BREAK WITH ME: COLUMN 2021

a feed of the things going on around us, updated regularly. If you would like to submit a piece of writing, send us a message from the contact page or via our Instagram DMs @breakwith.me

Archive [2021]

Looking 4 the Future - Interview with Andrew Green

The Sunken Liner - @tmwilsn

I Smell A Rat - @james._.ess

BWM Recommends:

Anz // Mucho Sueño // Fiyahdred

Soul In The Game - @brandon_kzny

Why Porn? Crash + the Liberating Potential of Erotic Fantasy - @video1nasty

Inklingroom @ the glove that fits - @idrk.aryan

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Proc Fiskal // leo // Kanye West 

Fat Is a Feminist Issue - Book Review - @mumzzztheword

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Elijah Minnelli // Paraadiso // Regal86 // Unknown T // EQWhy 

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Don Zilla // Scratcha DVA // Foodman // Oyubi // Nammy Wams & M.I.C

// Pressure Dome

Heaven or What - @hcurtoys

The [REAL] Terror - @frogmanfilth

All Truth Is Crooked, Time to Watch the Circle - @denglord

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Looking 4 the Future 

an interview with Andrew Green by @hcurtoys 

Editor’s Note: For the brealwith.me column’s first interview, resident silver-tongue siren Harry Curtoys sat down with Andrew Green, co-author of the recently republished 'Junglist'. Their discussion spans the past, present, and future in equal measure, tracing the continuities and disconnects between the lived experience of club culture then and now. Nearly thirty years after its first release, the visceral, poetic, and impassioned time capsule that Junglist provides is a welcome reminder that the joy our music inspires – both personally and collectively – must always be its raison d’être… take it away you handsome Northern devil. 

Junglist was first published in 1994 as part of the cult series of pulp novels – Backstreets – to document the nascent sound and culture, before being republished on Repeater Books earlier this year. It’s an earnest dive into the ecologies of London’s emergent scene, interlinking with people, technology, drugs, and racial capitalism.

Republished twenty-seven years after its conception – fulfilling Simon Reynolds’ twenty-year rule of revivals in Retromania – Junglist wholeheartedly resists becoming a revivalist tool for finding the ‘true old school sound’ and is instead a guide to wearing your impassioned heart on your sleeve when it comes to musical jouissance. Junglist is stream of consciousness-cum-poetry written by two guys who hadn’t really read a book before, inspired only by the sleeve notes of Sun Ra albums and the musical organisms spawning in front of them. They took to writing chunks of the book as soon as they left the club, chronicling their activities over a weekend in mid-90s London. It is strange to read about this viscerally ecstatic scene so intimately as if it were emerging in front of me; we’re all used to the séance of the Hardcore Continuum but Junglist isn’t that, it’s the truthful heartfelt transmission of life in a different time – it’s not conjuring up that escape-reality image but rather the embrace-reality (and go forward) of the Junglist experience. The London described is one elevated by the joyfulness of Black music and the novel’s authors/narrators (Two Fingas and James T. Kirk) find themselves explosively resonating with the city as they break through the guise of adulthood, the class-coded purity of pre-adultescence, reworked to fit the life on South London council estates. Its Two Fingas – more frequently know as Andrew Green – that I contacted to chat about the book, but more specifically the difference in our experience of music, London, clubs, and joy. 

 

It is the lifeblood of the city, an attitude, a way of life, a people.


In the heart of the city’s darkness, on the tarmac flyways and backways of London, crews from all sides, north, south, east, west, come correct for the gathering. They come ready and willing off the Black streets to “sarf” London, Elephant and Castle, looking for the future, searching for the riddim, the champion dub sound. 
 

Harry C: So… let’s start at the beginning, let’s start with your first experiences of Jungle music and the impact it had on you?

Andrew G: So I was probably at college at the time, started to go to college…

HC: Was that in London?

AG: It was in London yeah. I went to Hammersmith and West London College, and the guy I wrote the book with – Eddie – we kind of bonded over music and photography and TV and stuff. And, you know, I’d just go round to his house, and we’d just play music and he’d have records and we’d listen to pirate stations of an evening, kinda late at night, discovering clubbing and going out – as in, paying to go somewhere to listen to music rather than just going round to someone’s house for a house party. I was into Happy Hardcore before, which Eddie turned me onto, and y’know it was a short step from Happy Hardcore to Jungle, it kind of linked together… like I say in the book it sounded like the future, and it was just so different and it was a way of getting into an electronic music I understood, because it had lots elements of musics I loved – Reggae and Ragga basslines, sped up Hip-Hop breaks, samples from films and other songs you knew; it just blended a lot of things together…

HC: Yeah, I get that it made a lot of sense, I really get that, for me I’ve come at it from a completely different angle, going through Youtube trying to find tracks, trying to understand what any of the words really meant. But the key thing for me was going from bedroom listening to my first experiences of a soundsystem; and that is the difference between listening to it at home and listening to it where it lives, where it’s felt… I do feel like that experience changed me, I had no idea what to expect really. I was wondering, can you remember what your first experience of rave was…?

AG: No… I can’t, I know we spent a lot of time at the Laser Drome in Peckham and what I remember from that was it was in the small room, and they have a bigger room playing more like House and Techno and stuff, and you’d have this room which would normally be a chill out room, and you’d have kind of Jungle in it, so it wasn’t really a chill out room. But I remember the transition from it being in the small room of an event, to just moving into the big room; and also, like you were talking just how hearing it live just changes your life, just the amount of sound and the volume and the bass… how hard it hits you…

HC: That’s something I am also interested in… at the time a lot of people were listening to House and Techno and Hardcore was coming in, Breakbeats were coming in, right? I guess you’ve maybe already answered, but why does Jungle have this alure that those genres lack? 

AG: Well, you say that but there was a point where Jungle/Drum and Bass was ubiquitous, it was everywhere, you heard it on commercials, you heard it on TV shows, you heard it on news segments. It was just everywhere. But it was kind of the thing y’know, it was never going to go away… even though I kind of… not that I fell out of love with it, I just moved away from it to something else, just because it wasn’t ticking the boxes it needed to for me.

HC: When do you reckon that was?

AG: That will have been 2004-2005 maybe. The thing is, I was writing pieces on Speed Garage and UK Garage and getting into Broken Beat which came after, but I was never really into Dubstep… so it was around that sort of time where the form of Jungle became truncated y’know, the intros were shorter, the drops were just a bit too programmed.

HC: It’s interesting you say that because I was planning on getting into that: the state of ‘Jungle’ and what it has become now seems so far from the sound of the early tunes. I wanted to know what you think about all of that…

AG: I’ve been listening to that High Contrast and London Elektricity stuff, and the production on it, I dunno, it never really talked to me. That was the last time I was listening to Jungle on a regular basis, or I’d hear a track and I’d want to know more about them. I remember it was all over the place, and I was listening to it thinking it’s not really for me, it doesn’t have that… not the ‘rawness’ of production, but it doesn’t have that, I wanna say ‘authenticity’ which is probably the wrong word, but I didn’t have that sense of being immersed in it.

HC: I get what you mean, I completely get what you mean. I feel like now whenever we see an event advertising this kind of music we’re sort of sceptical of what they’ll be playing compared to what we imagine.

AG: Jungle and Rave culture has a massive penchant for looking back with rose tinted spectacles, and all those raves playing exclusively ‘98-’02 stuff, picking really specific eras and saying ‘this is what you’re going to hear’, just so everyone knows exactly what they’re getting. It’s not that I’m against it, but I feel it’s pretty limiting, it keeps harking back to ‘then’ rather than focusing on the good stuff being made now. And like I said about that High Contrast thing, it was more me going ‘this isn’t what I know jungle and drum and bass to be’; it’s the same form – they’re producing music which relatively sounds the same – but it doesn’t have that same emotional kick.
 

Eyes open and I hear the call for a rewind. Strange nebulous underwater sound as the deejay spins that record backwards. Q’s already leaning forward to boost the volume to try and blow his mums speakers. I sink back even further into my seat and let Leviticus flow over me. The Burial. Those angel voices whisper and hum. The sound soft and gentle. OOOOOOOOOO! Hearing it, my spine tingles: I know what comes next.

HC: I think in the book, there’s the description of when one of you is in the car listening to The Burial…

AG: God I love that tune

HC: …waiting for the bassline to come in, and something about your description of it captured that it’s not really about the music itself but the attitude of it, and maybe that’s what’s missing or what has changed in this newer stuff? I want to go back a bit to talk about what you mentioned before about the ‘rose tinted glasses’, because there is a large amount of discussion about this, and I am undoubtably apart of this, this idea of the Hardcore Continuum, this strangely theoretical idea of UK dance music, and how it developed from early House imports and slowly, like some organism, mutated into these other genres. Like all these sounds are not really separated as genres and you can hear the echoes of each passed sound in the next…

AG: I’ve said since the book’s come out and people have been asking me questions about it, that for me Jungle was that kind of inciting incident in terms of creating lots of different forms of music which still go on to this day; there was a lot of cross pollination of producers playing/making Jungle, making Drum and Bass and moving off into other different genres, and that’s because producers are interested in making music, and in making good music and wanting to learn different things and prove their craft. They have different musical histories, they’re going to be listening to all different stuff which will play into the sound they want to create, and so for me that – what did you call it? Hardcore Continuum? – is a perfectly valid way of viewing electronic music and electronic dance music which has been created in the UK. What I’ve always thought is that obviously Jungle was a point where a generation of young black British teenagers go into electronic music – because before you had House, you had Garage, and you had Techno – and there was a generation of black people that were into that, whereas Jungle and Happy Hardcore were the key points for getting a wider black generation into it. 

Before Jungle was around, you’d go to a House party and you’d hear maybe Soca, maybe Reggae, Lovers, you’d hear Hip Hop, Soul, maybe Jazz/Funk, and that was it. DJs would have sets of fifteen/twenty minutes to half an hour of those types of music. After Jungle came out, there was a point where DJs would go ‘naa, I’m not playing that, I’m not playing that’, and then I think it was after Carnival ‘94 when every sound was playing a Drum and Bass track… you’d walk between sounds and you’d hear Helicopter Tune on five different sounds and The Burial on another four, and you’d just go from one to the other. The fact was that after that point, black DJs would start to have a Jungle set, and it was like if you don’t have that, you don’t get Speed Garage, you don’t get UKG, you don’t get Broken Beat, you don’t get Dubstep and to a certain extent you don’t get Grime – obviously because Grime is linked to the MCs. So, you have twenty to twenty-five years of lineage which doesn’t happen if you don’t have that generation that get into it, which is the most important point, which people don’t really talk about, because it’s one of those misunderstood and underrepresented genres. Everyone still talks about Rave and the summer of ’88 and all that sort of stuff, but if you don’t have that run from ‘89 to ‘94 of Jungle being this intense, passionate thing – with its DIY aesthetic and pirate stations playing it all the time – you don’t get anything else.

HC: I’d be interest to know what you think about that lineage, has it ended, does it matter? Y’know you hear older ravers talk about how newer sounds don’t have the same Hardcore intensity or edge…

AG: Basically that edge, or that sound, that way of engaging with music… it's related to the societal and cultural pressures that you grow up with and the avenues you have to express yourself. And so – as with material comforts – there’s more of it and people have more access to it, but you still have poverty, you still have people working from week to week, trying to make ends meet, and a generation who need to get outside of that, who need some sort of release or someplace where you’re using your creative tools to express yourself from this space. That’s where the Hardcore and the ‘underground’ comes from, it’s the people who are making it who need it, it’s their way of expressing themselves and getting themselves out to the place they want to be.


 

This is the end of the 20th century, the edge of Infinity. 21st century just around the corner. Sample here, timestretched there, loop a beat, change the pitch on that guitar riff. Taking technology to its logical apogee. Music manipulated and redefined. Subversive in the extreme. This is my time, my age, circling within the hearts of darkness, waiting for the Millennium to overtake me.

AG: I’d be interested in asking you something because I was at this music book festival in Manchester, called Louder Than Words, and we had a chat with Martin James – he wrote a book about Jungle – and we were talking about the journey of discovery, in terms of what music they listen to and how they find it, and how they gravitate to it. For our generation it was all about hearing it on the radio, going out to and hearing it at house parties, going to clubs, and then going to find it in record shops, digging through, and you’d have to speak to people: ‘have you got this track?’, ‘have you heard this one?’ Whereas, now there’s a huge well of music that you can access, and it be there instantaneously. Part of the joy, the pleasure of getting into this music, and being into something that was being created whilst I was young, was that you didn’t know everything, you couldn’t know every track. You had to stand by decks trying to read the labels, there was no Shazam or anything, you had to speak to people. 

I always took issue with Fabio because when he was on Radio 1 he would play tracks and be like ‘this is a fucking banger’ and then he’d just talk all over it because he wouldn’t want anyone to record it; that’s how I’d be getting my music, finger on the pause button of the tape recorder, filling up books of my favourite tracks.

…So, my question to you, though longwinded, is whether the current generation have that same journey. You can go down the YouTube rabbit holes, but whether it’s taking you down the rabbit hole you wanted, whether it’s a conscious journey, or is it just that you keep clicking and going deeper and deeper? 

HC: I think that I’ve had a slightly different musical journey just because of the way I’ve been brought up with music. I feel like I’ve explored very intentionally, I’ve spent hours finding new music, or music that is at least new to me, and I usually look to the comments or articles or radio for the recommendations from real people. It’s a different way of searching compared to your generation since it’s all there, but within that wealth there is still a huge element of having to find everything. The music we play live is usually all found on Bandcamp or even Soulseek, and so anyone can find the tracks we play – there isn’t much emphasis on all that dubplate culture or like the Northern Soul DJs covering up the 45’s label – we essentially enjoy the fact that all the music is there for the taking, you just have to find it. I think that coming to music now from the perspective of wanting to own it and then play it out to other people means me and my mates have a very different attitude towards music… for the better I reckon. I find it irritating when people from other generations are so dismissive of the Internet and the generations who grew up with it, because you can use the wealth of knowledge to educate yourself in new ways.

I remember recently I took to the r/dub subreddit because I had a vocal sample buzzing round my head for ages and all I could remember was the lines ‘Jacqueline, Jacqueline, Jacqueline, girl you must be…’ and within a few hours someone had commented the track I was after.

AG: I think the thing is the intentionality of the search; that’s the most important thing and it doesn’t matter where you’re searching, or physically how you’re doing the searching, its just the fact that you're making that conscious decision to go and search for it. And to go back to how I got into Jungle, the search, the progression, was pretty easy, because I got into Hip-Hop when I was in my early teens, and I was a Hip-Hop boy, and through Hip-Hop I learnt more about Soul, Jazz and Funk, and off the back of that, it meant I was listening to what I thought was a wider range of musics than my peers were. The cultural and historical background of going out to big events with my parents and the music that was played there, and having an older sister who was into different musics - as she grew older and her musical tastes changed she influenced me.
 

The South London ecosystem. Streatham, Brixton, Dulwich, Lewisham, Battersea, Peckham, Herne Hill, New Cross, Kennington, Putney, Croydon, Vauxhall, Elephant and Castle, Tulse Hill, Crystal Palace, Sydenham, Stockwell, Clapham, Balham, Tooting. The names, the places roll off my tongue, the memories spill forth as they slide smooth into conscious being. So I give it loads and shout ‘em all out. 

HC: So I presume you grew up in London?

AG: Apart from periods of working and studying, I’ve lived in London pretty much my whole life. 

HC: I’m curious to know what you think of this idea of the ‘London Scene’, or actually let’s start with what you think of ‘scenes’- do you hate that term as much as everyone else?

AG: Yes I do – it makes it feel slightly elitist and exclusive, and also there’s that sense of insiders and outsiders, differentiating yourself from the masses y’know. But in terms of my musical taste, you could say I’m involved in loads of scenes, but for me it’s just that I go to places where they play different kinds of music. I am across loads of different sounds and that aspect irritates me because I wouldn’t change how I dress to be involved in different spaces, and I don’t change my behaviour to fit in somewhere; I’m just there for the music. There’s this exhibition by this Dutch photographer, I forget the name, [Ellie Uyttenbroek] called something like ‘Tribes’, and they take photographs of people into different music scenes or different subcultures. So at the time – when I was into Jungle and Hip Hop – I thought I was special and I dressed this way and I was part of this tribe… but then you look at the other tribes – you look at the Rockabilly tribe and they think they’re special because they all look a certain way – but whatever musical scene you’re into, that style of dress that sets you apart from all the other people listening to all the other musics, is the same as them because they think they’re different in the same way. For me there’s loads of different tribes that loads of people want to be a part of and everyone thinks they’re special and unique, but ultimately it’s just a case of ‘do you like the music, does that music tick the box for you?’

HC: I think that leads on perfectly to something I am really interested in: moving away from these superficial ideas of tribes or whatever and getting towards a place where you’re playing music that attracts people to come together communally regardless; using the music as the first step in generating a positive communal environment. The aim of our club nights is to bring people together who share the interest in new sounds, and we want to do away with these ideas of people dressing the part. That broadly leads onto this idea of London as a city being unique or not; I want to know what you think about whether Jungle and the wider club culture here is a unique thing to this city?

AG: …No. I think the thing with London is the multiculturalism which generates that crosspollination of ideas, styles, and forms. The thing with Jungle was that in those initial four/five/six years, how different the sound could be. You had distinctive sounds from different camps – you had The Dark Stranger, The Helicopter Tune, The Burial, Dead Dred – but you had all these different sounds, they were all within the broader umbrella of Jungle/Drum and Bass, and that’s the best thing about Jungle is that the DJs could show their range, and for me that’s what was special. That multiculturalism of London was a major push in that – like I said that year that Jungle took off, that year at Carnival – being able to hear it on Jamaican-style soundsystems outside was eye opening, and unless your city had a Carnival it felt like you weren’t going to experience it in the proper way. The fact that being outside in the sunshine can make it feel almost… I don’t know, it’s just a different experience to being in a sweaty club in darkness, it just makes it feel really optimistic and happy, and it felt like a future that everyone could partake in. 

I always felt like Jungle migrated to spaces that had a relatively large black population and then from there it started to emerge everywhere. Like you said, the community derived from Rave culture where lots of different things were brought together from different classes, and I feel you learn so much more hanging out with people going clubbing, driving to spaces, going back to people’s houses, crashing on their floors… you get that understanding of different cultures, and once you’re aware of it there’s less space for intolerance.

HC: And I guess the music is maybe the first step in reconstructing ways of existing… the way you talk about that era feels ‘utopian’ in some strange way… I wonder if you felt that at the time? That same ‘wow, this is the future’ sentiment? 

AG: Ultimately it was so different to what was available at the time. I listen back to tracks and I still feel it's ahead of lots of stuff made since… I don’t know, it feels a step apart from anything else, and it was exciting to view myself as part of that movement that was futuristic and forward-facing, and wanting to see what else was out there. Also, there’s a certain optimism in the fact that we’d just become a part of the Euro at that time, so suddenly France, Germany, Spain etc. was open to everyone, and you heard more and more different accents in London. The weird gravitational pull of London was attracting people from everywhere, not just the UK. 
 

As a love song has no meaning unless you are in love, a Jungle tune makes no sense unless you're in the Jungle. The crowd bursts into verse, on the corner of this world; away from jazz, soul, hip hop, techno, reggae, the smoke creates new dreams, you're travelling through another dimension - a dimension of sight and sound… We're here together and it's a party after all.

HC: Do you go out much now?

 

AG: Oh god no... I’ve got a three-year-old son, and I hadn’t been clubbing regularly before he was born either. That was also a personal choice because I was finding it harder and harder to find regular nights playing music that I wanted to listen to. I got more and more into stuff like Jazz and Deep House which was strange because we had such an antipathy to House and that commercialised Rave ‘going off to Ibiza’, ‘hands in the air’ kind of thing… it didn’t feel like it encapsulated what we were going through at the time compared to Jungle, but there were these newer movements with Afro-House and polyrhythmic influence, and then suddenly I’m feeling like I get that… but I don’t get to that point unless I go through Jungle/Drum and Bass, that point where there’s a meeting point of those genres. 

 

HC: Yeah, I get that completely, the polyrhythms of the basslines going at half the speed of the drums, as if they’re unrelated or coming from separate places, two separate flowing entities. I think it's talked about in Junglist where you say the E’d up white kids would be frantically dancing to the drums whereas the black kids would be dancing to the basslines, and there’s a funny friction between the characters watching the white guys jumping around. 

 

AG: Yeah yeah, you always had to half-step it because for me that was the only way you could last all night without taking massive amounts of speed, and that was the way we went through it. Clubbing changed loads when you couldn’t smoke there as well; it changed the atmosphere because it changed how you could build your high for the music, and I never wanted to take drugs because the music always seemed to be enough. All I wanted was to take drugs that would enhance my feeling of being within the music, not to get outside myself or feel like a different person. So that was the main goal, to have my experience of the music expand out.

 

HC: I still feel like – despite drug usage in clubs being even more common now, and even with the range of substances being much wider than before – there is sometimes still that awkwardness about dancing in clubs. 

 

AG: This may be just my old-man clubbing filter coming in, but with the rise of things like Boiler Room – this way of viewing DJs as this kind of iconic figure at the centre of the room, and that your attention should be on them and what they’re doing, where it’s almost like being at a gig where you’d have to be staring at the band all the time to enjoy yourself – whereas, I was always of the opinion that I didn’t want to see what the DJ was doing, I didn’t want to be standing around that booth, I wanted to be where the speakers were and just hear the tunes, where the bass was. My attention was on the DJ in terms of their transitions, thinking ‘where are they going with this track?’, rather than just watching them do it… so that’s what I think has maybe changed with clubbing,  that sense of the DJ being at the centre of attention. 

 

HC: Yeah I feel like there are events and clubs that follow this same idea: there’s places like Corsica Studios which is pretty much my favourite club in London, where they fill the rooms with fog to the point where you can’t see the walls let alone the DJ, and it’s as if they’re forcing this attitude of non-superstar DJing, they want you to be lost in the fog, in the music…


AG: On from that, I think it’s really sad that places like The End closed down, because there was loads of places inside where you couldn’t see the DJ and you’d just be next to speakers and that was your experience, it was you and your mates dancing… not being focused on the DJ and seeing what they were doing. Obviously pre-Shazam times you did have to be at the decks to find out what a song was, but there’d only be a few times you could be arsed to watch the label spin round. I just found that attitude never really sat right with me. But all musical opinions are valid, and the key is to find likeminded people to have that experience with.

Bass that overrides the heartbeat, that interrupts its normal pattern, its normal rhythm and makes it move to the bassline. Bass is the vanishing point on the horizon, where all black music disappears to. The rhythm, that heartbeat which entwines itself around your own, pulsing with it. Taking it to another dimension.

HC: The style of writing in Junglist is so purely descriptive of life and music… I remember reading it thinking you were really describing what the music felt like as the sound hit you, it’s almost not talking about music at that point. 

AG: That’s something we… ‘set out to do’ is the wrong term because it was all instinctive; we were just trying to tell the story of what it was like to spend a weekend clubbing round London. The thing is, you don’t get many reviewers that say how a song made them feel, they get into the nitty-gritty of how a song was constructed rather than the emotional connection that the music is designed to make in you. And when we wrote the book there was no irony involved, we loved that music and we wanted to show that love for it in the writing…

HC: That’s exactly why I wanted to get in touch with you, because of how earnest the writing is about your feelings when you’re out and about, you and your mates, without any kind of barrier, you’re not trying to come off like cool guys or anything; it really struck me anyway…

AG: When we wrote it, it was just a chance to write about the scene we loved and we hoped other people would understand, without really knowing if anyone actually would… Once you write something and put it out there it doesn’t belong to you anymore, it belongs to the people that read it and the people that connect with it. We just threw this rock into a pond and it rippled out and touched who it touched; we just thought ‘yay, we wrote a book’. The fact it has been reissued twenty-seven years later just makes it all worthwhile because it’s had a legacy, the fact of that time we were living in still being relevant to young people today is gratifying. 

HC: I think that’s what I was getting at earlier, about this attitude of Jungle rather than necessarily the music itself… the attitude of it is what carries on and continues into the present. The magnetism it contains, the drive for inclusivity, that remains…

AG: That attitude – and obviously being in London at the time and seeing it grow – I view as a London attitude, a London sense of being, that way of holding yourself, it felt instinctive because I felt it was expressing who I was. These songs were a musical version of how I wanted to be. It felt like a time where you could say ‘I love this’.
 

-You say you want someone to love you, you say you want someone, but Craig are you ready? 
His reply was sincere. I ain't been nowhere since I had you. 

