Nodalities: Gaika, ‘Basic Volume’

Gaika’s first LP proper Basic Volume (Warp Records) enters the continuum of the ghostly matter that we call musical (sub)culture at the cusp between aesthetics and politics. There’s a feeling of Gaika as a nodal point triangulating a problem of the contemporary. This LP is part of that emerging aesthetic project the groundwork of which has been in motion for some time now.

 

This idea of time is central, with futurist dystopia inscribed into London territory as if the antagonism of urban life produces this out-of-jointness in temporality itself. A gothic time. Gaika’s resonance, and ability to tune into and amplify this warped sensibility is exemplified in his cross-referential musicality, playing through British-Caribbean soundsystem culture and industrial electronics. There’s a crispness in production, with the likes of SOPHIE and Jam City contributing, which is part of a configuration of contemporaneity that is embedded across the tracklist bringing a particular intensity and density. This intensity, in typical gothic fashion, forms an affective atmosphere of impending violence. A colonial trauma bringing forward the proximity of a third world landscape, reinscribing a race-class analysis that connects the global south with antagonisms in Britain. This seems to be working against current ideas of race and identity which are increasingly defined by ones proximity to Britishness and normative conceptions of identity.

 

The aesthetic work put-in runs along the icy lines of embodiment and disembodiment. A bounded embodiment is shown throughout his live performance, visual focus on the body/face and interest in fashion, something he’s followed through with his fashion label Armour in Heaven. This textilic and tactile materiality is set against a disembodiment engendered through the overproduction of voice in his music. This voice triggers a sense of history, historicity even, like channeling a ghostly transmission of The Spaceape’s poetics of force. There is religiosity at play. The dedication to the memory of Gaika’s father furthers this idea of history and dis/embodiment. His announcement note reading: ‘We live in turbulent times. I hope this work inspires those in search of a better world. This is dedicated to my Father. Dad, I put the reggae song on’.

 

 

 

The force of history Gaika is channeling a reinscription produced through the aesthetic labour that undergirds and maps the Gaika project. The question in contention would remain in how this aesthetic critique can reproduce and manifest a socio-political prospering within – or after – the degeneration of an urban masculinity endemic in ‘immigrant sons’. Or put another way is there a critical transformation of social form at play here amidst the aesthetics of desolation. 

 

 

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Making History/histories-being-made: Mourinho – Ronaldo – Príncipe Discos

Originally published on Southern Discomfort Zine (12/9/2016)

[Note: Three pieces accumulated with an imperial thread: Jose Mourinho’s dramatics, Cristiano Ronaldo’s glory, Lisbon record label Príncipe Discos’ differed modulations]

I

The contingent played out, playing on. Jose Mourinho an icon at the end of history – the ‘special one’ and his latent (post)modernist ideas of the Chelsea family – corporatism borne from the impasses of a Portuguese modernist modulation. Mourinho descended from the social base of a fascism nonetheless. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves

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Where does a story begin? Was it when Roman was flying on helicopter enamoured with Stamford Bridge, White Hart Lane forgone? Was it Monaco and Hugo Ibarra’s fucking hand

Ranieri Zola Hasselbaink Desailly out / Drogba Robben Carvalho Mourinho in?

Was it 1992 and the establishment of the Premiership?
Finance rolling in, New Labour fulfilling the Thatcherite dream. Maybe it was Ken Bates and his electric fence – headhunters spectralised.

And its these hauntings, the speckled of the violence at the beginning, the irretrievable violence of the forming of our financialised, hyper-circulated sociality. The violence of inauguration and through those silent species: Chelsea ‘has no history’. West Ham the flip-side; honest working club. Honest local boy Frankie Lampard Jr. corrupted by Tory blue finance-rich Chelsea, right? (We’ll see what Stratford’s gotta say about that, haunted by Anish Kapoor’s towering inadequity).


