Bastard Assignments and the Lockdown Jams

As the Covid19 pandemic unleashed a global lockdown, wiping out concerts, festivals, shutting down nightclubs and live music venues across the world, musicians known and unknown were forced to find new ways to extend their artistry. ‘Lockdown Jams’ on Zoom, Facebook, Youtube, Jamulus, Twitter and Instagram quickly became the ‘in-thing’. Rock and roll dinosaurs or contemporary pop-stars or thousands of indie artists, producers, singers and DJs, all are reaching out to fans, via online jams and prepared broadcasts. One can pick and play thousands of real-time or virtual concerts fired up from bedrooms, studios, make-shift pads and basements across the world. Call it a paradigm shift of sorts or a temporary hiatus, the nature of performance is going through unforeseen changes. Covid19 impacted musicians if not the music per say. Yet this new norm is rapidly taking on a look-alike sound-alike aspect – a case with most online cultures based on technology (and not on authentic aptitude). A few exceptional cases and even fewer unique artist narratives appear in this Lockdown deluge. Standing out for it’s  ingenuity and imagination, is Bastard Assignment and their Lockdown Jams. Based in London, the collective is engaged in a range of disciplines which include composition, sound-art, theatre, dance and voice. The association obviously predates the current pandemic, five years in the making, Bastard Assignment has been hailed as “Some of London’s most strange and absorbing night-outs” by Quietus. In such challenging times, the need to restructure and question thoughts, performance and output is important. Ideas which may create new paths (roles) for the artist in a multilayered society.

Bastard Assignments is an attempt to create an environment where art can escape identification. The term ‘bastard’ itself humorous (and derogatory) embodies the rebellious independent ethos of the collective. Founded by Timothy Cape, Edward Henderson, Caitlin Rowley and Josh Spear, the four composer-performers stress on the ‘essence of performance’ – as a radical movement outside institutional shackles, manifesting as spontaneity coupled with anticipation. It does remind us of the cantankerous and progressive beginnings of the Dada movement, in France, Germany and Spain during the early twentieth century. Over a short period, Bastard Assignments has performed at numerous venues in London and the UK, eventually spilling over internationally in Copenhagen, Chicago and Paris last year. Addressing the global lockdown and the closure of venues, Bastard Assignments have been meeting via video conferencing software in a continued effort to create music and performance art. Recording and posting the outcomes by way of a new series called Lockdown Jams, these short and experimental ‘encounters’ allow the participants to share spontaneity, breath uncertainty and create new intersections across a range of disciplines. Honestly, it is difficult to describe in words, what this zany group of artists are doing at times. Best that you watch, listen and absorb these far-out assignments!

The founders of Bastard Assignments explain that the name goes back to their students days, referring to the pieces of coursework, that held up the real fun – making music. Since it’s inception in 2015, Bastard Assignments has been featured in the Guardian, the Telegraph, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik and The Wire magazine, as well as rave reviews by The Spectator, Quietus and the Evening Standard. Most of these mainstream culture outlets often shower praises yet fail to document the contemplation behind radical art and sound. “Works seamlessly blending aspects of stage, screen and sound – project a vision of the future where art escapes identification and subversive humour plays a key role in our survival” – Ilia Rogatchevski, The Wire. The collective has been described as “a Fluxus for the Facebook generation”. One might be easily inclined to label all such non-mainstream efforts as marginal, yet we ask – at the margins of what? Or even if such chaste definitions actually matter anymore.
Photo credits – Bastard Assignments

Rotting Sounds

An overwhelming part of contemporary art and multi-media (film, music, sound, animation, graphic art etc) is produced and stored in the digital domain. The efficiency as well as its ease of use, has lead to the digitisation of audio and video across systems, cultures and languages. The work of a digital artist, specifically also of an electronic musician, is typically bound to a complex ecosystem of commercial and DIY hardware and software. The termination of one format, can set off a chain reaction, of obsolescence within the entire production system, leading to the acquisition of new technology and know-how. To say it simply, Mp3 replaced WAV replaced Compact Discs replaced Cassettes replaced Vinyl replaced Reel replaced Phonographs. At every step, aspects of history, aesthetics and quality were junked in favour of efficient cost-effective industry-formats, which were consequently embraced by artists and distributors as the ‘best-format-of-the-day’.  Remember“Video killed the radio star”? Consequently the internet killed the video-star and Mp3 is a bit of “moral poverty” and so on…”

Sounds recorded as early as 1882 can be heard today on Wikipedia or YouTube, more than a hundred years later. The sounds migrated over time, through various mediums and generations, albeit loosing it’s original form. Today it exists, yet inside a codified universe (digital) of 0’s and 1’s. Most of it is barely audible today, having lost much of it’s material embodiments. Hundreds of millions of recordings are subject to deterioration over time, demanding ‘data migration’ for successful preservation. That deterioration is not because of audio technology, which clearly has risen every decade, in terms of fidelity, rate of reproduction, distribution, access and speed of transfer.

William Basinsky, pioneer ambient music composer contemplated about the decay and obfuscation of sounds in his 4 part album ‘The Disintegration Loops’. However the current discourse is not about resurrecting formats based on nostalgia, fetish for retrosonic objects or techno-primitivism. The deterioration happens every time we move from one format or form of output to another. Be it the case of compact discs replacing cassettes in the mid 1980s, or cassettes making a ‘nostalgic comeback’ in 2010 – But for every cassette there were millions of Mp3 files. The term ‘lossless audio’ is a myth. The deterioration is not just about quality of sound, but also about the stockpiles of forgotten, junked or many unusable formats. How to listen to an ADAT from 1995 or a two-inch reel from 1965? For that matter, what will happen to the universal Mp3 format by the year 2121? Wonder what will become of our music, once Soundcloud, Apple Music and Youtube are finished? Are we heading into a future with a constant rotting past? Like we observe in nature, sound also decays and deteriorates. How do we embrace this rot? And as sound is a part history, what can be done to preserve and create access to audible history of every kind? 

