Wednesday, July 23, 2008
RAVE THEORY TOOL-KIT
Blissout aka A White Rave Aesthete Thinks Aloud website, 1999
by Simon Reynolds
Researching my rave history, I slogged through scores of books looking
for juicy quotes. Maybe I have a warped perspective, but I was stunned how frequently Adorno or Deleuze & Guattari or Virilio or even Harold fucking Bloom seemed to be talking about jungle, gabba, pirate radio, MDMA, Basic Channel, and so forth. In the event, most of the quotes I gathered never ended up in the book. But
waste not want not --here I offer a do-it-yourself rave theory
tool kit: raw material for you to construct your own analyses of your
favourite post-rave sub-genre. Have fun......
RAVING I'M RAVING
"Now I am light, now I fly, now I see myself beneath myself, now a
god dances through me!" ---Friedrich Nietzche
"[A] will for glory exists in us which would that we live like suns,
squandering our goods and our life" ---Georges Bataille
"A dizziness that reduced [the] environment to a sort of
luminous chaos" ---Paul Virilio, Aesthetics of Disappearance
"All energy must ultimately be spent pointlessly and unreservedly,
the only questions being where, when, and in whose name this useless discharge
will occur," --Nick Land, The Thirst For Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism
"[Heavenly angelhood is] a tensely vital peace, and... a calm yet
active ecstasy" --Harold Bloom, Omens of Millenium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams, and Resurrection.
"Extremely subtle, brilliant particles of some immaterial substance,
shooting up and down, this way and that, combining to present an appearance of a circling, shimmering pool of light" ---June Singer on kundalini energy in Androgyny: Towards A New Theory Of Sexuality
"[Tao, the body-without-organs, the courtly lover etc] testifies... to
an achieved state in which desire no longer lacks anything but finds itself and
constructs its own field of immanence" --Gilles Deleuze & Felix
Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia
"To be drugged by the embrace of nature into what we call most natural
in us, our sleepiness and our sexual desires, is at once a pleasant and an
unhappy fate, since what remains immortal in us is both androgynous and sleepless. So get right on one, matey" --Harold Bloom, Omens of Millenium. I tampered with this quote
"Their ecstasy is without content.... The ecstasy takes possession of its
object by its own compulsive character. It is stylised like the ecstasies savages
go into in beating the war drums. It has convulsive aspects reminescent of St
Vitus's dance or the reflexes of mutilated animals. ... The same jitterbugs
who behave as if they were electrified by syncopation, dance almost exclusively the
good rhythmic parts" --Theodor Adorno "On The Fetish-Character in Music and the
Regression of Listening"
"Why are rhythmical sounds and motions so especially contagious? A
rhythmical call to the crowd easily foments mass ecstasy: 'Duce! Duce! Duce!'.
The call repeats itself into the infinite and liberates the mind of all reasonable
inhibitions.... as in drug addiction, a thousand years of civilisation
fall away in a moment.... Rock'n'roll is a sign of depersonalisation of
the individual, of ecstatic veneration of mental decline and passivity. If we cannot stem the tide with its waves of rhythmic narcosis... we are preparing our own downfall in the midst of pandemic funeral dances. The dance craze is the infantile rage and outlet of our actual world." ---Dr Joost A.M. Meerlo, New York Times, 1957
"Epidemic Tanzwuth [Medieval dancing mania or St. Vitus Dance] was
characterised by 'stimulating' music and fits of wild dancing, leaping, hopping, and clapping that ended in syncope [fainting]. The condition was not always unpleasant;
victims sought out musicians to play the music that brought on symptoms,
and sometimes they planned for annual attacks. Physicians documented such
familiar features as hyperventilation, tachycardia, palpitation, and histories of recent fasting, lack of sleep and binge drinking of wine.... [Youths] followed
minstrels who played intoxicating music on noisy instruments with shrill
tones to 'demoniacal festival[s] for the rude multitudes'. Tarantism, an Italian
version of Tanzwuth superstitiously linked to tarantual bites, affected
young victims dressed in curious vests and necklaces and such-like ornaments... [and] clothes of a gay color.... Mass fainting at rock concerts may simply be an old
phenomenon reappearing in a new electronic age." ---New England Journal of
Medecine, Volume 333 No. 20.
