October 11, 2003



I've been wanting to respond to this post of Geeta's for a while now. Geeta is calling for a full-blown New Pop revival, and decries the arid 'artiness' of much microhouse.

While, naturally, I concur with Geeta's drift, I'd quibble a little, perhaps pedantically, with her terms. I'd say that what bedevils Pop now is its lack of artiness. There's a surfeit of tastefulness in certain genres, for sure, but I wonder if that isn't something they share with New Pop.

Perhaps this illustrates k-punk's deviation from the gospel according to Popism. New Pop may have been the moment where Pop ceased to wear its Art on its sleeve. At a certain point, New Pop and Neuromance could appear all but indistinguishable. Too crass and simplistic to say that New Pop repudiated Artiness, but its play with the refurbished signifiers of 'simple Pop pleasure' militated against Art Pop's complications , which it sublimated or, better, superlimated into the illusion of pure surface.

Nothing illustrates this more than the group which partly prompted Geeta's musings, ABC. Despite being a fan at the time - ABC were the first band I saw live - I find them almost unlistenable now. Like most of Horn's productions - monumentally 'impressive' to exactly the same degree that they are uninvolving (and for exactly the same reasons) - ABC leave me cold. ABC are not Art Pop, but Designer Pop - something that could be said of most of Horn's work, actually . Fry's fastidious connoisseurship fitted naturally with Horn's affectless, dispassionate sound construction. The Lexicon of Love was a meta-classic album in that it eschewed the modish and the modernist in favour of the 'timeless': an album that, although it was composed of nothing but simulations of the past, was utterly disengaged from history.

The obvious contrast is with Japan, the last of the Art Popsters. Unlike ABC, Japan were modernists. No attempt to (re)capitulate (to) some notion of the Pop classic. They pushed on - Sons of Pioneers - dissatisfied with anything that wasn't novel. I've bemoaned Sylvian's subsequent lapse into Taste before. What kept Taste at bay in Japan was the spectre of Glam, which was still something to be negotiated with, even at the end. Glam is anti-Taste incarnate, a vulgar sublime refusal of beauty's proportion as much as it is a rejection of the everyday's drabness. Glam's dressing-up was never an aspiration to attain Classic Style. On the contrary, in fact, it was always an unsettling of perfect form, a trash apotheosis. (In that respect Eno, the fly in the ointment, might have been more Glam than Ferry, who was always prone to conspicuous displays of Taste.)

Posted by mark at October 11, 2003 01:17 AM | TrackBack

eloquent and lovely, mark k-punk! i'll be responding to this one soon!

Posted by: geeta at October 15, 2003 05:21 AM

Thanks Geeta. Really enjoying Original Soundtrack, needless to say....

Posted by: mark k-punk at October 15, 2003 08:31 PM