Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I've always wanted a post that said...

This blog is on an extended leave. Until that day!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

For the record

I am not really putting a full stop to this blog, since with my overall tendency to get tired of things in the blink of an eye, I may just return once in a while.

Those who understand Dutch, will find me here.

Service Announcement / Dienstaankondiging

As some may have noticed my posting has taken a dive recently, due to a new job and the fact that after a day's work behind a computer screen my feelers for the nuances of the English language are close to non-existent. And since I am writing for Foxy Digitalis now, I will reserve my use of that language for my reviews there.


Vanaf nu ga ik opnieuw in het Nederlands schrijven. Co-ordinaten volgen nog, aangezien ik heb vastgesteld dat de naam Fire in the Mind tamelijk populair is en ik natuurlijk absoluut origineel wil zijn en met een übercoole naam voor de dag wil komen. En laten we eerlijk zijn: schrijven doe je toch maar beter in je eigen taal. Ik ben Cioran immers niet (gelukkig maar).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Death of the Media

The last few weeks there have been some - belated to say the least - discussions in Belgium about the quality of the media. People are grumpy about the quality of the restyled national radio, that has lately been oozing the kind of Fun! Fun! Fun! approach to the medium that people (I purposely do not include myself, because I have not been listening any radio now for at least ten years) find irritable. I do not need to listen to the radio to know that they are right (because, as a working person with a desk job I am obliged to at least unconsciously listen to the barrage of bullshit music that is streaming out of the office radio's).

Another thing was the constatation that the television news is spending more and more time on violence and crime, let's call it the belated Americanisation of the European media. Of course, again the critics are right.

These are both truisms, so I will not comment on them. What really bugged me, though, was the sheer poverty of the arguments with which the executives, editors and programmers defended their respective stances (about turning radio into 'a nice passing time for nice people' and showing more violence and reporting more about crime). As always, they were argumenting that 'the people want this' and that they 'are only reflecting what happens in society' and other unholy bullshit that was stale 30 years ago. They do not even bother to construct a sophism or two. No, they just stick to the old and proved untruths.

Who said that we want more fun on the radio? Who said that we want more crime reports? Nobody said that of course. Because most people just do not know what they want. They merely take what is there. The real reason of course is that the traditional media are losing more and more ground to new media like YouTube and the internet in general. So these marketeers* (i.e. people who know what YOU want), instead of producing the kind of quality that is lacking in these new media, resort to pitiful lies that are as empty and transparent as the head of Paris Hilton (another 'brand'?). You cannot possibly hate these people, you can only pity them. And that is just what I will do to my last second.

Just needed to get that out of my system.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Trivia Belgica

To be honest I do not in the least feel inclined to write a post about the so-called troubles in Belgium. Not only because it would require a post as long as a slim novel, but more because I am convinced that eventually the Belgian political caste will do what it does best, that is: compromise.

In case I turn out to be wrong I will have to move house to the French-speaking part of Belgium, because I am most certainly not going to live in what is one of the most rightist regions in Europe, by which I mean my beloved Flanders, also known as The Country Beneath The Church Tower. I also think people outside Belgium are making a lot of fuzz for nothing. If you are born and bred in this country, like myself, you will have seen and heard a lot worse than what is happening these last 100 days.

Another typical Belgian thing I just read somewhere: it would seem that Gavrilo Princip, the Serbian who shot Franz Ferdinand and consequently ignited the first world war, bought his gun, manufactured by Les Fabriques Nationales in Herstal, from a Belgian deserter who fled to Belgrade. Because guns are, beside chocolate, one of our finest achievements. If they are fighting a civil war anywhere on this godforsaken globe you can be sure there is an FN gun in play. The difference is: we do not use them to kill each other. For the time being that is.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nazi France Fuck Off

It would seem that these days in France they have an institution that goes by the enlightened name of The Ministry of Immigration and National Identity. Am I the only one who thinks this rather crass?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Shit where you eat

Revealing, if not terrifying, post by Carl over at The Impostume. Interesting because I have seen this kind of political behavior already happening in Belgium and The Netherlands. The bottom-line is of course (and how this makes you sad!) that the formerly oppressed all too frequently join the ranks of the oppressors when they themselves are no longer oppressed. This way a situation becomes apparent in which something like 'being oppressed to the second degree' becomes reality. The Jamaican guy with whom Carl and his mate had a talk is most probably still being treated in a racist way fairly often. For some people he will always remain an Other. Now this Other reaches a mindset with which he, in turn, behaves in a racist way towards other Others.

