Thursday, February 23, 2017

This Week In













Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Various- Rise William Rise



I'm very fortunate to be included in this fantastic compilation of dark experimental types.  It was compiled by Don Sigal of Opposite Records/Ken Timber/The Alienist.  Don and I did a number of shows together in the early-mid 2000s and his two Alienist recordings on Opposite feature my other HvEXAS collaborators and bandmates Tom (of m0dnAr) and Evan (Mr. Noise, eL).  The album is a benefit to support health costs of Wm Berger, who runs Prison Tatt Records and is the host of WFMU's My Castle of Quiet.  The title references a line from Al Adamson's "Nurse Sherri (Hospital of Horro), a clip which regularly launches his WMFU show (thanks to Don for the correction).


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ain't Life a Bitch?



A few hours after the POTUS went on TV and talked in moral relativistic terms about how we make good bedfellows and killer allies with his buddy Putin, Americans tuned into the Superbowl, America's second favorite violent ritual, a centerpiece of Debordian spectacle for a dying culture. "Hallelullah/Praise the Lord for all good things/We blew them into fucking shit/They are eating it", Harold Pinter commented in his famous poem "American Football". Progressives, fancying themselves average Americans and attempting to revel in collective experience, tried to find shards of spectral light in this morass, but found little else but an enthusiastic orgy.

Prior to the Big Event, Heinz announced that it was offering their employees a paid day off on the Monday after the Superbowl, but it turns out that this only applied to their salaried workers. Hourly workers were stuck picking up the slack while their white collar comrades slept in. So, progressives looked to the ads for the feels. Here, there a lot of nondescript multiculturalism, which wouldn't have bothered to move an eyelash 6 months to a year ago, but for some reason felt like molotovs to those waiting in the wings for some show of identification. But was there anything really radical about Google and Airbnb just showing a bunch of diverse faces? Annheuser Busch, who regularly give the bulk of of their campaign contributions to Republicans, came out with a staunch pro-immigration piece- in which a white German named Adolpohus is harassed while looking to start a legal drug empire in America.

Even more insiduous was 84 Lumber's ad, which seemed at first glance to be a wordless riposte to Trump's America. The ad depicts a mother and daughter facing some minor adversity attempting to immigrate out of an unnamed Latin American country (psst, it's Mexico). The two hitch a minimally scary ride in a truck and take shelter in a house, observing a coyote before the ad fades to black. Viewers hoping to catch the "rest of the journey" rushed online, where the traffic crashed 84's website. Sadly, the zinger is in the rest of the video. It turns out that they hadn't crossed the border yet, but further movement found them reaching a giant wall with a "big beautiful door" in the middle, echoing sentiments Trump made in his interview with Jimmy Kimmel. The CEO of the company is a Trump supporter. (source).

Alas, as a last ditch, viewers turned to Lady Gaga, doing what Gaga does best- spectacle-infused medleys embedded with winking references, coded enough to delight those looking for hints of subversion and hidden enough so that Marco Rubio could delight with glee at good ol' American show business. In the end, it was like the ads, identity politics as substance without taking aim at the specific perpetrators of injustice, who watch a ton of TV and get riled up at this shit. It was Hillary's gambit of managerial better-world-ism with the Pepsi logo displaying loud and proud in fireworks behind the wreckage of a new world order. Revolution as civility in a world run by pirates, nazis, and thugs.

So, somewhat unsurprisingly, a game where women aren't invited, where two white men tell a bunch of black guys to brutalize each other's bodies over a ball they keep kicking and throwing slightly farther away from them (often causing concussions and brain damage in the process) wasn't the bastion of hope we'd anticipated it would be. Geez, maybe our institutions are complicit in all of this. Maybe capitalism won't save us.


Friday, February 3, 2017

All Alone Amongst the Toxic Fires


"The punk-poet tradition has not endured a healthy shelf-life. Though the florid confessionals of Patti Smith and the beatific nihilism of Vega’s Suicide remain canon, few these days recognize as essential Henry Rollins’ late stage career on the spoken word circuit or Jim Caroll’s crossover appearance in the ridiculous James Spader and Robert Downey Jr. vehicle Tuff Turf. Other names like John Cooper Clarke and Attila the Stockbroker have nearly faded entirely from view. As spoken lyrics gradually became the exclusive terrain of the hip-hop artists, those peddling in not-quite def poetry jamming soon fell by the wayside as a historical punch line.
Annie Anxiety, in both her early singles and on her debut LP Soul Possession, should be considered both inside and outside of this tradition. Each of the eight tracks on Soul Possession represent a single contained performance piece, a poem set to music, but it’s in her musical vanguardism, indebted equally to post-punk, industrial, and especially dub, that she frees herself from the musty preconceptions of what punk poetry has to sound or feel like. She adopts a perfectly suited voice for each piece, giving her license to explore a broad terrain while pinning herself to a broad ideological thread and a series of unsettling luxated dub riddim and grooves"
-new review up by me of the reissues of Annie Anxiety's Soul Possession

