Liput ja tapahtumapaikat
Avanto CD
Pekka Airaksinen
Mira Calix
Dubbing Mixers
Leif Elggren
Helsinki Computer Orchestra
Shinji Kanki
Emi Maeda
KK. Null
Kari Peitsamo
Staalplaat Soundsystem
Ibrahim Terzic
Terre Thaemlitz
Simon Wickham-Smith
The Dj's




or: the anti-formalist Apocalypse of Ultra-red & Terre Thaemlitz just keeps coming>>> <<<and going...
Ian Penman

CUT [1] — - \\

<<< in without ceremony here without foreplay without aforethought>>>


<<< Official assignment: introduce AVANTO Festival goers to the notion of anti formalism at the heart of Terre Thamelitz and Ultra-red>>>


<<< but what if, under cover of this 'guiding' role, I had some entirely other agenda? Passing all this off as a Beginner's Guide to the "anti formalist" electronica of Terre Thaemlitz and Ultra-red, I had entirely other >>>

CUT [2] — - \\

SIGNPOST [1]: Walter Benjamin via Jacques Derrida on Valerio Adami {which is to say: German into French into reconfigured English into - presumably, finally - imminently retranslated Finnish}: "Benjamin [...] urges the 'artist' as producer: that she not be content to take up a position, through discourse, on the subject of society and that she never, even with theses or revolutionary products, stock up apparatus of production without transforming the very structure of that apparatus, without twisting it, betraying it, attracting it out of its element."

In other words: TRANS-FORM-ation as a given, almost a duty. And, alongside that italicised betrayal, and the twisting of a knife or scissors, I hear an informer in here already, all too ready to>>>

<<< unfolds will therefore not merely inform you about the double position, the always already double practice of these two acts or this one pact - Terre Thamelitz, Ultra-red - but also in its own way embody >>>

CUT [3] — - \\

Whatever material they begin with - recordings of artists e.g. Nina Simone; of right wing U.S. chat show hosts; of left wing street demonstrations - it is always laid open to a process of explicit theoretical and technical trans-form-ation. A transformation both pragmatic and aesthetically seductive: both utile and uncannily ear-catching. At stake are certain oft-neglected questions of 'truth' and accountability: to draw out what is often left silent in the production of ambient or electro-acoustique or electronic music; to not be content merely to turn a new trick - this month's or year's or epoch's New Thing - which, in both cases, means supplementing their recordings with a plethora of essays, sleeve notes, references, website addresses, useful archives: objects for further (informal, informative) reflection. An inclusive Outside not susceptible to reification.

Most instances of formalist pratice, by comparison, remain content merely to present any new stylistic position or choice - this deployment of glitch over that one, this indexing of dub music over that, self-serving reference to avatars such as John Cage et al - as a choice determined by merely fomral considerations, which is to say: music 'purely' and 'simply' about other music: thus, this choice relates back to that choice, which relates back to other artists [e.g., Cage] who have made similar choices in the past which ... and so on, in an endless telelogical loop. {Not for nothing are loops such a characteristic or 'favourite' device in such, um, circles.} Formal difference, merely: a trainspotter's game of identifying micro differences in beat or texture or sampling. As though the artist's sexuality, or funding, or ideological position (or lack thereof, supposedly), e.g., had NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on the practice in hand.

Thamelitz and Ultra-red, with their Other hand, make a virtue of DEMYSTIFYING all process: the technical slog, the sonic work, the cuts tracks & bruises of [re]production: the techniques and decisions which brought them to decide on THIS track, or THAT cut; they rule out 'artistic' mystification by not erasing all the conditions choices and contributions which go into (each) work., which goes to the very 'heart' of the notion of Work, per se. And so: on.

CUT [4] — - \\


You are holding in your gaze the latest Ultra-red cd: ¡Amnistia! Its inner sleeve folds out: on this side the colorful multitudes of present day PROTEST, a carnivalesque explosion of >>>

<<< further inside: a megaphone logo: a NO LOGO logo, so to speak. A device so to speak inside no-go areas, for getting your sonic message behind 'enemy' lines. For (over)turning any designated peripherary into an instant core.

