Sunday, November 28, 2010

RIP Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson

Incredibly saddened to hear of Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson's passing. Coil music's had an incredible impact on me and did wonders to shape my musical palette, all for the better. I will deeply miss hearing new things from him in whatever incarnation he happened to be in. I hope to write more about Christopherson in the near future, but for now please enjoy some of the great tunes below, which show just a piece of his incredible breadth.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Strange Case of the Digital Larynx

David Bevan at Pitchfork has a really interesting column on the newer uses of voice manipulation. Seems interesting in relation to my Radiohead article. Bevan does trace a lineage, but does note exactly get at what makes these newer uses unique, the ways in which the whole concept of vocals in a song becomes wraith-like in and of itself. In these tunes, there's the distinct sense that the joy of Western song has already been depleted, that the desire to sing like that is itself an extinct precarity, that times have becomes so sad (Burial) or confusing (James Blake) that the voice can only be memorialized or sacralized (the gigantic church of sound that is Balam Acab's "See Birds").

Also, Simon R has tipped me off to this new project from K-Punk, which set sites at audio hallucinations and other perversions of the voice.

Obviously, there's tons of examples of this phenomenon, but here's a few more examples:


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Did it Get Cold in Here?

This has been posted a million places already and I'm a million days late, but it's bears repeating: Phil Sherburne on the dark gothic shades of modern music, particularly electronics

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Crisis of Capitalism

First, on the recent election, Lenin's tomb nails it by taking a looking at the truly silent majority, the vastly understudied nonvoter demographic:

"Class still profoundly determines voting behaviour, and it determines it all the more if you consider non-voting one form of that behaviour."

It's kind of amazing how the discontent of a slim minority of independents always seems to garner so much lip-time, while the vast number of people not voting in any given election is scarcely even mentioned, just assumed.


Elsewhere, I discovered this fantastic lecture by David Harvey that attacks the whole of the crisis and puts it in surprisingly lucid terms.

Choice cuts:

On how the crisis originated out of a need to resolve tensions leftover by the postmodern fictions created by neoliberal policy status post the 1970s recession:

"The current crisis originated in the steps taken to resolve the crisis of the 1970s. These steps included:

(a) the successful assault upon organized labor and its political institutions while mobilizing global labor surpluses, instituting labor-saving technological changes and heightening competition. The result has been global wage repressions (a declining share of wages in total GDP almost everywhere) and the creation of an even vaster disposable labor reserve living under marginal conditions.

(b) undermining previous structures of monopoly power and displacing the previous stage of (nation state) monopoly capitalism by opening up capitalism to far fiercer international competition. Intensifying global competition translated into lower non-financial corporate profits. Uneven geographical development and inter-territorial competition became key features in capitalist development, opening the way towards the beginnings of a hegemonic shift of power particularly but not exclusively towards East Asia.

(c) utilizing and empowering the most fluid and highly mobile form of capital – money capital – to reallocate capital resources globally (eventually through electronic markets) thus sparking deindustrialization in traditional core regions and new forms of (ultra-oppressive) industrialization and natural resource and agricultural raw material extractions in emergent markets. The corollary was to enhance the profitability of financial corporations and to find new ways to globalize and supposedly absorb risks through the creation of fictitious capital markets.

(d) At the other end of the social scale, this meant heightened reliance on “accumulation by dispossession” as a means to augment capitalist class power. The new rounds of primitive accumulation against indigenous and peasant populations were augmented by asset losses of the lower classes in the core economies (as witnessed by the sub-prime housing market in the US which foisted a huge asset loss particularly upon African American populations).

(e) The augmentation of otherwise sagging effective demand by pushing the debt economy (governmental, corporate and household) to its limits (particularly in the USA and the UK but also in many other countries from Latvia to Dubai).

(f) Compensating for anemic rates of return in production by the construction of whole series of asset market bubbles, all of which had a Ponzi character, culminating in the property bubble that burst in 2007-8. These asset bubbles drew upon finance capital and were facilitated by extensive financial innovations such as derivatives and collateralized debt obligations."

On (late) capitalism's long-term survival rate:

"Can capitalism survive the present trauma? Yes. But at what cost? This question masks another. Can the capitalist class reproduce its power in the face of the raft of economic, social, political and geopolitical and environmental difficulties? Again, the answer is a resounding 'yes.' But the mass of the people will have to surrender the fruits of their labour to those in power, to surrender many of their rights and their hard-won asset values (in everything from housing to pension rights), and to suffer environmental degradations galore to say nothing of serial reductions in their living standards which means starvation for many of those already struggling to survive at rock bottom. Class inequalities will increase (as we already see happening). All of that may require more than a little political repression, police violence and militarized state control to stifle unrest."

You're obviously seeing this in Greece and France and American conservatives seem intent on ridding the earth of "unsustainable" pensions over here, particularly the defined benefit plans which rely on set formulas to determine payouts. It's unlikely pensions will be disintegrated by sweeping federal legislation though. More than likely, it'll be a confederated platform of gradualized slash and burn, state by state business by business. One of the great strength of American capitalists is their ability to make the deferral of earned and hard-fought rights so subtle that the larger populace forgets that they even had these rights to begin with, and thus avoiding the need to resort to statist repression, which almost inevitably carries with it a democratic backlash. Best to avoid the backlash (and the democracy) altogether by assigning middle management the task of de-libertizing the general population.

On the narrow sight of diagnosticians of the crisis and its defeat:

"We urgently need an explicit revolutionary theory suited to our times. I propose a “co-revolutionary theory” derived from an understanding of Marx’s account of how capitalism arose out of feudalism. Social change arises through the dialectical unfolding of relations between seven moments within the body politic of capitalism viewed as an ensemble or assemblage of activities and practices:

a) technological and organizational forms of production, exchange and consumption

b) relations to nature

c) social relations between people

d) mental conceptions of the world, embracing knowledges and cultural understandings and beliefs

e) labor processes and production of specific goods, geographies, services or affects

f ) institutional, legal and governmental arrangements

g) the conduct of daily life that underpins social reproduction.

Each one of these moments is internally dynamic and internally marked by tensions and contradictions (just think of mental conceptions of the world) but all of them are co-dependent and co-evolve in relation to each other. The transition to capitalism entailed a mutually supporting movement across all seven moments. New technologies could not be identified and practices without new mental conceptions of the world (including that of the relation to nature and social relations). Social theorists have the habit of taking just one of the these moments and viewing it as the “silver bullet” that causes all change. We have technological determinists (Tom Friedman), environmental determinists (Jarad Diamond), daily life determinists (Paul Hawkin), labor process determinists (the autonomistas), institutionalists, and so on and so forth. They are all wrong. It is the dialectical motion across all of these moments that really counts even as there is uneven development in that motion

On the futility of decentralized leftist efforts:

"Broad adhesion to post-modern and post-structuralist ideas which celebrate the particular at the expense of big-picture thinking does not help. To be sure, the local and the particular are vitally important and theories that cannot embrace, for example, geographical difference, are worse than useless. But when that fact is used to exclude anything larger than parish politics then the betrayal of the intellectuals and abrogation of their traditional role become complete."

Electronic Music Needs a Few Solar Panels

Fascinating new article at mnml ssgs on the state of electronic music, comparing it kindly to the insurmountable disaster of climate change