Wow.

In case you’re not familiar, the usual preamble needs to be laid down, in order to enable readers to gen themselves up. Classixx are a duo who base themselves in the city which embodies American frontierism and the promise of a better future, the ultimate destination for anybody who sets off from anywhere, in true Sal Paradise style; that city is of course Los Angeles.

They make music. That is all you really need to know. Just listen to the song “Holding On” and you will understand. Usually I sneer nonchalantly and with an almighty amount of disdain at almost anything which receives an unfair, as the case usually is; amount of hype. 

Sometimes though, very occasionally, something blows you away. You grow to realise that any pretence of “not liking” it becomes futile because it is so damned good.

Do you remember the late nineties? When songs were in vogue, you know proper danceable tunes, with structure and vocals. Not just blaring, distorted, dystopian synths. Not just “drops” but melodies. I’ve written before how the American bastardisation of “EDM” (whatever that means, anyway) has had a detrimental impact on the quality of “dance music”.

Classixx, though. They’re clever. They haven’t gone in for the usual sonic atrocities meted to our ears from american producers. No. They’ve done something which is rare, it is to be cherished and nutured and played on repeat all summer.

The song. My goodness, is it an anthem. Not insofar as its lyrics will really place the authors at some sort of vanguard for people, but because it is anthemic. I hate myself for the comparison, but I feel this needs done: If you think Daft Punk’s catchy, but essentially throwaway; “Get Lucky” is the best song ever, you need to hear this.

It completely wipes the floor with that song. This is applicable to all situations, all contexts. Whether it be an english beach barbecue or a balearic set closer. It is, in the truest sense of the word, epic.

Even if you do not get FedEx to ship you a copy from Austria, get it in your life. It is six minutes, twenty seconds of pure, summer infused bliss.

“I’ve been holding on/ I can’t take it anymore”, goes the vocal. You know what? It is correct.

I’m just going to lose myself in this song.

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This may well not be a popular viewpoint amongst these new “tech” consumers, people who have had computers of some form or other in their life for their entire life. People who have come of age in an era of programmes such as the X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing et al.
They claim to “love” things made by people such as musicians. However, they only love it if it is free. They love free, consequence free art. Or, they buy digitally through one of the various portals into which we volunteer reams of data, and ignore a plethora of conditions; in order to only spend seven tenths of a pound on a song.
Who benefits from this arrangement? Certainly not the artist, for often they receive a mere single figure percentage of the received income. Not the record label, as they also do receive barely enough money. It also is not the customer. They receive a low quality product which is designed to be heard once, maybe twice and then mostly forgotten about until the utilisation of something called “iTunes Genius“, reminding you of all these songs you actually have.
So no verifiable person wins, nobody who spent their childhood after school learning an instrument, in the vague hope that maybe one day they could earn a crust from their skills. Their idle wanderings along the fretboard as a teen were for their pleasure, but then they realised they were actually quite good at this old lark. Why not try and do it forever? Making music.
Making music is something which is inherent amongst humans. There has always been music. There always will be music. The worry is that we have entered a new age. Not one of particular beauty, of innovation, of expansion or new thought. One where the race to the bottom is the only worthwhile thing. Where everything is described only in profit margins – from the food we eat to the television we watch.
As a result, we are processed into thinking we have more control over our culture, through televised karaoke. We don’t seem to realise that the more we buy into this fake form of “democracy”, the more we lose sight of what it means to live in a decent society. Art is no longer extant for searching for truth, or beauty or a profound sense of what it is simply to be. It is produced in great factories in order that we, the consumer; can forever try and keep up with the vulgar Joneses.
In a world where we believe we have a right to not pay for anything, what do we expect? Our conditioned greed in this toxic environment leads us to believe that because we have more of everything, it is therefore better and more culturally rewarding than in the past. More songs, more films, more television channels, more books.
What people fail to realise is that it is all pulp. Crass, mass produced stupidity. Where are the good ideas anymore?
We, as the world; have not seen new innovations in politics, literature or art that have changed the entire future course of their areas for decades. Everybody peddles all the same wares. Carbon copies of things once done. We need originality, we need to engender an atmosphere in which the eccentric, the bohemian and the simply philosophical can take root.
Since the advent of television, and its incessant popularity since; we have become weaker intellectually. People think that they have access to new and better information with a television. This would be a fine assumption, if it were possible for people to make television programmes. As it stands, a very small number of people across the globe actually put out any form of prgramming.
We are being trained into being stupid. We are trained into accepting things as they are, accepting that art is only ever money.
Maybe, these kids will argue that there are no more geniuses, which is simply absurd. Genius will always exist in people, but if we create a world in which they suffocate rather than breathe in the admiration of their peers, of course they will be forced into mundanity and a real job.
I do not want to live in a world where people pay only £0.69 for a song. Something which most true artists would have pored over maybe for years. It all starts with the musicians. The longer we allow ourselves to be spoonfed the lie that cheap equals good, the longer we will wander headfirst into a new European Dark Age. We are on the cusp. If we persist in humiliating and devaluing that which has the true ability to satirise our society, thus muzzling it and castrating its ability to have any impact, then we will be judged by history as the people who just didn’t care.
I hope you think twice next time the cursor hovers of “Buy now”. Don’t do it, engage yourselves.