This was initially released on Crass's Corpus Christi imprint, which itself is pretty interesting little enclave.  If I had to guess, this was where Crass records could explore a more goth output. If you check out their output, you'll see a number of artists (UK Decay, Rudimentary Peni, Omega Tribe) who were still dangling on the fringes of punk, but who also fit neatly on those Blackest Ever Black mixes that were coming out pretty regularly a few years back.  Here, Annie Anxiety really was an outlier.  She'd later become a figurehead making the rounds with the Threshold House folk (Nurse With Wound, Current 93, Coil) and she does seem to fit perhaps better here, but it was maybe her unwillingness to divorce herself from overtly radical politics (as many of the industrial/dark ambient artists had- to the point of even venturing close to fascist flirtations at times) that made her never really lock into the groove of any one scene.  She continues to record to this day as Little Annie, where she takes on more of a dark croon aesthetic, a sort of occult Eartha Kitt that would've probably fit nicely as a female corollary to kinda forgotten early 80s camp of grumpy and frothy "dark side of masculinity" art-damaged songwriter milieu that included Nick Cave, fellow Bad Seed Barry Adamson, Jim Thirwell of Foetus, and Michael Allen of Wolfgang Press.  That lot's aesthetic seemed to be Fat Elvis with id on the outside, the Vegas strip bombast surrounded by corresponding lurid sonic exteriority

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Weekly farewell roundup

RIP John Wetton, bass player par excellence










RIP James Laurence, who helped bring celestial dream pop into hip-hop









RIP John Hurt






Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Milo Little Pieces






I only now realize that I never shared this actual letter I sent to several people in Simon & Schuster's office after hearing that they had given Milo a giant check to write a book.   Seems appropriate now that his fans are shooting people along his lecture tour:


Dear Simon and/or Schuster,

I'm writing to you about Captain Fuckboy Milo Yiannopoulos.  I'm sure you've heard about this sociopathic troll now and probably couldn't give a hearty shit what some bearded nobody from No Haven, CT has to say about him. Well, why don't you shut the fuck up for a second and let me finish?

Milo is a toilet rag.  Every time he opens his mouth, people read less books and the IQ of the world drops. So, perhaps even money-grubbing, ethics-lacking, bottom-feeder Nazi memorabilia peddlers like you might decide that there's a stake worth considering there.  Milo's thoughts are not literature, they're pyrrhic blazes set about at the perimeter of your Avenue of the Americas building. And you're high-fiving one another like you're passing the Olympic Torch through the office rather than carrying open flames around an empire made out of paperbacks. He hasn't come to set your quarterly returns on fire.  He has just come to burn down the building you operate in.

I don't know your life.  Maybe you too think that rape is justified or people that enjoy black female Ghostbusters should have their children's lives threatened, just as your good buddy Milo does.  There's obviously something wrong with a business that'd even consider giving a squeezed pimple like Milo a larger platform rather than allowing him to vanish from the cultural landscape through the septic pathways he crept in from.  All I'm asking is that whatever Satanic depravity transpires behind your office doors be kept in there.  Rescue us from our news organizations, who can't help but legitimize whatever the markets deem worthy.  I wouldn't dream of stepping into your offices and throwing feces on the walls, so all I ask is that you grant those of us left in this country with their goddamned heads screwed on straight the same level of decency.

No doubt Milo will contend, as he frequently does in his little bitch voice, that any attempt to block his $250,000 book deal is a free speech violation.  If you can't see how this is an affront to actual free speech warriors, who actually risk something by speaking up or speaking out, then you deserve the inevitable future where your entire enterprise is transformed into a listicle of the ten public libraries left where people might be able to find used copies of your publications. Milo is free to spew his little thoughts in fringe imprints or online, where desperately pathetic young failed mass shooters gather to masturbate over images of women crying and feeling powerless.  You know this.  You know that your circulation racket is only an amplifier, not a larynx.  Milo and his troll armies are the death squads of free speech, exterminating any voice that might suggest that playing video games that deny a woman’s autonomy or LULZing about how cool it is to be white doesn’t quite pass for a point of view.

