Reviews

Demented Idioms – Schizo-Culture: The Event (1975) & The Book (1978)

“The problem is not really defining a political position […] but
to imagine and to bring about new schemas of politicization.”

– Michel Foucault

Back in the late 1980s, a series of pocket books appeared introducing English speakers to several writers who would become lumped together as post-modernist or post-structuralist philosophers. At the time, though, the names of Baudrillard, Lyotard, Virilio and Deleuze & Guattari were a lot less well known and these pocket books (dubbed the Foreign Agent Series) had the aura of underground publications. More aptly, perhaps, they seemed extra-academic; they didn’t seem to be coming from an institution and least of all from a British institution. The origins of these books, however, lay in a series of Journals and Conferences organized and edited under the name of Semiotext(e) and which came out of a specific department of Columbia University (an institutional vacuole?). One such Conference and accompanying Journal was the Schizo Culture gathering of November 1975, which brought (mainly untranslated) French theorists into collision and collaboration with elements of the SoHo Art Scene and with anti-psychiatry and prison activists like Howie Harp (Insane Liberation Front) and Judy Clark (Midnight Special). Ever mobile and shape-shifting and apposite to Semiotext(e)’s birth in a critique of linguistics1 we would find that William Burroughs (he of the ‘word virus’) was present, as was his fleetingly one-time Project Sigma collaborant, Ronald Laing. [Read more →]

EAT LIKE AN IDEALIST! – the ASSASSIN association of musical marxists reader (Book Review)

EAT LIKE AN IDEALIST!1]
Micheal Tencer and Andy Wilson (Ed.)
the ASSASSIN
association of musical marxists reader
Unkant Publishers, London 2015
ISBN 978-0-9926509-2-6

When I tell any Truth it is not for the sake of Convincing those who do not know it but for the sake of defending those who Do.
William Blake

In this loud volume swansong the Association of Musical Marxists puts its no-money where its mouth is, not for the first time. As a physical thing, the anthology is luxurious and awkward: a seductive riot (uprising, downrising, community fireworks display etc.) of Day-glo, a distracting wealth of graphic charms in an outsize paperback whose shape and weight resist distracted or any other sort of effortless reading. The hardest thing about reviewing the book was opening it on a small desk next to a desktop computer. Read it on the bus and your neighbour has to try hard not to read it too (which may well be part of the point). This is mentioned only because it has something to do with the reason a review, as opposed to an annotated track-listing, can be written at all: the anomaly whereby the mutual non-resemblance of 200+ textual and visual components is so untainted by diversity – let alone editorial broad (as in ‘Church’)-mindedness – that something can be said about the whole.2
As will surprise no-one who ever saw things two or more of the contributors made before, the agent binding their un-like materials together is the same one implied in the name of AMM publisher Unkant. Namely, practical disdain for the Mind-Thing dualism figureheaded for 200+ years by Kant of Koenigsberg3.

Yes, we dislike Kant for separating the ‘best’ in us from animals…
[…]
…on the one side, those who want to turn Marxism into a new school of refined and
educated opinion, reified ex
pertise and formalist BS; and, on the other side, us.4
By elevating imagination to a separate sphere, cultural idealism actually quarantines it, and prevents it having a productive relationship to scientific and practical endeavour.5

These axioms are not so much reiterated as played out, tested, over nearly 500 pages of entangled prose polemic, verse polemic, flyposters, flyers, musical scores, historical research, postcards, comics, exegesis, memoir, t-shirt design, book cover design, correspondence, conversation, drawing, collage, complete pamphlets, paint spatters and found things. [Read more →]

Jeffrey Herf: Undeclared Wars with Israel East Germany and the West German Far Left 1967-1989 (Book Review)

Jeffrey Herf: Undeclared Wars with Israel
East Germany and the
West German Far Left 1967-1989
Cambridge University Press, New York 2016
ISBN 978-1-107-46162-8

Jeffrey Herf is a history professor at the University of Maryland and has published extensively on Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, and political Islam. Undeclared Wars with Israel 1967-1989 is his latest book. At the core of this book is the ideological, economic and military support for Arab dictatorships and the Palestinian nationalist movement by the government of the German Democratic Republic in the period between the 1967 Six-Day War and the end of the East German state in 1989/1990. Herf uses extensive research of the Stasi (GDR secret service) archives, the official party press, documents from the United Nations, including the extensive reports by Israeli ambassadors regarding the territorial intrusions and massacres perpetrated by the PLO and its associated member groups in those years.

