avoid emptiness: be full of shit   Leave a comment

The other day I was on the phone to a certain Cambridge electronic musician and he was bitching about a certain “new” electronica artist because of his use of a particular performance gimmick, which he had apparently recently employed in a live context, presumably to avoid the “just another dude with a laptop” syndrome. Because I like to appear balanced at all costs, even if it means never having an opinion about anything, I replied that, whilst I was all in favour of those who are not afraid to try and entertain, I did indeed detect the prevalence of a kind of emptiness in a lot of modern avant/underground/whatever musicians’ showmanship, as though the antidote to being boring is to take the piss with ironic posturing and insubstantial gestures. You know, like: “Hey! There’s this great new guy that we have to go and see. He comes on dressed as a shoe and at the end he goes into the audience and kicks people’s butts!” While I was on the phone I was smugly imagining that I sidestepped this sort of fundamental artistic flaw because, even though I’m a bloke with a minidisk/stupid hat (“cool!”) I still sing real songs about pain and stuff, just like Thom Yorke.

About two days later I received my rejection letter from the Sonar music festival, as expected. With dread fear in my fingers I emailed Phil to see if he had got one too, not because I hate the space cunt or do not want him to succeed, but just because I had this feeling that they might go for him and not me, and that, for some reason, would be a profound kick in the teeth. It’s not as though it feels like a knife in the ribs every time Phil gets a cool London gig, and in fact we help each other out with getting gigs quite a bit, but at the end of the day I suppose there is a bit of friendly rivalry, and for him (and not me) to be jetting off to Barcelona this summer would just be too fucking much.

“I’m sorry to tell you this,” he wrote, “but I’m going to Sonar…”

I barely read the rest I was so livid. The voice in my head would have sounded something like this: “I knew that it would happen, just because he’s got a fucking theremin and he’s called fucking Man From Uranus (then I start doing impressions of the Sonar programmers). “Yeah! We got this guy called Man From Uranus who plays the theremin!” Hey! That is so cool! We’re going have a great time this summer! Yeah! It’s going to be great!” And I’m almost spitting at my computer in rage as I denounce the entire global artistic music scene for its preference for form over content, and for empty gesture over subtlety, depth, emotional engagement and contradiction. I even email Phil to tell him that he’s a cunt.

Then I read his email again and realise he’s joking. He’s not going to Sonar. He didn’t even send them any material.

Posted March 31, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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