Re: [rumori] radio boy liner notes

From: Jon Leidecker (
Date: Sat Jan 12 2002 - 19:57:43 PST

hey don, thanks for your response. what a great summary of Duchamp.

>As I may have mentioned before, when you reach this inevitable point in the
>history of "original" music experimentation where all the best moves have
>ALREADY been made, recycling becomes "revolutionizing" itself.

Indeed you have mentioned this before, Don, about twelve million times.
What I like about Herbert's extreme liner notes is that he's trying to come
up with an intelligent response to the fact that recycling _isn't_ terribly
revolutionary in and of itself anymore, in theory or practice. You can
still come up with revolutionary work with the form, as you mentioned, but
yes 1970's a looong time ago by now even by historical standards.

Basically we're completely swamped with sampling for it's own sake by now,
a trend which entrenched itself in the mass media about ten years ago.
It's long been common practice, all the outlaw artists have all been
canonized (Oswald's Plunderbox: voted one of the 10 best releases of the
year by SPIN magazine, buy it now, kids, etc). A lot of stupefyingly
mediocre music is being made. Herbert's writings are an attempt to address
the failures of sampling as practice, and maybe he goes way overboard in
the opposite direction, but that's something to be happy about given the
absence of dialog on the subject. When he says "No Samples of Other
Musicians Allowed" in his PCCOM manifesto, well, that's too extreme for me
to take to heart myself, but I hear where he's coming from and I hope the
ideas behind that message get out there.

>As a consequence, modern artists should back off their traditional God
>complexes, expecting to be prayed for (and payed for) their individual
>creative efforts wherever they appear in subsequent new contexts by others.

This is a very important point to make. The myth of the Individual Creator
is one of the cornerstones of our western culture here, and it's only
getting more entrenched... people really enjoy believing in individual
genius and paying their reverent tributes, so a lot of focus always goes to
the frontman. One of the new things about our media culture is that this
is the first time it's actually been possible to keep TRACK of all the
hundreds of people who've made their individual contributions to an art
form, all the work is documented, so instead of everyone just remembering
Bach as the 'inventor' of fugue, these days we're confronted with all the
people other than fucking Stockhausen who gradually innovated in the field
of electronic music, for example. All of them, anyone who managed to
complete a final work in recorded form, left a document. And these
documents are increasingly widely available. This decentralized access is
being experienced as a crisis because there's no one godlike figure to lead
the way, no one direction to follow; we've yet to make the paradigm shift
away from the enshrined individual genius.

One of the things I like about sampling in music is that it kind of makes
this old 'myth of the indivdual genius' transparent; anyone knowledgable
enough can perceive the original recordings within most 'sampled' music,
yet obviously a new piece of music has resulted, a contribution been made
and acknowledged, and the myth of the individual genius is eroded somewhat
(I like to think).

I hope Herbert isn't suggesting that legislation be implented that pays the
performer, engineer, and composer equally for their work in any sample used
by anyone (although I've read law review articles suggesting precisely
this: see Christopher D. Abramson's well meaning but hopelessly mired
article 'Digital Sampling and the Recording Musician: A Proposal for
Legislative Protection", New York University Law Review, December 1999).
But it does underline the truth that when somebody samples a drum snare
from a James Brown record, the engineer is more responsible for what's
being taken than the composers credit that's awarded the $20,000 sample
license. Captialism's 'filthy brown finger' is just too inadequate to
address what's going on; this is Market Failure.

>"There is no solution because there is no problem" - Duchamp.

Good quote but in this case the problem is merely the same old confusion
resulting from watching a revolution gone stale, watching the new
discoveries slowly taken for granted and practiced by rote that once seemed
inherently valid. There is kind of a problem here... the dialog helps.

