Monday, June 14, 2010

You Have to Die to Be Reborn

I'm excited to share my new project with you. It is called The Electric Mainline, because today information is a form of addiction. The purpose of EM is not detox or rehab from this addiction, but learning how to address and live with it. EM is a kind of news filter. presents information you can get anywhere on the web - the latest news stories, those stimulating bursts of data. Information on the web is largely presented pre-understood, pre-digested and the reader must do very little except lie back and receive it. On EM this information is presented according to an artistic impulse, one driven towards uncovering the strange, surreal, sci-fi undercurrents in the events of the day.

In other words, imagine if you read Google news, but it was edited by David Cronenberg.

EM is always on."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010



Acknowledged Classic hereby ceases.

Acknowledged Classic thanks you for your interest in Acknowledged Classic.

Acknowledged Classic will remain available online for archival and research purposes. Access will be free.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Earth: The Final Frontier

Or, Notes Towards a Psychedelic Biology

Let me be perfectly clear: I hate this song. I'm not saying it's not good. I'm saying I feel plagued and violated when I listen to it. But it is a perfect introduction to today's topic: the weirdness of the animal world. Jonsi, lead singer of Sigur Ros, sings here about wanting to be transformed into a kind of beast-boy, describing, as pitchfork notes, his new animal life with a Disneyian saccharinity.

Talking about becoming an animal is one example of a grand thematics of escapism that's been operating in popular music for the last decade or so, and you can count Animal Collective as properly the most original proprietors of this trend. Besides becoming-animal, other recent trends of this escapism in music include: primitivism, rural-backwoods qualities, folk revivals, psychedelia, cosmic themes, 80s nostalgia, the fairy-tale fantastical (skulls, dreamcatchers, magic spells, wizards).

Now, one reason why something becomes suddenly popular as an aesthetic object is that it's become so strange, forgotten and alienated for a particular culture that it becomes ripe again as a foreign territory. This is, I argue, what's happened to animal life and nature in general. In the twenty-first century, our own earth has become a strange planet, a psychedelic landscape. Once it's become strange, it's ripe again for cultural exploration. Science has never stopped exploring the planet, but now we're at a moment when biology and other earth-sciences are ready to interbreed with art and culture in new ways.

Let's see how the current historical moment is marked by this new intersection. It's not only musical, it's there in fashion, TV and cinema as well.

Take, for example, the late Alexander McQueen's near-final collection for Spring 2010.

One of many testaments to McQueen's brilliance, the collection, entitled Plato's Atlantis, envisioned a Waterworld-like scenario in which the earth has become flooded by global warming, and humans have subsequently evolved into new life forms. McQueen interiorizes and transforms the psychedelic patterns of insect and animal bodies into something radically new.

On television, anyone with cable or a bittorrrent client will tell you that the most psychedelic thing going right now is the BBC documentary series Life. A follow-up to the groundbreaking series Planet Earth, Life shows the animal and plant worlds in jaw-dropping digital precision, unveiling wholly unseen realms of color and movement.

in this typically mindblowing sequence from Life where, sped up via timelapse, monster worms and sea stars devour a seal.

In film, the occult significance of James Cameron's Avatar is that Pandora is already planet Earth - you can almost imagine Sam Worthington's character discovering the Statue of Liberty on the beach and yelling "you damn dirty apes!".

Avatar is Earth psychedelicized. Look, for example, at folk paintings that depict experiences of the Amazon jungle while on the shaman drug ayahuasca: they look remarkably like the world of Pandora, right down to the blue and purple hues.

by Pablo Amaringo, acclaimed Peruvian artist/shaman

If in 2010 the traditional idea of science-fiction is almost superfluous, it's not only because we've got so much technology that we're already living in the future, it's that a contemporary vision of earth, not space, as the final frontier contributes to an understanding that life on earth is already a science-fiction story. The possibility of life developing on earth and the fact that humans explore this earth cataloging the strange abundant wealth of its life: it's already a hypothetical scenario, a fiction about cosmic mystery and the adventures of scientific practice.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Junkies and Junk Food

With uncanny timing, the latest episode of South Park comes on the heels of a recently-published scientific report comparing the addictive quality of junk food to that of cocaine.