She didn't believe that one phrase could wash away nights that had brought with them pain. Yet in one incident, the world had turned. The radio sits at the other end of the room, Craig puts it on, turns the volume down. She wants to hear Leroy Hutson, he wants to hear 105.3 FM. He decides on 105.3 FM and that's final. The MC shout “do you like it?” And replies “we love it!” A deep underwater rhythm begins to pound, this is where life begins and where life ends.

looking 4 the future junglist_edited.png

HC: Well I don’t want to keep you too much longer, so I’d like to end on asking what you’re listening to now?

 

AG: You’d be surprised at what I listen to now. I don’t really like using Spotify, just because I’m old school in the sense that I just want to own the music I listen to and I want access to it outside of a monthly subscription. That being said I like aspects of Spotify like being able to share playlists; I follow this German Funk/Soul group ‘Jazzanova’ who have a weekly playlist which I often go through. I’ve found that I’m just listening to Jazz now, some Brazilian stuff, some Deep House and Garage-y stuff. I recently found this track Love Sensation [Love Dimension – Alex Attias and Peven Everett] and I was thinking – firstly – why don’t I own more Peven Everett? He’s a fucking genius, the flow of his singing and his enunciation is just amazing. Then – secondly – I was thinking I should just be listening to more stuff like this… I am into the Jazzier stuff nowadays, anything Jazzy with beats I am kind of up for, anything that moves me. When I was growing up the pop music was all The Smiths and whatshisface – Morrissey – a bit depressive, all that ‘woe is me’ stuff… that’s never really been me; I want songs that make me want to dance, that make me feel energised, and so those are the songs I gravitate to. One of the most recent things I’ve bought from Bandcamp is an album by Makaya McCraven called Universal Beings, they’re a Chicago Jazz musician and producer, and they record bands playing live and then edit the recordings into different forms. 

 

***

Junglist’s final chapter is a glossary of slang and patois, an A-Z through the language of the subterranean ruffneck, the coded langue of the underground. The Junglist weekender is ended on a gabbled list of the words that separate the characters from the rest of the world, the language that defies the world around them, that limits their expression to a mere two-days. Junglist’s sonic ecologies are a tool for expanding the world that promotes this kind of joyous spatial reconfiguration, and therefore is always at odds with the imperial function of the metropole. Andrew said this music “felt like a future everyone could partake in…”, and that is perhaps what I want to end on. How can we re-achieve a similar level of inclusive future-building via the sonic, spatial, and musical? 

 

I want to thank Andrew for agreeing to chat to me and for putting up with my babbling interview style, check out more of Andrew’s work here: https://blackfootpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Junglist is available from Repeater Books

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The Sunken Liner

a short story by Tom Connell Wilson

 

Editor’s Note: Phwoar… from the ridiculous to the sublime, we follow last week’s sordid scribbles from @james._.ess with some short-form fiction from the immensely talented Tom Connell Wilson (@tmwilsn): an artefact from time gone by draws a fragmented, never-finished portrait of a man whose descent into spectrality mirrors that of the city that consumed him; its ever-changing shape sees time collapse in on itself as a Conradian journey up the river reveals horror and ecstasy in equal measure… simply bliss.
 

 

“From here, I will depart this melodious land, over the still horizon…” 

 

This entry, in all its fogged glory, was the first in reams of writings, writings jotted with great eagerness by W., whose character now began to appear from the lined pages pressed by soft leather, littered too with scattered documents and photographs of which most had undergone some sort of rupture in which a liquid, most likely water, had first blackened the wording of these documents and then dried so far as to bond the pigment to paper forever. In fact, much of what was written in the spring months of 1992 lays entangled by way of blotches and smudges, coiled between traces of mingled sentences and legibility itself, reclining into obscurity like an absent memory submerged within a knot of transient thought. What remains of this wreckage clings to the page with ache, and so W. emerged as literary fragments, fragments of surviving dates, times and accounts to match. 

 

Of what was legible, W.’s pocket diary, which stumbled upon me incidentally during days of spring cleaning, contained entries differing greatly in detail. For some days, words gathered in triplets; times and sights were penned without any resemblance to those that came immediately before or after. In others, entries are lengthy and pensive, often surprisingly descriptive, which welcomed a decoding of W. 

 

Of the photographs that sneaked between these writings, a slightly faded scan peered out. The scan revealed a bespectacled man, a man that did not, or could not attempt to conceal his uncanny sagacity and so his astute half smile (as if he were pleased that I had encountered him) conveyed a singular knowingness that was quite overwhelming, even with pixelated eyes. In all the image’s poor quality and intense greyness, his high forehead and white hair could not be separated from the brickwork behind him; signalling his now spectral status. Almost floating between pages, the scan seemed connected to another loose sheet of paper that belonged, like W.’s handwriting, to a different era. 

 

July 25th 1925 was the date that preceded the following sentence, ‘I Louis Quartets, being in sound mind declare this to be my last will and testament’. It could only be so that I had been looking into the eyes of Louis Quartets and although I could not resist freely speculating his relationship to W., Mr. Quartets became an introductory wisp of W.’s existence; a particular chaos of memories that refused to be buried deep within the past. 

 

Searching for written evidence for some link that would bind W. and Mr. Quartets together, I found nothing, stopping in frustration at an entry from April 27th that was particularly languid, without nearing completion, yet became significant to W.’s later entries. Raindrops, W. writes, that knocked furiously upon my nearest window, in doing so, patterned what was an artificial haze with pinheads of distorted light. But the strands of this shimmering light do not fully obfuscate what appear to be high rises that spring from Southmere Lake…for here, as I look onto the beckoning land, I have now reached the waters that bond the North and South of the city. W., in the next few pages, jots down fragments of memories that circle Thamesmead and what can be seen from 1992, notwithstanding that which can be seen now, describes land that has caved in on itself. It is as if, W. writes, as the places tied to my own life, places that now exist as dust and rubble, through a speculative reaction of molecular separation that I could not account for, inherit memories of others that displace those that belong to me, and in this reaction, my particular memories evaporate, becoming part of the grey sky, floating over the Thames towards where I now sit, by the window of this liner. I suppose, when crossing sheets of clouds, these memories diffuse into whatever else travels above London waters and so do not fully resemble those which arise from dust and rubble in the first instance but still hit me with such enthusiasm that exhausts the great anxieties I have held upon my return. 

 

After this entry, days are broken up into hours, each day being recorded in some form. This morning I see Barking Creek Barrier, W. reported on the 28th April at what was, in their own words, around 6.a.m. It feels as if the waters under me are pulling me away from London - I estimate that we have travelled no more than a mile since yesterday evening. Perhaps the ghosts of Victorian fishing fleets, that occupied these spaces promptly at sunrise, intercept me in this vessel, controlling still the undercurrents that lay beneath. Perhaps too my sense of time has left me momentarily as pondering now I struggle to recall from which coastal point I began this journey. As I thumb through my previous entries I have either refused to specify locations and places or they refuse to become distinguishable, drifting away from the page in some sort of calling. Everything from the point of travelling under the Queen Elizabeth bridge feels as if it has been displaced - even this sighting I am doubtful of, as my recollection of this reminds me of reading about its opening in a newspaper last year. I still go back and forth and as I struggle to find my own traces from the past I cannot draw my thoughts away from the rotating drone of hull plating meeting the liquid city. What I am experiencing now is… 

 

I now return from the past with an acceptance that my destination is nearby. 

 

 

3.p.m. - We continue to move at such a speed it is almost as if, within the binds of my window, I am not watching the Royal Docks pass me by in real time, but what I see is a developed film that has been slowed down so much so that I experience it with great nausea. 

 

6.p.m. - I must have been asleep, or at least not fully awake… 

 

These next pages, like half completed drawings, yearn not for their full completion but for identifiable reason or context for the partial, as, in this instance, I cannot help but think these passages are not much more than the proof of W.’s wondering state. But there is something of worry still that pinches me when these sentences are left untethered, as even though they belong to an identifiable past, they do not follow W.’s own temporality and so drift from the mist as debris of thought - fractions of corrupted signal, flickering noise in yawning transience. 

 

30th April, notes W., I could not bare to write anything yesterday… I sense my surroundings flowing into the unrecognisable. 

 

W.’s memory seemed, from this point, to experience great ricochets summoned by the river’s broken fabric, split by what bonds the city to the blanket of water that surrounds it, and so, the accounts of W. descend into intense remnants of writings that, above anything else, seem furious in their desire to be put down on paper. 

 

We reach the Thames Barrier. 

 

I can see it with my own eyes, I try to reach it…to grab it. 

 

Suddenly I become conscious of my surroundings. 

 

We move up above, I have been ejected from the waters. 

 

I feel above the highest points of so much of the city. 

 

There is no noise now. I have blocked off all the noise. 

 

We travel through the skies. 

 

I become weightless. 

 

I become a passenger in all meanings. 

 

I am travelling from each side of the liner constantly to see everything. 

 

We are travelling at unimaginable, impossible speeds! 

 

 

No ink is seen in the remaining pages, only trails of where a pen has tried to be used, among the rest of illegible jottings. In my own mind, I can make out a trace, a vestige of sorts, left by the sheer power that I suppose W. exerted on the paper in trying to write onto the page several times. When I follow along the engraving, as I have done several times, the figures ‘A205’ are revealed. 

 

I have since tried to make sense of what remains from the account of the 30th April and cannot resist in subscribing to W’s incongruous burst, legitimising in a most unexpected manner thoughts I have recently held about Laurence House, a structure that looms under a heap of moss like no other and, with all its eternal whisperings, seems to sprout from an edifice that refuses to drown yet in its salience still finds a way to retreat somewhat into the curtains of day. 

 

When I now walk past the feet of this liner, which tuck themselves under the south circular, what becomes clear is that the flowery band that sags over Laurence House binds me to the earth. Even now, as I look through the cloudy windows on the ground floor, figures shuffle along, their movements disrupted by the outer structure of the liner; a fluid chronophotography. Sometimes these figures withdraw reclaimed books from their stem as they shimmer with dust and in failing to place them under their armpit guide them back into another row, as if collecting stones from the shore just to then cast them further into the waters that dance close to the horizon.

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I Smell A Rat

by @james._.ess

 

Editor’s note: An email drops into my inbox; it’s @james._.ess: ‘hello fellow drainer. here’s some fiction. kill me now.’ Usually the happy-cum-lucky type, walking/talking definition of a shortking, something is clearly awry, what’s on his mind? I open the doc and all becomes clear: a six-thousand-word vivisection of capital’s least-loved mascot: the rat. From the vast expanses of the Nevada dessert, to London’s locomotive innards, and all the way back to New Jersey’s best-stocked kitchen, the scope of this piece is as sprawling as the creatures it describes. Dripping with pathogens, scatology, and – worst of all – the stinking scraps of suburbia, you’ll never look at Tom & Jerry in the same way again… see you in the sewers.   

 

1. 
a rodent that resembles a large mouse, typically having a pointed snout and a long tail. Some kinds have become cosmopolitan and are sometimes responsible for transmitting diseases.

 

The insane strata of Westminster Tube Station feels like an attempt to replicate a portion of the Death Star, or at least its 1977 movie set. Commuting between the giant staves, looking up at the beams and cylinders of frosted metal, an empty mood proliferates the walls no matter how populated the space actually is. Misty surfaces reflecting ghostly silhouettes: everything is either machine textured or textured by machines. The beams - bolted in tension - seem hardly enough to support the soil beyond the arcs above, yet denote some kind of functionality, dwarfing the human by presenting it within some brute mechanism, as if we’re all passing through some colossal flintlock weapon, cocked and releasing at any moment. The tunnels below are surprising respite from this architectural intimidation, permitting intermittent gusts of warm, stale air through the passages. This air - pushed and pulled by oncoming rail traffic - erupts like water from a geyser, occupying the shape and volume of the next station it inhabits. Escalators function similarly, carrying bodies from transit to more transit via stationary transit, or to their destination at street level via a coffee vendor.

 

***

An aside:
Trains are production time catalysts: demanding our digital mind-spans while we wait, and commanding our productive attentions for the very fact that they sandwich the working day between two temporal units (of travel), functioning as the most physical version of a binary machine switch possible. A productivity machine machine. Whenever the image of ‘tube’ or ‘tunnel’ springs to mind, many imagine a cylindrical hole which stretches for miles in pitch dark. This is a ruse, and in truth, people should consider inner-city train networks to be more like a split lane motorway, where vehicles and bodies are displaced and distributed in opposite directions AT THE SAME TIME. In the visual imaginary, tunnels should appear less as single, wire-like structures, and instead tend more towards the dual barrels of a conventional shotgun. The lost coordinates of what we imagine tunnels to be must be reclaimed firstly by learning that they are split in two, like a record’s A and B sides, or a brain’s two hemispheres.


***

Geysers of people springing up across the city through a rat warren of interlocking tunnels. Like rats, tunnels run in tandem beneath the city, travelling in packs, clustering, and becoming tangled at an epicenter. Rats, too, ferry passengers back and forth. In proportion to the scale of a human standing in a train carriage, these approximately manifest on rats’ terms in the form of fleas (famously), viruses (again, famously) and rat lungworm, the larvae of which are transmitted via fecal parasites. Angiostrongylus Cantonensis is found exclusively in rodents, being transmitted between them regardless of species. Similarly, rats carry their own brand of gastrointestinal parasites, which - again when equated to the human scale - act as microscopic tapeworms, parasitically digesting in order to grow and breed. Recent scatological studies have revealed that these Halminths are also transmitted fecally, emerging instead from egg clusters which lie dormant in deceased rats’ shit, coming unlive in order to devour the next intestinal tract they find themselves inside of. In such instances, the rat - embarking on its daily jaunt beneath the gas pipes in a cavernous tunnel - keels over suddenly, shrieking in pain and shitting blood in an attempt to expel its passenger, Alien (1979) style. Again, imagining the scale of a human-in-train vs. a parasite-in-rodent scenario, the latter comes out on top in terms of contagion statistics. Conversely, the final parasite which occupies the space between a rat’s lungs and its anus is the single-celled Protozoa, a fungus which rapidly multiplies itself once inside the next rat’s digestive tract. Although these parasites are too weak to harm humans, they are capable of rupturing and perforating the skin of their rodent hosts, leaving weals which occasionally resemble the track marks of human drug abusers who inject. 

Rats have historically represented the harbingers of widespread catastrophe, ferrying fleas - the blood of which carried trace evidence of the bubonic plague - by secretly occupying the bellies of trading galleons from Asia in the 1300s. The inaccuracy of nautical chartering at the time meant that these vessels often ended up in the wrong countries or even continents, which led to the plague gaining a foothold in Southern England (although recent studies have resulted in the idea that the original pathogen may have lain dormant in parts of Europe as early as 3000 B.C). Through generations of pack inbreeding, this virus has mutated, becoming distilled into a pulmonary syndrome known as Hantavirus, which travels through the blood, eventually collapsing the human lung infrastructure. Again, distributed fecally, the chances of contracting this disease are mercifully five times less likely than being struck by lightning, and half as likely as being eaten by a shark - a statistic which has become minimized since the trade routes of the Old World have long since been accurately chartered by satellite imaging technology, and there are now vessels which can steer these passages remotely (a trading-galleon Captain could now quite literally ‘do’ these routes with his eyes shut and one arm tied behind his back).

Within these ships, rats become both transporters and transported. A contemporary rendition of this stowaway scenario is the hiding of rats’ nests within the cavities of (especially wooden) walls, transmuting their base status by presenting themselves somewhere within the ecology of the domestic scenario. They are able to dislodge and chew granular substances into a fine pulp, which is combined with sticks and other manageable objects in order to create canopies which can permanently house up to twenty inhabitants. The occupation of the pre-existing space between wall-studwork-studwork-wall, or brickwork-lintel-lintel-brickwork is a smart choice, because its dimensions often ensure that it is a space that can be maneuvered and traversed with ease. This occupation also impinges upon ratkind’s broad status as a nomadic city dweller, having moved from land to ship to land again, and later from sewer to domestic space (or rather the space quite literally existing emptily BETWEEN domestic settings). It is in this way that ratkind simultaneously defies preconceived notions of its own status by redefining ideas around the micro-occupation of macro-space. Traversal is also especially important when considering that rats, like magpies, are collectors of things: silverware, decorative Christmas cracker bells, guitar picks, pin badges, memories, flakes of skin and other dead creatures, embalming them in their cud and enshrining them within piling mausoleums, commonly known as a ‘Rat Mountains’. (These arrangements are often found in sewer networks and storm drains too, although the objects involved in these collections tend - as the obfuscating nature of drainage systems would suggest - to consist of more abrasive materials: nude magazine fragments, syringe tips, rotten leaves, wet wipes and human shit).


***

Another aside:
On this level, rats share an artistic tendency which is considered essentially human: undertaking the construction of assemblages through the repurposing or assisting of readymade objects. This idea harkens to a natural truth: that the production of an artwork is ecologically inherent in certain species - and further - that artwork necessarily starts with the collection of (not necessarily physical, perhaps memorial) facets that are combined and eventually knotted into a single end, which is then presented (or not presented) - its function laid bare (or not, until it is deciphered).

 

***

This nesting style is almost totally unnoticeable too, bar its few but distinctive sonic properties: the high-frequencies of rodent communication, and the shrill squeal of the maid in the kitchen on a chair with the broom, as she sees one scurry past early one morning. (Imagine the Cat and Mouse scenario of Tom and Jerry: According to several fan-websites, the duo are close friends - a fact which is forgotten ad infinitum by Jerry because of his short, rodential memory span. This idea would make sense in terms of several episodes in which both parties combine their resources and knowledge to defeat a common evil: dogs, other predators, cartoons from other universes or production companies, humans, etc. Supposedly, the reason Tom so avidly chases Jerry (and rarely actually catches him) is because he has been instructed to do so by his owner: Tom is the lethal means. If he dysfunctions, then Jerry’s life is prolonged. Tom plays the role of a sort of inverted life-support machine to the mouse, mediating Jerry’s duration via a trivial act which he must continuously commit to in order to maintain his cover as deliberate saboteur. The mouse is unknowing of this fact, and still fights for his life with lethal force. It is a modern tragedy of sorts, in which the episodic formation of the series is vital when talking about Jerry’s memory. As with many children’s cartoons, there is no continuity, no story - merely the links the viewer makes between episodes in their heads - an internal memorial device which is supplemented by similar overarching values, show to show. It is as if Jerry suffers from some kind of (theoretically pure, anterograde) amnesia, where he cannot fabricate new memories beyond the point in his life where he believed Tom to be his nemesis, and continually forgets about their renewed friendship, somewhen during the off-screen lassitude between installments). This, and the invisible tensions between the collected objects, curatorially vibrating along the common frequencies retained within each object’s history, and the memories etched upon their surfaces. Broadly: things inscribed within their presence AS OBJECTS, ruminating besides OTHER OBJECTS. And lastly, the subsonics of the nest blocking, resting on or dislodging a member of the house’s internal mechanisms (pipes, circuitry, structural support, etc.), leading to sleepless Winter nights thanks to the cold, which started with the noise of them there, somewhere, gnawing through the fucking tenons holding up the dining room floor… before it all fell through and got really, really cold, and nobody could understand why this had happened here, to us of all people.

The true horror of this nesting method emerges when the operation of the cud backfires, the mechanism trapping the rats along with debris, gum, sap, plaster, ice, hair, urine, dirt, blood and shit, forming a hardened, resin-like substance - rather than merely maintaining the nest’s intensely-labored structure. Although an uncommon occurrence, there have been reports of ‘Rat Kings’ throughout history: a phenomenon where the tails of two or more rodents become ensnared, knotted or stuck together, leading to a symbiotic existence wherein they hunt, gather, feed, sleep and breed in the same group with that which their tails are interlocked. Often found in the Winter months, when materials become hard, brittle and generally less forgiving, a trio of rats encased in the wall of an Estonian barn wake to realize that last night’s discharge has frozen behind them, actualizing the nightmare witnessed in their collective Winter dreams: the joint encasement of their tails. Struggling to escape each other in the frosty daylight, they begin to trample towards the outside, pictured between the barn’s weather-eaten slats. Their random movements of over, under, through and round lead to bastard sailor’s knots being cast by their tails, tightening alongside their struggle. Their tails emerge so intertwined that they can’t even glance over their own shoulder without spotting a sibling which they’re now permanently attached to. (This is much like the classic idea of having an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other as a subconscious rudder for steering thought, except in this case they’re not subconscious entities: they’re all real-life devils which can never leave each other’s side(s). Animal knots are bad omens - particularly in the Biblical senses of the onset of plague, pestilence, etc. 

 

***

Another aside:
‘Etc.’ here can be reframed in terms of conquest, war, famine and death, and each of these framed in relation to rats commonly carrying diseases, where: 

Conquest = The double-edged incursion of rats via the invasion of our homes and our encroachment of their spheres. Just as the parasites cling to their underbelly, they now depend on our development of public space and our greedy excess for survival.

War = The weaponization of natural ingredients into manmade poisons to control the spread of disease carried by the rodents, including but not exclusive to execution (commonly within baited traps which quickly transform into poisonous death chambers, or environments where the rat starves to death if forgotten about) and chemical (chemically induced) castration.

Famine = We put the bread away at night now.

and Death = The harboring of the diseases themselves, and the diseases’ ability to spread through the rats’ internal networks as they themselves spread through human social and architectural networks.

 

***

In many ways, this omen also plagues the Rat King itself. It is now three times as loud, and so remaining hidden is virtually impossible. Hygienically too, members now defecate proximately, and since they cannot hunt, their starvation causes coprophagia, which simply accelerates the induction of intestinal parasites into their own bodies. Furthermore, when one member bites it in a trap, the others must drag the necrosing corpse until they themselves too, bite it, or, less likely, they learn to untie knots. This body is never wasted though, as the others will turn to cannibalism for sustenance, which is far easier than dragging it through the pinhole in the larder wall. 

Although there are disputes as to the authenticity behind the existence of Rat Kings - as hobbyists may have manufactured them in order to generate paranoia by foreshadowing the return of the plague - a European museum holds a carbonized group of thirty-two members, having been found in a farmhouse chimney stack. 

***

(X-ray scans of this Rat King denote fragmentation of the cartilage in their scorched tails, suggesting a co-operative survival for an extended period. This is perhaps one of the closest things to a hive-mind operating in nature, akin in some ways to the rat, Remi, in Disney Pixar’s Ratatouille (2007), who controls a young chef by pulling the hair on his head in pursuit - essentially - of good food and wine, and hearty survival.)

 

***

The noise of thirty-two rats squirming, eating, fucking and shitting beneath the framer’s feet leads to a major renovation of the site’s original floorboards, revealing a hand laid mosaic-style floor. As discussed, traversal is key in ratkind’s repertoire of survival. Craftily occupying another space in the wall cavity, the plasterboard and the wooden slats supporting it are permanently dislodged in order to view the gradually accumulating nest by gas-lamp. Moving away from the light, the Rat King inhabits a space in the roof rafters next - a Lovecraftian hive-mind, squirming its way up the home’s innards and lying in wait above the master-bed. Obsessed with thwarting their movements through his home’s hidden passageways, the farmer finally chops the roof supports too, leading to a loud CRASH and a bump on the head, adding to the delirium. The winter daylight recounts shadows cast by black rafters, and before long all that remains of the farmhouse is a vague, penciled outline; a mirage of a former dwelling. How long has he been at it? Is he in fact chasing ghosts that he’s invented? The structure laid-bare, the reality of copper pipework and other INTERNAL MECHANISMS exposed, carpets all soiled and sullied by the elements. 

 

***

(In a similar fashion to the examination of the tail cartilage, X-ray scans of the house-cum-warren reveal a tomography of hidden labor; of ancient nesting spaces, canopies consistent with recently lost objects, the sentimental qualities of which plague their owner’s minds, snapping them out of oneiric day-drifts (tea lights, small Buddha figurines, single earrings, bottle caps, broken glass - each surviving far longer than the man-made non-spaces of the structure); memories that trespass the minds of their owners, shattering collections and disorganizing arrangements: a new and chaotic taxonomy of objects.) 

***

The torment of that SOME-THING, that MANY-FACETED-THING crawling through the house’s secret spots, until reaching its resting place of the brickwork chimney, where it’s accidentally barbecued almost beyond recognition. The specter of LEGION - both one and many - leaving its ectoplasmic imprint forever on the surrounding masonry, the smell of charred fur clogging the fractured remains of the farmhouse. The rot of these animals sinking - decomposing bodies falling from perches, between cracks in the floorboards and the non-space which supports the next layer of gravel above this one - above this concrete - above this topsoil - above this clay - above this rock - above this crude oil offshoot, leading to a cavern some miles away. Ghosts drifting through encrusted pipelines. Creeping as lubricant for the cybercapital whirlpool, since the dawn of the combustion engine. This ghost army will one day rise into the air, slow-cooked and carbonized over a thousand years.