So as not to trick you into reading something which will potentially offend you, I will start off by being blunt: I hate the charade that surrounds Armistice Day. If this idea offends you, and your mind is closed; then by all means click the “x” on the tab and away yourself to enjoy your day. That is your prerogative. As it is mine to not wear a poppy, and to not support the British Legion or Help for Heroes.

The problem emanates with people, unfortunately. In Britain, it is the correct thing to “support our boys” as “heroes”. Most of the time, people who do not engage with, and participate in; such behaviour tend to be viewed as subversive, as outsiders, as inflammatory. I’m none of these things, I’m merely anti-War. People say that Remembrance Day is about showing “respect” and “honouring the dead” of wars. It would be great, except that isn’t what it has become.

Really showing respect and honouring those who have died in wars, would be to either ultimately end all war or to live as the society they died to defend. One where to have a contrary opinion is not a crime, is not going to be a dark mark against your name and character, is not going to paint you in the most noticeable of colours.

I detest war. I detest the capitalist state because its end function is war. War generates revenue. War acquires resources to sell. War is capitalism.

But it is not only that. The Red Poppy is the fundraising tactic of the British Legion. They in turn give the monies to British soldiers. They make no distinction between the Conscripts of the First World War, the Anti-Fascist War of the thirties and forties – and wars like the Falklands and Afghanistan and Éire. The Red Poppy crowd want to whitewash over history, to paint an image of the archetypal British Soldier as somebody who only engages in conflict with the very best of intentions and as a very last resort. Somebody who would never kill unarmed civilians who are fleeing, would never skink a ship sailing away and outside the conflict zone, somebody who would never attempt to cover up a massacre in a “British” city.

The truth is, it is not that simple. The British Armed Forces are neither heroes nor villains. They do what they are told. There is no heroic spirit. Merely killing as a result of killing. Which begets more killing. Also, there is the question of whether or not the British Army is in fact even an army anymore, when it is deployed more as a paramilitary police force. It is pre-emptive, first to strike and heavy-handed. Ask the Irish people, if you want to have your views challenged.

War is not a nice little abstract idea that happens “elsewhere”. That is what people who organise them would like us to believe, as it is good for morale; and there’s less chance of people turning against it if it isn’t on their doorstep; people other than british soldiers die in War. Where is their remembrance? Is there room for the civilians of Dresden on the Poppy? For the Fourteen murdered in Doire? Baile Átha Cliath? Muineachán? The Argentinians on the Belgrano? The Mau Mau?

See, the problem is, the Red Poppy is about normalising war and reducing dissent. It encourages people to think only in terms of “black and white” wherein the army is on the side of the Angels, and the Enemy is Satan reincarnate. It encourages people to forget that civilians, too; are damaged beyond repair by shrapnel, by poor planning and by callousness.

Remembrance Day has become a propaganda tool. Wear a White Poppy to remember all War dead. Or wear none at all to show that you are living in a country that the men and women from the Second World War would recognise. One where dissent is considered a vital part of the due process of “democracy”.

People often go on and on about what it is that separates those born amongst those united states they collectively call America, and those who happened on being born in the fractious barely-united-anymore kingdom. These seem people often note it is language, a shared tongue that somehow became corrupted.

This is indeed true, and people emphasise this point by highlighting the english “become” and the american “gotten”. Both different words, as I’m sure you’ll attest but one is a more correct version of the other. Where this point is really emphasised though, is in connotation.

