Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Column: 'Isn't it Ironic?'

Latest column for Dummy is on this notion of irony in indie / underground pop, what it might and might not mean, also featuring a coda on irony in the recent orchestral performance of William Basinski's Disintegration Loops at the South Bank - (click here to read):

What is an ironic moustache?

Distance suggests more of a continuum of difference between two things than ‘irony’ does, the latter often suggesting a stark superposition of opposites. Rather than being infinitely ‘sincere’ or infinitely ‘insincere’, we float and shift somewhere between the two, negotiating, understanding, accommodating and travelling these distances as a sort of cultural journey, an experimental shift of the self into new territories.

Yet at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, two of the ‘Disintegration Loops’ had been transferred from the digital recording of the disintegrating tape to an orchestra. Now the London Contemporary Orchestra was playing these short phrases over and over again, and reducing them bit by bit until there was no-one playing any more. Yet there was a bizarre irony at work here too. You might suppose that the orchestral context was simply a means of performing the music in a live context, and that furthermore this highbrow context brought it to an apotheosis under the auspices of traditional, great Art (tsk). But what this orchestration did was disintegrate the composition still further, even as its scoring for orchestra would appear to render it a permanent fixture in the museum of Great Art Music...

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