Critical Reading and Listening

CORNISH-EVOL-DO_THESE-01Political and economic turbulence in the UK since the EU referendum. A lot of news and uncertainty. Amongst all this, some things offer orientation, clarity and hope – critical analyses for times of crisis. And there’s been lots of good music – a welcome contribution/distraction.

Salvage – a quarterly journal of political literature and art “written by and for the desolated Left”. Founding editors are Jamie Allinson, China Miéville, Richard Seymour and Rosie Warren. Heavyweight paper, good design, full-colour artwork, and an editorial in a separate booklet – a nice physical package. All articles are available online shortly after the print version is published. Print run of 1000, unfortunately the first issue is sold out. An introductory essay by Rosie Warren sets out its mission.

EVOL – DO THESE (Presto!? Records). Isolated loops of squelchy synth. Pure acid. Accompanying text (excerpt pictured above) written by Dale Cornish [PDF]. Also by EVOL – Hardcore vol. I. Tons of music for just €3.03, including two new slime variations of Hannah Darboven’s Opus17a, all 100 Variations for Solo Hoover, a brilliant Pain Jerk remix, and a stroboscopic video of pareidolia sounds and the words that they sound like written in the same font as the DO THESE text.

Neal Lawson – Downfall. An article analysing the current state of the Labour party – identifying the basis of the opposing camps and weighing up their chances. (At the time of writing, the leadership challenge ballot will happen soon, having been agreed by the party executive a few hours ago, and already there’s argument about the cut-off date for new members’ eligibility to vote. In the meantime – tomorrow morning, in fact – we will have a new, unelected, Conservative prime minister.) Lawson also offers some starting-points for rebuilding the party’s intellectual and organisational foundations, beginning with Antonio Gramsci’s idea that political struggle is essentially cultural. As Rosie Warren says in Salvage‘s mission statement: “Because it is not just the perspectives of the Left but its culture that must be revolutionised.” Lawson’s quotation of Gramsci sums up the problem now facing both the Left in the UK political system and the country in relation to the EU:

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.

Pita Get In (Editions Mego). Great stuff from Peter Rehberg. Long-awaited follow-up to Get Off (2004) and Get Out (1999). Like those albums it’s abstract and noisy but clever and funny.

Publisher Verso Books runs a blog with commentary on current affairs in the UK and the US from a wide range of contributors.
White Fungus is an art magazine based in Taiwan that started as an anarchic performance. The current issue (#15) features interviews with Jeff Mills, James Hoff, and Lin Chi-wei.
It will be interesting to follow the progress of the Democracy in Europe Movement as a cross-party, international attempt to “repair the EU” (= regain democratic power from the neoliberal establishment), based on simple, feasible proposals such as live-streaming meetings and publishing documents to begin improving transparency and accountability. Founded by Yannis Varoufakis, people on board so far include Brian Eno, John McDonnell, Caroline Lucas and Slavoj Žižek.

On the Ge-stell label which released Tom Knapp’s Mophoc Rez EP, two new releases, both with remixes by label owner Cameron Shafii and artwork by Joe Gilmore (pictured below):  Sote – Hyper-urban 20 30 and CoH – Return to Mechanics Listen to the CoH EP here.


Beatrice Dillon / Karen Gwyer – split single on Alien Jams. Can’t get enough of Dillon’s work at the moment – really nicely crafted sounds. First heard on Where To Now? Records – Face A / B last year. Recently also got her collaborations with Rupert Clervaux: Studies I-XVII for Samplers and Percussion (Snow Dog Records) is seventeen short exercises in bare rhythmic pattern formation and instrumentation. Two Changes (Paralaxe Editions) is two longer pieces in which the percussion works with/against more melodic parts, whose shifting structures and textures reflect the track titles’ reference to process philosophy. Both Dillon’s and Gwyer’s sides of the latest single sound great:

In an attempt to actively participate in the political future in some small way, and in the hope of contributing to building better economic systems, I joined a cooperatively-owned music streaming service. Resonate offers better deals for artists and fans, based on some new business strategies – like blockchain technology as the basis for not only financial but also legal and administrative decentralised systems. It’s currently recruiting musicians, labels and bloggers, and will launch a beta version at the end of the year. People signed up so far include TCF and Mat Dryhurst (musicians and advisors), Marc Weidenbaum (blogger), Planet Mu Records (label), Peter Kirn, Karl Fousek, Calum Gunn and GOTO80 (musicians). Get more info and sign up here:

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