19 August 2010

Fad Damaged


By now I figured there was little left of the 1980s musical landscape that anyone would consider worth mining. Post-punk, mutant disco, dark disco, darkwave, synth-pop, chillwave, nu-age noise, etc. I guess I figured it was depleted beyond use when I heard the last album by These New Puritans -- what, will all its Test Dept-styled martial blasts and cadences which (aside from being pretty ham-fisted and awkward enough the first time around) make absolutely no sense when lifted ad hoc out of the context of Thatcherism. Effectively, a cluelessly over-reaching scrape of the bottom of the barrel; so perhaps, I reckoned, this means that artists will soon start looking for another cache to plunder. Nothing more to be gained here, time to move along.

Not that the 1980s were ever fully depleted, but I expected that there were some things that were just too quaint and peculiar to the decade to prompt recycling -- particularly the darker and more art-damaged ends of the spectrum. Passions (a.k.a. Mathhead) pointed the way in this direction with his "darkwave" mix from over a year ago. Featuring a lot of proto-goth material of a certain vintage, it was a pretty solid mix -- uptempo, tight, and erudite. (Additionally, it also offered a subtle reminder about how the roots of goth started out as little more than a glass-darkly redux of glam's attitude, bombast, and camp theatricality.)

Now comes a more humble mixset from Raime, a new artist whose first EP is due out soon as the maidenhead release from the Blackest Ever Black label. Falling on the hazier edge of the dubstep realm, the Raime tracks have a vaguely industrial tinge to them, the sort that vaguely brings to mind the memory of late-90s "dark-hop" minimalism. As far as the mix goes, it connects the dots between ramshackle post-punk austerity, early industrial murk, and electro brut-isms (via early Cabs, Ike Yard and Rema Rema). It points toward a certain passing aesthetic sensibility that resists aping or appropriating, if only because its severity and bleakness were too specific to its context. In a way, one can't help but be struck by the irony of it all -- the irony of recycling a specific musical styles of the early '80s post-punk era. Retro- cultural recycling has been a continuum all its own in recent decades. But at that particular moment in time, ground-zero experimentation and invention was the primary modus, because (many felt) the past offered nothing to be nostalgic about.*

Raime - "You Can't Hide Your Headcrack" mix


1. AC Marias – Some Thing [Mute, 1988]
2. Konstruktivits – Shadows Of White Sand [Third Mind, 1984]
3. The Danse Society – There Is No Shame In Death [Pax, 1981]
4. Konstruktivits – Shadows Of White Sand [Third Mind, 1984]
5. Cabaret Voltaire – The Voice of America / Damage Is Done [Rough Trade, 1980]
6. Psyche – On The Edge [New Rose, 1985]
7. The German Shepherds – I Adore You [M&S Music, 1985]
8. Arto Lindsay – Locus Coruleus [Editions EG, 1984]
9. Ike Yard – NCR [Factory America, 1982]
10. Metabolist – Tizhoznam [Drömm, 1980]
11. Rema-Rema – Fond Affections [4AD, 1980]

Mix download and track previews here.

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* I believe that, many years ago, Blixa Bargeld labeled this sort of attitude as "No-Go," saying something to the effect of, "When you've seen it all and done it all and none of it holds any appeal, all that's left is No-Go"

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