But that’s Roman’s Empire. Success without history, without narration. Within Post-Soviet space ‘cosmopolitan’ capital deterritorialising (Usmanov, Ivanishvili, Venky’s, Singha etc.)– we’ve got the best league in the world for a reason – commodification of diversity. But commodities can speak, labour speaks, plays. Week-in-week-out.
And our passions toll to the rhythm, transgressing the simplicities of ‘pure ideology’. Within, against, and out. Escape.

Desire, instinct, skill, power, communication, tactics, strategy, style, passion

Critical theory never knew a better partner

Its acceleration, intensity, sublime temporalised into 90 minutes along green territorialising topographies. The club as kin(g) rings true. Unsovereign, subcultural, subaltern, fascist. Mass a difficult bunch, dirty, infectious, splitting ends.
And it all ends in Munich, with Di Mateo’s beaming face and Drogba’s verbose performance, speaking in, through, and out. Riefenstahl move aside. History being made. Through the codification of a trophy won, social life as irreducibility bubbles below. Cos its all about Chelsea being racist actually. Tired attempts to narrativise phenomena beyond the grasp of ‘think-pieces’ and sardonic cultural criticism, circulation and recirculation making – breaking – as raw desire is translated to public interest. But commodities can play.

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Subterranean myths bearing out through chants, sedimented in re-presentations. Far beyond chronologies and public uses of finger-pointing ‘racist’ ‘sexist’. Reasoned arrogance, step aside bitte. History made and made again, produced and reproduced and failed subjects, failing at coherence, failing at politics, failing at becoming failing at codifying experience ‘speak for a moment’, circulating irreducible social forms beneath the market. Re-circulation as revolution. (Hobbes) Retrograde Copernicanism, Cruyffian totalities.
Total football, total late capital, total topographies disseminating the spirit
Recurrence as spectres return, spirit reassembled. Football as total contingency, determined continually to lose, post-war English through and through. And its Mourinho and Franco’s Furio, Van Gaal usurped, Guardiola in the wings, Wengerian banality

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02-spain-211

 

II
Myths of Zidane, the Kabyle,  Sufi away from (ab)original, badawi
Mourinho, the Fascist and the Late Capitalist

We all start somewhere: Sat immersed in settee, spit flying HD. Zinedine’s sinews stretched, A 21st Century Portrait, its glossy animation of limbs articulated, wings jerking against Kantian clippings, imagining bodies beyond rusting imperial metropoles and their hematological-surplus, indebted the bare play, lifeblood and labour selling but not with full intent, inscriptions on the walls, piss dribbling, quotidian droll, and its footie! But the bits aint for show. Immediates ungraspable.

 

III


The myths run on.
The Portuguese did it.
The Africans it were,
diasporic warriors of a yester-
year you might say.
The French did it before of course,
Arabs and Africans,
this time round not quite.

And it was Cristiano Ronaldo’s show,
his eventual absence
spiriting the scuffling climax.
Traces of Cape Verde through
Madeira culturally trading-up with the black-
hybrids, postcolonials of another vanished era
Angola Mozambique Guinea-Buissau Sao Tome
and Principe peppered along
Ronaldo’s rippling body
stretching into moulding sovereignties,
Renato Sanches William Carvalho
Nani Ricardo Quaresma Pepe
Eliseu Joao Mario Danilo Eder, The Empire Strikes Back…

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What does this kind of juxtaposition in motion really inscribe,
where do we locate the bodily indulgence,
the passion of decomposition,
the beautiful game turned into the dirty great game
Ronaldo as world-historical icon
We were black radicals once, original hybrids
Originary facticity, literary utopia an image escaping away
IV

jose_mourinho2_1626709cCFT164 00797 001_59726457_por_salazar_reviews_troops_jose5leniriefenstahltriumphofthewill
So what does it mean when Jose Mourinho once grandly declared: ‘We are the Portuguese community’, the dark heart of the Thames spilling sweat. Louis XIV, of course, said about the same. Corporatist to the bone, his wife a Portuguese settler in Angola fled to acceleratingly-capitalist West London. Love/Hate don’t seem to do it justice. Neither does political denouncements. The invisibility of market rationale, or should we say Abramovich, Buck, Arsenon, Zahavi’s web of intransigence marking a juncture of sorts. Social life irreducible, right? What does that mean for Post-Communist stalwart Roman and Post-Fascist tactician Mourinho.

