Wednesday, April 23, 2008

We Were Never Mnml (Inpress Column, April ’08)

Well, it never rains, it pours (and pitches, smokes, and tangoes). This coming weekend’s a doozy as far as international acts are concerned, with Alex Smoke, Michael Mayer & Superpitcher as well as Pilooski and Todd Terje all adding their spin to the rotating assembly that is Melbourne’s nightlife. One of the more interesting unintended consequences of the arse falling out of CD & record sales may well be that you have more internationals travelling to play more gigs, more often. If you want to see your favourite artist play in Melbourne, keep torrenting their music…

On the torrent tip, the consistent responses from recent interviews in Inpress over the past few weeks are painting a picture of the new musicscape, and it's a pretty bleak one. Depending on who you ask, sales of vinyl are down between 30-70% in the past twelve months, and this decline has not been offset by an increase in digital sales. More people are buying digital, but a helluva lot of people are sharing music through Soulseek, BitTorrent and the like, and (again, depending on who you ask), this means a lot of small labels and independent record stores are going to the wall. A small but perhaps very telling anecdote from a writer friend of mine who works for a music magazine: he reckons that no-one can be bothered coming in to pick up promo CDs any more. Free CDs, and no-one’s interested in them (even people working in the office). What does this say?

Who knows what the future holds for electronic music? This little vignette from the WMC paints one kind of picture. A journalist friend of mine in attendance asked Richie Hawtin (and his ‘I wanna be Sven’ beard) what had been his favourite track of the Conference, to which he replied: ‘I don’t remember any of the tracks I’ve played.’ To which he quickly added, ‘Heartthrob, Heartthrob.’ High five, Richie! Rack ‘em up!

This also lends credence (and more than a little unwitting irony) to Michael Mayer’s opinion – published in my interview with him in this edition – that the use of digital is actually affecting people’s musical selection, that it’s ‘impairing their judgement’. He said: “There might be some DJs who really know what they’re doing there, like Richie, but I know so many DJs who switched to Serato and totally lost it. They play generic music. The dramatic side of the set got lost, ‘cos they’re scrolling through menus. It’s not the same thing. It’s code. So I’m totally pro-vinyl, and I’m not going to give that up.”

To some vinyl of the moment, beginning with one thing I’m fairly non-plussed by. It’s the new Dial EP. And it’s BLAND. Terrifyingly bland. Prog for architecture grad students. The only interesting track on the whole thing is the appallingly kitsch (in a good and bad way) Phantom/Ghost cover of… the Right Said Fred song ‘You Are My Mate’. While it’s too early to declare that the Dial shark has been jumped (especially with the Sten LP due), this is a pretty dire release. The bit that sums this up for me is the use of the vocal sample 'Detroit' on the Jost and Klemman track. Like, 'Detroit?' WTF? It's a totally empty referent – all it means is 'we are referencing Detroit'. Ooh, the echoes in the carapace, ahhh, the insults from the parapet.

The Dial EP also got me thinking abou three strands at work in the music at the moment. The first is a repudiation of ‘mnml’, which is music that emphasises spaceform, waveform, plugin, mixbuild. Frank Zappa might have said that ‘writing about music is like dancing about architecture’, but in a very real way, mnml is all about dancing about architecture, or dance music about architecture – the titles of Monolake’s recent works ‘Momentum’, 'Polygon Cities’ and so forth, are a dead give away in this regard.

So mnml (and its architectonics) is being repudiated, in favour of an avowal and appropriation of the blackness, deepness, ‘funk’, ‘soul’ or whatever. This is music that emphasises history, influence, innovator, and ‘respect to deepness’ and so on. The danger in some appropriations of this is ‘standardised magic’, a bland, closed world of boring, functional, interchangeable, indifferent interpretations of ‘funky’ and ‘soulful’ music that are neither funky nor soulful. ‘Tiefschwarz’ as both word and concept sums it up. Tiefschwarz means ‘deep black’, even though ‘Tiefschwarz’ is actually pair of slightly creepy brothers who are neither ‘deep’ nor ‘black’. And while the best of the vibrant tropes of the moment (‘dub techno’, ‘deep house’ and ‘minimal techno’) continue to produce, mix, and interpret in an interesting (if not innovative) ways, there’s a deathforce in the ‘Detroit’ sample. Just say ‘deep’ enough, and depth will appear. Say ‘Detroit’ (or have a sample of a black man do it for you) and the 313 will manifest – and you will have soul. Paul van Dyk’s appropration of Audi’s motto (Vorsprung Dyk Technik) was much more honest.