Addressing this mostly unspoken facet of audio technology, a response was founded in Vienna recently. Rotting Sounds is an artistic and academic initiative funded by PEEK (Programme for Arts-based Research), managed by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). The Rotting Sounds website reads “our project of artistic research investigates the causes, processes and ramifications of degradation and technological obsolescence within the domain of digital audio… We hope to open up a discussion on the present condition of digital media arts, and about strategies for regaining control of artistic means of expression in the field.” This goes beyond traditional norms of audio preservation. Rotting Sound’s ongoing projects are about giving pertinent knowledge and means to encounter digital deterioration in a constructive fashion. They say that “the inevitable is no longer a source of irritation but rather an aesthetic benefit.” Co-founded in Vienna by Thomas Grill, Till Bovermann and Almut SchillingRotting Sound in a nutshell is about “embracing the temporal deterioration of digital audio”. Yet there is much more going on under the hood. Not seen often, an initiative that puts technology and it’s practices in the public domain. The dialogue is also insisting about creating self-empowerment and independence for digital artists, from commercial and technical constraints. It’s ok to sacrifice technology instead of history and art. The founders emphasise that “Since degradation cannot be avoided in principle, it is our general aim to unearth latent degrees of freedom, pertaining to the artistic practice in the omnipresence of decay…”

If your an artist interested in the preservation of sound and contributing to the current discussion head to
Photo and Audio Spectrum by Rotting Sounds

Soundtrack of Hate

“Hate bundled with so-called faith has become at par with music, within the hindutva narrative of the day” states T.M. Krishna, one of India’s renowned south-indian classical singers. He adds “The masks are off, and what we are seeing should deeply worry us.” What is clearly disturbing and at times sick and perverse, is the rise of fanatical xenophobic pop music from India – especially the north and central part of the country. The soundtrack of hate, emitting from the ‘cowbelt’ of India, is worrying, is hideous, sometimes hilarious yet at the same time surging in numbers. The malicious rhymes, horrific imagery, false history and jarring audio is incoming like fundamentalist napalm! Millions are consuming, sharing and celebrating ‘hindutva pop’ believing that the content is patriotic. Less we forget the millions more who are cowering in mortal fear, subverted under this deafening and garish sound. Is hate a genre? Can pop music be mediated to celebrate racism and nationalism? Does xenophobia count on the charts? Yes it does by all means, and especially on YouTube. This feature is a brief narrative about the proliferation and popularity of Hindu nationalist music. How xenophobia, racism and hatred hosted on YouTube accrues millions of dollars, that consequently fuels violence, radicalism and ‘cultural terror’ within Indian society.

Make India Great Again!
Meet Laxmi Dubey, a cult figure of hindu nationalist pop. She cannot sing in key yet her islamophobic limericks have travelled far and wide in India. The NY Times reportsher extremist values show in her devotion, as she vowed to remain single for life”. Her fan-base, the extreme hindu right counting in millions. Ms. Dubey, a gleeful provocateur, travels India with a 28-person crew and is in such demand, that rich hindu families invite her to bless newborn babies or for high profile weddings. She has been booked by various political leaders (mostly belonging to the BJP) as the closing act for many rallies and speeches in the hinterland of northern India. Miss Dubey also believes that muslim men will reconquer India, by marrying all the beautiful hindu women. Less we forget the hindu population accounts for 78% of the total 1.3 billion demographic of India. Call it the heart of darkness or a vast region where most women, girls, children and minorities live like 2nd class citizens, in perennial fear of persecution and or violation. Terrorised citizens of the ‘largest democracy in the world’.

“I will come to Pakistan and make marbles out of your eyes!”. ” I am waiting for my leader to command, I am ready to bomb every mosque in Pakistan” sings Sanjay Faizabadi, a popular Hindutva based singer, boasting a verse, about waging a campaign of sexual conquest in Pakistan. Dressed in military attire, and brandishing a plastic (made in China) weapon he rants “Kashmir is our life!”. Yet it’s not just a few singers and a moving bedlam. The singers, composers and key distributors are spread allover Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Haryana and Rajasthan. The internet and YouTube their principle outlet. “Every house will be saffron. Every child will salute lord Ram… “ harks Rang Maurya, a self-styled religious warrior, who believes that India’s golden era is making a comeback – as long as all muslim folks are driven off the land and all their architecture smashed to the ground. The regional stars of this patriotic and xenophobic sound have become YouTube cash cows, but that is just the gateway into the hate-mill, which is banging away tunes in the name god and nationalism. And while the wave is on the up, there’s also a lot of patriotic money to be made  as singers, lyricists, bed-room producers, DJs, record labels and videographers. The sound systems are huge railing down highways of north and central India. The demagoguery goes way up, embraced by political leaders, cops and vernacular press, the cadence moving right up to the prime minister of the nation. It’s legit business and the payrolls are swelling. In less than 5 years the staggering notoriety of this music, now places itself 2nd to Bollywood, leaving all the rock, hip-hop, electronica and even classical music far behind.

Soundtrack of Hate!

The tunes do not reveal any musical direction or cultural intent, nor any emerging talent to be honest. Most of the tunes feature the infamous Antares Auto-Tune treatment, used excessively to animate and calibrate the out-of-tune singers. The principle melody at times is a copy of an existing folk hit. Sometimes an original limerick concocted locally. The voice takes up most of the audible spectrum. as heard in most Bollywood songs. The beats are fast, drilled uniformly from presets, a combination of north indian percussions and staple 909 808 kicks, claps, hats etc. The grooves are Bhojpuri styles which can be heard on thousands of bollywood tunes from the 80s and 90s. Frantic mix of electronic and acoustic parts, no more than four bars each, makes up the cadence of sounds to keep the jingle rolling. There’s no room for ballads or ragas on this patriotic rampage. Most tunes feature rapid-fire gleeful keyboard solos between the versus. Theres lots of free unintended distortion in hindu nationalist music. The mixdown is tacky in terms of imagination, since it’s quantity over quality. The final output is best enjoyed on cheap (made in china) speakers found inside auto-rickshaws throughout India. The one discerning feeling that we are exposed to after hearing dozens of these copy-cat tunes, is of morbidity. Hindutva Pop is a quixote outcome, made of mass hysteria, preset-pop and xenophobia. The anxiety of hate cannot be contained. The banality of evil has given birth to this type of music. The rhapsodies of a sick and gutted society. 
Recently Youtube celebrated anti-discrimination day, an international pledge to end racism and xenophobia in the world. YouTube did so by purging dozens of white supremacy channels. Twitter and Facebook quickly followed suite to ban a few extremists propagating racism or racist content. Imagine shutting down Donald Trump’s twitter page, which is all but made of thousands of racist and hateful tweets. In order to appease the European Parliament, Google owner of YouTube vowed to remove all pro-Nazi and white-pride based content. All these liberal and progressive gestures barely covers 15% of the world’s population. A set of slapdash ‘woke’ moves. Outside that white circle of good ethics, it’s business as usual. A recent study done by IISA states that over 92,000 hindutva songs are hosted on YouTube. Most of which contains islamophobic lyrics, racial slurs, open threats and even cases of misogynistic content. The hit-count adds up to roughly 300 million. Similar is the case with Facebook and Twitter, which hosts thousands of users practicing platformed racism and xenophobia, even posting misogynist and homophobic content on a daily basis. The multi-page guidelines, of conduct and fairness, vetted by top lawyers adds up to a charade.