Take sports teams. In the US, the refrain is “Let’s go X!”, whereas in england it is “Come on X!” and if you’re incredibly well-travelled and versed in the nuances of supporting a team in the uk, you’ll hear “Come oan tae fuck X!” if you’re en ecosse. Let’s delve into this. It’s semantics, and also a question of anger. Of psychology. Of mentality.

The american way of showing a support of one’s team “Let’s go!” is really a polite request. “Let us” is not as assertive as the variations found in the british isles. It is, on a subconscious level; asking – “let” is the speaker seeking approval for what they’re about to do. Quite quaint really when you consider what an amusing juxtaposition this is. This is also a nation that has no problem forcibly spreading their form of governance using the sword and the unmanned drone.

The english way, as is ever so often the case; appears to be offering annoyance, that the team has not already performed such perfunctory tasks as keeping possession rather than playing to win and ultimately lose. “Come on!” is a shout of rage, of disbelief of pure snobbery. The fan finds it incomprehensible that the team is yet to acquiesce with their demand of scoring or defending or clearing or passing the ball. It is contempt for anybody not tuned into the same tactical frequency. They therefore must be stupid, because as anyone who has watched sport in england will attest; there is no better qualified expert to discuss the nuances of the preceding match than the fan.

Ironic too, is this cry as the english person is not one whose stereotype indicates a churlish, crass character; but instead one of reverence. Of stoic protestant ideals, of keeping schtum, of doing what is necessary to get by and not much else.

“Come oan tae fuck”. This is the best cry to your sports team. Whilst being a little bit intentionally uninterpretable, what does “come on to fuck” actually mean…; it is also incredibly aggressive and assertive. Everything for which the scots acquired their reputation in the past. And they make no bones about it.

Unambiguous, unifying, alienating.

Now, if you’re no gonnae read any moor, get ye tae fuck.

Armando Ianucci is a superb mind, and has a superb knack of displaying a vision of how we think the country is run. During previous seasons of TToI, it was genuinely satirical because there appeared to be an air of “we know what we’re doing” emanating from within the gilded hallways of power. This series seems to fall a little flat, admittedly after only three episodes; because it is no longer mocking anymore. I believe that, the LibDems’ characters aside; it is how government happens.

So far it has felt a little forced. Now with three parties all vying for attention, it makes the stories a little more fraught and all-encompassing. Obviously the idea of TToI without Tucker et al is not possible – but taking us to their “ShadCab” feels unnecessary. We know how unloved the opposition is because we are the people ignoring them, it seems a bit redundant to show us the opposition in a room feeling unloved.

Whilst it has felt messy, the stand-out characters have been Peter Mannion MP and Phil. Once TToI is approached from an emotionally disinvested viewpoint, Phil becomes really a good character. Rather than being a twat in a suit, he becomes a walking joke. Something even funny as Phil himself is acutely aware of just how out-of-place, and out of love he is.

Mannion feels very much like Ken Clarke. Someone who originally felt like a radioactive spillage – something to avoid and leave well alone; now feels rather human. Rather, dare I say it; likeable. His mishaps are not evil engineered by the party machine, but rather an inopportune moment with a lens thrust in his face. I hate his policies, but I could accept his existence.

The real meat of TToI has always been in sweary, creative put-downs. This doesn’t really work in the environment of a coalition government. The key idea being to work together, so everyone is trying to get along. When things do go wrong, the outbursts are funny (see Stewart breaking Phil’s phone) but it is more out of angry spontaneity instead of genuine cold calculation and the desire to embarrass Ben Swain/ Nicola Murray/ anyone else.

I love TToI, and you’d have thought that a government split between the industry killing Tories and pointless Lib Dems would be a haven for Ianucci. A shame that the new characters get in the way. Obviously, for continuity reasons the actors couldn’t just become a different party in the same universe. That would be simple lunacy. But there is no empathy, not even through a malevolent dose of Schadenfreude. For it to really work, the characters have to make you believe they are worth investing in.

It makes even grimmer viewing for somebody who is well acquainted with Ianucci’s recent work in the USA, Veep. Much the same sort of set-up as in TToI, but focusing on the Office of the Vice President. Maybe it just seems better because it is fresh, the characters and situations are new. Whether or not that is the case, TToI needs to buck its ideas up, otherwise this last season will forever be remembered as the show on its last, confused legs.