Published in Nature Neuroscience, the study, in which different groups of lab rats were tested for their responses to healthy and junk food diets, supports the idea that "compulsive-like eating behavior can emerge in extended-access rats in a manner analogous to the compulsive cocaine-taking seen in rats with a history of extended access to the drug." Seems the group of rats given only junk food became addicted enough that the rats would ignore deterrents like electric shocks in order to get their fix. The scientists build an analogy: today's junk food is to food a hundred years ago what cocaine is to the cacao leaf: processed, extracted, intensified to produce that mainline rush.

In the episode "Medicinal Fried Chicken," Cartman plays exactly this sort of rat. When he finds out that KFC has been made illegal in Colorado, he spirals into an abyssal panic and will stop at nothing to get his fix. In his autobiographical novel "Junky," William Burroughs says that "you don't know what junk is, until you've been junk sick." When Cartman descends into his own junk-food sickness, he winds up working for a Scarface-like underground KFC drug ring, hustling dealers, usurping his boss, and powwowing with a Pablo Escobar-tinged Colonel Sanders. Meanwhile Kyle's dad is possessed enough at the thought of legal weed that he gives himself ball cancer in order to procure a doctor's note. The doctor, perplexed by the subsequent rise in ball cancer among the father's friends, now thinks that, with junk food gone, he realizes what junk is: junk food was in fact keeping South Park ball cancer-free. In a characteristically dialectical twist, KFC is reinstated as MFC, medicinal fried chicken - the relation between food and substance undergoes a double inversion indexed by the very double-meaning of "junk." Food and drug are interrelated - no wonder we have a government entity called the Food and Drug Administration.

Monday, March 29, 2010

This is your cat. This is your cat on drugs.

Tell me this isn't an ad for ketamine.

This starts with a dog but ends up with cats in a psychedelic cosmos.

I love the feline face-melt here, when the cats get too high and start chasing imaginary mice.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I got a new dresser so it gave me a chance to review my back files and rediscover some personally acknowledged classics, such as Barborka. Real OG friends of mine will of course recall Barborka and the effect that its sublime ridiculousness had on me. I found it in a hole in some alley in Prague. Only much later did I learn that Barborka is a Czech girl's name, similar to Barbara, and that the 'k' at the end is a dimunitive. I had been pronouncing it Bar-BOR-ka because it sounded stupider that way, and this stupid sound and its earnest, clumsy letters seemed so nicely to compliment the loyal, mindless animal below it, the one eternally frozen in chipper ready position. Still makes me laugh.

Deep Gaida

With the prospect of a Bulgarian hiking trip on my summer agenda I started doing some research on the local musics - in the course of which I discovered the gaida, a goatskin bagpipe indigenous to the Rhodope mountains of Southern Bulgaria. The Rhodope mountains are known for their flourishing music traditions, and due to their proximity to Greece bear part of that country's mythic legacy - the Rhodope's "Devil's Throat Cave" being supposedly the place where Orpheus descended to hell to retrieve his bride.

The gaida is played in a rather droney and intense way, sounding very little like its much kitschier Scottish cousin, and more like a certain Moroccan-Jajoukan pan flute. It's a haunting, spiritual sound that gains in intensity when it's like, played by a hundred dudes at once!

the last clip is my favorite, for obvious reasons. it's linked here as it is not embedding properly for some reason.

Glass Candy - Feeling Without Touching

Glass Candy - 'Feeling Without Touching' from Travis Peterson on Vimeo.

The first official video for Glass Candy now that they've settled into their synth-pop phase after long abandoning their no-wave death-punk incarnation. This video is aight, it looks like an American Apparel ad I guess. The song, however, is magic.

The Cosmic American

Harry Smith

As any alt-country fan will tell you, "cosmic American music" was Gram Parsons' term for the hybrid of country, gospel and hard-living rock music that he forged in the sixties, first in with the Byrds, then the Flying Burrito Brothers, then solo, before helping launch Emmylou Harris and mysteriously dying in the California desert.

