Thursday, June 26, 2014

“it just felt like yeah thats what 2014 sounds like”

A question I've been wanting to ask for a while now: does anybody else find both the concept and the reality of Katy B as boring as I do?

And here's an answer, sort of - Luka, blogging legend, pops up on Dissensus celebrating what he calls Rinse FM Pop. 

Into which category  Katy B and Disclosure - although Luka doesn't mention either - fall, alongside Clean Bandit, Duke Dumont, Jess Glynne, Gorgon City, Rudimental, and a host of other UK Top 5 occupants of the last year or so.


"this stuff is like someone asked me to list all my favourite records then they listened to them sort of semi digested them and churned out these amazing records that amalgamate them all so how can i not love it. its like it was made exclusively for my benefit....  like dance music but turned into proper pop that is perfect for daytime radio"

But that’s the problem for me with all this stuff...

Such a cautious composite, a puree of historical high points

... the power of past breakthroughs utilized, redeployed, but never built on or extended, let alone matched

But this angle of animosity is anticipated by Luka, fended off by the deft rhetorical move of flipping a weakness into a strength. He sounds some Retromania-ish notes, except that he sees not the glass half-empty but the glass brimming over with post-historical, atemporal-and-blithely-unconcerned-about-it  poptasticness...

"its not a shameless pastiche of old house though is it. the internet is a huge dressing up box

"i'll put on that dubstep bass, that rave piano, that hardcore breakbeat, that garage vocal treatment

"like ten years ago when i first started seeing young people dressing 90s and they would have a grunge shirt, a bomber jacket and cap eazy e would wear... all the individual items would have been worn in the 90s but never by the same person and certainly not in the same outfit"

and earlier in the thread he started:

"pop music that was so hip, this amalgamation of all my favourite things. made me really proud of the children of today...

"its come to terms with what it is. post time and space music. internet people. stopped having a crisis of conscience about it.

"you have to know where you are. what your historical moment is."

Fair enough. And in fact I know perfectly well the feeling Luka got from listening to daytime Rinse FM during a stint at a shit job.... it's the same sensation I've gotten from listening to American pop radio and commercial rap radio these past four years in LA. The feeling is basically the surprise and relief an old man gets when he finds he can still fall in love with pop music.... 

"i listen to this and i feel like im 19 again well powerful i wish i was part of this generation they are well optimistic and on to it"

(Meanwhile the same syndrome is going on with the post-pirate underground – the atemporal but increasingly undeniable freshness and force of deep tech: a spruced-up, bass-intensified and digi-brite renovation of the jackin’ frenzy of early house)

Friday, June 06, 2014

BARCELONA - June 12 / June 13 - Sónar panel appearance + Energy Flash event

Next week I'll be in Barcelona to participate in a panel at the Sónar Festival on June 12th and present Energy Flash at a launch event for Contra's Spanish edition of the book on June 13. 
Thursday June 12

Moderated by Philip Sherburne and featuring myself and Simon Riggs (Phonica)  and Simon Williams  (Sunny Graves).    Yes, it could get a bit confusing with all those Simons...
Time:  17:00h 
Location:  Sala 4 (P5, Flr 2) Palau de Congresos

Friday June 13

Book launch / party 
I'll be talking about Energy Flash and answering questions from the audience
Marc Piñol  of Hivern Discs will deejay
Time: 20:00 h.
Location: Fàbrica Moritz, Ronda Sant Antoni, 39 · 08011 Barcelona
Open to the general public

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Sunday, June 01, 2014


Bumper crop of books out now or due imminently from mates -- old and new, some IRL and others more like neighbours in this here blog-parish.  Mates? Perhaps comrades is a better word.

First up, Agata Pyzik and Poor But Sexy: Culture Clashes in Europe East and West  -   a fascinating and provocative study of Eastern Europe (including her native Poland) in the quarter-century since the Soviet Bloc began to disintegrate, looking at both the realities of post-communist life (transition trauma, precarity, emigration for work, etc) and at the fantasies and misunderstandings that East and West entertain about each other, as figured through pop, fashion, film, and art.  Of particular interest to the music-minded: the chapter "Ashes And Brocade: Berlinism, Bowie, Postpunk, New Romantics and Pop-Culture in the Second Cold War". Here's an extract from Poor But Sexy that appeared in The Quietus not so long ago.


Vaguely related to Poor But Sexy: Mitja Velikonja's Rock'N'Retro: New Yugoslavism in Contemporary Popular Music in Slovenia. A very interesting treatise about Ostalgie in one of the republics of the former Yugoslavia, as manifested in the "Titostalgia" of groups such as Magnifico.

 Alex Niven's 33⅓ monograph Definitely Maybe  - a most ingenious rereading of the debut Oasis album,  defending it from the charges of derivative nostalgia, retro-reactionary lairinesss, etc etc (i.e. the standard viewpoint in this parish).  Can't say I'm totally convinced by the parallel Alex makes between Noel Gallagher's plagiarisms and Public Enemy's sampling. Also did wonder what makes Oasis's gonna-make-it-out-of-here working class self-belief  different from the magical voluntarism of Bon Jovi/"Living On A Prayer"and Journey/"Don't Stop Believin'"....   Pointing to a greater affinity with shoegaze than is commonly perceived, Alex argues that there's under-acknowledged sonic invention at work in the early Oasis sound, an oceanic effect that creates an oceanic affect. Then again, don't you get that to some degree with any form of hugely amplified music projected at a mass of people?  Besides, in the first half of the Nineties, if you were craving sensations of proto-political solidarity and vague hopeful collectivity from music, wouldn't the obvious place to look for, and find, those things be rave culture? Actually, an argument I recall being made at the time was precisely that the whole Oasis phenomenon (and related smaller phenomena like The Verve) represented a sort of ersatz rave experience for those laggards who still preferred guitars and songs.... Still, Alex has made me want to listen to the album again, which is quite an achievement.  (I also had a dream the other night in which I was the manager of Oasis, and it wasn't even a nightmare, so he's penetrated my unconscious too).  Interview with Alex here and extract from the book here.

I'm sure you're all aware that Mark Fisher  has a new book out. Here's my blurb for it:

Ghosts of My Life confirms that Mark Fisher is our most penetrating explorer of the connections between pop culture, politics, and personal life under the affective regime of digital capitalism.  The most admirable qualities of Fisher’s work are its lucidity, reflecting the urgency of his commitment to communicating ideas;  his high expectations of popular art’s power to challenge, enlighten, and heal;  and his adamant refusal to settle for less

Finally, one of my oldest mates.... and comrades. Veteran of many joint campaigns. David Stubbs. Taping his copies of Future Days, Soon Over Babaluma, and the four Faust LPs -  back when we were students - is where it all started for me in terms of a life-long infatuation with Krautrock. Here's my blurb for his book on the subject, due in August:

Future Days does not capture Krautrock so much as unleash it.  David Stubbs deftly situates legends like Can, Faust, Neu!, and Kraftwerk in their historical context – the politics and culture of post-WW2 Germany. But more crucially, the rollicking energy of his prose and reeling majesty of his imagery convey everything about this music that transcends time and place.  Generation after generation of fans discover in Krautrock a peerless hallucinatory pageant for the mind’s eye, a sound in which absolute freedom and absolute discipline coexist, a rejoicing cosmic “yes” delivered with the roaring attack of punk.  At long last, the definitive book on the ultimate music.