Friday, October 21, 2016

"In countries where great crimes frequently pass unpunished, the most atrocious actions become almost familiar, and cease to impress the people with that horror which is universally felt in countries where an exact administration of justice takes place" 

-Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments




Thursday, October 20, 2016

Indelible Marx

"Marx was fanatically committed to finding empirical corroboration for his theory. That’s what it meant to put philosophy on its feet. And that’s why he spent all those hours alone in the British Museum, studying reports on factory conditions, data on industrial production, statistics about international trade. It was a heroic attempt to show that reality aligned with theory. No wonder he couldn’t finish his book. 

"Marx had very little to say about how the business of life would be conducted in a communist society, and this turned out to be a serious problem for regimes trying to put communism into practice. He had reasons for being vague. He thought that our concepts, values, and beliefs all arise out of the conditions of our own time, which means that it’s hard to know what lies on the other side of historical change. In theory, after the revolution, everything will be “up for grabs”—which has been the great dream of leftist radicalism ever since.

"...How useful is Marx for understanding this bubble of ferment in the advanced economies? I think we don’t yet know very well the precise demographic profile of Brexit voters and Trump and Sanders supporters—whether they are people who have been materially damaged by free trade and immigration or people who are hostile to the status quo for other reasons. That they are basically all the former may turn out to be a consoling belief of the better-off, who can more easily understand why people who have suffered economic damage would be angry than why people who have nothing to complain about financially might simply want to blow the whole thing up.

"Still, in the political confusion, we may feel that we are seeing something that has not been seen in countries like Britain and the United States since before 1945: people debating what Marx would call the real nature of social relations. The political earth is being somewhat scorched. And, as politics continues to shed its traditional restraints, ugly as it is to watch, we may get a clearer understanding of what those relations are."

-Louis Melnad, Karl Marx Yesterday and Today, The New Yorker 

50 films of the 10s so far

Can't say I've fallen deep into movies, as Kael would have it, over the past 6 years.  TV has been too good and really surpassed the film medium, which itself seems trapped showing dull slow cinema setpieces, superhero yawns, and increasingly intolerable popcorn fare.  Also, as the parent of two young children, the genre I'm perhaps most acquainted with is "animated film for children".   There are doubtless dozens that I just kinda haven't got to. Nevertheless, here's 50 I've seen, in rough order;

1 Tree of Life
2 Ex Machina
3 Black Swan
4 The Master
5 Her
6 Cabin in the Woods
7 Inside Out
8 Martha Marcy May Marlene
9 Cosmopolis
10 Scott Pilgrim vs the World
11 Spring Breakers
12 21 Jump street
13 Kill List
14 The Hunger Games 1-4
15 Zootopia
16 The Duke of Burgundy
17 Beyond the Black Rainbow
18 A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
19 Attack the Block
20 Moonrise Kingdom
21 The Babadook
22 Inherent Vice
23 Citizenfour
24 Chronicle
25 The Double
26 Inception
27 Map to the Stars
28 The Bling Ring
29 Frank
30 We Need to Talk About Kevin
31 The Lego Movie
32 Doggiewoggiez! Poochiewoochiez!
33 Enter the Void
34 Inside Llewyn Davis
35 Looper
36 Birdman
37 Berberian Sound Studio
38 Kubo and the Two Strings
39 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows 1
40 Never Let Me go
41 The Big Short
42 Prometheus
43 Upstream Color
44 The World's End
45 A Field in England
46 Grand Budapest Hotel
47 Frozen
48 Splice
49 Love and Mercy
50 The Muppets

25 Albums for 2016 so far

1 Danny Brown Atrocity Exhibition
2 Blank Banshee MEGA
3 Anhoni Hopelessness
4 Rihanna Anti
5 LSDXOXO Fuck Mary Kill
6 David Bowie Blackstar
7 Puce Mary The Spiral
8 SchoolboyQ Blank Face
9 Xosar Holographic Matrix
10 Jessy Lanza Oh No
11 Deiphix Odin
12 Death Grips Bottomless Pit
13 Carlos Nino & Friends Flutes, Echoes, It's All Happening
14 Divoli S'vere NTSU
15 Young Thug Jeffrey
16 Various Apocalypse Survival Kit (A.S.K)
17 James Ferraro Human Story 3
18 Yves Tumor When Man Fails You
19 Gut Nose Citadel Supreme
20 Beyonce Lemonade
21 Mac Quayle Mr Robot volume 1
22 Kendrick Lamar Untitlted Unmastered
23 Chino Amobi Anya's Garden
24 Black Tears The Long Decline
25 Various USSR (Ur Social Status Resistance)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Center's Gated Community

