They say that it is easier to imagine Boris Johnson as a human being than it is to imagine a Christmas without John Lewis. This is the twenty-first century. New technologies should be liberating us from wage slavery. Automation: the yellow brick road to equality for all. Prosperity, liberty, luxury, happiness, solar-powered renewable energy, in every social home. Electric cars, efficient public transport, automated production lines pumping out ever-cheaper produce. The death of fossil fuel dependence, wave farms, wind farms, sun farms. Rapid advancements in genetic and synthetic biology. Revolutions in healthcare, food production and nutrition. Together, we can feed a world of 9-billion people. Together, we can create meaningful freedom, for everyone.
As the crisis in capitalism reverberates in our ears like a death knell, the need for a coherent response from the left has never been greater. The Marx revival continues apace amongst emerging media platforms, challenging the hegemony of the right-dominated MSM. Novara Media is one such organ, a vanguard committed to fighting interpassivity: waging war on the war on terror; the war on drugs; class war. Above all, Novara symbolise a hunger for a post-oligarchic system cleansed of all corruption. A new form of scapegoatery to take down those hiding in plain sight.
To truly achieve a Benthamite ambition of the greatest happiness of the greatest number, it is imperative that the left break ranks with lumbering public perceptions of Marx as abettor to totalitarian terror, to define new possibilities for the virtues of democratic socialism. Capitalism wastes time, energy and resources to cement a pyramidic hierarchy for an ever-diminishing elite. It reduces us all to beings so disempowered by the sheer complication of surviving within the system, that we either master it at the expense of others, or become slaves to the rhythm of mass exploitation. In the Olympic stadium of free-market dominance, only a minority make the podium. Socialists, meanwhile, believe in concepts outside of the Olympiad market place: time and space; self-determination; opportunity to embrace Socratic examined lives.
The co-founder of Novara Media, Aaron Bastani, sets out his stall for a future with a sociological imagination with ‘Fully Automated Luxury Communism’ (Verso). Over the course of 243-pages, Bastani deconstructs the possibility of FALC as the triumvirate of: ‘Chaos Under Heaven'; ‘New Travellers'; and ‘Paradise Found’. “We are set for peak human”, he expounds, “our technology is already making us gods – so we might as well get good at it – it’s time for us all to stop waiting and make history once more”. Critics and pro-capitalists the globe over will be falling over themselves to deride such wilful optimism. Cultural commentators with vested interests lining up to pour scorn on the suggestion that the human race is capable of saving itself. Climate change, resource scarcity, surplus populations, technical unemployment, all apparitions of left wing scaremongery.
Whatever the naysayers may say, our societies are closer to making these technological leaps than most people realise, and the neo-liberal right are planning to shape the Third Disruption in the image of private accumulation and corporate power. In order to avoid a mutually assured JG Ballard-esque ‘Cocaine Nights’ dystopian future, we must transcend our collective totalitarian memories of socialism as a failed experiment to embrace the pure humanitarian philosophy at the beating heart of Marx’s theories. Although he is no Mark Fisher, Bastani’s unabashed love of neologisms express the post-everything passion required to liberate human consciousness from the norms of capitalist society. To step outside the confines of established sociopolitical hegemony, to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, we must accept that the very act of disturbing normalcy is essentially disturbing. As Fisher states in the introduction to ‘Acid Communism’, the challenge facing the left is: “not to recover our ‘lost’ identity, to free our imprisoned nature, our deepest truth; but instead to move towards something radically Other”.
Agrippa – ‘Dead Weight’ (Par Avion): Third vinyl instalment from Par Avion, celebrating label co-honcho Agrippa’s unique production style: wonky, rolling, polyrhythmic techno. Sombre, reflective, and at times erratic, these four cuts further enhance both his profile as a producer of worth, and Par Avion’s profile as a label-of-note, in a teeming Bristolian underground awash with quality and innovation. Alongside brethren Henry Greenleaf and Meta, Agrippa is keeping it dreader than dread. These boys know what they’re doing.
Galya Bisengalieva – ‘EP Two’ (Nomad): Expanding on the incredible promise of ‘EP One’, Kazakh/British violinist Bisengalieva pushes the envelope yet further for her sophomore EP, collaborating with avant-turntablist Shiva Feshareki, to delve ever-deeper into the well-worn furrows of left field interest. Featuring three new pieces and an Actress remix of ‘Tulpar’ as a digital bonus, there are no available clips as yet, so you’ll have to make do with a clip of ‘Tulpar’ from ‘EP One’.
