The Null Device


Burn down the disco, and hang the blessed DJ: An aging rocker on why dance music is rubbish:

The dance craze is the very antithesis of what punk stood for. Punk was iconoclastic. Its gigs were exuberant and unpredictable. The Pistols and The Clash lifted two fingers at some of the worst aspects of British society, with its class-ridden inequality, nauseating obsession with the Royal Family and penchant for vile-tasting beers. Dance, on the other hand, is contrived and controlled. John Major's government gave it an undeserved outlaw appeal by trying to curb large raves through public order legislation. The little grey man need not have worried his funny-looking head. Dance culture is about as big a threat to the governing classes as Val Doonican or Celine Dion.
A friend of mine, a former punk who claims to appreciate the underlying aesthetics of dance music, explained to me why I am a dance philistine. "It's very simple, Dave. You don't take E." Taking ecstasy "gives you a great buzz", my friend informed me. After popping an E tab once, he stayed up all night reading gardening books, planning his shrubbery in minute detail. Hearing that an ex-punk resorts to rave drugs, to improve his gardening, convinced me that something is seriously wrong with the world.

I must confess that I don't entirely disagree with him; I listen to more music played by live musicians than pre-sequenced electronica (though a bit of the latter), I don't have much time for the sorts of homogeneous, repetitive records that you can only appreciate when on drugs at a club, and on most of the times I saw "live electronica" acts, I found them boring (with the exception of the more theatrical acts like Down Town Brown).

OTOH, I wouldn't write off all electronica in the same vein; some of it (such as Negativland's The Letter U and the Numeral 2, which he rubbishes in the article) has more in common with his beloved punk genre's core ethos than he gives credit.

The punk rebellion started because music in the Seventies had become mind-numbingly bland. As we approach the millennium, the dance music promoted by the style gurus is even more infuriating. Any attempt at a punk rebellion now would probably be ludicrous. Yet we urgently need something with similar vitality and imagination to challenge the mediocrity stifling European club-life.

I think the problem is not that there is no challenging, vital music, but that the industry and market ignore it and select for easy-to-digest blandness instead. (link via 1.0)

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The Mouse That Ate The Public Domain, a good summary of the Disney-sponsored copyright extension act, and hopes for overturning it.

Seen in this light, the CTEA cannot survive. Because already existing works cannot be created anew, extension of subsisting copyrights does not "promote progress." Congress is not empowered merely to provide copyright holders with an additional boon - that is not "progress", but corporate welfare.
The linguistic convention by which works "fall" when they enter the public domain is revealing: immanent in the phrase is the notion that a work is debased when no longer copyrighted. Perhaps it is this view that allows statutes that shrink the public domain to gain widespread support.


A quite lucid, if somewhat old, interview with Richard Dawkins. (via bOING bOING)

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Cool; Moses Avalon, of "Confessions of a Record Producer" fame, has a web site. This includes a (somewhat outdated) industry newsletter detailing the latest recording racket scams and lawsuits, and the royalty calculator, which shows by how much you're getting screwed if you're an artist signed to a major label. (via bOING bOING)

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