Monday, June 29, 2015

Japanese Wallpaper- "Arrival"

Very pretty

The Religion of Science

"With this metaphysical confidence—I wouldn’t want to call it faith—in rationality comes an implicit hierarchy of logical rigor. First comes mathematics, then theoretical physics as the shining achievement of empirical applications of mathematical rigor, then the other “hard” sciences, like applied physics, chemistry, and perhaps, biology. Straggling far behind are the dubious ambiguities of the social sciences and the humanities.

"Atheists, as devotees of rationalism, point to the reason and empiricism of science as the foundation of their catechism. A compelling positive formulation of atheism, therefore, more than simply the denial of theism, is the affirmation of science and the promise it holds to lay bare all the mysteries of the universe. Michael Shermer defines the “scientific worldview” as the one “that encompasses natural explanations for all phenomena, eschews supernatural and paranormal speculations, and embraces empiricism and reason as the twin pillars of a philosophy of life appropriate for an Age of Science.” If atheism inherits its moral compass from humanism, it gets its sanctimony from a scientific worldview, or to be more precise, from scientism.

"Here’s the rub. Science doesn’t exist. Which is to say, science as a unity doesn’t exist. Scientific activity is a plurality that the word science neatly obscures as a unity. There is no scientific method, per se, only a hodgepodge of scientific methods. Scientists interact with the world in a proscribed, yet flexible way to arrive at relatively stable conclusions about cause and effect. Yet even with those razor-sharp minds, scientists are people too. Like the rest of us, they struggle to bring to bear on their work clumsy bodies and messy relationships.

"Here’s another one of science’s dirty little secrets: its purpose is to predict the effects of causes, but it works best when its methods of inquiry are used on relatively simple, isolated systems. That’s, in part, why theoretical physics enjoys such a privileged position in the scientistic pantheon. Take Newtonian mechanics—so elegant, so pure, so mind-bogglingly predictive. We’ve used its insights to put a man on the moon. However, as any physicist will tell you, even Newtonian mechanics becomes a nonlinear farrago with no predictive power when it tries to accommodate more than two or three massive bodies interacting via the single force of gravity.

"The sad truth of scientism is that the more complex a system under scrutiny, or the less isolated that system, the less predictive scientific methods become. In these frequently occurring scenarios, scientists must abandon the steely comforts of causation. They’re reduced to quibbling over the strength or weakness of correlations between ever more ornate abstractions and their real-world consequences."- Sean Miller, What's So Funny About Atheism

Some interesting arguments in an article that overall brings to bear many flippant generalizations about atheists, who are a broad and disparate group. The main thrust seems to pertain mainly to nu-atheism of the Harris/Hitchens/Dawkins sort.  I've even found myself clinging to this kind of limp rationale that "I believe in science" rather than faith, but he does make a good point that science is rarely an exact science and that faith still maintains the foundation position of any scientific belief system.  I'm not going out and testing theses myself. I'm putting faith into pedagogy with the implicit understanding that the experts know what they are talking about.  Likewise, I'm sure churchgoing folk things ministers, pastors, popes, dead relatives know what they're talking about, even if they're haunted by recurring evidence of god's non-existence.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Arrows- "A2"

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

RIP James Horner

A composer who in the same year as his moody, atmospheric score for Aliens, composed "Somewhere Out There" for Fievel's American Tale

Monday, June 22, 2015

Polymorphous Cult-ure

Emilie Friedland at the Fader has her own take on why there are so many Cults all of the sudden, particularly how they reflect postmodern culture's pastische ideologies:
When we watch a TV show like Aquarius, we’re transported back to a time before people necessarily “knew better” than to think that other worlds, and other homes, were possible; even in watching Manson’s most sinister moments, we experience the vicarious thrill of living life completely according to one's own, made-up rules—of breaking with consensus reality as we know it, of starting with utopian intentions and going way too far.

...Back when I interviewed Isis Aquarian, I asked her about the foundation of Father Yod’s belief system. “We took from everything,” she said. “We took from every religion. We took from past lives. We took from the mystery teachings. We took from the yogis. We took from the Buddha. We took from whatever made sense and worked to us and distilled it into our own uniqueness.” That pick-and-choose, take-what-you-like-and-leave-the-rest eclecticism remains a core facet of new age culture; it’s an idea I’d say that I adhere to in my own spiritual life, only I can’t help noticing how perfectly it dovetails with our behavior as 21st century consumers. We express our view of the world—and even our desire to drop out of it—with the objects and experiences that we choose to spend our money on. But when escape becomes something that you buy, it ceases to be a real escape. Maybe it ensnares us even further in the world that we’re escaping.

