Saturday, April 22, 2017

The West Pinion

"Far from the Kafkaesque banality which so often characterizes the real life equivalent, the mundane business of technocratic governance is made to look exciting, intellectually stimulating, and, above all, honorable. The bureaucratic drudgery of both White House management and governance, from speechwriting, to press conference logistics, to policy creation, are front and center across all seven seasons. A typical episode script is chock full of dweebish phraseology — “farm subsidies”, “recess appointments”, “census bureau”, “congressional consultation” — usually uttered by swift-tongued, Ivy League-educated staffers darting purposefully through labyrinthine corridors during the infamous “walk-and-talk” sequences. By recreating the look and feel of political processes to the tee, while garnishing them with a romantic veneer, the show gifts the Beltway’s most spiritually-devoted adherents with a vision of how many would probably like to see themselves... 

Debuting during the twilight of the Clinton presidency and spanning much of Bush II’s, it predictably vacillated somewhat in response to events while remaining grounded in a general liberal ethos. Having writing credits for all but one episode in The West Wing’s first four seasons, Sorkin left in 2003, with Executive Producer John Wells characterizing the subsequent direction as more balanced and bipartisan. The Bartlet administration’s actual politics—just like those of the real Democratic Party and its base—therefore run the gamut from the stuff of Elizabeth Warren-esque populism to the neoliberal bilge you might expect to come from a Beltway think tank having its white papers greased by dollars from Goldman Sachs.

But promoting or endorsing any specific policy orientation is not the show’s true raison d’être. At the conclusion of its seven seasons it remains unclear if the Bartlet administration has succeeded at all in fundamentally altering the contours of American life. In fact, after two terms in the White House, Bartlet’s gang of hyper-educated, hyper-competent politicos do not seem to have any transformational policy achievements whatsoever. Even in their most unconstrained and idealized political fantasies, liberals manage to accomplish nothing."

- Luke Savage, marvellously on the legacy of the West Wing in Current Affairs

Anecdotally, in my Senior year of high school, I attended the Columbia Journalism conference, as I had done my Junior Year. This year, though, there was a special session being held where an episode of the West Wing would be screened and there would be a Q&A with the stars of the show. The show had only been on a season or two at this point, but its influence and impact were already well-established.

The entire trip took place during school hours, which allotted travel time to NYC and back to Poughkeepsie, NY. In addition, because of the high demand for the session, there was a long line to get in to the West Wing session. This meant that we had a choice between actually attending the conference- choosing three or four educational sections to help us hone our skills, or going to see the cast of a popular TV show about politics and nothing else. In hindsight, studying journalism over the West Wing may have been more appropriate for defending ourselves in the coming years, but maybe a more critical lens on things like The West Wing would have also been appropriate.

A question came up during the Q&A about how the show's star, Martin Sheen, was able to reconcile the show's incrementalist and respectability politics with his own. Sheen had been involved in direct street action and civil disobedience since the 60s. What wasn't clear was that at the time, Sheen and his show were being used to drive that exact divide, as neoliberals in the democratic party shoehorned the left into an inexorable trap, disengaged of enough energy to survive on its own and without the spine or willpower of actual representation within Congress outside of a small, marginalized group of progressives to make an impact on the popular imagination. Within a few years, Sheen would sign a petition opposing the invasion of Iraq, but those making tough decisions in the Jed Bartlett mold largely supported it and became actively complicit in what may be the biggest war crime of the 21st century. The left fought for attention by holding massive demonstrations and actives, but found itself accepting whatever allies it could muster after being completely deprived of political capital in Washington.

Savage hits the nail on the head when he defines the West Wing strategy used to shut down leftists like Sheen; by appealing to their levelheaded refinery rather than their passions. Everything was debate club, and if you sounded like the most educated compromiser, it didn't matter if what was being compromised was Iraqi children's' lives or government-backed subprime mortgages. The left could be seen as agitators, and no different than the hard right neocons, if one would only accept that the only legitimate option was a fetishized high road of elite maneuvering and deep listening to the concerns of their opposition (who themselves realized that these geeks would do whatever they wanted if they just pushed them in the locker enough).