The third strand is the ambivalent embrace of kitsch, sentimentality and nostalgia, an indirect nod to the ACDC lyric: ‘The white man had the schmaltz/ the black man had the blues.’ This is a social emphasis (unlike mnmls architectonic and house/techno's historical), and you can see this at work with the Phantom/Ghost track, but it’s also highly apparent at Kompakt’s HQ, right down to Burger and Voigt calling their last EP ‘Bring Back Trance’. Again, maybe PvD had his finger on the pulse. This one might take off... be afraid.


  1. Here's the immediate response I've had to the RIAA and their ilk over the years (and, much as I hate to say it, you're echoing them here): is the music being hurt? Sure, less music is being SOLD, but is less being made? And is MUSIC getting worse, or just minimal, or techno, or what? What's the real damage? Is the point the music, or people's ability to support themselves financially from musicmaking?

    The fact that labels from the current/last wave of techno are falling off is meaningless. There's a natural life cycle to music. Trends rise and fall. A once-hot sound is basically worked to the bone and disappears. Minimal is a relatively limited genre - by stripping down the sound, you're stripping out options, to some degree.

    Also, people struggle to see the next trend coming - all of a sudden, everyone is doing it. The once-untouchable labels become shadows of their former selves, and the masses buy in. Just watch: it may not have been made yet, but Dial is about to have their biggest-selling record ever.

  2. The question is:

    what is 'the music'?

    I'll sing it for you. Is it:


    Is it a matter of looking after signals, scenes, or bank balances?

    Certainly some aspects of what we broadly understand as 'the music' are being harmed: certain formats, certain viabilities, certain outlets, certain sociabilities.

    Does it matter? It depends the stake you hold, on your interests and where you are in the cycle.

    I thoroughly disagree with your point that the falling off of certain labels is 'meaningless', and that the change we're witnessing is 'natural'.

    I would say that it's indicative of an enormous shift in the way we listen to, distribute, share, produce, reproduce, prosume music.
    How could that be meaningless?

    You support this by making a 'naturalising' claim, by saying 'it's all part of a natural ebb/flow, like the tides and the moon. Well, either everything is natural (as we are of nature, everything we do/are/make is natural) - but this isn't very helpful or interesting for understanding our action and the effects it has.

    I'd say that the effect we're witnessing (and effecting) is not at all natural: that it's being produced by the conscious decisions of people and their cumulative effects, often unintended.

    We should remember that power stations and cars weren't designed to fuck up the atmosphere... but they do, nonetheless. Technology is neither value-neutral nor predictable in its effects.

    We might also say that Dial is going to have its most shared/swiped record(ing) ever...'s not all doom and gloom, either. I don't think any of us really knows where this is going to end up. It's more a matter of tracking changes...

  3. To the last bit, I should also add that the transformation presents us with new possibilities, as well as problems... and it's not like 'the good old days' were in any way perfect or something to long for, either.

  4. BTW, here's M.Mayer's comment on the state of play from his PoV:

    “Kompakt was stable for a while, even after digital became popular. Then we did notice a decline of vinyl sales. And now they’re down 30% in the past year – and not just Kompakt, but all the labels we distribute. And the sad thing is that this isn’t being made up for in digital sales. People are sharing music, music for free – and it’s totally sanctioned by the music press in Germany. Nobody wants to be the bad guy in this, and you don’t want to lose the support of the bloggers. It’s really complex and frustrating, but I really fear that the music scene as we know it, which is a result of structures and associations built in the 90s, with its huge diversity – we’re going to lose it. It’s just not going to survive, ‘cos it’s not economically viable. And no-one’s safe, no-one knows what’s going to happen."

    Interestingly on this tip, I bought the 'You are my Mate' EP from Kompakt mp3, and it came without jpgs or full tracklist info, AND the tracks import IN CAPS, WHICH YOU THEN HAVE TO CHANGE :) ... the irony is I would have got mp3s of at least equal quality with full documentation off a BitTorrent site... surely this is something that has to be addressed by Kompakt, among others. I know Bleep and Beatport have, to some extent.

