6 min read

#4: Adorno is dead.

#4: Adorno is dead.

Adorno is dead.

We lived together for seven years. The last couple of months, he stayed elsewhere. And now he is dead. Gone. Forever.

Writing won't be the same without Adorno. He was picky. Didn't like a lot of music. Was constantly craving attention. I'll miss him. Especially during writing.

I seriously thought about quitting this newsletter. But that's not what Adorno would have wanted.

Lately, I am thinking a lot about raves. honestly, I can't recall my last rave (a real one, that is). Must have been even long before the first covid-19 lockdown. Also, the current growing interest in the work of Mark Fisher fuels my interest in raves. Two of my favorite podcasts - Hermitix and Acid Horizons - had discussions about his work and took on issues in popular culture in general and rave in particular. It struck me that the thoughts of most 'heirs' of Fisher are deeply rooted in cultural theories that make a distinction between high and low culture. More precisely between artistically made pop culture and, eh, mass pop culture. For me, this is an obsolete distinction and I have to admit I am a bit surprised and disappointed that there are scholars, appreciated by me, that still think in these categories. Fisher certainly did not.

Currently, I am reading the excellent The Memeing of Mark Fisher: How the Frankfurt School Foresaw Capitalist Realism and What to do About it by Mike Watson. The book came out last month and Watson links two of my favorite theoretical 'schools' of thought. More about the book in one of the next episodes of this newsletter. Watson blames the internet for a lot of contemporary problems. The second chapter of his book is about the failing internet. Although he focuses on social media, the big platforms to be precise.

The tendency to identify something by a part of it is a common habit in (late) modernity. It is based on objectification and rationalization. In his The Question Concerning Technology (1954), Martin Heidegger explains this process well. A week ago Koos Zwaan, Pieter Breek, and I presented our International Music Industry Lab during the International Music Business Research Days at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. It felt good to be back at an academic conference, but it struck me that the modern(ist) tendency to see a plural development in a one-dimensional way by reducing it to just one aspect is still common. The internet wasn't very popular in Rotterdam.

In a way, Adorno is to blame.

No, not my cat but Theodor Adorno, the sociologist I named him after. The neo-marxist/critical theory way of thinking has become dominant in the field of social and cultural studies and with it the centralization of "the grunge melancholy of the technologically alienated, fractured subject of Adorno’s modernity", as Noah Brehmer points out in the excellent read 'Rave-Accelerate-Die'. This anti-promethean sentiment is strong.

It is also dangerous.

As I wrote in my 'Vaporrave Virus' article, it places everything non-human (and even other-human) on the outside. That creates a perfect environment for capitalism to turn the outside into objects of desire. This leads to, as Mark Fisher calls it, psychic privatization: the isolation of the individual from everything (technology, other humans, non-humans, and so on). What happened last year to De School in Amsterdam is a good example. I wrote about it in STASIS.

The only way to overcome this is to embrace multitudes and leave the idea of reductionism and universality (actually, both are quite similar) behind.

Adorno is dead. Long live Adorno.

I miss him.

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SHORTS

TANGIBLE SOUND

The first Lone album in five years is a treat. Nottingham-based producer Matt Cutler went back to his first steps into making music in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As Lone, he releases seven albums and numerous 12" for labels like R&S, Werk Discs, Porter Records, and Magic Wire (his own label). His DJ-Kicks (2017) for Studio !K7 in 2017 shows his love for different music genres.

In a way, Always Inside Your Head has the same vibe. Cutler catches this 1990s mood: the feeling that anything is possible. He creates this dreamy wall of fluid sound that embraces you, lifts you up, and keeps you in a sonic utopia for the length of the whole album. In the webzine Music Radar, Cutler clarifies: "Musically I wanted to capture the way Kevin Shields production on the My Bloody Valentine records, or the way Liz Fraser's voice glistens on the Cocteau Twins records, make me feel when I listen to them. So, it wasn't a case of trying to copy either band's music or trying to sound like them, but more a case of trying to capture the way they make me feel."