I read this early Saturday and, sure enough, later that day my wife and I saw an episode on the new season of Orange is the New Black where the mute character of Norma's back story is explored through her many years as a loyal cult member.

This episode also brought to mind one of the other things about cults that also falls outside of the cultural norms Friedlander talks about; polygamy, which can serve both that patriarchal domination/submission wish fulfillment fantasy and also incriminate it.  Polygamy as subject matter ensnares all of our contradictory feelings towards sexual liberation and allows an avenue to filter anxieties about commitment, as well as how both sexual freedom and the bonds of marriage feed into the continued superstructural subjugation of women.  Likewise to the Fader piece, polygamy is both something available reflected in the world we're escaping (multiple partners, infidelity, open relationships, et al.) and something completely taboo or outside the bounds of acceptance.

I had totally forgotten about Big Love too- I think many people have, to be honest.  Big Love (about a particularly fundamentalist strain of Mormonism) was a massive success when it first aired and probably even lead to the similar reality TV spinoff Sister Wives, which was even bigger.  

Incidentally, it turns out OITNB's Annie Golden, who plays Norma, has a 20 year history in music.  Starting out in the new wave/punk end of things and then veering into pop later on.

Jonas Reinhardt- "Noctornum"

off the forthcoming Palace Savant

Mocki- "Weekend (Jai Wolf Mix)"

Friday, June 19, 2015

RIP Rick Ducommon

Who had bit parts in nearly every movie I loved as a kid. I believe I included the above in one of my halloween mixes too.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


A bit of a shame how focus has meandered off Footwork after DJ Rashad's passing, as it really does seem to have inspired many of his cohorts to step up their collective games

DJ Taso- "Teklife Til Tha Next Life"

DJ Manny- "Would U Mind"

Taye Teklife- "What You Think"

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Silk Road Assassins- "3M Kunai"

Visionist x Roxanne Farahmand

Keyboard Kid 206- "Namor's Amazing"

Monday, June 15, 2015

Ready for Answers

"The incoming president will have to address an open and passionate national movement around anti-black state violence. The most loyal and consistent Democratic support base is marching in the streets and organizing in hopes of dying less and no longer being sent to prison for minor crimes. The state violence in question is directly related to policies that President Bill Clinton enacted during his tenure, especially under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which ended inmate education while building more prisons. This is the same tenure that Secretary Clinton is highly credited for shepherding. The color-blind future we were promised then, as a cover for anti-black policies, is not even close to coming true. Can the constituency that has routinely saved and supported the Democratic Party—Black voters—survive another Clinton turn? Especially considering that Hillary Clinton’s reflections on the havoc the previous Clinton presidency rained on that constituency barely go further than “oops, my bad, vote for me anyway”?
A presumed candidate since her defeat in the primaries, and ordained the frontrunner as early as November, Clinton has had time to work on issues of race and has chosen not to. White feminism as a whole has made the same mistake. That an experienced stateswoman is campaigning on the basis of her entitlement to the position and symbolic value is deeply strange. It also shows the gap between the candidates we have, the ones we think will win, and the ones we want. This is exemplified by the constant refusal to believe Elizabeth Warren or Michelle Obama when they say they do not want to run. That their imaginary campaigns are constantly positioned against the very real Clinton campaign seems to be a roundabout way of admitting that the symbolic woman we have is not giving us the politics we hoped for.
- "I'm Not Ready" by Sydette Harris, The New Inquiry

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Harvest Monsanto (Legible Version)

If the self accepts biology as destiny, it allows its own biological alterations to go unexamined and unchallenged.  Mutation, therefore, becomes a historical inevitability.  Assumedly unshifting and inert, the body or vessel has been socially imbued with a determinism that desocializes the politics of corporeal dimensions, proportions, constitution, and internal operations down to the level of individual habits.  A self-policing determinism of the body disavows any possibility of evolution as entropy. 