    When's someone going to use the BitTorrent architecture to turn a dollar? Get people to pay monthly subscriptions, and divide revenue according to download... it must be possible... does anyone know of anyone exploring this?

  5. PC-

    Shared/swiped/consumed in some form is much better. You're certainly right that music sales are tanking, but I don't think that merits the 'bleak' call.

    It's pretty clear that no one has the answer to the filesharing problem. I haven't had soulseek on my computer for a couple of years (legal torrents only, honest!) but the internet provides me about a million legal ways to keep myself musically enriched. Right now, most of those methods are powered by the industry, so I'm not escaping the problem you prevent.

    Nonetheless, the beginnings of the solution are out there. Decent free netlabels are finally starting to appear (unfoundsound is even attracting some names), bedroom mixtapes are excessively available, etc.

    Basically, the days of living off musical income may be drawing to a close. I'm not trying to present that as some sort of utopia, but it's got its own set of pluses.

    Think of how many more people might start making music if they believed that it was just about music, with money playing a tangential role. Yes, a lot of it will be amateur crap, but that just puts the burden on the listener to find the good stuff - the way it should be, in my opinion.

    Sorry to sound like such a hippie.

  6. Nah, I think I agree with you on all those possible plusses... isn't a cynic just a hippie who's been jilted by the cosmos :) ?

    I think your point about 'legit' downloads is very true. It's easily possible to have more good, new, interesting music to listen to for free without getting into any grey areas... ...we've been attempting this with the blog, and I think you'll agree, there's plenty of good music to be accessed here. Well, we hope so.

    In an interview I did with him last week, Alex Smoke said something sensible about torrenting:

    "Needs must, you have to do these things occasionally. If you’re buying most of your music, you have to do these things occasionally. You know when it's wrong."

    Maybe this is also a problem of legalistic thinking, the 'polarising lenses' of the bi-polar machine that is the law. The law categorises everything and adjudges right OR wrong, when in fact, there's an infinitely rich and complex spectrum of human action, which is all right and wrong to a certain degree...

  7. Have to disagree with you on the Dial EP. Thought every track on there, apart from the RSF cover, was standout.

  8. Asifindit - how/why? Gimme some details - what do you like about it? I'm not saying 'what's to like', I just want to get a slightly thicker description than 'everything was standout'.

  9. Something perhaps to add to the discussion from the marvelous French get the curse blog (

    "A l’heure où toutes les promos se retrouvent sur le net 2 mois avant leur sortie et où Rapidshare est le plus gros disquaire mondial, l’enjeu pour un Dj n’est plus de mixer à tout prix un disque avant les autres. L’enjeu, c’est juste d’avoir l’oreille. "

    Translation (i'm not a French nor an English native speaker so apologies in advance): At a time where each promo can be found on the net two months before it's out and where Rapidshare is the biggest distributor in the world, the issue for a dj is no longer to at all cost play a record before the others but just to have 'an ear for it'."

    Anyways, if you don't know french, there's still plenty of excellent podcasts and mixes there (jacques renault, heiko mso, brodinski, radioslave, sami koivikko, dixon, laurent garnier,...)

  10. pc,

    There's a real feeling of positivity and celebration with the EP.

    The influences are prominent but the record is a successful celebration of them. It's their take on house and to me it sounds good.

    As for the Right Said Fred cover, it's endearing and maybe fun/amusing but that's it.

  11. "Prog for architecture grad students."

    That is not a sentence.
    Can you please elaborate on what you mean by this?

  12. i'll leave the bigger issues to one side for the moment and just comment on the dial ep. i've only listened to it once or twice, but that in itself says something - i've had no urge to listen to it.

    the jost/klemann track was a disappointment for me. this could perhaps because it'd be getting a lot of props. i am not sure, i just found it a bit uninspired. same for most of the release actually... as for the other ones - the only track i really like is pantha's and that is nothing new. he was playing it in his betalounge set around two years ago. my main problem with this release is it is just a bit mediocre and lacking, which is something very, very rare for dial.

  13. Ben j,

    I don't know how you can possibly see the idea of "more people participating as a amateurs" as a step forward. Honestly, I'd rather have a few talented professionals spending all of their time refining their craft than zillions of half-assed hacks churning out yet more crap for me to wade through.