Should we be thinking here then about starting to draw up plans for a new "anti formalist" micro or megaphonics? Is this the start of something big? No: it is simply - and massively - the latest stroke or coup in a long and rich and difficult history. (A history deep inside all of us, if we are prepared to listen hard enough ...)

Open up & out further and a capitalised text appears - ANY BATTLE FOR FREE SPEECH IS A BATTLE FOR PUBLIC SPACE - alongside a photo of barriers, emptied streets, U.S. patrolmen strung like some sharkstooth blue bracelet around empty public space: the aptly named Wall Street. One more step, yes, fold in/out: "¡Amnistia! is composed entirely from recordings made May Day 2000 at demonstrations for immigrant rights in New York City."

CITE SPECIFICS [1]: "THE STRUGGLE FOR IMMIGRANT RIGHTS IS NOT MERELY THE STRUGGLE OF THOSE ON THE MARGINS. IT IS THE STRUGGLE OF THE MULTITUDE IN AN AGE OF GLOBALIZED DESTABILIZATION." At least 66 undocumented workers are missing, we are inFORMed, as a result of the World Trade Centre collapse in 2001; as opposed to the 'official' number of . . . 1. [Insert here at a later date: play on the words/notion of "who counts"?] So: such victims stand (or fall) to lose out twice over, at least. It has been said that history is written by the victors: Ultra-red inFORM us about this situation so that such 'invisible' people are not LOST for good (for the greater "good" perhaps, some would say, o, "our own good" ...), erased by the official "version". ¡Amnistia! constitutes a more than merely gestural politics [not more mere charity or ribbon wearing or photo ops with everybody's groovy Uncle Mandela, say] to a situation in which, as we speak - sleep, type, make love, translate, take short cuts - a far right U.S. administration has been seekng progressively greater powers to detain, deport, imprison and suppress the civil liberties of immigrants [e.g., an estiamted 6m undocumented immigrant workers in the U.S.]; and the same thing - I must say - is beginning to happen in the U.K. The upshot of which may at first seem contingent to questions of electoacoustique music making, if, and it's a big if >>>

RANDOM SPECIFICS [1]: between the "if" of that last paragraph/cut, and this latest [computer-based] revision - or version, or 'cut' - the following events took place: the [politically motivated?] murder of Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh; and the 'world turned upside down' events at the latest World Trade Organisation meeting in Cancun, Mexico.

It is surely ultimately at our own peril we place our heads between our speakers and ignore the world 'out there' and go on as if >>>>

JUMP CUT [1] from ground ZERO to ruins of oh random example Hiroshima 6.8.45: from the sound of protest ah-mi-nist-ah! to the sound of opening wounds on latest Terre Thaemlitz release LOVEBOMB>>>

<<< no idle remarks here: everything marked and remarked acccording to an anti-formalist logic which>>>

<<< for the Outside provides material which almost by definition cannot be de-fined in advance: how to know, e.g., with Ultra-red's Structural Adjustments project [an on-site aurual documentation in Los Angeles of the struggle of the Union de Vecinos housing cooperative to determine their own living conditons], how things are going to turn out? Likewise with Thaemlitz, his hauntological deployment of the break & sussuration of MONTAGE admits of a CUT which cannot be measured in advance of the listener's interruptive response, determined itself by who knows what panoply of>>>

<<< my tongue in your blood as if spinning inside >>>

<<< whereas xx% of present day Electronica is just a non-aligned collection of sounds: formal experiment[s] along or behind the lines of: let's see what noises I-the-artist get IF function 'a' is misapplied to outcome 'zero': Oh! Listen to that! machines humming at night inside the City! But>>>>

<<< yes, love heard as a pre-determined cultural 'function' [in a similar way that Lacan came to posit "love" in topological or algebraic terms] and similarly misapplied, let's say, e.g., let's HEAR what HAPPENS when the remembrance of a 1906 lynching in a small US town is reCOUNTed in montage with Futurist manifesto-making contemporaneous therewit>>>

"In the end, post-Industrial love is just another ideological device facilitating a division between "public" and "private" space, and is complicit with such a divison's basis in inequality and exclusion. The very process of finding a partner itself is not so much a quest for the right person as an exclusion of the multitudes." { Thaemlitz, LOVEBOMB sleevenotes.