The term ‘home invasion’ only seems appropriate when extrapolated from it’s contemporary, visual-imaginary counterpart of armored SWAT team members blowing doors off their hinges somewhere in a poor city neighborhood, while a secondary support team hiding on the roof parasails in through the windows. Conversely, rat infestations are far more subtle, impinging instead upon stealth, obfuscation, and no mistakes in the departments of sonics, the building’s structural integrity and structural discrepancies caused by the rodents to the essence of the property itself.
 

 

noun: rat; plural noun: rats

3.

INFORMAL•NORTH AMERICAN

a person who is associated with or frequents a specified place.

"LA mall rats"



 

Thousands digging parallel trenches, somewhere in the Nevada desert. The foundations of a city lie vacuum-sealed in pyramidical formations, while hulking machines ferry craters of dust towards the horizon. As the sun rises over a forthcoming culture of strip malls, cheap food and endless countercultural echoes, cement, water and aggregate are mixed together in parts 3-1-2.

 

I-beams - stacked in units of thirty-two - arrive from the other side of the globe, appearing overnight. Blindingly reflective, glass sheets are dragged from beneath flapping dust cloths on the backs of mottled convoy vehicles. Casino signs are Chinooked in by the military, crowning each compound before the carpets have even arrived from China, so that everybody can come to terms with the cultural ossuaries that will remain here, and start to accept the fun that they’ll all have among their pre-mortified innards.

 

***

 

Arid, hazy desert time: there’s no telling how long we’ve been digging for. To the West lie America’s famous sites of entropy and psychedelia: Zabriskie Point, complete with philosophical day-trippers, psychedelic bands playing along the dotted horizon line, and others on simple, unintentional drifts - journeying through rather than to, in flashy muscle cars named after even more muscular animals - finding the only thing comparable to the sheer horizontality of the landscape to be time passing itself; exceeding itself through entropic neutrality, scored by explosions of guitar and the same wail echoing indefinitely across the flatlands. People stray from a tour-bus covered in Day-Glo paint a few feet, taking photos of the horizon and utter nothingness. A geology older than air: stalegtital pronunciations jut at impossible angles along a dry lakebed’s piebowl crust, mimicking the peaks that form the outline of the city behind us: mirroring the skeletal fractures skylining against the same blue expanse. There is little shadow to speak of, making it hard to tell the time. The local temporal drift plods lazy and thick. You begin to come to terms with the age of the place by counting the rings of erosion on the towering rockpiles, as with trees - except this time you multiply their number by infinity to the power of however long we’ve been digging for.

 

***

 

The carpets arrive, and men in teams of two unfurl them down impossibly long corridors bisected by mirrored suites, themselves hiding ceramic kitchenettes harmoniously framed by floor-to-ceiling, double-glazed windows. These penthouse screens present a time-lapse: gradually materializing panoramas of grey living blocs outside, stood in the gridded formation of American streets and stretching into the distance, themselves visibly saturated by material goods and luxuriously textured objects in their own windows: lurid fruit bowls, pre-set tables, electric juicers, fridge-freezers, flat screen televisions, surround-sound systems on minimal metal frames, faux plants, walk-in showers, pre-fabricated Scandinavian furniture and grand pianos hoisted up the thirty-something floors via the elevator shaft. These postmodern renditions of living quarters start to silently overshadow the sun, while vast layers of virtualized strata supporting crystalline Helicopter pads in the heavens emerge from the imaginary. The rich above, while smaller quarters sit untouched (untouchable) below: exclusive housing for shells of former objects. Relaxation lounges for the executives, smoking rooms, private pools, billiard tables, tiled balconies, meteorite fragments on display and vast penthouse suites: the works. At their saturation, these spaces are nullified into stage-sets beyond the cinematic frame of the windowsill, while the desert floor outside becomes punctured by acres of scaffolding set in cubic football pitches of concrete. Physical palimpsests; reliquaries devoid of meaning: apartments pose as horrifyingly still life-sets mimicking film-sets.

 

Their vacant expressions interrupt us,

switching the assisted Steadicam functionality of capital’s dreamwork to OFF;

an interrupt to the dull seance of cybernetic consumer bliss

through the making-overt of corporate infrastructure’s co-option of the human desire program

[or, the hijacking of the human mainframe and the consequent short-circuiting of our perceptual relationship between ugly pig iron (material) and beautiful windowsill vase (product).]

History repeating itself through a precise dementia,

stuttering to interrupt its own body once more:

hysterical dress-rehearsals fall into cycles of indefinite degradation in cyberspace -

arms flail in the calculated surf

as all becomes subsumed by the waves of online capital.

[.obj’s recalling the wreckage of a CG ship bob in the Piratebay. Wooden shrapnel rear ended; cuddled downwards by a kraken’s tendrils.]

When the tide withdraws, the beach is laid bare once more,

complete with the same empty shells, pebbles, and seaweed:

the same signifiers, only rearranged into enticing new shapes and volumes.

 

The trenches - as tentacular infiltrations into what will soon be condemned ‘suburbia’ - now skirt the perimeter of the city-cum-pyramid, where the scale and value of the living-units crescendo among the hubbub of the metropolitan lunchtime rush. Digits emerge perpendicular to the main thrust of the excavation, filtering beneath the pencil outlines of housing projects sitting in silent anticipation, or cul-de-sacs sitting in pre-destitution. The monolithic epicenter is already a young and increasingly accessible Vampire, thanks to an interlocking formation of tunnels and above-ground monorails, which swathe widely, coalescing across the enclave. Aboard, you can already smell the traffic smog and the street food below. An olfactory tour of urbanization in a glass bottomed carriage; the streets retaining all the allure of a torn-down perfume advert, soiled and sullied and set to drift along sidewalks as a contemporary stand-in for a tumbleweed. These twisting metal rails contrast the hand dug lines, the man-made marks, and the unspoken importance of their future as storm drains in the arid desert; their potential to be a future haven beneath the soon-to-be streets.

 

Oranges sit, piled in the metal canopies of juicers, ready for the first commuters into the city. Somewhere else, a solar farm twice as large as the city durges its unending end-note.

Four hundred miles North, a dam starts to burst after a rubber LED seal in one of the display units allows a small amount of break-time coffee to filter between itself.

The ancient homestead which occupies the highway some miles back quickly undergoes a drastic neotokyoization, while holographic replicas of Easy Riders arrive from out of town, cruising the still-steaming tarmac.

A thick soot spores from cartoonish balloons in a parade led by the local constabulary, steeped in riot-gear and carrying black-market Kalashnikovs, marking the official completion of the city.

Children sing in unison, their futures already accomplished.

Blizzard-white lattices unfolding in the synaptic recesses of increasingly mechanized minds — as the bulbs of solar-powered street lamps flare behind the eyelids — as the smell of scored carbon proliferates the nostrils.

This is the formation of a big multinational from the ground up. A mirage unfolding, shimmering in the stillness: postmodernized; neotokyoized, Meccanized; blindingly formal.

And a newspaper from the next decade reads that there are now hundreds of people living full-time in Las Vegas storm drains.

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2.

DEROGATORY•INFORMAL

a despicable person, especially a man who has been deceitful or disloyal.

"her rat of a husband cheated on her"

 

an informer.

"he became the most famous rat in mob history"



 

ACT 1.

 

[A kitchen somewhere in New Jersey. It is the kitchen of a wealthy family; 1990s chic set in the corner of a large, open-plan living expanse, and everything has its place. This area is divided, punctuated by a series of structural pillars which run through the space, supporting cream archways and leading to a lower living area furnished with cream leather sofas and coffee tables. The tone is generic, but denotes a vast wealth accrued, lost and gained again cyclically, over a period of many years. The majority of the kitchen surfaces are made out of American White-Oak, except the counter tops which are made out of a non-scratch, marbled jesmonite set within wooden boarders. Pearl-white tiles line the wall by the sink, and the ceiling is geometrically vaulted, which makes the space more airy and bright. The floor is also comprised of tiles, but these are of an off-white, almost yellowish pallor. Scratch that: the floor is made of smooth wooden laminate strips. And there are no tiles by the sink; merely a continuation of the jesmonite counter top which wraps vertically up the wall until the windowsill above the sink stops it from travelling any further.

 

Reading from screen left to right, a wardrobe-like unit houses a two-storey electronic oven in its belly, with two symmetrical cupboard doors above it, which sits either completely empty or filled with dishes and boxed appliances which are rarely used. The doors are perched at just over head-height, inlaid with the routed shapes of professional joinery. Above this, a small vent (which must be kept permanently switched to open for legal reasons) is installed. There are two cream hand-towels hanging - again, symmetrically - from the handle of the upper-most oven. There is nothing but a thin drawer a skirting-board’s height from the ground beneath the appliance, as the wooden shell must house and conceal the oven’s workings.

 

To its immediate right sits an alcove - the start of the counter-top running the perimeter of the kitchen. Upon this sits a small, white microwave. This section runs the width of three large, rectangular cupboards, both above and below the counter-top, which house two shelves each (twelve total) and eventually meet the unit which demarks the corner of the kitchen and the end of the kitchen’s shortest wall. Three-drawers-wide make up the space between lower cupboard and the underside of the kitchen surface. These cupboards either house nothing, or a selection of more commonly used plates or appliances. The drawers hold cutlery. All that is seen is lit by circular lighting fixtures in the angular cream ceilings which snugly skirt the cabinets, dictating the mathematical threshold at which the counter-top ends and the space between itself and a large kitchen island begins.

 

In the corner, the worktop houses a large, wooden bread-bin with a fold-up top, sitting at a forty-five degree angle. To its immediate left - on the boarder of the previous section - sits an electronic juicer. Above both hangs a version of the other cupboards - this time with a glass face divided into six smaller windows - in keeping with the router’s pattern. This visibly houses a selection of tumblers, wine glasses and crystal champagne flutes, reserved for special occasions. The door of this cabinet runs parallel to the flow that foot-traffic is herded in, through the surrounding room, and bridges the awkward gap from one wall to another, where two of the original large, rectangular cupboards extend ninety degrees perpendicular to the right of the first wall, and along the corner kitchen’s main wall, which is bisected by sunken window above a central, ceramic sink. Joining the underside of these two cupboards, and slightly more towards the side of the furthest one hangs a horizontal kitchen-roll dispenser, which sits just in front of three or four cookbooks, and, further right, what can only be a toasted sandwich maker and a more intensive food processer, the edge of which aligns seamlessly with the cupboard’s side, located above. These objects are of course sitting atop the same worksurface, but this time travelling ninety degrees right to its original direction.

 

The aforementioned double window divides this wall almost in half, with the left side from which we have just travelled appearing to be more heavily saturated with white goods. It runs a vertical line of symmetry from the center-line of the sink’s swivel neck when it’s set perfectly at a ninety degree angle perpendicular to the wall behind it. The windows sit sunken, bordered by a curved frame painted in a glossy white. The beveled inlets of each window house eighteen individual panes, which grants a generous view of a garden dominated by a swimming pool complete with a diving board, and a patio overrun by an excess of white, plastic, injection-molded furniture. The opal shimmer of the water glances off the surrounding furniture. At the head of the pool, to the left of the diving board, is a small, slatted, multi-storey hut - a dwelling for wild ducks. A small ramp runs down from the custom-cut stone ledge which encloses the pool, breaking the water’s surface. This scene is set before a backdrop of a tall, dense forest of dark-green firs. The leisure items in the foreground appear to be covered by a light mist, by virtue of their situation behind a net curtain. Above their frame sits a floral curtain, hoisted and tethered, which is rarely used to block this view of the outside. The cream angles of the skirting just beneath the ceiling have again been dramatically cut to snugly accommodate the folded curtain’s position, while simultaneously housing a circular spotlight in its roof. The sink sits above the traditional double-width cupboard, which, when opened, reveals the vital mechanism of the U-bend, several bottled cleaning products and yellow Marigold rubber gloves. This enclosure is topped by a single, wide drawer which runs its length and is situated directly above. This drawer does not actually function, instead operating to obfuscate the sink’s workings which will not need to be unprofessionally tampered with (unlike the blockable and easily-detachable U-bend). This assembly of cupboards is a defective clone of a set located immediately to the left of itself, below the counter, where the cookbooks and food-processor are still sitting (the defect here is that the drawers do not comprise one long, non-functioning space, but are two separate and functional areas, their edges aligning with the cupboard doors immediately below them. 

 

To the left of the sink sits a selection of hand soaps and unused washing-up utensils. The sink doubles up as a waste disposal unit too, and there are some plates of half-finished meals waiting to be cleaned, complete with trace-evidence of foodstuffs. A small metal area for drip-drying such objects lies to the immediate left of the sink, which is cloistered by some small, glass spice-shakers and a wooden mug tree complete with striped, round-bottomed coffee mugs with striped patterns of deep-reds and whites, and flat-bottomed ones in alternating baby and sea blues. Next to this is a classic American diner style coffee maker, complete with glass coffee jar (and half a jug of cold coffee). Above these objects is the final head-height cupboard, which this time houses bowls, plates, and other objects which are more frequently used. The deep alcove of the window is reduced again here - as before - and houses a circular light just above the center of the cabinet’s routed door. Directly above this and sitting vertically on the wall is a circular vent which leads to the outside, to the swimming pool. The coffee equipment sits on the same green counter-top, although this section is less worn and remains partially hidden from daylight. Below this and to the immediate right of the sink’s double cupboard is a small, empty dishwasher, and further right still sits a final knee-high cupboard which sits below the skinniest drawer yet, complete with a visible wooden knob for access. Each component of this section ends at the same longitudinal point, where a large, black fridge-freezer stands, ending the corner-kitchen with a large wooden cap, again with the timeless routed pattern of postmodern joinery. The fridge is unevenly split: the left hand third is a door which hides the innards of an empty freezer. There is a ceramic magnet holding up a paper on the door’s exterior, below which sits a grey, inbuilt ice-cube and cold-water dispenser. The right hand door (constituting the other two thirds of the unit) protects the transparent shelves of a fridge, which hold Italian pasta dishes on large ovular plates and in glass trays, preserved and concealed by neatly-ripped Aluminum foil. There is also a selection of traditional Italian meats folded up in sheets of baking paper, and several American beers, cartons of milk and fruit juices in the fridge-door. This door’s exterior also frames papered information, but this time there are four or five sheets: calendars, letters and printed notices, each of which are held up by their own uniquely molded magnet. Above - but not in line with the seam between the fridge-freezer’s doors - lies a final set of symmetrical cupboards - above head height - which are slightly larger copies of the ones above the oven on the other wall, beset with the same routed design as all the others. Again, this holds items that are rarely used, such as platters and large bowls for parties and social events. Above the left hand door is another vent - a replica of the rectangular one from before - again permanently switched to open. The wall on which this vent is set continues to travel off screen right, presumably stretching above the dining room’s glass doors which lead outside to the pool.

 

The final component of the kitchen is a large, central Island which can seat up to five people. As such, it’s sides are divided into five equal, rectangular panels - each routed with the same motifs as the rest of the room - which sit below an overhanging lip made of the same material as the rest of the kitchen’s counter-tops. The skirting foundations of the furthest-right panel - which runs parallel to the wall initially discussed - sit in line with the fridge’s end-cap, stretching into the room for an approximate length of an average American man’s double-shoulder-width. This panel’s path is then bisected by the second panel, which sits at a forty-five degree angle - the same orientation as the glass-faced corner cabinet holding the glassware. This, again, stretches the same length, becoming bisected by a set of three panels which run parallel to the kitchen’s longest and most recently discussed wall, which stands ninety degrees perpendicular to the island’s first panel. In front of each of these panels - and slotting neatly beneath the overhanging lip above - stand four round-topped, waist-height, unpainted, conventional wooden stalls. These seat the American family at casual, transient meals such as breakfast. The lipped counter-top visually obfuscates the work surface which sits at the height of the panels. This higher level presents a large, round fruit bowl - devoid of any fruit - at its right-most point. A large, black folder (perhaps containing high school homework or property deeds) then appears to the left of this, alongside a biro laying among its open pages (colored either black or blue). The final object at this level is a small stack of white paper drinks coasters, on the far-left of the surface. Although unclear, there are presumably several cupboards inbuilt within the parameters of the panels which structure the island, which are no doubt made of white American oak, and are no doubt routed with exactly the same pattern as all the others. The difference is that their formation is unknowable at this point, while speculation on their positioning is useless (say, two double knee-high cupboards side-by-side, topped by two wide drawers (or four ordinary ones) and held up by a skirting board). Whatever they may be, they all end at the same longitudinal point, where the lower counter-top holds (from screen right to left) a large ceramic water jug, painted and glazed with a gilded blue pattern spliced with floral motifs; the tips of other pens sitting in a pen pot (again here, the colors are unknown); a metallic, cylindrical pot, containing larger metal cooking instruments which are too big to fit into the drawers, or, are perhaps required frequently (these include but are not limited to a small metal ladle, a large metal ladle, a wooden spoon, a metal whisk, a metal potato masher, a large plastic serving spoon, etc.); an American white oak knife block, holding nine traditional kitchen knives, the black plastic hilts of which are patterned by three structural metal polka dots, inlaid on each side; and finally a pile of ceramic vessels (plates, bowls) which are patterned with larger renditions of the jug’s motifs. I never noticed any plug sockets though.]

 

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Break With Me Recommends

Issue 04: Simon Reynolds recognised @hcurtoys on his blog but we couldn't figure a better way to shoehorn that in

Editor’s note: It seems @denglord had better things to do this month - cultivating his garden, snorting paragraphs, benching 200kg, who knows?* Regardless, it’s me (@frogmanfilth) and @hcurtoys holding down the fort. We’ve made a Siren-sandwich: Anz’s ode to the day-long dance and fiyahdred’s funky expansions form the bread, and Mucho Sueño’s perfect Sunday morning make for a gooey, grimy filling. Bon appetit.

 
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Anz - All Hours

Buy/Listen

by @frogmanfilth

 

Long-time heartthrob of so-called NTS weirdos, Anz, dropped another banger of an EP – All Hours – this month on Ninja Tune. Despite her having exploded into the dance music mainstream during the pandemic – going from playing 200-capacity rooms to 3000-capacity warehouses in the space of a year and garnering a Radio 1 residency along the way – much of the (still limited) press coverage of the EP fails to drill down beyond the project’s (admittedly very cool) 24-hour-party-people concept; description, rather than analysis or opinion, seems to be the order of the day for our lib-sympathising pals over at Pitchfork and the Guardian… Imma do my dead best to go one step beyond… 

 

You can’t beat a concept album, and this one’s a beauty: All Hours is named so because each track represents a different part of a night out. Or rather, the entire twenty-four hours that a night out touches, from the early afternoon anticipation, pre-party rituals, through the night itself, to wasting away the following day in a park, bathing in the lingering bliss of what passed the night before. It begins with a pretty but pensive intro – ‘Decisions’ – before building into pre-party Madonnacore ‘You Could Be’, then onto loved-up garage/Baltimore flick ‘Real Enough to Feel Good’ before things get big, bad, and heavier: ‘Inna Circle’ bridges the gap between what came before (the calm) and what comes after (the storm), it’s an electro/Baltimore mashup that leads perfectly to the peak – ‘Last Before Lights’ – that summons all the frantic energy of the night’s final tune, every partygoer clinging onto the bottled-bliss of the sweaty club basement, before the ‘Quest Select’ outro soundtracks the long walk home, brain flickering, ears ringing, mind spinning. Each track contains a sonic element from the one before, creating a beautifully intertwined and cohesive experience.

As such, this is “dance music for people who are up all hours”, just as Anz and all the pundits proclaim. It’s a soundtrack to the total experience of the night out, to all its echoes and reverberations that last long beyond the closing of the club doors. But is it more than that? Or is that, at least, a little too vague? My hot take would be this: it’s not about dance music for all hours, it’s about joy for all hours; rather than being about how a night out can soundtrack an entire day, it’s about how the so-called ‘night out’ should bleed beyond the boundaries of the night, how the joy it inspires should be an omnipresent, lifelong-lifestyle. What I mean is that one of the most dangerous things about a night out is its discreet categorisation and confinement to the ‘night’, and to the capital-N ‘nightlife’ that has become the scene’s socially-acceptable handle used by hacks, politicians, and your clueless grandparents alike. 

Nightlife does not happen at night because dance music sounds or feels intrinsically better at night; nightlife happens at night because it is the only time and space in which these atmospheres and collectives can function under the present-day regime. The stock market day, the working day, runs (approximately, if only…) from nine til five. Clubs and venues can only function outside of this time so that they do not clash with the oh-so-important capital-industrial-pharmaceutical complex that keeps late-cap ticking along day to day; dance music and the consciousness-raising collective potential of the club are relegated to the night because it suits the established order to treat it as a cash-generating repressed-energy overflow space, rather than letting it blossom into the joyous, utopia-test tube that it could and should be. 

One reviewer claims that the EP “pays jubilant homage to clubbing and club music with so much genuine joy that it’s enough to make you want to do it all over again, no matter the ringing ears and pounding headache.” But here is an implicit misunderstanding: it’s not that you feel ill but joyful and so you want to do it all over again; you feel ill and joyful but you wish that feeling could have lasted forever, that it didn’t begin to fade the moment the club doors swing shut behind you. You wish it could last forever, that every facet of life could feel that good… and remember – it could.

Anz: “Every perfect day starts with a lie-in, no alarms, just sunlight. No one texting, calling, or emailing me. Garage in the evening. A party with me and my friends playing, no pressure on anyone. […] It’s like when I went to uni and first realised I wouldn’t get in trouble if I didn’t go in, and literally watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off instead.”

 

Imagine if this wasn’t about uni, but about work, careers, rent, bills, the lot of it – the perfect day is one built around pleasure, around limitless time to pursue what you want and what you need, not what somebody else wants and tells you that you need. The club is not a vacuum, and neither is the joy it inspires; Anz isn’t just soundtracking a whole day, she’s soundtracking every day, every perfect day that we could, and, I hope, will have. Breakwith.me recommends Anz.
 

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Mucho Sueño - Relacional

Buy/Listen

by @hcurtoys

 

Huffing Olbas….

I am writing to ye from the confines of my hidden bunker feeling slightly worse for wear. After an extended Halloween weekender (Thursday to Sunday 🤣) I fear I may have come down with a slow-moving variant of the common cold, most likely caught on Sunday at the latest instalment of Queer Rave in a dingey concrete-clad basement in Deptford. This being said, the party was a massive success; hearing trax like Dred Bass n Babylon played at 5am literally *underground* surrounded by the spookily dressed was mad. 

But ye, here I am feeling like microwaved shite with a warm can of 1664 (I firmly believe that left over cans from the night b4 are the ultimate cure for a sore throat) and all I crave is the warm curative embrace of lullabyish-cum-sub-rattling melodies; stuff like p-fiskal’s cold and flu rendition of auld lang syne or Hailu Mergia’s pink album - proper organ soundz for daylight hypnosis. Forgive my uncharacteristic desire for some ‘soothing’ electronic music… 

As with all bandcamp trawlermen, when the first Friday of the month comes around the bombardment of emails about new music is the closest any of us will get to scenes of times gone by, where you’d trek to Blackmarket’s or Big Apple to check out the latest releases only to find that everyone you care about is down there doing the exact same thing. Whilst this is essentially a symptom of a lack of funding and the state of decay that the arts have been left in throughout the pandemic, Bandcamp day does succeed in making the quest for new music a communal and social task that positions the listener much closer to the artist than usual.

My recommendation for this month comes from All Centre: Relacional by Mucho Sueño. This release is everything I am after. Hooked after the first 10 seconds. Relacion, the first track, is hypnotic berceuse layered with fizzing, tensioned squelches, and sounds like a taught metal cable flexing under pressure. This is Sunday morning music in the nicest way possible, designed to be loved n’ cherished. There is some drill inflection in there – the hollowed-out vocal o’s and punchy bass – but this track leans heavily into its softness; akin to the short lived ‘Rhythm and Grime’ mutation, Relacional is emotive, enchanting, and melancholy but packaged like drill. We’re allowed a glimpse at the potential for a communal softness, letting down the strictness of contemporary electronic music in favour of something that is just ‘nice’. This is a radical niceness, imploring you to take as much time as you need, do away with any need to rush, take care, as and when. 