    It's great that people can participate but we need to differentiate between things of genuine merit versus stuff that's the musical equivalent of fanfic or fan art.

    I think that's mayer's point about vinyl. Now I think he's wrong to peg that to vinyl - there's no reason why people couldn't choose a few amazing mp3s out of their collection to play out instead of carrying the whole collection with them. The question is why don't they? And I'd say this is a problem of supply. Faced with the torrent of content out there at some point it's easier to just throw up your hands, say fuck it, and just bring everything.

    A few years back I could never have imagined saying this, but please god bring back gatekeepers and authority in music. Let's have some sort of filter otherwise we really will be swamped in a tide of mediocrity.

  14. I find it very interesting that both old school and new school minimal feel the same way about vinyl. Robert Hood, from an interview in RA earlier in the month:

    While just about everyone else - including his once famously pro-vinyl mentor, Jeff Mills - has moved over to CD, Serato, and digital variants thereof, Robert still shows up to gigs with a bag full of vinyl, a fact made fairly apparent by some of the precariously unstable track transitions on Fabric 39.

    "That's just how I feel, man," he explains. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's the way I work. We been shifting back and forth with different technologies, with different ways of presenting house and techno, which is great - but I am looking for something that works for me. I don't wanna grab the latest technology because everyone else is. I think we got too many of us following behind each other, and nobody's prepared to be a vanguard and really stick to their guns, and be brave. People say that those who don't jump on technology are afraid of being left behind. I think the ones who jump on all the latest technology are the ones who are afraid of being left behind. There is no Pro Tools, there is no Serato, there is no compact disc that can outdate my form of music. The way I present it is timeless. It's in my heart, and it's in my hands. It's not in technology."

    I sincerely wish that more DJs felt this way about the medium. My personal hope is that vinyl weathers the digital storm in much the same way it has to-date. The vinyl record has survived assaults from 8-track, audio cassette, video cassete, CD, Super Audio, DAT, MiniDisc, and DVD-A. Wax 4 evah!

  15. the funny thing is i saw mayer dj last night (admittedly with superpitcher as supermayer) and the track selection was really off. it seemed primarily a problem with the two guys putting it together, but given mayer's comments it was really noticeable that four cases of vinyl were enough to result in a set that worked well and vibed with the crowd...

    and to top it off, they played 'you are my mate' from the dial ep. hmm.

  16. MMayer's position in this is really interesting, because it's so contradictory. I mean, he talks about vinyl and being wowed by records that are 'non standard' and redolent with personality, but then releases (or is responsible for acceding to the release of) increasingly bland records from HQ. Whoever said that Kompakt is the ikea of techno really had a point, unfortunately.

    To me, the Justus Kohncke album (and the RA review) capture some of this. He's polished all the life out of his sound, and stopped doing those 'annoying vocal tracks' (the very thing that distinguished him as an artist) and gave the ikea crowd the modular furniture they prefer, the stuff that matches all the other ikea they already own...

    ...and for what? What will it be worth in ten years time? In a year's time?

    These days, I think it's really important to do three things:

    - develop a style

    - go deep

    - make an emotional connection

    In this way I think Hood's idea is really spot on.

    Also (referencing back to Chris' recent post about Vlad) this is what makes music inimitable, lasting, and sometimes approaching 'timelessness'.

    Try cribbing Vlad's style - good luck.

    He has his passion, his voice, his articulation. It speaks deeply and clearly of him. It's his expression. There's a lesson in that.

    I think, you know, you don't choose your obsessions. These things that take over your life, it's because you have a collision with thought. Something collides with your mind, the shards stick in your skin, they itch... slowly you excrete them. It hurts. But it's not like you have any choice.

    I don't think people have any right to say anything, write anything, or make music about anything they don't really care about. Anyone who's 'just producing' should fuck off and stop wasting people's time.

    If it's not as serious as life and as light as laughter, if it doesn't move you, really move you, well then, why bother?

  17. "These days, I think it's really important to do three things:

    - develop a style

    - go deep

    - make an emotional connection

    In this way I think Hood's idea is really spot on.


    I don't think people have any right to say anything, write anything, or make music about anything they don't really care about. Anyone who's 'just producing' should fuck off and stop wasting people's time.

