Monday, December 28, 2009

The Green Rush

After the Gold Rush, the Green Rush

In honor of Avatar's profound hues of true blue, here's a little night plane jam, its vocals clipped from a certain lost soul gem by the three degrees. You'll find it as well in the midst of my latest mix, "signs in the sky."

But although Cameron's epic may be steeped in blue, were you to puncture its gargantuan heart, green would be the color on your hands. Green, the color of cash in North America, and the color used as cultural short-hand for anything deemed remotely environmentally-conscious, is a fitting color to apply to Avatar, which will certainly see plenty of dollars as it disseminates its utopian eco-fairy tale.

While the value of Avatar may seem to lie largely in its contribution to digital cinema production, and not in its relatively heavy-handed narrative, there is actually a subtle plot point in the depiction of the indigenous Na'vi tribe. It's not a movie about technology versus nature, it's a movie about low-tech vs. high tech. And guess what? It's actually the stone-arrow firing Na'vi who are the high-tech team, not the missile-launching humans. Dr. Grace Augustine, played by Sigourney Weaver, points out that the planet Pandora functions on a biological level like a huge labyrinthine network, everything is connected to everything else. It's like if the internet were a whole biosphere. The name Pandora also refers not only to the Greek myth but to, the online music portal which generates music stations based on your preferences.

The green valley of Pandora is also silicon valley. Advances in digital and nano technology will, in the near future, more and more resemble the kind of lessons taught by Gaia spirit-mother myths: everything is connected. Human technology will continue to infiltrate the biosphere on a cellular level. Very very high-tech will more and more resemble no-tech, that is, it will trend towards resembling nature.

- - - - -

Included here is a live performance by Thom Yorke of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" at Electric Lady Studios in 2003. The lyrics of the final verse reflect a sci-fi eco-utopianism not dissimilar from Avatar's:

"Well, I dreamed I saw the silver spaceships flying
In the yellow haze of the sun
There were children crying and colors flying
All around the chosen ones
All in a dream, all in a dream
The loading had begun
Flyin' mother nature's silver seed
To a new home in the sun
Flyin' mother nature's silver seed
To a new home in the sun"

Fans of Neil will remember of course that the first verse contains the line "Look at mother nature on the run, in the nineteen seventies."

After the gold rush, the green rush. After the rush to tear precious elements out of the earth, the rush that possesses the villains of Avatar, the rush to immerse again in nature, like Avatar's protagonist.

The green rush is on for 2010: this means broader dissemination of environmental concerns and awarenesses. It's green for a second reason though, because of how capitalism works. The more that consumers and clients display concern for the environment, the more that businesses will mirror this concern for the sake of profit. The green rush is also a gold rush.

The green rush also means: the chance to profit off the increased de-criminalization of marijuana. This is the double green: the green dollar bill, and the green pot leaf. They will continue to befriend and get each other high. It is only a matter of time before you will have psychedelic suburbia: living rooms with gadgets and accessories more befitting the medicinal and recreational consumption of THC. Imagine the Skymall (tm) catalog of the near future, replete with unnecessarily inventive pot gadgets. Of all narcotics, pot is the easiest for capitalism to embrace, because not only is it comparatively harmless and friendly, but pot culture involves tons of cannabis device-making: everyone knows your stoner friend is by default also a great DIY carpenter.

Finally, green is also the color of the growing resistance movement in Iran. In 2010, green thus is the color for emergent democratic trends in the Muslim world and the Middle East, the color for eco-conscious capitalism, and for commercial developments in de-criminalized substances.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Night Plane - Signs in the Sky mix

Night Plane - Signs in the Sky

Intro: Let the Haters Hate
1. Norway Light Spiral
2. Kremlin Pyramid
3. Cava Scura
4. Blue I Feel (When I'm Feeling Down)
5. Don't Come Running
6. Here On Earth

