Owen asked me to enlarge on why I hate Burial and Lo! Once the Baronial command is issued, I comply.
A large part of my anti-Burialism is pretty closely related to extra-musical factors that impinge on my ability to listen to him without a certain irritated sneeryness or sneeroisity or sneerfulness or sneeritude.
Welcome to “myburialconspiracytheory.co.uk.”
J’ACCUSE LE MARK K-PONQUE!
My question really is: how much more could the guy have fulfilled the blog-agenda circa 2006? And by blog agenda I basically mean the Divine Mark-K and hNTLGY.
I’m still not entirely convinced in fact that Mark isn’t Burial. Although clearly K-punk would never stoop to working with Four Tet. Unless, of course he was cunningly trying to throw me off the trail (curse you Fisher, I’ll unmask you yet!)
So even if Burial isn’t Mark, he certainly sprang fully formed from His Colossal Head and the fact that he’s discovered by Punk-pal Kode 9, put out on Hyperdub, never plays live despite the massive props he gets from all and sundry and also refuses to be photographed (fully and conveniently cleaving to Mark’s anti-facialization stance) makes me suspect even further at that point that he is entirely virtual. Plus Professor Space Ape’s on it (small world!) and it also sounds a wee bit suspiciously like Kode9’s “Memories of the Future” album.
So I’m left with this supposition, that there is, out there, floating around, some nineteen year old yoof who just happens to feel exactly the same way about late capitalism and the death of Rave / the end of Modernism as the PHD toting Dubstep bloggerati do PLUS is expressing this HNTLGCLY geistless Ziet in EXACTLY the way they would most advocate ie, via a spectral and vitiated take on the dance music of their youth. But without even really being aware of their existence. Hey, it’s just the way young people feel in 2006! They just never DJ or play live, then send off demos to Hyperdub and get an album put out.
By the time the second album comes around and he’s using two-step as a template, emphasisng the hauntologically-correct vocal science and surface crackle AND not only giving interviews where he talks about the nostalgia for the lost utopian spaces he hears in his older brother’s record collection but also appears to read M.R. James , credulity has reached breaking point. Mark’s grown this kid in a bottle. You mean there’s more than one person in the entire world who likes both Christina Aguilera AND reads M.R James! And he’s just a disenfranchised youth from the soon-to-be-submerged streets of some South London borough? You get nominated fro the Mercury and you still won’t play a live set anywhere?
Now whether or not Burial spent his time pouring over K-Punk circa 2006-2007, (I mean, I did, who didn’t?) and thought to himself, “fuck me, this is the good stuff. Someone should give musical expression to these ideas”, whether he’s an ex- student of Kode9’s who was discretely nudged in the right direction or whether he’s some FisherGoodman virtual-hybrid shouldn’t effectively make any difference unless you’re on some deeply retrograde Rockist authenticity tip. Many important bands have been heavily conceptualised/ideas lead, hey, they all are to varying degrees of self-consciousness. Fine. But Burial seemed to be sold to me as an Authentic Voice of Damaged Late Capitalist subjectivity and this raises my hackles: don’t try to con me, you think that if it’s presented as an extension of the work of a couple of arch-theorists I won’t buy it because it won’t be “Real“ enough for me, in other words it attempts to exploit what it perceives as my stupidity. It is veritably Burial’s ambiguous ontological status which delibidinizes his work.
Equally, if Burial doesn’t exist why was it thought necessary to invent him? Because reality ( “”: scare quotes provided to be used at reader’s discretion) is too busy not being as heartbroken over What Has Been Lost as it ought to be. Incovenient. And actually, strip away the Hauntalogical Authenticity adding a libidinal sheen to the whole endeavour and it all sound pretty pedestrian, pretty same-y. Are these epochal expressions of a genuine, broad ranging sensibility, the cry of damaged youth trying to wrest some last faint and fading glow from the embers of the Modernist project? To me the Burial albums share too much of early dubstep’s attempts to wish a scene and a subjectivity into being*, a scene which is consonant with all the smart ideas about what music could or should be at this stage. A Boffincore that dare not speak its name.
