(Post-)Hardcore Continuum & UK Music Writing


yeah, I think a big part of the feminine aesthetic is routed in pop (didn’t Klein call her last record ‘her most Disney’)

there has been a long line of male musics as ‘independent’

sounds kind of like the stereotype of men in their shed, if you think about it


Really fascinating, I think I whole-heartedly agree with you. Thanks for wording my thoughts more clearly than I could.

The idea of the underground within the mainstream is something I’ve been noticing a lot surrounding techno-culture. Where underground-resistance offered some alternative or some resilience, most techno -and the marketing surrounding it- nowadays seems to have become a sort of prefabulated idea for hedonist teens, without any strings attached to it. The conformity within the genre and the mass-marketed stereotype of the raver as someone special is bothering me quite alot. It makes people think they’re different for going to their techno night and paying 3,5 euro for their beers, while it’s just the same marketing wank as EDM, just different (to me at least better) beats.
I feel like a big part of the idea of ‘underground’ is being used for marketing at the moment, it makes people believe they’re in some special club. It’s not bringing people together that are alienated from something, or even worse, it’s selling people this monetizable idea of alienation.

I also noticed a lot of the political activism in arts is centered around blackness or LGBT movement, even if both are already mainstream issues in the left side of politics as you mention. I talked to Nkisi not too long ago and she said the last couple of compilations on NON worldwide was a sort of message to bookers everywhere that there are black artists in the genres where most people are white (experimental, gabber, electronica,…). It is as you said a negation of “black genres”. Really interesting!

This feeling of not being able to do or say anything as a straight, white male is somewhat of a stereotype handled by the alt-right and indeed destroys any reinvention of the self. I feel like any possible discussion about the white male is in a headlock as it’s immediately forced in the spectrum between the overly politically correct and the alt-right.
Do you think there’s a way out of this? How could I (not to say we, as I don’t know your background) get over this nihilism of this post-political period in which I am supposed to be happy with what I have while meanwhile the world is still fundamentally unfair to loads of other people?

The thing you mentioned about the cross-polination of styles is something which really fascinates me aswell, especially relating to the idea of Global ghettotech as Kode9 referred to it in his “Sonic Warfare” book. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that? I feel like it’s really empowering on a subpolitical (as kode9 calls it) or infrapolitical level, as it helps deconstruct the exoticism world music and ethnography constructed and I feel it builds bridges between people. Through Gqom, Durban suddenly doesn’t sound that different from Brussels.

Anyway, I hope I’m not over-simplifying any of your statement. Thanks for replying. Do you mind if I maybe quote parts of your above statement in my thesis about the infra-political power of club culture?

And finally, to go on a leap: what will the underground do when we’ve solved the LGBT & race issues?

@kid_kozmoe I think we have some misunderstandings ;). With TINA i didn’t mean meth, I meant the Tatcher quote which inspired Fischer’s book: “There is no alternative”, referring to capitalism.
The part you quoted from me is referring to the post-club scene and not gayparties as a whole. You’re right that it’s logical they play some more mainstream-ish genres at most gay-parties.


Ah, wow, that’s a fundamental misunderstanding! Because that’s were I linked the nihilism you mentioned to Techno too. :slight_smile:

The part you quoted from me is referring to the post-club scene and not gayparties as a whole. You’re right that it’s logical they play some more mainstream-ish genres at most gay-parties

But maybe it’s the same thing? Including parts of the audience that is into this music?


Loving how this thread has really blossomed. Really amazing posts going on here.

@ETC & @crat Just a quick point that we are by no measure in anything that could be even lightly defined as a ‘post-political’ moment with nothing to oppose (regardless of our race and sexual orientation). Would argue we just have to switch on the news to see that right up in our faces. news.sky.com .