This (partially new) research is embedded in a history of the relationship of the Soviet Bloc with the state of Israel and the development of the struggle of Arab/Palestinian nationalists against Israel, whether through open warfare, shelling of Israeli cities across the border with rockets, guerrilla actions inside Israel – often consisting in massacres of civilians – or hijackings and murder in the international arena, or through diplomatic means on a bilateral level and often at the UN.

Herf is broadening this research to cover the role of the West German far left in the context of these conflicts. The post-1967 radical left is portrayed here as radically anti-Zionist, if not anti-Semitic. Prominent examples after that time are people and organisations like Dieter Kunzelmann and the Tupamaros Westberlin, Ulrike Meinhof and the RAF, the Revolutionary Cells and their partaking in the hijacking of an Israeli plane to Entebbe, as well as examples from the so-called K-Groups. In my opinion, Herf, while accurately displaying dubious points in the history of the radical left in West Germany, fails to describe the often contradictory developments of some of these groups. For this reason I divide this review in two parts. The first is the book review proper, while the second extends the discussion of the relationship of some of the groups on the West German radical left with both anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in a way that goes far beyond the confines of a book review and hopefully offers additional insights. [Read more →]

Datacide 16 Record Reviews by Controlled Weirdness

Murray CY
Conformist
[L.I.E.S.]

Dirty techno how it should be. Slow and shuddering with constantly mutating grooves that sound like they’re emanating from the sewer. This is one of the roughest recent L.I.E.S. releases and comes to the Brooklyn label from Glasgow native Murray. These are the type of tunes I’d love to hear in the main room at Berghain, waves of throb enveloping a cavernous warehouse.

Shark Story of the Century
Various
[Contort Yourself]

Contort Yourself is a record label from Glasgow run by Murray CY that releases a soothing mixture of original 80’s Industrial/EBM with brand new raw and dirty techno. This 5 tracker of various artists mixes nice clanging beats from Enrique and techno thud from Beau Wanzer and Prostitutes. Killer cut on this EP for me though is the Broken English Club remix of a 1988 tune from Spanish industrial outfit Esplendor Geométrico. The original is included and is great, tribal raw drums with screams and chants that still sounds fresh. Broken English adds the bass and morphs it into a stripped back pulsing throb with whispered vocals adding to the menace. Perfect for 3am. The past meets the future, possibly?

Jorge Velez
Baby Whale – Coral Cassette Extended Edit
[Berceuse Heroique]
[Read more →]

Datacide 16 Record Reviews by Low Entropy

14anger & Dep Affect
Evasive Crapspeak EP
[Badmouth003]

14anger is Clément Perez, who is far from being an unknown man of the french hard electronic scene, known for his contributions to the now defunct magazine Signal Zero for example.
This is less about his Hardcore roots, but violent Hard Techno. He teams up with Travis Evans aka Dep Affect for this release.
The first track, Evasive Crapspeak, definitely digs up some french memories, think of some of the works by Laurent Hô or Manu Le Malin for example.
Followed by a remix by Dep Affect, which puts his own spin to this tune, a bit of extra aggression.
Prayers To Broken Stones is less frontal, but more hypnotic instead. The EP ends on Jericho, my favorite pick of this release, an all-out assault on the nerves via bassdrums and noize.

Umwelt
Days Of Dissent
[BOIDAE 001]

Umwelt is a project that was started in the 90s already, but as far as i know it was not until recent years he really appeared from ‘under the surface’.
My sources also tell me most of his tracks are one-shot affairs, arranged and recorded life during sessions of sonic experientation (could this be true?).
At first glimpse an electro affair, what sticks out for my is the very dark atmosphere, many times riddled with future themed samples, and especially a very strong melody work of compositions that is often – to me – lacking even with most of his peers.
Although he probably comes from a way different background, there are similiarities to the works of Somatic Responses or Fischkopf (Lasse Steen) for me to be found here.
My personal favorite picks on this album include Company Of Lies, a truly distorted, menacing beat+synth workout and the title track Days Of Dissent itself, a kind of a dystopic beatboy breakdown vision.
With tracks like World Shatters, a 4/4 workout, he shows he can step out of his producer ‘comfort zone’ too.
Generally, if you like dark soundscapes, or well-produced and above all smart electronics, this might be worth a listen.

Vinzenz Raindeer
Warteschleifmaschine
[Self-Released]
[Read more →]

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