What was exactly cosmic about it, I wondered? It couldn't mean cosmic as in psychedelic, because it wasn't a particularly psychedelic sound. No, it must mean cosmic as in mythic - raising elements to mythic significance. Cosmic American music meant taking a nicely worn musical vernacular and not trying to repeat it or copy it, but elevating it to something else, poeticizing it. "Exile on Main Street" by the Rolling Stones is also cosmic in this way. So, I should add, is "There's A Riot Goin' On" by Sly and the Family Stone. "Riot" is soul but it isn't soul, it uses soul as a means to express something else. Gavin Russom's record, "Black Meteoric Star," sounds just like acid house, but it's not, it's the cosmic version.

The original cosmic American in the 20th century isn't Parsons, however, but Harry Smith, the ethnographic genius who slid so effortlessly between collecting and creating. Because cosmic music means not only writing songs but first gathering them, collecting a history that you work out from. Smith, of course, most famously produced the American Anthology of Folk Music, which in the early sixties influenced an entire generation of musicians, including Bob Dylan, to turn towards the roots of American musical expression.

Harry Smith operated at what seems like unfathomably deep levels of mythic structures, turning everyday vernaculars and images into uncanny hieroglyphs. This is an excerpt from one of his master works, "Heaven and Earth Magic." Videogames still haven't caught up its level of surrealist juxtaposition.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"self-copulation, record collection"

Involuntary posts by Tarwater #5

AC is proud to bring you another installment of involuntary posts by Tarwater, in which our accidental scribe addresses the new LP "Hidden" by These New Puritans. AC would like to give a shout out to DJ Slow for first pioneering the idea of disseminating Tarwater's funny, insightful commentary wholly without his consent.

"Most of the time, "English band receives mad critical love in England" = "enlarge your penis safely and naturally", as meaning and as news, but once in a while weird science makes a breakthrough I guess -- like with the 2nd record from These New Puritans. The first one was a quite good Fall/Wire/beats amalgam, but just-released Hidden is something else entirely. It's so singular in fact that in trying to describe it you(I) end up resorting to cumbersome critical portmanteaus like "if Liars listened to late-period Talk Talk and then found residence inside the PA at Brixton* basement party..." -- well, you still wouldn't really be there. What I can say: by song #2 you've heard a children's choir, a 13-piece woodwind orchestra and Japanese taiko drums**; the drums consequently, are HUGE - they sound like they wanna be scoring North Korean mass games; and in a interview before the record came out, the leader claimed he wanted something like "Steve Reich meets dancehall", paused, and then said "I've been writing a lot of music for the bassoon." Anyway.

*My London geography is practically non-existent - I'm taking this reference from the Clash and 80's British crime dramas (for all I know, Brixton could be Fort Greene by now) - so feel free to substitute any neighborhood where you'd hear a lot of dubstep/grime/dancehall.

Oh: subject heading is from The Fall's 'New Puritan': "I curse the self-copulation of your record collection."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thurs: Sharks & Minnows pool party

We're psyched to invite you to round two of Sharks & Minnows pool party at the Grace Hotel on Thurs March 4th! Last time was great and we're looking forward to having you at this midtown artificial paradise. Come take a dip in the heated indoor pool, warm up in the sauna or get baked in the steam room. Swimwear will really come in handy for the full experience, but if you're feelin shy you can hang poolside or take a drink at the bar.

Music handled by Night Plane DJs: William deals current cosmic, Harry drops classic acid.

Grace Hotel 125 W. 45th St btw 6th & 7th
Thurs March 4th, 8pm-1am
No Cover

Sunday, February 21, 2010


While the writer and critic Douglas Coupland is not ordinarily a name I find on my literary itinerary, I must acknowledge here the strong effect I felt when reading this comment by Coupland in a recent Times interview:

"I’m starting to wonder if pop culture is in its dying days, because everyone is able to customize their own lives with the images they want to see and the words they want to read and the music they listen to. You don’t have the broader trends like you used to....They're not great cultural megatrends like disco, which involved absolutely everyone in the culture. Now, everyone basically is their own microculture, their own nanoculture, their own generation."

