I cannot write because I don't feel like I have anything to write about. The last few years have seen me become alienated to such an extent that it is really hard to get excited about anything. What bugs me most is the sense of an impasse*, certainly related to the social impasse, the end of history, the collapse of (the master) narrative, etc.
Especially with music. It continues to be good. For no reason. The hardest thing to do right now would be to make something that everyone hates. This is the only true universality that is left. There will never be a music that everyone likes. Whether this is good or bad is immaterial. What is true is that we are all so caught up in identity and differentiation that nothing will ever be universal in a positive sense again. That a piece of music is good is, to me, now, the most boring thing that could be said. A certain level of functionality has been achieved. Everything works for someone, somewhere. Given all the advantages nowadays, the myriad methods and genres considered generally acceptable, it would be hard to actually make something horrible. (I think of Beat Happening and how amazing it must have been to see them defiantly taking the stage to open for Fugazi twenty years ago and how now they would get the requisite 9.3 on... yeah... etc.)
BD: 1 5 9 13
SD: 5 13
HH: 3 7 11 15
Many are still excited by this. I don't understand why. I hear a new band, a new singer, whatever, and it already seems so obvious, and so ready to be understood. I automatically become critical, I am already objective, I can not participate or believe. I am exhausted.
What I miss most about electronic music, even though I continue to dutifully research records and edit my want lists, continue to save up for new needles, etc., is that, ultimately, it was the last folk music. Folk music is, to me, something that exists against the alienation I surely feel. It is music that, while certainly not anti-intellectual, understands that the need to "collect and contain" is a rupturing force, one that creates a mental space between the listener and the music. Perhaps the intensity of the electronic music scene revealed the lengths one must go to to avoid that distance. The dark room, the drugs, the repetition meant to induce not stupor but something more enlightened than thinking, knowing, and even the long drives to other places, were all the extremes necessary to finally "inscape", to not avoid the real but see it more clearly.
So retro then becomes the signifier for the death of a scene. Not because it is out of ideas, not for any of the aesthetics-related reasons that so many bring up. Only because it is the moment when a scene recognizes itself as itself (with "itself" being something fixed not fluid). Sometimes it reminds me of puberty, the moment, it seems, when hierarchy becomes omnipresent. Kids, especially girls it seems, suddenly become self-aware in a way that was impossible merely a year before...
I am tired and I am not writing anymore for today. Sorry.
* impasse is the word I use round the (obviously very boring!) house to describe the feeling that "the way things are headed" is wrong, that things may have, in certain ways, been done better in the past, and that the feeling that things may have been better in the past is completely anathema. I hate Traktor, Auto-Tune, Pro-Tools, vinyl, analog tape and the Neve 1073, and I hate everyone who defends them.