Mucho has an undeniable talent for these digital lullabies; melodies that seem to mutate and grow into each note, sounds that put you at ease. Transitar offers us a looping no-tension-allowed moment of introspection. This music encourages imagination and daydreaming without leaning into any gross/kitsch image of relaxation. Relacional isn’t branded as any one of these descriptors and it doesn’t need to be; it radiates these themes so perfectly and it resists all those horrific bouts of faux-softness in electronic music like ambient ‘intellectual jungle’ that pits itself in opposition to the hardcore ragamuffin. These themes aren’t really at odds with each other: Mucho proves that to us with the second track Rendering, a much more percussive clubby track which rises n falls into a heads-down-lights-off workout. It’s heavy rainfall but all bleepy bloopy. Effortlessly groovy but retaining the essential themes of the music, its punchiness pushes the tempo but never loses sight of the light ahead. Stuttering and light on its feet (sounds like me), Relacional is healing soup tinged with the grimey keys and lulling drums that I was after. Breakwith.me recommends Relacional by Mucho Sueño. 

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fiyahdred - Anyway EP

Buy/Listen

by @frogmanfilth

 

Guilty as charged – I’m the first to admit that I didn’t really ‘get’ UK Funky first time round. Peaking in the mid/late 2000s, it was long before my time; after my first encounters with it on Kode9’s Dj-Kicks from 2010, I (very wrongly) pigeonholed it as a weird, wobbly blip in Hyperdub’s otherwise flawless discography. Like many an angsty teenage boy, it was the throttling drums of darkside jungle and the testosterone-dripping dread bass of FWD-style dubstep that first dragged me – kicking, gun-fingering, and wailing – into dance music’s booming bosom. However, fiyahdred (FKA Bamz)’s latest EP – Anyway – has sparked a long overdue reconsideration. 

In my defence, this could be due to funky’s twice-as-bright-but-half-as-long moment in the limelight; its hyper-catchy syncopated drums saw the genre storm onto pirate radio in c.2006 before exploding into the mainstream in 2008 when the Crazy Cousinz remix of ‘Do You Mind’ became summer’s soup de jour. Long before Crazy Cousinz’s bank balance was gold-stamped for life when Drake sampled it on ‘One Dance’, funky had swept the UK charts to such an extent that it birthed tasteless TV parodies and even a piss-poor-pun Sun headline. The point being: by the time I got to it, the shark had been jumped, and Funky was the butt of the establishment’s (inevitably unfunny) jokes; a bias I must’ve subconsciously subsumed. 

But the growing profile of similarly syncopated genres in recent years – gqom, kuduro, amapiano, etc – has seen the darkside take up an increasingly minuscule part of my musical pallet. But why? No doubt it’s partly due to the very welcome diminishment of teenage hormones and low-level rage/railing that comes with them. But I think there’s more to it than that. Here’s a Wigman quote that helped the penny drop: “[Funky nights are] what all the girls want to go to” – don’t jump the gun, I’m not just simping, there’s a second clause – “it’s not a bunch of people standing about with moody faces, its people dancing and having a party”. Simple, yes, but devastatingly effective. 

I can already hear Deluzian Denglord* screaming at me from the other side of cyberspace for what I’m about to say, but I’m gonna drop some Freud on this: it’s an Eros/Thanatos thing. No binary is perfect – and this one certainly isn’t – but I think a good deal of dance music can be divided into these camps by the sound that pervades it and the feelings they inspire. Jungle, dubstep, pounding industrial techno are – like Saturdays – for the boys; bass heavy, dark, moody, aggressive – all good stuff, but very masc, very much Thanatos vibes. Garage, house, disco are fun, femme, sexy and – most importantly – joyous – Eros vibes. 

But as I say, no binary is perfect and all deserve to be collapsed; the rhizome conquers all (sighs of relief from Deng). I now realise that funky – specifically, this fire new fiyahdred EP – marks newly cross-pollinated territory. Rhythmic drums, delightful vocals, sweet-as-anything ‘flutey loops’, and irresistible melodies (see track one: ‘Da Mellowdee’) have all the fun-factor and sex-appeal you could ask for – feminine energy floods the dancefloor. Yet, simultaneously, the whole thing is underwritten by booming basslines, and the 130/135bpm gives it that driving forward momentum and hint of masc-aggression that your usual diet of 160bpm+ satiates ad nauseam. In a brilliantly apposite hook – a UK funky maxim, almost – fiyahdred sums it all up on their final track: “I love when the bassline tumpin’, I love when the rhythm is jumping, I love when the music takes over me”; dance music can only evolve, egoless interdependence can only be achieved, and the new world can only be born at the intersection of styles that fiyahdred’s iteration of UK funky represents. Breakwith.me recommends Fiyahdred. 

 

*note from Deng: frog ur a freak for strawmanning me like this and I'm too dumb to be ascribed a rigid prefix like that...especially one as loaded as that...also u spelled it wrong...my 2 cents would be that I like aesthetics that shatter consensus reality for their utopian poetics but politics needs a narrative that unites these atomised clusters into a meaningful project (isn't that what we've always said to each other 🙄...) also I've always liked Funky stuff

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- Why Puma's new third kits are a stark reminder of the direction football is heading 

by @brandon_kzny

 

Editor’s Note: In our first sporting entry to the breakwith.me column, lifelong fan of the beautiful game @brandon_kzny explores how the disappearance of club crests from match shirts is emblematic of a deeper sickness afflicting professional football; one born out of financialization and despotic ownership models that threaten the game’s heritage, its future, and its soul. 

Over the last half century, corporations have slowly but surely grown more influential in the world of football; effects include the increased concentration of wealth, an explosion of sponsorship deals, burgeoning wages, and an overall shift in focus from club to brand. Something that always remained untarnished however, was the club crest. 

Crests have been modified and updated throughout history; this is nothing new, but there was always a link to what had come before. For example, no matter the era Liverpool F.C. have always featured the same ‘Liver Bird’ on their crest, which dates back to 1892. Arsenal, nicknamed ‘The Gunners’, have donned a cannon since the inception of the club in 1888; you can go on and on and find these examples for practically every club in world football. So, when I was scrolling through twitter and stumbled across a pixelated screenshot of these eight “new” Puma kits that would be worn by various clubs around Europe, I thought it was a joke – or, at least, some kid trying to promote his photoshop skills, as is common on FT (Football Twitter). Unfortunately for me and everyone else, the kits turned out to be real. As you can see, the crest has been replaced by the name of the team e.g. ‘MAN CITY or BORUSSIA’ in extremely boring typeface, whilst underneath the sponsor proudly takes center stage. Some of the clubs have even gone for a wallpaper style embedding of the crest on the shirt, which just reeks of face-saving.
 

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One of the most amusing parts of this whole story is Puma’s justification for the design: the manufacturer said it sought to “deconstruct” the conventions of football shirt design… well, clearly this bold re-envisioning of all that a football shirt can be doesn’t extend to messing with commercial revenue. I’m always nervous when I hear the word “deconstruct”, as it just reminds me of the fad that is “deconstructed food”. If you haven’t heard of this, just imagine ordering a burger and receiving each individual element on its own. You just know that anyone using the word is completely bereft of any creativity or original thought, and simply out to make a quick buck. I’m sure Jacques Derrida, who coined the term (albeit in a different context), is turning in his grave.

For some, this might not seem like such a big deal. Heck, the kit may only be worn two or three times this season (considering it’s the third kit). But it’s the future I’m worried about rather than the present. This isn’t the first instance of clubs turning their back on history and identity for the sake of marketing; let’s take a look at Turin based Juventus FC, one of the most prestigious and famous clubs in world football. From 1905-2017 they heralded eight different crests, each of which had surviving elements (and for good reason). When a player scored a goal and kissed the crest like so many before him, it meant something; they weren’t just kissing a badge or logo, they were kissing heritage. It’s important because this is part of what links generations; if there’s anything football fans are proud of, it’s their clubs’ history. These quotes from club president Andrea Agnelli emphasise the problem: 'We spent a year trying to find out what the new markets want…’, ‘We’ve got to become more mainstream, more pop… we have new targets who are not your classic football fan: millennials, women, and kids. We have to ask ourselves what is the little girl in Shanghai and the millennial in Mexico City thinking?’ The millennial in Mexico? Maron! With any luck, they’ll be too busy supporting Tigres UNAL or maybe C.D. Guadalajara to worry about what a club half way around the world is doing; a club which, in any case, is only interested in the contents of their wallet.

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Because of this, it’s not unreasonable – but rather entirely plausible – to suggest that more clubs and brands will follow in the footsteps of Juventus and Puma. When the landscape of football relies so heavily on increasing revenues it’s no wonder these things are happening. Take the Super League for example: the (so far) failed competition put together by Europe’s “top clubs” in order to derive a more substantial amount of capital from broadcasters and sponsors was conjured up to facilitate the absurd and irresponsible spending undertaken by football clubs or, should I say, football club owners. Barcelona FC have just announced debt of over €1.5b, brought on by extremely poor financial decisions. Their only choices now are to join the Super League or cut back on spending, relieve debt, and ultimately become a worse football team as a result. Clearly, this isn’t of much interest to investors. 

As much as I hate to admit it, the game needs an overhaul. Even though football clubs are brands superficially, they shouldn’t be run like them. For fans, the relationship between them and their club goes much deeper than a customer and a product. If a company fails there will always be another to replace it; the customers experience short term pain at most. We can let Asos and House of Fraser have their fun; if one of them happens to go bankrupt it can only benefit the consumer in the long-run. These brands should be allowed to live and die by their own decisions because, ultimately, the public decides their fate; in football, those at the top hold all the cards because supporters will always follow their team despite bad performances. Take it like this: you’d hardly hear the same parting words from Tyler (regular shopper at Abercrombie & Fitch) and Paul (Derby County supporter of over 50 years) if their respective institutions became insolvent. The next day, one would be sifting through skinny jeans at Hollister or Topman whilst the other – mourning his loss like a close relative – wallows in a state of worthlessness.
 

 
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Nevertheless, we should apply these bottom-up principles to English football. Recently, Tottenham Hotspur released their new third kit, inspired by London’s N17 postcode. The distinctive design was created from a collaboration that saw eight young artists team up with Nike’s design team at local studio, Tottex. Whilst the kit has been joked about by fans across the nation due to its experimental and… bold design, it’s miles better than that dross peddled by Puma; it was made with the best intentions of fans and the community in mind. Small examples like this keep supporters in touch with their local communities and football clubs. 

I don’t claim to know where football is heading but, by all accounts, the poor decision making of football elites could be what stops the game descending into chaos. The Super League received universal backlash and the issues of football finance are discussed daily on big networks. Even the Puma third kits were widely disliked, as well as the new Juventus crest. I’m simply asking us to all look at the bigger picture and, more importantly, not to lose focus on what we believe in. Just because these things haven’t proved a success so far doesn’t mean they won’t in the future, if we allow them to. The reason the Puma third kits troubled me so much is because they came for our crests; despite everything that is happening in football, the crest is the coup de grâce. There’s a reason why they are so aptly placed above the heart: they symbolise everything football is about at its core – a love, a passion. It’s the crest where fans see the true representation of their club; without that, there is nothing.

For this reason, the football authorities should start ramping up their efforts to save football clubs from themselves. This could be done in a multitude of ways such as imposing salary caps, increased FFP (Financial Fair Play) regulations, or possibly a move towards fan ownership like we see in Germany, whose biggest clubs chose not to participate in the so-called Super League – coincidence? German football has always done it’s best to promote bottom-up decision making, something we could all learn from. Due to the Bundesliga’s 50+1 rule, club members – and, by extension, the fans – hold majority share of their own voting rights, rather than outside investors. This decision-making process is a key factor in why German football is so vibrant, with the highest average attendances in world football, low ticket prices, and exceptional fan culture. 'The German spectator traditionally has close ties with his club’, Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said in 2016, 'and if he gets the feeling that he’s no longer regarded as a fan but instead as a customer, we’ll have a problem.’

 

Whilst this is all positive, even the German game is beginning to follow in Europe’s footsteps: a few clubs have found loopholes in the system that allow for added outside investment, such as RB Leipzig (owned by Red Bull) who have ensured that shares are too expensive for most fans to buy. You may also recall Borussia Dortmund being one of the clubs who are wearing Pumas third kits this year. The cracks are beginning to show, and with the increasing pressure for German clubs to compete with the rest of Europe, further commercialisation of the Bundesliga is likely. 
 

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Ballard renders the car – the pinnacle of mid-20thC individual freedom – as a metaphor for his observation that modernity ‘reaches its purest expression on the highway’ because of ‘the speed and violence of our age, its strange love affair with the machine’. Though the automobile’s mystique may seem a little outdated now, the mythology of the car crash is still potent; when someone crashes on the motorway, people still slow down to have a nose at the wreckage, egged on by morbid curiosity. In a time where the cult of personal freedoms (e.g. sex, mobility) have been economised, there are always more things to consume, always more hedonistic pleasures to pursue in selfish effort to overcome this individualised ~death of affect~; the insatiable is replaced with the need to do more, to be more, rather than healing our inability to humanise people, to connect with them emotionally/intimately/sincerely. A much-needed reminder of our multiplicity is lost in the spectacle of burning engines.


Pornography – as a genre, by practice – is a merging of external and internal worlds. Emerging as a commercial product in mid/late modernity, pornography reflects the aftermath of a definitive discovery in Western ‘Enlightenment’ thought: that humans, as Subjects, illustrate reality with the pen of their desire. Therefore, every ounce of perception, experience, thought, and action is tainted with a drive that is one’s own; the blasphemous ‘I think therefore I am’ doesn’t depend on a higher being granting us our personhood7. Instead, humanity emerges as autonomous, in charge of watering our flower-of-being with borrowed ideas from social interactions; how we piece together our subjectivity relies heavily on personal/collective hallucinations of ourselves/our surroundings.

The aesthetic of postmodern subjectivity explored in Crash is realised most potently in the pornographic medium because its characters are wholly instruments of prose; the ’compositional resource’ in which the extremities of human feeling and the boundaries of consciousness can be explored8. They act as figures in dreams that reveal the unconscious anxieties and forgotten thoughts buried in the mindless chatter of globalised living. They occupy a world staged to reveal the mind of the protagonist James, a world with no membrane separating the outside from in. 

 

Why Porn? Crash  and the Liberating Potential of Erotic Fantasy 

by @video1nasty

 

Crash was one of those texts that lit a fire under my vehicle of thought. 

Cronenberg’s adaptation begins with an opening credit sequence that could have been put together on Microsoft PowerPoint, with Howard Shore’s theme in the background harmoniously eliciting the feeling of chrome skin caressed by neon lights, all under the pass of an infinite amalgamation of motorways as automobiles enter the dawn of new modes of desire. A sensual abstraction of sex and death, of Eros and Thanatos. The reflectivity of the chromatic font redirects the gaze back to the modern-day and made me wonder how expressions of desire have manifest in this ultermodern migraine era. 

Narratively, Crash follows film producer James Ballard, and his accidental penetration of the niche subculture that is car crash fetishism1. After being hospitalised as the result of a collision on his way home from work, James is introduced to Vaughan, the film’s Christ-like figure of ragged-flesh prophecy who predicts the union of car (technology) and man. Vaughan enters the film like a fever dream and his presence taints James’ subjectivity – and the movie writ large – with a death drive indistinguishable from libido. The walking embodiment of psycho-sexual-pathology guides James (and us) through the world of motorways, traffic jams, scarred skin, and celebrity obsession; his presence in James's consciousness relaxes the boundaries between internal and external worlds like a schizo Pied Piper.

Vaughan’s heavily scarred skin and yellowish, deathly complexion don’t exactly make him easy on the eyes, but something about his character, his incessant promises of escape from the banal, is enthralling. His infantile fixation on the car crash reveals the spectacle of a modern society that can no longer rely on the ontologies that shaped it; moral and ethical boundaries are drowned by the light of the metropolis of moving vehicles. In a world that offers infinite possibilities at our fingertips, how does one conjure excitement or passion? When every perversity can be satisfied instantaneously, the result is a collective inertia that Ballard coined the ‘death of affect’.

‘Affect’, in this context, is the capacity to be moved emotionally by an event; a verb of experience that alludes to subjectivity and emotionality2. Ballard’s work explores desensitisation due to overstimulation, emotional disconnect perpetuated by technology, and the breaking down of shared cultural and traditional values after the death of god3.  The backdrop of Crash is a postmodern concrete jungle in which screens feed the characters’ insatiable minds on ‘a diet of aircraft disasters and war newsreels’, ensuring their search for pleasure is interknit with images of violence and destruction4. The intimate cast seem alienated from their own lives; their wants indistinguishable from the extreme media imagery that defines the post-Facebook-beheading-videos generation. Ballard’s writing features characters on a purely thanatotic path of desire, hoping for liberation from their grey world of endless roads going nowhere, void of affect5. When there is no feeling, and therefore no real sense of satisfaction, emotional extremity becomes the next frontier. In this case, that frontier is the car crash, about which James remarks: ‘after being bombarded endlessly by road-safety propaganda it was almost a relief to find myself in an actual accident.’ There’s an ecstasy in fully realising your own mortality6.

The backbone of automobile-Jesus’ promise to deliver a future in which sexual pleasure is unconfined by the logic of morality, where it is cracked open to reveal its infinite nature, is not far from what we really want. Vaughan’s obsessive worship of the crash acts as a philosophical vehicle for Nietzsche’s idea that ‘only as an aesthetic phenomenon do existence and the world appear justified’; when there is no belief of God to carry the world, one must find their own aesthetic purpose to fuel their living, the desire to eat, sleep fuck and piss9. Unfortunately for everyone in his vicinity, Vaughan embodies the obsessively destructive machine of capitalism, in which nature is to be ploughed and assaulted for the satisfaction of desensitised consumers. His aesthetic ideal is to see feminine bodies mutilated by technology under the prophetic guise of ushering ‘the union between man and machine’. At the climax of the film he meets his end as prophesized, flying off a freeway to collide headfirst with a coach. The dream of bodies liberated by the violence of car collisions dies with him, and the characters are released from their shared psychosis of aesthetic nihilism.

 

Crash, as allegory, renders the capitalist aesthetic as ultimately un-creative, running circles round itself. Destruction is an integral part to cycles of creation, but the philosophy embedded in Crash recognises a culture that mistakes destruction with creation. It’s an aesthetic that accelerates its own strangulation. The story points fingers at the hypocrisy of a society obsessed with violent images, fed to us by films, news reels, and computer games that hyperreal-ly dissolve into each other. It exposes our fascination with mechanizing the human instead of attempting to humanise the machine, which we desperately need if we’re going to continue to risk total desensitisation to the rise of reactionary conservative values + right-wing populism. The promise of liberation via hedonistic violence [the crash] is hollowed by its obvious nihilistic tendencies. Instead of embracing an approach that will reignite emotionality/intimacy/affect, the characters have no choice but to keep teasing themselves with the edge of life to feel real. [The allegory is one for the millions of people enacting addictive, self-harming rituals in an attempt to realise the infinite nature of divinity that the erotic allows in the wake of godlessness. In capitalism, the idea of hedonistic escapism replaces our sobering connection with the sacred.]10

This hedonistic avatar of nihilism perpetuated by our 21stC void of ritual, of magic, of practises that connect us with each other, with animals and the earth on which we live, it’s cycles of creation and destruction, of life and death, fails to appreciate the true absurdity of living. Narratives of destruction – in which nothing is sacred but the forever morphic figure of capitalism – perpetuates a deeply pessimistic understanding of nihilism [+ the world] that encourages repetitive impulsivity in lowly, never-lasting pleasures such as drugs/sex without intimacy/car crashes etc. I think nihilism ultimately lends appreciation to the absurdity of living, eliciting a freeing sensation, freeing from its thanatotic perpetuation. The fact we can seek our own truths holds a hand out to us: full of limitless potential, we must collectively practice looking to infinity, looking beyond doomsday narratives, and seize our futures from decrepit warlords of currency. 

 

The car crash functions pornographically in the way it represents a need for liberation, not from life itself like Vaughan insists, but from the reign of a globalised system that sucks the sacred nature from everything, from soil to marriage, to laughter, to creativity. God has shapeshifted; as Capital's mythology replaces the religious ideal, it transforms every thought, action, exchange into a quantifiable unit. A value that’s calculated and compared in the never-ending-stock-market-machina. The language of the original text Crash is obsessively machine-like, reflecting the infiltration of industrialized thought. James holds a distinctively scientific/pornographic gaze, observing everything with little emotion or reference to affectual thoughts. It says something about 21stC subjectivity which confuses the scripture of Capital in interpersonal exchanges and navigations of the material world. Ballard uses the erotic as a lens with which to assess the desires of our era on a micro/macro level. Subsequently, I hope it can teach us to use our own fantasies as wishes for a new, sensual world. 

 

You cannot begin to understand Crash, or pornography/erotica in general, if you take it too literally11. Pornography is meant as an exaggeration of the mechanical attributes of sex, post-industrialisation-sex where genitals are rolled out on conveyer belts to be devoured with no humanity; it’s soulless, intimacy-avoidant, and unashamedly reflects the hierarchies of power buried in porn tube search bars. In real life, if all you had to stimulate someone was your genitals, you’d be disappointed… as many of us are. For this reason, porn is not an attempt at recreating the erotic experience. Rather, it’s more a performance of sexuality, an absurd hyperfantasmagorical rendering of sexual relations in a given time and space.

Pornography can act as a diagnosis, a questioning of humanity’s relationship with sex, sexuality, arousal, non-arousal. It can say: this is how society treats women, men, questions of violence, power, which bodies are praised or discarded, exposing what people desire in the Other. In his life’s work, Jung warns us the ramifications of leaving the collective shadow unrealised. He claims ‘one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.’12 Pornography is ultimately about an embrace of the shadow, allowing it to reveal every aspect of itself so we may integrate our conscious persona with it and become whole


Erotica is an exercise in filling in the gaps left by gaping hyperreal obscenity and hopes to bring feeling back into articulation by highlighting sensation, emotion, everything around the fucking; the voice, smell, skin, smile, promises. It is a poetic way of relating that is intensely human in essence; it takes responsibility for the intimacy we really crave in a hyper-individualised world.

“Intellectual, imaginative, romantic, emotional. This is what gives sex its surprising textures, its subtle transformations, its aphrodisiac elements. You are shrinking your world of sensations.” - Anais Nin, The Delta of Venus

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In pornographic works, the written world enveloped in the narrative is merely a playground in which the subject(s) enact personal fantasies. Every plotline a means to a sexual end, a journey through an insatiable desire that must be excised through every available avenue. In Crash, every scene is motivated by this insatiable desire to feel – once more – sexual satisfaction; livelihoods/bodies are merely collateral in this violent quest. Ballard's place of work, whether he has any other friends or family, what he does on a weekend, that which might resemble a so-called normal life, aren’t details included in the narrative of Crash; everything is about bent chromium and smashed glass, mutilated feminine bodies and poker faces. Every act or thought lends itself to the poetry of his obsession. Obsession is an important theme in pornography, and an important question in culture.

Science fiction and porn/erotica are both potent mediums for philosophical inquiry; what will the future say about the present? What obsessions burning in the coal of time will leave us in the ashes of tomorrow? Important lenses to hold up to ourselves but also the world at large [which is always a reflection of ourselves…]. The logic of desire so deeply penetrated by capitalism – trying to measure, quantify and quick fix every need – forces us to view ourselves as isolated individuals constantly needing to better themselves by indulging in compromised desires revolving around otherwise useless material items and shocks of mortality. On the individual and collective level we can attempt to diagnose the implications of 21stC subjectivity by sitting with the uncomfortableness of our wants, how capitalism – and all the –isms embedded therein – have shaped them. Like a car caught in a crash, its insides spilling out exposed into the road, this is the potential pornography holds to help purge the rotten fantasies festering inside. 

The erotic is a way back to this idea of the Divine, a feeling of knowing the potential in us all, which fills the self with enough warmth and godly wonderment to become infectious with understanding; an elevation of erotica’s importance is necessary if we are to extend empathy to people around us and the earth we are birthed from, if we are to survive at all13.  If we’re able to reignite ideas about kinship, the sacred, gifts, ritual, the erotic – things that ground us in an experience of collectivism and responsibility for a liveable future – then we might be able to survive longer than the apparent end of the world. A belief in the sacredness of all forms of life is the desire to know the great continuity we are disconnected from when we are born as an individual. ‘The erotic’ is our way back to this sacred knowledge of infinity. Porn [like sex] can be both the sacred and the profane. 

 

Where porn may tell us what’s going wrong – how disembodied desire and sexuality have become in a world of expensive flashy things – the Erotic is a mission to bring back vitality. A vitality that keeps us wanting the next sunrise enough to protect it with all our being. A mission to understand and reconnect to our aliveness, our creativity, and playfulness. To protect what makes our hearts sing when all the bullshit has fallen away.