CUT [5] — - \\

<<<America, purportedly so shocked by the atrocious intervention leading to fatal collapse of self image of 9/11 that all the stung pundits everyone EVERY ONE said this is it this is an end a postitive apocalyspe NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN we will henceforth return to forgotten values of love of community and NO MORE CYNICAL TRIVIA and cynicism ever again and this week the very anniversary of this EVENT WITHOUT COMPARISON what made the news and all the pundits hot under their obscenely well paid collars OH industry-event MTV "kisses" between madonna and britney and christina in the servicing of appetites for indsutry sales targets {just coincidentally a book and a image change and...} and meanwhile fag bashing foreigner hating suspicon and interrogation and illegal holding of every second Other goes higher than ever before off the scale but what matters here what MATTERS here let's get this straight are fake lesbian kisses between millionaire pr>>>

>>> e.g. on Thaemlitz's "Love For Sale" the COMMERCIALisation or (s)oiled appropriation of queer life [the so called pink economy] and all kinds of selling points {same sex kisses in lame sitcoms; straight men "made over" by a band of caricature fairy-wand gay men; almost obligatory and strangely fascinated "jokes" about anal rape or consensual sex in America's off-world prison system)>>>

+ ADD LAUGHTER TRACK HERE [at later date]: ha________________ha

<<< all sorts of edges of pain and calamity and barbarity swept under the wire///almost laughable - if it weren't as serious as somebody else's life - avowals by George Bush that Operation Eternal McGuffin is being waged in the name of a loving and beneficent/// people who are, at this very moment, in their very own 'chill out' rooms, being tortured behind four walls in all our Western names so that Wall Street///Kiefer Sutherland resurrects his career via torturing foreign bodies 24>>>

CUT [6] — - \\

<<< Thaemlitz's agile suspensful subtle MONTAGE of Minnie Ripperton singing "Lovin' You" with ANC radio speech urging armed revolution and the path of struggle and sacrifice. {Not coincidentally, perhaps, this same Ripperton sample has been a favourite down the years with the 'global dancefloor or chill out wing of (h)ambient they love the readymade bird noise>>>

<<< -hold it now and see if Whitey's gonna come up with it": MONTAGE most of all an as yet underexplored resource. Friction and HAUNT, return and FALL out of Love - its errors lessons detours terrors - as a debt which always and in unexpected ways comes back to>>>

<<< not something we pasively spectate at or READ but something which makes SPECTRES of its listeners/readers too, lighting up all our collusions in the fiction of>>>

<<< unpredictable volume - volume AS montage, volume as subjective position - in LOVEBOMB makes it impossible for any detached linear listening>>>

<<< haunting RETURN, in rigorously time-stretched form, as e.g certain liquid properties mentioned in LOVEBOMB text return in different form as hatred, chance memory, avowal: "form" in (& for) at least two senses is subsequently>>>

<<< from earliest mirror stage we are individually & globally "bombarded" with images - songs - cuts - close ups - STEREOtyping which all literally & figuratively revolve around the ambiguous "You" of the Love Song, simultaneously welcoming and alienating, (f)rigidly stylised but somehow always the right unisexual unalover "fit">>>

<<< confronts us with the Other of love: e.g., gaybashers who say things to each other like - "Oh man! did you see his face? i LOVED that!" ... then ask what "it" is it they love in such instances i.e., that much parroted passe-partout word "jouissance" can ALSO mean far more disturbing unbearable excesses of>>>

<<< crossover with Ultra-red and projects such as Second Nature/Johnny Rio which are about the tangled meetings and/or overseen seperations of public space and private acts. One might hazard a catch-all quote unquote to wit all their work is about a similar - yet always singular - renegotiation/redefinition of love: love as work in progress in PUBLIC realm not just an obscure vanishing point 'x' behind four walls, in the name of>>>

