Thursday, May 21, 2015

nowhen pop with nowhere to go

Embling's Tiny Mix Tapes review of Shamir's Ratchet and its exquisite pastiche of "low-key electropop, glam house, dance rap, and indie power-balladry" 

"Shamir isn’t paying homage to any one era in particular; to me, he sounds as indebted to the turn of the Millennium as he is to the artists from whom the dance-punks and electroclashists were cribbing. Ratchet exhibits a temporal and generic dimensionality that is completely alien to me, as a person who spent the most formative years of his young adulthood without immediate access to portable devices that could feasibly contain the entire history of a given genre.
The closest analogue I can muster is the current season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, wherein young, inexperienced, yet fully-formed queens who’ve grown up not only with ball culture, but also with reality TV and Drag Race itself, keep besting their older, less polished, more narrowly-defined competitors.
"Maybe I should be thinking instead of Alexander, weeping at the prospect of having no lands left to conquer? In any case, Shamir, as a young artist, is proof to me of evolution as a reality, progress as an upward arc, and also of the existential terror I feel when I listen to Ratchet and my mind hears a historical vanishing point. When I hear Shamir’s nimble and cherubic vocals, I often hear a question hanging in air: where can we possibly go from here?
Please forgive me for saying this, but younger Millennials — there needs to be a more accurate term for the generation of those born in the post-broadband era — are in many ways like the final girl’s friend in The Human Centipede, meaning that they eat last and are fed only that which has already been twice digested. Maybe that sounds ungenerous, but think of the limitations of such limitless access: Shamir, who is a prodigy almost without peer, can’t make the music he wants without being reduced to echoes and aftershocks of every single (lesser) artist who entered this world before him."

[emphases added]

Friday, May 15, 2015

Deze morgen was

Tera de Marez Oyens interviewed - an extract:

BD:    Is it fun to work with electronics?

TdeMO:    It used to be enormous fun.  I worked in the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht.  I don’t know if you have heard of all the great work there.  This was a big, old-fashioned studio with walls full of apparatus, where you had to plug in and you had to turn knobs, and it was really a sport to work there!  You could discover things.  I must say, now that we all have computers and you need a technician to sit there and work on your piece, you tell him what you want and the fun is a little bit lost on me.  I liked the old-fashioned way better.

BD:    Should we take some of your older electronic music and make sure it’s played on “original (electronic) instruments”?

TdeMO:    Well, the fun is that you don’t have to have these instruments.  It’s on tape, so you don’t have to create it again.  It’s finished.

BD:    Do you view the electronic sounds that can be created as more colors on your palette?

TdeMO:    Yes, and magnificent colors, too.  With electronic sounds, you really can get anything you want.  I started all that because I hated electronic music!  I had heard it and found it so cold and inhuman, and it didn’t mean a thing to me.  Then I got a musical prize and I had to do something cultural with it.  So I thought, “Why not find out what I hate about this electronic music?”  So I went to a course of Gottfried Michael Koenig, and I was not longer than two weeks in this course and I was totally turned around.  I loved it and I saw the possibilities.  It’s really very fascinating to work with it.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

narrative maximalism

What happens when the experimental becomes a settled tradition?   Struck by the parallels between music and fiction when reading this LA Times review by Lydia Millet:

[Danielewski's] "The Familiar" is clearly located within a lineage of formal innovation, yet in a sense it's less innovative (since most of these devices have been used before, though probably not all at the same time) than interdisciplinary. It features colored page corners like an old-fashioned reference volume, scads of typographic eccentricities, pages of photo-like illustration, collage, poetry, a pastiche of epigraphs from cultural sources both pop and high, and smatterings of foreign languages.

This is a novel that's both brashly contemporary and deeply traditional. The contemporary part is obvious, with a narrative consisting of multiple points of view from multiple cultures and genders, seeking to encompass the world of the video game maker, the world of the immigrant, the world of the grad student/mother, the world of the mystic. But "The Familiar" is also materially traditional, both for its bombast and its coup-like seizing of authority, in a continuum with, say, Proust, Joyce or Pynchon (though in some particulars less accessible than these authors). Like a big man bloviating at a party, it makes no apologies for its enormous requisition of readers' time and attention: Give yourself to me, its bulk demands. I am worth it.

Can't think of an example off the top of my head, but it feels like in fairly recent left-field music we have seen a lot of this sort of thing -  epic-scale agglomerations of once-upon-a-time bracing, now wearyingly familiar avant techniques and gestures....  with pile-it-on recombinant maximalism seeking to compensate for or conceal the fact that no single element therein is actually new.

(Well, it's going on in classical music, as discussed in this blogpost  I did a few years ago chez Bruce Sterling -  riffing on a piece about trends in recent composition by New York critic Justin Davidson)

(Probably equivalents in the visual arts too now I think of it... )