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Thread: new/nu/neo-pop

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by owen
    yeah but it works on both levels, no? ie musical sadness and 'lameness' of merely stitching together two 80s records. it's dialectical
    oh yeah, there's considerable poignancy -- desperately wanting to reignite the future-shock impact of the pop that first ravished you as an early 80s pre-teen by... by re-presenting it with your signature appended like that artist who did same to an Old Master and called it a new work

    applauding RX for having fabulous taste in early 80s music is the equivalent of--in the actual early Eighties--praising Shakin' Stevens for having dusted off some real chestnuts from the early rock'n'roll days

    Shakey did write a few of his own compositions, actually, and i recall there being a couple of nice-ish RX originals on that album but then again i can't actually recall anything about them, tune-wise, whereas the melodies of Numan/League/SOS are burned on my brain for ever

    to only way to beat the past at its own game is to write songs as good as the past

    which is where electroclash failed -- had all the right touches, production and sounds-wise, but no tunes, no stars

    and after electro-clash, harking back to that period IS retro, there's no getting round it


    Quote Originally Posted by owen

    re the AMs, there's also an Adorno-on-endgame point here that to write songs In The Old Way is entirely futile, always doomed to pastiche and general idiocy (cf k-punk upthread on GA's song structures)
    yeah but if that is true (and i'm not sure i agree with Adorno at all) that equally turns on all attempts to write in the Old Way, including 80s-style retro-futurism, or Franz wish-i-was-a-Postcardism, or dubsteppers with their echo chambers and babylon-shaking subwoofery, or all the breakcore folk trying to reignite the Amen-rush of yore...

    they're either all equally sad, OR all equally defensible as people working within traditions and trying to beat the ever-mounting odds against coming up with something fresh within that established format

  2. #32
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    "yeah but if that is true (and i'm not sure i agree with Adorno at all) that equally turns on all attempts to write in the Old Way, including 80s-style retro-futurism, or Franz wish-i-was-a-Postcardism, or dubsteppers with their echo chambers and babylon-shaking subwoofery, or all the breakcore folk trying to reignite the Amen-rush of yore...

    they're either all equally sad, OR all equally defensible as people working within traditions and trying to beat the ever-mounting odds against coming up with something fresh within that established format"

    Yes I agree with this - funny how this split makes me side more with Mark taste-wise and more with Simon in terms of reasoning.

    This is what I meant when I was talking on that other thread about the difficulty of proving vanguardism. It's not so much that vanguardism doesn't exist, but that - at least today - its claim is always plausibly (but rarely finally) refutable. There is in all contemporary music a certain component of revivalism or repetition, and this becomes a sticking point for people (or not) depending on their willingness to accept the presence or echo of that which is being repeated - e.g. dub and reggae in dubstep.

    Dance music provides some good examples of this. When I think of two of my favourite current producers - Ricardo Villalobos and Booka Shade - it's immediately clear that Villalobos is the one being lauded as vanguardist (to the point that I felt moved to complain on ILM that in critical terms he's becoming the Outkast of German dance music). But the argument could be made that Villalobos's Achso ep, as awesome as it is, is just reviving 80s Jon Hassell and early nineties "intelligent" techno (Black Dog and early Autechre are probably the key reference points).

    Booka Shade, meanwhile, are arguably reviving disco, early UK (acid) house, early trance, early rave and detroit techno - so their reference points are maybe A Guy Called Gerald/808 State, Eye Q Records, early Warp/Ital Rockers etc, with a dash of Detroit and early Orbital in there too.

    Both are providing a pretty clear "twist" on their influences in terms of recognisable production nuances and immediately recognisable sonic signatures. Neither tend to straightforwardly revive one sound in particular, but carefully combine their influences (Villalobos's "Ichso" is a Jon Hassell/Talk Talk collaboration with Black Dog on production; Booka Shade's "Manderine Girl" is, I dunno, Carl Craig gone trance through a white noise filter).

    So how do we distinguish between the two?

