Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Casual Observations 4

The new issue of Dazed & Confused is out with a feature I've written about 'hacktivism' and the wiles of the Strategic Defence & Security Review; an impending legislative adjustment that will allow MI5 live access to Internet browsing, emails, phone calls and text messages across the UK.

It features interviews with an alleged ex-member of hacking collective, Anonymous, and the ex-head of a government intelligence authority responsible for creating information sharing hubs between government authorities and private companies. Apparently there's also a piece where a member of Anonymous interviews Alex Empire from Atari Teenage Riot. Or something like that. It was nowt to do with me.

The issue also contains an interview with Brooklyn's Laurel Halo (above) by Ruth Saxelby.

Hyper Dub are releasing Halo's Quarantine LP at the end of the month, and Fact magazine is currently streaming it, so have a listen. It shares a lot with her first EP King Felix by the wayin which it also focuses on her voice. But whereas King Felix featured conservative 4/4 electronic percussion and coherent vocals, Quarantine is more amorphous, spilling out of techno completely, and moving towards sound poetry and abstract composition.

In fact, I think King Felix probably has more in common with her recent EP Spring. Compare 'Embassy' from King Felix:

With the title track from Spring:

And while not exactly cut the same way, there's a similar stiffness and orthodoxy that just isn't present on Quarantine (which has more in common with the ambient and opaque style of Hour Logic, below).

I'm supposed to be writing a review of Quarantine for Dummy, and I may try and write something longer on here. It's a great record in which she uses her voice as an instrument that only flickers with lyrical meaning, while the production uses a similar approach, cutting the top frequencies of vocals, ARPs, synths and drums machines in and out, making them hiss like gases. This creates the feeling of inertia - a kind pressure chamber, or enforced seclusion, that reflects the conditions in which 'Quarantine' was made, i.e. global economic safeguarding in relation to debt toxicity, such as in the notable example of Greece.

What's interesting about Quarantine, is that it subverts the traditional framework of sonic fiction. For example, Drexciya's music operates by creating a correspondence between the idea of the fictional subjects they use (such as Atlantis in The Quest), and the sounds and the track names that signify it, in order to produce an allegory about the present.

Halo also uses this technique, however, but distorts it by situating her allegory in a direct, but unstable representation of the present, rather than using a speculative past or future as her beginning point, which reminds me of the following quote from John Maus from an interview I did with him last year: 
"Great art anticipates a utopia, right? The futurity of any given science fiction narrative or world is of course our own futurity."
As well as Alphaville by Godard (again, yawn), which is a 1965 sci-fi flick, filmed in Paris with virtually no props.

 I'll post up the review and/or maybe something longer when it's done. 

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