Sunday, 12 January 2014

Pattern Recognition: Cold Forecast

Illustration by Inka Gerbert

The first Pattern Recognition of 2014 is an overview of futureness and coldness in recent underground music (click here to read). Featuring futurism, climate change, technology, drone strikes, queerness, EGYPTRIXX, Logos, Ynfynyt Scroll, Diamond Black Hearted Boy, DV-i, Mykki Blanco and loads more.

(One thing I forgot to elaborate on was the Mykki Blanco connection to mutants - a quote from, I think, the cartoon of X-Men appears at the beginning of Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss, plus the video for 'The Initiation' depicts an oppressed minority who have second faces they hide, and who engage in underground brawls - pretty resonant.

Also the sound of broken glass, which was common in 2012 and 2013. Not only is it a great sound for demonstrating hi-fi sound design with its detail and high-frequency components, but it represents a sensually cold and brittle sound, as well as the smashing of illusions and barriers, and social violence / rioting of both the revolutionary and Kristallnacht varieties)

When I first listened to the opening tracks of Egyptrixx’s recent album A/B til Infinity, my mind’s eye saw an attack on climate refugees by a squadron of drone aircraft. This was not an image I’d thought about before. The year was somewhere between 2020 and 2050; thousands of people, mostly people of color, shambled towards a border carrying hastily packed bags and their distraught children in rain—not intense but steady and oppressive...

2013 seemed like the year the future came back. For me, the one major theme reflected in practically every facet of underground music was the return of strange hi-tech sounds and stark, twisted rhythms that seemed to embody hopes and anxieties about the years ahead...

One thing’s increasingly clear—wealthy white men strumming wistfully on guitars or twiddling analogue gear and evoking hazy halcyon days is not just complacent, ignorant, and privileged but downright offensive in a world of financial crisis, military robots, the surge of the far right, NSA surveillance, and continual severe storm warnings. Music has needed to evolve rapidly or risk this obsolescence, and it has turned to technology and the connotations of technology to do this, creating a kind of arms race with the world around it...

Coldness is about more than just a sound and a look, and it’s more than the coldness of a technological being, too. Coldness is what we fear lies beyond human capability. Coldness is the gap between human intentions and outcomes. It’s the uncanny valley of the human reflected in the non-human...

[Diamond Black Hearted Boy's] tracks are Rorschach tests for futureness, initially coming across as haphazard collages of random sonic content but slowly they become weirdly and woefully deep impressionistic portraits of tomorrow, sucking you into a maze of wires and wormholes. Usually they incorporate violent or sultry smooth digital noises, sometimes with suggestive vocal mantras such as “I don’t want the real,” “disappear with me,” or “false god, fallen god… even though I’m a false god I’m still a god...

But not all that is future is grim, anti-human, and cold. 2013′s future music regularly mixed its coldness with dazzling glimpses of utopian pleasure—reminders of the legitimately positive and liberating possibilities of technology...

While the new digital sublime is regularly portrayed as unnatural, trivial, or fearful (and often not wrongly), it is also a lifeline for minorities of all kinds and an exponential multiplication of human expressive and representational possibilities...

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