*That fantasy element still seems to be in place: you watch the guy with the pint ( it’s a very beery scene innit, dubstep) wobbling furiously to the dreary Italtek set at the Rythym Factory or the badly dressed gangs of fidgety Sixth formers shambling about to another identikit bassline from Pinch and you wonder what they are hearing that you’re not. I mean, who wants a melancholy, uptight dance music?** “ Good night last night?” “Aww, mate, those tunes were luGUbrious, bruv, soporific to the max!”
** Well actually, maybe I do. The significant question remains, if I hate*** dubstep so much why do I go and see/listen to so much of it? Patiently waiting for the Joker set at the Arches last Friday it clicked: if I was twenty this is what I’d be into. I.e. this is music for sexually underconfident white trainspotters who want to be cleverer than everyone else and affect a certain cool, marginal, edgy disdain but would never go anywhere there might be a fight. Or any women to talk to. A place where they can get pissed on Stella and sit on the floor in a circle. When Indy guitar rock is the new Stock, Aitken and Waterman where are all the smart, nervous, bookish kids going to go? Dubstep. Hardcore, meaning Black Flag, Continuum. Shit, maybe it’s my own ambiguous ontological status**** that de-libidinizes their work!
***I take the recent Sonic Youth ruckus/brouhaha (with the emphasis on the Ha-Ha) to largely have sprung from a quite understandable desire that people would just produce an album or two, maybe even three, hit their peak and then fuck off. Of course you can just ignore them, as presumably anyone with the remotest jot of curiosity has been with Sonic Youth’s Eternal diminishing-return since Sister at least, but the fact that they don’t have the simple human decency to slip quietly into the wings is a bit irritating. Like those yummy-mummies in leather pants and shades you see still struggling to eclipse their pubescent daughters in Waitrose. Yeah you’re probably alright still, still a looker and stuff, but that’s overshadowed by your horribly distasteful inability to bow out gracefully. *****
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? This isn’t about youth, if you start when you're sixty then fine, it’s about knowing when you’ve creatively peaked. It’s not just that the Career In Rock offends against rock’s Hellenism and Romanticism, it’s that it demystifies and exposes the rock dream of the moment of apotheosis without overturning it in any kind of fruitful way. Hey, we’ve gotta put our kids through college! Rock is just work, graft, punching the time card, watching the clock. The alternative to work is work.
I like to think that Richey Edwards burned his bridges rather than jumped off one. just thought, fuck this, I’ll never produce better work, I’m off to live differently, because otherwise I reduce what’s supposed to be beautiful and set above life to just another form of drudgery and money-grubbing. He wasn’t prepared to profane it. Let there be one reserve of the sacred in life.
It is a business of course and was ever thus, but that’s not the point, it can’t be seen as such. If we’re this bored by Sonic Youth now, or the Fall, or Nick Cave, imagine how bored they are by themselves. Oh my god I have to keep on being Nick Cave despite the fact that I haven’t had an idea for twenty-five years. I DON’T HAVE ANY OTHER SKILLS!!!! Cave was parodying the purgurtorial awfulness of going through the motions back in Wings of Desire (the “ don’t say “this one’s about a girl” bit).
Imagine the crushing, soul-curdling enervation that must descend the minute he/they have to get ”creative”, these days. Why can’t they just retrain as plumbers? I mean the money’s probably better. 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 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 and offer up your own work only when you can honestly and as objectively as possible believe you may have produced something worthwhile, which means something new. How many people can honestly say: yes my art is significant. The sheer glut of deeply uninspired and bizarrely self-satsified Kulture, whether from wannabes or has-beens kind of weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living, innit?
I mean none of us wants NOT to be a writer, or a painter or a musician, cause it’s kind of alright sitting around painting and feeling cool and deeper and more interesting than everyone else, but it’s also just possible you’re boring, have been so for years and won’t ever be otherwise, even though you’ll tick by. Otherwise it’s the night shift in Tesco and the comfortless rigour of actually having taken it as seriously as you like to claim you do.
