Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mango Ray- "Ionic Gambit"

Forthcoming celestial overdrive on my Remissive Records online-only imprint

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Don't Save Us From the Flames

When the U.S. Launched an offensive in Indochina during the 1960s, it thought it was fighting a war against Communism, just another piece of the cold war paradigm.  However, to the Vietnamese, theirs was an anticolonial battle for independence that had been going on for centuries, far preceding Western involvement.  The country rejoiced as Ho Chi Minh recited parts of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and announced that Vietnam was now a democratic state, but they also held no illusions about what it would take to maintain this sovereignty.  To put it unbelievably simply, the U.S. thought it would be running through a quick bout of dominoes, when it was actually entering an impossibly long game of chess midway through. 

An outsider view of the situation in Baltimore is similarly myopic.  The city has been ravaged by years of class warfare, corruption, and police malfeasance.  So, to look at a rioter or a looter and think “how does this achieve their goal?” is to misconcieve the grievances of a whole city (and a whole race) as an ill-strategized cause-effect power play.   It denies both the agency of the mass movement, now culpable for every peripheral and tangential force that shares its anger, and the agency of the specific individual transgressing a given social barrier.  The tension and intentions from one rioter to the next need not cohere to a common formula, nor do they need to have any specific endgame in mind at all.  A riot always happens, only happens, at the moment when goals are dismissed, when intention is silenced or ignored, when action has failed, and when tension has nowhere left to reside.   

It’s easy to look at a situation like Baltimore and say, “Well, the protests started.  Then there were riots.  So the protests brought the riots”, but this simple causal fallacy neglects to consider that Baltimore was not a body at rest and the protests were not the friction needed to set it in motion.   This lets the very thing that sparked the protests in the first place- the murder of Freddie Gray while in police custody- off the hook, as well as the egregious and unsustainable conditions in which something like that can occur. 


Consider the man in this picture.  He meanders about holding items he assumingly just lifted from a local pharmacy chain, slightly baffled about how he even came to be here or where he’s going next.  The items he holds are a couple of chips, sweet tea, and a packet of diapers (which any parent can attest are damned expensive and cause a considerable dent in the  household budget).  His child needs the diapers and nobody in the neighborhood is going to work today.  The paycheck at the end of the week will be lighter because there’s no sick days. Or maybe there’s no paycheck at all because no one’s hiring. Unemployment affects black men at a far higher rate than their white counterparts

Does he need the chips too in the same way he needs the diapers?  Perhaps not.  But he glances behind him and the city’s on fire.  The city’s always been on fire.  The indignity, the stigma of paying with food stamps because the jobs aren’t coming in.  The debt from the day’s, week’s, month’s pay going towards the prescription pills at that chain pharmacy store.  The cameras lining the streets that never bothered to record as gunshots kept his baby up at night.  Maybe, he could forgive himself a little snack.  After all, tomorrow they could throw him inside a squad car and beat him to death without having to ever explain themselves or find someone else to pay for his child’s diapers.   At the end of the earth, at the end of the world, persistently at death’s door, in the dust of this planet, who gives a fuck about some Pringles and Arizona Tea sold at a place with a $25 billion gross income?

Everybody who has lived in any major American city knows that Baltimore is not unique.  In my five years in Philly, not a day went by where I didn’t consider that we were only absent two or three specific triggers that would have the streets erupting into chaos.  This was apparent because the streets were already a battleground. People stabbed each other over parking spaces regularly.  The bodies stacked more numerous than days of the year.  Politicians bought their way in and out of city hall only to funnel taxpayer money to Comcast.  All it would’ve taken was for someone riding that thin blue line to give so little a fuck about the importance of their own job protecting the masses that the lingering autonomous sense of sentient dread would have no choice but to reciprocate this institutional disdain and direct it towards the controls that had kept it inarticulate and disparate.  For a riot is not the emergence of a new anarchy, but rather a concentration of all existing, permissible forms of state-sanctioned everyday anarchy- street violence, theft, vandalism, et al., the kinds that go unaddressed in communities deemed unworthy of attention or appeal.