Under the entropic model of evolution, survival becomes a series of delays in a species’ eventual extinction through methods of social organization, rather than an adaptation to previously untenable environments. Regardless of popular awareness of recent shifts, the body, as we all know, is changing.  What is put into the body, what the body is exposed to, what the body desires, what the body requires, and what the body expects are all categories that have undergone a quiet revolution in recent years thanks to the intervention of various environmental stimuli introduced by many of the major multinational industrial outlets.

The Forcefeel device has been devised to interact with both the body itself and these environmental stimuli at the cellular level, by inducing a psychosomatic response that helps reject the turbulence of the mind and expedites the fusion of external stimuli with the corporeal subject.  By triggering specific rudimentary emotional cues recognizable to any user, the Forcefeel machine can supersede complexity and operate each vessel remotely under the basic tenets of a pre-scripted and prescriptive narrative.  Under the distracting influence of these compulsory "feeling" cues, the subject can maintain confidence in its own rational cognitive individualism while the device suggests a consensual intersubjectivity that masks the framework of the external stimulus's work on transforming the vessel.  More specifically, this will give the Forcefeel machine agency to perform a radical synthesis between the existing infrastructure’s mechanical and ideological framework and the human subject's body as host.  This will allow both the intelligence network of established institutions to persist at the level of biomatter (via the “social” network of various interconnected vessels) and the body to operate without reliance on the deficient resources of organs and skeletal matter subject to eventual decay and atrophy. 

Performing such a risky procedure without the benefit of the Forcefeel machine inevitably carries with it the potential risk of widespread protest or at least a thorny public debate process which will create a permanent subculture of skeptics and detractors, thereby contaminating the public relations future of any firm involved.  Luckily, food engineers and chemists have already laid much of the groundwork for our eventual success by creating pathways for ingestion through the bloodstream in the form of consumer products containing newly deregulated sedatives and mutagens that will ultimately help facilitate the fusion (foods, cosmetics, health products, household cleaners, pharmaceuticals, et al.).  By creating a vast apparatus of new, carefully coded genetic materials that have seamlessly integrated themselves into everyday diets and rituals, the conditions for the coalition between the corporeal subject (the body as variable vessel) and its control subject (the existing quasi-organic infrastructure of Capital and its various devices) has never been greater. 

Though there is invariably some short-term risk in investing in a new technology like the Forcefeel machine, the potential gains are innumerable.  Not only is the creation of a singular consciousness, through which artificial desires and consensus can be filtered a clear path to immortality for both the corporeal subject and the control, but we can forecast with no deal of uncertainty, 100% market dominance for any early supporter wise enough to invest in the forcefeel device during its initial staging.  The aforementioned filters one may choose to introduce into a host subject are limited only by the scale of one’s imagination and with the aid of the forcefeel’s “feeling” cues the investor can anticipate imminent brand loyalties the likes of which have never been witnessed before. 

With the rapid acceleration of weather patterns posing an immediate and devastating threat to the human species, it is imperative that we introduce these mutagens to the vessel as soon as possible.  As we know, humans themselves are an essential part of the global market’s architecture and their survival is necessary to your continued success as an industry leader and innovator. Therefore, we propose an immediate merger between the corporeal subject and its symbolic inventions, the latter now already operating at the level of artificial intelligence through an economic model that is roundly self-preservationist and adaptive in its drives.  Your generous investment in the Forcefeel device will help pave the way for a brighter future, wherein the promise of power is truly limitless.   

No Haven/ Forcefeel

Grubby Little Hands Remixes Alternate Artwork

Popcorn_10- "Dennis"

813- "Damn Yeah/Biscuit Palace"

Much post-Skrillex ecstastic neon maximalist rave music sounds like constantly gliding at top speed along rainbow road in Mario Kart or one of the various zones of the early Sonic games, minus the constant threats and obstructions, which I imagine sounds amazing in cue with those receptor-tweaking club supplements.  Has the "proper" tech-crowd come out for/against yet?  I'd imagine anything with as much pleasure as this lot (813, Wave Racer, Maxo, Pusher) has to be denounced on principle.

