“Be realistic, demand the impossible” – Herbert Marcuse
Whatever you do, don’t do anything subversive this year. Please, do not challenge authority, defy expectations, offend anyone, or use music or literature in ways they are not ready for. Whatever you do, don’t waste your time listening to Ellen Arkbro, Satoshi Ashikawa, Shinichi Atobe, Bengal Sound, Bomb Sniffing Dogs, The Caretaker, Panos Charalambous, Count Ossie And The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari, Beatrice Dillon, Kelman Duran, John T. Gast, Heith, Catherine Christer Hennix, Huerco S, Inoyama Land, Jan Jelinek, Kamikaze Space Programme, King Midas Sound, Mary Jane Leach, Logos, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Madteo, Kali Malone, Kevin Richard Martin, Nozomu Matsumoto, Nkisi, Daphne Oram, Ossia, Perila, Bernard Parmegiani, Pessimist, Poet And The Roots, Prince Far I, Slikback, Masahiro Sugaya, Piero Umiliani, Barney Wilen, Xth Réflexion, Hiroshi Yoshimura or Young Echo. Make sure you download the specified number of hot albums from your Apple Music prompt list: ten selected titles per month, all the same genre. Ignore any temptation to think for yourself. Do not even dream of illegally downloading inferior quality files from minority blogspots.
Do not think critically. Do not develop a sociological imagination. Do not create disturbances. Do not deliver outlandish performances. Buy all your books from Waterstones, based on reviews read in the TLS, or The Observer New Review. Don’t read anything by Jesse Ball, James Ellroy, Mark Fisher, Byung-Chul Han, Srecko Horvat, Daisy Johnson, David Keenan, Raoul Martinez, Ottessa Moshfegh, Derek Owusu, David Peace, Max Porter, Roger Robinson, Jack Shenker, Olga Tokarczuk, Ocean Vuong, David Foster Wallace or Slavoj Žižek. This is only your life, not a protest rally, stage, or psychologist’s assessment protocol. Just listen to worthwhile music, read something of value, that’s all we demand. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. Together, we can make 2020 the year of the Second Great Refusal.
Since we last spoke, I’ve mostly been holed up in the tMx bunker, reassessing the various reassessments of my fellow cultural commentators from across the world wide web. Apart from a brief new year’s spiritual forage into Dumfries and Galloway for a little stone bothering at Cairnholy, it’s mostly been about coming to terms with post-election blues. Politically, my conclusion in that department has emerged as the realisation that I have spent the majority of my life thus far in opposition to one government or another, and that, all things considered, I’ll doubtless live out the rest of my days in a similar position: la lucha continua.
Musically, I’ve taken the time to declutter, to catch up with things I’ve either overlooked or afforded scant attention previously. I’ve spent time with Bomb Sniffing Dogs, absorbing the multitudinous wonderment of their beatifically poetic ‘Word Wall 2’/’The One Show’ (The White Hotel); toyed for hours with the complex and twisted techno of Konduku‘s masterful ‘White Heron’ (Nous’klaer Audio); immersed myself in the incorporeal incantation of Kali Malone‘s deeply affecting ‘The Sacrificial Code’ (iDEAL Recordings); skanked around the bunker endlessly to the life-affirming joy of JonnyGO Firgure‘s essential ‘Crucial Showcase’ (Bent Back’s Records); and curled up snuggly of an evening in the warm embrace of Ellen Arkbro‘s mesmerising ‘Chords’ (Subtext). On the incoming front, I’ve tempered the temptation welcome every newcomer that wanders aimlessly past my browser window, in the interests of maximum quality control:
FUMU – ‘Skinned’ (Youth): Strafing the industrial dancehalls of Manchester with the follow-up to 2018’s excellent ‘Sinuate’ (Youth), Turinn associate FUMU returns proffering 4-slabs of Teeside terror on 7″ wax. Blending collapsing house, contaminated power electronics and a 21st century punk rock attitude, FUMU blows the doors open to begin 2020 with a fuck-off-bang! Volatile.
The iDEALIST – ‘Anti-Fascist Dubs, Spiritual Electronics and Unconscious House Music (Malmo Inre): Joachim Nordwall‘s dubwise alter-ego’s output has been somewhat prolific over the past 12-months, and with this 8-cut excursion on Malmo Inre, he may well have landed his best catch yet. Undeniably sensual, this deeply psychedelic collection explores contemporary erotic tendencies compatible with artists associated with West Mineral Ltd, Motion Ward and Anno. Arousing.
TNT Roots – ‘Raw Dub Creator’ (Bokeh Versions): Much anticipated and endlessly rewarding revisionist collation of over a decade’s work from Northampton Earthquake Don, TNT Roots. ‘Raw Dub Creator’ compiles a handful of mighty tracks made from 2006-2018 that were all previously self-released on CDr via Roots’ own Lion Musik label: featured cuts span his TNT Roots and Yahweh Warriors aliases, as well as solo sounds released as Earthquake. Righteous sounds.
Ulla – ‘Tumbling Towards A Wall; (Experiences Ltd): Ulla Straus’ debut solo release on Experiences Ltd builds on the considerable erotic tension she’s amassed through her work with Pontiac Streator over the past couple of years. Deeply sensuous timbres and gossamer textures inspire soporific waves of sexual suggestion. For all the lovers in the house. Stimulating.