When I say state-sanctioned, I’m not suggesting that the police or government desires or even likes these things.  But the fact that they persist with such regularity while resources are allocated towards sports stadiums, corporate welfare, fighting imaginary terrorist threats, and the like, means the state has devalued the communities that find themselves terrorized daily by these occurrences in favor of what it views as more useful endeavors.  And an institutional body that lets its major cities burn does not get to turn around and ask “why do they burn their own city?” Looking for logic in a riot is a bit like looking for mercy in a firing squad.  The stage has already been set.  This can only end one way.

It may seem to be the default station of the powerless to sit back and judge.  Indeed, many white people must think that all they can do is express pity to those whose windows were smashed, whose stores were robbed, and whose communities were desecrated by intimidating faceless hoards.  This makes them feel helpless and scared.  But sitting in this position is actually a throne of some note that allows us to set these exact state expectations listed above.  Not only do we create a value ratio that privileges property violence over lives ended by state violence, a violence whose roots in dehumanization and lynching can be traced back centuries, but we pursue conditional relationships to violence that through omission forgive far more often than they condemn.

The core tenet of white consternation over riots is that black lives matter only when the city, the infrastructure, and the status quo is also threatened.  It’s only then that by any means necessary becomes a worthy rallying cause, but not to end state violence, to instead perpetrate it- line the streets in riot gear, disperse tear gas, forcefully wield batons- “what did they expect would happen?” 

Onlookers see a car smashed and identify their own car in the rubble, but it’s not their vehicle.  This is not the automobile hounded by repeated unjust parking violations that drags its owners into years-long struggles with payday loans.  It is not the used vehicle whose regular expenses prevent its owner from purchasing the good diapers or paying the rent or the payday loan on time.  It’s not the car that smacks over the same pothole and hits the same fixable traffic patterns everyday on the way to a job that’s far more precarious than typical white collar work, and would gladly terminate someone for a pattern of lateness.  It’s not the car that makes the city air less breathable and puts your child at high risk for asthma.   It’s not the car for which broken windows is actually a common occurrence (I had my windows smashed at least 4 times in Philly).  It’s not the car that betrays you, and which demands a seemingly unlimited amount of capital from an increasingly finite pool. 

White people see themselves in the driver’s seat, but that’s because when you’re white you have a greater ability to determine your own destiny and destination.    You are not constantly reminded of your less-than status or of the limited roads that you can travel down which are open to others.  You are not pulled over constantly, dead in your tracks, your progress slowed at nearly every turn.  White people look at the rioter and say “I would never do that”, which may be true, but it’s only because that would never be done to you.  They would never seat you next to the fire and tell you to wait.

White parents see themselves in this mom, who smacks her son for participating in the riot, because they wouldn't hesitate to put their kid in his or her place if they had acted out in such a way, but they don't have to live with the fear of knowing that it doesn't even take a provocation for their child to be returned to them in a body bag, that the color of their skin is admissible evidence in the court of a cop's innermost fears.

What the U.S. learned from Vietnam was not to avoid unpopular or unwinnable wars.  We’ve had our share of them.  What the U.S. learned was that black and poor white kids were far more expendable than rich ones, that the symbolism of a rich kid burning his draft card had more value to the privileged than a starving Buddhist burning himself.  And as long as we throw enough black and poor white bodies into the gauntlet by offering economic incentives to be part of a volunteer army, we can slash and burn chess pieces until the game more resembles dominoes.    

“But don’t they hurt their own cause by engaging in perpetual war, ravaging cities through privatization and austerity, and maintaining a security state that through intimidation and degradation actually makes everyone less secure?”, asks no one,  because it’s this that is their cause.   Capital and state power know that those who live in comfort and privilege will continue to defend its least defensible strategies if for one moment they get a whiff of the carcinogenic tyranny that the underclasses breath in day in and day out.    They will cheer on the oppressors, post cute clickbait stories about the “good” cops, and distance themselves from the frontlines by asking  “how does this achieve their goal?”

