Tag Archives: music

Opera Salvage

How a music micro-trend heralds an emerging, internet-enabled, aesthetic movement.

Evan Calder Williams talks of salvagepunk — “a return to the repressed idiosyncrasy of outmoded things”.

By (sic) opposition to postmodern pastiche, in which any sign can be juxtaposed with any other in a friction-free space, salvagepunk retains the specificity of cultural objects, even as it bolts them together into new assemblages. That’s precisely because salvagepunk is dealing with objects rather than signs
— Mark Fisher: Desecration Row, in The Wire 319, page 46

The Wire magazine, ear to the grounds of crit-think and artistic practice both, has astutely flagged salvagepunk as informing a breaking musical microtrend.

We predict that salvagepunk will break out of this music context, to become a key aesthetic for a new stage of post-postmodernism. The affordances of the internet will enable this to happen. That the first works informed by salvagepunk are musical is, we conject, due to music’s status as the popular art form access to the historical corpus of which has been most transformed by the internet. Other media, particularly time-based, will follow.

Here’s our thinking.

Kenny Goldsmith wrote of nude media — digitised content stripped of context. But: a denuded copy of a familiar song gives itself away by the patina of experience we individually and collectively attach to its content; still evokes time and place; is loaded with signs, a wingful of eyes.

For nude media to become amenable to salvage, there’s a harsher stripping-bare to be undertaken than that of which Goldsmith writes, subsequent to which salvage operations proper can begin — the calcination and burning off of, or turning-aside-from all signification, to locate the object as object, song as sound, form not even form, but shape.

Time can serve that function — the glories of the forgotten whitelabel in the dusty crate at Dalston Oxfam testify to that; but cultural Time is driven by the fidget wheels of Progress. There’s a gradient to cultural Time; the suck towards that compressive depth into which most of everything made, sinks, lost to salvage deep under the midden-heap of consumer culture disjecta.

The internet not only flattens that gradient, thus making findable nude media from everywhen; but often presents such already de-signified and in gorgeously ambiguous contextual conjunction.

If postmodernist aesthetics led to “everything the second time around, without the innocence“, salvagepunk perhaps points to the field of possibilities opened up to those who avail themselves of internet-mediated access to “everything around, still, forever, without the memories“. Not an overloaded gluing-together of the familiar, but a reconsideration of the utility for assemblages of everything — of a kind which can only be possible when everything is always to hand.

So, all that aside, what does salvagepunky music sound like? Contemporary works incorporating elements of Chris de Burgh’s Lady in Red are cited amongst Wire‘s examples. But to our ears, cosmic disco god Daniele Baldelli’s 80s mixtapes are the exemplars of the salvagepunk aesthetic — mixing the cool and uncool, the obscure and the overfamiliar, into a free-floating sound-world of disco delight. Hunt those tapes down down online (not too hard a task), lean back and enjoy the sounds of Opera Salvage.

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(Just Say ‘No’ To) Form 696

Running a club night in London will require reporting of all acts and ‘target audience’ to the Met. WHAT?

Indeed that’s the case, under new plans from London Police. Event organisers in 21 London boroughs are requested to ‘co-operate fully’ with police, by completing the new Form 696 before the event, in the interests of ‘risk assessment’.

Requested are not only details of promoters and onsite security, but also the contact numbers and real names of all performers, description of the ‘expected audience’ and the genre(s) of music expected to be performed, the examples given on the form being bashment, R’n’B, garage. No surprise then that many feel the Met is actually planning to use this data to focus police attention on clubs where such ‘dangerous’ forms of music are to be played, as well as for the profiling of the scene(s) and communities who organise and attend.

According to early reports, the form also included questions about the ethnicity of expected audiences. The current version on the Met’s site doesn’t include such information, so we can’t comment on that.

Concerns have been raised by many, including once-Undertone Feargal Sharkey, who now heads up the music campaign organisation UK Music. There’s a petition running on the 10 Downing Street website, a FaceBook group has been set up, and the mainstream press are paying attention.

Simply misguided urban policing, or the precursor of some modern day version of the 1994 Criminal Justice Bill’s rave-busting criminalisaiton of ‘repetitive beats’? Watch and wait. More importantly, act against this.

[Thanks for Helen Noir for tipping us off to this]

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Who Watches the (Internet) Watchmen?

Self-appointed internet censors mess with Wikipedia.

Everyone loves a bit of self-regulation. But what happens when world-views collide?

Today it has emerged that a ruling by Internet Watch Foundation — a charity-status QUANGO established to help self-regulate internet content in the UK — has led a number of UK ISPs to block access to a (community-regulated) Wikipedia page for heavy metal band Scorpions.

Why? Because the entry includes an image of an album cover which features a naked child. Internet providers began to block access to the page after the IWF warned them the picture may be illegal under UK law. An IWF spokeswoman said a reader had brought the image to the foundation’s attention last week and it had contacted the police before adding the page to their content blacklist.

The album cover itself is a pretty nasty piece of 70s schlock art but it is widely viewable elsewhere on the Internet.

