NEW music video work, Derrida, A haunted GAZE...

"[T]he world [is] suspended by some unique tear … reflecting disappearance itself: the world, the whole world, the world itself, for death takes from us not only some particular life within the world, some moment that belongs to us, but, each time, without limit, someone through whom the world, and first of all our own world, will have opened up….”  - Jacques Derrida

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Those who know me doubtlesly appreciate my ongoing fascination with the writings of the late Mark Fisher; one of the great champions of Jacques Derrida.

Fisher's books "Capitalist Realism - Is There No Alternative?" and "Ghosts of My Life" give eloquent shape to the sense of existential "future loss" so many of us feel, swimming in a digital culture defined by 'cultural re-treads' of once radiant fictions.

From widescreen remakes of "Wonderwoman" or "Friends", to a fascination with analogue recording technology, vintage synths (and the recreations thereof) and 'relicked' guitars, the implication persists that a new post-millenial 'authenticity' is measured by ghostly,  nostalgic signifiers, forever locked in the amber of an imagined past few actually experienced.

If "the medium is the message", what then is the message, when the medium resembles an opaque replica (plugin, filter, artificial noise-floor) of an older medium, originally designed for 'transparency'?

We are viewing 'through a glass darkly', only this time intentionally, literally.

Reflections of reflections.

Grafton Tanner's excellent "Babbling Corpse" expands further on notions of 'hauntology' examined by both Fisher and Derrida, examining musical forms like Vaporwave through this lens of the uncanny. It's vital reading, well written and engaging.

As part of of my own teaching and composition work, I've just completed the sketch below - a video response to a piece I composed as part of a previous EP, itself something of an exercise in unwitting hauntology. The video itself is composed entirely of youtube clips, most of which are digitisations of kids' toy advertisements from the 50s to 70s -  including a number for products for "mothers". I'm fascinated by the maternal gaze here, and that of the 'child' - the lines between volition and passivity which the camera imbues both with, and how these parlay with each other, dependent on product and circumstance.

You may well recognise the brief segments I've culled from the Johnson & Johnsons 'Language of Love' commercial(s) - unlikely examples of prescient hauntology in the 80s advertising cannon. We are as disconcerted by this advertisement's unanswered questions, moved by its exaggerated emotional caricature,  framed as voyeurs in an intimately uneasy emotional discourse,

In an era of rampant 'oversharing' on Facebook and Instagram, pre-internet commercials like 1987's "The Language Of Love" are eerily prescient, sitting at a hinge-point between 2nd and 3rd wave Feminism. Prototypical legitimacy via contrived confessional.

Who is this (wealthy?) young mother, so palpably alone in her ward after childbirth?
Where is her partner, family?
Why has her child been taken from her, set to be returned whilst she anxiously waits in psychic limbo?
What is this deep distress which haunts here?
What future awaits which she is so noticeably anxious about?

The dominant tone here is one of deep loneliness, and perhaps a loss of 'self' - an advertisement which speaks to a sudden erasure of one future and the giddy adrenal aftershock of a strange new kind of love.

It struck me enough to create (something of) a video response to.

"The lie is the future, one may venture to say [...]. To tell the truth is, on the contrary, to say what is or what will have been and it would instead prefer the past." - Jacques Derrida
 

Nostalgia, Transactive Memory, Gladwell & Herndon...

I recently stumbled across Malcolm Gladwell's brilliant Revisionist History Podcast, which I've been consuming voraciously on slow sojourns across London. As a social anthropologist-cum-critical theorist, I've become even more enamored since hearing his lucid reflections committed to audio format. Its' vital, pertinent listening - and a finessed exercise in discourse which directly challenges the reductionist rhetoric of the newsfeed.

Amid the incredible material on offer, one episode struck me as personally resonant, in which Gladwell touches on the idea of transactive memory, or the notion that individuals in a collective / relationship effectively act as storehouses or portals of a kind of collective memory system - at once holding and forming a more complex memory system. I'm new to the concept, but it feels fascinating to me - a notion which dovetails into my studies into 'hauntology' and nostalgia.

Here's Malcolm Gladwell speaking a little more about this....

And some further reflections on the notion of nostalgia, from Holly Herndon, who's work I find wonderfully populist in the very best of ways.

How do transactive memory systems serve to invent orthodoxies in arts practice? There's so much to unpack here - more questions than answered. Gladwell's reflections on transactive memory and Winston Churchill are fascinating..
 

 Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell

Nostalgia can also lead into certain kinds of orthodoxy within genre, and I think that gets really dangerous. Once you create this entire rule structure of what something’s supposed to be like, that’s when I get completely bored and turn off. I’m more interested when things are mixed up and mashed up and people are able to experiment outside of orthodoxy. I’m not completely anti-nostalgia, but it’s not really a sensibility that I strongly play into. I think we can find new forms and new paradigms.
— Holly Herndon

Deepchild v The Specials "Racist Friend"

It's been a big month. After bouncing from Australia to London to Copenhagen to Berlin and back now to London, I'm soundly ensconced in the bosom of Hackney, head-down in audio production for Sample Magic and others (check out my recent Lo-Fi Techno sample pack here) and slowly acclimatizing to life in the UK, forging connections and dusting off the burnished pipes of pedagogy along the way.

Loads coming up, including a cameo at the Ableton LOOP Conference in a couple of months, as well as the usual mix of gigs, audio commissions an lecturing work around the place.

Meanwhile, I thought given the current state of world politics, I'd dig up and make available a cover version I produced of The Specials "Racist Friend", some years ago. Enjoy.

Deepchild Sound Design - Moussy Studiowear Japan

Some new Deepchild sound-design work (feat. the wonderful voice of Jessica O'Donoghue for Moussy Studiowear, Japan)....

MOUSSY STUDIOWEAR 8/25(FRI)Debut.
___________________________________________
8/25(FRI) より、ファッション性とトレンドのスポーツテイストをMIXしたMOUSSYの新たなライン
【MOUSSY STUDIOWEAR】がデビュー。

これに先がけ、スペシャルムービーをOfficial Webサイトにて公開中。
ぜひ、【MOUSSY STUDIOWEAR】の世界観をお楽しみくださいませ。
___________________________________________
STUDIOWEAR は『鏡に映る自分のための服』というコンセプトのもと
スタジオで鏡に向かい合い、日々自問自答を繰り返しながら、
自分自身の限界を常に超えて戦っている人を
応援したいという願いを込めて作られた新ラインです。

鏡の中にいる自分自身を好きになることで自分でも
気付かなかった、秘めたポテンシャルを引き出すことができる。
Fashionには、そういう力があると
MOUSSYは信じています。
『How Long? My Satisfaction』
どのくらい?自分自身が満足するまで。。。。
今回はダンサーなら誰しもが感じる心の葛藤を
ダンサーMIUさんに表現、演じて頂きました。

STUDIOWEARのグラフィックは全て反転しており、鏡の中の自分だけが正しい文字として読むことができます。

Fashionの力を全ての人へ。
#MOUSSYSTUDIOWEAR
#MOUSSY

特設サイトはこちら
http://www.moussy.ne.jp/studiowear/#news

Acharné album feature in The Guardian...

My last album, "Innocence and Suburbia", has been receiving some wonderful press of late, most recently from the esteemed Kate Hennessy at The Guardian.

Having stepped away from Berlin for a while, it's been quite a change of cultural climate here in Australia, and I'm honored to know that (despite the lure of the beach, and our draconian 'lock out laws') this album has landed on willing ears. There's not much to add, here, but read on... a remarkable selection of fellow antipodeans are also mentioned...

 "Rick Bull, better known as Deepchild, forge new ground with a new alias: Acharné. In “a radical pause to reflect on the shifting sands of a beloved city” Bull made a very lovely record, full of gently shifting sensibilities.

"Rick Bull, better known as Deepchild, forge new ground with a new alias: Acharné. In “a radical pause to reflect on the shifting sands of a beloved city” Bull made a very lovely record, full of gently shifting sensibilities.

FREE DL: Ariana - "Into You" (Deepchild Austerity-Free VIP) & 20+ more...

Amidst my constant posts about pedagogy, futurism, melancholia and neoliberalism, it's easy to lose sight of the gratuitous joy of pop music.

Ariana Grande has certainly become the subject of much focus of late - a bona-fide post-tween idol, placed front and centre in the light of the recent tragedy in Manchester. More power to her for her gracious response to the tragedy too.

Grande's work tends to be heavy on the saccharine teen-love side of things, underscored by some moment of simply superb songwriting... and (imho) a devastatingly great set of vocal chords.

Ariana is a legit singer.

Full credits for the original "Into You" can be found here which stands as one of my personal favorite pop sculptures of 2016...

I decided to take this on as a remix exercise to re-imagine a slightly deeper, more grown-up take on the original, which (to my ears) is a little heavy on an over-tooled EDM production aesthetic - which is somewhat tragic, as the original track and vocal arrangement is superb, classic pop-writing perfection.

I've offered my instrumental retake as an additional download here too - incase anyone would like to take it and make it their own (remix of a remix anyone?). I'd love to hear what other vocalists might bring to the table here. Take it and run with my blessing.....

Ultimately, "Into You" has always sounded like a backroom, bump-n-grind exercise in woozy love-making. It's the spirit I've tried to channel here - in all its 'austerity-free' glory.

Let's face it - the warmth of human bodies under low light with a little red-wine will liberate us in ways in which Thatcherism and it's acolytes could only dream of.