Burial – ‘Claustro’ (Hyperdub): The South London don returns to the fray with his first new material in two years, a high-tempo 2-step affair, complete with looping R&B refrain. A killer bass synth rises and falls below furious hi-hats, as pitch-shifted vocals fly left and right to nitrus oxcidic effect. Ostensibly a return to the Burial mapped out on ‘Untrue’, maybe a prelude to a follow-up long player? We’ve waited far too long.
Sarah Davachi – ‘Pale Bloom’ (W.25TH): Quietly Canadian Davachi seemingly releases a brace of long players a year. In the last 12-months or so, we’ve gained ‘Let The Night Come On Bells End The Day’ (Recital), ‘Gave In Rest’ (Ba Da Bing), her collaboration with Ariel Kalma, ‘Intemporel’ (Black Sweat), and now ‘Pale Bloom’, for Superior Viaduct imprint, W.25TH. Whilst recent outings have mostly focussed on the meditational and quasi-religious import of organ drones, and the role of scared space in creating devotional ambience, ‘Pale Bloom’ returns to her instrument of origin, the piano, to reinterpret J.S. Bach through a psychotropic kaleidoscope on side 1’s ‘Perfumes I-III’, before cutting loose again with drones and mangled strings for the La Monte Youngisms of side 2’s expansive ‘If It Pleased Me To Appear To You Wrapped In This Drapery’. Possibly my favourite Davachi release thus far.
Kelman Duran – ’13th Month’ (Apocalipsis): Released digitally back in 2018, and now available on double clear wax, Kelman Duran’s epic ’13th Month’ is an impressive sample-driven journey through 90s hip-hop beats towards 00s reggaeton dembow. Inspired by time spent with the Lakota people on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, ’13th Month’ refers to the lunar structure of the Lakota people’s calendar, the album is Duran’s intimate response to the experience. References to Biggie Smalls and 2Pac bring both sadness and anger to the mix, ’13th Month’ is a vast progression from his patchy debut, ‘1804 KIDS’ (Hundebiss).
K-Lone – ‘Sine Language’ (Wisdom Teeth): Trippy, b-boy-baiting break-beatery from Bristol stalwart, rhythm research and development expert, K-Lone. Broken beats for big rigs. Dropping vocal samples onto pulsating electro-break mechanics like napalm, Charlie don’t surf, K-Lone don’t stop. Dropping the science like Galileo dropped the orange.
Anthony Naples – ‘Fog FM’ (Incienso/ANS): “A house music transmission filtered through fluorescent static, from a station out of place and time” emerges from the miasma, equipped with strident baselines, crisp motifs and dub-house atmospherics, challenging Shinichi Atobe‘s ‘Heat’ (DDS) as one of the finest outings in the discipline in recent memory. With nods to Naples’ compadre-in-sound, Brian Leeds‘ output as Loidis, ‘Fog FM’ presents celestial crescendo after celestial crescendo in an orgy of scuffed-up clubbery.
Pessimist and Karim Mass – ‘s/t’ (Pessimist Productions): UVB-76 Music/Ruffhouse compadres Kristian Jabs and Tom Cooper unite to throw down the gauntlet to Ossia‘s masterful ‘Devils’ Dance’ (Blackest Ever Black) in the album-of-the-year-thus-far stakes. Dread electronics, broken hip-hop, demonstrative dub and sooty drones, manifesting as 12-untitled cuts of menacing experimentalism across two sides. Play loud. Rewind.
SSTROM – ‘Drenched 9-12′ (Rösten): SSTROM is the project of Hannes Stenström, onetime member of Sweden’s Slagsmålsklubben, one half of enigmatic techno duo SHXCXCHCXSH (SHX). ‘9-12′ is the culmination of his ‘Drenched’ triumvirate on Rösten. Impressively prolific, Stenström’s work ethic cannot be questioned, his robust dub techno veers off the page towards psychedelia at times. Collectively, ‘Drenched’ is an enormous statement of intent.
Ulla Straus – ‘Big Room’ (Quiet Time): Pennsylvania-based producer and sound artist Ulla Straus follows recent contributions to the legendary ‘bblisss’ (bblisss) compilation and her collaboration with Pontiac Streator for West Mineral Ltd with this 8-track cassette release on NYC’s Quiet Time tape label. Straus cites her influences for the collection thus: “keeping pictures on a wall left there by someone else”; “daydreaming about something not real”; “hearing a friend walk through the front door”; “letting a plant die”; and “the silence of a room when the box fan is turned off.”