Monday, 13 October 2014

'Cute Computer Chaos' (Boiler Room article)

I wrote an article to go with a Boiler Room gig featuring Hudson Mohawke, Oneohtrix Point Never and QT (click here to read). It takes desire as its theme, and excavates some of the history of the contemporary cuteogeddon.

This erupting soundworld is controversial today, blasphemously flaunting its colour and excess against the monochrome lo-fi minimalism of so much electronic music and provoking accusations of infantilism and overfeeding. A decade ago, among the guitars and disco and dubstep, these lands of cute computer chaos seemed scarcely imaginable. Like coal turning into gaudy diamond under immense pressures, these musicians seem to have metamorphosed the ‘twee’ of that decade’s nu-folk and indie, as well as the wry playfulness of its gameboy grime, into the infectiously crazy grin of ‘cute’. Kitsch, you say? Oh, you mumble sweetly along to Casio and gentrify cities with cupcakes? Here’s a lavish synthesiser panorama, glittering with HD twinkle and silky vocals. You like to put a little bit of 8-bit into your dubstep? Here’s a helium hardcore extravaganza blaring with preset simulacra and convulsing towards post-human ecstasy. Be careful what you wish for. Where has this pressure, this ever more lurid escapism come from?
Daniel 'Oneohtrix Point Never' Lopatin in the video for Ford & Lopatin's 'World of Regret'
As well as enjoying this music in itself – intensely, almost to the point of panic – you notice symbols of enjoyment represented within it, now crushed and squeezed into so many objectives of hyperreal desire and compulsive fantasy: soul, swagger, sex, sparkle and sweetness. The underground has spent decades avoiding pop – now it’s out-popping pop, seizing its thrills and simulations and partying with them as hard as possible because tomorrow never really comes.

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