“Post-colonial Ronaldo”? Perhaps
V

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And somewhere below the sovereign, a dancefloor.

“As to strategy, we learned in the struggle; some people think that we adopted a foreign method, or something like this. Our principle is that each people have to create its own struggle. Naturally, we have something to learn from the experience that can be adapted to the real situation of the country. But we bettered our struggle in the culture of our people, in the realities of our country, historical, economical, cultural, etc, and we developed the struggle, supported by our people which is the first and main condition: the support of the people.”

Amílcar Cabral
Principe Discos, a label, a movement slowly emerging out of Lisbon’s African estates, fast heady fizzing meditative abstracting black atlantic sound – Zouk Kizomba Kuduro RnB house all mediated against the background of culturalising global capital, a little enclave an overview could never do justice – in some of their own words:
“PRÍNCIPE is a record label based in Lisbon, Portugal.
It is fully dedicated to releasing 100% real contemporary dance music coming out of this city, its suburbs, projects & slums. New sounds, forms and structures with their own set of poetics and cultural identity.”

 

VI
So into the industrial beast we go, up into personified grief, Mancunian malcontents marauding – Pep and Jose. Managers and philosophers. Commodities and culture. The cotton millers residually dominant, virtually total. Cutting both ways, and cutting something out. The myths of victory archaic and the future critically written out the mouths of serious veritable football journos. Europe splintering, capital gesturing the siege. The siege of Lisbon as the siege in viewership, pubs all round, the siege slipping out, possible passions and critical intent.

Gods walk this earth, and they lose.

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VII [adze]
there is the fullness of ronaldo’s body and your disparate, ‘peppering’ words… maybe i am looking for more body? but maybe wanting to look for that body — a gathering up of ronaldo’s HD bodybuilding montage adverts — maybe that wanting is the space emanating from your writing (on page 2)

like, i almost want it to start with page 5 (/but commodities can play/, Recurrence as spectres return, spirit reassembled (beautiful!!)) and reorder the text… but surely i am wrong

general vibe:

a peppering of families, splintered into muscular separate bodies, shot down by bullets of dollar bills, strewn across a burning football pitch that is europe: resembling plastic bags billowing across the astroturf— is it a ball or is it rubbish, it is maurinho’s head, can you feel the beating of Roman’s helicopter, the beating around and out that is principe?

❤ ❤ beautiful.

 

VIII [disorient]

its always difficult to comment critically – maybe for the end you need to go to Lisbon in more depth – your journey, experience of the music, the dancefloor/club, –the empire striking back on Mourino’s homeland etc… Mourino going north of england — to the heart of the industrial empire — not sure — Portugal the in/out/ of europe, the place where is it all really comes home, on the edge, multiculture— no future of capital etc…capital to a different history, an outside inside europe…. just thinking aloud…. i think only needs a couple of more paras…

Hate T20

Originally published on Southern Discomfort Zine (12/4/2016)

Gotta admit it, I dislike T20. In fact I kinda hate it.
Hate’s a strong word. But it holds a certain ambivalence,
it acknowledges the infectious,
it forms the conditions for particular articulation of the present-indefinite
– through negation
what-have-you.

Of course some gripes with T20 and its globalising corporate agenda has been attended to on this zine before, quote:

“But since the decline of West Indies cricket, we have also witnessed fundamental changes in the ethos of cricket – from a game of artistry and skill to one where the imperatives of commercial entertainment have become paramount. This has undoubtedly reached it nadir in the Indian Premier League (IPL). The pantomime that is the IPL represents what is totally wrong with the game now. But like in James’ time cricket tells us a lot about our contemporary postcolonial predicament.”
-Ash Sharma, “Beyond A Boundary”, https://southerndiscomfortzine.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/beyond-a-boundary/

Corporate
corporeal
embodiment
toxicity

And so there I was,
hanging heavy,
head heavy with ache,
ached out of utterance,
splitting.
And man did the split come.