Deep respect to Ariana, and all those makin' love, bleedin' down the night, and shinin' on in dark times. Love, especially today for friends and familyin London, Manchester Berlin and across Europe.

I miss you all deeply. Play these loud - bonus points for anyone who sends through video evidence, which I'll gladly post here.


Here are 20 or so additional sketches / downloads from my Soundlcoud page, for any interested - a mixture of mastered, unmastered, work in progress and previously released works. And yes, that Alicia re-redux has well and truly clocked 100,000+ plays now. Who knew?

When The Future Stopped - a chat with Native Instruments

I recently had a wonderful chat with Native Instruments in Berlin, about.....what happened when the future stopped.... check out the full interview here and linked below....

Perhaps in some sense, it’s a sound aesthetic reacting to the tropes of ‘realism’ or ‘authenticity’, which are the byproducts of the neoliberal sound machine. I’m not interested in the sound of a ‘real 808’, or ‘old-school’ house or techno, or ‘authentic’ tape saturation. These technologies were so vital because they sprung from a time when the ‘future’ was still being invented, and so often now we look ‘back to the future’ which never came to pass.

The Crossroads - Musings On Archetypes, Depression & Arts Practice Pt.1

You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown
You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown
That I got the crossroad blues this mornin’, Lord, babe, I’m sinkin’ down
— - Robert Johnson

I was recently asked by a colleague to offer up some reflections on the topic of depression, and I seek to offer some initial musings on the subject below.

In typical style, these are more a selection of personal conjecture, grounded in curiosity, anecdote, speculation.
I speak primarily from personal experience as a performer, though now also as a curious academic, navigating my way through a very real, complex bunch of conditions. I hope you'll forgive my verbosity.

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The myth of the 'tortured artist' is intimately enmeshed with the official histories of the Colonialist / Judeo Christian arts canon.

From St John Of The Cross to Vincent Van Gough, the image of an isolated practitioner (usually male), battling an eternal 'dark night of the soul' is a familiar one.

It's also a myth effectively repurposed, in subtle, but somewhat different light by the multitude 'liberation theologies' across the African Musical Diaspora, which have quietly derailed 'white spiritual individualism' from the vantage point of a marginalised majority.

Examined elegantly in books like Lewis Hyde's "Trickster Makes This World" (for those interested in further reading) we encounter the archetype of the 'trickster / shaman', cosmically fucking with the earnest and morally assured - usually with pants around his ankles, laughing loudly all the while.

On one side of pop history we might encounter the sorts of self-negating archetypes embodied by Sid Vicious, Leonard Cohen, Metallica or Hillsong Church.... on the other, George Clinton, Sun Ra, Fela Kuti, Drexciya, Linton Kwesi Johnson - and (of course!) so many nuanced shades in between, particularly in emergent digital community.

I realise I'm painting very clumsy brush strokes here, but you get the idea... I hope.

These individuals are far richer, more complex and nuanced than their public personas might suggest - and this is central to my thesis. The public persona of the artist is a product of industry, as much as reality. And this industry needs blood, hysteria and drama in order to fund itself.

I'm fascinated by examining projections -  spectres of the real; in diving a little deeper beneath the surface waters to discover richer cultural oceans they've sprung from.

"The current ruling ontology denies any possibility of a social causation of mental illness. The chemico-biologization of mental illness is of course strictly commensurate with its depoliticization. Considering mental illness an individual chemico-biological problem has enormous benefits for capitalism." - Mark Fisher, from "Capitalist Realism"

I think it could be worthwhile to unpick how populist archetypes frame and condition our experience as arts-workers, as I believe that the exercise might help offer up useful tools for self-reflextion, as we examine the reality that sometimes 'music' might actually be making us sick...

I'll touch on industry economics in subsequent posts.... though studies like the above from helpmusicians.org.uk are indicative of real systemic problems and workplace realities facing many arts-workers.

I contend that this culture of real-world struggle is in fact fed and inflamed by the sorts of 'transcendent' narratives embedded in contemporary music culture - many the results of a particular flavour of post-war individualism.

Is there an alternative paradigm beyond the 'vocational / transcendent' we might imagine? I think so.

For musical traditions (eg Sufi, South American, Japanese) beyond the direct influence of the 'gospel' legacy, the image of the artist 'martyr' is often supplanted by that of an artist 'shaman' - two very different embodiments of performative suffering - and perhaps even subsequent collective 'deliverance'.

The former archetype sits alongside its twin sibling of the Buddhist 'hungry ghost' - both the martyr and hungry ghost seeking deliverance through either deprivation / isolation or over-consumption / grandstanding. Twin heads of the "Janus of illusory separation", to mix somewhat awkward metaphors.