Sex is not an act: it's a place we go, it’s a lens to look at ourselves through. By looking at how we relate to each Other, we understand our own multiplicity; a node in an infinite network of Love.

 

From the Divine realisation to liberation, radical changes can be made on a personal and community level with an upgraded understanding of sexuality [a natural place to start with a society obsessed with sex]. We must fantasise about what makes us truly Joyful. Remember and rekindle intimacy with the nature of life in all its wonderful cycles. Fantasy is integral. Integral for spotting pathologies of modern experience. Essential for daring us to create new, alternative futures that hold space for all.

 

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[Holly runs a newly conceived literary zine for erotic fiction called Neckin' On, based in Liverpool. They're accepting submissions now @neckin_on]

Notes

1 - og Crash by J.G Ballard is a semi auto-biographical fiction in which the desires of James reflect some of his own erotic inquiry

2 - Brian Mussumi defines affect as simply 'the capacity to affect and to be affected', a politics of relations, of experiences, of bodies, of things, of vibrations, seen/unseen, conscious/unconscious. [The Politics of Affect]

3 - Nietzsche...that guy

4 - og Crash by J.G Ballard

5 - Freud's death drive again

6 - Why ppl do dangerous things to feel alive...adrenaline junkies et al

7 - Descartes [lol]

8 - Susan Sontag, The Pornographic Imagination

9 - The Birth of Tragedy; On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Wilhelm I think

10 - see also Bataille's concept of the 'sacred' [Theory of Religion]

11 - Susan Sontag, The Pornographic Imagination

12 - Not sure where this quote is from, found it on a google image

13 - Esther Perel on erotic intelligence

14 - Bataille heavily influenced this piece. Check 'Story of the Eye' for a pre-Crash pornographic masterpiece.

Inklingroom @ the glove that fits

Event Report by @idrk.aryan

 

I was still recovering from Skee Mask’s b3b with Stenny and Tasha. Echoes of bassy missiles, impeccable breaks and grimey vocals reverberated through my skull, rattling my brain. My body was shattered but I could not rest. I had only gotten back to London a few nights before; a city where I am never comfortable being asleep. As the glorious din in my head grew louder and louder, I decided to browse Resident Advisor (guiltily) so I could find something to replace it with.

Looking through the usual blend of house, techno, disco, and DnB that London always has to offer, I craved something new; I felt like I had seen it all before… clearly, I was feeling pretentious. My eyes glazed over as I continued to 

idly

,

mindlessly

,

scroll 

through

white

text, 

looking for a name to pop out.

 

Luckily the Gods of the Avant-Garde had looked favourably on me tonight. PAN.

My eyes lit up, this was exactly what I wanted to see.

Nyege Nyege.

What I needed to see.

Live Choreography

I’m there already.

I knew it would definitely be an experience, or at the very least, give me something to write about. I booked my tickets, then forgot about it completely.

 

Cue the night itself. I woke up at 6pm in the midst of a fevered dream. In this half-awake state, all I had was a dull memory of having somewhere to be. Over the next few minutes, this memory grew more lucid, whilst the dream shrivelled up and died. I was struck by sudden realisation:

                                                            The show had started.

and so the frenzy begun. Ipackedmybagtossedwaterontomyfacechuckedonyesterdaysclotheshadashotofwhis-keygrabbedmykeysleftthehousehadasmokeand got on the bus to Hackney. Again.

Having surrendered my control of time to London’s public transport system, I realised that I didn’t really know who I was going to see. I decided to do a bit of quick research whilst trapped in traffic.

Flora Yin-Wong was the first name on the list. The name seemed eerily familiar, as if I had heard her sound before. I later realised that she had been on the Mono No Aware compilation that popularised PAN and dropped an LP on Boomkat’s legendary Modern Love label. I was very excited to hear what sort of mix she would have in store for the night.

 

Lockhart was the second name on the list. I hadn’t heard of her before, but the phrase ‘dark, fast and furious energy of techno,’ told me all I needed to know. Hard dance and techno (when done right…) serve excellently to release excess energy, and so the chance to witness some no-holds-barred, throbbing percussion was enticing. Seeing that she was a regular at FOLD and the Cause bolstered this belief.


Ans M was the third name on the list. Her promise to weave between experimental and ambient in her set would definitely be interesting {though I wondered whether the distinction between experimental and ambient could be made?}


Vampi was the fourth name on the list. I was excited to see him play considering the recent Nyege Nyege signing. I checked out some of his stuff as part of Daisy Mortem and was confused; this definitely was avant-garde but I wasn’t sure if darkly-medieval-hyperpop was quite my thing. I decided to go check out segments of his sets and – turns out – they were very much my thing.


Marie Malarie was the fifth name on the list. A bonafide crate digger. I noticed that they regularly played at Dalston Superstore, which generally promises a good time. I was excited to see if they would play any rare wax.


Furious Styles was the sixth name on the list. The name was familiar to me, as was the HI-NRG Label he ran. I remember having heard him on Rinse FM, mixing a wide variety of tracks from all sorts of electronic genres, including a DJ Rashad tribute. Absolutely. Fucking. Brilliant.  

 

Emillski was the seventh name on the list. The co-founder of inklingroom, the promoters who were putting on the event. Seeing that he was based in London via Bristol brought me comfort considering they were the two cities I lived in.

I now looked up from my phone and realised I still hadn’t reached the place yet. I billed up to save some time and texted my friend to see if she’d arrived.

The stars aligned: as I applied the finishing touches to my creation, the bus pulled in at the stop, and my friend called to say she’d just gotten there.

I got to the venue and met up with her. Through the windows, it looked like an empty gentrified pub that resembled any other you would find in Hackney. I had to double check it was the right place. All I could hear was ambient London noise, not the music I was promised. We had a smoke in the parking space next door, right by a scrap pile. As the fumes filled my head with anticipation, I wondered who would be playing when I finally got inside to explore the place. We chucked the ends into the scrap pile and headed in, feeling a sense of nervous excitement. I was determined to take notes so I could have a better memory of what happened.

We got drinks, got stamped, got our coats off and wandered down the stairs into the basement. We began to hear the thudthudthud of cushioned bass, and with each step the sound grew more and more audible. I opened the door and descended into a thick fog of dry ice and trance. I could see my hands in front of me, my friend, and the deep red lighting but little else. The light, fresh smell of sweat mingled with CO2 that filled my nostrils. I couldn’t see how big the space was yet, and could barely see where the music was coming from. I moved closer and closer towards the sound, as the repetitive tinny synth morphed into banging 808 kicks. The voice of Azaelia Banks {at least I thought it was} began to take shape out of nowhere. I could make out the outline of a tall, slender figure, looming over the decks. I determined that this was Vampi based on my research. He was dressed impeccably, bringing to mind my first impression: seductive cyber-vampire. I dropped my bag off in the corner and began to sense out a rhythm to dance to, using my head, my arms, my legs, my waist and my chest. I would definitely not be taking any notes.

Vampi’s approach fascinated me. He would emphasise the dynamic qualities of the songs he mixed, bringing out loops that accelerated the techno+trap beats to their logical conclusion. As I heard Sarah Midori Perry’s deliberately innocent voice come through in a club setting, I realised I had never seen something like this happen before {and work so well at the same time.} Somehow, it managed to achieve the quality of absurdity whilst all making sense, making for an incredible environment to dance in.

 

I felt like I was able to dance

             as if I was completely alone,

                                       without a care in the world

for any of the stray judgements or the opinions of others.

I caught occasional glimpses of other people, all dancing in the same rapture, both free unto themselves and also united with myself and yourself and ourselves.
This vision was soundtracked to Kim Petras. The whole set went off heavy.

I was already feeling quite warm and a little bit sweaty, so I decided to grab some fresh air and have a cigarette while Ans M took over the decks. The fog had cleared somewhat so that I could now see the entire room. The basement wasn’t too big, but was perfect for the capacity and lent to the sense of intimacy. I wandered into the chillout room next door with my friend to have a quick seat and roll. A friendly figure, dressed in leather with a perfect moustache and bowl cut sat next to us and struck up a conversation about the event. We had an energetic conversation about Bristol, PAN, and Nyege Nyege. I found out that he was a close friend of Vampi’s and that he’d visited the Nyege Nyege recording studio in Kampala. A staff member came in and told me I couldn’t smoke in the room, so we went our separate ways. I felt some regret for not having got his name but knew I would see him again soon enough.


Whilst outside, I suddenly heard a ScratchaDVA song get mixed in, and regretted my decision to leave. I could still faintly hear most of Ans M’s set and it was going really well; there were lush textures, as well as some heavily danceable music. I got a beer and headed back inside to catch the rest of her set. She began to drop some blistering footwork.

 

The room was filling up. The BPM and the resultant pace of the dance quickened. The technicians deployed a tactical strobe as the transitions occurred. The flickering      

l  i  g  h  t  s    f l i c k e r e d  f a s t e r and fasterandfaster,

              until I could no longer see the decks.

The room had transitioned from red to violet. A ghostly, eerily beautiful sound began to ring out. I turned around and saw that a crowd had gathered behind me, staring the other way. My body slowed to a snails pace. I stared as fog filled the room once more. Two figures had emerged from nothing into existence, appearing from a corner of the room. One had begun to dance with the grace of a swan, twirling around like a spinning top. The combination of soundscape with spectacle, created a spellbinding sight I could not look away from {though my vision was somewhat obstructed by the crowd.}

As he danced alone slowly, his face remained barely visible. Thick, long hair guarded it from view, never retreating despite his energetically reserved movement.


The other figure now emerged, connecting herself to the other through their linked, extending arms. They spun together, as trap 808s arised, informing their manoeuvres. They lifted each other up and brought each other down, all appendages endeavouring to extend further than they could possibly reach. The soft, angelic melody of the song furthered the melancholy between them, barely able to stare at each other whilst remaining connected, as if their painful intimacy was too much to bare. I watched on, transfixed, waiting for their inevitable               separation.
One figure pulled away and disappeared into the corner.
      Darkly industrial ambience filled the newfound space.


The remaining figure lay sprawled across the floor. Downcast, her movement slowed, yet remained graceful. Her body contorted into forms I did not previously think possible. Eventually, she too departed. The strobe ceased its flickering. Its purpose had been served. The vision had been burned into my memory.

I had little time to reflect on this for now. Flora Yin-Wong had started playing, coming in with some hard electro-infused techno, destroying – with style – the previously established ambience.


Her set was full of impeccable mixing, as well as some abstract sounds to which I cannot quite give definition {or do justice}. My brain and my feet were at odds with one another, though both remained fully engaged in what I was witnessing. Alien soundscapes appeared that took me to another planet, though my feet sensed out the relentless rhythms and remained firmly connected to the earth itself.

The room had filled up somewhat and I was drenched in sweat from the dance. Towards the end of Flora’s set, I decided to go for another smoke with my friend, to grab some fresh air and another drink.


By the time I had returned to the dance floor, Lockhart was in the midst of her set. Unrelenting, Hard, Frenetic, Techno. Her darkened eyes and all black outfit fitted this perfectly, adding to the incredible energy that she had created on the dance floor. Everybody around the room was deep within themselves, swaying with destructive force. A man with his hair tied into a bun had taken off his shirt and was swaying to and fro, moving his arms with such energy that it had created space all around him, fully engaged with the music that was being presented. I too was inspired by his style and reminded of my own love of techno {the genre which had introduced me to electronic music in the first place.}

 

I began to dance with repeated motions, whilst constant kicks hypnotised me. I became so involved in dancing that I cannot really report back on what I witnessed, since it all became such a blur in my memory. All I can say is that this is proof of Lockhart’s excellent set.


Finally, Furious Styles came on, setting up his collection on the dual turntables. I was properly hyped by this point, ready for a proper dance. He went on to mix all sorts of classics, putting on some Bass, Garage, Funky, Grime and Dubstep.

I was amazed by how consistently great his selection was, covering them all with gusto. His old school grime collection must have cost him a pretty penny.
He closed it all with a track I don’t know the name of, but I can describe it pretty vividly. The National Anthem Riddim.

 

The whole floor went mad. I went mad. The track got rewound and spun again. It was the perfect way to close off the night in ironic fashion, converting Anti-Nationalist sympathies to pride for the UK’s brilliant music scene.

I tried to speak to Furious Styles after the event, but security were rushing everybody out of the venue. I struggled to find my bag and my coat, but soon I was out of the place with my friend. We billed up and realised we’d both lost our lighters. We went back to the outside of the club, where everybody was still talking to each other. I saw the moustached figure outside again, and got his Instagram details, realising that he was in fact Emilski, which made a lot of sense. I promised I would be there for the next InklingRoom event for sure.

Later on, Furious Styles contacted me out of nowhere, rating my energy. I expressed my gratitude for his amazing set and sent him the clips I’d gotten of him. He offered me the cheaplist for his set the week after. Sadly, I couldn’t attend as I had to go to Fabric.
I was incredibly grateful for the night, and believed it to be the most interesting electronic music event I had seen in a long time; my wishes had been fulfilled, my sensibilities had changed, and my head was once again, filled with new earworms of the night.

The Glove definitely fits.

Break With Me Recommends

Issue 03: The Drilling of Efforts Dashed

Editor’s Note: One project apiece this month. First up is @denglord with his two cents on the latest release from Proc Fiskal - Siren Spine Sysex, taking up the great folk-isms debate begun by the Victory Siren in our last issue. Then @hcurtoys brings characteristic Northern charm to his review of leo’s a buried river, bogs, marshlands, et al. To round it off, myself @frogmanfilth waxing lyrical on the new Kanye album; you didn’t ask for it, you don’t want it, but it’s here, for your pleasure.  

 
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Proc Fiskal - Siren Spine Sysex

by @denglord

Buy / listen

Elijah Minnelli’s Slats prompted our Siren to question the notion of a good ‘folk’ music [see last month’s reccs], Proc Fiskal’s new album has prompted me to ask myself, isn’t folk music just anything people enjoy? 

[sophisticated winnie the pooh eyebrow raise] / [iq bell curve] / [iceberg pipeline folk] / [soyjaks pointing at the Oxford dictionary definition of ‘folk’]  / [note: make one of these memes before publishing review]

It’s quite easy to free-associate memetic buzzwords when talking about Proc’s music, since he’s clearly in algorithmic reach of the same urbanomic, incellectuals_x, scratchanese patchwork that’s fundamental to the breakwith.me canon. The fact of the matter is this: Proc’s new album is simply too emotionally resonant to resign to writing about it in reticent irony without exploring the utopian framework that makes it so compelling. 

It’s compelling because Proc knows exactly how to balance in-the-know niche internet politics with formal aberrations that imagine new worlds from the confines of styles born equally out of alienation (‘grime’) and collective jouissance (‘folk’). Wind back half a year to the release cycle of his (oofty) Lothian Buses EP: a prank on neeky local Reddit forums with this altered public transport manifesto can be a very subtle hint towards the kind of future Joe Powers envisions.

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To my ears at least, Siren Spine Sysex is crucially the first (or at least the first worth caring about) post-rona ‘club’ album that rewards ideas of collectivity beyond the physical primacy of the club space. In the halcyon days of the blogosphere, many writers discussed new UKG and 2-step from the comfort of their personal hi-fi, put off by the Americanisation of clubs that demanded they adorn dress shirts and flash trainers to enter. In recent interviews, PF has said he doesn’t like clubs anymore either, seemingly jaded by forced notions of a scene that runs not on interdependence but on a barter economy. What’s the point of going to a club to hear this kind of schizoposted grime if you’re spending the whole night trading insta handles whilst commercial landlords are getting the biggest payout in underground music? Bandcamp day doesn’t really solve the fact that there’s a mega-disembowelling of arts funding and an infrastructure that relies on precarity, to boot.

Of course, this isn’t to say that pessimism rules PF’s sonic palette. Proc looks for a way out of this hole thru synaesthetic reconstructions of hyper-personalized doomscrolling. His last album collaged minor personal memories rendered by the voice notes app /in and /out of its hauntological sinogrime exoskeleton; this one finds its textures in increasingly virtual memories salvaged from the space between targeted ads and the automated niche “personal brand” rewarded to the dedicated consumer. This too is reflected in the non-sampled instrumentation made up of shitty ebay FM synths seemingly bought on a boredom-induced whim.

Proc Fiskal has devoted himself to making an album completely inspired by the banality of the so-stimulating-it’s-not-stimulating psychosis of filter drip content we all experience, and the results are so insanely beautiful we’ve no choice but to believe that beyond our twisted-fucked up-jokerpilled existence, hyper-optimized on bland UX veneers that insist on the flatness of everything, is a world so new and unintelligible to us rn that caring about things will always be worth it. Siren Spine Sysex manages to be simultaneously anti-club and anti-folk whilst promoting the best qualities of both these things; breakwith.me recommends Siren Spine Sysex.

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leo - a buried river

by @hcurtoys

Buy / listen

One of the latest from Manchester’s YOUTH label, Leo’s a buried river is an intrepid journey into frenzied industrial sounds injected with hyperactive drill bass and club-ready textures. My only proper experiences of the North Westerly Merseyside and Liverpool area - where Leo and their Manteq collective hail from - are of the encompassing marsh and wetlands I used to visit as a youngen with my dad and his family. I have a memory of this area of the North as a flat expanse, muggy and claggy. This generated image is the one I see Leo’s sonic aesthetic best lending itself to: If the Northeast’s barren machinic glimmer of the industrial is heard most clearly in the music of Throbbing Gristle (and more contemporarily sown into AYA’s productions), then the equally desolate but waterlogged character of the North West resides in a buried river. 

 

This theme of the ‘wet’, ‘damp’, ‘flowing’ and ‘immutable’ streams through the record as if carried by the Mersey itself. There is an unrecognisable but omnipotent current throughout, allowing for the drilling of efforts dashed to easily follow the club-concrète death is quite clearly not what it used to be - equidistance from the boggy fields and the ‘intimate venues’ Manteq regularly pack out. Leo is constructing yet another image of what ‘folk’ could mean in contemporary electronic music; they do away with human tradition in favour of channelling the direct brutality of their home landscapes. a buried river is the product of an ear-to-the-ground investigation into how the North can hold its own against a London-centric dance music scene. latex skies is the standout track for me here; I’m listening to it whilst writing and have just been hit by the 4m15s bass thump; to quote the Highway Rat from their 1st breakwith.me reccs of Foodman’s Yasuragi Land: ‘…how we might approach turning the city into a zone where dancing makes more sense than walking…’, Leo approaches the task of turning the organic, the agricultural, and the non-urban into a sonic zone where the same logic applies. You can hear the harshness of a post-industrial northern landscape reflected somewhat in the bone-shaking bass and off kilter drum assault. latex skies makes sense as feverous club track, albeit reconstructed, ripped-up, and then sewn back together again; it’s an aggressive vulnerability stitched together by hand. 

 

Kodwo Eshun in More Brilliant than the Sun wrote about how Kraftwerk calling themselves ‘Powerplant’ turned on the industrial process: their ‘switching on the assembly line instead of resisting it in the name of the human’ plugged them into the network of the electricity<>human<>synthesizer. Though what I feel the ‘turning on of the industrial process’ does more prominently in the case of a buried river – if we think of the inhuman drum patterns of latex skies, efforts dashed, and water features – is drive home the distinction between the human and the machine. The distinction made puts emphasis on when and where the human is heard on the album, either through voice or live drum samples; instead of Leo becoming-machine like Kraftwerk, they’re definitively separated from it. The field recordings and organic textures are at odds with the subbass and software instruments; the Merseyside landscapes are at odds with Liverpudlian industrialization. The music is hi-tech but this doesn’t mean it loses the human subject; it reinforces it.


As AYA touches on in a recent interview on The Quietus, the mythologization of the North is both rejected and leant into by many of its contemporary electronic producers, wanting to be decisively not southern, but also not become this George Whitebread, Lowry, its-grim-up-north amalgamation; ‘the focus is on that which London necessarily obstructs’. It’s in this distinction where I see a buried river thriving, where its hand-stitched, romantic, gothic (?) narratives lend themselves both to headphones for private listening and for going full wuthering-heights on the dancefloor. As Sadie Plant said ‘ …the textures of woven cloth functioned as means of communication and information storage long before anything was written down…’. Maybe that’s what I am tapping into with a buried river: the histories of the fabric industry in the North intertwined and infected by something grimy from the south, cut-up and patchworked back together, a Frankenstein’s monster, a distinction between caricature and the Northern soul. Breakwith.me recommends a buried river.

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Kanye West - Donda

by @frogmanfilth

After months of social media teasing, an abundance of listening parties, and the emergence of one particular photo – that of Ye’s bedroom in the Mercedes-Benz stadium-cum-studio (which looked worringly like my own bedroom; the main difference being that I lack any of the genius credentials to justify such a retarded set-up) – Kanye’s 10th album Donda finally dropped… only a receive a slew of mediocre reviews. 


With the trademark strength of conviction that we’ve come to expect from neolib hordes of so-called critics, three-star reviews were the soup de joure. Hacks were quick to lambast the album as ‘unfinished’, ‘bloated’, ‘overstuffed’ and ‘uninspired’. Funnily enough, everyone’s favourite overstuffed and uninspired music publication – the NME – summed up public opinion nicely: ‘some gems among lots – and lots – of filler […] the rapper's 10th album follows an odyssey of delays and bizarre not-quite-release parties, the result merely punctuated with moments of brilliance.’ In summary, much of the lukewarm response to Donda was based on its extensive runtime; clocking-in at a little under two hours, it’s an undeniably sprawling work. This post stands in defence of Donda, in all its cavernous glory.

As I was counting down the hours to the start of my annual leave earlier this week, I stole back twenty blissful minutes of my artificially-scarce time by twisting my laptop away from the intrusive gaze of my colleagues and imbibing some donotresearch posts. In particular, I was taken by Devin Thomas O’Shea’s piece on /lit/, where he makes an oft-overlooked argument for long-form literature as an important but under-funded weapon in the good fight against Capitalist Realism. In his closing lines, he quotes one of /lit/’s patron saints – David Foster Wallace – who himself was a lauded frontrunner in the ongoing ‘dick-measuring contest’ that is the race to produce the best >2000pp novel: ‘Reading is very, very difficult. It requires sitting alone by yourself in a quiet room, and that’s very hard for some people’. O’Shea adds that ‘reading is not as passive as television; it feeds an active, empathetic part of us that is otherwise starved at every point in late capitalism. It’s good to train your brain to think about something for half an hour instead of thirty seconds’. 

In this sense, the scale of Donda demands praise simply because – speaking from personal experience – the album demands a minimum of two hours listening, and rewards you for investing a great deal more; it’s near enough the only thing I’ve listened to for the entire month of September and I can’t remember the last time an album elicited that kind of focus from me. This plays into the wider musical landscape: Donda’s size – as well as the scale of the hype-machine that preceded it – fundamentally disrupts the machinery of the music industry; it makes every move to frustrate Universal’s commodity-machine that’s precision engineered to turn-out PR-friendly, 40-minute, 10-track albums, sold not just to “us” but to the vast moneymaking apparatus of commercial radio-stations, distributors, &c. The >10min runtime of some tracks is particularly challenging for the algorithmically-driven world of streaming; auto-generated capital-generating playlists risk being ‘bloated’ by tunes this length, and are often forced to exclude them wholesale in favour of shorter tracks that don’t get boring, keep you tuned-in, and keep the ad-revenue flowing.

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But that’s a blunt-weapon kind of a take; if we look at Kanye’s own investment in said industry, as well as the immense personal wealth that he and his (now estranged?) family possess, it doesn’t stand up to much serious criticism. We already know that ‘capitalism is profoundly illiterate’, and we’re all destined for algorithmically-induced ADHD by 2030.  As such, the bigger point I’d like to make relates to Kanye’s position as a so-called Black artist, his relationship to music technologies, and how such technologies – alongside the expanded form of Donda – play into the broader political potential of this album. 

 

Enter stage left Alexander G. Weheliye. His landmark 2002 article Feenin’ takes aim at Catherine Hayles’ famous takes on ‘becoming-posthuman’ from the late-90s, using musical evidence to complicate (if not totally demolish) them through a racialised lens. To cut a long story scandalously short: Hayles creates a version of the posthuman that is ‘little more than the white liberal subject in techno-informational disguise’, reinscribing ‘white masculinity as the (human) point of origin from which to progress to a posthuman state’. In contrast, he suggests that Black artists ‘frequently defy these authenticating mechanisms by embracing new technologies, hybridities, self-consciousness’ and ‘make their own virtuality central to the musical texts’.

