October 11, 2007

The signal is still out there...


    I love the UK underground sound because itís moodier, more rolling than anything else around. But I also love the euphoric stuff thatís in UK tunes too. I feel like it was stolen from us...Iím too young to have ever gone to a warehouse rave, but I want to show the ravers that someone is still holding a light for that old soundÖthat the signal is still out there.

Burial, in a superb interview by kek-w for Fact, confirming what Blackdown's interview with him last year had already established: that, not only is he one of the best producers around, he is also one of the most articulate.

    The sound that Iím focused on is more, you know, when you come out of a club and thereís that echo in your head of the music you just heardÖI love that music, but I canít make that club sort of stuffÖbut I can try and make the afterglow of that music.

I heard Kode9 play Burial at DMZ last year and - because of the ex-centric, muffled beats as much as its mottled melancholia - it fitted uneasily into a club environment. The idea of Burial as an 'afterglow of [club] music' reminds me of V/VM's 'Death of Rave' project: except that the 'Death of Rave' is based on actual flashbacks, whereas Burial's craving for collective euphoria is mediated through the ecstasy traces left behind on records from the Rave era. Burial longs for what the two big post-millennial hardcore continuations - Grime and dubstep - have defined themsleves by omitting: the 'becoming-feminine' of the ecstastic body, machinically expressed in Rave's pitched-up vocal. Gratifyingly, early reports from the Hyperdub bunker suggest that the new Burial album, with 'little bits of vocals glowing in it, flickering around and burning in the tune', will be spectral 2-step as opposed to the spectral jungle of the first record.

One of the reasons that I and others found the comparison between Burial and Martin Hannett's productions for Joy Division so irresistible is that both producers' sounds are architectural. This chimes in with one of the many fascinating observations in Fangirl's Joy Division piece:

    What I loved about Joy Division as a teenager was the fact that their despair sounded bodiless, completely untied from the burden of being alive inside of skin and fat and hair. This is a part of Joy Division's great and enduring power, the fact that the physicality of their songs is not so much human as architectural: arenas, roads, wastelands. They take you right out of yourself, onto some immense spectral plane, hovering above the city.

This brings out the point I was trying to make in my Fact piece on Metamatic about the Ballardian being essentially architectural. (See also Owen's post on social democratic counterfactuals.) Whereas Foxx - and the virtual populations that Metamatic projected - found a new kind of jouissance in brutalism's angular arcades and the disassembling of the self into neo-Surrealist collages ('he's an angle/ she's a tangent'), it was as if Joy Division were seeing Ballard's high-rise Britain through the eyes of a neurasthenic Romantic. At the same time, they foreheard - and were a forehearing of - the No Future that would ensue once rock ran aground on the terminal beaches at the End of History, where depression amongst the young is normal...

Posted by mark at October 11, 2007 02:28 PM | TrackBack