Douchenozzles like Milo already have voices, loud ones.  I'm sure you must be impressed by the way he has already been able to kick and scratch his way into conversations with intelligent people who should know better.  It's the kind of Goebbels/ Bernays/ marketing wet-dream that all for-profit communications corporations aspire to, a Horatio Alger story for people who think Horatio Alger should be deported and kicked off healthcare. I'm not going to be naive to assume that just because you publish other non-fascist material that you give half a fuck about your complicity in his scorched earth “politics”.  Any collusion with the alt-wrong to utilize "free speech" against minorities attempting to stand up for themselves in a world that historically doesn't have the time to listen to them beneath the clatter of white guys like Milo yapping is just set dressing for that ol’ massive accumulation of capital, of which Milo’s queef of a book plays just a small role.  But trust me when I say that the situation is rough out there. I mean, the fact that there are dudes who still stick their dick into Milo from time to time just goes to show you the severe levels of hopelessness that persist in much of the LGBTQ community.

In the sink or swim arms race of publish-or-perish, I'm sure you're more than happy to weaponize the pages your publications against your own readership if it'll get you little more of that other sweet filthy paper that you love even more. But maybe you can take a few moments out from your Nazi appeasement to just consider that the rest of us are already drowning in the gutter Milo and his ilk have carved out for us.  And if we all stop reading anything with an SS imprint on it, you'll be right down here with us soon enough (like Wilde, looking up at the neutron star that once was your papercut empire). 

So in the interest of your own self-interest, you hapless greedy snipes, take caution before polishing a turd off to sell in the health food aisle. Books are important things and we shouldn’t let the lowest vermin amongst us belittle them just so  generation libertarian dipshit can finally have their own Milos’ Kampf, a training manual on how to win friends and influence people through sexual harassment and mocking the disadvantaged.

Thanks for your time.  And if you’ve read this far, please know that you can make more money being an administrative assistant in literally any other industry. Quit your job and flee the sinking ship you’re on. 

Cheers,
Timh Gabriele
Book Reader/Endangered Species



P.S. My apologies for the coarse tone of this correspondence, but you're publishing a book by Milo so I figured it best to communicate in a manner S&S/Threshold might appreciate.  But seriously, best of luck you all and congratulations on digging this impressive hole.  I'm sure that when Milo's book flops and you refuse to publish his next one, 4Chan will humbly accept the detente and have nothing but nice things to say about Carolyn Reidy and her family.  

Sunday, January 22, 2017

RIP Jaki Liebezeit

Can's majesty was that they were all equal contributors, but some contributions were more equal than others and Jaki's drumming was the off-setting otherworldly counterpoint that separated the band from another psychedelic outfit or another jazz-tinged groove group.  He was the real godfather of intelligent dance music, emphasis on dance, as the intelligence was effortlessly translated to a language of pure alien grace that all could understand.























Sunday, January 15, 2017

Neighbourhood of Infinity

A number of moving tributes coming in, and many worth reading, from friends, fellow writers, students, associates, and contemporaries of Mark Fisher.  Perhaps lost in this shuffle is the wide array of musicians who not only admired Mark's thought, but also saw him as an influence/spiritual guide.  K-Punk's blog was at its most vocal during the 'naughts, an era that Mark often thought was the full realization of neoliberalism's dream of an end to history, where bands and acts mainly became a tabulation of referents with nothing important to offer on the present moment or what the future might bring. (Living through it, yes it really did seem that way for most of the decade).  This made Mark mournful for a lost sense futurism and it was largely music that shared this sentiment- against or desolate about the "slow cancellation of the future"- that he championed during this period.

Then, something incredible happened; Burial began giving a limited series of interviews that sounded like they could have been interviews with K-Punk himself from an alternate dimension. Soon, his ideas began popping up more and more in interviews, until without warning the sonic landscape didn't sound quite so drab anymore.  Though retro-leaning guitar acts still dominated "indie" sales, all the chatter was about artsy weirdoes from working class backgrounds, depressed 1%ers drowning in melancholy synth unable to detox from the desiring mechanism, and projects either steeped in a versatile pop/experimental theoretical framework or conducive to one, being written up with enthusiasm by a new school of eager music writers who'd whet their appetite on the blog community Mark assembled.


Indirectly or directly, it's no exaggeration to say that music sounds much more interesting these days because of the way K-Punk seeped into its aural bloodstream.  For this, we should all be grateful.  We should also note that this all happened at a time when the music press, for all intents and purposes, died.  While many quite literally published their last issues, others sank further into irrelevance as they struggled to find or ignored altogether any semblance of a zeitgeist.    K-Punk and the community he fostered brought back the urgency of music criticism in the late 70s and early 80s, where there seemed to be a direct feed between the journalists and the creators.

