Avec Le Soleil Sortant De Sa Bouche – Alizé et Margaret D. Midi Moins Le Quart. Sur La Plage, Un Palmier Ensanglanté II – Constellation Records
There really are no words for what is going on right now. Even before Donald J. Trump assumed the office of the US president, in Avant-Garde-level efforts to inveigle the pubic, he entangled the media in the world’s most dangerous ever game of “I know you are but what am I?”
Still, there is no alternative to fact. With one of his first cabinet nominations, Trump installed the former CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, as secretary of state, clarifying his administration’s priorities for anyone still in doubt. He has since signed executive orders to construct a border-spanning wall between the US and Mexico, and at the same time to build an oil pipeline connecting Canada’s tar sands to refineries stateside. He has frozen new research grants to the Environmental Protection Agency, and directed it and other federal agencies to restrict their public communications. It is full-time work just keeping up with this shit. And I’m not even American.
It all makes me want to throw up my arms and howl nonsense at the heavens from the island of Montreal. Which is what Avec Le Soleil do, chiefly. As Samuel Johnson understood, “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.”
Gnod – Bodies For Money – Rocket Recordings
If it is words you want, though, you cannot do better than Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine, the title of Gnod’s recently announced upcoming album. The MC5 might have been proud of how this Salford ensemble mightily riff through politically-charged lead track “Bodies For Money.” It bashes unabashedly.
I recently saw someone tweet something like, “We’ve now entered the realm of by-any-means-necessary.” One of those means, an ideological imperative, I argue, has always been to unconditionally rock the fuck out. “When we become crazed in our obsession with idiotic enjoyment,” wrote the always-provocative Slavoj Žižek, “even totalitarian manipulation cannot reach us.”
Slowdive – Star Roving – Dead Oceans
I have no emotional space left for nostalgia. Fortunately, this is not a trip down memory lane. Slowdive are simply a band that stopped making music together for a while, and recently started again. It’s actually a boring story, and a welcome one.
Happa – Bum Trance – PT/5
One hallmark of a great tune is that it immediately makes you want to listen to it again. “Bum Trance” manages this. Operationally, it seems like the track, which represents restraint as much as maximal over-indulgence, wants to go back in for one more drop. The fact that it doesn’t—that Happa winds it down rather than back up again—bestows the banger with a charming if false modesty.
Open letter to Brian Eno – Re: The Guardian interview, 23 January 2017
Dear Mr. Eno;
Long-time listener, firsttime caller. I hope this note finds you well.
I have always held you and your music in the highest regard. But I am concerned by some of your views expressed recently in The Guardian. What dismays me, as a music technology historian, is your misguided notion of music’s structural homology with social organization. You describe the orchestra as a top-down, pyramidal model of power (bad), as opposed to the “more egalitarian model of a folk or rock band” (good).
In reality, however, neither of these models broadly characterizes music nor politics. It is, rather, rogue dictatorships that we now witness rising in all forms. We can read Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Marine Le Pen and their ilk as political incarnations of the contemporary musical studio sovereign: the producer. Today, (usually lone, often male) producers, of whom you are one, more than anyone else prescribe, transform, and regulate the musical landscape.
Industry standards like CDs or MP3s, technological protocols like MIDI, and computer platforms like ProTools have facilitated this shift, allowing one person with little to no traditional skill necessary to create entire musical works from start to finish. Comparing today’s musical and social organization, the respective fields reveal increasingly decentralized societies recklessly helmed by defensive amateurs. That’s about as far from egalitarian as one can imagine.
Best-case scenario: one of these dictators, either of the political or musical variety, experiences a profound awakening, turning out to be benevolent instead of tyrannical. This might manifest in selfless acts, incongruous with capitalism. For example, lending your considerable talents to assist someone more overtly radical than, say, James Blake or Owen Pallett might get that ball rolling. How about a Brian Eno-produced Godspeed record? Better yet, the next Solange. Just a thought.
Respectfully and sincerely yours,
Ryan Alexander Diduck