Excelent new post on K-punk about the new Burial album.
Excelent new post on K-punk about the new Burial album.
Last edited by gek-opel; 14-04-2006 at 08:18 PM.
A lovely reading of it, yes. I hope I agree with him. I can't help but compare the lost souls of Mark's "wounded city," "ectsasy casualties on day release from psychiatric units, disappointed lovers on night buses, parents who can't quite bring themselves to sell their rave 12 inches at a carboot sale," with the aftermath of the comparable moment in the US--the "grups" of the lame NY Metro articleOriginally Posted by gek-opel
America's contemporaneous generation presumably "won," though--the "alternative" voice seems absolutely pervasive here. I sortof crave Mark's dystopian Britain, in comparison to my America--something worth mourning, worth remembering...
(Would love to talk more about Cooke as well, in another context)
Indeed...Originally Posted by gek-opel
I think its just Mark's reading of the nature of postmodern ahistory, as opposed to the kind of lifestyle way the so-called "grup" phenomenon (http://newyorkmetro.com/news/features/16529/) has been reported of late in the US press.
Also note that he is talking about "rave" culture- ie electronic British dance music, wheras all the stuff on "grups" focusses on an indie identity. Hence the distinction here that in Mark's reading of Burial's London there is a future mourned, a future just out of reach, that which might have been and could still be-- the displaced future which the ahistorical malaise has supplanted. Wheras with the "alterna-dads" or moneyed ex-indie kids of America they are in an eternal, never displaced present.
Last edited by gek-opel; 15-04-2006 at 08:18 PM.
1. I actually, genuinely can't believe how good this album is... I'm having trouble listening to anything else, and every time I do listen to it, I find something new in it.
2. The grups piece is annoyingly smug in tone, but it does point to a real phenomenon (might even be worth discussing on another thread). But, as I have argued repeatedly recently re: Arctic Monkeys etc, the problem lies not with the older generation, who are doing what they always did (i.e. appreciating new versions of what they used to like), but with the young, who are only capable of turning out 'new' permutations of old formulae. How could the older generation be alienated by milder, less challenging versions of the same old scene?
But Gek-opel's right - the difference between 'grups' and the sort of people I'm talking about in London would be that there really is the ex-raver is precisely alienated from the UK popular cultural scene in a way that grups conspicuously are not from the US equivalent. The dead hand of indie (with its anthemic pathos, flaccidly depressing in a way that the invigorating melancholia of Burial never is) is strangling UK pop to a degree that was never the case even at the height of Britpop (which could then be positioned as a reactionary movement, in flight from the efflorescing innovation of jungle/hip hop/trip hop).And then these Clash-listening kids grew up and had kids of their own, and the next generation of kids started listening to music, like Franz Ferdinand and Interpol and Bloc Party, that you might assume their parents would absolutely despise. Except it doesn’t really work that way anymore. In part, because how can their parents hate Interpol when they sound exactly like Joy Division? And in part, because how can their parents hate Bloc Party when their parents just downloaded Bloc Party and think it’s awesome and totally better than the Bravery!
3. Juliand, would love to hear what you have to say on Cooke... My post on his current show shd be up in the next few days, maybe we can start a thread to talk about him after that?
listening to the album today - it's great - it's almost 'post-hearing'...like catching vague sounds of a rave across town whilst slowly drowning in the Thames...k-punk is right - it just does sound like south London, from the seagulls to the reverberating car stereos to the mad muttering of psych-wards patients on day-release. Everything is just at a slightly odd speed...time is out of joint...
And the stuff he says about girls in the interview is just brilliant - some dubstep night the other week in the Elephant and Castle was just too damn blokish - big furry hoods pulled up, shuffling about, no girls on the floor, dull beats, just dead...the samples of single lines of female vocals on the burial album adds this brilliant dimension to the slowness, I reckon.
Very good piece Mark. And thanks for the Johnny Dark link. I hadn't heard of him.
This is what I've been experiencing with the Breezeblock set, sometimes listening on repeat for a couple of hours at a time. I'm mesmerised by it - like it doesn't matter if I hear anything else. I certainly don't feel like I should bother making music anymore because everything I might have wanted to do is here. That sounds hyperbolic, but I've only felt this way maybe once or twice before with an album. The last one was the first Boards of Canada album for a lot of the reasons mentioned in the Ghost Box discussion. On MHTRTC there's a lilt in the second track where time seems to split in two. That's what I keep feeling when I hear the wordless vocal in 'Forgive' (? - 3:00 into the BB set). Gravity and Weightlessness.Originally Posted by k-punk
But this sensibility in Burial is closer to early jungle's contradictory pull/propulsion - the gravity of the bass + breaks that operate as hauntological shards and future rhythm machine at the same time. As a hauntological music I see a major difference between Burial on one hand, and BOC and Ghost Box on the other. With the latter the emphasis in on nostalgia, even if it's a cold, impersonal one at times. The uncertainty hinges on a potential past felt in a blur of media and childhood memories that could have been had or later inferred. Whereas Burial's nostalgia drives into the future. It reminds me of a car purposefully moving through a cold wet city night while a passenger stares, heart-in-throat, out the back window, remembering places and people as they pass. There's a sense of the future being a necessity in Burial (and ghostly parallel futures just as much) whereas BOC and GB are cocoon-like.
Other thoughts: The link to EVP is right on. In Burial's music there's a sense of immersion in a density of signal and of searching for meaningful threads. I've also just realised that, for me, sonically, it's vividly reminiscent of growing up in Winnipeg near the train yards, and hearing their horns and screeches wafting for miles through the thick summer air. So, there we go, back to childhood.