 

He coins the ‘vocoder-effect’, whereby the use of sonic technology to amplify ‘the human provenances of the voice, highlighting its virtual embodiment, because it conjures a previous, and allegedly more innocent, period in popular music, bolstering the “soulfulness” of the human voice’. Kanye’s been working in this space, revealing humanity’s ‘machinic affections’, since 808s and Heartbreaks. It feels even more pointed on Donda where the alleged innocence of Gospel from the good ol’ days (see: segregation, [late] slavery, lynching etc.) not only forms an integral part of Donda’s remarkably consistent sound but also works in parallel with Kanye’s self-anointed prophet status: the Ye of 2013 was a self-aggrandisement that, when heard in conjunction with Yeezus’ dark and dingy pallet amounted to a Nietzschean dance-toward-death, self-destruction-on-the-high-altar-of-art kind of energy; the parred down Ye of 2021 is a figure far more concerned with messianic world-building than his predecessor. 

 

Drawing on every art-himbo’s favourite French duo - Deleuze and Guattari - Weheliye coins ‘the R&B desiring machine’. Citing Zapp’s Computer Love, the R&B desiring-machine ‘suggests desire for the machine itself by deferring a conclusive or coherent identification of [desire’s] target’; by ‘creating a three-way conversation, albeit an unequal one, between the male, female, and machinic utterances on the vocal track of the song’, the track shows that it is ‘the subject that is missing in desire, or that desire lacks a fixed subject’. Donda functions in this way on many levels. First, the album often feels like it’s featuring artists take centre stage over Ye himself – something that the Guardian (in their eternal wisdom) took great umbrage towards: ‘misfiring lyricism from a diminished figure – there is some sustained brilliance here, but unfortunately it comes from the guest stars’ – goes someway to decentring any singular ego from dominating the project. 

 

Simultaneously, the Yeezus persona becomes less about godliness as omniscient, omnipotent, big-dick Creator, but more about godliness as omnipresent but-not-overbearing Holy Ghost, the virtual facilitator of meaningful artistic/spiritual collaboration. That’s why Donda feels like an act of world-building; its scale is not down to overfunded-overindulgence, but rather to create a sprawling, rhizomatic space in which multiple POVs are assembled, amplified, deconstructed, and reconstructed. The reference to Godliness – both through the Yeezus persona and through ecclesiastic instrumentation – is not egotistical extravagance, but rather the formulation of a new Symbolic. You may not agree with Kanye’s religious values or his political ones, but in both his life and his work he seems committed to creating and defining new territories in which he as an artist, a Black man, and a human being can exist. The gangsta-hop of the 90s was cool but nihilistic; contrastingly, though Kanye might make some iffy choices at times (@marilynmanson), he definitely believes in something, and in making that something an artistic/cultural reality. 


In an interview during the lead-up to Yeezus, Kanye outed himself as a lifelong Corbusier stan. In the aftermath of this comment, ill-educated debate proliferated online about whether Kanye was a latter-day Modernist, an ill-informed Postmodernist, or – the lowkey-racist suggestion – just a rapper throwing around big words he didn’t really understand. Re Yeezus, I don’t know where I stand. Re Donda: the sonic pallet is minimal, stripped-back, Ezra-Pound vibes – aesthetically Modernist. Formally, its similar: Joycean in scope and scale; if Yeezus was Dubliners/Four Quartets, Donda feels like Ulysses/the Wasteland. Yet, in its ability to decentre the self and digitally-dissolve ego it’s textbook postmodernism. By creating generative space in which multiple parties are brought and bound together by the [un]holy ghost’s guiding light, the new-Symbolic, is Kanye entering new territory? Has he turned away from the postmodern’s emphasis on ontological collapse, and started to build a new, better world? Breakwith.me recommends Donda.

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Fat Is A Feminist Issue, Susie Orbach (1978)

- Book Review by governess // molly mead @mumzzztheword

 

Difficulties with body image and a troubled relationship with food are a great cause of pain and confusion for many women, but these issues are grudgingly accepted as normal and pervasive from cradle to grave. Even though these problems are so commonplace that they transcend age, geography and class, there is a profound lack of discourse to counter the imagery and expectations that permeate our lives; women are atomised by the threat of female competition or by the shame this plague engenders.  

 

Earlier this summer, I came across psychoanalyst and social critic Susie Orbach’s 1978 book Fat Is A Feminist Issue (FIFI) in Glasgow Women’s Library [uWu]. For the first time, compulsive eating – which Orbach defines as eating when you’re not hungry – was examined with compassion, honesty and, most importantly, >>>politics<<<. As I progressed, I came to realise that I did not have to tentatively analyse my food consumption as the result of *personalised* neuroses; as strictly private comms between me and the cream-smeared, empty box of profiteroles in the recycling. Instead, Orbach posits the idea that issues with food and body image are the rational and justified response to navigating the (already fugged up) world from the secondary social position of women.

 

Food

 

FIFI promotes a nourishing and enjoyable relationship with food, whatever that may mean to the individual. This is achieved by re-connecting women with their body and its hunger mechanism. Orbach illustrates how the hunger mechanism works by comparing it to other bodily functions – when you need to sneeze, you don’t stifle it or ignore it, you sneeze, the same with coughing or needing the toilet. (Especially if you’re dealing with the consequences of the profiteroles from the night before – amirite?)

 

She insists that hunger is not a complex or emotional issue; it’s necessary for your survival. Your body is self-regulating and will let you know when and how much you need to eat… and gurl, you better rustle up something peng. Orbach’s simple advice is to ‘eat when you are hungry, to eat what you really desire, to pay attention to how the food feels as you eat it, to stop when you are full, and assess how it feels after you’ve eaten it’. 

 

Part and parcel of this framework is the rejection of diets and conventional nutritional advice that has historically broken the trust and intimacy between women and their bodies. These methods of eating place power outside of women and impliy that a) you need to be controlled around food (FYI: no one is “out of control” around food; food does not/should not “control” you) and b) that someone else knows how to feed you better than you. 

 

Orbach refreshingly recognises that interacting with food has many facets, and that everyone will have their own way of doing things: what you like to eat, where, with who, how often and how much. Plus, your needs can change, maybe frequently, coz [post]humans do that. 

 

Orbach made an important update in her 2016 foreword: ‘to choose foods that start from natural ingredients rather than from a chemical base’. Many “foods” available deliberately and maliciously hold their [aptly named] consumers in a state of synthesised, paralysing bliss that disables them from consciously interacting with their food; suddenly the end of the packet dictates when you stop instead of you. 

 

Body Image 

 

As someone who’s been brainwashed into lionising the utterly banal goal of weight loss for most of their life – yet (and here’s the fun part) endlessly struggling to achieve it – I welcomed Orbach’s reassurance that permanent weight loss and stabilising at a size that feels ~~natural~~ to me is possible. However, what I found equally useful to hear was that weight loss – whether immediate and dramatic or not – is not the aim of the game.

 

A more valuable and durable outcome is learning to accept your body as it is now - whatever shape and size it may be - and knowing that it is worthy of respect and appreciation. One method Orbach suggests to repair or enhance your body image is to unify your body with your conception of self. For example, starting to view fat as a part of you, rather than something extra or in-addition to some imagined, Imaginary version of your so-called inner-self. Once you come to view your habits as understandable responses to your sociohistorical moment not as personal shortcomings, looking-at and being-in your body becomes a less emotionally loaded experience.   

 

Becoming more comfortable and confident in your body also helps women to establish where their body ends and where the external world begins. In turn, women can move away from their traditional role of prioritising others and learn to nourish themselves - with food, emotions or whatever else - in myriad ways. Orbach encourages women to learn to take responsibility for themselves and their actions despite the wider cultural discouragement from ever doing so.  

 

Where we at?

 

Unfortunately, Orbach argues the situation for women has only degenerated since the publication of her book, so much so that she would find it too depressing to work exclusively on body issues now. These issues have been amplified in the past year: COVID-19 massively curtailed the bodily and sociological agency of the individual for an extended and uncertain period of time. COVID messaging in the UK was so unclear and individualising that it was gagging for people to turn in on themselves; psycho-atomisation en mass. As a result, many people may have taken the path of body transformation – in healthy ways or not – to assert some form of control. 

 

I’d argue that Orbach’s book still has a lot to offer in this moment: The lucidity with which Orbach approached these issues over 40 years ago illuminates the fundamental deficit of feminist discourse in this moment. Many of the questions she asked still remain unanswered: Women come in a range of shape and sizes; why aren’t all of them valued? Why are women sent contradictory messages; to stand out, to blend in, to be sexy, but not too sexy? 

 

Ultimately, what I found so energising about this book was the knowledge that my relationship with food and my body can become positive, permanently; these issues can be solved and don’t have to haunt my psyche ad eternum. As soon as I could view my habits as part of a wider social problem, I could engage constructively, and begin to transform the way I interact with food and my body in a way that truly fulfilled me. What is eternal, however, is my love for profiteroles. 

 

BREAK WITH ME RECOMMENDS -  AUGUST 2021

Issue 02: Cumshot or Gunshot

Editor’s Note: This month’s recommends begin with a long(er) read from @hcurtoys, whose dubwise rant takes aim at the idyllic pastoral in the digital age, lampooning backwards beatification of bucolic beauty. After that come interspersed hot takes from @denglord and @frogmanfilth: new drops from TSVI and Unknown T are given characteristic treatment from your favourite research-based weightlifter; ravings on Mexican-motifs and the joy of juke from London’s longest man; dolphins and guac thrown in for good measure… for your pleasure.

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Elijah Minnelli - Slats

by @hcurtoys

Buy / listen

Coming back to London after a couple days of camping in the fog-laden valleys of the Yorkshire Dales, I found myself clinging slightly harder than usual onto the land of mud, grass, Timothy Taylors and my personal countryside affectations. Our excursion in the wilderness was sound tracked by a combination of Folk-ish guitar-y Trinklieder (stuff like Forest’s Graveyard and – the epitome of drinking songs – So Long Marrianne by Cohen), as well as our usual trips into Niche bassline and northern remixes of garage tracks (think R.I.P.’s mix of Free). 

Going home to the rural expanse of N.yorks – the trainlines cutting through farmer’s fields, £1.20 eggs at the end of driveways, and the constant breeze – sparked a homely familiarity with the ideals displayed in the questionable aesthetics of ‘cottagecore’ and all those other peasant-desire insta hashtags, and how the potential for good and bad folk aesthetics could appear. Obviously, this is all imo; I am not trying to moralise teenagers curating their Instagram pages (I too had a tumblr account) but I do feel a slight agitation towards the romanticisation of countryside living as the perfect escape from late-capitalist dread. I don’t want to appear as an angry old man, shaking his fist at the youth of the day, and I don’t think this trend is wholly damaging to radical politics, but I do think it follows a similar pipeline to John Major’s speeches on England as ‘a land of shadows lengthening on village greens’ and the truly conservative idea of ‘Englishism’ or the nation as ‘Pastoral Utopia’. 

Maybe I’m just pissed that the way I’ve grown up is becoming a trendy aesthetic, even though I know that’s hardly a leg to stand on compared to the commodification of indigenous lifestyles or the marketization of ‘World Music’ as the simultaneous escape from capital and return to your true self. My agitation was most notably sparked by Robert McLiam Wilson’s essay in the photography book Wilder Mann by Charles Fréger, in which Wilson diagnoses contemporary culture with being ‘neurotically Wi-Fied and 3Ged’ (as if that’s a bad thing 🤓) and goes on to say: ‘We languish for the non-mechanical and the pre- or post-industrial. We are pilgrims seeking the past, the genuine, the individual.’ I know his essay isn’t really aimed at us – it’s a circlejerk for late 40yr olds who hate their iPhones and the fact that there’s an app for everything – but I can’t escape the fact he believes the search for the individual isn’t already omnipotent in contemporary society and is something reserved for a revivalist or ‘wild’ approach to life. As Fisher argues in Terminator vs Avatar; ‘Hands up… those who really believe that these desires for a restored organic wholeness are extrinsic to late capitalist culture, rather than fully incorporated components of the capitalist libidinal infrastructure.’  Hands up if you really think your desire for the ‘genuine’ is unattainable in the world-building, creativity, and collectivity available to us through the online or digital.*
Going back to this idea of good or bad folkisms, I want to assure you this is a music review; I stumbled on Elijah Minneli and their associated label Breadminster County Council. 

 

As a native resident of Breadminster, [Elijah Minnelli’s] new single’s foundation naturally stems from the theological roots of the area itself. It’s often said colloquially “Dig in the ground and you’ll find crumbs”. This local idiom has its foundation in reality - historically mill workers of medieval Breadminster (Panemisteron) would bury a portion of freshly milled wheat into the earth as an offering to the gods. This Hellenic-esque ritual proved fruitful as the amylase enzyme within the wheat enriched the soil of the land and led to Breadminster’s great “Larder era”. SLATS is an instrumental ode to the mill workers of old who ushered in this great epoch of plenty.

The Breadminster County Council's Music Initiative, and Breadminster itself, does not exist. The label is constructing a county, an area, or maybe just a contingent fiction of a village community that sometimes hosts after hours Hip-Hop sets in the county park (hot-button-topic-live-in-breadminster-county-park) and churns out 7 inches of weird dub-ish experiments. 
Elijah Minneli is the initiative’s only artist, and their discography charts a journey through the most melodic and jaunty variants of contemporary dub music. They play an augmented harmonica/melodica or synthesized accordion over the top of bone-shaking subs and borrowed instrumentation from traditional Columbian Folk. It’s almost a lullaby or a sonic ritual, the anthem of the annual Breadminster Soundclash or the soundtrack to the county’s nightlife. You’re hypnotised on the dancefloor, or rather hypnotised on the village green. In SLATS, Minnelli’s Cumbia roots are shown the most clearly in the skipping shakes of a maraca and the clacks of Castanets that seem to quietly cheer the track on. In the distance vocalists can be heard in some ritual murmuration as something of a melody rises into the suddenly haunting Melodica sequence. Listen also to the older release I Hope The Goats Come Back (ze​-​hood de​-​sham lichdal); if that jaunty, sea-sick, wind-swept, brooding melody captures you as hard as it did for me, this is even better. 
Minnelli’s musical ability is what keeps catching you off-guard in these tracks; their ability to make you question what you’re listening to as if you weren’t supposed to come across it. It’s unnerving, almost scary. They channel the strangeness of Youtube.mp3 uploads of a long lost shamanic ritual cassette pack in the most perfectly dubwise, sub-heavy way. Minnelli’s music and Breadminster’s mission is suggestive of a version of the Global-Ghettotech, but for the hybrids of the traditional and indigenous music cultures with machinic bass culture. The Folk music they channel is global, and the web they have woven allows for Columbian musical tradition to finds a way towards a bass culture previously untouched. 

Perhaps this is nothing radically new, but I’ve found the pervasiveness of Soundsystem and bass culture’s seemingly endless network of influence over music to be something that can positively bring together Folk-isms from various communities. And going back to Wilson’s claim that: ‘We languish for the non-mechanical’ he is even more out of touch and out of place than ever before. The relationship between Folk and ‘mechanical’ musical process has a firm leg to stand on and, tbh, I really have time for bass heavy music that can be shared with people who aren’t club goers. Wilson’s ‘pilgrim seeking the past’ is replaced by the neo-Wildermenn of Nyege Nyege fest, and the figures that crave the communal, the melodic, and the new futures they produce. The potential for this good Folkish sonic aesthetic opens the idea of the Folk or ‘Cottagecore’ as something that doesn’t just align itself with white-only images of Pastoral Utopias and escape from society vibes, but as something that explores the overlap of indigenous musical cultures or at least what it means to not necessarily identify with the urban expanses described in Burial’s soundscapes and instead seek the weird wilderness of Elijah Minneli and Breadminster. Break With Me recommends SLATS.
*For more on the ‘Folk’ and its implications’, listen to ACFM Trip 15 on Novara Media.

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Paraadiso - Unison

Review by @denglord

Buy / listen

Last month, I wrote about how – apart from dolphins – humans are the only creatures that organise collectively around a pulse. Thinking about it now, I’m not sure where I got that from but there’s definitely some sort of synaptic transmission happening. Maybe I’d presumed Kodwo Eshun had used that fact to talk about the use of dolphin noises in jungle music or something along those lines. 

Unison is a beautiful demarcation of the outer reaches of this kind of collective possibility - the sounds of ancient ritual gatherings meshed with calloused drones and caffeinated arpeggios reimagine the autocratic walls of the contemporary club space as a time-warping portal somewhere outside of prospective real estate ventures, natural energy drink brand deals, and the A/V industrial complex.  

If Paraadiso’s world starts at the album cover, what do we see from this sovereign gaze? Bursting pods that could be molecular or galactic in scale, erupting into a data-mosh of overwhelming light in decentralised streams. These streams become diffuse and jagged, organising themselves into functional territories you can choose to submerge yourself in, or, if you like, just stare at the surfaces and feel them change too. It becomes increasingly obvious as you go through Unison that you’re not supposed to be here alone and, if you entered that way, you'll probably have found yourself a crowd by now. 

Perhaps this type of sound and vision combination is in touch with Leibniz’s idea of monadology: amidst the torrents of cascading textures, communities, and climates we get to be stimulated alongside one another. It’s only once we submit to these skittering patterns that we can formulate a group consciousness, floating through the astral projections, aerial domes, and blue marbles until we reach the paradiso terrestre. This is the place where composite substances are generated in continual flashes of divinity. 

 

Still - Unison is not holding a cross up to a rave altar. Instead, it harmoniously brings all these different substances together; enunciating a pre-established balance in the world. It’s no surprise that it’s supposed to be performed live by the two musicians alongside a video element to the show. How could you form this planetary affect within the feedback loop of a DJ set?

 

I am not very familiar with the Italian folk music, antiquated choral compositions, or noise music that is said to have inspired the record - but this is not a record that requires a load of premeditated self-referencing and ironic self-awareness to offer itself as a valid ‘experimental’ artwork. To its credit, Unison is genuinely affecting and invites every kind of listener to hold hands in its most leftfield corner of the dancefloor, instead of closing-off entry to those who have already been to the ‘leftfield corner of the dancefloor’ before. The pandemic has been seized upon by those agents most active in deflating the communicative possibilities of nightclubs, but TSVI & Seven Orbits are unwilling to fulfil a telos that asks them to submit and simply fill the gaps between workdays and weekends. We live in the best of all possible worlds, it just hasn’t arrived yet. Break With Me recommends Unison.

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Regal86 - Purple Show

Review by @frogman

Buy / listen

There’s a lot to like about Mexico-based Regal86. First and foremost in that long list is how his sound, aesthetic, and entire project collapse the othering and (more importantly) boring cliches to which Mexico and Central America are regularly subjected by pale, stale, sweaty Soyboys. Maybe I’ve just got my heckles up about this because I’ve been on a week-long, utterly uncharacteristic Breaking Bad binge, but you quickly notice the same Trejo-tropes being hammered over your pretty little head ad nauseam. Top of the list goes to the so-called Mexico filter (see attached image), closely followed by cloying, clagging, culo-cucking Day of the Dead fetishism, and then (most pointedly) that little bit of your brain that can’t think of the words ‘Mexico’ and ‘music’ in the same sentence without the image of a maroon-clad mariachi band or the sound of Cumbia maracas bubbling across your brain [not that there’s anything inherently wrong with Cumbia tunes; more from Siren on that elsewhere]. It’s this kind of bullshit that begins the swill-sodden pipeline that empties out with cunts in Dalston wanking themselves off over extortionate shots of organic tequila and good-fat guac. 


The second thing to like is the way that Regal86 seems to totally detach himself from national identity(s) not just through his sound (more on that shortly, shawty), but through the Ballardian embodiment of the machine which mirrors the materiality that produces that sound: Regal’s tag refers to the 1986 Buick Royal, a vehicle that’s iconic in Lowrider culture around which the sounds from which he most commonly draws (Memphis rap, horrorcore, southern hip hop etc) have gathered in the so-called physical world. Moreover, his socials are adorned with hub caps, chrome details, and some of the most perfectly polished paintwork you’ve ever seen.

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I’ll spare you the full rant about Ballard, Cars, and Crash, but the short version is summed up by JG’s enigmatic protagonist from the Atrocity Exhibition: car ‘crashes play very different roles to the ones we assign them’, ‘the car crash may be perceived unconsciously as a fertilizing rather than a destructive event – a liberation of sexual energy’ (AE, p. 26). In this sense, the automobile represents a generative power derived from machinic collision; by extension, I’m saying that the genric, cultural, sonic collisions through which Regal86 collapses “the Mexican” is a result of the digital internet machine through which the sounds arrive in his PC, collide, collapse, and are re-constructed. 

To my London-licked ear, the crossover that got me hooked was the Memphis rap beats that Regal86 overlays with irresistibly aggressive (early) jungle breaks, combining groove and sheer momentum in a way that neither genre, nor many in-between, is able to catch on its own. However, it would be reductive (bordering on the obscene) to suggest that these are the only influences from which he draws; its ‘ghetto’ in the broadest possible sense of the word, bringing together dark and dingy sounds from backrooms and bedrooms across the globe, forcing them through a punishing lo-fi extruder, and seeing what comes out the other side. The opening track ‘Skylark’ is perhaps the simplest – Memphis in the front, jungle in the back, and belting all the way. Daytona adds an addictive little piano hook and washed-out jungle vox to the heady combination, creating five and half minutes that are noisy, catchy, and blistering in equal measure. For me, the real wild card was the third and final track of the EP – BugRace. That’s because Regal brings electro into the mix; I’ve always had a complicated and prickly relationship with electro, and with all things Berlin if I’m honest – ze supercool leather-clad scene of times gone by gets on my tits no end, even when it’s worked in by some of my top-tier footwork and juke pals. However, Mr 86 pulls a blinder – by layering it with noise, ghetto house drums, and lo-fi vibes, I feel my own regional prejudices melt into air. Muchachos, Breakwith.me recommends Purple Show. 

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In Adolescence, this dimension leaks out in an unusual way. If the sampled voices in jungle were used as a sort of cybernetic tool to illustrate an identification with the ‘inorganic circuitry beneath the Terminator’s mask’ (top 5 Mark-Fisherism yktfv), and Auto-Tune co-opted this in the first few years of the millennium, then Unknown T’s approach to drill applies his raw baritone voice as the machine gun of choice; no longer is there a need for mere identification with the inhuman avarice of capital, it has become a full embodiment. Take a track like Goodums, a drill ballad in which T spits atop moody Rhodes chords alternating between bars in which he imagines seducing his lover and killing an undercover cop simultaneously. The chorus hook is an onomatopoeic threat -

I would’ve put it all in her back like “bodouff, woudoff” – gunshot or cumshot, it’s hardly radio friendly material. 

There is an eerie lie in the way that drill stars are required to present themselves in mainstream media; a performance of Goodums on the COLORSxSTUDIOS platform sees T clad in black - trench, sunglasses et al - in front of a pastel-pink studio with live pianist, perfect for Insta clipping. This dissonance between the wicked music and this even wickeder backdrop encapsulates an establishment aesthetic of gunpoint hegemony that drills a reminder: artists trying to capture the most extreme realities of a metropolitan condition are subject to the same idealistic standards as those who operate from much more comfortable corners of the world. This pressure leads to things like the dreary and unconvincing prequel to Goodums, Sweet Lies, in which T works through his own toxicity as a boyfriend. An analogue I would nod towards is Nick Cave. Unknown T represents the same gothic animality as Cave circa Birthday Party / From Her to Eternity but there’s somehow an industry exec pressure trying to sugar the drillpill with the cloying humanism of Cave’s later career. It’s hard to justify holding drill artists to the Instagram code of conduct* when there’s such an expansive history of “evil” music that we have historically valorised so highly, especially when this time around it comes out against a top-down institutional pressure to be good. Maybe T says it best himself - ‘time is a opp’. Break With Me recommends Adolescence.

*Side note: drillers have pretty boring Instagram accounts in general, whilst pop (white) artists like Justin Bieber or Post Malone can get away with posting more debauched stories. Weirdly, if you make music about evil you have to appear prim and proper online, but if you make music with good end-of-history values you’re entitled to cokepost your affairs and maintain major label funding.
 

Unknown T - Adolescence

Review by @denglord

Listen   Drill's stream-centric culture will be explored in a BwM video essay coming soon...