Coupland, the father of the term "Generation X," here offhandedly offers a nice way of conceiving the flows and fluxs of digital media - as a ocean, let's say, of nanocultures. While Coupland's remark has an air of flippant exaggeration to it (broad trends still exist), it's worth reflecting on what a nanoculture might be, and how its rise also indexes the downfall of a popular culture based on broad trends.

The individual and his close circle of friends, his email buddies, those who comment often on his FB posts, ("Zzzzzz"? is that some kind of hockey-team dis?) comprise a nanoculture - their independent and collective abilities to seek out cultural data, to filter and process it, have increased their strength exponentially since the rise of digital media.

Today the ability to filter information is paramount. If you say each of us is a nanoculture, howver, you're under-emphasizing a key fact: that we're always sending our signals out to others, through email, social media, text messages, even meeting face to face.

This recalls a recent lecture I attended by the excellent art critic Boris Groys.

After a knowledgeable, detailed foray into the history of twentieth-century avant-garde art practices, Groys turned to use the concepts of these art movements in order to address the phenomenon of social media. "Nowadays we have twitter, google, myface..." Yes, he actually said 'myface,' which caused me to do a mental spit take. "Now on myface, we are all artists," went Groys' argument. This shows that Groys has probably never signed on to myface in his life, or he would know that 'art' is a pretty inappropriate term to describe the insistent traffic of images and memes on sites like facebook. Yes, self-expression and self-customization has reached a kind of historical apotheosis, but artistic creativity it's not.

Why is facebooking not an appropriate example of "we are all artists now?" Because artistic practice is not about instantaneous narcissism, it's about labor, and the transformative effacement of the self that occurs after the result of creative work. Also, damn, Boris, would you just take a look at facebook? That shit ain't art. But so what?

We're not all artists, rather each of us is a one-person broadcast network. A monad radio. Beaming images, sounds, video and text at one another. FWD FWD FWD.

Monday, February 15, 2010

This Thurs: Pool Party

We're sick of winter. There, we said it. Join us this Thursday at Grace Hotel for a party designed to give the cold weather the finger as well as unwind after fashion week. Enjoy a sweet indoor pool, steam room and sauna with night plane DJs. William plays current cosmic, Harry plays classic acid, like dis:

Swimwear recommended! (street clothes welcome too)

Grace Hotel Pool Party
Thursday Feb 18th, 8pm
125 West 45th St (btw 6th + 7th Ave)

Happy Dead Prez Day

Harry takes this unreleased joint underwater. Balearic depths for the Third Coast - like a drug sub off the Gulf of Mexico.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lady Gaga - Bad Romance (Hercules and Love Affair Remix)

If AC ran the world, all remixes would be by Hercules and Love Affair. See their insanely syncopated afro-futurisms on their remix of Goldfrapp's "A&E", their slick shiny Chicago bonk on their version of "Whispers" by Aeroplane, the list goes on and on. Above all, it's H&LA's ability to thread any song through perfectly tailored first-wave house that's equally mellow and infectious, never overbearing, always addictive, that renders them peerless. Here "Bad Romance" gets toned down, from a cannonball blast of pop to a light Chicago jack, neatly balancing mainstream hooks and underground bump & grind. SO FUCKING GOOD.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Is it summer yet

I came across this old article from the NYT about the glorious Fort Tilden out in the Rockaways. As we dig our selves out from this weeks snowstorm, I find myself dreaming of sand and sun. Nothing beats the feeling of driving over the Marine Park Bridge and rolling down the windows. While the occasional dirty tampon or hipster gang blasting MGMT may deter some...I stay loyal.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Night Plane Podcast for Soul Clap

photo by JM

The entity known as Night Plane are highly psyched to bring you this - a podcast of all original NP material for Boston's esteemed Soul Clap crew. Tracks by William + mix by Harry = cosmic medicine. File under Disco/House/Psychedelia. And check the epic conclusion, a chopped & screwed version of the unreleased "Enemy Lands."

