Many different art movements of the twentieth century have influenced experimental music. This essay will focus mostly on the effect the Fluxus movement has had on music. Fluxus was particularly important to the development of an understanding that music does not necessarily have to be harmonic, and most importantly, that anyone can create music by organizing everyday sounds. This essay will discuss the following issues: how Fluxus artists challenged experimental/noise music; how audience becomes part of the performance instead of simply observing; and how noise music (as well as the Fluxus movement in general) was a protest against serious traditional culture.
Fluxus was not the first art movement that started the development of noise aesthetics. The proposal that artists should use everyday sounds in their compositions first appeared in the Italian Futurist painter and composer Luigi Russolo’s manifesto “The Art of Noises”. In his text the author criticized the old fashioned tools for sound production, and as an alternative he proposed making new musical instruments and using a multitude of machines. According to Russolo, perfectly harmonious music had reached a point where it no longer had the power to excite or inspire. Consequently, artists of the Dada movement extended experimental music ideas. A prime example was the Anti-Symphony concert performed in Berlin on April 30, 1919. Later, the Surrealist and Fluxus art movements brought in new, fresh ideas to noise/experimental music. The biggest influences were the Fluxus artists Robert Watts, Wolf Vostell, Nam June Paik, George Maciunas, Philip Corner, Benjamin Patterson, LaMonte Young, and Takehisa Kosugi. Fluxus performances grew out of the principle of concrete (ready-made) sound, and the Experimental Composition classes by John Cage ran between 1957 and 1959 at the New School of Social Research in New York. According to Cage, artists should use actions, concrete sounds, and random things, rather than being represented in an illusionist/harmonic manner. There were two different types of Fluxus performances. The early one was the “Events/Neo-haiku Theater”, which was followed by the “Happenings/Neo-Baroque Theater”. Happenings, environments, and Fluxus made the artist aware of sounds’ potentiality in creating work that retained a sense of immediacy, corporeality, and curiosity. [Read more →]
Peter Sedgwick Psycho Politics – Laing, Foucault, Goffman, Szasz and the Future of Mass Psychiatry Foreword by Helen Spandler, Robert Dellar, Alastair Kemp Unkant Publishers, London 2015 ISBN 978-0-86104-352-9
Peter Sedgwick was born in 1934, joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in 1954, left it in the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution two years later, then joined the Socialist Review Group. This small organization, headed by Tony Cliff, later became the International Socialists (IS). Sedgwick became a frequent contributor to their journal, International Socialism. When the organisation took a turn towards Leninist party-building and renamed itself Socialist Workers Party in 1977, Sedgwick left the group. He fiercely opposed this step, calling it a ‘propaganda-act’, a ‘silly fling’ and a fraud.
Sedgwick worked as a psychologist and school teacher before lecturing on politics at the universities of York and Leeds for the last 15 years of his life. He was the eminent translator of the works of communist dissident Victor Serge.
Besides dozens of articles in the press of the IS, Sedgwick’s main work is Psycho Politics – Laing, Foucault, Goffman, Szasz and the Future of Mass Psychiatry. This book was originally published by Pluto Press in 1982 and was an assault on the ideology of the anti-psychiatry movement of the 60s and 70s and its relative hegemony concerning positions towards mental health issues in the radical left at the time.
He sets out to show how these ideas, originally devised in the interest of the ‘mentally ill’, provided ammunition to those on the right with the agenda of dismantling the welfare state, giving them arguments to withhold adequate funding from the mental health institutions and ultimately shifting the responsibility of taking care of the mentally ill back to ‘the community’ or the family. [Read more →]
Tragically on the 18th of September 2016, one of the godfathers of the UK and European free party scene, Keith Robinson, progenitor of Desert Storm Sound System and illegal rave stalwart ended his life in the river Thames in circumstances as yet unclear.
Keith was always a massively influential character on the movement both in terms of application (his military precision when it came to organising illicit fiestas was legendary) and ideology. He and Desert Storm introduced a socially conscious element to a scene that could, on occasion, veer towards the nihilistic, hedonistic and escapist. Keith wanted to improve the existing world as opposed to creating an alternate society inhabited by a select few.
In 1995 he and the D Storm posse took their rig, aid and perhaps more importantly their music and vibrancy to Sarajevo towards the end of the Bosnian conflict (check Storming Sarajevo on youtube for more on this). Later on Keith went to Afghanistan to fight with the TA, whilst many of his good friends were bemused by his decision no one doubted that his motives were genuinely altruistic.