Then, they’ll get in their car and drive wherever it is white people want to go.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Absolute composure

Enjoyed this podcast on chic nihilism and how a Zero Books book wound up on Jay-Z's back.

Found this quote from Turgenev's Fathers and Sons (as quoted by theorist Simon Critchley) illuminating, particularly as it seems to relate to Twitter:

"We base our conduct on what we recognize as useful... the most useful thing we can do is to repudiate - and so we repudiate.  We repudiate everything with indescribable composure"

UPDATE: Glenn Beck somehow picked up on this, although his listening apprehension is apparent sub-Regents level.  Hilariously, he suggests that conservatives need to subtly influence culture like Jay-Z's costume designer did (missing the whole point that this was a largely accidental memetic slip).

To which, the obvious reply is that: conservative/hegemonic/neoliberal discourse is already pre-baked into just about every cultural artifact.  Or as Zizek might say:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Innercity- "IN ABRA AND UMBRA"

Narsty noyce

Lockah- "Canada Gifts"

Not even clear on what to think of this new Lockah.  He's always had a bit of a cheeseball streak, but this...  Wasn't too impressed by the other two Donky Pitch releases this year, and then this...

It's those Power Station drums...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Music for Time Machines

"I knew it was the wrong decision from the first night of the tour. I was happy when my lung collapsed."

Child Actor- "Against the Night (YDIMTU mix)"

Casino Versus Japan- Damaged Errata

Not light years from things they were doing over a decade ago, but that intense reverb did seem to extend into infinity...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Maxo- "Reach You"

One for an early start to the weekend.

David Jay Limez- "The Stompa"

Surprised by how much I enjoyed something so pure techno

Severed+Said- "Phosphene"

Pity Not Not Fun is now so out of fashion. They're still putting out tremendous work.  Although I do wish they'd just put up a bandcamp already.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Productivity

Mr. Maxted- "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah"

It's not clear if Mr. Maxted is actually just Mr. Baron Mordant himself or not, nor if the music from this minimal synth collection actually dates from '94-'89 as it says on the tin (the music is allegedly in the vain of Portion Control, a group which Mordant was a member of for a brief period of time).  I think you can just take this as dumb fun.

Please don't De-Merritt me for including a song that is from the admittedly racist Song of the South, with an even more racist etymology either.  Okay, now I've spent more time apologizing for it than you'll probably even spend listening.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Algiers- "Blood"

Now here's a song that should win a fucking oscar, but nobody in Hollywood wants to make the appropriate movie.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Words Like Violence

"Name a lyric from the album you’re writing about that encapsulates either a) the album itself, b) your experience in hearing the album for the first time, or c) your experience writing about the album, so far. 

AC: I’m going to dodge this question, in a way, by saying that there are a lot of lyrics on the album that I still don’t know. I’ve never bothered to look them up or properly figure them out. That’s true for a lot of albums I love, and I don’t know why I’m this kind of listener, but I can know a record back to front, musically, and still not be sure what the songs are called, or what the lyrics say. I rarely look at album sleeves. Maybe it’s because I am a writer, and words are my primary obsession–I’m trying to resist privileging the words over the music. I like the way that lyrics sound within a musical context: the way they inhabit the mouth of a particular singer, and the vocal texture and emotional force that only singing can bring to those words. If you read them on a page, they’re totally lifeless. Lyrics always disappoint me when they’re written down, so I avoid encountering them in that way, and I try to concentrate on what I can hear, even if I’m mishearing. If I know all the lyrics to a song, I tend to follow the words as if the song is a story being read aloud, and that really undermines my listening pleasure. It makes a song “about” something, and music is about itself. It shouldn’t be the subject of literary analysis."

- Anwyn Crawford being interviewed on her new book on Hole's Live Through This, which I'm looking forward to reading

Glad I'm not the only one who feels this way.  I do think it's a little bit of a cop-out for someone who works in a critical capacity to actively ignore lyrics, particularly when they're available.  When reviewing records, I like to do a "deep read", which doesn't grant extra agency to the vocals over the rest of the instruments, but also recognizes that the language is an important part of the overall "message" of the music (though not its reigning authority).