    The audacity of the translation of influences? Villalobos is drawing on stuff from further outside house's legacy, but it's not really outside techno's legacy. His chosen sources may appear to come from more disparate genres, but they actually blend together quite easily and smoothly - whereas with Booka Shade the influences rub up against one another quite forcefully and delightfully ("Mandarine Girl" and esp. the new track "In White Rooms" do quite amazing and unexpected things with tearjerker trance riffs).

    The freshness of the source material? Is Jon Hassell less played out than early A Guy Called Gerald? Hard to say...

    The transition of the source material from a genius context to a scenius one? Maybe, but in doing so Villalobos is increasingly being distinguished as "genius" rather than "scenius" anyway.

    The radicalism of the new production stamp? Villalobos is more openly, ostentatiously idiosyncratic and epic, but I think Booka Shade are just as impressive and interesting finally.

    These aren't unanswerable questions, but they're complex ones, and every juncture I just see personal taste bleeding through.

    Mark's definition of vanguardism - the creation of new populations, the redefinition of the very concept of music - avoids this trap, but it does so by skirting the entire field, equally rejecting both options as being mere product. Which is fine, but it leaves us with a vacuum as to what critical language we can use to talk about these rejected options. And there is music we all like which falls into this category - Junior Boys for example, or Ariel Pink, or...

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by blissblogger
    applauding RX for having fabulous taste in early 80s music is the equivalent of--in the actual early Eighties--praising Shakin' Stevens for having dusted off some real chestnuts from the early rock'n'roll days

    Shakey did write a few of his own compositions, actually, and i recall there being a couple of nice-ish RX originals on that album but then again i can't actually recall anything about them, tune-wise, whereas the melodies of Numan/League/SOS are burned on my brain for ever
    But wouldn't the more compelling analogy with Shaky be the Arctic Monkeys? Except that Shaky at least revived music that was new once, whereas the AMs revive pop that was ITSELF not only revivalist, but which legitimated and normalised revivalism (Oasis and the Libertines). Occurred to me the other day that there's a difference between the anti-modernism of the Smiths, which at least conceded that there was a modern to be opposed to, and the post-modernism of the Stone Roses (the uber criminals as far as I'm concerned), which pretended that retro WAS modern (the whole pathetic pretence that their canonic indie rock was in some ways connected to rave rather than a reaction against it).

    The Richard X covers struck me more as a More Brilliant than the Sun-type Pop Art theses - about, as Tim says, 'a relationship he perceives between cold electro-pop/dance music and cold r&b (of both the late eighties and millenial variety)' than as 'songs'. They were guilty pleasures, a reminder of pop's former modernism, a kind of postmodern mostmodernism, or modernist postmodernism. Not exactly something to be unequivocally celebrated, but for me at least, certainly preferable to 'new' songs written in the same old forms. At least RX highlights a temporal crisis; the likes of AM and fucking Franz Ferdinand paper it over.

    Don't see the comparison with dubstep --- I couldn't be accused of being a fan of dubstep but what is it reviving? Even five years ago, there wasn't anything quite like dubstep is now. It's progress forward is plodding, I agree, but it isn't a retread of twenty years ago.

    btw Some Girls is certainly burned into my brain. But then so are Biology and Wake Me Up.
    Last edited by k-punk; 02-03-2006 at 11:05 PM.

  4. #34
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    I should note w/r/t my last post that I do actually like Mark's vanguardism definition - I just resent it because I can't use it in relation to most of the music I like.

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    "Don't see the comparison with dubstep --- I couldn't be accused of being a fan of dubstep but what is it reviving? Even five years ago, there wasn't anything quite like dubstep is now. It's progress forward is plodding, I agree, but it isn't a retread of twenty years ago."

    This is true of a lot of stuff though isn't it? Five years ago there wasn't anything quite like Dominik Eulberg/Gabriel Ananda/James Holden etc.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim F
    "Don't see the comparison with dubstep --- I couldn't be accused of being a fan of dubstep but what is it reviving? Even five years ago, there wasn't anything quite like dubstep is now. It's progress forward is plodding, I agree, but it isn't a retread of twenty years ago."