Adolescence is by no means the perfect mixtape. On the surface it doesn’t really expand much on the topics T explored in his first tape, Rise Above Hate; in that sense, drill generally doesn’t stray far from the alienation of the inner-city war machine through a hypermasculine lens. That’s really the main difference between drill’s dogmatic sensibilities versus grime’s flamboyant shapeshifting. Of course, grime stopped being an experimental rupture the first time round – when it became dogmatic and contained in the early 2010s by desperately trying to appeal to the charts – whilst drill remains so compelling because of its ability to achieve mainstream success with such a narrow (but unique) aesthetic. At the same time, it faces perhaps even more resistance than grime did with most legacy media coverage, insisting all the artists are murderers. In that way, so much of it is lumped into a throwaway pile of violent dross that none of the exciting artists get the critical coverage they deserve in the mainstream press.

At the time of writing this, I’m only just starting Kit Mackintosh’s new book Neon Screams, but I really love this sentiment central to its introduction - “we’re done with the old, codified modes of sonic imagination” (p.9). It seems like the overriding take of the book is that once we throw out the idea that music has to be innovative through technological interventions (breakbeat time-stretching, 303 acid squelches), we might understand that the innovations of the past few years have been through digital-processing of the artist’s voice. Mackintosh thinks that it’s not Auto-Tune as a technology that’s innovative, but the way drill, trap, and bashment artists have singularly warped their voices to formulate new styles of pop music, a sentiment echoed by Kieran Press-Reynolds

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EQ Why - Juke Pack Vol. 4 

Review by frogman

Buy / listen

A few years ago, maybe 2015/6, there seemed to be a proliferation of jungle and juke/footwork crossover tracks flooding bandcamp and the dancefloor alike, as if Chicago had only just [re]discovered the warpspeed breakbeat, as if Steve Goodman was singlehandedly feeding Spinn carefully curated sample packs perfectly picked from his own record collection. Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware there’s a whole world of tracks out there that fall somewhere between the Midwest and West-End sounds, and that – thinking longer-term macro-scale – the subtler blending or breaking of those boundaries is a more interesting and meaningful enterprise. BUT, there’s something irresistible about the thumpers you’ll find just by laying an OldSkool break over compulsively danceable Juke tunes. Why exactly this is, I don’t know, but I’ve decided to take a stab: 


Having to google ‘what’s the difference between footwork and juke’ before writing this up felt, at the time, like something shameful; a failure of the Fisherian impulse to give music and all its terminology the cheeseburger treatment. However, after a rocky start, it turned out to be an immensely fruitful endeavour. Cue Redditbros: ‘Explaining the difference between juke and footwork is kind of like explaining the difference between jungle and drum and bass…’ – heckles up, palms sweating, vomit-in-the-mouth kind of opener, but we’ll save the rebuttal for another post. Better things soon arrived: ‘…It's practically impossible, and even the people who make [Footwork and Juke] have a hard time doing so. Juke is all about dancing with somebody, and footwork is all about dancing against somebody.’ 

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Before I go on: what I’m about to say is not an indictment of footwork, nor the battling from which it was born; footwork’s origins in competitive dance not only make it great but are not mutually exclusive with that which makes it great on dancefloors too. This is NOT about to become some pseudo-anticap diatribe on the perils of “competition” in the abstract. However, the collective and communal potentialities of the dancefloor have always been at the heart of the breakwith.me project, so the carefully balanced counterpoint drawn above caught my amphibious eye. Footwork, at its very best, is more experimental, cut-up, and complex than juke, and – in one of Mark’s greatest insights on the genre – notes its unique capability to ‘surge’, ‘stab’, and ‘jab’, ‘heightening and lowering tension without every releasing it’; perhaps counterintuitively, footwork is – by design – difficult to dance to. 


It strikes me that on Juke Pack Vol. 4, EQ Why gets the very best of both worlds. Taking the simple(r) yet stunningly effective juke structure, combining it with phat, Trappy, low-ends that nestle nicely at the halfway point between on the Goldie-Rashad sine spectrum, and then running jingling breaks over the top, Lotta Money hits the jackpot; it’s experimental and genre-jumbling whilst still letting the component parts of all its influences shine through. It’s the demanding danceability of juke run-through with the communal psychedelia of jungle and, in short, its one of those tracks that you just know would go off on any dancefloor, for any audience, no matter how much of a ‘head’ they might claim to be in any of the pre-established sounds. Maybe its trite to say: “I rate this track because it’s a banger” but, at the end of the day, its an exercise in bringing people together, and tracks as simply//brilliant as this one can do just that. And the best part? This EP is comprised of one track in four different flavours: Juke Clean, Juke Dirty, Jungle Clean, and Jungle Dirty – this is fun for the whole family. Bring the kids along, and be sure to tell them: breakwith.me recommends Juke Pack Vol. 4.   

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BREAK WITH ME RECOMMENDS - JULY 2021

This month we’ve decided to start writing about new releases that have caught our attention. By no means an exhaustive list of good recent & upcoming releases, this is just a selection of good recent releases. Please consider buying these projects this Bandcamp day. Love, Break With Me. 06/08/2021

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Don Zilla - Ekizikiza Mubwengula

Review by frogman

Buy / listen

I first came across Don Zilla when Ben UFO dropped the title track of his last EP – ‘From the Cave to the World’ – during the festival season of 2019. The EP had dropped on Hakuna Kulala, one of the many Nyege-Nyege affiliated labels coming out of East Africa. Nyege Nyege have been spurring Africa’s dance music scene since 2013, giving nebulous, local, underground scenes a tent under which they can gather, and has been crucial in bringing these sounds to an audience beyond the bounds of the continent. Hakuna Kulala – so far as I can tell – plays home to the darker, grimier cuts coming out of the region, adorning them with some wicked cover art along the way. 

As I write that I feel a twinge of embarrassment – the last thing I want to be is yet another soyboy joining the long tradition of circlejerking the supposed darkness lurking deep within the African continent – but Don Zilla’s tunes are, undeniably, as dark as they come. ‘From the Cave’ was drum and bass put through the industrial-noise meat grinder, while its B-side ‘Inside Me’ was a sprawling, thirteen-minute soundscape drawn from the eeriest pallet going. His new album – Ekizikiza Mubwengula – sees these two sides of his work come together in blissful dissonance.

Having said that, it would be reductive to assume that this album is just spooky DnB™. What I mean is that the danceable and the spectral seem deeply intertwined throughout, even though the album takes its cues from a far more diverse array of genres, sounds, and scenes than its predecessor. My favourite track – ‘Automated’ – is the closest this album gets to a ravey dancefloor filler, but the murky bassline that’s ever present but never overpowering, the skittering echoes of breakbeats, and a deeply distorted melody drag you by the scruff of the neck a long way away from the piano-laden euphoria of hardcore. Nor is this jungle: It may have all the hallmarks (adorned with whistles, alarms, and wailing sirens on top of the flittering break), but it feels different; the deep-in-your-belly dread one feels the first time you hear jungle fades quickly with exposure, but this track brings it bursting back. Throw in some grinding synths, traditional drum patterns, and eponymous machinery that brings the track lurching into life, and soon you realise we’re in uncharted territory.

My other favourite track is ‘Buziba’. Sitting somewhere in the 140bpm range, it feels like a Sd Laika cut (somehow) made more evil. Held together by a gurgling, distorted synth line that sounds like the machine made animate (and all the cultural nightmares that scenario inspires), it is a relentless track. Like many of Zilla’s tunes it never ‘drops’ per se, but instead seems to heave from one nightmarish movement into the next. Between these blood-curdling bangers are moodier, less rhythmic tracks that hold the horror of this whole thing together.

Another writer has compared Zilla’s sound to Samuel R. Delaney’s poetic dystopias. I haven’t read Delaney, and a ‘Heart of Darkness’ reference would be the last nail in my pale, speccy, Orientalizing coffin, so my literary comparisons won’t be quite as sharp. What I can say with certainty is this: there is something intensely and unapologetically gothic that Zilla’s new album brings to the dancefloor, drenched as it is in automata, violence, and the eerie… and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Break With Me recommends Ekizikiza Mubwengula.

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Scratcha DVA - Afrotek EP 

(P)/review by hcurtoys

Pre-order / listen

The newest EP to come from the future-rhythm-generator himself, sees Scratcha rushing full tilt into his infectious mutations of the Durban Gqom sound with his ties to London’s smoggy warped basslines. His releases from the last year; Promise U / Smoke Signals, SFTGQM / Kong [Earthsurfaceopening Bootleg Mix], and & Baga Man have all provided us with an insight into the further potential of this emergent sound. I say emergent, but realistically Gqom has been thumping round Durban clubs for about 5 years, and since DJ Lag’s Ice Drop penetrated London clubs pre-Covid, we’ve all been getting ssweaaty at our @home parties to those icy, hollow drums ever since.

The title track (and the only track released atm) is fucking hard. It comes in at around 128bpm but, like most dance music coming out of the contemporary afro-diaspora, the rhythm is going 100mph and the lack of pounding 4x4s is a joyous testament to this sound’s un-Europeanness. Afrotek’s intensity is not found necessarily in the pummelling of off-kilter kickdrum thwacks, but more in how the grime-laden bass hits you at the end of each bar. That twist, shimmer, pulsation of pure nrg is channelled straight from the Devil Mixes of early Kahn & Neek* and greets u with a slap in the face as you attempt to dance to these stumbling beats. The foreboding, breathy, vocal ‘Os’ in Afrotek offer us a moody n gritty alternative to some of the more sun soaked Amapiano coming out of the Durban/London exchange, and whilst I do enjoy dipping my toes in the lush worlds of Nia Pearl and Kabza De Small, I am a sucker through and through for the ruff and tuff bassy dun…dun…dun…dun…dun…dun… of Afrotek.

Scratcha is showing us how the collaboration between various bass cultures is capable of producing sounds that are unlike music we’ve heard in a long time. DVA’s work ethic and ability to somehow churn out boundary-pushing music on the fly seems to be the spark at the base of a well-formed campfire keeping the newest international sounds warm until they’re infected with a UK ‘ardcore virus. This ‘global ghettotech’ as ethnomusicologist Wayne Marshall puts it, provides a network between international bass cultures and allows for the ‘genres identified with the ghettos of the former colonies as well as with the ghettos of today’s post-colonial metropoles…’ to spread regardless of global record labels in favour of specific artists and platforms.

I actually can’t wait for this. Break With Me recommends Afrotek EP by Scratcha DVA.

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Foodman - Yasuragi Land 

Review by Denglord

Buy / listen

Takahide Higuchi lives in Nagoya, the fourth largest city in Japan. It has long been ridiculed across the country, ever since the beloved comedian Tamori started roasting the city’s in-between status and uncertain cultural identity in the 1980s. But Foodman believes in Nagoya - ‘Yasuragi’ is a term for serenity or peace - except we won’t be finding peace in the symbolic escapism of the perfectly symmetrical spa, or the bastardized new age philosophy so commonly associated with Japanese culture in the west. No, as the album cover lets us know, Yasuragi Land is reached somewhere between the cookie-cutter bento boxes of train station food courts, the air-conditioning units in the alleys between financial skyscrapers, and the distant lackadaisical strumming of a young busker all jumbled amongst the rhythmic patter of city life.

The lure of this most ordinary setting sonically invests itself somewhere between Chicago footwork and Japan’s art-pop scene. In Dhanveer Singh Brar’s new book on the sonic ecologies of 21st century black musics, he makes the case for the genealogy of footwork being in its relation between the music and its dancers. He says, ‘it is the design of the battle circle which tells us that dance crews and producers are not distinct entities, but nodes within a system of distributed intelligence.’ (DSB - Teklife, Ghettoville, Eski p.75) So, if footwork is about sonically and kinetically generating new architekture within the urban ghetto, Foodman’s music reminds us that boredom can be an equally powerful tool in the creative engineering of utopian town planning. The main tactic in communicating this is of course omitting the sub bass that defines much contemporary dance music like footwork. What if we only had sporadic percussion and impulsive textures to guide us? If humans are the only species that can collectively organise to a pulse, why does our understanding of this organisation have to be limited to designated dancing zones and frequency ranges? The result is a kind of surrealism that’s animated not by its own aesthetic style but instead by its inability to produce something systematic, despite being grounded in the supposed tyranny of mundane life. For the philosopher Henri Lefebvre, the question then becomes ‘does musical time coincide with lived time? Or with imaginary time?’ (HL - Rhythmanalysis p.61)

The lure of this most ordinary setting sonically invests itself somewhere between Chicago footwork and Japan’s art-pop scene. In Dhanveer Singh Brar’s new book on the sonic ecologies of 21st century black musics, he makes the case for the genealogy of footwork being in its relation between the music and its dancers. He says, ‘it is the design of the battle circle which tells us that dance crews and producers are not distinct entities, but nodes within a system of distributed intelligence.’ (DSB - Teklife, Ghettoville, Eski p.75) So, if footwork is about sonically and kinetically generating new architekture within the urban ghetto, Foodman’s music reminds us that boredom can be an equally powerful tool in the creative engineering of utopian town planning. The main tactic in communicating this is of course omitting the sub bass that defines much contemporary dance music like footwork. What if we only had sporadic percussion and impulsive textures to guide us? If humans are the only species that can collectively organise to a pulse, why does our understanding of this organisation have to be limited to designated dancing zones and frequency ranges? The result is a kind of surrealism that’s animated not by its own aesthetic style but instead by its inability to produce something systematic, despite being grounded in the supposed tyranny of mundane life. For the philosopher Henri Lefebvre, the question then becomes ‘does musical time coincide with lived time? Or with imaginary time?’ (HL - Rhythmanalysis p.61)

 

介在する記憶と幻覚は同列だ 

再度未来に映る 灯は本物だから 落ち着いて

 

The intervening memories and hallucinations are all aligned.

Calm down, the lights reflecting in the future are real.

 

あなたらしく生きる

この道でまた会おう

 

Live your life as who you are

Let’s meet again on this path.


 

 

 

 

 

These lyrics are from ‘michi-no-eki’, an ode to roadside service stations featuring vocals from Taigan Kawabe of Bo Ningen fame. The video sees Kawabe running out of one of these stations until he eventually dives into the beach whilst confetti rains down from the sky. Take a look at Higuchi’s paintings too, and you’ll see this same spirit of situationist re-constructability combined with footwork’s geometric chaos. Perhaps this devotion to little instances, moments, ruptures of sounds can be considered a kind of rhythmanalysis. According to Lefebvre, ‘the rhythmanalyst might return to and intervene in the everyday. Without claiming to change life, but by fully reinstating the sensible in consciousness and in thought, he would accomplish a tiny part of the revolutionary transformation of this world and this society in decline’ (HL, P.26). Let’s turn now to Guy Debord:

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‘The extreme poverty of conscious organization and creativity in everyday life expresses the fundamental necessity for unconsciousness and mystification in an exploiting society, in a society of alienation.’

(GD - Perspectives for Conscious Alterations in Everyday Life)

Ultimately this is Foodman’s mantra - don’t make dance music that can be described, make music that can be utilised as a blueprint towards how we might approach turning the city into a zone where dancing makes more sense than walking. Break With Me recommends Yasuragi Land.

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Oyubi - Mel  / Futaeno

Review by Frogman

Buy / listen

There’s only one thing worse than soyfacing over Africa’s otherness, and that’s soyfacing over Japan’s otherness (@denglord); the misled Japan-obsessive stares (hilariously) agape at a society that is almost identical to his own. [See meme below.]

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However, the nation’s ever-expanding status as a global centre of capital has actually accelerated its musical output in an experimental and productive direction (fellow commies don’t @ me – every cloud…; even a broken clock…; etc).Until fifteen years ago, ‘only 120 to 130 BPM house and techno, along with 170 to 175 BPM drum & bass music, existed in clubs’ says de facto founder of the scene DJ Fulltono. But in 2008 everything changed (didn’t it just!). Two things happen: the first generation of internet-literate Japanese youngsters reach club-going age, and footwork explodes out of the American Midwest. Fulltono finds himself at that intersection, and by the end of 2008 has founded the now legendary Booty Tune. In its wake, other labels and events start to follow, and the music starts to radically change.

Oyubi stands at the forefront of the latest wave of producers who are pushing the scene into uncharted waters. ‘“UK bass music'' is an almost wilfully bland term’ said Mark Fisher (now we really are soyfacing) ‘but it does point to the element which gave every genre from jungle to UK garage and dubstep their consistency: a viscous, glistening bass sound. This is conspicuously absent from Rashad’s sound’. Conversely, the first thing that strikes you about ‘Mel’ is its throbbing bassline that could be straight from one of Deep Medi’s rougher cuts. Combine this with a tripped-out vocal sample that’s got 100 Gecs written all over it, and some double bass plucks that nod towards Art Blakely, and you begin to see how far footwork’s pallet has been shaken up from the OG days of disco and Yeezy samples.

But these tracks are more than just their influences. The beefy basslines exist in stark but beautiful contrast to the ethereal, almost magical synths that glitter over the top – euphoria and dread once again find themselves in amorous deadlock. In ‘Mel’, a chanting hip-hop vocal is reduced to a barely audible, paranoid whisper as the track rolls on; in ‘Futaeno’, it’s the break and the hats that are given this treatment – they flicker across the track, in one moment rousing you from the paralysing effects of the bottom end, in the next moment willing you into its soporific effect. Dubbed out echoes create depth and space in the track, widening the chasm between the hefty low ends and the sparkling highs.

 

Where OG footwork was – for (very) good and bad – beautifully simple and analytic in construction, Oyubi’s newest tunes add a layer of sonic precarity that perfectly reflect its impact on the form at large. Don’t get me wrong, these tracks have all the hallmarks of good, honest, footwork – classic claps, cubist corners, and (first and foremost) an irresistible groove – this is still footwork, but not as you know it. Break With Me recommends you listen to Oyubi.

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M.I.C & Nammy Wams - You Can Achieve Anything

Review by Denglord

Buy / listen

‘I don’t need to rap about guns, I don’t need to talk about funds, I got no flavours in my lungs, I don’t need to impress Headie One’ says the Master of Inane Conversation (M.I.C). He’s not impressed with the current landscape in Grime, Grime 2, experimental grime, whatever. M.I.C has been busy in the underground scene for the past few years, but this EP produced entirely by Croydon producer & DJ Nammy Wams (whose recent album Paradise South is also fantastic btw) feels like the beginning of something bigger for the two artists, the scene, and the city - the beginning of an interdependence between North and South London!?

Dan Hancox’s ethnography of the genre, Inner City Pressure, explored how the violent territoriality that compelled Grime to incubate such far out sonic experiments lost its bite once it got absorbed into the culture industry’s relentless chokehold. By now we all know that Matt Hancock claimed to be a Skepta fan, Dizzee performed at London 2012 whilst the regeneration of the ‘heart of Bow’ estate he grew up on and where Rinse FM first aired out of was ‘washed, rinsed, and looking good’ to investors etc etc. After the fact, Danveer Singh Brar asks us to consider ‘If the blackness compressed into Grime allowed it to induce and encircle the seemingly totalized strategy of policing, then what could this black musical project have been capable of in the absence of any warfare from the state?’ (DSB = Teklife, Ghettoville, Eski p.138)

M.I.C’s answer is to reimagine the first years of our millennium so that it’s anime music videos getting talked about in schools instead of UK drill snapchat gossip, A.R. Kane and Nintendo Switches are all the rage, and Haringey’s borders bear the cinematic mythology of Hugh Grant’s Kensington & Chelsea. He sticks to the AAAAAAAAnythingGoes rhyme scheme that fired up his genre’s early pioneers, but mutates what should be an aggressive cadence into something much more intuitive and feminine. Make no mistake about it - M.I.C knows how to roast - Fan Service is a ruthless diatribe against the hands-in-pockets hipsters that go to secret shows secretly - that guy looks like Thom Yorke, but he thinks he’s a crook - but I think M.I.C is at his best justifying his punky discontent against the backdrop of the joy that his home and community brings him: North London is the only perfect place on Earth. After Brar asks us what Grime’s capabilities could’ve been without the policing against its emancipatory potential, he wonders if it ‘contains the phono-material codes to turn London into a bass colony?’

For M.I.C, the bass colony has always been there, it’s just hidden in a secret back room behind Roti Joupa that only he’s discovered so far. This is a rapper that’s self-aware enough to know his approach is more likely to win fans amongst those in-the-know keep hush types than the type that shuffle an algorithm-made Spotify grime playlist in the gym (not that you can’t be both), and as a result this particular collaboration with one of London’s most exciting producers is a no holds barred approach that lingers not on the sound of festering machismo that defines so much contemporary grime but instead weaves its way back to the leftfield beauty of a style that once invented the future by breaking the rules. In an interview in Dummy Mag, Nammy Wams said ‘the 17-year-olds who were listening to grime in 2003, the same kind of person who’s 17 years old now is listening to drill. I don’t think drill is as experimental as grime was in its early days, but there’s so much being made if you do look out you’ll find it.’ It should be obvious, so much more is yet to come. Break With Me recommends You Can Achieve Anything.

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Pressure Dome - INTL.PDCOMP001

Review by Hcurtoys

Buy / listen

 

Next up from me is a compilation coming from Bristol label Pressure Dome. The comp. features 10 trax from artists based in Ireland, France, Kampala, New York, Copenhagen. The trax are exploring every inch of what I describe as some kind of Techno-Dancehall, which is a term I knicked from Mr Mitch’s Rinse show of the same name, but I feel that best describes the variety of sound and highlights the essence of the label’s bastardized bass laden sounds.

The opening track Overtime by Sputnik One offers up a slow-but-fast clatter of hats n snares filled to the brim with a subby (🥺) foghorn. The vocals are chopped up finely and scattered throughout the warping echo space as the prowess of the Dublin based producer is shown off, the breakdown around the 2 min mark is such a luscious, squelchy, cesspit I wanna b there bad. Next up is Drain by Christian Coiffure, a bubbling heavyweight dancehall winner. Again this one is properly live, it's full of little squelching organisms bubbling and spitting at you from the cauldron as the bass drum lumbers forward. This is soundsystem music made by aliens, and at around 2:30 we’re greeted by the extra-terrestrial acid virus driving the whole thing as the track erupts into a reinvigorated electro sprint.

Plonker by pq is up next. It starts with some delicate keys lulling you into a false sense of security, some scary synths glisten in the background accompanied by a clink n some other bits that remind me a bit of some DMZ dubsteppy stuff; then boom, big single bassy kick to the face. It’s a somewhat sinister track tbh, it really rises in intensity throughout and towards the middle some muffled vocal is creeping up behind you with an arpeggio n then… alarms are blaring in the spaceship, spooky staccato strings (reminding me a bit of Horror Gqom by T5UMUT5UMU), and a proper dancehall stomping beat pattern to get u stepping. Up next is a speedier track coming from US producer Ronan and the song is called Ololiuqui which is apparently the name of some Mexican plant in the ‘Morning Glory’ species(??) Anyway Ololiuqui opens with a rigorously chopped breakbeat, intermingled with a few chimes and clangs, and some proper dubby keys echoing into the middle distance. The track opens up into a kind of Jungle, but never quite actualising- defo leaning much more toward the ‘Intelligent’ Braindancey side. A very pretty track but shadowed by the rest I’d say. Tinkah’s track Closing Chapters follows the braindance party, but with much more emphasis on the dance. Injections of amens and subs spliced up beyond recognition, mechanical vocals snuck in after each bar (Proc Fiskal style), and an almost Grime-y flow to it. Tinkah fills their music to the brim with textures and makes it alive.

The ghost town start of Thodén’s New Confines sets the scene perfectly for the rest of this track, it is the energy that fuels running for the last bus; that which makes u want to be outside in the city after dark. The electronic bleeps n blips zip past you in hyper-speed, and then swelling up is the raucous beat loop accompanied by some deep deep subs. It's got a melancholy and foreboding urban-ness, but will electrocute u in an instant...send spasms down ur spine. Not one to be messed with. Vecta by LOIF is up next, and it's another track infected by whatever acidic, electro virus is going through this comp. You’d hear this track in a DJ Stingray set. Its gurgling, slightly old skool bassline is paired with a bouncing bass beat; it's nippy and infinitely danceable. Following this is Null Azimuth by Ma Sha Ru. It opens with some skittish snares let loose over some rumbling bass-creature, and then a robotic voice chatting in an unidentified language. This is the one I want to hear in Corsica, the warping bass and skipping drums demanding you to lurch and twitch into an unhuman frenzy. Following the frenzy is my favourite track Sound of Your Shadow by Talik. It opens with some echoed bass drum hits immediately giving way to a jaunty rhythm in true Techno-Dancehall stylee, thump thump thump, this track stomps like Elephant Dub. Then as it fades away onto some blissful pads, it evolves into a proto-gqom machine. Muffled sci-fi samples carried by its pounding subs and the occasional rave stab. This track properly grows and by 4 mins 30, you’re rounding another peak and the track is stripped back, dubbed out, and the bass takes centre stage; warm and bubbling down in the woofers. This track ought to b shaking walls, its strange cyber infliction has got me hooked. Finally we arrive at the close, DJ Durbin’s Drems. Snippets of breakneck amen breaks are loaded with glassy melody, zipping off into outta space it explodes up and spreads out. Like the rest of the release the track is full of depth, u can hear the textures deep in the foundation of drums. At the pinnacle of this track there is a huge sonic expanse between the sub bass and the melody, tying it to the polyrhythms of Jungle and the like but also acting as a reminder that this track like the rest of the music on this release is dedicated to exploring sonic space; send him outer space, spacebars, breaks/pauses/ and acidic fluctuations.