"Not a public scene or true public space but gigantic spaces of
circulation, ventilation and ephemeral connection." Jean Baudrillard, Simulations
"They call themselves 'jitter-bugs', bugs which carry out reflex
movements, performers of their own ecstasy. Merely to be carried away by anything at all, to have something of their own, compensates for their impoverished and barren
existence." Theodor Adorno, "Perennial Fashion - Jazz"
THE RAVING MASSIVE
"The totality of all BwO's [bodies-without-organs].... a fusional
multiplicity that effectively goes beyond any opposition between the one
and the multiple" ---Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
"The compensation for schizophonia [the splitting of musical sounds from
their embodied human source through recording and commodification] is precisely in the creative responses.... ranting and raving... leveling and digging
and dubbing and rapping. Singing along.... getting into humanising and personalising
mechanical processes". ---Steve Feld, Music Grooves
"We have grown used to connecting machines and funkiness"
-----Andrew Goodwin, "Rationalisation and Democratisation in the New Technologies of Popular Music". In Lull, James, ed. Popular Music and Communication.
"Music is nothing but organised noise. You can take anything
-- street sounds, us talking, whatever you want -- and make it music by organising it" --Hank Shocklee of the Bomb Squad/Public Enemy.
"What I want to suggest here is that the machine too, is, in a sense,
'created' by the user in the act of making music' --Paul Theberge, Any Sound You Can Imagine: Making Music/Consuming Technology.
"We don't like musicians. We don't respect musicians.. We have a better
sense of music, a better concept of music, of where it's going, of what it can do" --Hank Shocklee (quoted in Rose, Tricia. Black Noise)
'ARDKORE AND TOYTOWN TEKNO
"A sort of musical children's language is prepared for them; it differs
from the real thing in that its vocabulary consists exclusively of fragments and
distortions of the artistic language of music... It swarms with
mistakes in phrasing and harmony. There are wrong pitches, incorrect doublings of thirds, fifth and octave progression, and all sorts of illogical treatments of voices, sometimes in the bass.... No less characteristic of the regressive musical
language is the quotation. Its use ranges from the conscious quotatioin of folk
and children's songs, by way of ambiguous and half accidental allusions,
to completely latent similarities and associations"
--Theodor Adorno --who died twenty years before Prodigy's "Charly", Agent Orange's "Sounds a Bit Flakey", Smart E's "Sesame's Treet", Bolt's "Horsepower", Urban Hype's "Trip To Trumpton", E-Kude's "Weed", Major Malfunction's "Ice Cream Van", Shaft's "Roobard & Custard" et al-- from "On The Fetish-Character in Music and the Regression of Listening",
"The joyous freedom and inexplicable obedience to will in the play
of musical movement is, according to my opinion, a regressive repetition and idealised intensification of bodily pleasure in that early period of infancy, when the discovery of limbs is followed by the gradual mastery of the whole body"
"[The 'black hole' is] a BwO [body-without-organs] that shatters
all the strata, turns immediately into a body of nothingness, pure self-destruction whose only outcome is death.... There is a fascist use of drugs, or a suicidal use."
--Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
"A panic search for identity which, like the laws of
mechanical thermodynamics, alternates between the inertia of indifference and the ecstasy of intense affects" ---Arthur Kroker, The Possessed Individual: Technology and the French Postmodern.
"From the assemblage of sounds to the Machine that renders it sonorous,
from the becoming-child of the musician to the becoming-cosmic of the child, many dangers crop up: black holes, closures, paralysis of the finger and auditory
hallucinations, Schumann's madness, cosmic force gone bad, a note that pursues
you, a sound that transfixes you." --Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, A Thousand
"Similarly, loud, aggressive drum sounds are often referred to
[by studio engineers] as 'rude'" --Paul Theberge, Any Sound You Can Imagine
"['Lift-up-over-sounding'] creates a feeling of continuous layers,
sequential but not linear; nongapped multiple presences and densities; overlapping chunks without internal breaks, a spiralling, arching motion tumbling slightly forward, thinning, then thickening again..." Charles Keil and Steve Feld, Music Grooves
"Since the Atlantic slave trade, ancient African organising principles
of song and dance have crossed the seas from the Old World to the New. There they took on a new momentum, intermingling with each other and with New World
or European styles of singing and dance. Among those principles are the dominance of a percussive performance style (attack and vital aliveness in sound and motion); a
propensity for multiple meter (competing meters sounding all at
once); overlapping call and response in singing (solo/chorus, voice/instrument
--"interlock systems" of performance); inner pulse control (a "metronome sense",
keeping a beat indelibly in mind as a rhythmic common denominator in
a welter of different meters); suspended accentuation patterning (offbeat phrasing of melodic and choreographic accent); and... songs and dances of social allusion
(music which, however danceable and "swinging", remorsely contrasts social
imperfections against implied criteria for perfect living)." --Robert Farris
Thompson, Flash of The Spirit: African and Afro- American Art and Philosophy
"[Faced with vast networks of power, the individual] can henceforth only
try to outwit them, to pull tricks on them, to rediscover within an electronicised and computerised megalopolis, the 'art' of the hunters and rural folk
of earlier days". --Michel deCerteau, The Practice of Everyday Life
"Anxious melancholy and manic buoyancy.... Frenzy and inertia,
ecstasy and catastrophe, speed and slowness" --Arthur Kroker and Michael A. Weinstein, Data
Trash: The Theory of the Virtual Class
"Let us imagine these hip hop principles as a blueprint for social
resistance and affirmation: create sustaining narratives, accumulate them, layer,
embellish, and transform them. However, be also prepared for rupture,
find pleasure in it, in fact, plan on social rupture" --Tricia Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America.
