Tuesday, April 3, 2018

the undeath of hauntology

guest blogpost at Bruce Sterling's Music Globalista blog c/o Wired magazine 2011

Musica Globalista: Simon Reynolds on undead hauntology

Stop Press: Hauntology Not Dead!

There are those who say that hauntology’s moment has passed... that a good five or six years after the genre-not-genre coalesced, its set of reference points and sonic tropes has been worn threadbare.

Then again, how can you call time on a genre so self-consciously untimely?

Besides, for a “dead” genre, hauntology appears to be enjoying quite an active afterlife.

Like (un)real-deal ghosts, the hauntologists stubbornly refuse to depart the scene.

So, for instance...

In the last few months James Leyland Kirby has put out three new and excellent recordings: as The Caretaker, the just-released An Empty Bliss Beyond This World, and, as Leyland Kirby, two volumes of the four-part series Intrigue & Stuff

Moon Wiring Club recently rush-released a Royal Wedding-themed album, Somewhere A Fox Is Getting Married.

A few months ago Mordant Music put out a new score composed for Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali’s 1960 film Un Chien Andalou, as part of the British Film Institute’s Blu-Ray/DVD box set.

This followed hard on the heels of December 2010’s conceptual masterstroke MisinforMation, a BFI anthology of vintage public information films re-scored by MM.  Recently there was also, via Mordant Music the record label, a cassette double-pack by Ekoplekz and the Variables II EP featuring Autre Ne Veut, Mordant Music, and Ekoplekz.

Demdike “We’re Not Hauntologists Oh No, Although We Are Named After a Witch and We Do Sample Library Music and Horror Soundtracks” Stare have also been busy bees this season. Earlier this year they released a deluxe triple-CD Tryptych that pulled together their vinyl releases from the 8 months.

Ghost Box keep putting out cute little 7-inch singles that pair different but compatible artists: more about this Study Series, which is now up to number 06,

There’s been a flurry of vaguely haunty-aligned things from entities like Hacker Farm and Ship Canal and Woebot ...

Parts of Epic45’s enchanting new CD Weathering stray into ghostified zones, while Epic45’s  offshoot project Charles Vaughan is named after a character from the classic 70s after-the-plague-wipes-out-99%-of-humanity TV series The Survivors... Vaughan, “when we first meet him, is compiling information about the remains of civilization”. That album is called Documenting the Decay and is out on Epic 45’s label Wayside & Woodland in a month or two

And let’s not forget Pye Corner Audio Transcription Services’s output such as Black Mill Tapes Vol.2--Do You Synthesize?" 

But the prize goes to Jon Brooks...  In something like eight or nine months, there’s  been three releases via his downloads-only label Café Kaput, all created by him solo whatever the mischievous cover-story might maintain:

Electronic Music in the Classroom (which I wrote about here, along with Moon Wiring Club)

Music for Thomas Carnacki (Radiophonic Themes & Abstracts)


Music For Dieter Rams

The latter has the conceptual perfection of being based entirely around sounds derived from one source-- "Every sound on this record, from the melodic sounds to the percussion, the atmospheric effects to the bass lines originates from the Braun AB-30 alarm clock” -- but the first two contain the most impressive and spooky examples of musique concrete modern.

If all that wasn’t enough, Brooks has a new album out this week on Ghost Box under his principal identity, The Advisory Circle. As the Crow Flies is the follow-up to 2008’s Other Channels, which was simply one of the most beautiful and.... well “haunting” would be le mot juste actually...  albums of the last decade. I need to spend a bit more time with As The Crow Flies, but I think it is shaping to be every bit the worthy successor. The concept underpinning the record is “an exploration of the passage of time and the traditional wheel of the year” and it comes with sleeve notes by  Professor Ronald Hutton, Head of History at Bristol University “and author of the monumental work on the traditional British calendar, Stations of the Sun”.

But how rude of me -  I’ve been operating under the assumption you know what hauntology is. Well, all – or quite a lot (it’s a densely congested—and contested--field that spills way beyond music) is explained in Retromania, which is OUT NOW. For an amuse bouche foretaste:

Early piece by me on Ghost Box

(So early we’d none of us settled on the term “hauntology” yet, although that was actually my original title for this piece for Frieze – and when I say “we” I mean of course bloggers and journalists...  the artists themselves have not rallied to the term... but at least they’ve not NOT-rallied to the term either)

Recent article by Andrew Gallix on Hauntology’s applications outside music

Joanne McNeil of Rhizome’s notes on Mark Fisher (a/k/a K-punk) 2011 lecture in New York on hauntology and non-time/non-place, a foretaste of Fisher’s book-to-come Ghosts of My Life.


Finally, a bonus beat: “Consensus to Delete” a/k/a the debate at Wikipedia about whether or not to erase the entry on ‘Hauntology (musical genre)’. In the end the shadowy cabal, led by one  PhantomSteve wouldyafuckingbelieveit, decreed that Hauntology was too ontologically tenuous an entity to qualify for status as proper knowledge. It’s the kind of Moebius pretzel of preposterous-yet-faintly-sinister discourse that could have inspired an entire monograph by Michel “Power/Knowledge” Foucault or Jacques “Archive Fever” Derrida. But look, look, how carefully and scrupulously they preserve (“do not modify”) the record of their own deliberations.

Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Hauntology (musical genre)

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The following discussion is an archived debate of the proposed deletion of the article below. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page (such as the article's talk page or in a deletion review). No further edits should be made to this page.

The result was delete. Consensus is to delete -- PhantomSteve/talk|contribs\ 14:19, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

[edit] Hauntology (musical genre)

Hauntology (musical genre) (edit|talk|history|links|watch|logs) – (View log • AfD statistics)

(Find sources: "Hauntology (musical genre)" – news • books • scholar • images)

Neologism made up by one reviewer. Ridernyc (talk) 04:50, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

•             Delete hoax Shii (tock) 16:22, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

•             Note: This debate has been included in the list of Music-related deletion discussions. -- • Gene93k (talk) 01:08, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

•             Delete - Hauntology is not commonly considered a musical genre. Therefor hauntology (musical genre) should be deleted and not (!) redirected. gidonb (talk) 21:34, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

•             Merge and redirect to Ghost Box Records. Almost the whole thing could be comfortably placed in the "Aesthetics" section with little modification. — Gwalla | Talk 21:55, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Why would we take unsourced information from here to expand the unsourced information there? Ridernyc (talk) 23:14, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

•             Comment From what I could find, the very existence of hauntology as a musical style is rejected by the relevant musical community. This community claims that what is described as hauntology is an effect at most. Between the strong "hoax" and light "unsourced", I think the term "fringe POV" covers hauntology (musical genre) best. In either case, the combination of hauntology with the words musical genre and the contents of this article are misleading and should be deleted. gidonb (talk) 00:38, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

•             Delete Totally subjective and undefinable and unsourced term for another music sub genre. Guyonthesubway (talk) 19:09, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

•             Delete. It definitely seems to lack notability. I looked at the fifth reference, and IT SOURCES WIKIPEDIA! Ha, what a joke for that to be cited on wikipedia. Backtable Speak to meconcerning my deeds. 00:49, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

•             Delete The sources citated actually indicate pretty clearly that it is not a musical genre and that it is a neologism.--SabreBD (talk) 10:28, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page (such as the article's talk page or in a deletion review). No further edits should be made to this page.

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