YouTube says homophobic taunts don’t violate its policies. It says racist content does not conflict with it’s ‘child-safe’ guidelines. It also claims to monitor all content under American and European guidelines which duly protects human rights for all races. Pitiful lies, since there is ample counter evidence. What is mediated by YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Whatsapp is a matter of personal bias or codes which mediate what shows and what doesn’t. What’s right or wrong. What gets monetised or what doesn’t. The social media giants fail to control hate and discrimination inside many online communities across the world.  What’s worse is the negation of responsibility and repercussions. The tacit principle behind the business is that all content, however violent in nature, and in contempt of international laws, equates to revenues and consequently profit. Like Amazon has no problems selling teenage girl sex-dolls, YouTube has no issues monetising and propagating hate based music. Google’s Hate Speech Policy is hilarious and hypocritical, which in reality does not control, less capture, the amount of hate-based content that exists inside it’s global garrison. YouTube is the world’s largest audio-visual repository of hate based content, videos which propagate xenophobia, nationalism and racism. Nationalist Indians contributing to that global pandemic in significant numbers. The likes of Laxmi Dubey and other hindutva pop-stars seem shocking yet transitional, as we barely begin to discover the expanse of hate based music. Is it music then? Not to hate it, but in awe and shock, we witness the proliferation and power of negative, self-destructive music.

If we fail to protect (and love) the grass…

The dominant discourse of the mainstream environmental movement is about the preservation of our lifestyles by adopting new ‘green’ technologies. That principle tenet is placed above everything else that the mainstream environmental agencies may claim or actually do. Preserving the very culture and lifestyle which is killing the planet. The crux of the environmental movement today, which is western (and predominantly white) is about the continuation of capitalism and exploitation (i.e using the planet to feed human greed – not addressing the actual needs). Leading environmental organisations, along with scores of scientists and environmental activists actually view the Earth as a resource and not as a living entity. During the last 30 years, the environmental movement has been gradually botched and hijacked by neoliberalism and big-money, manifesting via many new eco-friendly mantras, new technologies and the green new ‘deal’. What deal can we as a species make with mother nature? We spoke to Derrick Jensen recently, who is an award winning writer, ecologic philosopher and ardent critique of neoliberalism and certain global environmental policies. We did so in order to understand the complexities and the deepening divide within the current environmental movements. Why we need to preserve wild nature (life) and not our lifestyles. We also spoke to him about the challenges of being an outspoken artist and environmental activist during the last three decades. 

“Unquestioned assumptions are the real authorities of any culture” writes Derrick Jensen in his book The Myth of Human Supremacy. The failure to think critically has given us wanton luxuries as well as loss of bio-diversity, mountains of toxic trash and a sick planet. What Derrick Jensen means is that we as a race should not take our lifestyle and habits for granted. The same ideology can also be applied to question mainstream environmental movements and the eco-champions, who are leading the march towards a supposedly ‘green future’. Who are they? What is their background? What is their real agenda? Who is funding them? Who are the big (capitalist) donors? What glorious promises or lies they may tell us, in order to convince us? How certain mainstream environmental scientists and activists are lying by omission? What are the myths and hidden (ugly) aspects of renewable energy?

Jensen duly criticises mainstream environmentalism and the big organisations, which too often limit discussions, as to how climate-change affects human life or the economy—with little or zero regard for nonhuman life. These very organisations like Greenpeace,, Sierra Club, WWF and UNEP are trying (hard) to silence global conversations about ‘degrowth’. The annual U.N. Climate Change Conferences are not about saving wild nature, rather about how to perpetuate ‘business as usual’ with the help of technology and economics. With his characteristic compassionate logic, he argues, that we as a species have separated ourselves from the rest of nature – we in fact have oriented ourselves against nature, taking a horrific and irreversible turn, consequently leading to our own destruction and eminent extinction. Saving royal tigers or cute pandas or majestic elephants will amount to nothing, if we fail to protect (and love) the grass, the forests, the insects, the fish, the rivers, the plankton and the oceans… 

For more essays, books and presentations by Derrick Jensen visit

Sound Codes

Sound Codes, a research lab based in Mumbai and the Himalayas, was founded by Akash Sharma – to map acoustic signatures of various heritage structures across India, which grew into an intersection of practices over time. Sound Codes is perhaps the very first attempt to capture, preserve and make available the acoustic imprints of certain heritage spaces in India. Seldom does an industry musician transgress beyond his or her given roles and boundaries. Even rarer and singular when a jingle-producer (music composer for television commercials) switches over to coding, sound-mapping, building synthesizers and creating acoustic signatures. Yet those who do, even as they are far and few, open up new dimensions, creating unique experiences and possibilities. The narrative of an artist and sound-lab, traversing multiple audio dimensions and ideologies. From caves to virtual worlds to conceptual sound generation to codified dance arenas. We spoke to Akash about the formation and growth of Sound Codes, the emergence of sound-coding in India and the intersectional values upon which such conceptual arts are built upon. How data and maths can become instruments for musicians.

Tell us a bit about your background, before Sound Codes came about?
Circa 2014, I was working as a music producer in Mumbai. My job was about multiple roles as a composer, mix engineer and producer. During this phase the majority of my tasks were producing works which would be used for publicity. Soon I realised that most clients demanded typical steps in terms of loudness, dynamic range, spectrum distribution, melodic arrangement etc. I created tools on MaxMSP which I could use with Ableton and standalone ones with Logic and Pro Tools. I began automating my tasks. I would say this was my first real experience of using computation and creative coding for production. Yet these jingles started to haunt me, in my sleep. Soon I decided to call it quits as the jingles were looping in my mind, in my free time, and taking over my aural and aesthetic preferences. I told my boss and the agency folks that I could not continue any further. I quit.

And the birth of Sound Codes?
I packed up all my equipment, made a custom rack for my motorcycle and rode off to Assam. I had few friends in Assam, specifically in Jorhat and nearby villages. I spent the next 8 months in Assam, moving from place to place. During this period I realised we do not have ‘Indian Reverbs’ which can be used in a production sense. Having a fair understanding of maths and convolution practice, I devised a patch for recording and processing signal and data into a usable convolution reverb. Creative computation and ‘archaeo-acoustics’ in remote Assam was the starting point for Sound Codes. Soon I devised an plan of action and reached out to the Archeology Department of India. A.S.I was really supportive towards this new conservation plan, and I got the permission to gather the dataset of the Ahom kingdom. The consequent work lead to a repository of Indian heritage sounds. Creating aural snapshots – as acoustic signatures or impulse responses.