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The Highway Rat - We Stay Here With You

4 songs of joy, another world is possible

Do not listen to or buy this one under any circumstances ...unless...

If you would like to write about your favourite new releases coming

 

out next month please send us a message via the contact page

 

on our website, or through our Insta DMs @breakwith.me

Love, Break With Me

HEAVEN OR WHAT.

Harry Curtoys presents new work 'Heaven Or What.' We recommend playing the audio piece embedded as you scroll through the text.

 

This piece charts the journey of an unnamed character through their musical exploration of heartbreak, longing, and loved up euphoria. Bass overwhelms soul vocals, House tracks are slowed to the speed of Lovers Rock, the sound of mates singing along is heard in the distance, and mechanic glimmers of birdsong cut through the fog.
The hum of a distant voice is heard, rumbling as if it were coming from another room. The door is opened and the last sentiments are heard: “the collective capacity to produce, to care, and to enjoy.”

24/07/21

We start inside an overwhelming wave, a chorus of vast vivid pads raining out. Chords dripping, heavy with echo, the remanence of the vocal origin heard only as the note loops. A prolonged and solemn waterfall of a synthesized choir. A mournful software instrument trying to empathize.

 

The hum of a distant voice is heard, rumbling as if it were coming from another room. The door is opened and the last sentiments are heard: “the collective capacity to produce, to care, and to enjoy.”

And we’re back, back in the immediate. We hear a shimmer, a machinic glimmer or twinkle, an artificial birdsong. It initiates the flipping of the cassette, a reminder to change the song, to not let it run out. Open, turn over, insert, play. A slow cymbal crash ripples out into the reverberated expanse,

“I know you don’t love me” she sings  “and there may be someone else”, pause “but as I sit alone here at home, knowing what I should do, I find I can't stay away from you.”

 The metre seems ever so slightly off kilter, it lulls from side to side, chimes ringing out on each beat. A lethargic rhythm offset with a beautiful voice. Thick with desire and the insurmountable power of soul.

“I can't stay away from you”, “no I can't stay away from you.” She stretches each word out, looses herself in each note as the drum beat trudges on. An immaculate voice emanating from the cassette player, an otherworldly shout that ruthlessly draws tears. “And I’d leave if I could.”

The singer longs for the outside, that which is just out of reach. But she can’t leave, she turns back. There’s a rumble radiating from the subwoofers, it bubbles and spits, the pressure begins to become unbearable.

Her voice slips slowly under the cloud as it passes overhead. A thick, viscous thunder rolling over and over. The glimmer from the outside, the birdsong heard through the open window, cutting through the fog. A shrill siren; the dawn chorus.

The clouds begin to part and the rumble retreats. The cassette stops and is immediately flipped, the lingering birdsong replaced with a chorus of horns and that steadily jaunty rhythm.

The indecipherable voice of the MC of whatever soundclash this track was heard in shouts out over a squelchy, bouncing siren, signalling the attention of all listeners. A distant and subdued voice sings out:

“Kiss me once, girl”, “Kiss me twice, girl”. The rhythm now taking an almost total hold over the body. “And everything nice girl”.

An unavoidable bounce, bob, sway. The voice begins the chorus, rising higher, wringing out each syllable. “Love me forever and I-…” 

Clunk. It stops. No more. Too much; you heard enough. Those notes and chords are potent.

The murmur returns. This time as the liquid purl of the beck, babbling over stones worth skimming. “YOU DREAM OF HEAVEN”, the voice quickly shouts out into the expanse. The reverb exploded up and up stripping itself down to a single, warm note.

I want to stay suspended in that hum at 4:47.

It lingers for a moment before giving way to the energetic drum loop now quickly barging in; “Now badboy”. The fuse is lit, its live, the pulsating energy loop of that other-worldly bassline and the sharp drums step, or rather sprint forward.

Laser beams zip past, ricocheting off the walls, a faraway vocalist is stuck repeating the same chopped snippet of the original track, separated from its source,

 

 

                                                              “I wanted you, I wanted you, I wanted you”.

The speeding vocalist’s coiled desire is finally released as we mount the peak, the precipice of the chorus, the warped vocals rising up…

and then falling just out of earshot; we hear the voice but the bassline seems to block us from hearing her words. Then a sudden stab of static.

The vocals disappear and the drums roll on, pouncing on each beat. The momentum of the loop propelling itself forward until the bassline then falls away and we’re left with just the now melting drums. The beat quickly evaporates into a thick gas, leaving droplets of molten glass and treacle, and twinkling risers pinging away behind the fog.

“The only way to protect joy, is by practicing it…”,

the same voice from the room with the door ajar crawls out from behind the haze. It is lined with a dense, gliding bassline which flits about, stooping high and low above the beck. Not too far away you can hear Astrid singing her song. And then those fizzing droplets of molten glass conjure up a new voice, one of Scratcha’s concoctions.

“baby I can see you watching me… tell me can you handle my love, my love, my love”, and baby do you feel me?”

As quickly as it arrives, the hypnotic vocal sample fizzles out into a grainy, glitching pulse. The sounds from the garden float in through the open window, the outside sounds lush.

A cassette is inserted. The reverberating drums roll out a lulling rhythm, cascading into the vast echo-space with a dreamlike wistful melody. Heaven or what.

The booming bassline suddenly drops out and the smooth lyrics emerge,

“3 o’clock in the morning, Im wondering where you are, I can’t close my eyes, I hope you’re not far, now I’ve been struggling since the time you left, and I know that I can’t forget, how you used to hold me tight, now you’ve gone, I’m all alone, now you’ve gone, I’m all alone, without you…”

The wee hours marred by the seduction of melody; a ‘sensuous mosaic’. 

 The steady sway of this solemn tune dissolves into a cyber-spatial buzz, mutating into an effervescing siren which marks the end of the track. Flip the cassette and the gristle returns. A rumble in every sense of the word greets us, a thunder, a low-end haar, a rolling sea fret.

Shaking subwoofers, the steps of a giant rocking side to side make their way out of the fog; house music slowed to the pace of rocksteady, the euphoria stretched and warped into a shelter for the lovers to dwell. Thick with reverb, one or several voices can be heard pouring out the chorus,

“when I fall in love, it will be completely, or I'll never, never give my heart, when I fall in love, it will be forever, or I’ll never, never fall in love…”

We’re struck, stunned, the sway of the music, my own personal hypnosis. This is pure, we hear a string of words, we understand; we meet someone, they understand, never giving your heart, never allowing that to happen, is what we share. The track begins its descent, voices can still be heard over the pulse, a muffled laugh and the distant vocals now providing the only light in the tunnel, the walls are shaking. This rumble is all we want, it’s so immensely shared, feel my bass, it’s yours, I want you to feel it too. 

A digitalized warmth radiates off the incoming chords. From somewhere else another lovers track starts as the chords are twisted into an echoing loop, the sharp vocals of Joya Landis grasping you tightly as I whistle the melody.

“That’s sweet mate” the YouTube comments say,

“Proper grown folk business”.

The track is muffled and distant but the lyrics flood the digital vastness

“I would die for you, and that's why, you're my lover, yes, you are my lover, moonlight lover, you are my lover”.

You can hear that warmthless still buzzing around in the background with the occasional click, clap, and whistle. “Moonlight lover” I hum out of my window with a renewed and drunken liveliness, the last lines of the track suddenly give way to a swelling bright and vivid glimmer.

The pad roars out of the soundsystem, blaring its cloying song through all six speakers. The room trembles again. This is overpowering, a wave of glorious bright light, pure affection out of the blue.

The last fragments of Joya Landis are still pulsating in the echo-space. Our tremendous wave breaks, and the birdsong returns with the glimmer of the early morning.

The vocals begin to mutate once more.

“DO YA, DO YA, DO YA, FEEL ME…WARP WARP WARP…”

I walk past the warped bassline emanating from some rig, lazily wired cables hang from the machine constructing a dense network of wire above our heads.

I walk off now to catch the bus, someone jogs past me, their feet slapping the wet tarmac, they barely notice as I look towards them.

A car is blaring some weird dub at a red light, filled with sirens and helium vocals. I pass a venue surprisingly open this late, playing some 80s tracks, “we’ll always be together, together in electric dreams”. 

I return home to find us all listening to some loved up hardcore track, its you, me, and him.

The twinkle returns over the rumbling bassline as I pass through the house, shaking the walls again. Glistening in the high morning light it lingers longer than before.

Beautiful says the machine.

 

The melody takes over, the hyper-rhythm centralises around your body, takes hold. The jaunty digital accordion bellowing out its song, a jig, a shuffle, a dance.

 

And as swiftly as it takes hold, it leaves us alone, it takes flight as if scared off by our presence.

 

We’re left on the riverbank, heartbroken. 

THE [REAL] TERROR

What if a big, ugly, ethereal polar bear is actually the harbinger of imperial expansion's rupture and collapse? 

Today Frogman wants to talk about Lacan and AMC's The Terror @frogmanfilth

02/05/21

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England is like some stricken beast too stupid to know it is dead. Ingloriously foundering in its own waste products, the backlash and bad karma of empire.

> William Burroughs, The Western Lands
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AMC’s 2018 series The Terror begins in 1845; the middle of the decade in which Great Britain (rEmeMbeER whEN iT wAs GrEaT?!) establishes itself as global hegemon, world policeman, and seaman maximus. You’ll be as unsurprised as I was to learn that it’s the very same decade the nation “officially” adopted a policy of global free trade – when we really started going after the money. In fact, that’s precisely the purpose of the ill-fated expedition on which the series – 10 episodes, 8.5 hours long, and yet still incredulously referred to by our transatlantic cousins, the newly-woke-global-hegemon, as a “mini-series” – centres: a quest to discover the Northwest Passage, an ambition drenched in all the paper-thin finery of Rule Britannia Enlightenment knowledge-hunting that is, in reality, nothing more than a mad dash for the new trade superhighway to China. An obvious but important signpost: capitalism and imperialism are, and always have been, two sides of the same bloodstained coin. 

 

The expedition begins all pomp and glory: officers draped in finery consuming three course meals with wine and whisky, the lower ranks munching their way through lead-poisoned cans of veal cutlets and tomato sauce – the result of a slapdash, chumocracy-style contract that breeds shoddy craftsmanship and proves fatal for “the masses”– nothing changes. But soon things go all tits up: HMS Terror and HMS Erebus may be the most technologically advanced warships of their day – newly updated with a steam-powered single-screw propeller capable of catapulting them along at up to 4.5km/h (!!) – but sadly for all the healthy white seamen, there’s a hard winter coming, and pack ice doesn’t give a shit how neatly your beard is trimmed or how cutting-edge your sloop is; despite good advice from Captain Crosier (skipper of the Erebus but second in command to Sir John Franklin, leader of the eponymous Terror and the expedition writ large) the ships push on, and soon become lodged in the ice, never to be freed. 

 

After some half-arsed efforts to dig their way out, the difficulty of the situation becomes clear, and search parties are sent out from the boats to search for leads. During the outing, one of the parties manages to “accidentally” kill a native Inuit man. After failing to properly bury him (they force the poor sod down a fishing hole in the ice), soon ensues a plot device that comes to dominate many of the following episodes: a monstrous Inuit spirit called the Tuunbaq is unleashed upon the entire crew (more fool them; I’ve warned against the dangers of botched-burials in previous posts on frogmanfilth.org). The Tuunbaq – which can only be described as a polar bear with Klippel-Feil syndrome and pumped full of steroids, rendered in slightly budget CGI – pursues the men relentlessly, tearing them to shreds as it goes. To be frank, as satisfying as it is to see the prim and proper sailorboys torn to ribbons by their orientalised hosts, it’s ultimately a cheap thrill. What’s much more interesting is not what happens when the British empire comes up against Inuit mythology (which, it’s worth adding, the author of the original novel and co-writer of the series, Dan Simmons, rewrites and brutalises in order to create the silly creature – an unintended but telling act of aesthetic colonialism in of itself), but when the British Empire comes up against nothing at all. 

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All societies are built on Symbolic Orders; all Symbolic Orders are built on language. In so-called Great Empires, this is only compounded. Their expansion, exploitation, and hegemony rely upon rigid hierarchies, the ruthless control of desiring flows, and the foreclosing on socio-political alternatives. You need only look to the ridiculous names and ranks that are thrown around in the navy, or in any Repressive State Apparatus of your choosing – submission to the other, interpellation through language, and subjectification through naming are necessary and essential in the formation of, and entry to, society. Similarly, they don’t call it a grandnarrative for nothing: the meta-justifications for empire are the end-result (or end-purpose) of the name game; create enough words and soon you’ll have a sentence, then a paragraph, then a book, and then enough made-up phrases that you can funnel the desire of every man, woman, and child towards one hideous end – the ruthless expansion of your “collective” world view over all others. Under capitalist realism, remember that this is the profit-motive’s most powerful weapon.

One of The Terror’s greatest strengths is its cinematography; the Arctic feels as expansive, barren, and punishing as I can only imagine it really is. As such, the two little boats filled to the brim with God-Save-the-Queen hoo-rah find themselves in an exceptionally chilly version of the desert of the Real. The Real – all which lies beyond the bounds of the Symbolic, that which the Symbolic is designed to endlessly colonise, control, and supress – is a void, it is an absence, and that is precisely what these ships find themselves subsumed by. Where their route was once a part of a much larger narrative, given meaning through word only, once progress halts they realise that they lie beyond the Empire’s bounds, its words, and subsequently all the hope and meaning it provides; where their geographical coordinates are lost, their phantasmatic coordinates soon follow. In this sense, rather than imagining Tuunbaq as a quasi-spiritual whitewashed polar bear of subaltern vengeance, it makes a great deal more sense to understand it as an embodiment of the raging, screaming, deathdrive of the Real, bursting through their ruptured Symbolic order; the Id let loose as the ego – both individual, but also collective, national, imperial – loses its hold. This is perhaps why, in a particularly (small ‘s’) symbolic moment, the mutinous Sergeant Hickey cuts out his tongue, and as such any ability to consensually partake in the imperial-Symbolic, and feeds it (as well as himself) to the ever-raging Tuunbaq.

Which brings me to my next point via Lacan via Bhaktin via Moudileno: Another of The Terror’s greatest assets is its unflinching approach to the body; this is not gore for the sake of gore, “horror” for the sake of horror, but the grotesque body firing on all cylinders. From amputations to cannibalism, sodomising trysts to scalping and demi-decapitation, The Terror is littered with bodily functions and bodies at point of rupture. Bhaktin defines the grotesque body as a “body in the act of becoming, it is never finished, never completed”, focusing on “those parts of the grotesque body in which it outgrows its own self, transgressing its own body”. Therefore, though we can just take the blood and guts at face value, as the (small r) real representation of this Lord of the Flies on ice, we can happily take it one step further: bodies at the point of breakage, of transgressing their perceived limits, are reflective of hierarchies, discourses, and grandnarratives doing exactly the same thing. The language of the Symbolic defines the parameters of the singular body just as much as it does the collective will; when the bounds of those bodies are ruptured and collapsed it is because the relationship between those bodies and the hegemonic discourses that once defined them has been disturbed. The Terror reflects collapse of the Imperial narrative at a wonderfully visceral level.

And all of this leads us neatly to the series’ conclusion. The Tuunbaq is defeated by an aptly but unsubtly named Surgeon Goodsir who – knowing his own murder is imminent – douses himself in vinegary poison and slashes his wrists in another beautifully corporeal moment of Christ-like martyrdom; Hickey’s crew eat Goodsir, Tuunbaq eats Hickey’s crew, and you can guess the rest. This – along with the lead poisoning, starvation, and over three years of Arctic exposure in impossibly thin and well-kept coats – leaves all the men but Captain Crozier dead. Alive and well but for a missing hand (lost to the Tuunbaq) the Captain is rescued by an Inuit woman called Silna and taken to her tribe. After a few months of much needed R&R here, the British search party (finally) comes knocking, looking for the lost ships and their crew. “What do you want me to do?” asks the leader of the Inuit tribe; the scene cuts to the leader pointing at a photograph of Crozier brought by the search party and telling them that he is “dead and gone”. Unbeknownst to the Brits, Crozier stands outside that very tent, wrapped in his own set of tailor-made Inuit furs. The point here is this: Crozier’s body may – more or less – be in one piece, but he has chosen to sacrifice every dripping of the Imperial-Symbolic he possibly could. Not just his clothes and his rank, but (most importantly) his language too, having become fluent in the Inuit dialect; though the body lives on, the man that was Captain Crozier, the man that the British Empire had subjectivised as “Captain Crozier”, is both dead and gone. 

 

The final shot is fitting: ex-Crozier walks away from the tent, and the scene cuts to him crouched by a hole in the ice, presumably hunting for seal, surrounded by an endless expanse of ice that bleeds seamlessly in the always-white Arctic sky and ghostly summer sun; subsumed not just by the desert of the Real, but its unbearable silence too. Imperialism – just like capitalism – relies on endless expansion, on endless ground to colonise and commodify. For this very reason, Empire’s greatest enemy is not the revenge-set subaltern it oppresses, but its own self-defeating logic: nothing can expand forever, one day there will be nothing left to colonise, and one day the hegemon will have to confront all that lies beyond its bounds – the empty, silent, raging void – and what then? 

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ALL TRUTH IS CROOKED, TIME TO WATCH THE CIRCLE 

At the turn of the millennium Big Brother began to ask the audience which contestant they liked

the most, this year’s season of The Circle tells us that it doesn’t matter who we like anymore. @denglord

26/4/21

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>Karl Marx, Grundrisse

 

10pm on a weeknight – a lockdown psyop commonly experienced as sofa-bound hex between dinner and bed. The person next to you vaguely suggests exchanging covering letters for a job at the intersection of art and technology that neither of you will get, so you reach through the house-share blend cbd fug to notch up the TV remote, feign interest in what’s glowing behind. Reality studio Channel 4 has been on in the background as long as you can remember so you’re not fazed upon realising commitment to its newest season of The Circle. The Circle, sort of based on a sci-fi novel that no one cares about, is sort of like Big Brother, which is sort of based on a sci-fi novel that far too many people care about. The Circle’s been going on for a few seasons now and has become a real hit – it’s a dystopian twist on real life in which contestants spend all day in their isolated apartments desperately marketing themselves as the most likable person in the ouroboros in order to win some prize money. In previous years of the show, as in Big Brother, the winner was picked by the audience. But due to the pandemic, this year’s show was pre-recorded and thus all voting conducted by the contestants themselves…

 

You find yourself inserted into the cereal guy meme template:

“they will never make a hit reality game show without audience interaction!”

 

 

 

 


 

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Yesterday’s heretics diagnosed the rise of reality game shows’ ubiquity as a result not of their cultural prowess but of parasitic cross-platform engagement. Of course these shows are successful - they’re franchise-first feedback loops designed to maximise engagement and minimise abstract thought…The heretics held a torch up to the underlying ideology of these shows which is that they claim to have emancipated us from the perilous mythological worlds promised by art and politics…you know the best things in life are cheap and easy. Even though French guy Jean Baudrillard said that this might happen, he neglected to tell you how you might go about making people believe in more imaginative broadcasting. After all, brave defenders of the reality studio will turn and say what’s so bad about people enjoying things?

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>Jean Baudrillard, The Ecstasy of Communication

>Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride

German guys are particularly good at explaining why we shouldn’t enjoy things, in particular: Friedrich Nietzsche. A guy that all sorts of sick fucks are obsessed with but you’re most drawn to the ones that tell you Friedrich thought that we put too much emphasis on the truth. Not the truth, which is cool, but a kind of truth that’s actually sort of a lie, you get me? He might’ve watched The Circle and told you that the tragedy is not that this type of show exists. The tragedy is that the contestants believe their best strategy in winning the game involves weaponizing their ‘authenticity’. Isn’t it strange that given a virtual presence with only text-based communication, the players instinctively validate themselves by revealing their failures rather than their successes? You can’t help being cynical now of the real-world stories of bullying, sickness, and alienation your favourite players spoke of. In this race to the bottom, you remember that the players who could not survive were those that were not able to concoct a special trauma to define themselves by – without a claim to suffering, they became untrustworthy. Meanwhile, as the players learned more about each other, bias and prejudice increased alongside information overload.

 

Consider Manrika, undoubtedly edited into the show to appear as the contestant most likely to win up until the last hurdle: her competition arc revolved around needing the prize money, unlike the rest of the contestants (including winner Natalya) who purported throughout to have joined the show as a ‘social experiment’. By revealing early on in the game that her family was torn apart by issues of addiction and financial precarity, she won the other players’ trust and maintained it even after betraying her closest allies one by one. But Manrika’s strategy failed – whilst she may have convinced the other finalists that she was most worthy of the prize money, that didn’t mean to them that she’s most worthy of winning the competition. After all, the a priori of going on any of these reality game shows is never really the prize but the virtual social capital that comes along with being on TV every night for three weeks...would you risk it all to potentially be allowed into the world of navigating a maze of shell companies to get sent free cosmetics? If we look at all the finalists on The Circle (excluding Joey and Pippa who were so obviously last minute props to extend the Manrika-Andy-Syed dynamic for an extra week of ads) we can see that nearly all the players recruited are already well versed in the mandatory entrepreneurialism of social media, be it as trend forecasting fast fashion influencer, self-help business guru, or clickbait YouTube prankster. Only winner Felix aka Natalya the armed police officer had the cold rationalist distance from real virtual social dynamics informing the other player’s decisions to make the other players believe she was worthy of the prize money. A quick glance at her Instagram profile makes it obvious she has little interest in being popular online beyond the immediate gratification of a few more likes. Her username could be the access code to a school computer, she is not verified, and she talks about banal shit like diy hair curling and contemporary fantasy lit. This is the perfect candidate to win a show which is all about self-policing your behaviour to match that of the corporate environment you find yourself in.

 

What if this is not a trait unique to the contestants on a reality show, but instead an obligatory social endeavour within a wider ecology of consensual brainrot? Just as the players in the game are shown unique versions of what’s going on in ‘the circle’ social media, real life social media likewise takes an algo-torial approach that means everyone’s feeds will always be unique. So whilst on the one hand things move so fast in virtual spaces that it’s impossible to forge a consensus reality on what’s going on and just happened, on the other you have a legacy media telling you that the pinnacle of prime-time entertainment is nothing more than a slowed down version of real life. You’ve started to put on your joker makeup by now.

 

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>Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

But why did you not miss a single episode of The Circle, and why did you give your ever-diminishing-attention to it in the first place? The truth is that in an age where you are happier to keep a Netflix subscription or sit mindlessly through hours of sponsored YouTube content than pay your TV licence fee, terrestrial broadcasting seems like a wasteland of lost public space in which you can’t help but wish to salvage something joyous from the wreckage. The kind of consensual hallucination that allows The Circle to be a success makes you feel that the type of content programmed by legacy media is so far behind the cultural ‘avant-garde’ appearing in online spaces.

 

You could easily drone on about its 80s synthpop soundtrack that yearns for lost futures.....…, the fact it’s set in ‘luxury’ accommodation that’s so astutely bland as foreboding realisation that you’ll never own a house or something, how dictating their texts through producers-as-moderators delibidinizes the cyb-erotic affect of the finger-iphone-lover assemblage. Something about trolling and anonymity, authenticity and imposter syndrome, consciousness deflation yadda yadda yadda. But you also realise that teenagers don’t care about any of this, they don’t watch tv and a lot of them don’t spend years building personal brands on Instagram and Tiktok; they switch identity faster than you can refresh your feed. And they aren’t afraid to be anonymous. They don’t care about George Orwell and they don’t know who Dave Eggers is, but they could learn why they’re irrelevant faster than anybody green-lighting Channel 4 shows could convince them otherwise. Maybe then, The Circle’s newest iteration is not a signal towards an inability to imagine new forms of TV, but rather a desperate attempt by the evangelists of outdated programming protocols insisting stagnation in the face of new media beasts that are too wired to concentrate on how they’ll take over. Somewhere in the data mosh is a network of abstract engineers figuring out how to turn a circle into a geodesic dome with no tools beyond boredom and fantasy.

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