    If it's not as serious as life and as light as laughter, if it doesn't move you, really move you, well then, why bother?"

    now we're talking. the entire bit i quoted (plus the part i "...."ed out) could have come almost verbatim from me. this is really what the idea of "soul" in music can be summed up to be in plain english, and for me basically all the music i listen to is soul music that falls under that definition.

    now what is funny is that despite our agreement here, we still are very far apart on the technology issue. to summarize my feelings on technology in terms of your 3 things, i would say that IMO technology wildly inhibits #2 and #3 from being able to happen as they should by allowing people to spend most of their time worrying about the technicalities of #1.

    not that this kind of thing couldnt have happened in the hardware days, it was just much less likely as so much money would be needed to buy the equipment necessary to allow the technical side to overcome the actual music. of course there was always bad music being made, but i feel like there was something more interesting about bad music that was made in a limited fashion than on the overproduced too much attention to meaningless detail tunes that come out today.

  18. given this discussion - and the ongoing debate between pete and pipecock - it is very appropriate that the 100th RA podcast is from richie hawtin. i've only listened to it once, but it sounds like he is getting more and more lost in the technology. the mix may be crafted in a new/unique/advanced fashion, but on first listen, it is just not very interesting. it isn't fun. it isn't provocative. it isn't anything really, besides a bit boring. while i tend to be very open and in favour of new technologies for music, it is a bit of a worry that it is turning someone like richie so boring and uninspiring.

  19. Taking a line of flight always contains productive possibilities, but there are inherent dangers.

    I guess in the column I was trying to identify three of these tropes, ANY of which can become a fetish that overwhelms musical possibility, be it a fetishistic fixation on

    'history'(or its signifiers)



    ...and yes, also technology. I don't see any contradiction there, Pipecock. I just think it's that you and I have fundamentally different ideas about the activity of technology, ie, the fact that technology can be an actor that shapes the music and the world it inhabits...


    The chimney: once chimney design reached a certain point, all kinds of new building designs were possible, and this in turn created different forms of sociability. I would say that the television and the car have had similarly enormous impacts... and Australia and the US as two of the most car-dependent and suburban nat-stats are what we see as the deeply ambivalent result.

    Air power? No more trench warfare. Long distance air power? The blitz.
    Long distance air power plus atomic bombs... possessed by two powers? M.A.D.

    In many cases, it is the transformation of technology and its unintended consequences that has had the decisive impact.

    We should always think about ideas like 'path dependence' and 'unintended consequences'. Sorry to go on like a sociologist, but how can electronic music, which is entirely mediated by electronic technology (it's 'electronic' nature being the only thing that distinguishes it from 'music') claim any exceptionality.

    We can express ourselves all we want to, but we are forced to do so in the world we're flung into, with the technologies we have, with all their effects and limitations, real and imagined...

    BTW, I just conducted an interview with Del tha Funkee Homo (sapien), and he had some interesting things to say about genre and technology:

    'Having got ‘the funk’ under his belt, as well as the basic theory behind it, Del then dove full force into the world of new production software. Eleventh Hour was entirely produced using Ableton Live. For Del though, this isn’t some kind of defection to electronica – because, for him, hip-hop was always electronic music first and foremost. “I feel like if you’re using electronic tools to make it, then it’s hip-hop. That’s our generation, that’s what it’s based on.”

    Such a definition might draw fire from self-appointed purists committed to building beats from digging for breaks and assembling them on the sampler, but for Del it’s much more about expression, rather than the medium used to channel it. “I’m not so concerned with how people perceive it; I’m concerned with getting my message out.”

    Del’s approach to hip-hop production draws an alternative history for hip-hop that’s much closer to house and techno, and, as far as technique goes, Del feels that both are in the same category. “House for me is just the bare bones of what makes a funk groove. It’s in the same category as hip-hop – ‘cos it’s all electronic music. It’s just a different aesthetic…. Hip-hop may be more creative sometimes though. But it all depends – I heard some house that’s phenomenal, the most advanced music I’ve ever heard. But then some other stuff… ” he trails off. “And hip-hop is more explicitly about the street, too – house is much more about escapism. You go inside to get away, to dance away what’s outside. Whereas hip-hop is much more ‘look what’s outside!’”

