Joined: 26 Apr 2008
|Post subject: Mark Fisher: The Slow Cancellation Of The Future
|For someone who wasn't a musician, the late British author Mark Fisher probably made some of the clearest insights and observations on the state of 21st century popular music, which with little exception seems to have been creatively 'stuck' - something that really began to happen in the late 1990s.
A 2014 talk he gave in Croatia just after the publishing of his book 'Ghosts Of My Life' (taken from the lyrics of the Japan song 'Ghosts') articulates his ideas. It begins proper at around 3:35.
An Extract From Mark Fisher's Ghosts Of My Life:
'... faced with 21st Century music, it is the very sense of future shock which has disappeared. This is quickly established by performing a simple thought experiment. Imagine any record released in the past couple of years being beamed back in time to, say, 1995 and played on the radio. It’s hard to think that it will produce any jolt in the listeners.'
'When I first saw the video for the Arctic Monkeys’ 2005 single ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’, I genuinely believed that it was some lost artifact from circa 1980. Everything in the video – the lighting, the haircuts, the clothes – had been assembled to give the impression that this was a performance on BBC2’s ‘serious rock show’ The Old Grey Whistle Test.'
'Furthermore, there was no discordance between the look and the sound. At least to a casual listen, this could quite easily have been a post punk group from the early 1980s. Certainly, if one performs a version of the thought experiment I described above, it’s easy to imagine ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ being broadcast on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1980, and producing no sense of disorientation in the audience. Like me, they might have imagined that the references to ‘1984’ in the lyrics referred to the future.'
'There ought to be something astonishing about this. Count back twenty-five years from 1980, and you are at the beginning of rock and roll. A record that sounded like Buddy Holly or Elvis in 1980 would have sounded out of time. Of course, such records were released in 1980, but they were marketed as retro. If the Arctic Monkeys weren’t positioned as a ‘retro’ group, it is partly because, by 2005, there was no ‘now’ with which to contrast their retrospection.'
'Second example. I first heard Amy Winehouse’s version of ‘Valerie’ while walking through a shopping mall, perhaps the perfect venue for consuming it. Up until then, I had believed that ‘Valerie’ was first recorded by indie plodders the Zutons. But, for a moment, the record’s antiqued 1960s soul sound and the vocal (which on a casual listen I didn’t at first recognize as Winehouse) made me temporarily revise this belief: surely the Zutons’ version of the track was a cover of this apparently ‘older’ track, which I had not heard until now? Naturally, it didn’t take me long to realise that the ‘sixties soul sound’ was actually a simulation; this was indeed a cover of the Zutons’ track, done in the souped-up retro style in which the record’s producer, Mark Ronson, has specialised.'