Wednesday, December 22, 2010

To Top It Off in 2010

Ten EPs

1. Balam Acab- See Birds EP

2. Blondes- Touched EP

3. Raime- Raime EP

4. LA Vampires and Zola Jesus-LA Vampires and Zola Jesus

5. James Blake- CMYK EP

6. James Blake- The Bells Sketch EP

7. Pariah- Safehouses EP

8. Various Artists- Let Me Shine For You

9. oOoOO- oOoOO EP

10. Milton Bradley- The Unheard Voice from Outer Space EP

Twenty Albums

1. Emeralds- Does it Look Like I'm Here?

2. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti- Before Today

3. Arp- The Soft Wave

4. El Guincho- Pop Negro

5. High Places- High Places Vs Mankind

6. Seven Fields of Aphelion- Periphery

7. Sun Araw- On Patrol

8. John Roberts- Glass Eights

9. Mark McGuire-Living With Yourself

10. Traversable Wormhole- Vol 1-5

11. Flying Lotus- Cosmogramma

12. Various Artists- Numbers 1

13. Four Tet- There is Love in You

14. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

15. Scuba- Triangulation

16. Oneohtrix Point Never- Returnal

17. Monolake- Silence

18. Stellar Om Source- Trilogy Select

19.Pantha Du Prince- Black Noise

20. Altered Natives- Tenement Yard Vol 1

Fifty Singles
1. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti- Round and Round
2. Jam City- Ecstasy Refix
3. Balam Acab- See Birds (Moon)
4. Starkey- Stars
5. Cut Copy- Where I'm Going
6. Darkstar- Gold
7. Girl Unit- Wut
8. Raffertie- 7th Dimension
9. Jamie XX- Far Nearer
10. Roska and Untold- Myth
11. Deadboy- If U Want Me /If U Want Me (Brackles and Shortstuff mix)
12. El Guincho-Bombay
13. Delorean- Stay Close
14. Kanye West feat Pusha T- Runaway
15. Azari & III- Indigo
16. Bob Holroyd- African Drug (T. Williams Keye Mix)
17. Hackman-More Than Ever
18. Wiley and Chew Fu- Take That
19. Cee-Lo- Fuck You
20. Forest Swords- Rattling Cage
21. Lando Kal- 3d Action Jackson
22. KOF- Fire It Up (Funkystepz mix)
23. Rihanna- Rude Boy
24. John Foxx- Flightpath Tegel
25. High Places- Can't Feel Nothing
26. Submerse- Stay
27. Deftones- Sextape
28. Drake- Fireworks
29. Cosmetics- Black Leather Gloves (20JFG mix)
30. Grouper- Hold
31. The Dream- Yamaha
32. Skream- Where You Should Be
33. Dennis Ferrer- Hey Hey
34. Neon Indian- Sleep Paralyst
35. Janelle Monae- Tightrope
36. Altered Natives- Rass Out
37. Factory Floor- A Wooden Box
38. Jamie Vex'd- Saturn's Reply
39. The End of All Existence- The End Of All Existence
40. Scuba- Before
41. LD- Shake It
42. Ok Go- This Too Shall pass
43. Active Child- Wilderness
44. Here We Go Magic- The Collector
45. Low Sea- Never Yours
46. Pearson Sound- Down With You
47. D-bridge- Love Hotel
48. Keepaway-Yellow Wings
49. Conforce- Intimidation
50. Ke$ha- Tik Tok

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"In They Live, everyday life is Moriarity"

I have a review up over here on Jonathan Lethem's book-length essay on John Carpenter's excellent film They Live

Here's Zizek's article that Lethem quotes liberally from in the book.

A few other notes:

1. With regard to the infamous fight sequence, Lethem goes to great lengths to try to unlock its power and justify its existence. I’m still not entirely convinced that the whole sordid ordeal wasn’t just a contractual obligation either by the studio or Roddy Piper’s agent that ensured he be given ample time to showcase his wrestling skills in the film. Perhaps, such a contract did exist and Carpenter decided to make it the most ridiculous thing in the world as payback, “wagering the film’s whole stakes decisively on a pop culture/’termite art’ bet”, as Lethem says.

In the end, the best justification for its existence though is Zizek’s; “Liberation hurts. You have to be forced to put on the glasses”. For Frank, being black in America is hard enough. He feels that he doesn’t need the extra struggle, the middle class malaise of living amongst superficial hideous monsters. Solidarity with white America undercuts minority struggle because it’s ultimately white values which are always given political urgency. It's thus best for black America to invent its own mythology about its detachment from power. All the conspiratorial hubbub (seen all over the place in hip-hop literature) about the illuminati and William Cooper (detailed excellently in Jeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop) contains a hint of truth, the conspiracy is there (see Julian Assange's essay linked to below), but it's nothing so obvious as a secret society or a specifically totalitarian ideology.

In order to be so hesitant, Nada has to at least expect that something awful lingered on the other side, enough to drive a man who just a day previously said he “believes in America” to go on a shooting spree.

2. In the chapter Los Angeles Plays Itself, Lethem documents briefly the history of Hollywood’s resentment toward television as a systemic complex of cultural degradation, ignoring its own complicity in such affairs. Yet, in They Live, the inclusion of Hollywood in its invectives would not only ring hollow (being a stupid horror movie and all), but also carry with it the unwanted side effect of self-reflexivity, posing the cognitive arena as an ironical field, a lark almost. In order for They Live to be successful, it has to be played completely serious (all hammy one-liner puns aside). After all, They Live is not a farce, but a tragedy posing as a farce.