  20. "...and yes, also technology. I don't see any contradiction there, Pipecock. I just think it's that you and I have fundamentally different ideas about the activity of technology, ie, the fact that technology can be an actor that shapes the music and the world it inhabits..."

    i don't think there was any contradiction, i just feel like maybe you haven't been burned enough by "technologically advanced" music losing what made it interesting. for me, it started with my first dance music love jungle. the same thing happened with 2-step becoming dubstep aka "drum and bass at 135" (aside from the other parts of that music that actually sucked by regression into funky house and grime). and then of course i've seen techno music do the same thing, first with drummy techno and then "clicks and cuts" as mr sherburne calls it and it has been happening pretty much with richie since before mnml and that kind of set the tone for mnml overall.

    "I would say that the television and the car have had similarly enormous impacts... and Australia and the US as two of the most car-dependent and suburban nat-stats are what we see as the deeply ambivalent result."

    the car is useful in places like the USA and australia because of their huge landmasses with spread out populations. the land didnt pop up like that BECAUSE of the use of cars, cars are just a popular tool there because of it! unlike in say europe where a short train ride can get you almost anywere.....

    "Air power? No more trench warfare. Long distance air power? The blitz.
    Long distance air power plus atomic bombs... possessed by two powers? M.A.D."

    no more trench warfare? maybe not exactly, but the US didnt win in Vietnam despite a huge air superiority or possession of nuclear arms. the same is happening in Iraq. relying on those long distance type operations makes you less viable with ground troops. people get used to the low body counts with bombing raids, they dont want to see thousands of kids slaughtered in the streets like in vietnam. on a purely functional assessment, the US army is weaker in places because of its reliance on war technology to the point that they cannot contain people who fight in some of the most primal methods.

    "We should always think about ideas like 'path dependence' and 'unintended consequences'. Sorry to go on like a sociologist, but how can electronic music, which is entirely mediated by electronic technology (it's 'electronic' nature being the only thing that distinguishes it from 'music') claim any exceptionality."

    i mean, to me it is not only about dance music being "electronic". plenty of good dance music is made with live instrumentation! most pop music these days is 100% electronic but i dont feel like it shares the elements of what make a dance record any good, especially compared to some older completely "live" music like funk or jazz. the entire point of house was that it made that structure and groove able to be made by one person with little musical training as opposed to make practiced musicians. it was just a tool.

    as for Del's comments, i agree with a bunch of what he says (and i disagree with some, there is house that reflects the streets too! and of course some hiphop that is about escaping.....). to me, hiphop, techno, and house music are the same thing, their roots are similar, the places they came from are similar, it was just about a slightly different aesthetic and purpose for each. but they are all interrelated, and obviously the tools to make them are very related. the 808 was used in hiphop first, then house before becoming synonymous with techno. MPCs have been used since the 80's to make all this music.

    and this is exactly what is interesting to me! something that uses the same equipment, comes from the same places, has its roots in the same place as something else yet they sound so dissimilar. it has nothing to do with technology! it has to do with creativity. and i still see little evidence that technology is not being used as anything but a substitute for a more substantial creativity in most dance music.

  21. Hmm...

    As to the car thing:

    "the car is useful in places like the USA and australia because of their huge landmasses with spread out populations. the land didnt pop up like that BECAUSE of the use of cars, cars are just a popular tool there because of it! unlike in say europe where a short train ride can get you almost anywere....."

    Is that why everyone loves living in Dallas and Atlanta, and not NYC and San Fran? The most liveable and desireable places in the US all have good public transport, and they have it because of when they developed and the imaginaries + technologies available at the time. I'm not saying that 'everything was planned' or that 'everything turned out as planned', on the contrary, it's always a matter of an ad hoc response to a 'problem' (so framed) using whatever tools (real-and-imagined) that are to hand.

    The car is *not* convenient, it is a fucking pain in the arse, as soon as you have density. It's at its best on 'the open road' and in rural areas while fuel was cheap... but it's not anymore. My uncle is paying an outrageous percentage of his income in diesel now, and has had to switch to small four cylinder cars (despite being an unreconstructed Aussie bloke) 'cos he can't even afford to run his beloved Land Rover anymore. Hardly ideal, hardly convenient... hardly forseen or intended.

    Car ownership has a lot more to do with desire, with a dream of autonomy and prestige, than it does to do with utility or convenience. Look at what's happening in China. to the conflict issue... air power has radically transformed conflict, no question. I think the Vietnam issue is far too complex an entanglement to reduce to a matter of air power, but sufficed to say, carpet bombing is good really good for devastating a population and destroying cities, and not much else. I recommend watching the Fog of War in this regard.