By the way, Don, do you have any idea just how _establishment_ you sound
when you continue to hold up appropriation as the only last frontier left
in music because 'everything's been done before (sonny)'? I simply
disagree with your contention that there are no new sounds. And before you
object, name the last local concert you went to. The Bay Area has seen
some of the most amazing concerts available to anyone anywhere over the
last ten years, and you don't go out to shows, ever. (Okay you went to see
Otomo's I.S.O. four years ago, 'cause you expected him to be doing some
sampling). My number of nights-out-on-the-town will probably be reduced a
few decades from now as well, don't get me wrong, but I'll try to remember
not to write off all the musical developments I'm oblivious to with a
simple 'it's all been done before'.

respectfully yours as always

>>hi today,
>>just wanted to say that mp3's of the first two chopping channel live shows
>>are now up and working at
>>only the first show is clearly linked on the site, but if you click on the
>>words 'chopping channel' towards the bottom of the first page, it'll take
>>you through to the page for the second show, which has a superior version
>>of 'sales techniques' and a few other high points but certainly start with
>>the first show.
>>I just found these typically provocative liner notes in matthew herbert's
>>new album as Radio Boy, a not-for-sale given-away-for-free-at-gigs release,
>>and they were interesting, so I'm attaching them below. Some nice angry
>>responses now that sampling is an ingrained mainstream practice. PCCOM,
>>his personal sampling manifesto is quite interesting. I'm not totally in
>>agreement but I'm a sucker for a fully realized manifesto.
>>The first two paragraphs are the best, but I shouldn't edit the guy, the
>>lividity of the rest is understandable given it was written a week after
>>liner notes to Radio Boy's 'the mechanics of destruction'
>>This collection of organized noise began life as a late but sharp
>>realization that music is always political.
>>The democratisation of composition that followed the electronic music
>>revolution inevitably has led to the consumerisation of methods of
>>production. sampling, instead of revolutionizing the very accepted idea of
>>music, has become a short cut to authenticity. instead of musicians
>>constructing imaginary worlds out of real sounds, they have instead openly
>>selected and stolen their way round their usually brilliant record
>>collections, borrowing the best parts of the best recorded, best played
>>songs. the composer has somehow become simply a qualified selector.
>>the rearrangement of previous ideas into different and contemporary
>>contexts has always been a part of traditional western technique, but never
>>before has the performance also been lifted. not only does the composer
>>rarely get paid (except where ironically backed by a label of signifigant
>>size intent only on collecting its own disproportionately high share of
>>royalties), but the performer, engineer and producer rarely get mentioned,
>>let alone renumerated. capitalism has once again inserted its filthy brown
>>finger into a creative and thus political process. at a time of unbridled
>>consumerism and electoral apathy, it is hardly surprising then that music
>>has become a bloated and arrogant beast, still buying in to, and selling on
>>at a premium these myths of modern consumerism. the pinnacle of which is
>>the series "popstars" that blatantly manufactures groups before the very
>>eyes of a cynical and distant audience before then turning round and
>>inviting it to buy into the mirage it has created. a trick so neatly
>>summarized by "the pardoners tale" by chaucer.
>>anyone with a sense of injustice and a mind prepared to read beyond the
>>facile celebrity driven literature put forward by a media intent on
>>promoting its own social and business agenda will have noticed the
>>extremely dangerous and deeply disturbing shift from state-power to
>>it is this then that this album is largely about. from the takeover and
>>systematic destruction of local diet by mcdonalds to the failure of western
>>societies to intervene in rwanda and thus become implicit in another modern
>>genocide. that I have largely destroyed everything that has come to make
>>the noises for this record is symptomatic of my anger at being ignored by a
>>government so far removed from my basic human concerns it doesn't think
>>twice before risking the lives of every one of us by entering a war with
>>people we have spent a large part of the last century arming.
>>there's so much to say on the subject of destruction in a society that
>>creates so much packaging to lure us into buying things the earth can't
>>bear to dispose of, but instead of words, I have chosen music.
>>matthew herbert, 18th september 2001.
>>this album is profit-free.
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