Also, Dean Blunt and Gaika are the opposite of ‘Post-Black’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-Blackness). They both actually foreground their race as a main element of what they do and you could argue that they actually inhabit stereotypes. See this Crack magazine article as an example. Found the rhetoric where on the one hand there is talk of them representing ‘what it means to be a black man in the UK’ and on the other, there are photos of the two guys passing spliffs actually deeply playing into offensive stereotypes, yet under the guise of progression. Really sad and oddly backwards. https://crackmagazine.net/article/long-reads/hackney-vs-brixton-conversation-dean-blunt-gaika/ Anyway, just wanted to make those two points, as they stood out as not quite right.


Thanks for chiming in!
I don’t think the post-political means that there is nothing to revolt for, I think it refers to the lack of a greater movement to which we can subscribe. Everything is small & splintered.
After the “failure of the left” liberalism seems to be the prevalent strain of thought and the idea of capitalist realism has seeped through our society, while indeed, if you switch on the news you’re confronted with the fact that capitalism is accompanied by a great level of (in)direct misery.


Quote from @ETC

"Just as most political parties have given up political ideologies and have now sunk back into the position of mere moral crusaders, there seems there is no political reason for the underground to exist, as in, it’s not in opposition to anything. "


i’ll get back to @crat’s points in a sec, but just wanted to quickly respond to @Esquilax

By post-political, i’m refering to mainly Zizek’s arguments about the ‘post-ideology’ we see today. That’s not to say there are no politics or no ideology in the entire world, but people looking to politics to answer economic, national or structural questions in the western world has mainly gone (TINA), and hence now Left & Right wing roughly describes people with slightly differing moral values rather than ideas on how to run a country. The quickest way to express this is maybe the New Labour UK turning to the centre, or North Korea’s peace talks yesterday, which I’m guessing means they will join the 99% of countries in the world who subscribe to the liberal-conservative-capitalist mechanism. (or Capitalism with Asian Values [dictatorship] as Zizek would call it. It’s probably no mistake that the talks were held in Singapore…)

see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-politics

Actually, I believe they are Post-black. Although their work (esp. Blunts) is almost universally misconstrued. Post-black doesn’t mean Post-race. It means contorting and twisting what blackness means, so it doesn’t fit the ‘You Must Be Into Hip-Hop Then’ vibe, you can reference black culture but not be limited by it. Within Black Culture, there is little room for critique otherwise your ‘blackness’ will be questioned (Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9MeCh30Hvg&t=8m50s). [EDIT: not a uniquely black issue as is the same with nearly all cultural identities, sexuality, race, gender, vegan, meat-eater, “you either are or you’re not”]

What basically every album reviewer of Black Metal missed was the radio show where Blunt said the album thesis was “Appropriate Yeezus: Appropriation, Re-appropriation and the Empowerment of the Post-Black Male”. https://soundcloud.com/rinsefm/scratchadva20714#t=53:40 Most reviewers think it’s a critique of whiteness, but the more powerful rebuke is the challenge set to a black audience of self-reflection)

Part of this is re-appropriating is the inclusion of negative stereotypes. Blunt is deliberate in his appearance; the kind of guy to make white women cross the street away from him. He knows it 100%, and it’s a challenge. The viewer must now confront their utterly useless stereotype.

@crat perhaps there is a sketch of a ‘Post-White Male’ thesis too (see: my avatar lol), but with wildly different factors.


Exactly, yes I agree with your points too. Also, thanks a lot for all your musical recommendations, i wasn’t aware of most of them and they are a huge help to me!

There was a quote I heard from a 60s Scorsese interview where he rejected the term ‘underground filmmaker’ because it was just ‘marketing jargon’. Another term could be ‘counterculture’ but this is rarely in use today. Most current happenings aren’t politically pushed underground and don’t substantially counter anything.

True, and I think a lot of those alt-right guys are just regular liberals without a positive identity for themselves. Maybe it’s even to do with this post-racial mindset (colour blindness), that there is no urgency to redefine ‘white maleness’ in the way that for black culture there is a very urgent and necessary task of reinventing self-identity.

The penultimate question. Depends if they can make more money making ASMR videos, I guess.

and of course, you can quote my ramblings anytime.