"The reason the Post pundits embrace these tidy sophistries is simple enough. Knee-jerk incrementalism is, after all, a nifty substitute for actually thinking difficult issues through. Bernie Sanders ran for the presidency by proposing reforms that these prestigious commentators, for whatever reason, found distasteful. Rather than grapple with his ideas, however, they simply blew the whistle and ruled them out of bounds. Plans that were impractical, proposals that would never pass Congress—these things are off the table, and they are staying off. 
Clinging to this so-called pragmatism is also professionally self-serving. If “realism” is recognized as the ultimate trump card in American politics, it automatically prioritizes the thoughts and observations of the realism experts—also known as the Washington Post and its brother institutions of insider knowledge and professional policy practicality. Realism is what these organizations deal in; if you want it, you must come to them. Legitimacy is quite literally their property. They dole it out as they see fit." 
-Thomas Frank, Swat Team, The Media's Extermination of Bernie Sanders, and Real Reform, Harper's

Sunday, October 16, 2016

New Order- Play at Home (1984)

Weird BBC Doc where bands were supposed to film themselves "playing at home" with little other stipulations or instructions attached.  What follows is essentially a kind of less surreal Great Rock N' Roll Schwindle for Factory Records.  A naked Tony Wilson is front and center, presented in parodic form as both a cutthroat capitalist and a pretentious Hegel/Che/Gramsci quoting intellectual fart (the effort of which reminded me at times of the insufferable referentiality-as-substance art pose of a James Franco, particularly given how Wilson was a TV personality, albeit one who actually knew his work and used as an, ahem, ideal for living).  Gretton, Hannett, Erasmus and co. also feature, in smaller roles and the film circles about Manchester visiting some of the haunts infamous to any one intrigued by the Factory story.

It's unclear how familiar anyone at the time would have been able to see all this as some giant lark.  How much the Factory/New Order story was disseminated by this point?  New Order were no doubt one of the largest in the world in the year after '83, but how much of that passed on to their manager, label, labelmates (A Certain Ratio, who feature as well), and nightclub (The Hacienda, which if Wilson is to be believed was largely a failure when it first opened)?  It's unclear whether this was just a meaningless spoof, a Situationist plant of misinfo, or just an arbitrary setpiece to the grand saga of substance indulgence?

Certainly, the performances seem like they must either been mistakes or self-sabotage.  The live footage of "Lonesome Tonight" and "Thieves Like Us" is gaaawdawful, like a bunch of drunk amateurs all of the lot except f or power couple Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert.  Sumner in particular sounds like he's in some semi-conscious state.

It's not a surprise that this stayed hidden for so long.  It was probably intended to live and die in an era before mass reproduction. Perhaps one reason it never got listed as a Factory Records artifact, as other things such as a hair salon and an imagined but never released computer software game did in the same year.

Fine, We Didn't Come in Together, But I Suppose I'm With Her

"For a man who lies like a rabid dog drools poison, Donald Trump has hit on the one topic on which he remains broadly convincing: his opinions about women. Namely, that he believes they should be beautiful, obedient, and definitely not president..."  
"Secretary Clinton has been preparing for this job for several decades, has worked her way up through decades of public excoriation and relentless misogynist attack, of having to be more competent than every man around her. Trump has been preparing for, generously, two years, because he thinks that being a rich, powerful white man entitles him to anything he wants, including the presidency. This entitlement is the basis of his campaign. Clinton’s job in these debates is to remain competent, calm and collected for 90 minutes, to appeal both to the sceptical left and the centre-right, to balance firm policymaking with the levity and humour she’s never been permitted in half a century of political work, to look both perfect and competent in a culture that still has no script for a female in such a powerful position, to argue down a freewheeling bully who has captured the febrile heart of the nation, remembering all the while that a single mistake, a single cough or hair out of place could cost her, and the country, everything. Trump’s job was not to shit himself on stage. And that was it. That is how patriarchy works. But maybe not forever..." 
"I want to see her win. I want to see her explode Trump's pride as one might pop a suppurating pustule on the face of American culture. This is no longer about whether Hillary is the hero America needs. She’s flawed, and she’s female, and that’s fine by me...
"Clinton is a hawk with her beak deep in the Washington machine and talons aimed for the eyes of her enemies and I want her to be president. I want her and all the terrifying young women standing behind her in power so I can fight them on a battleground that isn't already ankle-deep in crypto-fascist gore..." 
"A general election is about nothing more or less than choosing your enemy. Any government leader must be considered an enemy to those who believe in radical change. Hillary Clinton is not yet that enemy but by damn. I hope she gets to be. Hillary Clinton is the sort of enemy I’ve been dreaming of over ten years of political work. She’s the kind of enemy you can respect. I look forward to fighting her on her commitment to climate protection, on workers' rights, on welfare, on foreign policy. Bring that shit on. That's the sort of fight I relish. I want to argue over how the state can best serve the interests of women and minorities, not whether it should. That's the sort of fight that makes me better. Four more years of fighting Donald Trump and his foaming acolytes would demean everyone involved."