Mopey clubbers don't like playing with power

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Soft Psychedelia at the Dawn of the 70s

1. Slapp Happy - The Secret
2. Grobschnitt - Drummer's Dream
3. Airto Moreira - Hot Sand
4. Billy Nicholls - Little Lady
5. Amon Düül II - Light
6. Fleetwood Mac - Hypnotized
7. Christine Harwood - Never Knew What Love Was
8. Scorpions - They Need a Million
9. Richard & Linda Thompson - The Calvary Cross
10. Pat Boone - Song To The Siren
11. Curtis Mayfield - Billy Jack
12. Billy Nicholls - Winter Rose
13. The Crazy World of Arthur Brown - Helen with the Sun
14. Pink Floyd - Fearless
15. Guru Guru - At The Juncture of Light And Dark
16. Slapp Happy - Casablanca Moon
17. Nico - Frozen Warnings

Pusher- "Basic"

Probably should not enjoy this nearly as much as I do, yet I do

Friday, June 12, 2015

In the Weeds: Deep Into Tech-House (2003-2004)

1. Dettinger - Intershop (Ulf Lohmann Remix)
2. Donnacha Costello - Mustard pt 2
3. Ada - Maps (Michael Mayer & Tobias Thomas Mix)
4. Nathan Fake - Outhouse (Original Mix)
5. Phonique - The Red Dress (Tiefschwarz Remix)
6. D:Exter  -  Things Have Changed (Adjuster remix)
7. Donnacha Costello - Olive (B)
8. Tomas Andersson - Numb
9. Closer Musik - Megamix (Reinhard Voigt Remix)
10. Sascha Funke - When will I be Famous
11. The Modernist - Prozac Europe
12. Claro Intelecto - You Not Me

Thursday, June 11, 2015

J Albert- "Been This Way"

from New Labour comp on Opal Tapes

RIP Christopher Lee

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Amnesia Scanner- "As Angels Rig Hook"

"A stream of more or less violent crimes.
What was violence again?"

Photographer unknown


Dude guy posts joking parody picture online.  Everyone assumes he's having a laugh.  Well-established woman of letters with over 50 years experience in the written word tells essentially the same exact joke: everyone assumes she's a fucking idiot who doesn't know dinosaurs aren't real and can't comprehend basic irony.   Everyday sexism.  Living in the dinosaur era. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The White Male DJ Strikes Back

Interesting how, at this moment, in light of the Ten Walls and GFOTY incidents, Hollywood and indie micro-Hollywood is set to take on EDM and the plight of the White Male DJ.  We Are Your Friends, named after the Simian song which received an electrohouse mix by Justice about a decade ago that may have been the spark that spun into the EDM moment, announces itself appropriately enough by Zac Effron running away from the present moment, which is some weird pathway from study halls and SATs to bailouts and broken dreams.  "This is not our future", the title cards boldly declare.  And, fuck, I can get on board with that.  But rather than a rallying cry to the underserved, this winds up just being a plea for this particular Vinnie Chase and Co. lite crew to be winners, not losers in this predatory mandate.

Rather than just sticking to music, Effron and his all-white male entourage seem to envision some hybrid of a tech startup venture and a life spent deejaying parties to thousands of adoring acolytes bewitched by the spell of their crossfader.  This is a world where women mainly exist to titillate and prove how scene-deaf they are by requesting "Drunk in Love" at a rave (a song coincidentally by two black superstars, Beyonce and Jay-Z, who are absolutely idolized by scores of deejays).  In another moment, one of the quaint street team members invites a passing girl to invite all her friends to a party "if they look like you".  Ugh.  Their fierce heterosexuality is announced with utter clarity as the core of their existence.  This is a bildungs-bro-man and the space for women, blacks, or the LGBTQ community is limited, at best.

Sea of white faces in the climactic audience shot of the We Are Your Friends trailer

The tired narrative of opportunistic capital, selling yourself, and crying into your pile of money has grown old and reeks of #firstworldproblems.  I'm not rooting for the film's failure though.  It's intriguing that the film even exists.  It appears to take its subject matter seriously, albeit with comic results.  There really has never been a good fictional take on the process of actually making electronic dance music.  Most that incorporate dance music into its narrative make the music production process incidental or nonexistant.  The films themselves are more about rave culture rather than the music; plots concern drug addiction, drug-related crime, romance, growing up, rebellion, or other tangential things, but never beat-making, beat-matching, texturology, arpeggios, force and form, club-testing, white labels, et al.  The shot of Effron recording a nailgun firing against a roof for a four-to-the-floor sample would almost seem inspiring were it not a) the most tinny, crappy sound imaginable, b) preceded by a scene of him talking up the shift from 125bpm to 128bpm as the most thrilling thing a DJ could ever do (a DJ who coincidentally only needs a "laptop, some talent, and one track", a reduction that may or may not be a pisstake on Deadmau5's indictments of his own scene).