Worried about derailing the thread too much, so keeping it relatively brief again. These are big topics in themselves and stray a fair bit from the lines of thought being explored here. Mainly the comments are to try and help the ideas and references on this thread stay accurate, as they have been so refreshingly clear and verifiable so far. In context, your defining of the present as Post-Political in relation to a supposed absence of solid political motivations behind making music (writing, art, etc) feels dangerously divorced from the realities being played out for many people creating work in 2018 across the whole spectra of race, gender, class and sexuality (absolutely including straight white males). Related, when we make statements like “what will the underground do when we’ve solved the LGBT & race issues?” it seems (maybe unintentionally) flippant, unaware of the long road travelled thus far and similarly that lies ahead in the ongoing tackling of such issues.

It’s important to freely connect concepts to try and make sense of what’s happening in our culture, but there’s also a danger in simplifying wildly differing world stage events to serve as qualification for an idea. The Left’s centre alignment is a proven failed project, for example, helping pave the way for Trump in the USA and May/Brexit in the UK. It could be argued that this collapsed model has been superseded by shock successful trial runs of a return to true alternatives in Corbyn/Sanders ‘Socialist’ model. Comparing New Labour in 1994-2010 to the motivation for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un to meet with Trump in June 2018 (in order to covertly acquire validation on the world stage at little concrete cost), is to conflate two completely different things, stemming from complex and entirely distinct sequences of events, separated by years, continents and socio-political contexts. So not a criticism of the general line of enquiry, just these particular ideas seem like red herrings in the pool of thoughts we might be agreeing to refer back to while developing ideas here.

With Dean Blunt and Gaika, you are right there is definitely a knowingness in both cases here. But I wonder what exactly is achieved by, under the guise of a progressive racially-focussed gesture, entirely mirroring and re-presenting absolutely familiar and limiting negative stereotypes of black men, in the case of the Crack article, as weed smoking guys in hoodies and leather jackets. Or in your example, to “make white women cross the street away from him”. The notion of ‘Post-Black’ is a direct antithesis to how these practises function in every way. The originator of the term, Thelma Golden "defined post-black art as that which includes artists who are “adamant about not being labeled ‘black’ artists, though their work was steeped, in fact deeply interested, in redefining complex notions of blackness.” Both of the aforementioned artists have projects absolutely accepting of and centred on the very idea of them being labelled ‘black artists’ within a very ‘traditional’ frame, and I struggle to see any redefinition of ‘complex notions of blackness’ in their projects, interesting though they sometimes are in certain other ways. The work of artists like Janelle Monae, Frank Ocean, Tyler The Creator, Mykki Blanco, Missy Elliot, Actress, Jeff Mills, and numerous others feel more connected to idea of ‘Post-Black’ as directly embedded throughout their gestures and enacted at all levels in what they do. When you say “Within Black Culture, there is little room for critique otherwise your ‘blackness’ will be questioned” and link to Dean Blunt calling a Black Lives Matter dialogue with Darcus Howe (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darcus_Howe) pointless and walking out, what do point do you mean to make? Furthermore, what exactly is ‘Black Culture’ as you referred to here? Would be interested to know what ‘White Culture’ is also in relation to this definition.


Sure, thanks for your points! Will try to keep it brief too.

Obviously there are tons of ways to dissect the ways of looking at these things, and I am conflating and being flippant for the sake of brevity and provocation (although that question you quoted was from someone else), generally pushing people to dig deep.

I’m not sure if ‘proven failed project’ is true in world terms, there are countries today (germany, slovenia) where the right and left are in coalition to keep the status quo going, with the far right fast becoming the only ‘alternative’. I think people are looking for alternatives, and it could be Corbyn/Sanders, but it could also be Trump, there has been a postideological period until the reawakening of these older concepts (socialism/nationalism), but nothing really new to fill the void (green looks like it’s going absolutely nowhere).

