio-cum-living space--did a phoner with Hans Joachim Irmler the other day, around the reish of Faust IV, lovely feller--Amon Duul, Jefferson Airplane & coterie in their big rambling Victorian at 2400 Fulton Street, Gong living as an anarchist commune in rural France, Crass...) . But mainly it's Scritti's attempt to merge the "beat group" and think-tank that immediately sprung to mind on picking up the mag. Reading, a whole bunch of differences emerged. Clearly, a lot of idealism is involved, but seemingly, nothing approaching the theoretical intensity involved in the Scritti project. All the BSS members are musicians, whereas in Scritti the three instrumentalists were vastly outnumbered by mentalists: comrades whose contribution was purely intellectual. And the BSS thing comes across so touchy-feely (the references to band members pre-gig giving each other back-rubs, to taking a masseuse on tour with them). It's almost as though the eradication of tension is the point of the project. C.f. the Scrit HQ as a zone of argument, conflict, productive friction; a harrowing lifestyle that made its members ill, rather than a BSS style haven from the bad outside world. There's also little intimation of that postpunk notion of the indivisibility of radical music/radical politics; music not just as a supportive sonic backdrop for your struggle against power, but something you have to struggle with. Indeed, in a weird sort of way there's a sense (although again this may just be the journalist's take) that the music was kind of irrevelant, or at least of secondary consideration; that what the fans (if such a hierarchical concept is appropriate) really enjoy is the drama of egalitarian social relations presented by that many people being on stage, the endless proliferation of solo projects, side groups; being in on the rhizomatic intimacy of it all.

But I suppose I should listen to the actual records at some point.

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