One of my best mates, the HNW surgeon himself A View From Nihil makes his live debut tomorrow alongside Vomir and a host of other big guns from the nether regions of the black static wastelands.
If you are about, please do check it out.
Vomir – French wall noise
AVFN – wall noise from Ireland
S.A.F.E. – Irish harsh noise
Cementimental – wall noise from London
Unearthed – US wall noise
17 Sidney Road
doors at 7.00
tickets are £5 from wegottickets or £6 at the door
I’m back on the (internet) radio tonight.
And yes, I know I spelled the word primitive wrong. I was fucking knackered.
Anyway, I’ve got brand new stuff from Oneohtrix Point Never, Bill Orcutt, Konx Om Pax and Small Scale Collisions, as well as old stuff from Ron Geesin and Bill Dixon. Other shit too.
Every show is archived for listen again purposes if you have summat better to be doing.
Well fuck me. That sure separated the wheat from the chaff, eh?
It isn’t some tangible form of coincidence that means this is happening now, happening here. The most ideological welfare cuts in a generation and the slow asphyxiation of extra governmental local institutions can not seriously have been thought achievable without significant social unrest. The reaction from the corporate media and the pious “experts” that are parachuted in from nowhere in particular to choke the life out of any further exchange of ideas is, predictably, a colossal misreading. The primary function of the new media class is ostensibly to trigger an immediate solidification of consensus. In times of public disorder, this usually amounts to, at best, a painfully measured gesture towards engagement with wider issues, while at the same time attempting to depoliticize the whole situation. At it’s worst, it is outrightly dismissive of any need for further discussion of structural failing. Instead it chastises any dissenting voices by reminding them that the best thing we can all do now is help with the clean up. Just move on. The latter line of argument, when taken to it’s logical conclusion, merely acts as a more refined filter of more odious views. All this trouble is merely the atavistic responses of a mercifully well hidden underclass.
Now, right here, we move in hypertime. One of the most prominent responses of impotent indignation came in the form of the stern denunciations that this “wasn’t political” any more. “If they are politically motivated, why don’t they go and burn down the Nike store?”. Because capitalism is as much of an ideology as anarcho syndicalism, innit. The looters cross bred opportune criminality with textbook consumerist impulses. Some mutant shit. It is entirely possible to be a non political victim of politics. You can be engaging in an act which is the consequence of a brutal reality. Offered up variants of certain unachievable lifestyles, available to us only through our television screens, vicariously. Or the sociopathic accumulation of personal wealth, obviously .
There is a long established, symbiotic relationship between crime and capital. They are, after all, both based on the intense injustice of exploitation and the appropriation of private property for nefarious ends. But there can hardly be a single radical out there who has actually sought to justify the burning of homes, the victimisation of working people and the increasingly base levels of cut throat invective. We do not seek to absolve any of these people, nor make politically motivated excuses for them. Their actions give us no cause to support them.
The fury we have seen is the product of the socially networked estate. It’s what happens when even the most violent and harmful of memes can result in instant mobilization by a committed few. It is unsightly and, more often than not, can not be controlled. But it was not impossible to predict. As a nation we have long preferred to keep a lid on social anxiety. Even the most vague attempts at meaningful dialogue get watered down before the state arbitrarily sends in the batons and truncheons, stops and searches. The vast majority of the looters were introduced to the carnivorous nature of the state and it’s enforcers before their teens. To live in many of these estates is to die in them. Yet the severity of the crisis is already being undermined, the stock footage now added to the roll call of Toxteth and the poll tax riots. Once again radical left solutions are chastised as inappropriate, as somehow seeking to “explain away” the problem. The problem itself, you’ll notice, now adopts a bizarrely metaphysical air.
The cannibalistic nature of the facts remains. Harassment from the state and criminal violence, often associated with the purest form of capitalism, the drug trade, are endemic in the affected areas. They are an intrinsic part of day to day existence in globalized economies the world over. Already derisory systems of social welfare now face being restructured by the ever present sneer of the ruling class. Every0ne is a suspect, everyone a statistic in what amounts to a remarkably Stalinist interpretation of juking the stats. Perversely, rent is increasingly rising in just about every major conurbation in the country and the current anathema to anything approaching a state sponsored form of employment is emphasised daily by reconstituting essential local services as elements of the indefinable “big society”.
There is a demonstrable gulf between the crime is crime is crime rhetoric of the comfortable, horrifed middle class and those on the ground who are everyday victims of the Met’s insatiable desire to racially profile. The power vacuum facilitated by hackgate is quite another thing altogether. It highlights the endemic selfishness at the heart of authoritarian institutions, with each pretender to the crown enthralled by the next PR stunt, fretting over how this will play with their paymasters. Despite the nakedly peaceful nature of the protest that we are repeatedly told “instigated” the riots, what likelihood that the event would have received anywhere near the amount of coverage were it to have remained simply a vigil? The harsh reality is that only when the oppressive apparatus of the state is subjected to attacks, whether legitimate or illigeitimate, does the coverage begin to descend into Broken Britain territory. That several eyewitnesses have corroborated the claim that trouble only flared up after the police savagely beat a young woman has been curiously absent from most exchanges this week.