Still, there should be no doubt that this kind of political behavior is entirely new. In the past immigrants migrated to what they perceived as a kind of Promised Land. They wanted jobs, they wanted to assimilate themselves culturally (naturally not in an absolute way, but relatively: one always retains at the very least a nucleus of the culture from which one springs). Now, we have a immigrant population who no longer view western culture as something to strive for (with, sadly, always one exception: when there is money to be made). Frequently they even view it as evil, something to reject and oppose.

And so you get the kind of situations like the one Carl describes, where those who used to be strangers treat others like undesirables. And then some people dare talk about globalisation and multiculture and all the good things those will bring us. Where, in fact, it would seem that for the greater part our (western) bad habits have been globalised.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Just started reading the new Gibson, Spook Country. It is like stumbling upon an old friend. I promised myself I would savour it, rather than speed through it, but I fear I will have finished it well before the weekend.

I still find it remarkable how this guy has eyes and ears for all things futuristic. Even more remarkable is the fact that, while his last two novels have the present as a setting, you do not for a moment have the feeling that he is no longer writing science fiction. A bit like Ballard, but at the same time, worlds apart. Ballard writes about the dystopia inside all of us, while Gibson will always be writing about what is to come, but really already here. I know that sounds like a paradox, but this is a paradoxical age and Gibson catches the simulacrum of the era like no other. The dictum "The future is now" seems invented especially for reading Gibson.

A bonus, for me personally as a Belgian, is that the (ambiguous) man in the background in Pattern Recognition as well as in Spook Country is the Belgian advertising guru Hubertus Bigend. I cannot possibly imagine a Belgian with a name like that, but somehow he fits the profile nonetheless. I could not begin to fathom how Gibson manages to grasp the essence of what it is to be Belgian, but he does.

It is always a challenge to find the right music to go along with the reading of a Gibson. At the moment the latest Dopplereffekt releases and the most sinister parts of the Drexciya discography suit me just fine, with Tangerine Dream's Zeit and Atem as perfect replacements, should the reading turn nocturnal.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

In Vinyl We Trust

Cobblestone Jazz - DMT
Cobblestone Jazz - Put the Lime in da Coconut
Joel Mull - Begun the End Has (Mathew Jonson Tiger Remix)

If previous years were infested with absolutely killing Mathew Jonson tunes then 2007 is turning into a grand cru year for Cobblestone Jazz. It helps of course when said Jonson is one of the three Jazzers. The single-sided 'DMT' is probably the darkest minimal tune to hit the decks in 2007. Rightout creepy with those muffled voice samples but well worth your money.

Regular 12" 'Put the Lime in the Coconut' combines the best of Jonson's wobbly techno rhythms (think 'Put Your Booty Shorts On') and the trio's jazz-inclined melodies. Don't care too much for the flip, though.

Jonson's Mull remix has been out for some time now but it is surely his best remix ever and one of the best dance tracks of the year. A cosmic delight from beginning to end.

Kelley Polar - Chrysanthemum EP
Henrik Schwarz - Walk Music
Osunlade - Elements Beyond

House is in a state of resurrection after years of slowly bleeding to death. But it is striking how most good house records have taken in a lot of techno influence. Kelley Polar strikes again with a beautiful three-tracker that, apart from the electro foundation, is rife with Age of Aquarius-style disco choirs and achingly beautiful melodies all around. Stunning as usual.

Henrik Schwarz's newest is, I humbly dare to state, without a shadow of a doubt his best yet. A tad more techno than house in a pumped up Basic Channel way and proving that Schwarz is one of the best producers in dance music right now.

