Thursday, March 13, 2014

interview nuggets #3

A not very clear question about "and other unfinished revolutions", the subtitle of Después del rock. Psicodelia, postpunk, electrónica y otras revoluciones inconclusas, the anthology published by Caja Negra, elicted this response:

"The "unfinished revolution" subtitle was chosen by Caja Negra. Although I guess they got it from the prologue chapter in Rip It Up, where I set up the whole emergence of postpunk out of punk. And the idea there was that punk was the incomplete revolution: that it had talked of revolution but it fell short both musically (too much of punk was basic traditional hard rock, just not played very well) and in terms of the political economy of music production (too many first-wave punk bands just signed to major labels). So postpunk fulfilled the revolutionary promise of punk by doing more radical music and also by the independent label explosion. But then postpunk itself reached a kind of dead end, necessitating the shift into what we in the U.K. called New Pop, basically trying to subvert the system from within. 

"You can see a similar dynamic actually with what I call post-psychedelic music, which came out the Sixties full of idealism but gradually lapsed into what they used to call "hippy capitalism".

"So basically I see music as evolving through this dialectic, a new path is opened up which eventually, inevitably reaches an impasse, a cul de sac, and so to avoid the quagmire of stagnation, the narrative then takes another swerve, a new direction. Which itself then leads onto another dead end.

"This jerky, fitful progress is related to the intrinsic contradictions of trying to deliver "revolution" through music which is sold as commodities (records) and spectacles (live performances). So there is a burst of energy that seems to open up utopian possibilities (sonic but also new forms of musical practice, musical community). But because the impulse is ultimately confined to the aesthetic, and because it always falls back into some kind of commodification (a niche market of hip cultural goods), there is always this moment of failure. And that keeps recurring because in the end all these sonic revolutions are half-measures, or diversions of energy from actual politics.  

"Which is a bleak view, but I think true: in Britain especially, we never had a revolution, we just have endless "revolutions" in style and music (and in the discourse surrounding them), we kind of had the fun, glamorous aspect of revolution without any of the toil and sacrifice and danger of actual politics."

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