Archive for May, 2010

What if you held a protest, and everyone came?

May 26, 2010

Oneohtrix Point Never’s ‘Nobody Here’ loops a four bar sample from Chris de Burgh’s ‘Lady in Red’, turning the sickly strains of the original—via a dubby slowing down and some liberal use of echo—into a darkly compulsive 125 seconds (that yet feels eternal) of music. The result is a triumph of hypnagogia, and of détournement. De Burgh’s scopophilic love is made grotesque, and uncanny.

I dreamt last night that I was at a Chris de Burgh concert, but de Burgh seemed transfigured. He had a shamanistic aspect about him, something unworldly. The band started to play Lady in Red. When they got to the ‘Nobody Here’ refrain, everything suddenly became mesmeric. The band had slowed, and Chris had dropped in register and speed, dropping from dreamreality, even. In my mind the live performance of Lopatin’s loop took up one, maybe two hours. What would be the optimum time for such a thing to take proper effect? The image of de Burgh and his band locked into their smothered groove is one to hold onto, I think.



May 26, 2010

I’m loving the bioluminescent textures of Actress’s Hazyville, warm and cold at the same time, everything in the process of an amber freeze. (And what’s with the detourned Twin Peaks sample at the end of ‘Crushed’ – it gives what I’m struggling not to describe as a ghostly irradiation, a spectral pallor that only deepens the already potent impression of same elsewhere on the album.) Everything here seems thuddily amniotic, as if you’re listening through thick styrofoam. Diced rhythms, fragmenting levels of operation, these are important no doubt. But I can’t get away from the paranoic quaaludian feel, the oscillation between euphoria and tension, that comes with Actress’ disquisitions on the pliability of repetition. Tom McCarthy’s novel Remainder explored similar cleavages of mood in its steely (in execution) interrogations of the mad possibilities of a repetitious, looping psychopathological state. Actress and Burial make music about impressions (the stark melancholy of Burial’s ‘Night Bus’ springs to mind) so personal to me that I never imagined they could be the subject of public record.

Ways of Dying

May 12, 2010

Questions of verisimilitude often hang over Schubert and Willhelm Müller’s Die schöne Müllerin. Is it all the fabric of a dream, a fantasy on a tragic love (as suggested by the final poem’s references to sleep)? Or does it seek to portray, on the other hand, a fictive but true movement from life to death? Through his music Schubert preserves some of the ambiguity, notably in the final, glistening, first inversion chord, whilst at the same time compelling us to be moved, drawing us into empathy, with the idea of such fragile, self-absorbed, even neurotic (from a modern perspective) love. The pastoral, carefree image of the cycle in comparison to the bleached existentialism of Die Wintereisse is belied when one considers its programme, which describes a shocking arc of life to death, from innocence to a sudden and bleak end, which such arc is hinted at by the poetic enormity of Schubert’s intimate music. The only option is to understand that the cycle presents a Sturm-und-Drang attitude to life, an all or nothing romanticism which reads into even the smallest glance momentous condemnation, which portrays a campness, even a self-fulfilling campness, that yet transfigures in the brook’s final song into a sort of radiance that shows the transience of all such attitudes, and of all things.

Debussy to a Disco Beat

May 9, 2010

This is wonderful, whispering of Boards of Canada but sepia toned, hinting at other times and places whilst maintaining spectral affinity with the original.

Closer and closer in ever-increasing circles…