Grainy evidence of a kid onstage

Blimey, what a time warp… That kid on the white cap is me onstage screaming off the top of my lungs in 1987 at the mythical Rock Rendez Vous in Lisbon. Sharing the photo are Helena Soares and José Maria Lopes; off the pic but on stage were also Anselmo Canha, Orquídea Calisto and Paulo Solá.

Somehow RTP got hold of some dusty photos somewhere… Media was so scare, we were left with little more than our memories. Everything was scarce, actually, and yet so many of us kids just went for it, trying things out without a safety net – financial, aesthetic, technical, or otherwise. A peripheral version of post-punk, based on the few echoes we scrounged from late-night radio and hiss-infested third-generation tapes of expensive import LPs. Like the grain on this photo, really.

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An elegy to the hidden megalopolis

Iain Sinclair says goodbye to London, the city that inspired countless psychogeographical drifts of his – and translated into masterpieces of meta-narratives on the traces that do not get a place in the grand narrative. Now that the grand narrative seems to engulf everything and everyone into cloud entertainment, fear, overexposure and financial abstraction, the time seems right for a dignified farewell.
I had the good fortune of coordinating a workshop with him and artist Renchi Bicknell, back in 2001 at the Royal College of Art; I remember a shared sense of possibility that has meanwhile seemed to dry out. And yet, his work remains, and even his farewell is  somehow a glimpse of possible adventures.

FPX and the future

Not so long ago, social media were heralded as tools for connectivity and solidarity; in some ways they still are, but what we seem to have underestimated is how media are not always necessarily used for common good. So we face quite a few challenges ahead, including the possible unraveling of our perception of truth – even reality itself.
When futureplaces began in 2008, the “future” was largely a utopian projection; these days it seems to have become a constant, volatile alarm sound. This will be one of the topics addressed throughout futureplaces X.

Advertising and Catastrophe

Advertising is looking very strange lately. Not that it has changed itself in nature or aesthetics, although it’s becoming a bit turbo; it’s the semantic gap that somehow seems to be widening between the “endless fun” narrative and the reporting on exponential catastrophes with which it alternates.
In other words: I click on the link to the article and video update on the terrible news coming from the other side of the Atlantic… and get a video of joyful guys and gals having a party.
To my actual friends: stay safe, my thoughts are with you.

Loss

It has been a devastating year for a whole generation of music luminaries – musicians and sound-makers that stood outside the canons of pop and rock… they re-invented the rules, largely because their visions were bigger than those rules. I thus pay my respects to Peter Principle, Walter Becker, Jaki Liebezeit… and now Holger Czukay.

I find it hard to imagine a bigger loss for the generation of post-WW2 avant-rockers than the passing of Holger Czukay. A former student of Stockhausen, he migrated and expanded his premises to territories of popular music that could have otherwise remained tied to reductive formulas. The whole of post-rock is indebted to Holger Czukay’s groundbreaking experiments, and even more so as far as World Music, post-punk, Eno and the whole art of sampling.

Holger was tuning into short-wave radio onstage, and reverting what came up on the ether into the live music… in the early seventies. Younger generations need to know this went on, and how radical this was, even by the already out-there “krautrock” standards. In a way, his was the gift of surgical precision among the mayhem.

Holger Czukay’s legacy is immense… he will be hugely missed.

 

KS70

Klaus Schulze is 70 years old today. He almost single-handedly provided the soundtrack to a year or so in my youth when I became obsessively immersed in his sequencer-driven soundscapes. His LPs were non-existent (or extremely hard to find) in Portuguese shops, so I mail-ordered whatever I found in specialist magazines, and grabbed whatever else I could get my hands on when on vacation abroad.

His string of first ten albums, from Irrlicht to “X”, is in many ways a “greatesthits” of the then-called Berlin school (Well, I’ll save some well-deserved space in the pantheon for Zeit, Phaedra and Rubycon by Tangerine Dream). 

He seemed to have lost the plot afterwards for a while, save for the occasional glimpse of brilliance (Trancefer, 1982, is unmissable). I drifted away myself. But then, occasionally, out of the blue comes a gem such as Kontinuum from 2007 – in many ways an update on the superlative Mirage, from 1977. 

Happy Birthday then, KS. And thanks for the sounds.


 

Gentle on my Mind

Sobre Gentil Martins e as suas polémicas. Claro que o que disse é profundamente ofensivo e equivocado. Mas para mim é também claro que parte do problema é o “tempo de antena” que se dá a estes equívocos.

Ou seja: uma vez mais os media saem incólumes, invisíveis por entre a sua ilusão de neutralidade. Amplificar a voz desta pseudo-liberdade-de-expressão é uma escolha editorial. Ninguém está a defender o silenciamento da denúncia – mas tal como é nosso dever denunciar a intolerância, é igualmente nosso dever ajuizar o protagonismo mediático dado à intolerância.

Ou seja, parte 2: um factor no problema Trump chama-se Twitter; e no entanto este “meio”, sendo ele mesmo mensagem, nunca é colocado em cima da mesa como elemento de ponderação na decifração do desvairo. Ninguém está a defender a extinção do Twitter – mas para uma compreensão cabal destas volatilidades não chega apontar o dedo aos desvairados. Porque também os media têm potencial de volatilidade e desvairo. E como diria Orwell, uns mais que outros.

Mourning and Media

Three days of national mourning were declared as a consequence of the horrendous fire and the tragic loss of 62 lives. Now, I confess my ignorance regarding the practical application of such a decree, but the truth is… yesterday mid-afternoon I heard fireworks in the distance (yep, fireworks… after all that has happened). And through the night there were echoes of a street party somewhere out there. Now, I know both are common practice at this time of year, and communities look forward to these moments for quite a while, but… how does one reconcile national mourning with these apparent manifestations of joy?
 
Could media be playing a role in this apparent paradox? Yesterday evening a TV channel alternated live broadcasts with an edit of footage that included people crying, fires raging, burnt cars, exhausted firemen, populations in a panic… all of it to the sound of a Max Richter-type orchestral piece of some kind. I dare say the whole thing felt… poetic. It genuinely felt like a Hollywood trailer. It ultimately felt like a taming of the sheer horror, a smoothing of the untranslatable.
 
The question is, do these professional edits of tragedy footage help us mourn, or do they create a semantic distancing and render it “consumable”? Do we shed tears for the actual loss, or do we shed tears because “sad music and slow motion fire” press the right buttons in our psyche? Is it OK for TV channels to show images of burnt vehicles where people died, and then go straight to advertising the new Audi during a commercial break (yes, it happened yesterday)? And how can we shift between mourning and celebration in the space of a couple of hours?
I genuinely have no answers to these questions, but find them worth asking.

Hubris and Amnesia

dore

For the second time in less than a year, the UK is thrown into political chaos by people who seem happy to perform their political duties as if society was a gambling table at their disposal. I’d argue this ongoing “mayhem” is a direct consequence of their hubris – and their apparently purposeful ignorance of the reversion of this mythological concept into our present times.

Mythology exists for a reason, and that is to provide us with templates regarding our existential conundrums; these templates repeat themselves over and over throughout History. It is dangerous to turn one’s back on them if attempting to lead.

I believe this recent turmoil is partly due to the fact that this mythological wisdom has been largely thrown out by a significant part of our leaders, and that’s where this sense of chaos is stemming from: a pervasive amnesia, an uprootedness of our social fabric and of its patterns throughout History. Well, it looks like the “pagan gods” are waking up. 

The problem is, most current leaders can’t seem to see or acknowledge these “gods” (the citizens): they expect their own role to be tactical rather than redemptive.

(Engraving by Gustave Doré, 1866)