True, and again, it’s really a complex one because it depends so much on your perspective on the term, but i think the quote you pulled out “adamant about not being labeled ‘black’ artists, though their work was steeped, in fact deeply interested, in redefining complex notions of blackness” works in relation to Blunt, although in a very different way than you might say with Tyler, The Creator. DB’s been very guarded about any attempts to be pigeonholed as a black artist… plenty of examples like (from The Wire interview) ‘[on sampling The Pastels] Surely no other group is further away from the idea of black metal? “What is the idea of black metal?” Dean asks me. Well, for one, black metal is a genre invented by groups like Venom. “There’s black metal as a material,” Blunt says. Then there’s black metal as black culture’s version of metal, I offer. “No man, no way!” Blunt explodes … but what about a title like Free Jazz? I prod him. You can’t pretend you’re not deliberately tapping in to all of the cultural and historical baggage that phrase comes with. Otherwise why call it that? “Well, why not?” Blunt retorts.’ At the same time, as his career progresses he is more and more trying to connect with a black audience and lamenting the fact that only white dudes turn up to his shows. There’s really too much to go into than this thread can allow, so we might have to agree to disagree.

In the BLM debate, Dean was arguing that blackness itself has to be scrutinised, the hypermasculinity, the “homophobia, it’s not cool”, and disagreeing that getting together on the streets and listening to Kendrick Lamar can change anything. Point being his nonconformity around blackness and that debate specifically was really not well received by some there. [EDIT: just realised your question might have been in the hope of eliciting a different kind of response, the meta-point being: Blunts views are radically different from much of the current consensus (such as some the artists you mention, also evident in your declaring him “offensive” or “oddly backwards”), which inevitably pushes him ‘underground’, he doesn’t talk about his intentions, leaving those who want to know to figure it out, the end result of that debate is a good example of exactly why he keeps out of public discourse, in my view.]

Considering the wildly differing viewpoints we are coming from at the moment i don’t think it would make any sense to start asking what ‘black’ or ‘white’ culture might be.


this whole diversion has lead me to a lovely paragraph in that Dean Blunt The Wire interview that connects this all back to the HCC topic very nicely.

“I grew up with the jungle stations, man, that was punk for my generation,” Blunt reveals. “I mean grime was closer to punk for me, for my generation, a way more authentic English music, like jungle. I respect the anger and the rage of punk but I lost interest when I realised the kind of anger these kids were channelling. It was a little controlled for me but all I can say is as far as being British and being something that was pure rage and had no other outlet, then jungle was punk, and grime, briefly, was punk.”


Whoa. Saw @crat’s comment earlier and just finally got to reading it and then saw how fast this thread took a serous left-turn! Kudos to the overall civility btw, everyone…I was laughing earlier how I feel I’m seeing a ‘radical politeness’ that has (hypothetically) arisen in response to seeing too many go-nowhere social media squabbles. Whatever the cause, I think it’s pretty fucking fantastic.

OK, going all the way back to the interesting monkey wrench @crat threw into the thread…
" A lot of the deconstructed (shite term) or post-club like staycore uses loads of trance- or pop-references or even blatantly rips them (dinamarca) and puts them in an artsy setting by infusing some baile funk beats into it. "
What a fucking great observation, or at least one I hadn’t really considered, partially cuz I’ve definitely existed close to one such scene associated with DiS Magazine and the whole Tumblr aesthetic shit and personally seeing artists finally moving past notions of ‘good’ taste has been, to me, a very good sign for the future that has had middling present results (which is a debate unto itself). And I also wouldn’t have gone so quickly to queer culture, though, as a queer demisexual dude, I feel confident in saying that the scenes you mentioned are pretty fucking queer! It actually really helps me with a separate piece I’m working on that attempts to define and confirm the existence of a “homofuturist” aesthetic that’s existed since modernism.

And while I’m not necessarily involved with everything you’ve mentioned, I can definitely relate certain personal experiences in helping to add another angle to this discussion.