As an artist, what is the essence of coding for you?
I personally think that sound is energy in essence. I harness code and computation, electronics and acoustics, all together. To me it is energy flowing from one system to another. This flow of energy can be worked upon either by circuits or lines of codes, or physical spaces. Physical, electronic and digital environments all have their own uniqueness – everything has to be considered. Creative computation creates possibilities which are super difficult to manifest in the real physical world. Computation can synthesise environments – For example, imagine that an ocean of liquid mercury waves, approaching a shore with titanium rocks. Factors such as viscosity, material properties, flow dynamics, combined with atmospheric pressure can be imagined, simulated, computed and generated. This algorithmic process, which can be generative, can then synthesis sound and music, manifesting in reality, and not just remain as abstract thought.

Hence the very idea of an instrument becomes limitless?
Data set and math can be combined, to become an instrument. Code generated sounds change existing notions of creativity and the compositions. Algorithms allow us to devise our own distinctive sonic grammar. Consequently this grammar can be used to explore on a micro or macro level – of melody and rhythm which can be written in terms of time divisions and or frequency ratios. As a contemporary study, the works of Eric Regener and Iannis Xenakis influenced me early on. I like to think that physics, math, electronics, computation, as an all encompassing union, in sound, as data flowing through different systems. Take for example – Breathing can be translated as rhythm which is connected to a given heart rate. Intentional breathing patterns can bring changes in the body which can translated as data and hence sounds. Imagine the compressing and decompressing bellows of an accordion. End of the day as sound is generated, we are the ones consuming it in space which is nothing but acoustics. We cannot really discount the physical significance in the outcome…

What’s Algorave all about?
This word Algorave was coined by Alex McLean in 2011. An Algorave is an event where people dance to music generated from algorithms, using live coding. Algoraves can represent various genres, including complex forms of techno etc. The movement has been described as a meeting point of hacker philosophy, geek culture, and clubbing. At an Algorave event, the artist may not be the main point of focus and the attention may be based around a screen that displays live coding – so that the audience can see the process of live programming. I feel, this form of performance is the most transparent way of performing electronic music. You open the hood and go under. In India, Abhinay Khoparzi, Joshua Thomas and myself are the key propagators of Algorave.

8knobs, the DIY crowd-funded synth – What is that all about?
8knobs is a synthesiser and a midi controller. It’s built on the popular arduino platform and embodies the character of the user. 8knobs is portable and encourages synthesis, electronics, computer literacy and experimentation. It is open source and hacker friendly, usable in many ways. As a synthesiser, 8knobs best creates drones and atmospherics. Initially I made a few limited edition pre-built units and as a reaction it lead to successful crowd-funding campaign. . Now I am keeping 8knobs purely as DIY kits. Make it yourself. The synth building exercise allows you to pick up new hands-on skills. Essentially with 8knobs construction, you learn soldering, fundamentals of sound synthesis, electronics and programming.

Much more at

10 Lockdown Books

A lot of us are probably home, on the couch binging Netflix and packaged food these days. Some leaping around live on instagram or some making banal faces. Call it pandemic consumerism. Call it polemic social behaviour. But do we stop to think – why we are all spinning around in these predetermined loops? Actually forget it. Instead lets talk about something useful. How about getting back to some good ol’ reading and picking up useful knowledge. How about forming new thoughts? When was the last time you picked up (and read) a good book instead of binging on seasons of no-brain fantasy or scrolling like a zombie on your phone. Reading actually reduces stress, increases mental stimulation and amplifies thought and knowledge, something that facebook, twitter, instagram and what-have-you social media clearly does not. We selected 10 books, yet not in any specific order or theme, as a collection of ‘relevant reads’ in these days, weeks and months of the pandemic. Authors who have inspired us, helped us, to understand the human condition. Pardon, but there’s no Harry Potter or such nonsense. A short little intro into these meaningful and essential books, to help you pick one, or all. Some books are public domain (free) and some to buy…

Children Of The Days – Eduardo Galeano
Unfolding like a medieval book of days, Eduardo Galeano (Uruguay) is illuminating real stories from each day of the calendar year. Each entry resurrects the heroines and heroes, who have fallen off the historical map. Unsung greatness. Common people capable of spectacular deeds and decisions. Eduardo Galeano remains one of the strongest voices in Spanish latin-american literature. The book is a bit of humanist treasure! READ HERE.

Manufacturing Consent by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky
Written in 1988, a pathbreaking work by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky shows that, contrary to the usual image of the news media as cantankerous and honest, what actually happens inside the news-machine is contrary. Interests and forces which essentially manufacture public opinion, consequently shaping global politics and business. The book exposes the ‘Propaganda Model’ in order to explain the media’s dishonest behaviour and performance. A must read for any libertarian! DOWNLOAD HERE.

Anarchism and other essays by Emma Goldman
Many people consider Emma Goldman to be the first female anarchist. A Russian jewish immigrant who managed to inspire millions of workers, men and women, across America, moving from a low-wage seamstress in a cloth mill to a world renowned speaker, writer and labour unionist. Her critical essays are a stunning imprint of the lives and sentiments of the working class in America. During the early 1900s, America was a booming empire that was also witness to violent and treacherous conditions unleashed by the ruling class upon millions of workers. These essays are a fascinating account of the revolutionary issues at the turn of the last century, a prophetic view of the social and economic futures, for what is totally relevant today. LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOK

Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber
Does your job make a meaningful contribution to the world? Think again. In the spring of 2013, David Graeber asked this question in a playful, provocative essay titled “On the phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs.” It went viral. After millions of online views in many languages, people all over the world are still debating the answer. The idea of doing something in exchange for money, does not hold up anymore as a legit and productive job. Graeber argues that HR consultants, communication coordinators, telemarketing researchers, corporate lawyers, wellness experts, corporate therapists and many such titles —whose jobs are useless, and, tragically, they know it. READ MORE

Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

The Shock Doctrine retells the story of the most dominant ideology of our time, Milton Friedman’s free market economic revolution. Naomi Klein explains in great detail and with mountains of evidence as to what globalisation and free market economics actually stands for. The book examines how war, natural disasters, market crashes, industry collapses and all such shocking events are exploited, controlled and many times created for economic benefit. Klein argues, in a compelling way, that the ‘disaster capitalism complex’ now exists as a booming new economy, with various leaders, banks, transnational corporations, major brands and business tycoons as it’s main benefactors. The book is a must read for anyone trying to comprehend the relationship between the current pandemic, collapsing order and capitalism. DOWNLOAD HERE

