Monday, 4 February 2013

Powell's Untitled on the Death of Rave

Powell's new release on Boomkat's The Death of Rave imprint (home to the vinyl of Mark Leckey's Fiorucci..).

Four tracks, all seething with a claustrophobic post-punk repetition, happily and productively united with a bleak and insistent electronics.

Rider starts gently, drums and buzz circling, drawing you in. 'I walk with the zombies'.. and a guitar lick. The buzz shifts shapes but presses on insistently, unforgivingly. Hypnotic, magnetic. Unexpectedly so. 'Zombies..', he says again.The track pauses, a breather, but just for a second. Then it's back, bassline throb background hum as persuasive as before. Give up, give in, surrender, go under.

On 'Oh No New York', a sharp wave of static gives way to pure no wave bass, drum and vocal sample, an unconvincing OH NO! The track is then gradually criss-crossed with thin, shifting lines and bursts of scratchy static, feedback. And buzz. An all pervasive buzz. Sounds are set-up, you get a bit used to them and then they're carved into, circled, filtered and augmented with the drills and chainsaws of DIY, lo fi electronics. Whatever they may be.

Not that the original post-punkers didn't get around to playing with this stuff themselves. Suicide and Wire for sure (I'm sure there are many others but I just happen to have heard those two) certainly explored synths and so on in their nihilistic post-punk zone.  It was fucking great then and it's fucking great now.

There's something so seductive about the techno/post-punk alloy. Check the Silent Servant Fact mix, and anything Blackest Ever Black have ever done.  Purist nihilistic grandeur of the highest order.

Sunday, 27 January 2013


I first heard Lumigraph's Lunar Luup on an Opal Tapes compilation called Cold Holiday (very much worth listening to). It's a strong compilation but this track still really stood out.

Opal Tapes seem like an intriguing label, based somewhere in the North East, putting out what they call 'scuzzy' electronics. I've only really listened to the Cold Holiday compilation this track came from, but the 1991 High Life album is meant to be pretty good. And I've just seen there's a Tuff Sherm & PMM album on the bandcamp page that I'm tempted to download.

Anyway. Literally not got a clue about this Lumigraph but they're good. Lunar Luup is incredible, it slowly gets all its bits together and then emerges, bowling along with a really addictive rhythmic swagger. It's raw and ragged sounding, too, in a very good way.

The Wave Watcher track has as similar sort of bowl-along, uneven and insistent syncopation (??). Also very good, takes a little longer to put itself together but no worse for it.

Lumigraph's Soundcloud.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Mark Leckey at the ICA

I heard Mark Leckey talk at the ICA last week and he did am amazing job of making a couple of ideas which had seemed quite dry to me suddenly seem pretty fascinating. First watching his object-centric films and then listening to him talk about the complexities of objects and images really naturally and enthusiastically made it more or less come alive.

He talked about his 2004 video Made in 'Eaven (above), how making the video was in a way an attempt get as close to this 'sublimely perfect' object as possible (the sublime object itself is Jeff Koon's Rabbit from 1986). he talked about the powerful pull certain objects, like this one, had over him, how they made him want to literally become one with them, or to get as close as possible to them. It's a theme he played with in other films too, but this was the best.

And of course he wants that, I thought, OF COURSE we all do, in some sense. The right image or the right object creates a wierdly powerful response, from the right book or record to the perfect pair of black leather boots, bikes, lipsticks, buildings. I mean, these are just things I find myself investing in to any degree, and that's not even touching on the deeper stuff Leckey is talking about, the intimate connection which certain really charged objects induce.

There's something about objects - for me - with a strong sense of form and presence that sets something off. There are a couple of things I've stumbled across recently, a ring and a painting which are kind of similar actually. Anyway, I feel like I want to keep them, or the sense I get when I look at them - with me at all times. Mmm.

It can be epically pop as well, Leckey talked about wanting to become these beautiful pictures of made-up women he'd seen in magazines. I watched Prince's Purple Rain recently and kind of lost myself dreaming about Appolonia's perfect 80's hair and glossy lips. Not to be near her but to kind of  become the carefully constructed perfection, on some level.

It's there in Cronenberg's Videodrome, with a slightly different and darker emphasis (becoming one with the VHS image, the world of Videodrome). A lifetime ago, reading Naomi Klein's No Logo, I remember she talked about driving down a street full of fast food stores as a child and wanting to disppear into the plastic perfection of the signs and lights. Going back to Jam City, the cover of his album is all photoshopped corporate perfection marred the shiny sleek motorcycle, another feat of form and function. It's everywhere, to be fair.

I suppose it boils down to the glossy allure of perfect form, a perfect surface. Maybe a response to the natural chaos and messiness of life (would it be annoying to say espeecially modern life?); maybe a sign of an ill-adjusted element in the human psyche. Maybe a perfectly sane response to the massive amount of consumer imagery and objects we're subject to at all times... after all, how far do those objects differ from art objects? Why not treat them with the same interest and attention. TBC.