Perhaps most impressive though was the two-way roadways he opened up with the icons that inspired him.  Energized by the thrill of postpunk and early synthpop, Mark continued to champion Mark Stewart and John Foxx long after many had forgotten about them. In turn, they both seemed turned on by his ideas about hauntology, renewed modernism, and the like, and it seemed to infiltrate their own late era work.


































































Saturday, January 14, 2017

Nothing Here Now But the Links

http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/
http://k-punk.org/
http://markfisherreblog.tumblr.com/
https://www.theguardian.com/profile/mark-fisher
https://frieze.com/contributor/mark-fisher
http://www.thewire.co.uk/about/contributors/mark-fisher
http://www.zero-books.net/authors/mark-fisher


http://www.gonzocircus.com/incubate-special-exclusief-essay-tijdstrijd-door-mark-fisher-k-punk/
http://www.electronicbeats.net/started-from-the-bottom-mark-fisher-on-drakes-nothing-was-the-same/
http://www.electronicbeats.net/mark-fisher-recommends-james-blakes-overgrown/
http://www.electronicbeats.net/mark-fisher-on-dj-rashads-double-cup/
http://www.electronicbeats.net/mark-fisher-on-the-strangers-watching-dead-empires-in-decay/
http://www.electronicbeats.net/psychedelic-urbanism-mark-fisher-recommends-john-foxx-and-the-maths-evidence/
http://www.ccru.net/archive/seduction.htm
http://www.altx.com/wordbombs/fisher.html
http://www.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/sightandsoundpoll2012/voter/345
http://www.riddim.ca/?p=154
weirdly his most controversial article was one about solidarity over pointless infighting and bickering: http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=11299



Too many to list, but there's a good start for the curious. I was late to start on his blog, but at one point in the late aughts I went back and read the whole thing from the beginning,which was one of the best decisions I ever made.


RIP K-Punk


aka Mark Fisher

A legend and an incredible mind. Can't even describe how much his writings on music, fiction, philosophy, late capitalism, film, PKD, postpunk/synthpop, Ballard, Cronenberg, jungle, and of course cyberpunk have shaped my entire worldview. His blog, as well as writings through CCRU to The Wire to his books, were pivotal in not only directing so much of the conversation, but giving it balance and insight. He also introduced important topics, going so far as to coin key terms like capitalist realism and hauntology ( a term borrowed from Derrida but brought to the world of art/music/film/lit by Mark). In the early days of the blogs, he took the music crit world to places it never could have gone in the old days of print publications and turned it into a new art form, connecting dots hiding in plain sight but no one ever pointed out. He made dense theory accessible and tried to imbue his writing with the energy of the things he was passionate about. His blunt honesty about struggling with mental illness and the effects that "class unconsciousness" labored to reinforce one's own ill sense of health was a comfort at times when I was struggling to find employment and slowly realizing that writing about music was never going to pay the bills, as well as a wake up call to the ways ideology seeped into everyday life.

I've missed his voice as of late as it seemed he had been less public, which I took as a chance to focus on family and his work as a lecturer and teacher. Although it's unclear what caused his passing at this point, his loss is tremendous and will be felt for years to come.

As we enter into an era where it seems like everything is fucked and so little hope seems to creep out, it's perhaps good to re-read some of Mark's writings on depression as a phenomena with political dimensions and intentions:

"Writing about one’s own depression is difficult. Depression is partly constituted by a sneering ‘inner’ voice which accuses you of self-indulgence – you aren’t depressed, you’re just feeling sorry for yourself, pull yourself together – and this voice is liable to be triggered by going public about the condition. Of course, this voice isn’t an ‘inner’ voice at all – it is the internalised expression of actual social forces, some of which have a vested interest in denying any connection between depression and politics. 
...We must understand the fatalistic submission of the UK’s population to austerity as the consequence of a deliberately cultivated depression. This depression is manifested in the acceptance that things will get worse (for all but a small elite), that we are lucky to have a job at all (so we shouldn’t expect wages to keep pace with inflation), that we cannot afford the collective provision of the welfare state. Collective depression is the result of the ruling class project of resubordination. For some time now, we have increasingly accepted the idea that we are not the kind of people who can act. This isn’t a failure of will any more than an individual depressed person can ‘snap themselves out of it’ by ‘pulling their socks up’. The rebuilding of class consciousness is a formidable task indeed, one that cannot be achieved by calling upon ready-made solutions – but, in spite of what our collective depression tells us, it can be done. Inventing new forms of political involvement, reviving institutions that have become decadent, converting privatised disaffection into politicised anger: all of this can happen, and when it does, who knows what is possible?

Though he was often brutally frank about the utter dismal state of life under neoliberalism, he was ultimately an optimist, who saw pockets of resistance everywhere in pop culture, just waiting to manifest as direct action.  There'd be no greater honor to his memory than to make this so.

It didn't heard hurt that his taste in music aligned very close to my own...


















Thursday, January 12, 2017

When You Get a Good Shot, Take It




Friday, January 6, 2017

Ex-Machina: Questioning the Human Machine by Alison De Fren



Great video essay on the questions of consciousness, human experience, gender roles, et al. posed by Ex Machina

Mary Lattimore- Returned to Earth



Gorgeous new harp music for the new year.  Brief respite from the turmoil