" -rather than songs of love and unity I long for audio of love's irreconcilable differences. new urgent desires are fed by outdated themes, samples and techniques-" {Thaemlitz, LOVEBOMB sleeve notes

<<< bonding? Three men are lynched in a small Southern US town, 1906; Italian Futurists simultaneously declare time dead, and hail a new music waiting to be born ("the art of noise!"); in the commemoration of the fight against Apartheid modern day celebrities rush to be photographed with the Teddy Bear like figure of Nelson Mandala - sorry Mandela - something they do not do with, say, Yasser Arafat. Czechoslovakia 1968. Japan 1945. Black Power nineteen sixty sick>>>

"Time has left us. Time died yesterday."

SITE SPECIFICS [2]: Ultra-red is often very much concerned with on the ground activism and collective endeavour in the city - core and peripheraries - of Los Angeles. A previous project, STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENTS, subverts the formalist tradition of "field recording[s]" for its own specific aims & ends: unlike the formalist fetishism of an "untampered" "pure" recording of the hic et nunc of some Other zone or zone of Otherness [nature, desert, far flung tribe, etc] Ultra-red intervene and interupt, in both material terms of on the ground activism, and materialist terms of on the record [or cd] terms of mixed or remixed recording[s]. Microphonics meets and is remixed BY communal politics. For, for Ultra-red any notion of "purity" is an ideological construct, a trap for the all too wary, a way of NOT ENGAGING with the givens - either personally, professionally, politically or in terms of your musical practice - of what it is you set out to record with your microphone and sell-on, at a later date, packaged under the legend of "art" as grand and self-deceiving a transcendental>>>

<<< nerve gas lynching terrorism e.g. all done in the name or the several aliases, one or several Gods and their untouchable texts; a "higher" purpose even several imagined forms of utopia which include (if not downright specify and necessitate) apocalyptic conflict ... by the way, I love that lipgloss youre wearing tonight: where did you get it?

CUT [7] — - \\

CITE SPECIFICS [2]: Biography/history of U-r go to www.ultrared.org

SITE SPECIFICS [3]: For full details of both theoretical practice and nomadic trajectory of Terre Thaemlitz go to www.comatonse.com

CUT [8]— - // — ->into Thaemlitz INTERSTICES

"A primary goal of INTERSTICES is to outline the relationship between my recurrent use of [these] processes and the intended socio-analytical thematics of my compositions, while attempting to complicate the FORMALIST TRAPpings of an 'album about process' which plague so many digital synthesis and electroacoustique projects." {Thamelitz, INTERSTICES sleevenotes

<<< is it enough merely to register & tick "experiment" for its "own" sake (and pleasure)? The electroacoustique composer - old and new, academic and street - goes no futher [in one final analysis] than saying: I did this because I chose to do it. Because it could be done. But no questioning, ever, of what constitutes the privileged "I" in any such instance. E.g., that at certain historical moments only certain people are allowed the freedom equipment time to experiment, to occupy - in terms both symbolic & literal - such SPACE. Or that such space may be getting just a little frayed & fatigued at this late stage; that what should concern the modern day electroacoustique composer might rather be the urgent renegotiation of entirely NEW spaces for NEW people and NEW subjects say>>>

<<< audio delay or TIME STRETCHING and resultant DELETION can result in CLICKS GAPS and SHARP EDITS [...] passages most commonly deleted are vocals, figuratively silencing the dominant discourse within popular music IN ORDER TO HEAR the interstitial sounds at their periphery." {Thamelitz, INTERSTICES sleevenotes

<<< - a perimeter which enforces, through its mistily evoked and applied paradigms of the 'natural sciences>>>

Formalism so called in which the only things up for discussion are the strictly FORMAL changes within successive periods or epochs of art/music: how paint is distributed across the canvas rather than how money capital investment is distributed across the art world, e.g. Or how a FABulous remix by the current in-house darling redistributes>>>

<<< for who decided that THESE terms and these terms alone would apply to any/all discussion of emerging NEW musics? Same old wooly formalist wound round jagged threatening new musick like a nice ethnic tribal rave blanket?? Process of taming, of DOMESTICATION, in which not coincidentally the sexual>>>

