Against Petrification (Praxis Newsletter 12, 1997)


With the collapse of the old world order in WWI not only the social and political order changed but also music: The Futurists declared the noise of the machines, the noise of the cities to be music, the urban young dancing the Charleston. Ever since then the cutting edge of sound, both conceptually as well as for the body, shunned by the cultural establishment, but expressing the desires of the new generations, has defined itself in terms of noise and repetitive beats. The emerging consumer capitalism has in the years after WWII tried to recuperate these movements, repackage them for the ‘POP’ market, but new mutations generate themselves faster, outmanoeuvering the administrators of Control. But we’re not talking about escape velocity here – with the increased availability of technology that makes it easier than ever to create, produce and distribute independent material, new networks and mechanisms have started to operate in the last decade. We called it techno. But even the phuturistic rigidity of techno was not immune against the counter-strategies of the system. We need new strategies of underground resistance, the beats have to be broken, the noises twisted, desires reinvented, the phuture manifesting itself in the present, breaking the rules of the past.

When we talked about the ‘summer of confusion’ last autumn (Praxis newsletter 9) we were hoping for a progressive focussing that has happened in the last few months, a new era of nuclear fission of previously separate or even opposed ‘genres’ in electronic dance music. Things are becoming clearer, slowly. On the one hand we have the unbearable conservatism of people holding on to the traditional formula of the 4/4 beat, trad electro and pure jungle, while on the other we have the impure, such as us and many others, combining elements from those genres to something heterogenous and new, an attack on the petrified and poor values of the past.

At the same time discussions about strategies have become more urgent: what are our aims and how can we achieve them – something that is happening on many different levels, aesthetically, politically, musically, socially etc. Those with a political agenda have to be careful to not fall into the trap of sloganeering (and providing raw material to the spectacle), while those who pretend not to, will have to admit their endorsement of the status quo. As the summer and with it the Teknival season is reaching its peak we can at least in London look back on a few productive months – with datacide a magazine has appeared that covers, comments & analyses the developments in noise/repetitive beats in relation with technology/culture. With Hekate the free parties have made a great leap forward and once again are becoming the place where cutting edge music can be experienced rather than the tired old formulas of acid trance. Record production has intensified and the subnet distribution networks are getting stronger…

Originally appeared in Praxis Newsletter 12, June 1997


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