3. Lethem has good fun poking fun of the cheapness of the sunglasses (Hoffman Lenses), which is fine, but there does seem to be a pretty practical reason for them being so cheap (apart from prop department budget constraints)- they’re being made in private on the black market by what seems to be at best pretty blue collar revolutionaries. In all likeliness, the lack the financial capital (not to mention the aesthetic finesse) to fashion Ray-Bans at the drop of a hat.

4. Holly’s motivation does remain a mystery throughout, as Lethem briefly points out. Is she a spy the whole time? Has she been bribed with something that makes betrayal of the species that much easier a la Drifter? Or is genuinely loyal, being in a comfy middle/possibly upper middle class position for the local TV affiliate? One would think the ghouls would never allow anyone human too close to their precious signal unless they were certain they could be trusted not to blow up the satellite dish. Holly seems to “know” as much as Nada, but her allegiance remains with the ghouls. She’s quite believable when Nada first accompanies her to her apartment and she gets down on her knees stating “I’ll do anything you want.” Perhaps, she prefers subjugation, playing master and servant, if you will. If power is indeed sexy, as Hollywood continually tells us it is, does our compliance with it suggest that the obedient get a sadomasochistic thrill? Consider the following by Deleuze and Guattari, cited several times before by K-Punk: (quote)

"The English unemployed did not have to become workers to survive, they – hang on tight and spit on me – enjoyed the hysterical, masochistic, whatever exhaustion it was of hanging on in the mines, in the foundries, in the factories, in hell, they enjoyed it, enjoyed the mad destruction of their organic body which was indeed imposed upon them, they enjoyed the decomposition of their personal identity, the identity that the peasant tradition had constructed for them, enjoyed the dissolutions of their families and villages, and enjoyed the new monstrous anonymity of the suburbs and the pubs in morning and evening."

5. Lethem tries to find a precedent in Drifter’s speech about how “there ain’t no countries any more” and how the ghouls already own everything, citing it as kind of a birth pang to the nascent globalization movement that surround the Berlin IMF conference in 1988, which was after production on the film ceased. But Lethem fails to recognize that this speech bares a slight resemblance to the one given by Ned Beatty to convert Peter Finch’s Howard Beale in the 1976 film Network. As owner of the conglomerate that operates Beale’s network, Beatty’s speech is the perfect enunciation of postmodern financial capital a good 4 or 5 years before at happen, back it was just a neoliberal fantasy. Beatty espouses that the real nations of the world are DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, IBM, ITT, AT&T, and Exxon; “ one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars.” The world is thereby subject to the “immutable bylaws of business” and hints, a la Fukuyama roughly 15 years later, that all of history has been pushing in this direction for a long time. “The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime.” And the world is now so close to achieving its end, to become an “ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.” Sound familiar?

During the film’s “perfect sequence”, Nada encounters a ghoul paying for a newspaper with money that declares “This is Your God”. It’s also notable that Finch’s Beale ends this exchange with Beatty by confirming his faith in the beautiful and perfect math of the markets: “I have seen the face of God”.

More Best Music Lists

PopMatters is still running their Best Of Music 2010 features, and I've got a couple of blurbs here and there

at the Best Albums list, a small piece on Emeralds

Really glad they expanded this to 70 entries this year. 70 is quite a lot, but the most interesting stuff seems to be in the last 20 entries or so.

Here's the original Emeralds review again
at the Best Reissues list, a bit on the Neu! Box Set

Friday, December 10, 2010

PopMatters Presents The Best of Electronic Music 2010

I edited this significantly cool feature, which you should read in its entirety and then listen to all of the music associated with it. Big up colleagues David Abravanel, Jason Cook, Mike Newmark, Alan Ranta, and Dominic Umile.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wicked Leaks

Any one with even a passing interest in the Julian Assange/WikiLeaks drama as it plays out should read Giovanni Tiso's take on it and, particularly, a brilliant article he links to which examines two essays written by Assange in 2006:

There's little to say about Julian Assange's arrest today sexual assault charges. It'd be naive to assume these are trumped charges, despite their convenience to the authoritarian regimes who'd like to eradicate WikiLeaks from the planet and resume business as usual with regards to state secrecy. Assange, like anyone, is fully capable of doing what he has been accused of and all one can really hope for in this instance is a fair and unbiased trial where justice is ultimately served, be he guilty or not.

The question then is not whether the UK is right in cooperating with extradition, but whether the UK would have extradited just anybody on rape allegations? What about Roman Polanski? Would they arrest and extradite others, such as Henry Kissinger, wanted for War Crimes in several countries?

One could never uneqivocally proclaim that the charges filed against Assange, the Manchurian Candidate, have political timing, but come on, could it be any more bleeding obvious? The U.S. and the other world powers being scrutinized by the leaks know the rape charges have exactly zero to do with WikiLeaks the organization. Furthermore, so does the media. But both institutions also know that the public's faith in ad hominem arguments guarantees that all it takes to discredit an ideology (here, Wikileaks) is to deface the public persona of said ideas.

With Assange out of the picture, Visa and Mastercard acted quickly to cut off the site's source of revenue, online donations, establishing that the old order is still in charge. It may just be a matter of weeks before the site is cut off completely, having spent the last week or so swapping servers until being discovered. These governments are quite naive though if they think this is the end of information leaks. It's only a matter of time before something else replaces it. They've got a million different mirrors and a million different names for it. You can't shut up everyone.