Night Plane brings you "Signs in the Sky," a 23-minute mix of new and unreleased original material - afro/beardo/deepo styles - in honor of two recent aerial mysteries. Within twenty-four hours of one another, two strange phenomena recently occurred in the night skies of the Northern Hemisphere. The first, a swirling abyss of blue light, shone above Oslo. The second, a hovering pyramid, thought to be much as one mile long, menaced the airspace over Moscow's Red Square. Numerous eyewitness and video testimonies for both events exist. The light spiral is confirmed to have occurred on Dec 9th, and some accounts place the Kremlin pyramid around the same time. Russia's Pravda news agency, however, did not report the pyramid until Dec 18th - possibly since the spiral was announced as the result of a failed Russian missile launch, the Russian authorities did not want the event of the still-unexplained pyramid to be associated with the Norwegian light display. Some conspiracy theorists read both spiral and pyramid as related in some way to Obama's Nobel Peace prize speech given on Dec 10th. Are the spiral and pyramid related? Is one or both of extraterrestrial origin? I mean, holy shit, that's a goddamn pyramid floating over the Kremlin. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Flights of the Night Plane

Refinery29 hosts their best-of 2009 playlist, mixed by Night Plane

In the UK, Converse Music has the Night Plane remix of The Detachments "Circles" for free download

Night Plane remix of "Situation" by The Dark Esquire now up on Myspace, digital release on January 25th

The Dark Esquire - Situation 12"

The spectacle is real.

The situation is real.

Available January 25th, The Dark Esquire's much-anticipated debut 12" for THISISNOTANEXIT, hand-printed silkscreen cover, 300 copies. Night Plane remix on the digital release.

Here's the vid:

Monday, December 21, 2009

occult gathering II: winter solstice

Ok, this is a little weird, but it looks like whoever organized the Brooklyn Heights occult gathering reads AC, or else is good with Google, as they found my site and sent this in, announcing a follow-up event. someone please go and tell me what happened, I just got home to texas.

Monday, December 7, 2009

pink stallone - hydroplanes

pink stallone - hydroplanes

Why did the MC/DJ model of musicmaking, embodied by, let's say, Eric B. and Rakim, fall out of fashion in hip-hop? There are several possible causes. One is the rise of the superstar producer, like Dr. Dre or Timbaland, who begins in his larger-than-life multitalentedness to overstep the artistic dividing line between MC and DJ. Another is the increased high-speed commercialization of the genre: as a result, hardly any two individuals make an entire record together anymore. A rap record today has a cherry-picked selection of beats from multiple producers and features numerous cameos.

The MC/DJ model in hip-hop was the product of a certain era. Late 80s rap can be understood by a particular level of sophistication, both on the level of technology and on the level of profit-making. It was when hip-hop was still fairly nascent that you had duos - ok you make beats, I'll rap. As of late, that model has resurfaced again, now when young white kids figured out that all you need for a group is a microphone and a sample pad - it's the High Places model.

You'll find a similar relation between singer and producer in Pink Stallone, a group from New Jersey bent on digging up and transforming the rawer sounds of classic Chicago house. The key to their current incarnation is the presence of Joey Washington, a Strictly Rhythm-era garage house singer. Seeing PS perform last night in Bushwick with Washington, I was reminded of other club genres like reggae and dancehall, where in order to keep up with the endless pulsations of rhythm, the vocalist lets loose an undulating, repetitive stream of melodic phrases, rather than reciting a fully-composed song.

The trend towards the dirty end of Chicago house parallels the resurgence of electro at the beginning of the 00s: similar tonal palette, similar cross-section of brutal beats and sexy club vibes. The house renaissance, however, goes much broader and deeper, and the dirty sound that Pink Stallone practices is only the end of a spectrum of classicist-tinged house productions that flourished in 2009.

Following the show I exchanged emails with the band, who acknowledged the insufficiency of the venue's stereo - it had in fact been quite blown-out and distorted. Not to worry, I said, it had worked in their favor: the hardware-crafted 808 beats and winding, crunchy basslines, together with Washington's fantastic soulful singing, all pushed through overdriven speakers, made it sound something like Throbbing Gristle covering Donna Summer. Also there was a fog machine and lasers. It was an exciting and relieving sight, to see electronic music with such hair on its balls, and to see three Jersey kids with synths unafraid to rock straight house beats.