The new Osunlade (on Strictly Rhythm of all labels) was a mighty surprise after years of Afro-tinged noodling from the man. There are at least five masterpieces on his new longplayer. This guy understands house (i.e. he knows that techno and house are an eternal twin) and that kind of understanding is growing rarer with the year. Amaze yourself and take a listen.

UR - Electronic Warfare 2.0
UR - Ma Ya Ya

Apart from some mid-nineties posing by Alec Empire Mad Mike's Underground Resistance remains the one and only truly political project in the whole of techno. The second episode of Electronic Warfare, as ever, makes no concessions at all, be it on the sonic or on the ideological side. Knife-sharp analog terror beats go hand in hand with soulful - albeit noisy - Red Planet-style techno. With lyrical snippets like "I'm gonna kill my radio station before it kills me" and "I am / U R / We will / Re-sist" it would be all too easy to point out the militant naivity. But only those who do not realize that every revolution requires an honest dose of naivité would come up with that kind of judgement. Essential as ever and comes with a nifty 7-inch sporting a raucous bonus track and an a capella of standout track 'Kill My Radiostation'. Judge or be judged!

'Ma Ya Ya' is from a few years ago but I only managed to lay my hands on it a few weeks ago. The combination of funky electrobeats, afro chants and accordion is just pure genius. Underground Resistance forever!!!

Q Lazarus / The The - Dark & Lovely 6

More tasty edits from Pilooski, here assisted by Krikor, who comes up with a heartbreaking electro edit of the Q Lazarus track, once part of the original Silence of the Lambs soundtrack. Pilooski himself beefs up The The's 'Giant', a track that was waiting to be reintroduced to the new dance generation.

Marc Ashken - Skream Remixes EP
Skream - Box of Dub
Andy Stott - Fear of Heights EP
Mala - Lean Forward

Dubstep's zenith is far from reached when someone like Skream (a genius that youngster) keeps providing the dope. The two remixes for Marc Ashken, originally minimal techno, are among his darkest tracks ever and they are oozing bass like snails ooze slime. The sample that rightly decries "R&B shit" is an added bonus.

The 12-inch drawn from the Box of Dub compilation on Soul Jazz sees him in straight-out dub mode. One might have doubts when there is only one extra track on this two-tracker, but 'Pass the Red Line' is one of the dubbiest tracks to ever emerge from the movement and certainly essential.

Andy Stott is the guy who cannot choose between techno and dubstep and it should come as no surprise then that the sublime Fear of Heights refrains from crossing the divide and insteads bridges both styles. Melancholic like Detroit techno and meditative like the best of Deep Chord, with, of course, deeeeeep bass.

The new DMZ comes courtesy of Mala who returns to murky dub waters after the techno cross-over of 'Left Leg Out'. 'Lean Forward' is the more dancefloor orientated track with a skanking climax after the Haile Selassie invoking break, while the slower 'Lean' reminds of Loefah's classic 'Mud' . Another topper indeed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

After what seems like ages (indeed, internet moves at the speed of light compared with non-e life) I am relieved to be back online. Not too burdened though by the e-pause. Gave me some time to catch up on my reading. Rediscovered Nietzsche after way too long a time and have voraciously reread Jenseits von Gut und Böse, Der Antichrist and Der Fröliche Wissenschaft. Am raving about Badiou, who is rapidly becoming the in-house thinker over at Fire in the Mind's. Almost bought L'Être et l'Événement, but settled for Le Siècle, which I think is just what we all need. Am thoroughly enjoying myself with Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, kind of a light version of Gravity's Rainbow (which must then be the next to-read). Have finally managed to obtain a nicely paid dayjob enabling me again to go raiding the vinyl shops once a week (reviews to follow). All things come to those who wait. Anyway, writing should restart from this weekend on.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Son Electronique

2562 - Channel Two

To myself it has always been an immediacy, but hopefully it will, thanks to Appleblim and Shackleton's latest releases, Ewan Pearson opening his latest Fabric mix (sort of) with it and records like this one, become clear to the general techno/dance populace as well: (minimal) techno and dubstep were always made for each other. Take these two razorsharp technodubbers by young Dutch producer 2562 and mix them with off-kilter minimal techno, say of the Villalobos persuasion, and nobody should even notice that you are no longer playing techno. Great divides being closed, if the world at large does not start with it, it may as well be happening in music.

