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ONTO-. . .

In critical terms, critically, when it comes right down to it, what I find wrong with doomsayers like MacDonald, is their cut and dried epoch making: that was then, this is now, then was good better best, now is ... disorder, thin glam-pop gruel, mere flashy temporality, splintered territory: as though Time could be sliced into ontological cuts tracks or T-bones.

Surely far more fitting & critically profitable {I won't use the word "better"} - especially as we're dealing with the invisible domain of music; the absent presence of recorded sounds - to think in hauntological terms: of ghosts, hauntings, spectres {and spectors}, revenance not relevance ... endless RE-turn.

Much as I admire some of the stuff in The People's Music, I cannot stand the implied moral pay-off line therein: back then music had meaning, endlessly parsable lyrics, veils of real audio resonance; now, post-Death, it ... well, it what?

I just cannot acccept any 'Death of...' arguments.

How listen to something like Gillian Welch's "I Dream A Highway" {14 minutes, gone in a sigh ...} and imagine things, now, are deathly dull, wrung out, second best? Oh, real Country music DIED a long long time ago did it {?} ... only if you behold or hold on to or participate in Life on purely arm's-length between-tongs like terms ... tidily parcelled out epochs of Time ... epochxy residue here and there if you're lucky, the odd "authentic" return to proper form - a Bruce Springsteen fist, a White Stripes wail or holler, a Ladysmith Block Tokenismo fandango ... Later With F W Hegel ... solid, meaningful, full of the right "spirit" of rock n roll or something ... but 'spirit' in these cases always seems to feel something like a Boy Scout proficiency badge, implied goodness, learned craft, eudaemonistic vestiges hanging clammily euphonic in the People's Air after that final, triumphal chord change ... change is good only when it changes things back to How They Used To Be ... {!?}

... rather than Spirit as uncanny, un-negotiable on our old "good OR bad" "meaningful OR trash" "signal OR noise" ontological terms, no, foxier than that, smokier, tricksier, feral, threshold, revenant waves, neither here nor there ... and why shouldn't "spirit" pass into or leak out of a computer set-up, a nu console, a sampling techne? It's just one more tool ... :} the same people, when pressed, never fail to declaim that what makes some unarguable masterwork like Pet Sounds or What's Goin On really click is its ... "spirit".

Analog attracted Los Angeles spooks in a way new technology just doesn't, somehow, some unholy reason ...

... as again, i stand in witness, i stand in flames, astonished, awed, how could anyone listen to David Sylvian's Blemish and say that any interface with computers is a priori going to result in "cold" "inhuman" music? Or that this darkening, airy, intimate, haunted music isn't as deeply richly strange as the best Nick Drake? That it doesn't have that same 'x' factor, the hauntological factor or fibre, precisely, so that even its bleakest seeming seconds feel rounded up, in time, into a far higher larger final affirmative YES to this doubtful world ...? A music which you can almost hear taking {its} place in Time ... ?

How could you possibly even begin to think to say that such a music belongs to some pale imitation Now, is moored [t]here, irretrievably, doomed to be eternally second best - spirtually, lyrically, sonically, socially - in comparison to all that went before ...?

Where has it gone, all that went before?

It circles, in all our haunted air; it isn't locked up in some institutional lockdown, hemmed up inside solid wall cells, let out occasionally to (h)exercise, as a right more than a rite, locked away inside a tarnished charm bracelet, dead feather, moulting lock, consigned to and defined by some grumbly old codger's peeling yellow last word Post-It scrawl: Memories ...

No: music is in the air, in memory, diffuse & porous, it is both archaic mourning and eternally new morning, a perpetual echo at the edge of hearing, cricket whisper background and ritual heartbeat, it is the butterfly inside our skull ...

"The record caught the air of London nineteen sixty-five
The places I go are never there
The places I go are never there
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be
I can only picture the disappearing world when you touch me
When you touch me . . . ."

{Sam Phillips ยท "Taking Pictures"

posted by Ian 9/07/2003 04:46:00 PM

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