Friday, January 27, 2012

form minus function

Kiran Sande on noise-ist turned "techno"-ist Pete Swanson as emblematic of a spate of "unique, outsider takes on techno" (and also house)

"If “proper” techno music is about function, then the Swanson, KPLR and Container records are about dysfunction – and their refusal to be useful to DJs and consumers feels like a quietly political statement. “I don’t really like the idea of music being produced for a functional purpose,” Swanson says. “I would be shocked if someone actually played Man With A Potential at a club and people were into it.”

it is a curious trend (see also Ital's Hive Mind), these replicas of analogue-era techno... that are absent -- in some hard to precisely pinpoint way-- of whatever vital attribute made the music work in their original context...

(cf Prurient dude rediscovering EBM/Cold Wave/dancefloor for Bermuda Drain as well as Vatican Shadow alter-ego, and producing music that would, if it had been sent as demos to Nettwerk or Play It Again Sam back in the day,would have been rejected as substandard)

the trend seems to be recursive in two ways

i/ a flashback to Throbbing Gristle's sideline in defective disco with "United", "Hot On the Heels of Love", "Adrenalin"

ii/ a strategy symptomatic of hyper-stasis -- Swanson like so many artists in the Zones wants to keep moving restlessly ever "onwards" ("I’m always chasing the next thing” he tells Sande). but since pushing forward in some absolute sense (advance into the genuine unknown) gets harder and harder with each passing years (for all kinds of reasons including the hyper-productivity of the Zones) that requires a sideways-and-backwards movement, i.e. into another genre/field from your usual one, but naturally into that genre's past (after all, you wouldn't want to get mistaken for an attempt to participate in the genre as currently constituted, or judged on its terms). if your model is things like Underground Resistance-type brutalist tekno (a style that electronic dance music left behind long ago) and your execution is deliberately rough-hewn.... not so much "deconstructed" as depurposed.... then the dread scenario of DJs playing it and dancers dancing to it becomes remote

but this leaves the work in a curious place, deriving its shape and existence in relation to something whose criteria it pointedly disregards

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