Catch Soul Clap on tour in Europe at the moment - and stay tuned for Night Plane "Crimes of the Future" 12" on Thisisnotanexit this summer.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Night Plane - EVR live mix

In case you didn't feel like showing up, here's a link to the archived EVR stream. Thanks again for Still Life for allowing brutes and fools like us to cause trouble live on the internet. And special thanks to NP official hype man DJ Loud Noises. stay tuned for Loud's forthcoming mixtape, "God Hypes Those Who Hype Themselves."

Rebel Rap: A Mix of Haitian Rap Kreyol

A good friend of mine is, like myself, a graduate student in literature. Over the past several years, her regard for the academic world has visibly waned, replaced by a growing fascination for creative expression and Eastern religion. Her waning regard turned into open disgust, however, in a recent Facebook post, in which she bemoaned the university conferences on Haiti that were being organized in the wake of the island's recent earthquake disaster. Look at these sad academics, my friend opined, all they can do is organize conferences instead of really helping, really changing, really acting. To her this only underscored the stuffy pointlessness of the university.

It must be said here that action is never the point of the university. Conferences and papers and peer-reviewed journals can never take the place of, say, an immense international rescue effort designed to minimize the ravages of a nationwide disaster. The university can't be criticized for being itself, it is responding to the news of the day in its own language, that's exactly its task. So is the task of the DJ in this situation. Will a mix of Haitian rap save a life? Maybe, actually, if listening to it reminds you that you should donate to the relief effort. Is the point of the mix to save a life? No. the point of the mix is to respond to the events in Haiti in its own language, in music language.

Props to our friend Still Life for assembling some nasty-ass tracks. Enjoy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Blank Generation: Blank Tapes NYC 1975-1985

This first-time ever compilation of producer Bob Blank's work from his legendary Blank Tapes studios showcase a wildly diverse sonic menagerie - you got everything from underground disco like "Over Like a Fat Rat" and the Arthur Russell-helmed "Wax the Van" to Sun Ra's cosmic free-jazz to gritty no-wave skronk from Lydia Lunch and James Blood Ulmer. A collab from two venerable institutions, Strut records and, it's a glorious insight in the fast, cheap and out-of-control realm of underground music in New York City.

for more visit Strut Records, where accounts by Blank of his time behind the board are in abundance. for example, here's Bob talking about recording the disco classic "Go Bang!" with Arthur. It's a fine example of Arthur's application of the Zen precept "First Thought Best Thought" to music composition - they rolled tape as soon as the musicians sat down, although they thought they were merely jamming it out and warming up.

"First Thought Best Thought" underscores a valuable lesson in creativity - that will is the opposite of grace. It's a theme most exemplarily explored by Kleist's brilliant short text, "On the Marionett Theater" which stages a number of scenes that circle around the problem of the first thought. Like, for example, a handsome young man who notices the grace of his accidental pose in the mirror, and then struggles in vain to repeat it. If only Bob had the tape running.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Beware this forthcoming label-comp! Because it is two CDs of wildness from the TINAE roster, including Naum Gabo, Pink Stallone, The Dark Esquire, Professor Genius, Spectral Empire, Club Silencio, and also Night Plane. It will rain like fire, and burn the bridges where they stand.

new TINAE online shop!

Order a personal copy of Night Plane - Chinese Shadows 12" from the lovely new THISISNOTANEXIT online shop. Buy this twelve inch online, and then it will appear at your house! On this twelve inch, three songs have been etched onto vinyl, which can be heard according to a record player. You can like them!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Psychedelic Australia

buffalo - freedom

some lost heavy-psych wildness from Australia's Buffalo, from their 1973 LP Volcanic Rock. If "Freedom" by Buffalo off of Volcanic Rock isn't the most testosteronic-sounding song listing ever, I don't know what is. Personally my associations with Australia are that it is as if you made Texas an entire continent, which Texas already believes itself to be. Australia is like Texas' fantasy version of itself: an entire continent where you drive around in the wilderness, drink too much, and have psychedelic visions in the outback while jamming songs about "Freedom." You'll note as well that this song is a dead ringer for Soundgarden. When you hear dude sing try and not think about Chris Cornell.