    This is true of a lot of stuff though isn't it? Five years ago there wasn't anything quite like Dominik Eulberg/Gabriel Ananda/James Holden etc.
    But that's surely different to AMs and FF, which sound like they could have existed 25 years ago (except that, certainly in the case of Franzzzzz, they wouldn't have made it beyond 3rd on the billl in the Hull Adelphi then).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim F
    I should note w/r/t my last post that I do actually like Mark's vanguardism definition - I just resent it because I can't use it in relation to most of the music I like.
    Well, me too! But isn't the point that a CULTURE in which there is no vanguardism is moribund. Or retro....

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    "But that's surely different to AMs and FF, which sound like they could have existed 25 years ago (except that, certainly in the case of Franzzzzz, they wouldn't have made it beyond 3rd on the billl in the Hull Adelphi then)."

    A lot of the interest in Arctic Monkeys seems to be w/r/t the lyrics. How seriously should we take the alleged lyrical modernity (or at least contemporaneity) of the AMs? I dunno.

    Re my resentment - I think the issue is that moribund culture is presumably all I've ever known, so what you call moribund feels like the natural state of affairs for me - this may actually only bolster your arguments in some ways. But yeah, I only got into rave etc retrospectively, was listening to all sorts of non-vanguardist stuff in the early-to-mid-nineties.

    I was saying to Jon Dale recently that where I feel one big divide b/w myself and say you and Simon is that you both seem to have had impeccable tastes from day one - it appears that you've both always been into music that you could defend forever aesthetically/culturally/politically.

    Whereas for me there's a lot of stuff that I know I only like or liked because of some quirk of chance or circumstance. Reading The War Against Silence even got me into Marillion at one point about ten years ago!

    I think this is why I'm so keen to emphasise the foibles of individual taste, the difficulty of overcoming it, the challenge of actually seeing things clearly...

  9. #39
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    >Booka Shade, meanwhile, are arguably reviving disco, early UK (acid) house, early trance, early rave and >detroit techno - so their reference points are maybe A Guy Called Gerald/808 State, Eye Q Records, early >Warp/Ital Rockers etc, with a dash of Detroit and early Orbital in there too.

    this sounds exactly like my cup of recombinant tea, what are the records/mix-Cds i should be checking out Tim?

    (shame about their name though)


    >Stone Roses

    ah well you see this is where we part company Mark because if you don't think that the Stone Roses were a phenomenon , something to reckon with then... That was a Moment, there was definitely a vibe at their gigs that was special.... and they did some very Sixties-flavored things, true, but i can't actually think of anything that sounded like "I Wanna Be Adored" before it

    very bright lads the Roses too... not, in fact, "lads" at all... much closer to the intellectual half of Manic Street Preachers than Oasis


    Quote Originally Posted by Tim F
    "I was saying to Jon Dale recently that where I feel one big divide b/w myself and say you and Simon is that you both seem to have had impeccable tastes from day one - it appears that you've both always been into music that you could defend forever aesthetically/culturally/politically.

    ...
    actually not true, there's always been a lot of things i like that don't fit whatever theory it is i've been touting at the time

    i could come up with critical defences of them , and often have, but they'd only have the most tangential and logically tortured relation to the Main Thrust of My Ideas

    just a few examples -- costello, prefab sprout.... [pause as gathers strength to admit it] cough... lloyd cole... pavement (only the early stuff, mind)... the list goes on.... Nirvana, by Mark's argument, are "revivalist" but they were great, there's no getting round it .... too many to list really

    again, i see the parallel with things like fiction or TV or cinema.... there's always good and great work being done in forms that are not cutting-edge or futurist ... i'm as happy to watch/read a brilliantly-acted and written but formally non-groundbreaking movie /TV drama/novel --

    yet we don't seem to be as forgiving toward this notion in music .... certainly i don't tend to be even though practically speaking it's not the case that 100 % of my listening is at the cutting edge

    and at a time when the cutting edge is hard to locate it seems to be particularly fruitless to make that the sole criteria

    as you say tim, i don't think what Ariel P is doing either can, or needs, to be justified as 'cutting edge'.... a lot of what makes it magical is about its raiding the pop memory banks, playing with pop pasts....

    likewise junior boys
    (incidentally, how is what they do, with its very pointed and discernible evocations of some 80s strains of music, not devoid of the taint of revivo/retro?)