However, as a listener, I find that lyrics make next to no difference until certain words or phrases jump out.   If a song's words are vile enough, I'll stop listening.  If they're moving, I may shed a tear.  But if they're just kind of there, mixed in appropriately into the instrumental's flow, I don't pay them much mind at all.  Like Crawford, I enjoy lyrics in this sense more for timbre, interaction with the beat, and emotion in queue with the sonics (which often conflicts beautifully with the music- ie,  the sunny melodicism of The Smiths's awkward prose of indignation and embarrassment).

I must concur though that music criticism should always remove itself from the boundaries of literary criticism.  Beyond specifically agitprop works (Tom Robinson Band, RATM, Public Enemy), a song's ultimate intention is itself, which is why the recent expectation of "perfect" politics from artists is off-base.  Critique from a feminist, class-based, racial perspective, et al., for sure, but to demerit songs based solely on one specific set of criteria is doing a disservice to music's ultimate function as an artform.

Information Has Conflicting Desires

"The famous quote that “information wants to be free” is frequently taken out of context. “Information also wants to be expensive,” continued Whole Earth founder Stewart Brand in the very next sentence from his 1987 book The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT. “That tension will not go away." "- Marc Hogan, from How Much is Music Really Worth?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Blanck Mass- "Dead Format"

from the forthcoming Dumb Flesh

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Alizzz- "Collapse"


Marie Davidson- "Kidnap You in the Desert"


RIP Barron Machat- 10 Essential Tracks

Sad news about Barron Machat's passing in an automobile accident.  At only 27 years old, he was responsible for releasing some incredible, interesting, and innovative music, at a time when that's no easy feat.  Everything Hippos in Tanks Released was at least worth listening.  Here's a couple of my personal faves from the Hippos in Tanks discography

Pulse Emitter- "Coffee"

Physical Therapy- "Shield of Faith"

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Just What Is It That Makes Yesterday's Weapons Manufacturers So Different, So Appealing?

One of my favorite places to go on walks to from my job is the old Winchester Arms Plant in New Haven.   I've done some UrbEx glancing around the perimeter in the past and the place was nasty with broken glass, bullet holes,  smashed-up rusty factory machinery and thus pretty difficult to navigate.   Connecticut used to be rife with guns and there's still some remnants of the hunter/woodsman culture loitering around the perimeter of bourgeoisie affluence that colors most its suburbs, even post-Sandy Hook.   However, the factories all moved out of town at a gradual pace.  Whereas if they had been pushed out, idiots everywhere would have cried "but, jobs!", their slow death is hardly remarked upon in CT's steady economy.  Winchester closed its doors in 2006 and the Marlin Firearms in my town of North Haven finally ceased all operations a year or two back.  No complaints from me.  Any time a weapons manufacturer closes up shop, I'm a happy camper.  I'm glad to slam the door in its CEO's pristine face on the way out.

When William Wirt Winchester died in 1881, his widow Sarah Winchester, inherited the company and a $20 million fortune.  Winchester had something of a pesky conscience and believed she was being followed by spirits that she couldn't explain. A trip to a medium invoking her late husband revealed to her that these were apparently the ghosts of people who'd been killed by Winchester rifles and that she needed to move West to build a home to house them, which she did

Every time I pass by the Winchester, I half expect to see these same ghosts roaming the place.  Bad weather and work load have prevented me from visiting the premises for some time, but today I noticed something far stranger.  The front of the building has been converted into a series of luxury condos.  Even more peculiar is the sidewalk on the way down the entrance, which implores ongoers to try these luxury homes via slick billboards hanging underneath smashed windows, rotting concrete, and rusty metal fixtures.  One sign, in particular, which reads "Move in Now" in Carpenter-esque bold font, almost seems like an inverted message to the working class homes across the street with their dilapidated fences and second-hand automobiles; "Move Out Now".