It was the final,
England seem like they’w’re gonna sneak it,
Windies blown it, old man chuntering,
‘shit shit, england are shit, if they win they’re never gonna stop and its gonna make this shit country think its good’, to paraphrase.

Chris Jordan penultimate over,
tight, collected at
the death.
Commentator notes he played for Barbados once,
confused half-utterances ensues,
confused commonwealth creolite to the death –
residencies/genealogies –
cricketing jurisdictions supple/vital.
Routes/roots, standing scrutiny.

Final over,
it aint gonna be Root that’s for sure.
Up steps Stokes.
19 needed, 3 sixes plus a run would do it.
Impossible – maybe, improbable – certainly.
Shit.
You hate you give a fuck about this circus but, hey, that’s hate.
You’re certainly not merely interested at least.

Stokes running in,
bowls down leg,
boom Brathwaite slinks it for 6.
The dream’s alive.

Stokes in again,
down the middle,
Brathwaite’s bat seamlessly swung like a golf club,
its a huge one down the ground.
Your headache’s blissfully being usurped in illogical awe.
We were told he was a hitter but, man, this is something special.

Third ball in, Stokes looking a little forlorn.
More on the offside –
boom, its an uncanny slice,
carried over the boundary,
another six, ridiculous scenes.
Stokes about to cry,
pumped Windies team ready to burst up on the field in victory.
Just need a run now.

But well this circus wouldn’t complete without another six,
yes this one huge again,
with ball left hanging over the stands,
camera cuts to Windies team storming in glory,
some kind of Light Brigade, though not nearly as sycophantic.

Breathe,

shirts are off muscles rippling,
towering obstinancy,
adrenaline testosterone kicking off,
the spectres of the ‘70s –
too black too strong –
images flashing in the circus.
Fragments of something better.
Cos we know its shit but its always good to see Windies doing well,
against odds.
There’s something about the Windies and their obstinance that always stinks of tragedy,
the wafts of failure in mongrelity.

And it was a tale of two:
Stokes on the kneeling on the floor distraught,
Marlon Samuels with his knock of 79 ‘doggedly’ defiant.

And all the myths came atumble.
Nasser at the usually staid ‘post-match presentation’,
corporate logos staged on height-of-design multi-coloured artifice,
suited brown-faced mimic-men to boot.
Medals run through,
handshakes galore,
a cheap nod to glocal boy Kohli.
Same old same old right? –
but the intoxicating adrenaline aint quite left yet.

Man of the Match interview, up step Samuels.
Its hard-hitting stuff, no punches pulled,
and that snipe at Shane Warne,
the ever-present Aussie and his lurid voice,
whack
and the mythic violence way-back-when thumped into
present-euphoria. Marlon knows how to play this game
while we scroll through the sports gossip. Nasser blurring, ecstatic
laughter simmering, between reason and madness,
Windies at the T20.

Up steps Darren Sammy,
OK here’s the highwayman,
good-boy-does-as-he’s-told,
mediator, formalist, talented for keeping a level-head.
But everything’s relative init.
Its a little bit more subtle now, the excoriating put-downs to cricketing boards/structures, and apocalyptic cries of
‘we don’t know if we’re ever gonna play together again’
‘we may never get a kit again’
‘CARICOM are fully supporting us, not sure about anybody else…’
references to the Almighty, presumably Grenada PM Mitchell himself!

Absurd, ridiculous, but he dared to utter in the chaos of it all,
Indian capital and Windian ‘mismanagement’,
globalised vernaculars as nineteenth century accents clash in all their glorious play.
Chris Gayle laughing away.
Nasser taken on some colour.

And it wouldn’t be over without ‘DJ’ Bravo’s ridiculous dance off his record ‘Champion’,
arms thrust forward somewhere between car-handling and flight-control,
the Windian woman’s team joining in the frivolity.
Something about the grotesque amidst the spectacularly staid affair that is the T20 carnival,
blurry and basic and
Darren Sammy standing firm,
doing what needed to be done,
at the [diasporic] cut,
against expectations against the game.

