Musings n’ Shit: Burial, Rave Ghosts, and Internet Magpie Memory Syndrome…

13 Mar

An occasional series that comes as the result my daily Laudanum enemas….

Like a lot of people out there, my Mp3 player is falling to bits through over-playing “Kindred”, the latest EP by Burial. A lot of people have been enthusing about it with gibbering praise, the gold standard being Rory Gibb’s fantastic piece about it in The Quietus (showing again why he writes for great sites like The Quietus, while hack schlubs like myself scrabble round the gutter for an original thought). The central theme running through all the prose though is the resonance it’s having with people from my age and generation. To those who listen to it, “Kindred” comes across more like a unearthed memory of the days of the ’90s rave scene that was once forgotten. It’s not hard to see why. With its broken, cracked, warped sounds, ghosted vocals and hardcore arpeggiated synths (by way of a Stone Roses sample), it feels like a parapsychological field recording experiment at an abandoned warehouse where a Rave was held in 1991 than a dance track.

While listening to “Kindred”, it became apparent that it would be the perfect soundtrack to an extraordinary short film by Mark Leckley titled “Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore,” a film that sought to encapsulate the feelings and memories that were the backbone of British nightlife and rave culture. It’s a chopped up, screwed montage of found video clippings from disparate eras, aurally bound together with woozy, scratchy ambient sound collages. What’s interesting is that it’s use of old VHS and video footage (note the tracking info at the bottom) gives the film the feel that you’re really viewing snippets of an old family/friends video that was recorded a long time ago.

“Hardcore” was made back in 1999, long before Burial even began making music. You’ve got an intriguing premise where you have an EP released in 2012, harking back to music from the ’90s, as a soundtrack made in 1999 that collated footage from the previous 4 decades. The sense of time folding itself is palpable, the mixing of music and visuals making it difficult to determine what era you’re looking at. But when you have music from 2012 as the soundtrack to a 1999 film that captures the ghosts of British nightclubbing over the past 30 years, no wonder you start to get the feeling “Have i lived all this before?”

In Science Fiction, from the likes of Joe 90, to films such as Johnny Mnemonic (“My brain has a capacity of EIGHTY gigabytes!”) and Strange Days, you had the notion that in the future you could download your memories and either store them on digital media, or you could take away your memories and upload someone else’s into your brain. Well in a way, these days we’re pretty much there. Thanks to the internet, with “Cloud” computing and the proliferation of social networking, blogging, chatting and logging, people are uploading nearly every single facet of their lives and experiences to the extent you can probably known as much about other people’s histories and thoughts as your own through online immersion.

Nowadays you don’t need to obtain sacred antiques from bygone eras to feel closer to a certain time, scene, or group of people. With rave culture for example, many videos from gigs, raves and parties are uploaded onto YouTube, tapes of old rave nights are being digitally ripped and placed up for downloading (you can almost feel like you’re there!) as well as all sort of paraphernalia to you can either buy though places such as eBay, or just to be viewed online. And while it in no way truly captures certain aspects of the raving experience (unless the internet develops some sort of “click and sniff” technology), the end result is that certain areas and events seem to speak to you, almost with the resonance of an actual personal memory, when the reality of your actual past was rather different.

Now my teenage years were pretty mundane. While i really started clubbing when i went to Glasgow University in the mid ’90s, my teens were spent on the Shetland Isles. The extent of my immersion in rave culture, apart from the tunes, was nights spent at an old converted club that was known as the LK sound Factory, with the odd party/rave held at an old cottage in the middle of nowhere. My experience was nothing like the two videos shown below…

But for some reason i seem to connect to these videos in a very subconscious way,  almost as if they were actual memories from my youth in the ’90s, though a weird form of osmosis. It’s even more astounding with the second one, which is actually a 2011 music video-as-reenactment is so detailed of certain aspect of early ’90s life (the hair and clothing styles, the TV news reports, the SNES game consoles, hot knifing hash on the bar heater) that it almost comes across as a lost rave video from the ’90s.

Today, no memories seem to get lost as they are all dumped on cyberspace, where they’re sometimes left to float aimlessly around to be gazed at and absorbed. In his book Electric Eden, Rob young writes “Ghosts are like persistent memories that fail to fade away”. While I’m too much of a rational man to believe in ghosts, our recollections, and our lives are no longer at ransom to the frailties of our brains. With numerous profiles, avatars and alternate personas we create for ourselves on the internet, we’re creating numerous “living ghosts”, split online personalities that exist to take up other people’s sounds, thoughts and experiences and can easily pass them off as our own. We don´t need to actually remember anything because the internet never let anything be forgotten. We’re no longer one person with a single linear collection of experiences and memories, rather a multifaceted being that harbours many strands of existence…

Time for a cup of tea methinks…

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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


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