Hard to decide which part of the facade  is more ominous.  

In Dust We Must Trust mix (assorted carcinogenic source material)

1.Violetshaped- cx310 (JK Flesh reshape)
2.DBX- beat phreak
 3.Void Vision- Hidden Hand
4.Jon Hopkins- Collider (Karenn Remix)
5.Tricky- Valentine (Andy Stott Remix)
6.The Stranger- Where Are Our Monsters Now, Where Are Our Friends?
7.Martial Canterel- The Office
8.Clay Rendering- Temple Walking
9.Tropic of Cancer- The One Left (Von Haze Remix)
10.LFO- tied up
11.Vatican Shadow- Cairo Is A Haunted City
12.Chris & Cosey- On The Precipice Of Devil's Canyon
13.Maps-I Heard Them Say (Andy Stott Remix)

HomeSick- "Percolate"

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Monsters of Medicine

I visited the Teratology exhibit at Yale's Cushing Library earlier this week.  Interesting to note how varied the perceptions were of abnormality in the pre-modern/early modern era.  Doctors who generally cared for these patients, but who were just so, so insurmountably wrong in their approaches.  And then there were those who just completely dehumanized them, thought of anyone with abnormal features as monsters more than humans and gawked, mocked, collected. (apologies for the glare, which came out particularly monstrously on the last pic above).

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Frank Grimes Runs Down the Road (Grime mix of choice cuts 2003-2004)

4. So Solid Crew - Ride With Us (Ac's Dark Dub Edit)
5. Kano - Boys Love Girls
6. m.i.a. - galang (caveman mix)
7. Jon E Cash - CAPLETON Riddim
8. Kano - Reload It
10. So Solid Crew - Ride Wid Us
11. Jammer - Why
12. Milanese -  Dead Man Walking Ft Virus Syndicate
13. D Double E - Birds In The Sky
14. Lady Sovereign - Blah Blah
15. Crazy Titch - Sing Along
16. Skepta & JME - Meridian Walk (Instrumental)
17. Demon- I won't change

Braille- "The Cat's Gone Nuts Ft. Seafoor"


Jlin- Dark Energy (Planet Mu)
Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly
Xosar- Let Go (Opal Tapes)
Lotic- "Heterocetra"  (Tri Angle)
Palmbomen II (RVNG Intl)
DJ Taye- What You Think EP  (Seems to have been taken down from Bandcamp)
SPF66- "Scorpion Cache (Mike G Mix)" (Club Chemtrail)
Kamikaze Space Programme feat Emika- "Choke" (Trust)
Kanye West- "Wolves"

Definitely Mostly
Robert AA Lowe and Ariel Kalma- We Know Each Other Somehow (RVNG Intl)
Dawn Richard- Blackheart
John T Grast- Excerpts (Planet Mu)
FKA Twigs- "Glass and Patron"
Cakes Da Killa- #IMF (Mishka NYC)
Earl Sweatshirt- "Grief"
Sonitus Eco- The Light Between Oceans (Silent Season)

Definitely Maybe
Jam City- Dream a Garden (Night Slugs)

Also (non-musical)
Map to the Stars (Third(Fourth?)-Wave  Cronenberg suiting up to be pivotal- if you can forget A Dangerous Method)
The Americans Season 2
Broad City Season 2 (and 1, which I just caught up on)

Brian Gascoigne, David Vorhaus, and Desmond Briscoe- "Phase IV"

Glad to hear the score from this film is finally being released, with electronics by Desmond Briscoe of the BBC Radiophonic Orchestra and David Vorhaus, collectively known as "the other guy" from White Noise alongside Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson

555- "Now Age Outlaws"

So it appears that there is a band out there called 555, which kind of stinks since I've had a festering half-finished project sitting around for a few years called 555 that I was one day planning on maybe almost getting around to finishing.    Luckily, the music is actually pretty interesting.

Broken English Club- "Channel 83"

Gavin Russom- "The Telstar File"