Further thoughts on S.O.A.C.A aka self-organising autonomous cultural activity
i dont' have any kind of fully worked out theory on it, the blog is sort of
a work in progress, a series of semi connected riffs. but i would almost say
'underground' is determined by perception -- by the people involved in the
scene feeling they're underground
re "self-organising autonomous cultural activities"
i guess was gesturing at the idea of horizontal culture as opposed to
top-down pop music -- people making their own entertainment. all the
underground scenes have a much higher rate of participants to
non-participants -- a lot of people making music, or DJing, or being fanzine
writers/editors, or running a label.
"self-organising" as slightly different from "autonomous" was me throwing in a
bit of chaos theory and cybernetics -- with a lot of dance scenes, there's almost a kind of evolutionary logic to the way the music develops, as though the scene/sound
is generating its own aesthetic path forward, as opposed to any specific
Auteur- Geniuses. so it evolves incrementally, people pushing a style of
beat or production a little bit further, someone else very quickly picking
up on that slight shift and pushing it further still. It's like the
scene/sound knows where it wants to go. hence "scenius", Eno's formulation,
as opposed to "genius"
yeah the underground-er than thou thing is a perennial problem with
undergrounds and marginal scenes, hence their tendency to split into smaller
fragments. bit like the Left in politics! if you're not careful with music,
you could end up with doing pressings of 50 and playing to an audience of 10
comprised only of other musicians. That's why i think purity as such is an
i'm trying to find a third way i suppose between the Pop-ist, manna-from-chart-heaven approach and the Keenan ultra-obscurist thing -- imagining a form of collectivity that is actually real, as opposed to the quasi-populism of the pop audience. hence the Grime massive, the jungle massive, the dancehall massive, and so forth.
obviously there's good music, great music often, made on the overground,and
conversely a lot of undergroundist stuff is mediocre -- generic grime,
generic free folk. the Pop-ist contingent would argue that the scene-based
stuff is more conservative than the mainstream cos it has to service a community.