Animal Farm by George Orwell
Many of you have already read this timeless allegorical novel by George Orwell. Written in 1945, in the after-shock of WW2, the fable is a satire made of farm animals, inspired from the 1917 Russian revolution. One of the most telling satiric fables, perhaps ever written, Animal Farm is a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups and children alike, that records the evolution of a rebellion against tyranny which turns into a morbid totalitarian end. As funny, as simple and downhill! DOWNLOAD HERE

My Secret Book by Fransisco Petrarca
“And men wonder at the heights of the mountains, and the mighty waves of the sea, the depths of oceans and the revolution of the stars and planets, but themselves? they ever consider not…” What Fransisco Petrarca was lamenting upon, placed the seeds of humanism, the questions about our true nature and our fears, prejudices and secrets. Petrarca, was a christian monk and latin scholar who spent a lifetime searching and contemplating the human condition. Written in d’Avignon, circa 1352, the short novel was lost in time, only to resurface in 1934. Fransisco and his imaginary mentor, Saint Augustine, exchange many thoughts and ideas over time, forming the principle narratives throughout the novel. A beautiful little treatise for anyone who believes in the importance of introspection and self-discovery. DOWNLOAD BOOK

The Plague by Albert Camus

Published in 1947, the french existentialist writer tells the story from the point of view of an unknown narrator, of a plague sweeping the colonised Algerian city of Oran. The novel stresses the helplessness of the individual characters to affect their destinies, their collective paranoia, coupled with a gradual downfall of civil society. This timeless existential treatise by Albert Camus is a must read, given the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world right now, severely effecting the human condition. LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOK.

The Great Derangement by Amitav Ghosh
Acclaimed Indian writer argues that politics, much like mass culture and literature, has become a matter of personal moral reckoning rather than an arena of collective action. That there are very few writers committed to climate justice, the ongoing extinction, eminent collapse of industrial civlization and the fate of the living planet. How we are dancing away, drunk on fossil-fuels, upon a big ship of fools. Amitav Ghosh inspires the reader, as to why climate crisis forces us to imagine and try new forms of human existence. READ HERE

Politically Correct ‘Bedtime’ Stories by James Finn Garner
Remember the ‘Once upon a time’ tales we read as children? Those tales were not just written for amusement, nor for goodness. There’s a not-so-obvious problem with most fairy tales. These stories, many of which found their way into the global social consciousness, reflected the way in which men lived and saw their world: that is, the stories were sexist, discriminatory, culturally biased, racist and in general demeaning – to women, to minorities, to even witches, animals and imaginary characters. James Finn Garner has taken it upon himself to enlighten and liberate these classic bedtime stories. Improvising them in a way that is much more akin to the society in which we live today. This book, and other consequent volumes are an invaluable source of humour, sarcasm coupled with introspection and realisation. DOWNLOAD HERE

Social Isolation

The pandemic unleashed a global lockdown with billions of people seized into social isolation. All our plans and projections for 2020 smashed, the future thrown into chaos and speculation. Civilisation drawn to a grinding halt. Days and weeks into the lockdown, artists and musicians, much like everyone else are grappling with a global situation like never before. The pandemic question once everyday life is paused! What are we to do with all the time and isolation? We are forced to redefine our social mechanisms and renegotiate our aspirations. Isolation and solitary conditions are pressing artists to reach out, to combine their talent and perhaps find a new concerted voice. 

A divergent group of electronic musicians from India have combined their energies and sounds to address social isolation. An independent sonic reaction to the current zeitgeist. The effort in principal is curated by Varun Desai, under the formation of a new label called Social Isolation. A meeting point of narratives, which dwell on the dark, abstract, cinematic, morbid. noisy, at times lofty and at times blissful. The quick succession of three album featuring 20 odd artists presents a diverse palette, drawn by various unknown and known voices based in India. “After the pandemic hit and India went into lockdown – a group of electronic musicians came together under the banner of Social Isolation. It’s since become a music label. We’ve released 40 tracks since the beginning of April” states Varun, who has been in lockdown with his family outside Kolkata. His artist moniker 5volts is known for it’s freeform cadence, made of live synthesis, old-school techno, the intermittent voice and modular sounds. Ambient music, especially from the electronic realm, has been an area of deep interest for Varun and the current lockdown proved to be a blessing in disguise. To be able to envision and compile music which addresses two realms, isolation as a reality and ambient music as an outcome.

“I’ve been trying to mobilise a movement of ambient music in India since I got back from the US in 2008. Never happened because of the industries attention was always focused on events in clubs and venues so the opportunity to get more than a handful of people to listen to contemplative ambient music never happened. Once the lockdown begun there was a need for this kind of music, be it active listening or just something playing at home while you went on with your day. Hence the first compilation was born and from it came a response that’s been fuelling the label” states Varun. Though we are not sure about the “need” for any particular type of music during a pandemic, yet it’s clear that the formation of a new label (with distinct curation) is providing a new and austere space to many non-mainstream artists from India. It would be interesting to see (and hear) if the label were to continue it’s current trajectory, which is ambient and conceptual by all means.

Much has been discussed and extrapolated about the nature of ambient music, yet the genre remains vast, in terms of exploration and expression, as it was 20 or 30 years ago. As a label, Social Isolation is placed in a very niche world, as most of the composers are new and naive, yet dedicated towards the artform – in need of space and audibility (and visibility). This is an interesting place to look (and listen) in terms of emerging narratives in ambient music, perhaps privileged in nature but surely outside the rat-crowded world of EDM. The clubs are shut, the festivals cancelled, the tours off-the-table, and we are left with our synthesizers, drum machines, sound-toys and computers inside our personal spaces – where we are forced to contemplate, rewire and reimagine. The label and it’s little armada of ambient composers, is one of the few novel ideas launched during the lockdown, manifesting in an organic way, taking electronic music in the right direction again.

Art by Karthik Vernekar

‘Education is the key to empowerment’ – Liz Cirelli

“For me, music is a life-long love story. I love fusing the worlds of classical and electronic music into intricate, hypnotic and melody-driven forms” says Liz Cirelli, an artist who traverses multiple roles manifesting as producer, composer, DJ, singer, collaborator and mentor. Inside an hyper-competitive world where we mostly see self-serving career-driven artists, Liz sets an example which is built upon empathy, positive energy and empowerment. She believes in “expressions of creativity that emerge along the path to self-awareness”. We recently spoke to Liz about her formative years, where and how she draws her inspiration from and new initiatives. As a mentor with a decade plus experience in music production, she has launched a new online music-production course aimed at people wanting to learn how to make music.