"It’s a smugness born of the view that politics is less a terrain of clashing values and interests than a perpetual pitting of the clever against the ignorant and obtuse. The clever wield facts and reason, while the foolish cling to effortlessly-exposed fictions and the braying prejudices of provincial rubes. In emphasizing intelligence over ideology, what follows is a fetishization of “elevated discourse” regardless of its actual outcomes or conclusions. The greatest political victories involve semantically dismantling an opponent’s argument or exposing its hypocrisy, usually by way of some grand rhetorical gesture. Categories like left and right become less significant, provided that the competing interlocutors are deemed respectably smart and practice the designated etiquette. The Discourse becomes a category of its own, to be protected and nourished by Serious People conversing respectfully while shutting down the stupid with heavy-handed moral sanctimony." Savage goes on to say

Since DNC Clintonism stood for nothing other than "seriousness", it was easy to call the left, who actually stood for specific policies and ideologies, out on hypocrisy when it inevitably caved on one or two things (see the most recent fervor over Bernie Sanders supporting a democratic candidate who is only slightly more pro-life than Tim Kaine). For the reasonabilist, hypocrisy is the worst sin because it makes your arguments vulnerable to being OBLITERATED or DECIMATED by late night hosts, or worse, people like Trump. Trump found a huge loophole during his campaign that showed that what people most despised was not hypocrisy itself, but hypocrisy directed an other. It didn't matter that Trump was a hypocrite himself or that through most of his life he agreed with many of the same tenets as Clinton, he was able to lob arguments from the left at Clinton and have them stick because he was playing a game about power while the other side was playing politics, clearing the way for Clinton to resign with dignity while Trump could launch an ignoble reign.

If the left is vulnerable to hypocrisy by standing for something in the first place, pragmatism the most logical course, since pragmatism is by definition compromise. But if the pragmatists think idealism is just fantasy, for the weak and unserious, they're painfully unaware that for the people who need idealism to survive, West Wing-ism means next to nothing when it produces nothing of value to their own lives.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

RIP Mika Vainio

RIP Bruce Langhorne

A folkie and session musician whose lone synth experiments on Peter Fonda's bizarre and somewhat beautiful Idaho Transfer score sound like proto-Boards of Canada pieces.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Supra-céleste- Moonbrowser

Moscow invasion

Friday, March 31, 2017

2017 Vibin'

Kailin- Fracture
Syd- Fin
Kingdom- Tears in the Club
Drake- More Life
Migos- Culture
Suda- Hives
Ida Dillan- Angelic Slang EP
Pye Corner Audio- The Spiral/The Darkest Wave
Sega Bodega- Ess B
Gorillaz feat Vince Staples- "Ascension"
Pharmakon- Contact
Missy Elliot feat Lamb- "I'm Better"

Friday, March 10, 2017

Palmbomen II- Memories of Cindy Pt. 1

Much of this is standardfare Adult Swim-on-vaporwave style comedy, but it's amusing throughout and the music is well done.  The central conceit though falls along Hauntology-lines in that it's a reimagining of a world where new age and shoegaze were culturally central, rather than fringe phenomena, and assimilated into all aspects of culture, not least of which being corporate capitalism. As a huge fan of Slowdive's Pygmalion though, I almost bust a gut when the "Crazy Falafel" commercial came on.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Forest Swords- The Highest Flood

No Weapon Formed Against Me Shall Propser

"Although three years in the making, it’s increasingly hard to hear this or any album without 2017 ears. In the wake of Trump’s despicable first few weeks, I found myself listening more and more to a playlist I’d constructed of intensely melancholy music, realizing that I’d done so because I hadn’t yet given myself permission to be sad. The main takeaway I get from listening to Tears in the Club on repeat is the overwhelming feeling of “you can’t go home again”. “Something’s gotta give right now,” Syd says. SZA takes this a step further saying, “I’ll be into you even when you ain’t around me / I’ll be missing you even when you been around me.” For every transcendent feeling of closeness in the clubs this year, there’ll be plenty others where one couldn’t feel any more distant from who’s standing right next to you. The urgency of being here now vs. the creeping sense of slowly becoming an island haunts this moment, with our interconnected sociality simultaneously culling common causes and confirming our isolationist biases.