Censorship is a big issue for the Wikipedia community, and policy is hotly debated. In July 2008, Wikipedia community editors then made a joint decision not to remove the Scorpions cover art from the site. According to the discussion page from that time, “Prior discussion has determined by broad consensus that the Virgin Killer cover will not be removed.” Indeed, the current Wikipedia page for Scorpions explains that in the United States (where the websites of the Wikimedia Foundation are hosted), the image is not considered obscene under the criteria of the Miller test, which requires that an obscene work lack “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value” (as album art is used to “brand” the album, it is considered to be artistic).

On the other side of the fence, the IWF is a UK-based charity, funded by ISPs and others, and endorsed by the UK Government. It was established in the mid-90s to self-regulate around the issue of USENET porn. Since then the IWF’s remit has expanded to include identification of racist and criminally obscene content, although its focus still seems to be on images of the abuse of children. Unlike Wikipedia, their process and website offers for no community discussion. There is apparantly no way to object to or appeal against their classification.

To us, the message of this story is plain. The kinds of ground-up regulation and consensual decision-making we value on-line only exist — if they exist at all — at the discretion of the State and its possibly-well-meaning but generally opaque proxies. If you want a voice, get out and shout. Yes, you.

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Introducing Louise Golbey

The debut video of the singer-songwriter and friend of BST.

Watch it on YouTube or buy on iTunes:
Louise Golbey - Cling to Me - Single - Cling to Me (Radio Edit)

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Addictive TV at the National Theatre

Big beats, and the biggest screen in town

Addictive TV at the National TheatreVideo artists Addictive TV were back in town on the weekend, after a marathon session of live Olympic mashups in Europe. Braving the London weather on Friday night, they played to a crowd so enthusiastic that at least one of them had to be dragged half-naked off the roof.

This was Addictive’s third annual outdoor gig at the South Bank, which has become a highlight of the BST summer calendar. This year was even more fun for us, as they invited us along to document the evening photographically. Our photos are up on Flickr.

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Milking It

Credit where credit’s due…

Guardian Weekend cover 23 August 2008Evidently someone in The Guardian‘s art department has some classic vinyl at home: compare the cover for yesterday’s Guardian Weekend (above) with the sleeve art from hard rock band Mama Lion’s 1972 album Preserve Wildlife (below): Mama Lion Preserve Wildlife album cover

Points to The Guardian for revisiting the timeless theme of long-haired, slightly-disheveled blondes suckling cute baby animals, but our vote goes to the original shot of Mama Lion’s lead singer Lynn Carey and the kitty cat.

If you’ve never heard Mama Lion, hunt them down for some Joplin-esque, bluesy rock. Carey also turned in a storming vocal performance as the singing voice of character Kelly McNamara (played by actress Dolly Read) in Russ Meyer’s cult film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

[Thanks to Helen Noir for introducing us to the music of Lynn Carey and Mama Lion]

UPDATE: More album-art suckling identified by our readers. See the comments, below…

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100proofTRUTH Issue 5

New issue of our favourite street art zine hits the web

Work from The Clipse, DJ Cam, Asbestos, James Dodd and many more. Dig in. Dig deep. Big up Adz!

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Nuke Nuked

New rave experiencing same problems as old rave with the old bill.

Buster Bennett (previously of legendary Hoxton nights Antisocial and Family) has been running his latest night, Nuke Them All, for a while now. But he’s got a problem — he can’t keep a venue. Nuke was initially hosted at the charming Bethnal Green lapdancing joint, Images. But then the council got wind of it and pulled its licence. So it moved to The Edge, a basement venue on Commercial St. The council did the same thing (do they have clubkid spies or something?) So Buster, showing typical clubland enterprise, moved it to an an abandoned pub. Y’know, like the rave kids do. Then the police shut that down too. Buster’s positioning of Nuke as ‘the most lawless creative gathering ever’ is starting to look a bit too prescient.

We can’t resist quoting in full Buster’s comments on the original eviction, as reported over at Jonty Skrufff’s Skrufff.com:

“It’s the same old story, and exactly why we left the gentrified Shoreditch triangle in the first place. What happens is some wanky trust fund son of an estate agent decides to buy up a flat next to an already established strip club then complains about the noise; specifically; the noise, the giant walking pyramids, the cake fights, the glow in the dark horses, the nudity and our clientele generally. But still, why move there in the first place?”

Why indeed! We’re with Buster.

[Photo ©2008 Darrell Berry]

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100proofTRUTH ISSUE 4

“Power in the Darkness” is out now

FEATURING: Street Art from Dr.D. Brad Downey, D*FACE, and Jerome G. Demouth, graphic agitation from OKAT, an interview with the legendary Danny Rampling, writing from Alexis Manning, and Harlan Levey, and Male Prostitute Phone Box Cards from Paul Hartnett, and a two photo essays from King Adz.

Go get it ….

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Punx Soundcheck

Get down to the South Bank this Thursday for an audiovisual electro treat

Punx Soundcheck at Film Noir, Bar Music HallWe caught Punx Soundcheck‘s mighty DJ/AV set last Friday at our favourite Shoreditch monthly, Film Noir. Launching their new album Black and Gold, they treated us to a storming 90 minutes of hard electro genius, with visuals from Machines are Gonna Kill Us, and Miss OddKidd guesting on vocals.

But don’t take our word for it — get on down to the NFT on Thursday 24th January, to catch them live at the Piccadilly Nite Versions #1 Launch Party. See you there.

[Photo © Darrell Berry 2008]

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