Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Words and Music, it's not really a book with an argument, it's a work of poetry - like most of his stuff really, you just fall in with the flow of the language... perhaps the nub of my Bloomian agon with Morley is that he does that so magically while i operate on the "lower" level of pugnacious argument, slugging it out point by point, making a case...

i do think there's a vein of technophilia and neophilia running through Words and Music that is distinctly woolly-minded, he refers to "machines" a lot but never really unpacks what he means by that. the book carries you along with its poetry but falls apart i think in the final chapter--the one after the overload of lists--it just doesn't read like Morley at all, it reads like something you'd find in Mondo 2000 in the early nineties, or Wired -- this hymn to the utopian promise of technology.

and throughout, the whole vision of a pop paradise, the City of Light, he keeps conjuring, to me it brings to mind a shopping mall or megastore... or maybe the interior of an iPod

a lot of is based around this plastic versus wood opposition (e.g. "there was absolutely nothing wooden about Kraftwerk" or words to that effect), which is essentially cooked versus raw, and that didn't strike me as particularly original, indeed when Stubbs and I did our anti-soul manifesto in Melody Maker, All Souled Out, we used 'plastic' as a positivized term, and i'm sure you could trace the plastic = good thing back in some form to Nik Cohn's pulp Superpop vision

generally in Morley's vision there's no place for a figure like Dizzee Rascal.... i suppose my Bloomian Sumo-wrestler counter-move would be to point out the absence of a political dimension, you could scan the entire corpus and there is not a single indication of what his political sympathies are... i was really surprised when reading Nothing that at the end -- and interestingly this only appears through the mouth of his sister (this section where he interviews his mother and sisters about their father and the suicide) and it slips out that he votes or voted Labour which annoyed his Tory dad...

it's odd that in a book about futuristic music, black music appears so little -- he acknowledges Destiny's Child and Missy Elliott and has some weird obsession with Dr Dre but apart from that hip hop hardly figures.... dub barely does... nor techno or house... dancehall, forget it... in all the lists at the end there's a slightly better rate of appearance of black music but there's this weird erasure of a bunch of black British music that really ought to be in there -- jungle, drum'n'bass, garage, 2step. it's odd -- too "real" perhaps?

i think it would be more interesting if he'd made it about Missy Elliott's 'Get UR Freak on' and tried to find a way of apotheosing her w/o the obvious feminist and racial angles (which would generate the kind of discourse Morley would find unattractive, i suppose, as an aesthete). whereas Kylie is too easy a blank canvas and the lines to draw are easier -- "can't get you out of my head" to "blue monday" to kraftwerk to the sixties NY minimalists, Lucier etc

i did really enjoy reading the book -- well you can hardly fail to -- and was chuffed when he wrote about the blogs and gave me a mention (albeit with the exquisitely subtle barb of "politely" as modifier: yes that's me isn't it, never rude about anyone, don't like to rock the boat) -- but at a certain point i did feel "no, this doesn't describe the full picture of pop, let alone..."... "no, it doesn't describe a pop world i'd want to live in..."

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