Thursday, May 28, 2009

Exhumation

Making good on the promise of his provocative entry in the "I Hate ____" sweepstakes, Carl published a brilliant take-down of Burial, casting the clandestine South Londoner as a hyper-test-marketed lifestyle accessory to doomy cultural theorists. Yeah, I own copies of both Will Belvin's albums, but I can't say Carl's wrong - especially in calling out how "pedestrian" and "same-y" it all sounds. Debuting a full seven years after The Caretaker (which itself was theoretically-enhanced rehash of Badalamenti's Twin Peaks theme, itself already sampled of course by Moby, and down the infinite regress we stumble...), Burial is basically Tim Hecker's billowing oblivion pruned down & set to a skittering beat to soundtrack the Starbucks set. It's that (fucking overrated) first Massive Attack record reimagined for those who want something a little more zeitghost-y. It's a sound I like but have also heard before - which, of course, is the precise point, but as Carl says, that's not The Point.

Unfortunately, Carl continues & kinda ruins it by digressing into an embarrassingly naked & bitter indictment of "career artists":
Why can’t more people just pack it in and go and do something else/ take a look at themselves and decide they’re basically never going to produce anything worthwhile and not bother in the first place? ...Why do they HAVE TO make a living as musicians? I’ll happily and have happily not made a living as a writer despite having written for years and in my own estimation having a fuck site [sic] more talent than half the rubbish gets in Waterstones because if you really do care about the art you approach it full of doubt, humility and trepidation, you fall horribly and continually short...
What was clearly started with the intent of echoing Tyler Durden's eulogy for the posthistorical Everyman ultimately sounds like neither a satirical deconstruction of the star system, nor a populist manifesto for the dignity of common hard work. Instead, it comes off like the whining of a self-styled "unrecognized genius" with an adolescent sense of entitlement. Why is it anything but emancipatory to recognize artistry as just another form of nose-to-the-grindstone craftsmanship? Why must art be cloaked in cheap voodoo, restricted to the speaking-in-tongues Shock & Awe of shamanic snake oil salesmen, instead of the patient, earnest product of normal people with bright ideas? And why only cement the cultural stratification erected by the media industry by agreeing that fame is the only valid qualifier of True Art? Moaning about "why are they special?" only reinforces the illusion that they are special.

7 comments:

Nathan said...

本当ですね!It's more complicated than sour grapes and simple hatin'. I'm sure he has his own take on why he takes certain angles with scathing reviews, but I like yours'. Well stated.---Nate

Anonymous said...

Quoted from the "take-down" of K Punk-in-disguise-Burial:

"It is veritably Burial’s ambiguous ontological status which delibidinizes his work."

Beware fighting the monster lest ye become it...

outside for some fresh air boys...!

Anonymous said...

i'm sorry it came off that way as your interpretation doesn't reflect my views/attitudes at least with regard to my own work. i don't think that's what i'm saying, maybe i should try and be clearer, however, this question

"Why is it anything but emancipatory to recognize artistry as just another form of nose-to-the-grindstone craftsmanship?"

is so complex i frankly don't understand it!

carl

Seb said...

Ah, well... basically, as much as I empathise with a certain frustration at how bloody normal so many people making music are (especially to the extent that anything so sublime & transcendent as music can be corralled into a "career"), the truth is that music IS just another kind of craftsmanship that is universal - not only in its appeal, but in from whence it springs. The notion that certain people are "chosen" (either by Viacom or The Muse) to be Serious Musicians is more a construction of the PR industry than anything true.

Look at any other "artistic profession": Philip K. Dick was a depressive stoner who lived in a hut, and Stanley Kubrick was another asshole from Brooklyn. But quotidian life be damned, the work they produced was without equal. Why can't musicians be granted the same leeway?

Besides, maybe these pentagenarian post-punks will finally hang up their instruments once something other than a shitty rehash & pomo-pastiche (hauntology included) comes along.

Anonymous said...

y'know i think there's a bit of an english-canadian divide going on here by the way... i often feel that there's a tremendous amount of misinterpretation between some of the british/american/canadian blogs..really different cultures , really different perspectives on the role of class and i think we often rush to understandings on the basis of the common language that divides us..

some thoughts on that didvide would be useful, i think.. i'll try soon!

Seb said...

That's definitely an issue, you're right. It'd be interesting to have a roundtable of people from those different cultural backgrounds all tackling the same object, Rashomon-style, to start mapping what cracks there are between us.

Personally, I'm in a funny situation, since I'm a Canuck that spent many of my formative years in the States and now live in Japan, where my circle of expat friends, despite their different backgrounds, are strikingly like-minded. Seems to be based on our general eccentricity (no one status-quo moves to Japan) & common difference (being foreigners in the most homogenous developed nation on earth). The first time I really ran up against the Atlantic divide was living in Hamburg, where I became friends with two British dudes my age but with verrrrry different relationships to mass culture...

Anonymous said...

yeah i currently have some links with japan myself. the brit/american divide is huge though, isn't it, i think american's have tough time over here..