Walking back into the club after having all that’s on Kingdom’s mind is like getting jolted by the nightmare trap of “Tears in the Club”. It’s all darkness and anxiety now. Its visceral grip is as pulsatingly real as it is synthetic. The escape that the naïve EDM pop that the turn of the decade offered now seems like the infamous K.C. Green strip “On Fire”, the flames burning around us as the nihilistic fatalism of #YOLO truly sinks in. The only way through is forward, and we’ll need plenty of forward-thinking pop to help with that. We’ll need lots of songs that can help reform the bonds of community that a club can offer, and which pop can alleviate. Solidarity in suffering, a shared loneliness. We can’t deny ourselves the right to be sad any more than we can deny ourselves the right to dance. Kingdom’s album confronts this from a place that, if not deeply personal, at least feels so. "

Forgot to link off to the review I wrote of Kingdom's excellent new LP Tears in the Club, which I'm shocked isn't getting more play right now.  To me, it's a huge evolution, though looking around it doesn't seem like many other critics are able to get past the structure, or were able to identify much of its concept.  Like other long players from the Fade/Slugs set, it's sort of obtuse and requires a deep listen.  I remember Classical Curves, which blew me away on first listen, getting relatively middling reviews when released. In fact, I was only one of five critics who even voted for it in Pazz and Jop at the end of the year, though it's widely heralded as earth-shifting in the experimental dance circuit.

I was also delighted to read this Fader profile and see that much of what I had (admittedly) read into the album was intended.

Tangentially, also worth checking out Syd's Fin, which was on Bandcamp until recently, but it seems to have been taken down.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Taking Tiger Mountain

Have never seen this one, but it's apparently a story (co-written by William S. Burroughs), but apparently it is about "militant feminist scientists" who brainwash a man into assassinating a foreign dignitary.  It is either named after the Chinese opera or the Brian Eno album named after that opera.  Bill Paxton is the main star and within the first 2 minutes, he vividly describes an orgasm and appears fully nude being coerced into a homosexual experience by said feminists and then surgically castrated and reconstructed into the female gender. Looks interesting

Monday, February 27, 2017

RIP Bill Paxton

Cyberpunk center square:

Co-Director of

Bill Paxton also found time to be in his own Devo-esque synthpop band, who just so happened to have a single produced by Bob Casale and Alan Meyers and Mark Mothersbaugh playing on it (!)

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. 

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
weirdly his most controversial article was one about solidarity over pointless infighting and bickering:

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

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Superlatives from the '6s

Over at the Vintage blogs,  I casually roll through all the notable music from 10,20,30,40, 50,and 60 years ago.  After rummaging through those, I've narrowed a few choice selections for the top releases of each year.

Top 25  Albums of 2006

1. Junior Boys - So This is Goodbye
2. Burial - Burial
3. The Knife - Silent Shout
4. Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury
5. J Dilla - Donuts
6. Mordant Music - Dead Air
7. Arpanet - Inertial Frame
8. Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies
9. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
10. Ben Frost - Theory of Machines
11. The Roots - Game Theory
12. Grizzly Bear - Yellow House
13. Beyonce - B'Day
14. Khlyst - Chaos is My Name
15. Kerrier District - Kerrier District 2 / Amen Andrews vs Spac Hand Luke
16. Holden - The Idiots are Winning
17. Belong  - October Language
18. Andy Stott - Merciless
19. Franz Falckenhaus - Stories from My Cold War
20. Various - A Silence Broken
21. Cat Power - The Greatest
22. Deftones - Saturday Night Wrist
23. The Field - Sun & Ice EP
24. Murs & 9th Wonder - Murray's Revenge
25. Justin Timberlake - Futuresex/Lovesounds
Top 50 single tracks of 2006

