Tuesday, February 12, 2008

ADDICTED TO NOTHING

or, WHY DJ SCREW = SAMUEL BECKETT




Phil Collins "In the Air Tonight" (DJ Screw Version)

Jonathan F. sent us this track, accompanied by the appellate "proto-Weekend Prince", apparently in reference to the latter's respective predilections for "In the Air Tonight" and the narcotized tempos of Houston rap. As AC is concerned with music, its criticism, and the conditions which make its criticism possible, we have to stop and ask ourselves some questions:

1.Is cough syrup addictive?
2. Are slowed-down beats addictive?
3. Why is 'In the Air Tonight' so awesome compared to the nauseating remainder of Collin's solo work?
4. What does the adjective 'proto' indicate?
5. Does Phil Collins like cough syrup?

1. Yes. Physical addiction is debated by experts, psychological addiction is well-documented. In 2005, six pharmaceutical doctors were put on trial in Houston for illegally distributing the drug. A report from ABC News at the time says: "Besides purple stuff and syzurp, the addictive cough syrup concoction has also been known as "lean," "drank," "barre," "purple jelly," or simply, "syrup." Those who have had the drug refer to its intake as 'sipping on syzurp.'"

Cough syrup contains dextromethorphan (DXM), a chemical which when isolated at home via an impromptu extraction method involving a washing machine as a centrifuge and then concentrated at 10x in pill form and administered for recreational purposes to a 17 year old Acknowledged Classic causes the latter to spend the night in hallucinatory sweats and have to call his parents the next morning.

2. Yes. This is part of a larger addiction which I would call something like, addiction to what in French is called ''un petite rien'. That's a nice expression, a 'little nothing'. Oh what's that, oh don't worry it's a little nothing. Just a small little nothing there, over in the corner, next to your briefcase. Forget about it. In other words, AC suffers from an addiction to That Which Is Only One Degree More Than Nothing at All. This is easy to understand when thinking about minimalism, minimal paintings or minimal beats, or the kind of Minimal Social Club that our friend Volker thought about opening: "There won't be anything on the walls, maybe a Malevitch, in an empty room. We'll sit and listen to minimal beats and not talk very much."

But slowness is another variation of this. Jonathan mentioned to us that in the Phil C. remix, the drums almost sound like they're going to stop, like the whole thing is going to fall down. There is so much persistent vitality there in the sounds of beats that keep happening against the threat or pressure of slowing down and stopping forever. It's like Beckett's "I can't go on, I will go on" as music. The sound of DJ Screw is really the sound of a struggle against death, a darkly heroic sound. It's the sonic equivalent of the movie "Flatliners."

3. That's a good question.

4. In Greek proto simply indicates 'first' (eschato means last). In contemporary usage, however, it indicates a kind of pre-appearance of something prior to its full manifestation, the way that certain nationalistic or populist strains in culture or politics in Germany prior to 1930 have been referred to by historians as 'proto-Fascist'. In this sense, 'proto' is a purely historical designation. You can't use it in the present, you can only use it to talk about something past, and then only in light of something that followed it, you're making a historical argument, and one that implies progress: 'here's not the real thing but a nascent, embryonic form of it', in which case you're dealing with looking at something which is not itself. Which always weirds us out. It's a morphological claim. Like if you call the Stooges 'proto-punk', you imply a certain idea of punk and then say that punk is there in the Stooges' sound, but not as itself, as some other ghostly form of itself. Often new musical trends, like the re-birth of electro, will re-engage with an older style at the moment of its proto-ness in order to find all kinds of other paths and potentials that never got developed, that fell away like ungrown branches once the path from the 'proto-version' to the 'real thing' got developed.

5. I don't know.

The affective relation between chemicals and music is of significance to us because it is part of a larger concern for a materialist understanding of music. Not how good the song is, but where you are when you hear it, who you're with, what you're on, what you ate last, etc. The reason that Screw exploded in Houston is because helps set a particular stage: out late at night, driving around an urban metropolis slowly in a car, and making use of particular chemicals that affect sense perception to match the situation's velocity. It's good music supervision.

In honor of Valentine's Day, AC recommends the new Louis Vuitton line of Syzzzurp


AC DOES NOT CONDONE OR ENDORSE THE DRINKING OF COUGH SYRUP. It does recommend those little Cold-Eeze sucky things if you start to feel sick, though. Just slurp a couple of those and they'll set you straight.

4 comments:

Alex B. said...

Phil Collins' "screwed" voice sounds a leetle beet like the voice of one "Weekend Prince". Think on that.

Casual Pansy said...

Complete Weekend Prince rip-off, more like it

Bun B said...

I prefer drinking cough syrup to early Genesis

Biddie Mack said...

I prefer sucking Cold-Eez to King Crimson