I’m not going to tell you what my political leanings are, precisely. That doesn’t matter, and it is important for this to be read as it is; not tainted by what I believe, or what people think I believe.

What started out as a noble advert, ironically; in Adbusters magazine has grown into a morphed and sickening monster. The advert depicted a ballet dancer atop the bull, the famous bronze sculpture symbolising that most important of streets just off-Nassau St. In the background, however; was a group of people who appeared to be shrowded all in black, throwing things; looking lively; causing things to happen.

Instead, Occupy has become so self righteous it is beyond nauseating. As one umbrella organisation it has become bogged down in stodgy decision making (consensus is great, of course it is; but it can be taken to a ridiculous extreme); a sense of its own importance far beyond any that has ever been independently attributed to it.

It is saddening. It could have been a force for real dissent, for co-ordinating civil disobedience and disrupting things. Alas, it is content to stay in areas the state has deemed acceptable; a focus on “non-violence” to the point of apathy (guys, it isn’t violent if it is towards an inanimate object i.e. a coffee shop); and god help you if your views stray from those of the party line.

In the U.K. the most successful action has been placing a banner inside a railway station. When you aim to bring capitalism to its knees, who is processing the thoughts that arrive at that being the best action? Banner drops are never going to end capitalism. It’s all too vague. Where are the marches, the direct actions, the actual energy?

Occupy likes to declare itself as the vanguard of the Anticapitalist movement. From where does this legitimacy stem? Just because you shout the loudest and have tents on public ground does not make you a vehicle through which all dissent must be channelled. We’ve had the Millbank demo, the December student demo and the riots in this country in the last two years. Still Occupy doesn’t get it.

If you’re trying to engage with “the youth” eventually they will get sick enough of being told what to do by Levellers fans toting the Morning Star that they take back their voice. They don’t need you. They do things properly. They don’t happily sit within the confines of a system they despise, and which has neglected them for years. They get it done.

The most fantastic thing is the “state sanctioned” protest aspect of Occupy. Sitting on public land is not a protest. Sitting outside a Cathedral is not a protest. The people at the helm of the movement are steering a course straight into an iceberg of mediocrity and ridicule.

Occupy could have been fantastic. Alas, however like so many groups akin to UAF and others, it has fallen foul of egomania. It’s a shame.

I’m the kind of person who usually is able to “grasp the nettle” of something fairly quickly. Develop if not an expertise, then instead a well-informed opinion on a matter. Not to blow my own trumpet, but to illustrate just how perplexed I am.

America, why have you only just realised that dance music is good? Admittedly, it is your own (yawn) warped version of how everybody else makes it, but still- welcome on board. I know you like to be the best at everything, hence the Superbowl Champions are described as “world champions”; the “World Series of Baseball” (haha!) so on and so on. We get it. You like your own noise.

But Skrillex? Is his music really the best that could be made in order for you to procalim that “EDM”, as you so crassly describe it; has reached the stratospheric heights of being popular? I can’t believe you don’t realise that his music is a cannibalisation of dubstep, a music so far removed from the form that really it does not deserve that epithet. For there is no dub.

Dubstep was born out of immigration to the UK. From an evolution of UK Funky and garage, from acts as diverse as Linton Kwesi Johnson and Kraftwerk. Where is the soul in the american version? Where is the back story?

I don’t understand why Sonny is allowed the moniker of dubstep. I really don’t. It, and he, is more at home in the emo stylings and genre. Sure, artist evolution is fine, as I have written before. But, I don’t know. It just feels wrong. It’s like the whole MK Dons aberration all over again. You’ve no right to it.

So yeah, rejoice like never before. You have discovered that really ordinary blokes sit in their bedrooms playing with knobs (ahem) and make fantastic music. Great.

Just please, step outside your own bubbles. There is a big, culturally rich world out there.

The supreme hatred harboured by everyone who uses the internetz dictates that I must start off by noting that I fucking love Beck Hansen’s work. From Fresh Meat & Old Slabs to Blue Randy. I love it. I am a fan. Almost a mega-fan.

So allow me to voice my malcontent. My disappointment. I am underwhelmed beyond words; for all I wanted was some new music. Songs, a body of work that started with track one and ran until track end. The songs needn’t be related, coherent or even conventionally good. Just some songs, Beck.