Pink Stallone and Black Meteoric Star make it official - if you are an experimental stoner with some weird equipment and a psychedelic sensibility, you are no longer limited to explorations in abstract tones: you can also straight bring the fire. Pink Stallone's debut self-released 12" is out soon, click the link to learn more and stream the track.

new traditions: growing roots in an age of instability

1. Sept 11th and the subsequent War on Terror

2. The economic crisis
3. peak oil

These three events form the historical backdrop against which the rise of new traditions can be understood. The first has already occurred, the second we feel happening now, and the third will take place, given the wide variety of estimates, anywhere from 2020 to 2030. But actually all three events are taking place together: the memory of the first, the current problem of the second, and the anticipation of the third. They are intertwined, and the significance of current cultural developments must be measured by how each development shifts in light of each event.

Old-timeyness, for example, has one significance in a post 9-11 context, gains another from the context of the economic crisis, and finally has a third significance when seen from the projected future of peak oil. It begins as a retreat in the past from the wreckage of a future ruined by two fallen towers. Then in the light of a faltering economy, a new emphasis on the spartan side of old-time vibes emerges: look, remember an era where we didn't need all these things we can no longer afford. Finally, the spartan aspect of old-timeyness, and related values of simplicity and self-reliance, take on additional urgency in the countdown the end of the oil era. It will no more a question of doing without certain luxuries because this is an era of financial sobriety, of "doing-without", but because when peak oil occurs, everything, as anyone who's seen Collapse will tell you, will change - the life we are accustomed to will no longer be merely unaffordable, it will be impossible. Today new traditonalism can be restricted to retro-fetishism, nostalgia and kitsch, effects of two paradigm-shifting events, but it can also become a way to progressively prepare for the third.

The rise of new traditionalism, I'd argue, starts at the tail end of the urge towards apocalyptic fantasy that gained momentum in the wake of 9/11. Apocalypse films are a kind of cultural trauma therapy. They repeat the trauma much in the same way dreams may repeat the experience of a car crash after the fact. By repeating a traumatic experience, by staging it again, and again, one hopes to find a way to master it. Apocalypse movies since 9/11 weren't only repeating the sense of that day, however, but also the sobering realization within American culture that civilization is quite a fragile thing which can be rent asunder much easier than one would like to think. In the theaters now are two films which signify the end of apocalypse cinema: The Road and 2012. Each in their own way completes the cultural drive towards apocalyptic fantasy at the moment: there will be no such films in 2010.

As apocalyptic fantasies end, there comes the desire to orient ourselves again, within history. The rise of new traditions is sort of a grand cultural re-set. The way towards future progress has been lost, the present appears under attack, so we burrow back to the past, to grab hold of anchors and roots, to strive towards something authentic amidst cultural upheaval.

The problem, fundamentally, is that there is no way back. Authenticity itself is an old-timey idea. "Get it all this fake shit out of here, give me something real, where is the real thing?" This is the restless sentiment of the twentieth-century, what Alain Badiou calls "the passion for the real." We live in an era where the belief in something authentic is itself out-dated.

That's the very problem of an age of new traditions. The twentieth-century saw a long steady breakdown in traditions, in traditional authority, traditional values, traditional means of communication. Now in 2009-2010 we find ourselves at the other end of the stick. No longer are we faced with the burden of the past as something to be carried, but as something curiously absent, available to us only in traces, shards and scraps. How can a culture orient itself anew, and how can it wrest from the wreckage of the past the tools it needs to do so?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Occult Gathering

I saw this posted while walking home last night. I don't know what it means exactly but I'm curious to find out. Maybe Brooklyn Heights has some mystic underground that I'm not aware of.

Ministry - Every Day Is Halloween (12" version)