The Thing With Techno


The thing with techno is it characterizes so well the death-drive of our cybernetic capitalism. It is, like so much dance music, a major player in the content overload rocket-launch, the explosive bloom of color and media fueled by a rabid consumer culture, producing and reproducing itself at an increasingly incomprehensible scale. Formulaic, deconstructed music reiterating, reiterating, reiterating orthodoxy in order to fulfill a specific purpose, smelted ingots made from kickdrums. Yet while the muted ossification of deep modernity sets in this music and it’s attendant revelry provide an anarchic form, thriving in extremes and flouting social orthodoxy. It is one of many vectors of idealized deterritorialization, emerging from the kingdom that industrialization built but providing opportunities to annex new freedoms in that seething, merciless kaleidoscope.

Where then next?

It’s not something we can really think about, us creatures from history.

Music came from the sky in antiquity and continued to do so for a long time, it dripped and flowed like rain into the foundations of civilizations. We began to formalize it early on, as we do, and in doing so we stole it from the sky, kept it in reservoirs. We developed the language of it, and we made it mathematical–as we do. Classical instrumentalists formed finely honed hierarchies, top down collectives sublimating their creativity, deferring to composer and conductor to perform grand works for the aristocrats of Europe’s ugly feudalism. The rain gave way to ornate, overengineered pools, the teeming life of our musicality confined, claustrophobic, exploited, swirling itself into a frenzy. These pools began to overflow as technology accelerated its work of recontextualization, the frothing whirl of acoustic expression reaching a keening wail as it began to breach the social boundaries we imposed on it. The studio entered the bedroom, cheap cassette four-tracks evolved into digital workstations, dusty boxes of CDs became whirling hard drives bursting with data, whole musical libraries encased in plastic and silicon. It flooded forth, as we see it today, drowning its own landscape in vibrant expression, in sapient mania, specificity and segregation dismantled in the delirious monsoon of the 21st century.

It is, pardon the cliche, rhizomatic, this sonic culture. It blisters and mutates, interconnects, devours, decomposes, propagates, it sucks the nutrients from its environment as it grows and grows and grows in every direction.

And like a rhizome it penetrates the earth, this aural liquid that has rained onto us, drenched us, been shaped by us and our histories. As we disgorge the tide, the terrain of our environment begins to extend downwards, forming a crevasse, and this is the escape from the inexorable catastrophe. The mechanical overgrowth of the surface world consumes all and obliterates meaning, choking a civilization and a species that failed, is failing, to build its ark. But for those who have made an effort to mutate along with the writhing cadence of modernity we can dive, we can explore the reefs and ecology of the crevasse, make a new kingdom deep beneath the roiling maelstrom, turn our attention to new flora and fauna discovered in the depths.

I am of course describing Drexciya.

This is an artifact, lush and vivid, its legacy far reaching; it was sintered in the furnaces that have always provided kindling for the creative bonfires we light in the void. It is these myths with which we can build submersibles to survive in some recognizable fashion the annihilating flood that threatens our old creative world, the increasing vacancy of demented humanity. The digital leviathan grows and growls and flows, uncurls endless tentacles and encompasses the quaint accomplishments littering the road that brought us to this point. It squeezes and crushes them, deforms them, dilutes them, deifies them, reduces them. Solve et coagula.

We have all the resources we need to build beneath the surface of the eroding waves. It just requires a little collective effort, a coalescing of our more primordial capacities. We must nurture what makes our artifacts special to us, for we know now that nothing is special at all, and our society absorbs that unequivocal truth like a plague, poisoning itself. We must make mountains of our myths. There are no orthodoxies in the new kingdom. Just ideas building on ideas, dripping sediment forming stalagmites, sunken topographies of the future.

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