  10. #40
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    "this sounds exactly like my cup of recombinant tea, what are the records/mix-Cds i should be checking out Tim?"

    Simon I should add the proviso that it's all in four-to-the-floor! Somehow I don't think you'll like them as much as my list of reference points might reflect... I guess the most succinct way to put it is that, for all their rave sources, their stuff still sounds very "club" - very musical, very well-produced, more focused on producing a mixture of emotions like joy/nostalgia/sadness than provoking an extreme of one emotion in particular.

    But you should listen to "Mandarine Girl" which is on the Body Language mix, which you already have I think.

    Their first album Memento went for a real late-night noir vibe, great but only intermittently danceable. However I've heard bits of their forthcoming 2nd album Movement and what I've heard sounds fantastic - "In White Rooms" is the trancey track I was talking about above, and I've listened to it more than anything else for the past few weeks - it has that same almost manipulatively emotional vibe that Jacques Lu Cont goes for on his Thin White Duke Mix of The Killers' "Mr Brightside". Meanwhile "Pong Pang" is like the second 808 State album refitted for 2006 - ethnodelic electro-house. "Night Falls" is bittersweet Metro Area disco with a UK Garage bassline and a late-arriving Boards of Canada synth melody...

    Another favourite recent Booka Shade effort of mine is DJ T's remix of Will Saul's "Animal Magic", which combines a "Voodoo Ray" bassline with surging Superpitcher-style techno-melancholy. Booka Shade do all the production for DJ T and M.A.N.D.Y. tracks and their aesthetic preoccupations are stamped all over them. When you take into account all their backroom work they're probably the most prolific, consistent and arguably important figures in house music at the moment.

    "just a few examples -- costello, prefab sprout.... [pause as gathers strength to admit it] cough... lloyd cole... pavement (only the early stuff, mind)... the list goes on.... Nirvana, by Mark's argument, are "revivalist" but they were great, there's no getting round it .... too many to list really"

    These are all pretty respectable choices though! Lloyd Cole fandom makes perfect sense in a post-Smiths environment... Will anyone on Dissensus join me in admitting to liking Ani DiFranco? Probably not.

    "likewise junior boys
    (incidentally, how is what they do, with its very pointed and discernible evocations of some 80s strains of music, not devoid of the taint of revivo/retro?)"

    Again I think it comes back to questions like "is the source material they're reviving more necessary or desirable in today's environment?" - which is a more complicated and perhaps inescapably subjective question than the more functionalist "is this entirely unprecedented". We could point out that JBs use 2-step or R&B style percussion and thus their combination is novel, but again the question becomes, which sonic twists are significant from a vanguardist perspective, and which can be chalked up to the narcissism of small differences? I hear similar sonic twists in current continental dance music (seriously Simon have you checked out Dominik Eulberg's remixes at all? Some of them even have breakbeats!) but it's hard to say whether I'm hearing these more clearly because I'm so "close" to the music.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by blissblogger

    ah well you see this is where we part company Mark because if you don't think that the Stone Roses were a phenomenon , something to reckon with then... That was a Moment, there was definitely a vibe at their gigs that was special.... and they did some very Sixties-flavored things, true, but i can't actually think of anything that sounded like "I Wanna Be Adored" before it

    very bright lads the Roses too... not, in fact, "lads" at all... much closer to the intellectual half of Manic Street Preachers than Oasis
    That good, eh?

    Yes, they were a 'phenomenon'. Same as Artic Monkeys are a phenomenon. Yes, lots of people liked them. I'm sure there was a 'vibe' at Trad Jazz concerts too. None of this mitigates the fact that their jingle-jangle pop was a disastrous force of reaction.