Eden has already won some critical acclaim, paces itself chronologically from the 90s to the present, and features Daft Punk as sidelining friends of the protagonist (it takes place in France).  The trailer is less bro-tastic, but still definitely heteronormative.  It follows the travails of a different white male DJ, mostly it seems in some state of romantic malaise or libertine bliss.  There's some brief vinyl shots, but nothing that demonstrates music production or club mixology as an artform with schools of thought, different methodologies, and vast variegation in styles/crowds, particularly in the world of micro-genres that emerged in the 90s.   

If fact, the only real thought about the music is shown from the perspective of another female who apparently just doesn't get it, portrayed in what is implicitly a post-coital state, remarking "I mean, it's great to dance to but I don't know that I would listen to it every day at home"*.  Perhaps this is some promotional miswiring, as this film actually is directed by a woman, Mia Hansen-Løve, sister of French producer Sven Love, on whom the film is partly based.  The cast still seems principally white though, but at least we get a more diverse climactic trailer crowd shot.

Most baffling of all though is the moment at exactly 0:26 in the trailer, when the Daft Punk soars beatless and blissful over a scene that a fucking plate of oysters?  Who made the executive decision that one of the most important things to emphasize from a two hour film was that being  a deejay in the 90s French house scene allowed you to eat some primo seafood?

*Okay, to be fair to the character, this statement actually correctly discerns the functional nature of much dance music, which is not intended for home-listening, but the trailer presents this as if it were a great insult to the poor male producer, who has to now go through the hard labor of explaining his craft to a cadre of ignorant but willing lovers.  

High Wolf- "Wild at Heart"

High Wolf goes full on fourth world on his new alien dance party of an album

Saturday, June 6, 2015

IDEOM- Visible Hand

More from my imprint, Remissive Records

Brokun Britun Extract

Lenny Gottlieb- Found Photograph

 "   We were marooned, engineless and alone, in the shadow of the Brownlands Heritage Colliery & Themepark. A grim-looking FauxVictorian tower loomed over us, topped with what looked like an enormous bicycle-wheel. The buildings were simulations, of course - frames dressed to appear old and ruinous - but there was something sinister and unutterably alien about the architectural mock-ups and the starkness of the landscape that surrounded them. They unsettled me in some way. I had to remind myself that none of this was real, that they were just harmless, backwards-pointing signifiers, plywood representations of some long-gone culture that was as incomprehensible to me as the Paleolithic Era. I could barely imagine it. Had human beings once toiled in such inhospitable conditions, browbeaten and exploited by pitiless union bosses? 

    The pixelated face of Lady Thatcher, saviour of UK Coal, smiled down from a large animated flatboard that stood defiantly in amongst the mounds of fake anthracite. The hoarding’s motion- or audio-sensors spotted us milling around the Zapruder and Maggie T’s head swivelled slowly to confront us. “This country’s not for turning!” it boomed in a pompous Iron Lady avec-accent VoiceFont, then began reciting a list of its corporate sponsors."

- Nice piece of scorched earth fiction extract from Kek-W

Dux Content- "Snow Globe"

PC Music for goodtimes USA

Friday, June 5, 2015


“Experian is a data broker well known for selling credit scores—which include information on bankruptcies," Libert said. "Academic research by Senator Elizabeth Warren has shown that over 60 percent of bankruptcies are medical-related. Given that I found Experian tracking users on thousands of health-related web pages, it is entirely possible the company not only knows which individuals went bankrupt for medical reasons, but when they first went online to learn about their illness as well. In essence Experian can follow an individual from her first sneeze to her final unpaid hospital bill.” (Experian failed to respond when asked to comment.)"

-Brian Merchant, Looking Up Symptoms on the Internet?  These Companies Are Tracking You

"Say, is there any cure for hell?"
- Sparks, "Achoo"

Deadboy- "Copwar"

Dark0- "The Past"

Dark0 for Twin Peaks 2.0 score?