But one thing that I've been thinking about for the last while is the value of this idea of a hardcore continuum. Even tracing a continuous line between actual developments in British dance musics over the last two decades is difficult enough. I'd say there are multiple, intersecting lines of flight and that those get so tangled up from time to time that radically mutated threads end up spinning out. But then consider the lost and parallel threads that Burial illustrates. Feminine pressure, for example, can be seen as a tendency that periodically coincides with these threads but is repeatedly ejected from the main streams for the same reasons you and IT mention. I know the 'nuum is easy shorthand for the major developments in British dance music, but I think it also hides too much of the chaos and the politics.
I think you and Burial himself are absolutely right that his tracks bring an uncommon emotional depth and texture to dubstep when it has, in some quarters, become overly concerned with sonic purity ("austerity') and reproducing some of the dead-end, inhuman elements of techstep. But to characterise dubstep on the whole in that way is too broad. Digital Mystikz, Skull Disco, Kode 9 and Distance come to mind immediately as examples of dubstep artists trying quite successfully to avoid dirge and the amputation of emotion. Personally, I think the splits are going to start happening soon, the way they did in DnB, but with somewhat different results.
Finally, your comment on dubstep deploying dub-as-positive-entity is also interesting. I wonder if this is part of the reason for John Eden (according to his posts about it) not having much interest in the music. But I think dubstep is an exercise in subtraction-in-process of a different sort. Instead of literally dubbing out a vocal or instrument, it's dubbing the formal elements of 2step/early-dubstep itself. Halfstep (which will, admittedly, run itself into the ground if it becomes the ideal) is probably the most pronounced example of this. The missing percussive elements are still experienced but as a known absence, and they're often gestured at in the science of the bass.
Last edited by nomos; 16-04-2006 at 10:34 PM. Reason: unfinished sentence re: 'feminine pressure'
its a great album, translucent, gentlish, none of alot of dubsteps dark, pummeling ambitions, like a kind of magnet for secret sounds and triggered detached memories, which allow your senses to hallucinate, rather than pressurising them through physical overload.
It's not immediate but that's very rare nowdays, it's one of the few albums of recent times i want to go back to and listen to over again as i know i will get a different 'reading' each time.
Autonomic - fabulous post, further proof that this album is inspiring
I take your point with respect to 'hardcore continuum' - maybe blissblogga could defend its continued use? - but I don't see any better alternatives atm; 'dance music' has horrific associations (Mixmag etc).
I expected folk (particularly here) to take issue with my account of dubstep - clearly I was generalizing, and I'm far from being an expert on the scene. But, in a way, that's part of the problem - nothing I've heard from dubstep has drawn me in or seduced me enough to make me want to investigate it in any depth. Your defence is ingenious, but I think that removing things and dubbing them out are quite different. In fact, what you're saying - that dubstep is dubbing 'the formal elements of 2step/early-dubstep itself' - may only be making the point that I.T. and I are making viz. the girl-unfriendliness/ anti-pop nature of the genre....
I think the main thing that Burial adds to what might be termed "the 138 sound" (ie 2step and its descendants) which is really distinct from Dubstep-proper is in the pure sonics, as a result of the technology he uses. As much Dubstep is produced using Fruityloops, Reason or other soft studio packages, there is often a literal flatness to the sound. As K-Punk said of present dubstep "The emptying out has tended to produce not space but an oppressive, claustrophobic flatness." But this has arisen not for any reason really but their use of certain technologies...the flatness, lack of stereofield and lack of real grit comes from the tools of the trade. Burial sounds like he mashes up a lot of dirty old samples, which is going to result in a more textured, less plasticised soundscape.
However I would add that this criticism of dubstep-proper only really applies in the home listening environment, and that the massive bloating of the bass really only works properly in a subbed out clubspace. So much space has been left in the soundmix predominantly to allow for the effect of grotesque pulverising sub bass, which when heard thru the correct system begins to make much more sense. I think the producers engineer with this set-up specifically in mind, from what I can tell from perusing the dubstepforum. Its this all consuming bass which is the core of this sound, above and beyond any stated allusions to dub or 2 step. It almost puts it closer to Sunn 0)) esque doom-drone metal than other dance musics...
What would be fascinating would be to put back in the elements of dainty, fastidiously syncopated drums, and female vocal melisma, but not to return to pop up-fulness, to keep up the oppresive sense of doom, almost goth-step. A dark-core Feminine pressure perhaps?
To elaborate - I think the best dub always has a relationship to a certain sweetness of (the) Song. The white take-up of dub has often seemed to think that you can make dub more intense by entirely removing those elements and simply turning up the bass. A parallel error was made in jungle, when the inhuman-feminine cheesey rave elements were stripped out and you ended up with the rigor mortis of techstep. Course the point is that the bass sounds all the more powerful BY CONTRAST with those sweet elments (and the Song sounds all the more plaintive, all the more affecting for being disappeared in front of our ears - that's why the best dub is literally sublime). Space in music is a kind of sonic illusion achieved not merely by emptying things out but by including different types of sound; it's contrast which produces that 3D effect.
Posted that last one before seeing your latest Gek... but it seems to follow on from what you were saying, which is handy...
If space is the place, have you heard "Qawalli" by Pinch yet K-punk? Its really delicate and elegant, and very dub- spacially aware. Its another tune that possibly posits a different direction for dubstep to go in, another possible future (more minimal, more basic channel, more beautiful...)