"The vortex of vulvo-cosmic dissolution" --Nick Land,
The Thirst For Annihilation
GABBA AND TERRORCORE
"Speed is a key category for the soldier body. It needs to heat up, rev up,
and race physically, before charging physically toward the site on which it
expects to experience itself in the streaming of pleasure" ---Klaus Theweleit, Male Fantasies
"Almost everything that has happened in the mass domains of
non-institutional pharmacology, sexuality and electric music in the wake of this conflict [the Vietnam War] attests strongly to such a longing. What is desired is that one be 'wiped out'" --Nick Land, The Thirst For Annihilation
"Homo-eroticism... lubes the merger with the war machine"
- Lawrence A. Rickels, "Psy Fi", from Alphabet City, issues 4 & 5: "Fascism and its Ghosts"
"[Dance music] immediately expressed their desire to obey...
Coordinated battalions of mechanical collectivity... Thus do the obedient
inherit the earth" --Theodor Adorno, who died twenty years before Inferno Bros.'s "Slaves To The Rave"
"Music has a thirst for destruction, every kind of destruction,
extinction, breakage, dislocation. Is that not its potential 'fascism'?" --Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
"Atonal punk reggae scored for gamelan, synthesiser,
saxophone & drums -- electric boogie lyrics sung by aetherial children's choir -- ontological anarchist lyrics, a cross between Hafez & Pancho Villa, Li Po & Bakunin, Kabir & Tzara -- call it 'CHAOS - The Rock Video!'... No... probably just a dream. Too expensive to produce, & besides, who would see it? Not the kids it was meant to
seduce. Pirate TV is a futile fantasy...."
....but pirate radio ain't! Hakim Bey, from Chaos: The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism
"A throng of dialects, patois, slangs, and specialised
languages." --Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
"The hybrid posed a special problem for those who worried about
purity of forms... and unnatural mixtures... The metaphyiscal and physical dangers thought to inhere in artificial grafts surfaced in threatening metaphors of infection, contamination, rape and bastardy." ---Barbara Stafford, Body Criticism: Imagining the Unseen in Enlightenment Art and Medecine. (Compare with D. May on breakbeat hardcore as a "diabolical mutation, a Frankenstein monster" and "I don't even like to use the word 'techno' because it's been bastardised and
prostituted in every form you can possibly imagine", or E. Fowlkes on UK rave as
"cultural rape" of Detroit techno).
INTELLIGENT TECHNO, PROGRESSIVE HOUSE, INTELLIGENT JUNGLE
"Nothing classifies somebody more than the way he or she classifies"
--Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste
"Styles of music intended for dancing have a way of evolving into
music for listeners only" --Charles Keil and Steve Feld, Music Grooves
FUZAK-JUNGLE AND JAZZ-STEP
"Competition on the culture market has proved the effectiveness of
a number of techniques, including syncopation, semi-vocal, semi-instrumental sounds,
gliding, impressionistic harmonies and opulent instrumentation which
suggests that 'nothing is too good for us'" ---Theodor Adorno, "Perennial Fashion - Jazz"
"Hegemony, like truth, is what people come to believe, so we can't really
know what is or was at stake in a style until it has run its organic course."
---Charles Keil, Music Grooves
TECHSTEP, ARTCORE NOIR, NEUROFUNK & NU-DARK
"We now longer feel that we penetrate the future, futures
now penetrate us" --John Clute, introduction to Interzone: The Second Anthology.
"The result is neither ecstasy nor alienation, but some deeply
ambivalent entwining of the two" --Scott Bukatman, Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject In Postmodern Science Fiction
"A terminal blast of music... the field across which bodies are coded,
tattooed and signified in an endless circulation of spectral emotions" --Arthur Kroker, The Possessed Individual--possibly after listening to Torque -- possibly not.