"The deconstructed scene, to me, has this active nihilistic vibe to it, as if it’s no longer worth to construct an alternative world or moment for people to step into, in the form of an event or party. I’m definitely connecting this (but I’m not yet sure how) to a nihilism attached to the whole TINA thing. "

Yes, as you said before that, you are seriously over-romanticizing it here, but it’s also fascinating for me to read as it speaks to how that scene has both presented itself and been presented in the press. It’s interesting because as someone who has self-identified as a nihilist for well over a decade, I wish I could say I see that same nihilism you do. My Immediate response was “poptimism,” the idea first advanced by Kalefah Sanneh in this NYTimes piece on rockism from 2004. It was conceived as a split from rockist biases that have tended to see pop music as ‘shite’ and ‘inauthentic’ compared to ‘real rock n’ roll’ and the whole thrust of his argument was that music critics should give equal or comparable thought to pop as underground music…an idea I don’t disagree with, at least how he talks about it in this interview with the Fader (whose content this decade is a direct manifestation of poptimism as critical practice).

This nicely sums it up:
When people hear “rockism: bad; poptimism: good,” it’s hard not to interpret that as “rock music: bad; pop music: good.” Part of what I was trying to say is that rockism actually does a disservice to rock, as well as pop, by turning rock into this humorless standard bearer for all other genres. It obscures what makes the best rock music so awesome. I’m skeptical of any regime that seems to be restrictive or predictable. I ended the essay by saying, “We have lots of new music to choose from—we deserve some new prejudices too.” The best you can hope for is that professional listeners are constantly rethinking their prejudices because there’s no way to get rid of them altogether.

OK, so far, so good, right? After all, being conscious of our biases in listeners is something that is a bedrock principle of my own site/writing and personal beliefs. But wait! Like everything else this decade, poptimism soon got watered down into a much more lower common denominator practice that nicely paralleled the rise of ‘clicks’ as the metric to rule them all, the lifestyle journalism-fication of music writing, and ‘stan’ culture. It basically became the music critical equivalent of wokeness–talk about a throwaway point that’s gonna get me blasted but I see ‘wokeness’ as a performative engagement with progressive politics. If you don’t like Rhianna, you’re a misogynist colonialist patriarchal fuck who’s also a rockist. And look, I wish I wasn’t writing those very words but from my vantage point over the past eleven years, I saw this engagement with pop music happening at a top-tier media level more than at a grassroots queer level, trickling downwards and legitimizing a kind of willful ignorance towards music history that scares the living shit out of me.

I haven’t read this in a while, but think it offers up a similar narrative:

OK, realized I might have just thrown a bit of a monkeywrench into this thread myself, but that’s really what my immediate reaction was to the question…keep in mind, post-modern theory eliminated the ‘high/low culture’ binary…except that it didn’t really. What we’ve seen this decade is arguably the manifestation of something that has been coming for a while and made much more actionable through social media et al (the ‘cult of the amateur’ and the like).

Gonna leave off there for a hot minute as obviously a shit ton has gone down but I also think the original post by @crat is in line with the whole spirit of this tread, which is about tracing how critical concepts become lived realities (and whether that even happens)…or at least that was my starting thought lol. Need to finish reading the post-political debate before I weigh in but at least wanted to respond to the original question with a different theory as explanation.


Also, to provide some more background on the whole wokeness thing and my critical position on it, this piece sums it up in a tidy two paragraphs.


Maybe this nihilism isn’t inherently connected to this post-club scene in and of itself but it’s maybe more a sign of the times which I coincidentally read from this scene? It might just be a manifestation of the whole “there are no more new ideas” so they start sampling from everything and throwing everything into the mix. Which also manifests itself in other genres like the whole livity/timedance/… sampling of everything from the HCC.

What you mention about moving past the notion of ‘good taste’ is interesting to me. While the way many scenes regarded other scenes always seemed a little elitist to me (“our sound is better than yours”), I feel like the dismantling of this hasn’t really done that much good.
To me, it is important if we identify ourself as ‘underground’ or trying to look for an alternative in music, arts, … that we indeed do so. The whole sampling/playing of pop-songs gets stuck on an overly nostalgic or melancholic level and hardly ever offers me anything real to grab onto. It doesn’t feel like some sort of witty commentary to me, and if it is, it’s just in a reactionary way to other music scene’s self-reference (techno, house).
This connects to the idea of poptimism you mention, where the more artsy your setting, the more it is frowned upon to not like pop-music. I personally have a really hard time connecting to most pop-music and pop-culture as it often feels way too forced/constructed/commercial to me, so this poptimism is something I’ve really been struggling with.