1. Digital Mystikz - "Anti-War Dub"
2. J Dilla - "Won't Do"
3. Junior Boys - "In the Morning"
4. Shackleton - "Tin Foil Sky"
5. The Knife - "We Share Our Mother's Health"
6. Burial - "Distant Lights"
7. Grizzly Bear - "Knife"
8. Clipse - "Trill"
9. Beyonce - "Get Me Bodied"
10. Donato Dozzy - "Gol"
11. Black Replica - "Black Feathers"
12. Rihanna - "S.O.S."
13. Asobi Seksu - "Thursday"
14. Ghostface Killah - "Be Easy"
15. Amen Andrews vs Spac Hand Luke - "Grime II Dark"
16. The Field - "Over the Ice"
17. Javiera Mena - "Al Siguiente Nivel"
18. Pinch - "Qawwali"
19. Acid Mothers Temple - "Pink Lady Lemonade (May I Drink You Again?)"
20. Boxcutter - "Grub"
21. Justin Timberlake - "My Love"
22. Guitar - "Sunday Afternoon at Tamagawa River"
23. Lily Allen - "Smile"
24. Monolake - "Alaska (Surgeon mix)"
25. Nathan Fake - "Charlie's House"
26. Stereolab - "Whisper Pitch"
27. Jay Haze - "Soul in a Bottle"
28. Scritti Politti - "The Boom Boom Bap"
29. Milanese vs Virus Syndicate - "Dead Man Walking"
30. Barbara Morgenstern - "The Operator"
31. Cat Power - "Lived in Bars"
32. e-40 - "Tell Me When to Go"
33. Polyphonic Spree - "Sonic Bloom"
34. Cassie - "Me & U"
35. Juana Molina - "La Verdad"
36. Holden - "10101"
37. Landing  - "Each Man for Himself"
38. Midlake - "Roscoe"
39. Massive Attack - "False Flags"
40. Morgan Geist - "Most of All"
41. John Maus - "Time to Die"
42. John Foxx & Louis Jordan - "From Trash"
43. Studio - "Life's  a Beach"
44. Chromatics - "Glass Slipper"
45. Killer Mike - "That's Life"
46. Kelis feat Too Short - "Bossy"
47. Simian Mobile Disco - "The Hustler"
48. SebastiAn - "Walkman"
49. Midnight Juggernauts - "Shadows"
50. Jay Reatard - "Nightmares"

Top 50 LPs of 1996 (couldn't resist doing twice as many. So many good releases this year)