It was all so promising. Appearances in the media. Recordings. New songs. Live shows became expected, rather than a dirty hope which needed lots of bottom lip-biting. It could have been great, Beck. I loved Modern Guilt. I thought, and still do think; it’s sublime. A piece of majesty.

I understand, also; why this format was chosen. But please, musical Gods; remind artists we are not all of the hipster generation. Even amongst Beck fans, there are those of us who dream only of music. Whether it be on 180g audiophile vinyl, or a little plastic disc. Either way, man. I also appreciate that in Planet Hipster, it ain’t worth jack unless it’s a redundant medium: glasses with no lens; fixed gear bicycles; canvas anything; handlebar moustaches, humus…

How did this come into being? Who gave the green light for this an economically viable piece of “art”. Or is that the key? It isn’t economically viable, and so it will be “über-limited” to only 3.4 units?

“We’re gonna need a release from you soon…”
“Uh, yeah, it’s just I haven’t done anything. No music really. It’s all too disparate. And being an icon, y’know?”
“Yeah, we love that angle; but we will need something soon”
“I have an idea. Why don’t we exclude everyone? Let’s release an album on paper”
“Fucking genius, Beck.”

I pray to a god, in whom I don’t believe; that is not how it came about. I also really hope this actually turns into REAL recordings of Beck playing the music. It surely must do, hence JMJ’s tweet about “working on new Beck stuff”? Any other Beck fans out in the ether, please either assuage my fears, or tell I’m wrong and why. Please.

 

I guess if it isn’t the coolest fucking thing ever, at least the emperor of tumblr’s new clothes are looking swe…oh.

Specifically in music. I’m conflicted here. I will explain why. In 2006/7 me and one of my friends chanced upon an up-and-coming rapper whose guise was satire. He’d rap about topics in a light, almost nonchalant manner which would belie his often serious observations. It was witty. It was real. It wasn’t important that he was relatively unknown. We didn’t much care for that; “hipster” was a dirty word yet to be invented in the universe we inhabited.
So what’s my problem?
I can’t decide if it is morally just to completely change everything about you as an artist, because you know that is what appeals to record label suits, and people who listen to Radio 1. Is there merit in distancing yourself from your niche, from where your true talent resided in order to play festival stages at 3pm.
I feel at this juncture I ought to explain that I have no problem with a natural progression of styles. I love “Humbug” just as much as I love “Whatever People Say I Am…” for example. What concerns me, is how quickly and willingly artists are shedding their former skin for a chance at pop success.
I am also aware that living as an impoverished artist is not ennobling. Alas, we all need to have something we can market and exploit for financial gain. That is sadly the state of the world. But to what end? Is it callous and cynical to switch from making challenging music about nuclear weapons to songs about saying nothing? It is not that it sounds like the sort of thing that the blokes from Panic! At The Disco and The Killers would throw up after a heavy night out “clubbing”, but; there is no substance.
Also, I suppose with the change in target audience, there is (paradoxically) a lowering of expectations and criticism from your fan base. If the only reason they listen to your music is as a soundtrack to drinking holidays in the south of Europe or for lounging in a field, then they aren’t really too fussy. So long as it has absurd synths and vocodaed vocals. The more successful you are, the more your fans think you are capable of driving the bus per se.
This is not an anti-Example rant. I own lots of his early stuff on records, I’ve seen him in intimate venues and supporting Faithless. He was just the best example I could find, when considering wholesale changes in style for popularity. I wish him all the success he can garner, I really do; I just wish he would sometimes acknowledge and perform as his persona from What We Made.
Artists should never be bound by convention, that is a given. True art is forever pushing taboos and tastes and expectations. That is what art does- it holds up a mirror to reflect how distorted a people we have become.

 

If Example’s latest stuff is reflecting the true state of this people, and this generation then I am definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time.

i know that in the Buddhist scriptures it tells us not to attach meaning to material objects. i know this. i also know that as a human, i am fallable. i am nowhere near able to collapse such a part of mind. i am trying. i am getting there. i will not buy something because of an advert, for example.
but there’s just something about vinyl. it is alluring and beguiling. it is physical. it is permanent and a symbol of the human ability to make things which will far outlive our own individual existences.
nasa even sent records into space on the deep space probes. they’re beautiful.