SOUNDTRACK-ISM FROM PHOTEK'S "THE HIDDEN CAMERA" TO WU TANG
"The film is the art form that is in keeping with the increased threat
to his life which modern man has to face. Man's need to expose himself to shock effects is his adjustment to the dangers threatening him. The film corresponds to
profound changes in the apperceptive apparatus" --Walter Benjamin, 'The Work of
Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction'
"An auditory zoom-lens that scans from micro to wide-angle to
telephoto as figure and ground shift" --Charles Keil and Steve Feld, Music Grooves
"The glissades of datascape mastery"
--Scott Bukatman, Terminal Identity
BASIC CHANNEL, CHAIN REACTION, MAURIZIO
"Moment time uses the linearity of listening to destroy
the linearity of time" -- Jonathan Kramer, The Time of Music
"The richer the sensory interface, the more reduced is the function
of narrative" -- Scott Bukatman, Terminal Identity
PCP/COLD RUSH STYLE "GLOOMCORE"
"A will to nothingness... A will running counter to life, a revolt
against the most fundamental presuppositions of life, yet it is and remains a will! And, to repeat at the end what I said in the beginning: rather than want nothing, man even wants nothingness" --Friedrich Nietzche, The Genealogy of Morals
"[The] principle of asignifying rupture [is opposed to] the
oversignifying breaks separating structures or cutting across a single structure. A rhizome may be broken, shattered at at given spot, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines... Musical form, right down to its ruptures and
proliferations, is comparable to a weed, a rhizome." --Deleuze & Guattari, A
"A universe of ambivalent signs flickering randomly between psychosis and
"This terrible terrain of decoded flows, dematerialised bodies,
and decontextualised desire"
"Cold seduction, then, for a cool hallucinatory culture of
special effects personalities moving at warp speed to nowhere."
---all from Arthur Kroker, The Possessed Individual
"... archived body parts are disguised in the binary functionality of
data and pooled into larger circulatory flows..."
"... Nietzche's body and conscience vivisectionists, vampiring
organic flesh, and draining its fluids into cold streams of telemetry...."
"... the harvesting of the energy from the local and the bounded for
the global and unbounded.... Ours is a time of non-history that is super-charged by the spectacular flame-out of the detritus of the bounded energy of local histories"
---all from Arthur Kroker and Michael A.Weinstein, Data Trash
"[The sampladelic producer is] a cybernetic pathogen,part-predator/part-parasite, always engaged in a sadistic hunt for unlikely new sound combinations"
"Here is where all the experimental breakthroughs
are being made in understanding the unfolding cultural logic of technological society: looping, partitioning, layering, panning, aliasing, filtering, mutating... We can actually hear our approaching fate as we are sampled for our history, dreams.
"Just like virtual sound-objects in sampler music technology, subjectivity
today is a gaseous element, expanding and contracting, time-stretched, cross-faded,
"Sleights of ear, mirror shifts of sound, waveforms, sound warps,
phasal noise: this is the illusional space that marks the imaginary territory of the digital ear."
"....an urgent requirement emerges to speed up the ear to match the
aural velocity of digital reality, to pump up the genetics of hearing to equal the
sounds of the datascape. Sampling technology, therefore, as a filter for
"Music, then, as a force field through which processed subjects pass,
with its privileging of pure speed, of sound approaching the velocity of light; with its vectoring of random subjects across a keyboard of outered emotions; with its
inscription of the codes of frenzy and desire onto the body without organs; and
with its fatal promise of pure inertia when the sound switches off and all the
dancing bodies collapses."
"Which is to say that culture is not a reflex of political economy, but
that society is now a reflex of key shifts in music theory and practice....
[Sampladelia is] the sound made by those early-twentieth-century discoveries
in particle physics and relativiity theory, the projection of the minds of
Einstein, Heisenbery, and Bohr, their fateful explorations of liquid time,
curving space, uncertainty fields and relativity theorems, into densely
configured and fully ambivalent android music tracks"
---all from Arthur Kroker, Spasm: Virtual Reality, Android Music and Electric Flesh.
THE POLITICS OF ECSTASY CULTURE: PRO'S AND CON'S
"Music seems to have a much stronger deterritorialising force, at once
more intense and much more collective" --Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
"There are no longer any necessary connections between culture and politics:
it is possible to be culturally hip, yet politically reactionary." --Arthur Kroker,
"We didn't get a proletarian revolution. I think the only thing we did get
was style" --Charles Keil, Music Grooves
"IT DIDN'T MEAN NOTHING" ---Jarvis Cocker, sleevenotes for
"Sorted For E's And Whizz"
[Any suggestions for further additions to the tool kit are welcomed]