1. Stereolab - Emperor Tomato Ketchup
2. Aphex Twin - Richard D. James
3. Coil Presents Black Light District - A Thousand Lights in a Darkened Room
4. DJ Shadow - Endtroducing…..
5. Belle and Sebastian - If You Are Feeling Sinister
6. Broadcast - The Book Lovers EP
7. Tricky - Pre-Millennium Tension
8. Tori Amos - Boys for Pele
9. Plug - Drum n Bass for Papa
10. Aaliyah - One in a Million
11. Dr Octagon - Dr. Octagynecologist
12. The Roots - Illadelph Halflife
13. Meat Beat Manifesto - Subliminal Sandwhich
14. Herbert - 100 lbs
15. The Fugees - The Score
16. Tribe Called Quest - Beats, Rhymes and Life
17. Squarepusher - Feed Me Weird Things
18. Gas - Gas
19. Tool  - Aenima
20. Photek - The Hidden Camera EP
21. Cibo Matto - Viva La Woman
22. Skinny Puppy - The Process
23. Porter Ricks - Biokinetics
24. Disjecta - Clean Pit and Lid
25. Trent Reznor - Quake OST
26. Boards of Canada - Hi Skores
27. Alec Empire - Les Etoilles des Filles Mortes
28. Third Eye Foundation - Semtex
29. Dopplereffekt - Infophysix
30. Bardo Pond - Amanita
31. Drexciya - The Return of Drexciya
32. De La Soul - Stakes is High
33. Orbital - In Sides
34. Windy and Carl - Drawing of Sound
35. Bowery Electric - Beat
36. Seefeel - Ch-Vox
37. The Cocteau Twins - Milk and Kisses
38. Smashing Pumpkins - The Aeroplane Flies High
39. LFO - Advance
40. Outkast - Atliens
41. Disco Inferno - Technicolour
42. Surgeon - Communications
43. Secret Chiefs 3 - First Grand Constitution and Bylaws
44. Beck - Odelay
45. The Black Dog - Music for Films and Adverts
46. Mazzy Star - Among My Swan
47. Ghostface Killah - Iron Man
48. Tortoise  - Millions Living Will Never Die
49. Ministry - Filth Pig
50. Sepultura - Roots

Top 50 single tracks of 1996

1. Bush - "In A Lonely Place"
2. Aphex Twin - "Girl/Boy"
3. Bowery Electric - "Empty Words"
4. Broadcast - "The Book Lovers"
5. DJ Shadow - "Building Steam With a Grain of Salt"
6. Aaliyah - "One in a Million"
7. Stereolab - "Les Yper Sound"
8. Belle and Sebastian - "Seeing Other People"
9. Pulp - "Mile End"
10. The Cocteau Twins - "Alice"
11. Busta Rhymes - "Woo-Ha Got You All in Check"
12. Tori Amos - "Professional Widow"
13. Intense - "Natural Progression"
14. My Bloody Valentine - "Map Ref 41n 93w"
15. Tricky  - "Makes Me Wanna Die"
16. The Roots - "Episodes"
17. Drexciya - "You Don't Know"
18. Smokin Beats - "Dreams"
19. Moodymann - "Misled"
20. 3MG - "Sunsprayed"
21. Meat Beat Manifesto - "Phone Calls from the Dead"
22. Erykah Badu - "On & On"
23. Source Direct - "Stonekiller"
24. Radiohead - "Talk Show Host"
25. Ginuwine - "Pony"
26. Photek - "The Third Sequence"
27. Sneaker Pimps - "Spin Spin Sugar (Armand's Dark Garage Mix)"
28. Orbital - "The Box"
29. Todd Edwards - "Fly Away"
30. Plug - "I Freak Techniques"
31. AC Acoustics - "Stunt Girl"
32. Pan Sonic - "Murto"
33. 2Pac - "No More Pain"
34. Skinny Puppy - "Candle"
35. Green Velvet - "The Stalker (I'm Losing My Mind)"
36. Everything But the Girl - "Before Today (Chicane Mix)"
37. Graham Lewis - "Fresh Life"
38. Shake - "Here, There and Nowhere"
39. Mazzy Star - "Roseblood"
40. Thomas Bangalter - "Spinal Scratch"
41. Imperial Teen - "You're One"
42. Jay-Z - "Feelin It"
43. Remarc - "Single Finga Killa"
44. Ghostface Killah - "Assassination Day"
45. Fusion Forum - "Vintage Keys"
46. Cibo Matto - "Know Your Chicken"
47. Geto Boys - "Still"
48. Mandalay - "Flowers Bloom (Foul Play Mix)"
49. Nicolette - "Judgement Day"
50. Red House Painters - "All Mixed Up"