Finally, to get back to @Esquilax.
I think my statement was a bit of an overly contrarian one. It came from a certain frustration with the current hype around political art and what @zurkonic’s last article mentioned as the woke-olympics.
Everytime a twitter-feud erupts around a certain artist, it’s a race for which festival can be the first to drop him from their line-up and cash in on the free press that comes with it.

Maybe post-political isn’t really the right term, as there is even a “political turn” in the arts today. I think post-ideological feels more suiting to me.
Thanks to one of my housemates, I read part of a book (too active to act by BAVO, but it’s in Dutch) the other day stating something interesting. The whole premise of this book is that there has never been as much political art as now, but that the only thing it’s doing is reinforcing the current system. Artists work within the way our society is structured and try to better it instead of taking a step back and questioning why our society is structured this way in the first place. By doing so they are actually further cementing a fundamentally unfair system by bringing little consolation here and there, but never really changing anything fundamental.
So there is definitely political art, doing good things in race, gender, class & sexuality as you mention. But I feel like it seldom offers a broader reply to some of our societies problems and focusses on making small adjustments. I do still think they’re important though, it’s just that i feel like they fall short in some ways.
I feel this closely connects to the idea of post-ideology. Nobody has anything better to propose, so political art is just a bandage on an open wound without proposing a fundamentally different way of seeing things.

Anyway I hope I’m a little more clear and a little less edgy now.


Coming from a position of seriously scepticism about the whole ‘identity politics’ game, I think Dean Blunt had some good points in that panel discussion. And yes, ‘blackness’? What is that supposed to mean?

And I probably shouldn’t say this as I am merely a white european male, and even quite old, but the more focus there is on group identification and victimization the more other self-appointed groups will use the same arguments and strategies, warranted or not (say hello to alt-right and Generation Identitaire) and this fuels nothing but stratification and self-segregation. I really hope that all questions on racism and discrimination soon get a serious discourse update, so that we don’t risk polarizing, and to understand the problems better.

Also, in keeping with the thread OP, this is Jeff Mills quoted in Energy Flash:
“The music that I make now has absolutely nothing to do with colour. …The mind has no colour. There’s this perception that if you’re black and you make music, then you must be angry. Or you must be “deep”. Or you must be out to get money and women. Or you must be high when you made the record. It’s one of those four.”
Then SR comments : “To which you might respond, what’s left? If you remove race, class, gender, sexuality, the body and the craving for intoxication what exactly remains to fuel the music?”

There’s a lot of critique of (minimal) techno in Energy Flash (Robert Hood dismissed as doing calvinist “bread and water”-techno etc), and while not completely wrong (and I loved the book btw) I think the above comment illustrates how at a whole the book is relying way too much on an almost vulgar historical-materialist notion of art as just an expression of an underlying dialectic within a very simple “oppressor-opressed” model. So in many ways I agree with @zurkonic posts in this thread that the whole conceptual game around this needs to be re-adressed with other theoretical models.


It’s so good we can have all this back and forth here. How would we even do this on Twitter? You’re right that DB and GK’s projects are totally different from each other, and I definitely agree there’s a lot going on in both that’s really important. It’s more the fine details about really challenging stereotypes that I’d like to see go further in what they do, especially from a UK perspective, and it’s probably as much or even more about how the industry frames things as it is about what they are doing or trying to do. But I agree too that it’s a whole other long conversation. I don’t think we have wildly different views, but maybe some of the nuance was getting lost for brevity’s sake on both ends. Might need to make a separate topic sometime to explore these ideas. Loving this thread!


Definitely, and no perhaps we don’t have such different views, there’s always an essence of shooting in the dark with online chat, never quite knowing what angle each other are coming from, and things can easily get misconstrued. I don’t think DB’s way of doing things are the be-all and end-all, but just another way of tackling the same issue of stereotypes [fight or flight, or subvert] and opening people up to new things. I think he has been slightly radicalised by the fact that media do constantly try to frame things in terms of race, or just think it’s pure satire, even if there’s a joke or three in the work.

