Various Artists (Genome 6.66 Mbp) Self-Salvation

[Genome 6.66 Mbp; 2018]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: noise, abrasion, obscurity, love
Others: Rinse FM, N.A.A.F.I, NON, Eco Futurism Corporation

“The dead horse of life we beat, all the wilder, all the harder and deader it gets.”
– Will Eno

Under the gaze of the Other, with the whole world as background, with a real thing amiss in your life, and with no one to put their finger on it, your ears moist with wanting. Who can go through the Great Firewall of China, who can post music on the surface of the web — darkly, but not obscurely — and make someone feel something somewhere online, elsewhere? This compilation, from the Shanghai label Genome 6.66 Mbp can. Lo, the intense pleasure of Self-Salvation lies in seeing how these 11 artists create sound and almost abandon it — let it go feral — so that it can transmit something without an absolute meaning, so that we become aware of how fraught the act of meaning-making and representation truly is.

Nocturnal emissions, inscrutable frequencies, club glow on taught skin, uncertainty of the self amongst strangers. A serious dose of unsteadiness, of loss, dreaming of a form of real life that you can’t have in front of your eyes. Almost dark, but not yet. In the sector of club producers making aggressive, abrasive, in-your-face music that seeks to invade us, wound us, shoot us in the face, stab us in the heart. This kind of club music — one that favors violence over epiphany — has been going on for a while, in cities worldwide. Maybe it serves as a reaction to the loneliness caused by being in front of the computer, on the hunt for likes and favs, despite the abyss that surrounds us, and all of the big things going badly, but a billion little things going right, even in pain among the smog and rats. Or maybe this kind of music says to us: go up, forward, and into a zone where you are not an image, where no camera is in operation, where no music plays, where no one sees you, where there is no self, in an outermost brink, in a marge, on a rim’s lip, in a spectrality that you can claim, in the poetry of merely being, merely existing, just merely there.

No doubt a central tenet of this compilation is the Chinese culture that binds the artists together, and more specifically the movement of young musicians living in Shanghai. Yet as these artists create a sonic representation of Shanghai, it vanishes at the very same moment that it begins to occur. Not Shanghai, but Shanghai. Not creation, but iteration; not revolution, but recurrence; not archetypes but modules. Not a city, but the idea of a city. Not cities, but invisible cities, each one caught in the toils of its own built-in obsolescence, its excess of reality. Like the vanishing of the self in the Other; like sound as a thought-sensitive surface; like water, uncontaminated; like mist, unfiltered. Or a vee of geese, the whitish backs of leaves in the breeze, the brutality of life tinged with suffering, tenderness, and guile.

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