Top 25 LPs of 1986

1. Arthur Russell - World of Echo
2. Big Black - Atomizer
3. Wire various projects (tie) - Snakedrill (Wire), Commercial Suicide (Colin Newman), Hail (He Said), The Shivering Man (Bruce Gilbert)
4. The Smiths - The Queen is Dead
5. Ministry - Twitch
6. Janet Jackson - Control
7. Virgo - Free Yourself EP
8. Cocteau Twins - Victorialand
9. African Head Charge - Off the Beaten Track
10. Marc Almond - Violent Silence
11. Sonic Youth - EVOL
12. Cowboy Junkies - Whites Off Earth Now
13. Head of David - LP
14. Slayer - Reign in Blood
15. Depeche Mode - Black Celebration
16. Prince - Parade
17. Various - The Indestructible Beat of Soweto
18. SPK - Zami Lehmanni: Songs of Byzantine Flowers
19. Sudden Sway - Spacemate
20. XTC - Skylarking
21. Stetsasonic - On Fire
22. Husker Du - Candy Apple Grey
23. Peter Gabriel - So…
24. Momus - Circus Maximumus
25. Shub Niggurath - Les Morts Vont Vite

Top 50 single tracks of 1986

1. New Order - "Bizarre Love Triangle/Shep Pettibone mix"
2. Sleezy D - "I've Lost Control"
3. The Smiths - "There is a Light That Never Goes Out"
4. Marshall Jefferson - "Move Your Body (The House Music Anthem)"
5. Prince - "Kiss"
6. Bruce Gilbert - "Eline Court II"
7. A.R. Kane - "When You're Sad"
8. Big Black - "Passing Complexion"
9. Ultramagnetic DJs - "Ego Trippin'"
10. Arthur Russell - "Let's Go Swimming"
11. Janet Jackson - "Nasty"
12. Kreem - "Triangle of Love"
13. Koji Kondu - "The Legend of Zelda theme"
14. Skinny Puppy - "Dig It"
15. Master C &J - "Dub love"
16. Slayer - "Raining Blood"
17. Bam Bam - "You've Been Messing Around (Steve Silk Hurley mix)"
18. Mr Fingers - "Beyond the Clouds"
19. Husker Du - "Don't Want to Know if You Are Lonely"
20. Virgo - "Free Yourself"
21. Colourbox - "Baby I Love You So"
22. Depeche Mode - "But Not Tonight"
23. Modern Mechanical Music - "Persia (Dub)"
24. Crowded House - "Don't Dream it's Over"
25. Cowboy Junkies  - "State Trooper"
26. Duran Duran - "Notorious"
27. Ministry - "We Believe"
28. Stetsasonic - "Just Say Stet"
29. The Weather Prophets - "Like Frankie Lymon"
30. Sigue Sigue Sputnik - "Love Missle F1-11"
31. Egyptian Lover - "Freak-A-Holic"
32. Man Friday - "Love Honey Heartache (Larry Levan mix)"
33. Company B - "Fascinated"
34. Peter Gabriel - "Big Time"
35. Adonis - "No Way Back"
36. Yello - "Bostisch (Remix)"
37. They Might Be Giants - "Don't Let's Start"
38. The Showboys - "Drag Rap"
39. Pete Shelley - "Designer Lamps"
40. Megadeth - "Peace Sells"
41. John Zorn - "Godard"
42. Nitro Deluxe - "Let's Get Brutal"
43. Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Party's Fall"
44. The Junkyard Band - "The Word"
45. Book of Love - "Mogidliani (Requiem Mass)"
46. XTC - "1000 Umbrellas"
47. Original Concept - "Bite'n My Stylee"
48. Alien Sex Fiend - "I Walk the Line"
49. Model 500 - "Bang the Beat"
50. Jesus and Mary Chain - "Hit"