The Night Belongs to Kubrick

"You've quoted Pudovkin to the effect that editing is the only original and unique art form in film.
I think so. Everything else comes from something else. Writing, of course, is writing, acting comes from the theater, and cinematography comes from photography. Editing is unique to film. You can see something from different points of view almost simultaneously, and it creates a new experience.
Pudovkin gives an example: You see a guy hanging a picture on the wall. Suddenly you see his feet slip; you see the chair move; you see his hand go down and the picture fall off the wall. In that split second, a guy falls off a chair, and you see it in a way that you could not see it any other way except through editing.
TV commercials have figured that out. Leave content out of it, and some of the most spectacular examples of film art are in the best TV commercials.

Give me an example.
The Michelob commercials. I'm a pro-football fan, and I have videotapes of the games sent over to me, commercials and all. Last year Michelob did a series, just impressions of people having a good time —

The big city at night
And the editing, the photography, was some of the most brilliant work I've ever seen. Forget what they're doing — selling beer — and it's visual poetry. Incredible eight-frame cuts. And you realize that in thirty seconds they've created an impression of something rather complex. If you could ever tell a story, something with some content, using that kind of visual poetry, you could handle vastly more complex and subtle material"-  Tim Cahill Interview with Stanley Kubrick, Rolling Stone, 1987

Between this and his admission that one of his top ten films of all time is "White Men Can't Jump" , Kubrick remains a total mystery.  The one thing I can say about these Michelob ads (which, far from visual poetry, seem pretty standard in terms of editing/visual narrative in 80s commercial advertising) is that it's a bit amazing how...well, clothed the women are.  Though they are obviously objectified to an extent, the very physical dignity they are given seems completely anomalous in our current regressive fucked-up environs.

Life's Track- "Harmonizer"

Opal Tapes

Thursday, June 4, 2015


"Well, what happens—I mean, and all of the great writers of totalitarianism have written on mass surveillance, Hannah Arendt being one in The Origins of Totalitarianism. And she says that when you collect data on every single citizen, it’s no longer about crime or justice; it is about having material so that when you criminalize a certain category of people—and Stalin was kind of the master of this—you can instantly arrest them, because there’s always something, and they can exactly do what you’ve done, where they take that rather innocent discussion and twist it to serve the ends of the state. That’s the danger of mass surveillance" 
- Chris Hedges, interviewing Robert Scheer

"In 2010 David Kernell, a University of Tennessee student, was convicted under Sarbanes-Oxley after he deleted digital records that showed he had obtained access to Sarah Palin’s Yahoo e-mail account. Using publicly available information, Kernell answered security questions that allowed him to reset Palin’s Yahoo password to “popcorn.” He downloaded information from Palin’s account, including photographs, and posted the new password online. He then deleted digital information that may have made it easier for federal investigators to find him. Like Matanov, he cleared the cache on his Internet browser. He also uninstalled Firefox, ran a disk defragmentation program to reorganize and clean up his hard drive, and deleted a series of images that he had downloaded from the account. For entering Palin’s e-mail, he was eventually convicted of misdemeanor unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and felony destruction of records under Sarbanes-Oxley. In January 2012, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found that Kernell’s awareness of a potential investigation into his conduct was enough to uphold the felony charge.
At the time Kernell took steps to clean his computer, he does not appear to have known that there was any investigation into his conduct. Regardless, the government felt that they were entitled to that data, and the court agreed that Kernell was legally required to have preserved it.
Hanni Fakhoury, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the feds’ broad interpretation of Sarbanes-Oxley in the digital age is part of a wider trend: federal agents’ feeling “entitled” to digital data.
...Similarly, Fakhoury says the government’s underlying theory in cases like Kernell’s is, “Don’t even think about deleting anything that may be harmful to you, because we may come after you at some point in the future for some unforeseen reason and we want to be able to have access to that data. And if we don’t have access to that data, we’re going to slap an obstruction charge that has as 20-year maximum on you. 
- Juliana Devries, You Can Be Prosecuted for Clearing Your Browser History

That has to be the greatest password reset of all time

Infinite Sadness

On the latest Pop Unmuted podcast,  Robin James talks about her latest book Resilience and Melancholy: Pop Music, Feminism, and Neoliberalism, which sounds like an incredibly interesting read.  James has been something of a mainstay in music criticism for over a decade with her It's Her Factory blog.   She discusses how EDM with its builds, drops, soars, et al., as well as lyrical themes, fits neatly into the familiar neoliberal narrative of resilience, the "Upworthy"/Lean-In notion of people overcoming challenges or adversity.  James notes how this often lets capitalism or patriarchy off the hook because it reframes the thesis of crisis stories to be about an individual thriving despite stacked odds rather than a system categorically failing large groups.  Thereby, the championing of progressive/feminist heroes actually assists the existing power structure.