Also, I do want to add that none of what’s been said here has been to belittle or cast away all the amazing work being done out there, it’s all so important in it’s own way. One of the key things that is going on at the moment is that all sides seem to be trying to subvert and expand and extent stereotypes and perhaps the outcome of that is a culture more cloudlike, nebulus, and fertile, which is nothing but a good thing to me.

Anyway, perhaps we should set up a separate thread (if this one hasn’t already moved on), as there are so many rich pickings in this thread that could be dealt with if we weren’t all trying to strangely stick to the HCC. [although we are definitely still somewhere in the topic of UK music writing]


Just want to say that whilst I don’t feel anywhere near capable of contributing to this thread, it’s a fascinating discussion that I’m enjoying immensely & the very fact it can happen (esp. so coridially) in 2018 gives me much hope! Thanks!


Hey y’all:) Was smiling reading everyone’s above comments, especially @chava, @Esquilax, and @ETC as they’ve been adding fascinating tangents and differing (but similar maybe?) perspectives. And cheers to @crat’s recent joining. Now, this may be a bit of back-patting, but having just read the thread’s development since last posting with an unfinished rambling of ideas, it’s funny how much I’ve had different posts from different points jumping into my writing and reading…I’m afraid @pilhead made reading at least Jeremy Gilbert and Ewan Pearson–yet, that Ewan Pearson–another late read (or re-read with Energy Flash to whom I owe this friend’s total sweetness in sending over a copy from London.

Anyhoo, I’ve been laughing in my head a lot at the discussion surrounding my earlier, flippant comments about Marxism as I’ve been reading a book (one I believe I mentioned earlier in this thread) that is a Hegelian philosophy of art about the avant-garde that I have found _beyond riveting:


As I’ve been hella busy trying not to get evicted and work on all my non-paying projects, I figured I might as well share a portion of text I wrote summarizing much of the book’s over-arching ideas as not only do I find it utterly incisive, its focus on the ‘art world’ is an almost token one as almost everything he’s written I’ve found very helpful in articulating and developing some of my thinking on this current historical moment and music’s role within it (as well as a perhaps romantic fixation with the avant-garde…for as Buttechno so elegantly put it (though I failed to post the following quote at length from this interview), as I’ve been writing down a lot of very long quotes/excerpts lately, the fact I can just copy and paste this is too wonderful to pass up;)

First of all, I’m inspired by crazy musicians, in the best sense of the word. Musicians who can remain open to things beyond the established conventions. I suppose you could call it “avant-garde.” Terrence Dixon is a prime example, especially for music where your selection of instruments is limited: you could have one drum machine or one synthesizer, for example, and that’s it. And he managed to create things which would be impossible to reproduce even with a large number of acoustic instruments. Music like that blows you away, and you understand how it’s possible to work with any tools.

For me, it’s important for music to contain some kind of intention that is difficult to describe in words. It’s just that sometimes something resonates inside you and you think: that’s the shit. And it has nothing to do with a specific genre or form – in techno there are limited patterns, just as there are limited dub riddims [the Jamaican Patois pronunciation of “rhythms” – Ed.]. But among the many tracks that are the same speed or use the same instruments, some find an inner reverberation and others don’t. In one of his interviews, Mika Vainio, of the Finnish minimal electronic duo Pan Sonic, said: “There’s a lot of techno stuff that somehow, mysteriously, doesn’t catch the groove.” It really is a mystery how there can be good and bad music which, at first glance, has been made according to the same rules.


And with that, this…

In his book Revolutionary Time and the Avant-Garde, John Roberts offers up an incisive materialist analysis of the avant-garde today. Noting how we must adjust our judgments of past avant-garde movements, he makes the first of several crucial assessments of what the avant-garde has become in the post-World War II period, citing the need “to recognize that these delimiting conditions themselves are not fixed. If in the the 1950s and early 1960s the historical avant-garde seemed largely utopian, and I the late 1960s and early 1970s a pressing if short-lived revolutionary demand in the wake of May 1968, today it seems like the grammar of a viable and active art production….When the social constraints on art are pushing art’s field of operation and critical claims further and further from the day-to-day relations of the official art world, then the official art world begins, quite obviously to look less like the place art can be made and talked about.”