Top 25 LPs from 1976

1. David Bowie - Station to Station
2. Cluster - Sowiesoso
3. MX-80 - Big Hits Hard Pop from the Hoosiers
4. Harmonia & Eno - Tracks and Traces
5. Fela Kuti - Zombie
6. Philip Glass - Einstein on the Beach
7. Patti Smith - Radio Ethiopia
8. David Pritchard - Nocturnal Earthworm Stew
9. Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life
10. Tom Waits - Small Change
11. The Ramones - The Ramones
12. Joni Mitchell - Hejira
13. Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak
14. Debris - Debris
15. Prince Far I - Under Heavy Manners
16. Boston - Boston
17. Donna Summer - Four Seasons of Love
18. The Bar-Kays - Too Hot to Stop
19. Tom Ze - Estudando O Samba
20. The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers
21. Lee Scratch Perry - Super Ape
22. Aerosmith - Rocks
23. La Dusseldorf - La Dusseldorf
24. ABBA - Arrival
25. Bob Dylan - Desire

Top 50 single tracks of 1976

1. Stevie Wonder - "AS"
2. David Bowie - "Station to Station"
3. Marvin Gaye - "I Want You"
4. The Sex Pistols - "Anarchy in the UK"
5. Ashra - "Deep Distance"
6. The Modern Lovers - "Roadrunner"
7. ABBA - "Dancing Queen"
8. Boston  - "More Than a Feeling"
9. Death - "Politicians in My Eye"
10. Carl McKnight - "The Devil's Out Tonight"
11. Peter Baumann  - "Phase by Phase"
12. Tom Ze - "Ma"
13. Suicide - "Rocket U.S.A."
14. Diana Ross - "Love Hangover"
15. Ecstasy Passion & Pain - "Touch and Go"
16. Max Romeo - "Chase the Devil"
17. Fela Kuti - "Zombie"
18. Richard Hell - "Blank Generation"
19. Heatwave - "Boogie Nights"
20. Thin Lizzy - "The Boys Are Back in Town"
21. Junior Murvin - "Police & Thieves"
22. Amanda Lear - "Blood & Honey"
23. The Runaways - "Cherry Bomb"
24. Blue Oyster Cult - "(Don't Fear) The Reaper"
25. Jakki - "You Are the Star"
26. Steve Miller Band - "Fly Like an Eagle"
27. Curtis Mayfield - "P.S. I Love You"
28. The Flamin' Groovies - "Shake Some Action"
29. The Bee Gees - "You Should Be Dancing"
30. Lou Rawls  - "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine"
31. The Damned - "New Rose"
32. Thelma Houston - "Don't Leave Me This Way"
33. Magma - "Udu Wudu"
34. The Ramones - "Judy is a Punk"
35. Andrea True Connection - "Party Line"
36. Metro  - "Criminal World"
37. Giorgio Moroder - "Knights in White Satin"
38. Joan Armatrading - "Love and Affection"
39. JJ Cale - "Cherry"
40. Alice Cooper - "You Gotta Dance"
41. Bob Dylan - "Mozambique"
42. Nick Lowe - "So It Goes"
43. John Carpenter - "Assault on Precinct 13 Theme"
44. The Hollies - "Draggin My Heels"
45. Billy Preston  - "Bells"
46. The Muppets - "Mahna Mahna"
47. Tom Petty  - "American Girl"
48. Starbuck - "Moonlight Feels Right"
49. Roy Ayers Ubiquity - "Everybody Loves the Sunshine"
50. Double Exposure - "Ten Percent"

Top 25 LPs of 1966

1. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
2. The Beatles - Revolver
3. The Monks - Black Monk Time
4. Nina Simone - Wild is the Wind
5. Pharoah Sanders - Tauhid
6. Perrey-Kingsley - The In Sound from Way Out
7. John Coltrane - Ascension
8. Emil Richards - Sound Element Stones
9. The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelics Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators
10. The Temptations - Getting Ready
11. Ennio Morricone - The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
12. Lee Hazlewood - The Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood
13. Esquivel! - Actual
14. Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 - Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66
15. The Byrds - Fifth Dimension
16. Skip James - Today!
17. Love - De Capo
18. Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
19. Nancy Sinatra - Boots
20. The Troggs - From Nowhere
21. Robert Basho - The Grail and the Lotus
22. Donovan - Sunshine Superman
23. The Who - A Quick One
24. The Walker Brothers - Portrait
25. The Kinks - Face to Face