It's the Horatio Alger story from a different vantage, the exception that somehow disproves the rule.  Each story provides structure- beginning, middle, end- and thus closure to struggle, despite the fact that these very struggles continue for every other woman in the same situation.  While the perseverance of Beyonce or Katy Perry (who my 5-year-old daughter is now in love with granting her songs quite a bit more earplay in my head recently than they might have) may be admirable, the hegemony that informs each of them remains invisible, the implication being that these hurdles are innate.  Per capitalist realism, realism now becomes leaning-in, every woman pushing tooth and nail against the brick wall of patriarchy on her own, rather than hegemonic institutions restructuring to put women on actual equal footing with men.

Resilience also provides a counterpoint of negative solidarity to be weaponized against women feeling trapped, defeated, or otherwise alone.  After all, all you have to do is believe in yourself and ignore/not internalize every pervasive message that tells you to be ashamed of yourself, hide yourself, watch yourself, set different expectations for yourself, and limit yourself to these finite available models of success.

The stories of  "resilience" in EDM arose a time in pop culture that was concurrent with an abundance of uplifting stories being shared on social media, which have so saturated the virtual landscape that there's practically a cottage industry devoted to providing balance to each depressing news item; survivors forgiving their victimizers, little black kids hugging cops, Palestinians and Israelis working together on a business venture, tales of acceptance from parents their kids were afraid to come out to, et al.

None of these are bad things, but their positivism does form a kind of erasure that allows those enjoying the privilege of not being affected by the daily toil of trauma, racism, sexism, conflict,or homophobia to wane their distress and depression over these issues.  We can rest on our laurels that, as Dan Savage's infamous campaign promises and as the End-of-History narrative always promises, "It gets better".  In this world, an awful status quo can remain as backdrop with our acceptance, tolerance, and consent as long as we can trade a few stories of triumph over the rotten core.

As an alternative to resilience narratives, James proposes what she terms "Melancholy", though the terms of this are far less clear. "Melancholy feels...more 'meh'...It's not good, it's not bad, it's just that there's not that energy behind it. It's more of a listlessness".  She goes on to cite Rihanna and what are definitely two of her more "meh" singles, "Stay" and "Diamonds".  James argues that ultimately through their denial of the pleasure of the lifts and climaxes of traditional EDM, they defy expectations and set new ones that are at best ambivalent about the existing order.

This made me think (likely because I read it immediately prior to listening to this podcast) of this re-(d)evaluation of Coldplay's X&Y at Pitchfork.  Coldplay, to me, are the ultimate merger of the two modes- resilient melancholy; a band struggling to stay sad and ambivalent despite being so well-inclined to be the benefactors of history. They are probably the band that most accurately represented the desolate decade of the naughts in all its resolved indifference (sure, they stood for causes, but they mostly stood in place, waving banners and mugging passively).  Their orderly and meted upward chord progressions have always poised like they were building towards the soar, much like EDM, but they always opted to stay at a comfortable, controlled mid-level, mid-tempo, MOR base.  As cultural critic Phil Knight once put it, "Chris Martin's role is particularly interesting because he represents the yearning soul repressed by the bureaucratic machinery. He doesn't actively rebel against it. How could he? All he can do is plaintively wish it away. But even this mild struggle leaves him feeling ennervated and wan".

Of course, there's mountains of difference between a white British guy and a black immigrant American woman expressing these same levels of discomfort and dissatisfaction, but is this brand of mild unease really a viable alternative to resilience?  Is an admission of powerlessness or being generally nonplussed an actual form of resistance?  I'm thinking I'm probably misconstruing her thesis here, but I feel the creep of a thousand bad memories from the previous decade in any motive that doesn't just outwardly dismiss the reigns of a control template. We're still trying to dig ourselves out of that decade when the general consensus reaction to the shit-spiral of pop culture and the political landscape was "Yeah, sucks, doesn't it?"