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 →]
Marcel Bois Kommunisten gegen Hitler und Stalin Die linke Opposition der KPD in der Weimarer Republik – Eine Gesamtdarstellung Klartext Verlag, Essen 2014 ISBN 978-3-8375-1282-3
With this 600 page strong book Marcel Bois offers the first comprehensive overall presentation of the history and sociology of the left opposition of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in the 1920s and early 1930s. The emphasis is on a very detailed and scientifically documented depiction of those groups who left the KPD from the mid-20s onwards in the course of its Stalinisation. These were on the one hand the groups around the former leaders of the party such as Ruth Fischer, Arkadij Maslow and Werner Scholem, who with Hugo Urbahns and others, founded the Leninbund (Lenin-League). On the other hand there were the Entschiedene Linke (Decisive Left) and the Gruppe Kommunistische Politik around Ernst Schwarz and Karl Korsch respectively, as well as The Wedding Opposition and smaller groups like Bolschewistische Einheit (Bolshevik Unity). A bit later, the organisational roots of Trotskyism in Germany also emerged. The Spartakusbund linkskommunistischer Organisationen around Franz Pfemfert had a special position in the milieu of the left oppposition.
The founding conference of the KPD took place at the turn of the year 1918/1919 within two months of the end of World War I. Less than two weeks later, two of its most important leaders, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, were murdered. There were several attempts from this time through 1923 to make the revolution in Germany happen, which all failed. Already in 1919 a back-and-forth started between more ‘left’ or ‘right’ leaning leaderships, and as early as October 1919 a large section of the party’s left were expelled. The issues at stake were the rejection of elections to parliament and the Leninist party concept by the left. In April 1920 this left constituted the Communist Workers Party (Kommunistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, KAPD), and took with them a large part of the membership of the KPD. This marked a decisive historical break in the international communist movement that was echoed in similar processes of regroupment in other countries. Lenin famously targeted the left with his nasty pamphlet “Left-Wing” Communism, An Infantile Disorder, denouncing its ‘opinion, declamations and angry ejaculations’ as ‘childish’, ‘particularly stupid’, ‘fundamentally wrong’ and amounting ‘to no more than empty phrase-mongering’. In the process he defended participation in parliamentary elections and reactionary unions, and effectively the dictatorship of the party over the dictatorship of the proletariat. The KPD in the meantime ditched the ‘right’ leadership under Paul Levi, who was appalled by the fact that the party had been dragged into the ‘putschist’ adventure of the ‘March Action’ in 1921. Levi then printed the previously unavailable – now famous – text by Rosa Luxemburg in which she severely criticised the Bolsheviks. [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 →]