"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Monday, 2 August 2010

Born of silence

Challenging, really, to encapsulate all 30 hours of the world's first full-length MP3 album in a glib little blog post with a train to catch imminently. Never mind untangling the complexities behind the idea that "a producer coming from an anti-spiritual, socio-materialist perspective can culturally arrive at the same sound others are apt to call "soulful," and by extension many of his listeners must also secretly use those sounds for completely different ends than those commonly prescribed"...

But Terre Thaemlitz remains an LMYE hero/ine, whether as DJ Sprinkles or under what I assume is her/his given name (however unlikely, in either guise, to accept the notion of heroism). & Saturday's ugly revelations about the Mille Plateaux back catalogue demand some kind of acknowledgement.

They also provide an incidental reminder about Thaemlitz's hopefully forthcoming Soulnessless. Hear four tantalising extracts from this investigative, reflective epic, whose ambition & intelligence appears to match its immense scale, below.

"Thaemlitz investigates a series of seemingly disjunctive events and contexts - from an intense meditation on the functions of labor within academic computer music, to the social messages underlying the unusual frequency of ghosts and hauntings experienced by undocumented Filipina/o workers in Japan, to the use of electronic audio devices by nuns in their convents, to the secret anti-war function of Catholic military prep schools in the U.S. The overall story is not linear, but constitutes a complex layering of simultaneous discourses, many subjects of which gain their power from secrecy and resisting Thaemlitz' attempts at documentation. Meditating upon a massive field of recorded media, one becomes aware of critical information remaining unheard/unseen/unwritten. Thaemlitz is not interested in romanticizing or celebrating such invisibilities, nor seeking forms of empowerment; but simply seeks to identify forms of violence as they are mutually averted by and born of silence.

Stylistically, Soulnessless is often conventionally meditative and soulful - some may even say spiritual (cringe). This is, of course, an extension of Thaemlitz' ongoing critique of the socio-material processes that condition the production and reception of audio genres. This critique has informed all of his albums in the unfortunately spiritual-laden genres of Ambient and Deep House (the appeal of which, for Thaemlitz, lies in histories of socialist-inspired Constructivism from the 1910's, and the sound of discotheques frequented by members of direct-action movements from the 1980's which spawned many of today's critiques of identity politics). Drawing from her own experiences as a non-spiritual consumer culturally forced to internalize and identify with dominant spiritual-laden media, Thaemlitz seeks to show how non-believers build affinities for sounds with self-defeating associations. As a result, a producer's arrival at a particular sound is not reflective of the "musician's heart" nor any other claims of authenticity, since the producer's "heart" (or intent) may in fact be betrayed by dominant associations with the sounds at hand. While most listeners and critics would be quick to label such producers as "phoney" or possibly even "culturally exploitative," Thaemlitz asserts the real act of exploitation is the one enacted by dominant culture against the social and subjective interests of those of us who are forced to "fake it" through life...

...Over four years in production, Soulnessless promises to be more than a long anticipated follow-up to Thaemlitz' final electroacoustic album for Mille Plateaux, Lovebomb/愛の爆弾, which was quietly released without fanfare (or payment) at the verge of their bankruptcy in 2003. It shall present a real, material response to the dilemmas of contemporary digital audio production, all the while leading listeners through a multi-media series of twists and turns that takes a minimum of days to consume, and weeks to digest."

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

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