Two years after Volcanic Rock, Peter Weir directed Picnic at Hanging Rock, which is also about psychedelic aussies, except instead of brawny biker types it's about boarding school girls who go into the wilderness and have a group freak-out. Here's the film's central scene.

Australia reminds me also of course of mi madre, born in Taree, New South Wales, north of Sydney. She lived there until she was nine, when her family immigrated to the United States. My mother was personally not very psychedelic, although she did have a pet kookaburra as a child. Having weird pets is kind of psychedelic, especially if it is an unusual species that only exists in one part of the world.

We visited Australia for a month when I was twelve, which was the coolest thing ever. I got to feed kangaroos and hug a koala bear. On my birthday, my father took me up in a private airplane, which he flew, over the Great Barrier Reef.

At one point we stayed at a bed & breakfast that was on a ranch. The family had a daughter about my age who took me around on a four-wheeler. At one point my father and the owner of the ranch were talking about the owner's dogs. "Yeah, they're bitches." He remarked, and because I was twelve I was like whoa can he say that?? Later the daughter explained to me and my brother about weird prepubescent Australian sex rituals, which involved wearing and then breaking a bracelet called a "nigga-band" and then "rooting" each other (not making this up).

The history of Australia's colonization involves the Brits taking all their unwanted denegerate types and then leaving them on a beautifully trippy, completely unique unexplored continent where the indigenous tribes have psychic powers. It's basically an episode of "Lost."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Promo Mixes

(Front Club, Hamburg Germany, 1989) is a new mix site focusing on historically-influential clubs. Each monthly mix will feature the sounds of a particular club mixed by a DJ who played there, someone who danced there, or someone who simply still jocks the sound.

The first mix is from Berlin's Finn Johannsen and concerns Hamburg's Front Club, one of the first European venues to start playing house music.And apparently a fun place to visit - see the pic of a young couple handcuffed while dancing. Finn has put together "a tape he'd want to slip the owners of Front Club in 1990." Consider it the inaugural offering for a site that promises to offer classic electronic satisfaction together with some important history lessons.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Omni Ciani

Omni magazine was a science/futurism publication founded by Bob Guccione Jr. that ran from the late seventies to the mid-nineties. It ushered in a new era of popular science journalism, being something like the Wired magazine of its time, but with more of a speculative bent. Omni regularly featured pieces from science-fiction luminaries including Arthur C. Clarke and William Gibson, who coined the term cyberspace in Omni's pages. The speculative side also meant a predilection for new age-y and UFO-related pseudo-science. In the mid-nineties Omni was the first print publication to go entirely online. You can read an article in Slate magazine here about the history of Omni, and as well visit the online tribute site.

Here is a clip from Omni's short-lived TV incarnation, featuring the analog synth wizardress / nerd pin-up Suzanne Ciani as she composes music for a pinball game. Not only is it remarkably hypnotic to watch her program computers and synthesizers, I also love the smug goofball TV show host at the beginning, lounging by a space lamp and saying "isn't it amazing that electricity of this kind will one day be used to regrow human limbs?" in a ridiculously smug voice, summing up the sort of self-oblivious giddiness of 70s futurism.

Ciani, a student of synthesizer pioneer Don Buchla, has enjoyed a successful career as a musician and commercial composer for several decades, having composed the sound effects for the MECO disco Stars Wars record, releasing her classic Seven Waves album, and scoring numerous commercials. These included a coke commercial in which she used synthesizers to generate the satisfying PSSSHT sound of a soda can being opened.

WAV files of Ciani's designs for the Xenon pinball game shown in the Omni clip are posted on her website.

Here is Suzanne in another clip, this time from the children's tv show 3-2-1 Contact, explaining the properties of electronic sound.