Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Noise making a difference?

My other great love is music. I have meandered around few genres Jazz, several variations of soul, I’m also partial to a bit of electronic stuff, House, techno, electro, tech house etc… I used to love listening to pirate stations at college and felt naughty playing speed garage down in my studio at Slade lol! But I have soft spot for reggae, grew up on a steady flow of Rock Steady and Lovers Rock. So I couldn’t resist seeing a film entitled the latter by filmmaker Manelick Shabazz. Very entertaining, it shed light on something, which could have been forgotten. I left the screening with an assurance that that music was marked in history, the culture and associated experiences along with it. Lovers Rock was another step in the British development of reggae music, moving away from the overtly political stuff that preceded it.

I was a bit young for Lovers Rock to be honest, and couldn’t really appreciate it in the way it should be (watch the film). I have really early memories of listening to bits and pieces in the 70's in my uncle’s old ford Cortina. It’s incredibly sweet and syrupy and not really groundbreaking in a political sense or so I thought until I watched the movie. Against the socio-political backdrop the music didn’t have an overt political message, but the film proposed it as a tonic for the harshness of the times. I am from a musical generation accused of not having any political agency at all. For a long time I felt irritated by those who would flash their musio-political credentials in my face.

I attended a one-day symposium on the subject, the opening speaker John Street attempted to question our association of music with social change. He presented it as a widely accepted theoretical proposition, citing philosophers such as Plato and Adorno amongst others that has little empirical evidence.

I dunno maybe pop music has been regarded too disposable to be given serious analysis. There are many musical forms that would not be included in the political repertoire but the idea of affecting people… that happens anyway doesn’t it - whether you’re actively trying to change the world or not?

It took me quite a while to include music in my work, probably because the stuff I liked didn’t really have gravity politically or otherwise. In the first instance playing St Germain in a gallery seemed highly charged – I was very preoccupied with the gallery at the time.  But my studio is quite noisy actually. Making the speaker box piece felt like a very different act, I always feel rather exposed when I hear it. Maybe the final edit didn’t put across the full gamut of stuff I was listening to. I suppose I’m interested in evidencing the eclectic nature of influences in an individual’s life. And other influences such as art historical ones to – I reckon that piece answers back to Robert Morris’ Box with the sound of its own making. But less heroic, cheaper materials and a tad emotional…

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