- Laurie Penny, Why I'm With Her, New Statesman 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Roly Porter for your Friday

Once a member of Vex'd, now focusing on deep, subterreanean ambient sound

This one above was actually made in collaboration with whales

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Portrait of the Artist as Electoral Rot

Bernie Sanders was that bold experimental album that could have changed music forever until the record company got involved and tried prevent it from ever getting made, afraid it would either not move enough units to produce a profit or be such a roaring success that they'd have to re-train their boring, staid A&R men to suit a new business model. Maybe one day it'll be released posthumously or a few years down the road.Like The Velvet Underground & Nico, everyone who buys a copy will put out their own ground-shaking album.

Hillary Clinton is solid pop, fairly risk averse, you wish they'd stop making this stuff, but it's not her fault and you can tell she really loves exactly this type of careerist solo work. Also, she has a fairly solid discography that people shit all over (sometimes for good reasons), but really deserves a reassessment. There's some really terrible ballads and some horrible collaborations with the industry's biggest monsters (Dr. Luke and R.Kelly both on that same Iraq War track!), but it's fine. You wouldn't turn it off it was on at someone else's house, but you'd never actively put it on yourself.

Donald Trump is the rich actor who spent his entire career doing something else and now decided he wants to give music a try. He has no musical skill, nor talent, nor appreciation of the aesthetic nuances and subtleties of the artform, but who puts out an album he says is going to change everything and put music back to the way it's supposed to be. In actuality, it's just a shitty jumble of half-forgotten covers of problematic acts and half-plagiarism of bands whose time has come and gone. The lyrics are just narcissistic boasts and incendiary put-downs of other, more talented and creative musicians. Even given its retro-reactionary swing toward music's worst tendencies, it's even worse than a retread because it's hackneyed and amateur, but in a bombastic and overproduced way rather than being charming and DIY. His album rejects all the outside genre innovations of the past 30-40 years and it definitely has no soul or grit about it. Even Clear Channel and Live Nation are struggling to justify its existence. Also, dude is touring with Skrewdriver.

In addition, this is a world where we only put out 2 albums every four years and a woman has never had a #1 or even recorded an album.

[Break up the sentences above and add wacky GIFs that undermine the severity of the situation. Buzzfeed pay me $50. Share with 20 friends. Run again in 4 years if world not reduced to simmering rubble. ]

RIP Rod Temperton

For some reason, I remember the above scene lasting a lot longer, like the entire glorious 7 minutes of "Groove Line", which might be the best fucking disco song of all time.

Although this is a pretty good contender for top ten

Could have been an Off the Wall b-side

Golden funky synth-bass

The little staccato Casiotone line in this is unfuckwithable


Emminently pretty minimalist ambience of digital synth music distilled to single strands, double helix arpeggios as prototype for the techno soundboard, encompassing Russian and Eastern europe folk, calliope, and circuit-board-building pioneers of mid 20th century academic electro.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Radio Raheem will never die

Michelle and Barack's first date was to go see this movie

The most shocking/unlikely thing about the above clip- the partner cop saying "hey, that's enough" instead of "everything you are doing is entirely appropriate. He represents a threat".

Radio Raheem will never die, as long as Eric Garner's killers continue to go free, and the cheerleaders for his death continue to plague and harass Ramsey Orta, and his daughter is railroaded by ABC during their town hall, and a major presidential nominee runs an openly racist and fascistic campaign based on a Dirty Harry-esque "return to law and order".

RIP Bill Dunn

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

RIP Kashif

Kashif's hotspot was during the early 80s when he took synths and made them sound "sophisticated".  Schmeared at the Venn center of jazz-funk, quiet storm, pop, electro, and flat-out muzak, Kashif became a fossil.  Only recently in the wreckage of vaporwave has his sound started to become reassessible.  In fact, his debut LP in 1983 is quite good.  The best track, below, almost sounds like it could be a collaboration between Visionist and Prins Thomas or something:

Dude could even make Kenny G sound dope.  If you took the Saxophone off of G's G-Force Album, it might be some slept-on almost-ran halfway...ok, well it'd still be okay.  In fact, much of Kashif's output is just okay, but listen to "The Mood" again.  He coulda done some out there stuff if he just had some Arthur Russell style muse to break him outta pop. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Death Panels- Gastroeconomics

new on Remissive

RIP Earl Smith

Acid pioneer