About the intersection of the post-modern and traditional which manifests in your music. How did that happen over the years?
For me, pure magic happens when the worlds of classical and electronic music are skilfully combined. It literally sends shivers up my spine when I hear music that masterfully marries these two forms. I studied classical ballet from the age of 2 until I was 18, and I’m also a classically-trained musician: I learned my first instrument, the flute, when I was 11, then went on to take singing and piano lessons. The exposure to classical music during my formative years has been a huge influence. At the age of 18, I was introduced to the world of electronic music and it totally knocked me off my feet. I fell in love instantly and I fell hard! It wasn’t long before I began yearning how to DJ, so I sought out a teacher and after many hours of practice and collecting records, went on to DJ in London, gradually making my way internationally. This experience deepened my love for electronic music and I felt drawn to learn even more – so I embraced the world of music production! My classical background and my passion for electronic music have gifted me with an innate ability to fuse two worlds. It is something that comes to me intuitively, so I follow it. I’ve had the honour of working with some incredibly talented musicians: Emmy-award winning composer, Gavin Greenaway, and renowned violinist Minski (we just recently celebrated our 10-year collaborative partnership).

You have released a flurry of albums since 2009. What keeps you inspired and productive?

True that I have been releasing my initial compositions since 2009 yet my first full-length album was released in 2016 and counting that one, I’ve released 5 since then. I love what I do so much: if I don’t make at least a little muisc 5 days a week, I feel like a part of me is suffering. We all ebb and flow with good days and bad days, so what keeps me inspired and productive is maintaining a solid routine. Mornings are dedicated to my studio: to create, play, experiment and record. I find it inspiring to get involved in different projects with other people, having extensively produced music for film, advertising and commercial ventures. Working to a deadline really helps me – when the pressure is on, I shine, so getting involved in high-pressure projects is a surefire way of both staying productive and learning how to work efficiently. Also regular meditation and yoga. Often, just when I’m falling asleep, my mind is awash with ideas for new tracks – it’s a veritable symphony in there at times! I sing parts of these ideas into my phone. When I play the recorded ideas back to myself the next day, I can recall everything I heard in my head the night before. I have a big catalogue of these little recordings, so I’m never really stuck for fresh ideas. I seek out and listen to new music every day, that is also a source of inspiration for me. I am also fortunate to have mentors who are nothing short of amazing! They are caring and supportive, keeping me inspired and productive during those times when mini freak-outs and moments of losing direction and motivation inevitably occur!

Since there are many online music composing and production courses, How is your’s different? What can a newbie expect from ‘The Cirelli School of Music’?
The format is easy to use and apply, so that time spent with me is fortifying, empowering and useful in tangible terms. My commitment for students to have a unique experience when I am teaching, my attention to detail – and my warm-hearted nature, which leaves everyone feeling included regardless of skill level. I also have a natural ability and skill for teaching and inspiring others. The Cirelli School of Music is rooted in ‘inclusiveness’ instead of being ‘exclusive’. The first course (spanning 6 months) is for music creatives, enthusiasts, those who want to learn more about music production or simply to refine their studio skills. These are delivered weekly, live in 30-minute classes starting on the 14th of May. Don’t fret, if you miss a class or join late, all the classes and course materials will be archived and made available online. However, I highly recommend you attend the live classes as there will be added extras!

Give us an overview of the courseware?
Over 6 months, the course covers topics such as how to program a beat, learning harmony (chords), arranging (sequencing), working with vocals, and mixing / mastering secrets unlocked. All aimed at building new skills and confidence. Additionally, I will examine the basic tenets of what it takes to establish a career within the music business. Each class will include homework specifically designed to enable students to consolidate and fully understand what was covered during the lesson. All classes include a live Q and A session, during which students will be able to question and converse with me directly.

What’s the root inspiration behind The Cirelli School Of Music?
I love helping people. My life experiences and passion naturally led me to create this online school. Not only is this a place to learn about music but it also offers support by me and my community of other musicians and creatives. Knowing how defeating or tiring committing to one’s passion can be, I understand the power (and beauty) of mentorship, as I’ve sought out this kind of guidance in my life to manifest my goals and dreams. I believe in paying it forward and encouraging as many others as I can.

Recently you put out a book titled “Reluctant Butterfly” What is it about?
Ah yes! It’s a beautifully illustrated ebook that I wrote. Very thankful to my wonderful friend Tanya Leverington for the gorgeous illustrations! It’s an illustrated guide to realising your creative ambitions, written from my own experience: the challenges and obstacles I’ve had to face and overcome – and the the lessons I’ve learned through the process.

Tell us about your vested interest and involvement in female empowerment ?
I think a lot of what holds women back is our social conditioning, as well as social paradigms that, even in this day and age, repress women and their talent. When I look around the music industry, whether it’s in the field of electronic music, or in general, it’s a bit of a ‘sausage fest’. Most of my favourite music artists and DJs are men and women, yet I wonder why it still feels more male-driven. I do see times changing, with increasing numbers of female DJs, composers and producers in the music scene, yet there are still so many more who deserve their day in the sun. There needs to be more women situating themselves in the narrative as well as increasing female visibility. I know they are out there so I want to be one of the voices encouraging, assisting, being a part of the global empowerment narrative. I have also been mindful to include in my course, information on how we can move beyond the often unconscious behavioural patterns we have adopted as a result of our social conditioning, that inevitably obstruct our progress. I believe education is the key to empowerment: if enough female artists start mentoring and consequently empowering other women within the music industry, it will eventually improve equality. Take for example the FEMWAV movement in India – something I deeply resonate with from a philosophical point of view, as well aesthetically and musically. Hence recently, I volunteered to become a mentor for their resource pool. I am grateful to be a part of their empowerment models, which are aimed at Indian female talent, which I believe needs resources, inspiration and formative skills. Minds, resources and actions need to unite, and we are part of that change…

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There is nothing called ‘Silence’

Typically we see a pianist, guitarist, drummer or any instrumentalist or composer take up a musical instrument, in order to perform, compose or just practice. Be it alone or in a group. It’s a given. Way back in 1952, John Cage, composer and music visionary decided to do things the other way round. He simply closed the lid of his piano in order to compose. John Cage was envisioning something extraordinary. The birth of ‘Chance Music’. His conceptual approach manifested as a composition titled 4’33” which did not contain any musical notes, structures nor traditional instruments. Hindsight, over the decades many scholars, critics and composers speak of 4’33” as ‘a paradigm shift’ of sorts. Can we compose or perform music without playing our instrument(s)? Yes we can. Read on, but first, ‘Free your mind’ and the rest will follow’…

John Cage’s 4’33” – Is it music?