    And the casualties issue... well, it depends on which bodies count, doesn't it. Proportionally less US forces get killed these days, but its the civilian populations that disproportionally wear the damage.

    Iraq Body Count estimates between 83,000-90,000 civilian deaths as a direct cause of the conflict. And never mind all those who've been wounded or harmed by anything from IEDs to untreated sewage to a lack of jobs, welfare and prospects. Thousands of kids have been 'slaughtered on the streets', as you say, but most of them are Iraqi kids and Reuters, CNN etc refuse to run any of this footage...same goes for Israel's offensive offensive in Lebanon last year. It achieved nothing except a whole lot of dead civilians and destroyed infrastructure. Anyway, nuff said on this.

    As for the 'electronic music' thing...well, what distinguishes 'electronic music' from 'music' per se... the fact that it's 'electronic', that's what. What would it be without electricity, circuitry, copper, silicon and so on.

    You can have Coltrane without coltan, but not any kind of remix of her. Of course creativity, sure - and this is what we should focus on. When I interviewed Isolee, he told me this about the way he makes music:

    "I have not really a standard approach, when I start a song. I start, I dunno, I work with some kinds of sounds of sounds or loops, and I work on them and I try to find something which, I dunno, is going to have, going to have some... passion in it, or that makes me want to make a whole sound out of it, and usually in the last years, when I was producing, I think with all the possibilities you have technically, usually I never really, I’m never really finished with the track. I have a first recording, and then after a while, I mix, and I go on working on this one, and sometimes that was also disturbing, because I was missing, I had two recordings, and it was very easy to choose the right one, and now in the last two years I had sometimes, I dunno, six, seven or ten versions, and then sometimes you have the problem that you like the first part of this version and the last part of the other version and things start to be very complicated then.

    P: But are you comfortable with that, the messiness?

    I: What do you mean by messiness?

    P: A lot of people might try to reduce, reduce, reduce, but it seems like you keep your ideas as they emerge, when they emerge in the music. It’s not like – it sounds like you just keep pushing them in.

    I: No, sometimes, I also try to reduce. I’m kind of, I sometimes think I should more reduce, I know that I have a lot of ideas with music and sometimes it’s, you also can put too much ideas in one track, so I try also to reduce, or yeah – because in the beginning you have also a lot of emotion you put in your track, and then after a while when you have worked more hours on the track, then you think, you don’t have – the track doesn’t need that. But that’s, that’s very difficult. I try to come back to a more direct way of reducing and not spending too much time and doing too much different – I think it was also like a process of learning how to use - because I think, because of all the technical possibilities I have now, and then I didn’t have when I produced the first album, because I didn’t have the same knowledge, and I didn’t have a computer which was powerful, I couldn’t record everything, and then take everything in the next – two months later, take all the separate parts and start to do a remix and stuff. All these plugins, you have to learn – because I had to try out all the possibilities, it’s – but then in the end, you have to find a more direct way to know what you are going to use and what you don’t need. But I think you have to learn to use all those possibilities as well.

    P: Sure, I mean I can understand, I’m trying to use programs like logic, but I always end up going back to my synthesizer.

    I: Yeah, it’s very inspiring to limit yourself. It’s very difficult if you have lots of possibilities. I tried a lot of things that now I know I’m not going to use them. I just needed to know how this is good, what is it good for, and how it might help me to produce. I think there are a lot of things, I don’t use them, I know now how they work and I know as well that it’s not what I need. I think I spent a lot of time in trying out different ways than different possibilities and that was sometimes very annoying as well, because I ended up in lots of versions and couldn’t know which one was good or even if there’s only one which is really good and not just ten which are only half good."

    And for what it's worth I really agree what he says. But at the same time, we shouldn't think of the mediator as neutral. Technology is not just a blank screen onto which we project our fantasies.

    We like to indulge in this fantasy of mastery and control.

    'I control music.'

    'I control technology.'

    But it's a phantasm... or if it isn't, it's a dead end... look at Hawtin's new RA podcast. It's dull. There's no passion, no emotional connection, no story, no build... just noodling. And he says he feels 'free' now. Free from what? And free for what?


Say something constructive, bitte. Or if you're gonna take a swipe, at least sharpen your nails.

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