Many of us noted a marked change in Keith’s outlook following his experiences in Afghanistan, maybe he’d lost a touch of that incredibly positive outlook he had displayed in his earlier adventures. Nevertheless, Keith, from his kamikaze like support of the ‘Reclaim the Streets’ and anti CJB events through to his mission to Bosnia and innumerable free parties and teknivals in Europe had an immeasurable impact on the rave scene, not just in terms of music and showmanship but as an inspiration, personally, to all that worked hard and played hard by his side.
Your drive and passion will not be forgotten, rest in peace big man.
“We don’t think that music is a luxury. We think it is an essential, yet it’s always one of the first casualties of war.”
Rusty Knife Remixes
Vicious Cycle II
Most tunes made by Sagae are top-notch industrial techno like his 2013 digital only ‘Sleep Deprivation’ two tracker, and the digital only ‘Rusty Knife’ two tracker is no exception. Gritty, clanging, pounding relentlessness sums up the hard hitting tracks ‘Danger Signal’ and the more broken up ‘Rusty Knife’. Absolutely killer! The remix album was released in 2015, and it is a bit of a let down, as the remixes simply don’t stand up to the original tracks. The most interesting one is Makaton’s ‘Rusty Knife Shiv Mix’. The newest release ‘Vicious Cycle II’ on Rodz-Konez keeps going from where ‘Rusty Knife’ left off, and all these are highly recommended.
Centuria Lost Archives [Not on Label, D’Arcangelo Self-Released]
There’s sure one way to get people excited, and that is for D’Arcangelo to release on his bandcamp page 4 old demo tracks that were never released by Centuria from 1997. (If you check his soundcloud, a bunch of old single tracks have also been made available.) Download immediately, because it starts with the hard-hitting, distorted ‘Mob Rules’ that certainly engaged with other sound of Rome producers like ADC. ‘Daghen’ and ‘Hudy’ are fast paced splintered idm tracks, and the short track ‘Interferenz’ is abrasive in its simplicity.
Whirling Hall of Knives P!!ggz [Fort Evil Fruit FEF40]
Released as a cassette and also digitally, here are 8 tracks of super brutal beat oriented noise. The title track sets the tone with broken up beats gnarled by noise and distortion. [Read more →]
Things That Were
[Vinyl on Demand, VOD117]
The first self-titled Lustmord LP appeared originally on Nocturnal Emissions’ Sterile Records in 1981. It is one of the classic releases of a particular phase in British industrial music whose sound is defined by outfits such as S.P.K., Nocturnal Emissions, Bourbonese Qualk and others. It could be said that these and other bands/projects represented a “second wave” after the trailblazers of Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, continuing a grim sound, reflective of the hostile environment of Britain in the late 70s and early 80s.
In 1983 the Sounds-journalist Dave Henderson compiled a nice overview of this scene in the form of The Elephant Table Album, creating a snapshot of that scene as it was already drifting in different directions, be it more dance-oriented strategies or a more dark, ambient noise vein.
Things That Were, released in 2013 by Vinyl on Demand as triple LP box set, collects Lustmord’s material from before that date. The first of the three LPs is a remastered version of the aforementioned first LP, the other two records collect bits from various compilations (including the Elephant Table) as well as several live- or studio-versions and unreleased tracks. This is long before he became well known for his soundtrack-like dark ambient style, with the one exception of the last track of the third record, which anticipates his departure from the rawer and harsher sound of the early years.
FFF/Champa B The Burial/Jah Jah Dub [Lickshot 007]
A two-tracker on a stamped white label 10” shows FFF with Champa B in a more quiet, reggae-influenced mode somewhere between Jungle and early Drum’n’Bass. On both sides the beat remains rather steady and there are no surprises or ravetastic elements as you might expect, but it’s not too cheesy either.
Hellfish Stage Invader/Tek Hater [Deathchant 75]
Deathchant reaches number 75 with the man Hellfish battling it out on two 45rpm tracks in his familiar style combining some breaks, start-and-stop techniques and EQ-tweaking with the trademark fierce 4 to the floor pounding. Since number 70 all Deathchant releases have been by Hellfish. Perhaps he figured he might as well just put out his own tunes if he can churn them out at this speed to keep the pressing plants busy (and still find time to make releases for PRSPCT). Now none of them provide new revelations, but I don’t think that’s what they’re made for, they seem to be happy to be just solid kicking Deathchant releases.
Liza N’Eliaz/Laurent Hô [S.O.D.O.M. 001]
S.O.D.O.M. stands for Slaves Of Devil Our Master and was a label run by Armaguet Nad in the late 90s. It never completely stopped, and after some long gaps there were two releases again in recent years, most recently – January 2016 – the number 001. [Read more →]