The latter shamanic archetype of the might in fact be deemed a community asset - part priest, yet less invested in personalisation of, 'art as moral product', leaning instead toward 'art as process'.

In a public arts (read performative!) roll, many of us find ourselves embodying / exploring both incarnations at various times .....at least when it comes to writing press-releases....

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Guilt and shame.

These twin currencies both tussle throughout the canon (I kissed a girl and I liked It!), and offer great grit for the pop mill. And yet.... I often wonder if the construct of the 'fucked up artist' invoking these notions is in part just self-actualising convenience -  a marketing construct designed to precluding mature engagement with them.

Drama, at its most base level, lubricates our new media economy - from Donald Trumps vitriolic Tweets, to speculations about Katy Perry's mental decline. It's intentional stuff, and it serves to further fortify existing arts archetypes - imbuing them with bankable neurosis.

You get the gist.

I offer this as someone whose life has been legitimately marked by actual 'depression', in addition to extreme privilege; the latter concession offered as a way of demarking 'vanilla' struggle from the kind of claustrophobic, illogical terror which pays heed to neither class nor circumstance.

I say this, also,  as someone who's made some decent work  from the bowels of mental exhastion*, yet who feels now that I have little interest in imbuing struggle with any implicit moral value.

No one has a monopoly on suffering - but it might just be in our collective interest to examine boldly why arts-culture tends to elevate it.

I contend that if we genuinely seek to unpick the romanticism of 'suffering for art', we might actually find some useful ways of ameliorating the struggles of actual depression - some very concrete tools and strategies. We might also benefit from some harsh scrutiny of the traditions (religious and economic) which perversely lionize 'struggle' for its own sake - or rather, for the sake of cultivating a sort of 'spiritual scarcity' - one satiated by consumption.

To cite a caricatured example, the central premise of talent shows like X-Factor, posits that those who 'succeed', or 'triumph', or 'win' (note the language of exceptionalism here) are inevitably validated due to their perceived struggles. These earnest struggles (be they suicidal inclinations, financial disenfranchisement, personal loss, health issues) are often legitimate, yet the exploitation of them by cultural industry feels indicative of malevolent shadow of "Capitalism 101"; a grain-fed dissatisfaction rooted in the curious legacy of notions like the Protestant Work Ethic .


"tell me why you've chosen that song?"

"....I lost my best friend 2 years ago...."

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A common fiction tacitly suggests that 'unless you know what it means to suffer, you can't make good art' - in fact, your work might very well be unworthy of trust.  This (to quality my statement) has frequently been my experience quarters of the electronic music world with personal investment in topographically specific 'urban' genres (eg. 'Detroit techno' or 'Newcastle Hardcore').

On paper, this sounds legitimate enough. But it's really a half-truth, hiding some profoundly elitist assumptions.

God is not a dj.

The real fallacy here is - of course -  that there are those (most likely 'non-artists') who somehow haven't understood the 'authentic' depression a rarefied arts class might spend lifetimes being railroaded into embodying. The fallacy consumers must be liberated by the work of a 'visionary' -  a sacrificial, tortured 'artist' - who possesses a preternatural insight beyond the scope of the everyman.

I don't find this a particularly helpful or liberating notion. I don't believe that anyone has a monopoly on suffering, or on the genuine gifts which arts practice can really offer us -  simple reminders of our shared journey, and our beautifully transient, gorgeously irrational human lives.

Producing work now on a weekly basis with genuinely marginalized voices, I have good reason to assume there might exist a different, more robust, pragmatic (perhaps even joyful) framing of 'the musician' and 'music practice' in our collective story. We need not romanticize or fabricate struggle for an artist's work to engage deeply with the cultural imagination, in it's many hues.

To be continued....

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*I remain a practicing artist invested in developing tools to navigate the quagmire of bipolar type B depression, generalised anxiety disorder and a curious history of mental-health struggle - one (in my case) marked previously by a hyper-vigilance which has thankfully softened over the years. It's manifested in multitude forms since my teens - from anorexia through insomnia, substance-abuse and self-medication, suicidal fantasies, panic attacks, claustrophobia and leaden fatigue. Subsequent to a decade of medication protocols (concluded over 3 years ago) I've found remarkable tools in the form of diet, exercise, and radical re-imagining of what a work/life balance might look like in a gentler light. I'll discuss these in future posts...

 The Hungry Ghost of Buddhist mythology

The Hungry Ghost of Buddhist mythology

Radio 2SER and I have a chat about performance, teaching, techno...

"The Chat interviews outstanding graduates from the University of Technology, Sydney who have excelled in their profession or community.

From CEOs to SCs, fashion designers to forensic scientists, The Chat gets graduates back on Broadway to share their stories.

The Chat is produced at 2SER 107.3 in Sydney with the support of the University of Technology Sydney."