Shackleton feat. Jackson Del Rey - Next to Nothing

Strangely enough I find the usual Shackleton magic not entirely present on this outing for Crosstown Rebels. The techno remixes by both Guillaume and the Coutu Dumonts and Exercise One are for once far superior. They stick to the percussion and the result is two very memorable and funky as hell club stormers. Essential.

Aril Brikha - Ex Machine

Aril Brikha has to be one of the most unlucky producers of all time. He started out with 'Groove la' Chord', without any doubt one of the ten best techno tracks of all time (if not the best). It just could not get better after that. It almost did a few months ago with 'Berghain'. But there is not a single note on Ex Machine that so much as equals the power of the two aforementioned tracks. Everything is incredibly beautifully produced, everything sounds lush and warm. But it leaves me colder than both poles combined. Terrible, is it not?

Cybotron - Clear (Cobblestone Jazz Remix)

This could have been an outrageous sacrilege. But surprisingly it is far from that. It is actually very good with the Cobblestoners doubling the length of the original and adding subtle and non-invasive effects. But it will forever remain anyone's guess why they did not call this 'The Mathew Jonson Mix', because it is overly clear that those are Jonson's settings.

B12 - Slope

Talking about retro. The return of B12 is at the very least quite unexpected. After a silence of almost a decade the duo are back and they deliver. Only three tracks for the time being but 'Slope' itself can be played out by any self-respecting techno dj. The other two tracks are more akin to their previous incarnation, but even there you can hear a definite progression away from their eternal post-Transmat leanings. Awesome and welcome back.

Innersphere - Phunk (Ricardo Villalobos Remix)

Ricardo does one for the floor. It was about time. No self-reflection, darkness or ultra-minimalism this time (mind you, not that I have anything against that), just an original interpretation that will give this classic a second life. Villalobos The New Remix King? Pretty sure.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Silence (and what to do with it) Part 2

Terrific interview by Dan Warburton with Radu Malfatti, a composer and player I have become obsessed with over the last few months. Almost seven years on his ideas about music (and the absence of it) still are more relevant than ever. He is also totally my kind of guy, sparing nobody and nothing, saying what has to be said and ever looking forward.


Following extract is, I think, the most important passus of the interview. I will deconstruct (and reconstruct) this further in the following days when I have got the time. For the time being I will refer to an earlier post of a few months ago which led to a minor discussion with K-Punk at the time (who got his point from - or agreed with the point of - Simon Reynolds) and whose argument I find I have neglected to rebut. The dichotomy/oppposition under discussion has nonetheless been grinding at the back of my mind ever since. (Incidentally, it also ties in with Ralf Wehowsky's quote I referred to a few posts below.) Anyway, more on this the following days.

"Warburton: (...) I can't decide if it's a blessing or a curse to be fantastically aware of very tiny details (acoustic or otherwise) of wherever you happen to be."

Malfatti: For me it's a blessing: the more we are aware of things the better. We can decide later if we "need" them or not, but look at all those people who are unaware of most of what's going on around them. Sure, it would be a curse if every little detail entered our brain and passed through the short-term memory gate and stayed in long-term-memory - then we really would have a lot to carry around with us! - but someone once said that we don't use more than 65% of our brain capacity, and I'm absolutely sure that most folk don't even use that. I assume that this is the underlying structure or meaning of the meditational aspect of certain human knowlege. What happens if we elevate the known into the realm of unknown, the unimportant into the realm of important? We sharpen the consciousness and I think we then are able to become aware of the acoustic environment surrounding the music - and: the music itself!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

No words.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A funny side effect of reading the news headlines when you are only half awake is that your linguistic interpreters are still half asleep too.

So I am reading this headline on the BBC News site: "LA Church in record abuse deal."

Could you believe that the first thing I thought was: why would anyone, and especially the church, abuse a record?