Your fantasy’s impinging on mine, you see. Do get that job in Tesco’s, wont you?
****I seem to have been through several musical volte-face recently. Most notably Flying Lotus, who I thought was just rubbish even up to the point of seeing him at Lightbox last time he played, and despite having had Los Angeles and 1983 for ages. I’m now caning them both and scouring the web for mixes. Same goes for Black Moses by Issac Hayes: a month or so ago I suggested to the Baron that it wasn’t much cop, he said it had good arrangements. I punched him in the face, he felled me with a flurry of Constructivist kung-fu. We agreed to disagree and went back to quoting Withnail and I at each other. Now it’s about the third best record I’ve ever heard.
***** but of course Late Capitalism is the domain of the Permateen. Teenhood begins at three and lasts till your mid-Eighties. You thought you’d be afforded the relief of not having to be cool once you got into your twenties, thought there’d be several distinct stages to your growth, maturation and decline each with its specific rituals and attitudes? Dude that is so pre-Post History. Now you’re 17 4EVA! The most obvious symbolic markers of the Seven Ages of man ( recently scaled back to three for your personal existentionumerical convenience) used to be clothes. When you were Fifty you didn’t dress like your teenage son/daughter, you wore age-appropriately hideous and outdated old bloke’s clobber, in your sixties, if you had any self-respect it was half-mast bri-nylon Marks and Sparks slacks lashed across your pruney duggs just under the armpits and a pair of piss-stained dun Hush Puppies. Now it’s one-style-fits-all-age-groups, you borrow your kids cargo pants and skateboard, go hang out down the car park with the other dads to talk about how that new Green Day album sucks ass compared to classic shit like the Offspring’s “Pretty Fly.”
But then you need to stay on top of that stuff cause your kids are your best friends****** anyway aren’t they? A sensible choice in the face of social atomization and given how awful and disappointing other Kidults are. The ideal situation for any healthy family is to get to some middleagemass stage as quickly as poss, where you can all relate over the same Kulture, ( Lilly Allen ABBA, Twilight, Wii, Doctor Who) no one really an adult, no-one exactly a kid. If you’re also a competitive type this is often best done by massively overestimating your kid’s intelligence and hallucinating an insane degree of cultural capital onto them. I mean not that your kid isn’t a genius or anything…
“What did you do on your third birthday Briony?”
“I went to see the rhinoceros with mummy.”
“Oh, so you took her to the Zoo. That’s nice.”
“God, no. Rhinoceros, the Ionesco play. Yeah, she loved it actually. It was either that or the Kenneth Anger season at the NFT. She insisted but I wasn’t really up to it so we did the Ionesco, yeah. Yeah, she had to explain a lot of it to ME actually, yeah (laughs and casts covetous yet angry glance at bemused, cake-smeared progeny)”
You can also reduce yourself to the status of a peer by pretending to be a tyrannically egotistical moron (ie a child) and allowing yourself to be remorselessly bullied by them in the hope of “relating” and being really more of a buddy than a nasty-wasty old parent.
You know you just had those kids to have someone else to go shopping with/for, anyway.
Importantly, in supermarkets, prove you’re a good, liberal, middle class parent by allowing them to join in, weaving about smack in the middle of the aisle dragging a shopping basket behind them, randomly pulling stuff off low shelves and leaving it scattered around while you patiently try to explain to them that no, that’s not what Mummy wants, is it darling, and it isn’t nice to leave things on the floor, is it? even though they have the cognitive capacity of plankton and the hand-eye coordination of Steven Hawkins on eight cans of Special Brew Should the couple behind you whose car park time is running out express even the slightest hint of impatience at this whole indulgent, narcissitic scenario, glare at them icily. How dare they not understand that THIS is YOUR CHILD!!!!
******I foolishly mentioned to Chris the other day that I was happy.
I’m happy, I said.
It doesn’t last, he said.
True enough. But then neither does the misery, apparently.
The author accepts no liability for the numerous factual errors in this post.