And the inquisition ensued,
‘they had a point to prove’ the acceptable narrative,
and they used that passion.
But passion’s a tricky customer and I wouldn’t bet on it
and I certainly wouldn’t try to spend it.
Stored and spent – seminal actions.
Struggling scores ex-propiated


 

Sublime Fragments of Gothic Futures

Originally published on Southern Discomfort Zine (7/12/2014)DSCN7986

Fragments of the urban flail around us amidst un[re]constructed grime along perpetual gentrified postmodernist scorn to the brutalist textures of modernism’s militancy; perpetual post-crash crisis meets postmodernist stagnation. All we have left is to fight the ruinous cringeful banality of Farage’s [insert other appropriate white cis-man] rivers of bloody tears with some reconstitution of our multiplicitous historical present through the excavation of the traces of the epistemes that compose our lives.

Brecht spoke of modernism ‘erasing the traces’ of the cold past but the only thing that’s getting erased these days is the modernist canon. Brutalist Britain and its concretopias being sold off to make way for a future minimalist in content; gentrified villages as the nihilistic narcissistic white smarminess that proliferates the so-called ‘creative industries’ and all the post-Fordist capital associated with it. Finally ‘alternative’ capitulates to quaint kitsch revanchist throes of ‘community’, as if we couldn’t see the tragic farce anyway.

The Great Day of His Wrath 1851-3 by John Martin 1789-1854In the middle we find the post-imperial ‘traditionalism’ of UKIP via Thatcherism //lest we forget the national hysterics of the #jubilympics,// though London’s Overthrow is always on the cards. John Martin’s Apocalypse tracing the contours of the trauma of the industrialised urban Pandemonium through the frame of time forgotten; the gothic grasped as the art of the Sublime, of that which excites terror, much like Turner’s steaming train. And what of the most gothic of them all, Queen Victoria? Her mourning of Prince Albert typified in his memorial. Imperial melancholia; the pathology of a reactionary high gothic culture.

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Rain_Steam_and_Speed_the_Great_Western_Railway

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And it always comes right back to the banks of the Thames right? Marx’s capital a vampire extracting and accumulating the flows of blood as Conrad in Heart of Darkness recites the litanies of imperial repugnance while abobrando-apocalypseard the Nelly on the Thames haunted by the horror of Kurtz, Dracula by another mask. And so we find Coppola and Herzog refracting this metanarrative through the frames of 60s Vietnam and 16th century Latin America. Hollywood’s spectacle lands us face to face with Marlon Brando’s weathered mask in the context of the great imperial failure of purple haze and napalm death. Meanwhile Neuer Deutscher Film leads us through the gritty realism of white male entitlement embodied in Klaus Kinski’s tormented search for riches and power in the fabled El Dorado only to meet his lone demise on a raft in the middle of the jungle manically immersed in monkeys. Modernism spoke of the new media of film and photography creating fragments of ourselves; Kinski’s performance was sublime gothic exposing the crisis in the secular mind post-modernism and post-colonialism through an exploration of the past. Gothic becomes the distorted mirror.

aguirreOf course Kinski has also performed as our old phantasmal friend Nosferatu in Herzog’s 1979 homage to Murnau’s 1924 Weimar expressionist classic – classic in the sense that you always catch yourself referring to it without ever really bothering to watch it, reflective in some ways of the very nature of the reproduced representation of the figure of Dracula. Bram Stoker’s 1897 Nosferatu_Kinskiversion itself based on existing folk tale tropes of the vampire evoking the British imperial paranoia of invasion (some things never change eh?). Stoker was Irish, one of the first British colonies of course, and maybe he glimpsed some solidarity with the minnows of east Europe during the height of European imperial rivalry before, of course, that great war, much to the dismay of the downtrodden European working classes toiling in industrial urban squalour of Marx’s capital and Foucault’s biopower. Luxemburg’s Socialism or Barbarism, right? Not quite.

