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Monday, August 3 2020
A note on process: When a post is untitled beyond its date, that is a fridge list. Keep it close to hand because everything in that list will nourish you. No shiny links here.
Another note on process: We are abandoning YouTube embeds and quote indents. They are ugly.
A few weeks ago, Actress (Darren Cunningham) released a free album on Bandcamp called 88. The page was taken down within days but the entire forty-five minute piece is up on YouTube. Three years ago, Cunningham put out AZD, and I interviewed him for this 2017 Stereogum piece. This seems relevant: “White noise processed correctly is the best noise you can use to clear your brain, iron out all the kinks,” Cunningham said. “As a pure sound, pink and white noise are the best sounds for me. I just love them.”
The Things Are Not OK varieties of dance music are what Actress and Burial bring to market, and that approach is often adduced as hauntology. The idea that time has collapsed and brought on psychic displacement is useful, but these two artists work different sides of the cloud. Burial makes music from a single viewpoint, with each track presenting a psychic whole. The Burial tracks, all together, make a novel. The Actress tracks, all together, make a map. Cunningham works in and through an audible territory of his own making. The white and pink noise constitute the landscape of his music. Each track documents a character moving through the totality of that noise, a place he has been displaced into but can hear for us.
88 might be an odds and sods bag and that might not matter. It’s an overhead view of a plangent and defeated world.
Jamire Williams’s gorgeous nine-minute track, “Here I Am, Send Me,” is the sound of someone who’s emigrated from the Actress world and is learning to walk again.
You can watch John Akomfrah’s 1996 film, The Last Angel of History, in the Maysles Virtual Cinema. Is the blues a secret black technology? Is the funk? George Clinton and Kodwo Eshun and a dozen other people appear in what is certainly the most traditional film in the Black Audio Film Collective catalog. Forty-five minutes—you’ve got the time.
You can read “Revisionist Horn Concerto,” a poem John Ashbery wrote in 1992.
Yesterday was James Baldwin’s birthday, but why stop celebrating? The director’s cut of Take This Hammer is streaming for free. In the spring of 1963, the mobile film unit of San Francisco’s public television station, KQED, followed Baldwin around San Francisco for a few days. His tour guide was Youth For Service’s Executive Director Orville Luster. In his words, Baldwin wanted to find the “real situation of Negroes in the city, as opposed to the image San Francisco would like to present.” One of Baldwin’s conclusions: “There is no moral distance . . . between the facts of life in San Francisco and the facts of life in Birmingham. There is no moral distance . . . between President Kennedy and Bull Connor because the same machine put them both in power. Someone’s got to tell it like it is. And that’s where it’s at.”
British film director Mike Dibb recently posted his 1979 film, The Country and The City, to YouTube. (Here’s a Vimeo link if things go pear-shaped with Dibb’s post.) It’s an hourlong adaptation of the 1973 Raymond Williams book of the same name. The immediate analog is John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, the 1972 BBC adaptation of his book, and there are plenty of confluences between the two writers and their interests. The rural and urban split is crucial to Berger’s work, which may have set up a correspondence with the Williams book. Empty field or passageway for the coal train?
Dibb’s film carefully matches Williams’s prose with images that change with every sentence, and Williams himself is in the film. Not sure why this doesn’t have the cachet of the Berger series, though I suspect it’s down to licensing or something equally clerical. At an hour total, it’s more compact than Ways of Seeing and just as piercing. It would be nice if public intellectuals stopped arguing about imaginary fights and put their back into some good old edutainment.
Mika Vainio played this “one turntable DJ set” in September 1998 at Rhiz, Vienna. All reggae and dub, beautifully recorded.
In honor of the god Peter Green, recently passed, here is a two-and-half-hour mix of Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross,” blended by Keith Fullerton Whitman. Just one song in a zillion different versions, the grand statement of Pacific/Atlantic slide blues peace waves.
The FPUC payments shrank, so a subscription really helps us now.