From here he moves on to his adroit critique of what he calls the second economy and the avant-garde’s relation to it. Catching us up to the present day, he writes:
This is why we need to talk in general terms about the extraordinary revitalization and revivification of many of the premises of the avant-garde in post-object art, participatory art, pedagogic art, and relational and post-relational practice since the mid-1990s, emboldened as this work is in two significant and interrelated changes in the global political economy of art: the exponential rise of the artists’ ground or collective as ‘research units and the massive growth of arts’ ‘second economy.’ The second economy is that sphere of artistic and cultural activity that has little or no relationship to the primary economies of art: salesrooms, auction houses, museums, and large public galleries. But—and here is the significance of its emergence and expansion - it is where the majority of artists now labour and produce their ideas and cultivate their models, templates and networks.

While he might be talking about the visual art world, one can posit a similar change and shifting of distribution models that has both reified the mainstream in an increasingly decentralized market and allowed pockets of innovation where the focus is, arguably, largely on the music and not the hype, the backstory, the press release-cribbed reviews. Though his focus might be on the auction houses and prestige galleries that were once the primary vehicle by which the avant-garde was disseminated in art but also music, his focus on the dematerialization of the art object works for music’s adoption of streaming as the primary means of music discovery while secondary markets in the form of Discogs have emerged to facilitate the selling and re-selling of ‘specialist’ music products, often produced in limited runs of 500 or 1000 copies that change hands over the decades with the ebbing and flow of different musical trends.

-note the CCRU and Kode9’s involvement (fuck it, why be precious about this shit, eh? I’m in a forum, after all, hehe)

Moving beyond the amateur culture that has been the primary engine behind celebrity and status of the full-time artists, he writes:

This is because the second economy is the space where not only marginalized and self-marginalizing full-time professional artists work, but also part-time professionals, occasional artists, who in their combined and shared activities represent an extraordinary artistic contribution to the ‘collective intellect’ and to the pronounced shift overall to the emerging gift economy. The second economy, therefore, is weak in terms of its command over exchange-values, but is vigorous and inventive of its production of use-values (that may or may not produce exchange-value in the future).

Marxist economic speak aside, what Roberts is identifying is the fact that in the US census in 2005, “two million people wrote on their form that they primary job was as an artist, and three hundred thousand declared that it was their secondary of part-time job…But of course very few artists, about 1-2 per cent, actually make a living from selling their work.”

The reason we’re taking the time to make our ways through these dense historical-theoretical texts is due to the fact that a post-Web 2.0 critical framework—what was idealistically referred to as the ‘democratization’ of the internet back in Silicon Valley retreats in 2007—is needed to move beyond the nuum to a space in which we can start to make sense of this tradition that was once manifested through a material-cultural infrastructure has gone virtual and with it much of the organizing hierarchies and relational models through which electronic music’s myriad scenes can be made more understandable and allow us to craft a language to capture the new nuance at work in ‘underground’ electronic music.

I should also mention that I’m reading much of this through, for lack of a better term, a “DIY” frame of reference based off of my own experience is shared.

Apologies for the typos and the abrupt end…groaning at how many other crucial ideas I at least want to write down and then hopefully distill to something more succinct. Now getting go on your weekend release, right? Cuz I’m sure not working…

Oh! And please enjoy (or don’t!) this song from Ploy off that Patina Echoes Timedance comp that is baaaaallller (but also, hella nuanced)…talking to him this week, that was an interesting cul de sac we hit…“well, [nuance’ is what it’s all about these days, innit?”


on the post/deconstructed club thing, noone listens to korn or bullet for my valentine or whatever that other shit whhite band was in green lanes or around brixton hill mate. not 2 mention kingsland road.

Basically we need a mantronix 4 the 21st century.