Top 50 single tracks of 1966

1. The Beatles - "Tomorrow Never Knows"
2. The Velvet Underground - "All Tomorrow's Parties"
3. Nina Simone - "Wild is the Wind"
4. Ike & Tina Tuner - "River Deep Mountain High"
5. The Beach Boys - "Good Vibrations"
6. Gyorgy Ligeti - "Lux Aeterna"
7. The Temptations - "Ain't Too Proud to Beg"
8. The Walker Brothers - "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore"
9. The 13th Floor Elevators - "Rollercoaster"
10. Al Stewart - "Turn into Earth"
11. The Byrds - "I Come and Stand at Every Door"
12. Delia Derbyshire - "Ziwzih-Ziwzih-OO-OO-OO"
13. Karlheinz Stockhausen - "Hymnen"
14. The Supremes - "You Keep me Hangin On"
15. Them - "It's All over Now Baby Blue"
16. The Creation - "Making Time"
17. Astrud Gilberto - "Maria Quiet"
18. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - "Hey Joe"
19. The Rolling Stones - "Paint it Black"
20. The Kinks - "Sunny Afternoon"
21. Steve Reich - "It's Gonna Rain"
22. The Four Tops - "Shake Me Wake Me (When It's Over)"
23. Delia Reese - "It Was A Very Good Year"
24. The Outsiders - "Time Won't Let Me"
25. Love - "Que Vida"
26. Buffalo Springfield - "For What It's Worth"
27. Nancy Sinatra - "These Boots are Made for Walkin"
28. The Monkees - "I'm Not our Stepping Stone"
29. The Left Banke - "Walk Away Renee"
30. Oxford Circle - "Mind Destruction"
31. The Easybeats - "Friday On My Mind"
32. The Charles Lloyd Quartet - "Sombrero Sam"
33. Donovan - "Season of the Witch"
34. Luv'd Ones - "Up Down Sue"
35. Jim Croce - "Until It's Time for Me to Go"
36. The Who - "A Quick One While He's Away"
37. Lovin Spoonful - "Daydream"
38. James Brown  - "It's a Man's World"
39. Davy Graham - "No Preacher Blues"
40. Aretha Franklin - "Sweet Bitter Love"
41. Stevie Wonder - "Hey love"
42. Phil Ochs - "Cops of the World"
43. Simon and Garfunkel - "Scarsborough Fair"
44. The Association - "Cherish"
45. The Count Five - "Psychotic Reaction"
46. ? And the Mysterians - "96 Tears"
47. The Troggs - "With a  Girl Like You"
48. The Isley Brothers - "This Old Heart of Mine"
49. The Turtles  - "Down in Suburbia"
50. Paul Revere and the Raiders - "Out of Sight"

15 Noteworthy Artifacts from 1956

1. Miles Davis - The Birth of the Cool
2. Louis and Bebe Barron - Forbidden Planet Score
3. Screamin Jay Williams - "I Put a Spell On You"
4. Karlheinz Stockhausen - Gsesang Der Junglinge
5. The Coasters - "Down in Mexico"
6. Elvis Presley - Elvis Presley
7. Chuck Berry - 1956 singles
8. Shirley Bassey - "Burn My Candle"
9. James Brown - "Please Please Please"
10. Bo Diddley - "Who Do You Love"
11. Charlie Feathers  - "Can't Hardly Stand It"
12. Johnny Burnette Trio - "Train Kept A-Rollin/Honey Hush" single
13. Johnny Cash - "I Walk the Line"
14. Howlin Wolf - "Smokestack Lightnin"
15. Aretha Franklin - Songs of Faith