The lushness of the sound is amazing and deep. It also reminds me a bit of the breakbeat trance productions by BT and Hybrid. The range of styles on the album is broad, from downtempo to drum'n'bass and house, but the radiant ambient and tangible sound in 'Coming Into Being And Passing Away' (also released as 12") is of profound beauty.

Always Inside Your Head by Lone is released Greco-Roman and can be listened to here: https://lone.bandcamp.com/album/always-inside-your-head

POLITICS

This debut album by ODD is political. 'The whole music is politically influenced before a sound is made', it says in the bio and on the Bandcamp page. ODD is short for Offensive Defiant Disorder, a frequent and persistent pattern of anger, irritability, arguing, defiance, or vindictiveness toward authority seen in children. The disorder is often found in war zones, like Gaza. For Robert Hofman this is the starting point of the album. The Rotterdam-based musician is known for his KRAFT project, a collaboration with national and international musicians that bridges the gaps between genres like field recordings, dark ambient, neo-classic and industrial folk.

Muslimgauze is an important inspiration for Hofman. Also on this debut. Nearly all instruments have an Arabic origin. Hofman uses them to flirt with techno, ambient, and drum'n'bass. Most tracks consist of layered percussion, some are more ambient and drone-based. But there is always this mystical, dense, conjuring, and asphyxiating mood. The ghost of Muslimgauze is always present. Hofman calls his music experimental death‘n‘dub, but in essence, this album isn't about the music: it starts off with a speech of Yasser Arafat held during the general assembly of the United Nations in 1974.

Offensive Defiant Disorder by ODD is released by Fertile Crescent and can be listened to here: https://offensivedefiantdisorder.bandcamp.com/album/offensive-defiant-disorder

SPACE TRAVEL

Imagining space travel to inhabit another planet in the midst of the climate crisis is bold. Meet Tom Middleton, producer extraordinaire and one of the key figures in the emerging IDM scene in the 1990s. As GCOM, he released  76:14 (1994) on Warp Records, one of the best ambient records ever. More than 25 years later, Middleton is still interested in finding a new home planet.

Although his objectives have changed: "It's time to transcend, embrace the duty of care, compassion and kindness not only for our planet and all living and growing things but crucially, how we must evolve in consciousness to become caretakers and stewards for whatever new moons and planets we might end up inhabiting. There’s still time to join the regenerative renaissance, to rewild, replant and renew - and give Earth a chance to heal. Care more, waste less."

E2-XO is post-earth. Maybe even post-human. It is about embracing the idea that humanity is a part of a bigger planetary ecology. The album is the soundtrack to the journey of the M-RAI exoplanet probe cubes and the LONO Ark Starship filled with sleeping human settlers to Teegarden B, currently the closest exoplanet with the highest ESI (Earth Similarity Index).

And it's beautiful.

E2-XO by GCOM is released by !K7 and can be listened to here: https://k7records.bandcamp.com/album/e2-xo

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HYPERSPEED

New Wave of Metal is a documentary by the excellent YouTube channel Ruthless Metal about the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal (NWOTHM) that started in the early 2000s: a wave of new bands that play traditional or classic heavy metal in the style of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon and Accept. Watch it here: https://youtu.be/PnlKgP0nmj4

Do you like David Lynch-like suspense, love the slowness of and excellent music in Too Old To Die Young and visual aesthetics of True Detective? Watch Brand New Cherry Flavor on Netflix. It is really good (don't believe the reviews). https://youtu.be/wOzM3c33TVg

Russian producer and dj Kedr Livanskiy returns with her third album Liminal Soul. This time she doesn't aim for the dance floor and blends different styles of electronic music with poppy and sometimes super slick hooks. https://kedrlivanskiy.bandcamp.com/album/liminal-soul

After pop culture magazine Opscene went broke, I have been writing for the Flemish print mag Gonzo (circus) for about 15 years. I loved it, although working together with the editors wasn't always a pleasure. I did some amazing interviews (Corry Doctorow, Steve Goodman, Kevin Martin, Gas, Vladislav Delay) and wrote about edgy topics (accelerationism, speculative realism, object oriented ontology). I decided to join Gonzo (circus) once again, mainly because I miss writing for print. No better place to do that. The first thing to do? Interview Mike Watson. https://www.gonzocircus.com