In essence, John Cage closed the lid of his piano, sat down for 4 minutes 33 seconds, to hear the sounds occurring naturally around him. He was harnessing the present, as his sonic canvas. Hence as a composition (or concept) 4’33” would turn out differently every time. He did this at home, in the studio, with peers and eventually in the concert hall in front of an audience. Obviously Cage wanted to step out of the norms, harnessing sounds which occurs outside ‘predetermined spheres and structures’. No place is really silent and every environment provides a distinct yet continuous audio canvas. Be it in your studio, or in the bathroom, or kitchen or the park in your neighbourhood or the street outside your house. Cage proposed that all spaces provide innate (naturally occurring) sounds which form a distinct, one time composition, if only we are willing to listen. But is that music? What we refer loosely as ‘ambient sound’. But not ambient music, as per Brian Eno’s definition. “There is no such thing as pure silence. Get inside an anechoic chamber and you begin to hear (and feel) your nervous system in operation and the blood and heartbeat in motion” Why does Cage want us to listen to freely occurring sounds? In the first place, he opposes the valorisation of traditional musical works and doubts their continuing interest in the future. He asked “why do we perform a given composition again and again? I agree with the African prince who went to a classical concert in London, and later was asked what he thought of the said Bach composition : his response, however odd was totally valid – Why do the musicians play the same piece over and over again, that too in the same way? Are they not bored of it yet?” Secondly, Cage felt that once we have composed or learned a piece of music, performing it again and again has little progressive value or room for contemplation or new feelings. A Bach fugue or a Beethoven sonata or a Michael Jackson anthem in essence does not transcend, does not change, even if we perform the given compositions with different instruments, personas or in varying environments. What changes is the social response,  the reception and the outward appearance.

Expanding the audible sphere.
As composers, we are always attending to sounds, beats and melodies which are fabricated via instruments, be they real or virtual, be they organised or randomised, yet always inside a confined and imaginary space. Now imagination need not be bound in organisation. Many accomplished musicians consider outside elements as ‘noise’ (elements unwanted). It’s a bit stale come to think of it. Underpinning this attitude is an opposition to the manner in which we react to structures or expressiveness in music. Cage was challenging that condition, as well as expanding the listening sphere. On what we hear, thereby preventing ourselves from hearing the music that is present around us. Sounds occurring in the universe without us having to play notes or instruments. Consequently the obvious question that beckons us – Why perform with instruments or even stick to the given structures, notes, chords, time-signatures and even genres? Cage explains further “Because I think music should be free of the feelings and ideas of the composer, I have felt and hoped to have led other people to feel that the sounds of their environment constitute a music which is more interesting than the music which they would hear in a concert hall or a record or from the radio” Cage’s intention was to show that recorded or written music, however beautiful, emotional or nostalgic, is static in nature and form.

“If this is what music is .. I can write it and so can you…”
There are at least two different ways to view 4’33” — as consisting of a passage of silence or as comprised of whatever sounds occur during the period. There is no absolute silence in the universe (just depends if we have the capacity to listen and to absorb). When musical works are played, extraneous noises are always likely to intrude. Be it car horns or sirens howling in the distance, jet-planes rumbling overhead, people shifting, coughing, chairs squeaking or beeping phones. All of these sounds, and more, might be heard during a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony but none belong to it. Majority of composers back then or even today would want to eradicate (or ignore) all such naturally occurring sounds. When asked how one is supposed to perceive 4’33” in different situations and with different composers, Cage’s response is rather lucid as “This content will vary from performance to performance. All noises at a performance are to be regarded as belonging to that performance provided they fall within its temporal boundaries. We cannot simply disregard sounds outside music as noise”

Chance Music in the 21st century
Over the decades since John Cage created the concept of ‘Chance Music’ many contemporary musicians and composers have attempted to expand the idea, manifesting mostly as abstract and or conceptual pieces. Some have argued endlessly weather it can be classified as music at all. The manifestations of this concept and thought seem limitless. Also heckling the old ways of listening and performing. Stephen Davies, Philosophy, University of Auckland, proposes an outlandish idea inspired by 4’33”. “Imagine a fugue written for a synthesizer. As synthesizers are capable of producing frequencies beyond our audible range – Lets assume its lowest note is at 30,000 Hertz, well above the range of human ears. Also, consider a piece of about 300 measures in time. In most respects the work is ordinary, but the tempo is indicated as – whole note = 1 year (each quarter note for every three months). At this rate, the composition can last for three centuries” Preposterous huh? Not really. As we expand our perception of time, instrumentation and an outcome which is continuos. Work in progress, but forever. A musical piece which carries over generations without an eminent end. 4’33” had indeed opened up out-of-this-world possibilities. “Modular synthesizers using very slow oscillators (down to 1Hertz divided) leads to bizarre possibilities, wherein it’s impossible to predict the outcome over a long stretch of time. However, we cannot classify these as compositions, rather as temporal passages of sound evolving on their own” said Don Buchla (pioneer of voltage controlled modular synthesis). Even as such ideas come across as utopian initially, various conceptual artists and curators have built innovative art projects inspired by 4’33” such as the As Slow As Possible’, a concert which will last 600+ years!

Free your mind’ and the rest will follow!
We doubt that modern music can be distinguished from it’s ancestral roots once we leave the structural norms and qualities of what is perceived as music. Contemporary music norms just about touch a fraction of the sonic possibilities, as a vast expanse remains unexplored or yet to be felt. What could be more modern than a work of silence (and restraint)  because sound is already everywhere. The “conceptual” is as unavailable to the senses as is the supposed “pure”. John Cage’s 4’33” is not a silent gimmick, for many more reasons other than the ones he gives. Chance Music is heckling our conditioning for sure. Chance Music is inherently structure-imputing, and Cage’s recommendation is that we should perceive music and sound impersonally, aconceptually, while rejecting appearances of organisation, complexity and tradition. Try it – next time you sit down to compose or to jam, ask yourself, ‘what can I bring into this universe’ other than filling space with predestined methods stacking up sounds upon sounds… Ready to try your own 4’33” ?

Beyond EDM, what’s next?

Over the last 20 years, the expansion and visibility of mega-festivals such Creamfields, Electric Daisy Carnival, FIB, Sonar, Ultra, Sunburn, Tomorrowland etc has placed electronic dance music (and it’s starline of DJs and DJanes) at the centre of mainstream entertainment. Parallel has been the growth of boutique festivals, much smaller in size, supposedly more intimate, and offering multiple stages, genres, vistas and even decors and cuisines. Massive, big or small, electronic music festivals have reached a clear visible (and audible) state-of-stagnation. SOS electronica ! Be it some exotic ‘cuddle-puddle’ (ecstasy based) festival inside a maharaja’s palace in India or ‘PLUR revivalism’ inside a yet pristine forest in Holland or a Moroccan desert-pool studded with tourists from Europe, the saturation and hegemony is clear, but tacit. The festival curators, bosses, content creators and their corporate buddies are indeed effecting EDM in a detrimental way. Killing the spirit, replicating formats, breeding uniformity, as a scene run amok by cartel based dominance, with talent and diversity dropping off the narrative. Expansionism we call it. Hamburgers or EDM! The fleeting ethos of solidarity based on music still exists? So what are we opining about? What’s on the horizon?