It is worth repeating that mindless class on class violence is to be decried at every opportunity. But exactly how mindless is it to loot designer clothing, to jack cars? In a society debased by the all pervasive pursuit of material goods, a society which finds itself incapable of imagining a future beyond the bloated darwinism of it’s addiction to capital, this is the logical outcome. Like the celestial, shape shifting kiddy killer from IT, the hatred towards the system from those entrenched in lives of poverty can only be kept a lid on for so long. Every now and again, every 25 years or so, the levees break and the smug liberal intelligentsia gets it’s knickers in a knot for a few weeks.
This will happen again.
The most outrageous form of indignation practiced by the apologists of neoliberalism (and repeated, as if through osmosis, by the middle brow majority) is the disbelief that the rioting could be directed at the same community from which it sprang. This tends to go hand in hand with the couruscatingly cutting edge observation that “this is just mindless violence”. Setting aside for a moment the fantasy that the unpoliticized can not act politically, and the nonsense that unthinking destruction can ever be decontextualized, this example of anti thought is astoundingly detached from recent (and ancient, for that matter) history. There were no riots in deepest Didsbury, no firebombings in the suburbs. There were riots, looting and violence meted out to those unfortunate enough to live in the surrounding areas. There have been previous, varying levels of civil unrest in every one of the boroughs that burned.
The now ubiquitous aside from a Waterstones employee only highlights the nature of this forcible insurrection against any lack of a fulfilling future. The cry of “If they are angry with the government, why don’t they loot the city hall?”, or some other vacuous strawman bullshit, embodied the reality shy insignificance of the response from those in positions of material comfort. The point, of course, was that the looters preference for Nike trainers and widescreen TV’s is an inbred one. The accumulation of money and the subsequent semiotic appeal of the late capitalist status symbol is not a process that can be even politely described as natural. Inoculated against most progressive forms of intellectualism through the decaying bourgeois values of the education system, constantly reminded by a succession of speed addled reality shows that winning is what matters, coming first in some abstract contest, purchasing “property” with which to maximize profit (will a fucking home not do?)… that the impoverished perversely strive to ape these levels of fetishist unsustainability should hardly be met with great shock.
This is the very real and fundamental endpoint of the monetarist project. Since 1945 succesive governments have wrought untold psychic damage on any remaining smidgens of solidarity amongst the working class. Without any form of collective identity, morals distended through constant exposure to the fallacies of the market, it is delusional to assume that such communities have any great sense of themselves as a cohesive unit. The looters very de politicization and lack of class solidarity is perfectly understandable.
No revolutionary can be expected to condone an attack on workers. But it would be rank cowardice to condemn anyone for stealing that which is denied to them purely by the geographical accident of their birthplace.
I was on the internet radio wireless the other night, exposing the kaput exoskeleton of the other half of me. The one that attempts to make music/noises (not Noise).
It’s Jonny Mugwump. It’s Exotic Pylon. I was well chuffed. You can listen back/dload the show here.
More info here.
And on my label blog here.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to receive a couple of cracking reviews for Music And Entertainment (which, y’know, you can still download for free and all that).
“… the grim moribund humour of provincial towns, lumpy and awkward and ugly. the grey concrete crunch of bastard techno and mangled dubstep and seventies tv filtered through damp plasterboard walls. the faint tang of cough sweets drifting from some lost mancunian, some faded old fella explaining maryhill and the clyde canal system over a half pint of seventy shilling and scratched throbbing gristle compact discs.” – Cows Are Just Food
I’m also (and this is really fucking surreal by the way) going to be playing live (!) for the first time over the next few months. Your gonna shit yerselves when you find out who with… serious.
New issue of The Stool Pigeon should be out there in the real wide world ’bout now. I’ve got a live review of Emeralds in there somewhere, and it’s free, so use it to line your guinea pig’s hutch or summat at the very least…
Proper (maybe) post incoming…
Shackleton live, reviewed by yours truly for The Quietus.
Back in January, I was asked by an acquaintance from my university film course to compile a list of my favourite films from the past decade. The resultant article, which I plan to post on here in the next few days, was intended for publication in a film and literary journal that, for various reasons, never saw the light of day.
In revisiting the piece, I realized that I had improbably neglected to include Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s unbearably poignant Uzak (Distant). I considered this to be a bizarre omission, a sort of chemical glitch of the synapses that had led to me overlooking a piece of cinema which I today consider to be among the most cherished that I own. It turns out that there was an illusory undertone to the snub* after all, but of a rather different bent.