CUT [9] — - //


"-it was the TURMOIL of that time that instigated any type of production at all." Thaemlitz began his 'career' as a DJ working the houthouse transsexual clubs of midtown manhattan. On beatpulse "whore House" tracks like "Sloppy 42nds" he does not simply refer back blink-bling to a trembling scene of nostalgia but rather frames his melancholy piano lines within a viral mapping a sonic topograhy of that lost area/era of space/time {an acute instance of private acts in public space producing new hyrbid forms} after its "whole Sale" BUY OUT by the Disney corporation. In a dissimilar way some Ambient en-trance-d electronica samples "tribal" or "ethnic" culture and makes of it seamlesly safe, hygienic, sonic cliches. A vast knotty underground root system reduced to a few seconds of "nice" melody: dawn chorus of electrique blanket Nature, de-sexed dolphin holler>>>

<<< lack of output leads to withering away of formal strengths like autumn leaves: hostage to their own hygeinic cut and paste, a completely sealed off FORMALISM - oooh! will you LOOK now at those lovely turntables! - a fetishism of clean clean forms no matter that>>>

<<< Outside. There is ALWAYS an Outside to production. In LOVEBOMB e.g. the far from chance folding together of the serrated edges of Italianate Futurism with the communally tacitly approved lynching of three niggers niggers to a man in the once home town of Thaemlitz; he notes a detail - it is always the details somehow - to wit: the scafFOLD of the gallows was made of piano crates from a local music store: ebony and ivory living together>>>

<<< or public housing: and you may WELL ask if America is founded on self love why it has no public health system, I know we in Europe find this>>>

<<< in fact, one definition of anti formalism might indeed be: a world in which an essay on electronic music leads naturally to questions of public housing and health care>>>

<<< compare with formalism's exclusive concern with signpots to other artworks, answerable only to a finite index of creative 'differences' - which is perhaps only another way of saying similarity. Piece 'x' is similar to other concrete works - that is its [only] difference. The stress ENGAGED anti-formalist text/music is a differntial net-work, a fabric of traces referring endlessly pertinently to something other than itself and its precious precedents; whereas formalism in unifying its concerns to a note closes off the field - closes it off from the turbulence the contraindication of any Outside or beyond or>>>

CUT [10] — - // "-an irresolvable sound which DECLARES its PRESENCE at the same time as it eviscerates itself." {Thamelitz self description of work in progress.

<<< such formalism has often had irresolvable links with academia and state funding bodies. BUT IT REFUSES TO GIVE AWAY ANY SIGN WHATSOEVER THAT IT IS IN ANY WAY PART OF THE SOCIUS. The kind of discourse prevalent is one almost designed to FILTER OUT in advance and to protect by insuring [like a White house press briefing] that the WRONG QUESTION is never asked: that NO criticism is fielded, e.g., one is not supposed to ask: why should we be the least bit surprised or interested that you recorded this glitch and not that one? It all sounds exactly the same as last years 70 mins of glitch sounds from you: isn't this whole project in danger of becoming severely limited and moreover safely institutionalised? Which may be the crowning paradox of a music whose whole so called CUTTING EDGE project is to cut through and perilously fragment and disassemble 'safe' facades...- BUT nothing is ever allowed to unexpectedly TEAR THROUGH the façade of its representation of itself as 'avant garde' as experimental as>>>

"-the way that a lot of these people talk about their music is really just in terms of this kind of abstract sound-as-sound, something that is removed, or extra-social, super-social... which for me is an ideological front in itself: there is no way to escape the social. . there's nothing natural about computer music - which I like. Because nothing's natural." {Thamelitz quote

'I didn't mean for it to end this way, I -'

CUT [10+1] — - \\


"Can you remain contented with less expansive beats?"
RM Rilke, from: "Shatter Me, Music."

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< REWIND

BEGIN AGAIN >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Ultra-red and Terre Thaemlitz will perform at the Kiasma Theatre on Thurdsday, 20th November at 18.00


Terre Thaemlitz


site by valotalo Avanto Helsinki Media Art Festival 20-23.11.2003