This article is capturing some emerging opinions and alternatives about the future of electronic music festivals, raves and the need to evolve.

That wanton spirit.
“I grew up in Philadelphia and the rave scene exploded in the city around 1998. Parallel to NYC and LA. The solidarity and freedom many of us found in parking lots, warehouses and illegal spaces was amazing. Without doubt, ecstasy and techno were synonymous for many of us. We were not connected by class nor orientation, but by a fleeting dream. The culture and the code were kind of undefined… I worked as a backstage manager at the infamous Paradise Garage in NYC for 2 years and met some of the pioneers of post-disco and techno, spinning records for a diverse bunch of people every weekend. The club eventually collapsed, as state regulations and the Drug Enforcement Agency imposed severe restrictions and surveillance. The wanton spirit of the rave had crashed… Fast forward 20 years now, the ad-hoc nature of raves and underground clubs has been totally displaced by high rolling entertainment and ‘casino type’ guidelines. The consumption pattern has changed as well, shifting to cocaine, speed and alcohol… and the music is almost unrecognisable, from it’s former raw and unpredictable nature.” states Annabel Gerber, writer and journalist, documenting  the rise and fall of electronic music hedonism in America. She adds “beyond the critical and subjective view of the current state of EDM, one has to look at new alternatives and possibilities, collectivise to reclaim the spirit, even if the scope and size is small… always dependent on collective energy and local factors.”

Monkeys flipping onstage!
“one can trace the lineage of electronic music culture over the last 30 years, and it shows many similarities to the rise of  jazz, punk, reggae and rock n roll. These localised social movements entered popular culture, resonating and spilling over globally. Yet eventually the nascent energy, some call it soul, was sanitised, re-organised and regulated by big-stake holders. Now the question is how to bring back the organic nature and solidarity? Reinstall the love for music and a diverse inclusive community. Big players want big spectacles. A vast majority of the audience couldn’t care less, if it’s a DJ or DJane or AI-Robots or even monkeys flipping on a table! The stagnation within EDM speaks of the deficiency, elitism and stigmas within the industry. The EDM scene today lacks community ethics. Regionally emerging talent, promoters and audiences do offer new solidarity. plans and consequent action. The internet is a vital space to regenerate, create new currents and heckle the existing conditions. We cannot go back to Detroit or Chicago or Manchester or Berlin with hopes to find the future of techno or house. It has to be local, and locally beneficial, regardless of nationality, race or size. Take places like Iran, Uganda, India and China as examples of where the new horizon or new hopes of techno are in formation… What is going on there? Are we aware?”  states Sierra Vandervort, writer and freelance journalist.

Colonised, yet again?
“…that rave is part of a continuum of post-World War II youth empowerment. Much like Jazz, Punk, Soul and Rock. Now that electronic music has had a 30+ year impact on music, dance, fashion, literature, and media.  Like jazz, punk, rock and hip-hop, electronic music too has empowered countless young people and artists, for almost three decades. Today EDM festivals pack millions of people annually, not easily dismissed – and, believe me, many people have tried – and remains a stronghold of pop music culture, alongside hip-hop and rock. But we must note, that all of which have been institutionalised, commodified, and, in most cases, canonised.  Local electronic music culture around the world is also witnessing commodification and re-colonisation – being invaded or sequestered into homogeneity. Take the example of Nyege Nyege festival in Kampala Uganda – where British online radio station NTS brought a big contingent of DJs in 2016 and 2017 (70% were white english speaking male) – And quick to follow was the globally popular Boiler Room sorority, followed by CTM and Unsound Festival, importing a line of european artists belonging to various cartels. Some may call it diversity, for some it’s simply more ticket sales, yet there is no balance in this kind of institutionally mediated flow, it’s more like a tacit invasion…” states Nico Rosario – Author of ‘Burn This Disco – Stigmas within Dance Music Culture’

Transcend Please!

“Very often solidarity forms the dominant narrative in many locally active scenes of electronic music. Regardless of genres, spoken languages and geographies. Solidarity generally refers to the degree and type of integration in a society or within a social group. Initially discussed by Emile Durkheim [1893]. Historically raves have had a clear anti-system and anti-government stance – Uniting thousands of people, albeit often remaining disconnected, across the world during the 80s, 90s and beyond. Something we hardly see or feel today. But the political statement of rave culture was not geared toward social change, and the rave and EDM scenes cannot be considered social movements in their own right. Yet that narrative and nature itself can transform or transcend. The evolution of this culture cannot be traced inside institutional or corporate spaces, but through solidarity, interaction, activism and even use of specific drugs. Beyond revivalism and nostalgia, one can objectively and actively recreate solidarity and sustainability, re-energising electronic music as a culture, and not just business…” say Philip Kavanaugh and Tammy Anderson at the University of Delaware.

Elusive as ever…
“Looking back at 20+ years of involvement in the electronic music scene of India, made me realise two crucial facets. The zeitgeist so as to say. One, that sounds, tastes, communities and directions always change, always take new forms every few years. New talent is always forthcoming, eager to ride the energy which remains elusive as ever. Invoking hope and action all the time. Two, that a pedagogy of inferiority remains rooted inside the scene, when we see the disparity and imbalance between local talent and the visiting imported DJ. Late 1990s we saw the surge of acid-friendly explorers from Germany, Scandinavia, UK, Israel and America descending on the shoreline of Goa, setting off the first raves and psychedelic sororities in India. Today we witness more than 25 large and small electronic music festivals occurring across the country, where a tacit preference is given to foreign artists and cartel based european and american DJs and DJanes. Indian talent remains a sideshow, and mostly reserved for good looking hipsters and divas playing mainstream electronica. Now the second facet has to change, has to be questioned and even dismantled – if we were to create an inclusive, talent based culture, which actually represents India and Indians” states Audio Pervert, as an artist, curator and part of this on-going dialogue.

A fact that electronic music is often a magnet for moral ambiguity, spoiled identity and incertitude – it has also created space(s) for survival, exploration and escape. That subliminal ethos is not dead. It addresses the needs of each person differently, on her own terms, by her own beat. However that humane facet has gotten robbed and sequestered by commercial interests, nepotism, state intervention and casino-ethics. The next wave of dance music is on its way… or it may already be here (are we listening?). We are poised, once again, but not to repeat this part of EDM history… Stay with the rhythm, the body, your intuitions and most important, freedom.