advanced dubwise electronic music

à discuter: mark fisher's "ghosts of my life" - writings on depression, hauntology, lost futures, capitalism & the surface noise made by vinyl

we recommend the following book because it makes us reflecting on what we like and what we do, in a clever and at once provoking manner:

fisher, mark (2014). ghosts of my life. writings on depression, hauntology and lost futures. winchester: zero books.

the term "hauntology" refers to the philosophical thinking of jacques derrida. it has been assigned to a particular realm of current (underground) music culture. we consider it as a useful concept in order to describe a great deal of the music that is featured on comfortnoise and dubexmachina. - subsequently, we present five quotes that we recognise as fisher's core arguments.

Fisher, Mark - Ghosts of my Life - Cover_300

quote/assumption 1: the significance of current music culture
imagine any record released in the past couple of years being beamed back in time to, say, 1995 and played on the radio. it's hard to think that it will produce any jolt to the listeners. on the contrary, what would be likely to shock our 1995 audience would be the very recognisability of the sounds: would music really have changed so little in the next 17 years? contrast this with the rapid turnover of styles between the 1960s and the 90s: play a jungle record from 1993 to someone in 1989 and it would have sounded like something so new that it would have challenged them to rethink what music was, or could be. while the 20th-century  experimental culure was seized by a recombinational delirium which made it feel as if newness was infinitely available, the 21st century is oppressed by a crushing sense of finitude and exhaustion. it doesn't feel like the future. or, alternatively, it doesn's feel as if the 21st century has started yet. we remain trapped in the 20th century... (pp. 7f.)

quote/assumption 2: the character of hauntology
...we can provisionally distinguish two directions in hauntology. the first refers to that which is (in actuality) no longer, but which remains effective as a virtuality (the traumatic 'compulsion to repeat', a fatal pattern). the second sense of hauntology refers to that which (in actuality) has not yet happened, but which is already effective in the virtual (an attactor, an anticipation shaping current behaviour"). (p. 19)

quote/assumption 3: melancholy and the role of crackle in hauntological music
the artists [william basinski, the ghost box label, the caretaker, burial, mordant music, philip jeck, amongst others] that came to be labelled hauntological were suffused with an overwhelming melancholy; and they were preoccupied with the way in which technology materialised memory - hence a fascination with television, vinyl records, audiotape, and with the sounds of these technologies breaking down. this fixation on materialised memory led to what is perhaps the principal sonic signature of hauntology: the use of crackle, the surface noise made by vinyl. crackle makes us aware that we are listening to a time that is out of joint; it won't allow us to fall into the illusion of presence. (p. 21)

quote/assumption 4: the lost future
in hauntological music there is an implicit acknowledgement that the hopes created by postwar electronica or by the euphoric dance music of the 1990s have evaporated - not only has the future not arrived, it no longer seems possible. (p. 21)

quote/assumption 5: what just happened to current music culture
it's clear to me that now the period from roughly 2003 to the present will be recognised - not in far distant future, but very soon - as the worst period for (popular) culture since the 1950s. (p. 29)

Fisher, Mark - Portrait


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