Friday, October 13, 2023

Barney Hoskyns - ICA Rock Week - January 10, 1981 - New Musical Express


A counterview to the "instruments of discourse" idea in the previous post (Steve Sutherland in '87 remembering Josef K and an allegedly different climate of rockwrite).

I didn't read this Barney review at the time (came across it much, much later) but got the drift from his subsequent writing on....  everything, really, but especially The Birthday Party and the marshalling of his personal Dionysian  pantheon that enshrined The Stooges above all....  but others too (the Stones, Suicide, etc) (see closing peroration here).

The basic drift: music should not be a vehicle for social comment or critique, for meta-musical positioning.

It should be "about" nothing except the ecstasy it grants us -  access to sacred frenzy. 

Hence the call for a new kind of Rock Theatre of Cruelty. (Reminding me I still haven't got around to reading Artaud).

The stance here is not unlike the "irony and reference points are the dark destroyers of music" line that Bill Drummond took in the early '90s, inspired by rave. Except in this 1981 bit o' rhetoric, it's more a case of "earnestness and reference points are the dark destroyers of music". 

Integrating this credo into my own way of hearing, I eventually ended up with the bliss-rock polemic and then (finally escaping the forefather's vision! or at least sufficiently transmuting) the ardkore years ("ecstasy" conjoined with literal Ecstasy).

Despite regaining some love for the postpunk way of (over)thinking, it remains a consistent base-line of expectation and demand. 

Reactivated most recently with the frustrations expressed about conceptronica (where's the release, why won't it let loose? - well, I know why.... but I'm a greedy listener) 

As with the ICA scene - a.k.a postpunk - that Barney critiques, the music is trammeled by its own articulation and positioning.... which becomes a form of self-repression

(The comment about how "art is replaced by subsidy" and jibes at the ICA as institution also anticipate  the conceptronica critique). 

Where does this greedy listener find the bliss?

Not many places at the moment...  but around the time of conceptronica, it was this stuff, floodingly so...