Andrey Tarkovsky’s film Solyaris (1972) – the classic form of the crisis of communism; stuck between rationalism and white masculinity, between East and West, searching for the great interstellar future of their counter-modernity only to uncover fragmented pasts. The transhistorical universalist subject shown to be the (white) working class (cis-man); let catastrophic spectacle ensue thanks to everyone’s favourite ambiguous brown leader of steel, Stali0be02346a92ae7781c10b49bf74e191a_VTGNIKELPni. Pieter Bruegel’s 1565 painting ‘Hunters in the Snow’ haunting the souls of Eastern failure aboard Solyaris’s vessel. Most fittingly this painting has been brought into the post-Soviet world with electronic artist Dubna’s album artwork with the addition of modernist towering tower blocks rupturing time’s impasse. We still live in the wake of the Soviet’s attempt of breaking with the past. All that was solid did not melt into air, it only fragmented.

Bela_Lugosi's_Dead_CoverBéla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó aka Bela Lugosi was one of those classic souls toiling in the filth forced to flee Hungary to the centre of modernity’s many secular crises, Weimar Germany’s Berlin, after his involvement in artist’s unions in the short-lived post-WWI 1919 Hungarian Soviet Republic. Of course he wasn’t finished there and worked on a merchant ship to the good old States to become a proper white person and in the process also happened to end up as the archetypal Hollywood Dracula; a sublime life if there ever were one. But as Bauhaus hauntingly proclaimed in 1979 (the same year as Kinski’s Nosferatu) ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’. Incidentally László Weisz aka Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, central to the school of Bauhaus in the Weimar Republic, was part of the same milieu as Lugosi of emigrants from Budapest to Berlin in 1920. Northampton’s Bauhaus a mournful distorted mirror-image of Johnny Rotten’s crooning of ‘No Future’ as Moholy-Nagy’s grand modernist visions of the multimedia functionalism of art came true in the form of the IKEA towers of Croydon fame.

moholynagy_a19ikeacroEngland’s dreaming, for sure, against the short memories of land of the free: Moholy-Nagy died in Chicago of course. Though there’s the other side of that American dream of course as found in Herzog’s Stroczek, partly based on the main actor’s life Bruno S., where a beaten-up ex-convict artist decides to escape the filthy detritus of West Berlin and ends up in the sticks of Wisconsin only for his dreams to take a plunge amid typical economic depravity with his wife leaving him for a lurid lorry-driver on his way to Vancouver. Yeah shit’s fucked. But you know it’s always harder for the queerer and darker ones of us but there’s less romance there I suppose, less respect and more pigeon-holing (see ‘diaspora kid’ Junot Diaz).

stroszek

Or how about everyone’s favourite troubled black intellectual Dambudzo Marechera toiling against black essentialism and the walls of whiteness, escaping into the resplendent pages of English literature though historical consciousness and psycho-geographies always at the fore. As the old boy says, ‘But too often my friends are just as reckless and on edge as I am and sometimes the burden of each other’s needs is just too much and we load up our rucksacks and say goodbye without hard feelings. Just a sense of loss. My greatest disappointment has always been how one never gets the chance to give, and give unreseservedly. So I do that in my writing, only interrupting the flow when the life of it gazes unseeing at the typewriter keys.’[1] Constructing realities from possible narratives of pasts refracted into memory; not quite magical but something that obscures the hard cold boring logics of taxonomies of ruinous power and neurotic dominance.

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The question of course is how to do so without falling into the traps of know-it-all smarminess or general misanthropy, and here the art of the sublime returns. That attraction of the urban decay and anonymity, the lack of community, the dislocative post-industrial fragments that have possibility if only you look thoroughly enough. See @hautepop’s http://street-goth.tumblr.com/ for the latest post-crash goth aesthetic, or Flying Lotus’s latest outing with ‘You’re Dead’ as bebop meets electronic soundscape to construct some sublime gestalt.

Memories as futures; futures as gothic; gothic as dissonant; dissonant dislocative memories reinvented for perpetual crisis against banal manageability.

[1] Dambudzo Marechera, The Black Insider, (Lawrence and Wishart, 1990)