    Nirvana, by Mark's argument, are "revivalist" but they were great, there's no getting round it ....
    But Nirvana were great precisely because they dramatized the predicament of rock being washed up and finished. For the revivalists I attack, that isn't the case, because the temporality of the form they are workin in is simply not an issue. They are new simply because their records come out now (so we are supposed to believe).

    again, i see the parallel with things like fiction or TV or cinema.... there's always good and great work being done in forms that are not cutting-edge or futurist ... i'm as happy to watch/read a brilliantly-acted and written but formally non-groundbreaking movie /TV drama/novel --
    I'm not really. Well, I am 'happy' to watch some formally classicist film or read such a novel, but I accept that it is lesser than something modernist. re: your Jonathan Coe point. I haven't read The Rotters Club (although I did watch the TV programme) but I'm sure that I would find its rendition of the 70s far less compelling than David Peace's modernist version. Likewise, surely the appeal of something like Dennis Potter's Pennies from Heaven or the Singing Detective was its modernist, formal innovations - compare that with the dreadful portentous vacuity of Stephen Poliakoff's 'Quality' teleplays.


    and at a time when the cutting edge is hard to locate it seems to be particularly fruitless to make that the sole criteria
    It isn't the sole criteria, but it should be a criteria of some kind. All the more important to hold onto it when times are bad. Indeed, the lack of cutting edge is WHY times are bad, and pretending that isn't the case will only add to the problem.

    as you say tim, i don't think what Ariel P is doing either can, or needs, to be justified as 'cutting edge'.... a lot of what makes it magical is about its raiding the pop memory banks, playing with pop pasts...
    Agreed, it needs to be justified, as we have done, as hauntological. There's still a sense of 'time out of joint', not a complete bracketing off of the question of history or development as there is in the case of AMs and Franz Ferdinand.

    likewise junior boys
    (incidentally, how is what they do, with its very pointed and discernible evocations of some 80s strains of music, not devoid of the taint of revivo/retro?)
    lol, well Jeremy is always annoyed and rightly so by the fact that interviews consider the J Beez 'retro' whereas rock of any kind is given a free pass. That's because rock is somehow eternalized, whereas electronic pop is destined to be forever associated with a particular period. I've a long argument about this in my forthcoming piece on them. Texturally, there are some borrowings from synthpop. But formally none of the Junior Boys' songs atually sound like 70s or 80s synthpop. In any case, there's a difference between 'evocations' and references and pastiche. If it were about evocations of the past, then everything would be retro (which is partly where this depressive logic is leading of course). But what we're talking about in the case of neo-Indie is things which actually sound like they really could have existed, exactly as they are, twenty years ago. I've heard nothing from AMs on which they escape pastiche mode. As for Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Chiefs, well...

  12. #42
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    xpost! repeating mark a little

    Is a vanguardist perspective always about desiring certain positive qualities/sources/sonictwists? What about the question of how source is twisted/fused/referenced? Or maybe this is always reducible to a subjective structural preference.

    For instance, the appeal of the ghost box artists seems partly to be the "inappropriateness" (= allure) of their library music source and yet they are more interesting than something like Harmonic 33 because of this drifty lapsing arrangement of sound. Not just perfect fidelity to a past sound, the evocation of hearing the past itself becomes a formal element.

    I think the hauntology thread was somewhat about hearing things in strange (spectral?) lights, about possible 'hows' rather than 'whats'. For me at least, Ariel Pink's raiding/playing of memory banks is more interesting than the 'pop' itself that fills this place (probably because i'm not old enough to have the [actual] memories). What I worry about is this may simply be like the negative of a privileged picture - it's tempting for me to prefer Villalobos over Booka Shade because the more overt mangling/smearing feels like a 'bizarre envelope' instead of a positive referent (especially wrt vocals). But this envelope itself is possibly just the stuff of IDM, just strangeness announcing itself in obvious, familiar, and ultimately self-defeating ways.
    Last edited by scissors; 03-03-2006 at 03:34 AM.

  13. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rachel Verinder
    the Pogues...overrated.
    Bullshit

  14. #44
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    I would prefer it if this Pogues "debate" evolved beyond puerille name-calling.

    Thank you.

  15. #45

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    It can carry on as a monologue, I can't be arsed to argue about it on an Internet forum on a crisp, sunny day like this

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