You see, the thing is, at the time of writing, I had only seen Uzak once. This, in and of itself, is not significant. I rarely re-watch films particularly often, as I rarely re-listen to records too much over one period of time, lest it might dull their capacity to move me. The day I find the sight of Divine eating dog shit mildly amusing and over familiar, as opposed to uproariously transgressive is the day I start reading the fucking Observer Magazine. The thing with Uzak though, I thought as I sat down to tweak the article again yesterday, was that it felt like such a vital pillar in the foundations of some of my most deeply held and idealistic hopes for the possibilities of modern cinema. It must have felt like I had watched it many more times over than I actually had.
I reckon I’ve seen it three, maybe four times now. Mostly over the last year. There are few films that so nakedly tackle the most invisibly dehumanizing aspects of the neoliberal mirage. Perhaps only the work of Kelly Reichardt – whose minimalist dissections of outsider American vulnerability compare favourably with the short stories of Raymond Carver – comes close to Ceylan’s perfectly pitched depiction of the human capacity for miscommunication.
It is the story of recently laid off worker Yusuf, played by the magnificent Mehmet Emin Toprak, who arrives in the capital hoping to find work aboard merchant liners, staying with his relative Mahmut (Muzaffer Özdemir), a photographer whose own mundane existence and lack of emotional investment belie his avant garde aspirations. Hailing from a small village and displaying a tender naiveté towards the urbanized sprawl, Yusuf acts as an uncomfortable reminder to Mahmut of his own humble origins. Yusuf’s inability to connect with his relative is paralleled by Mahmut’s unwillingness to display encouragement or interest during the majority of their interactions. Despite these prejudices, Ceylan is careful not to apply any of Mahmut’s skewed interpretations to his characterisation of Yusuf. In one particularly difficult to watch scene, Mahmut and his quasi intellectual, boorish circle of friends discuss photography and cinema whilst simultaneously complaining about the absence of “any girls” with whom they might fuck away their own insecurities. Yusuf’s silent discomfort is realized superbly by Toprak, whose supposedly uncouth character comes out of the scene with the most credit by far, despite his lack of cultural reference points.
As Yusuf ventures out into the harbour and inner city in an attempt to find work, we discover a little more about Mahmut’s own manifest failings. His cousins lack of direction and perceived lethargy are counterbalanced by his own dissatisfaction with his lot in life. Despite his comparative wealth, he drifts about in his own equally mundane way, maintaining his comfortable lifestyle through a contract photographing bathroom tiles that is artistically stunting and unrewarding. Similarly, he is incapable of emotional intimacy with either his ex wife or his current girlfriend, apparently finding solace soley in ciggarettes and masturbation. A recurring device of his wank sessions being accidentally intruded upon by Yusuf provide some of the films most memorable moments of humour.
Despite it’s de facto setting in the cosmopolitan morass of Istanbul, Uzak has no truck whatsoever with stock establishing shots of a bustling metropolis. Rather, the film is an internalized essay, both in its bare bones, mostly fragmented exchanges of dialogue and in its locations. The patient, oddly pastoral cinematography is here applied to insufferable predictability of day-to-day habitual surroundings. Other than a brief, unfulfilling road trip to the stunning Turkish countryside, the film’s emotionally stifled characters are largely confined to a series of overly familiar, eventually suffocating interiors. The opening set piece, a Tarkovskyesque wide shot of Istanbul’s rural outskirts at dusk is singularly deceiving. Indeed, Uzak’s most visually stunning of sequences, in which Yusuf visits the snow caked harbour to enquire about possible employment and is met by the sight of an upturned liner, basking like a dead whale on it’s side along the dock, is possessed of a certain magical realism. Extraordinary event duly processed, reality bites once more as, seconds later, he discovers there is to be no work there for him after all.
In electing to overlook Uzak in my films of the decade, I realize now that I actually bypassed one of the works of cinema that most stridently and courageously tore apart the collective hallucination of the post cyberspace, capitalist realist house of cards that we currently inhabit. In a world where we have an overabundance of information and data at our fingertips, where the self organisation of the market – in tandem with the emotional apathy induced by the advent of web 2.0 – has attempted to fool us into believing that we are all potentially valued contributers to the historical narrative, when in fact we are subjugated psychically to an unprecedented degree. The terrifying adoption by establishment forces of meangingless webspeak, in which we are constantly told that it is our input as as target audiences or, even more ridiculously, as active participants in the inconsequential, recycled mulch culture we are helping to construct, has done more to debase basic human communication and empathetic understanding than old fashioned monetarist divide and conquer could ever dream of doing. In the innumerable pained silences and awkward domestic politics of co habitation so beautifully highlighted by Nils Bilge Ceylan, you can detect, if you squint slightly, a rejection of globalization’s base selfishness. Somewhere in this tender, quiet masterpiece, someone is screaming.
*Actually, it hardly constitutes a snub, does it? I mean, I’m a nobody writer who barely gets paid for any of his articles, writing in a D.I.Y university funded film rag with a hypothetical circulation of around 30 people. And an actual circulation of none. Not exactly Jonathan Rosenbaum roasting Star Wars back in the day now, is it?