During the recession Irish journalists beat the country’s political and banking classes like a hollow green, white and orange piñata. How did they miss the warnings that the economy was overheating, and why the near-pathological obsession with property?
I was working in Dublin during the bailout talks and wrote a feature levelling the same accusations at the media. With a few exceptions they played a key role in developing the country’s property mania, in some cases losing their own shirts in the process, and had failed to notice the Celtic Tiger’s symptoms.
Anyway, the strength of the UK’s economic recovery’s left me with a dilemma that the left-leaning press is failing to confront. Just like Ireland’s journalists all those years ago; was my coverage of Osborne-omics misinformed? Was my assessment of the economy flawed?
For the last few decades the government’s generally spent more than it earns, borrowing money to make ends meet. When the recession hit the Tories argued for aggressive cuts to eliminate the spending deficit and start paying back the debt. Roughly speaking, Labour would have cut slightly slower and put more focus on increasing taxes, rather than reducing spending.
We have no idea what would have happened if Labour were in charge (who knows if I’d be languishing in Red Ed’s bread queue instead of toiling over this column?) and it’s impossible to definitively say what’s morally correct, so it’s probably best to judge Osborne by his own standards.
It only took a few quarters of growth for the chancellor to claim the debate was over – you can track this back to my glibly-titled column ‘George Osborne seems pretty smug about ‘fixing’ the economy’ – but there are some major issues with his version of events.
The Chancellor’s self-imposed mandates were to reduce the deficit to zero and have government debt falling as a share of GDP by 2015-2016. He’s made a small amount of progress, but we’re going to borrow a staggering £96 billion in 2014-2015 – £96 billion more than he expected, more than the entire education budget – and he’s going to fail on the other count too.
That said, the economy’s growing, unemployment’s falling and we’ve put in a lot of hard work in terms of cutting spending, so you could argue that will pay off in dividends as the economy improves … but I think that line of argument is relatively weak.
Today’s economic growth is great news, but it’s not enough. The government should be judged on the rate of recovery, starting with their own standards. The problem is, it’s hard to point this out over the Tories’ shouts of ‘we’re cleaning up your mess’ and ‘we made the tough choices’, plus voters are generally short-sighted and will likely focus on whatever’s happened immediately before next year’s election.
My mistake was implying austerity would wreck the economy even after we had limped into a recovery and it was wrong to ever even meekly imply that there’d be no recovery under Plan A. The focus should have shifted to the type of recovery we were experiencing (more part-time, badly paid jobs, growing government debt etc.) at some point early last year and highlighting how this happened.
After the election the coalition told us they weren’t acting out of “some ideological zeal”, they had no choice but to make the cuts. Cameron had already implied he wants to make austerity permanent and yesterday he said cutting benefits was a “moral mission”. It was a Tory policy bait and switch; they sold us on a ‘there’s no alternative economic rescue’ package and we ended up buying a Tory party policy wet dream, with little or no impact on improving our economy.
By the time you pick up this beautifully revamped edition of Crack the Christmas credit card bill will have landed, your resolutions dropped and the news cycle will continue grinding its cogs of despair – but there’s still hope for 2014.
This time last year we discovered Black Beauty hadn’t gone to the big glue factory in the sky, but was probably slaughtered, ground down and served to us in the microwave lasagnas that we stuffed into our faces in front of Gogglebox (the show that serves us videos of ourselves watching TV, mis-labelled as original programming).
Gogglebox’s endless meta-loop toward the nadir of broadcast television seems harmless compared to Channel 4’s current January smash hit Benefits Street. In a supposedly titillating PR move we were shown the real poor people behind the numbers we’re always told about. That said, there’s a startling information gap around what their lives are actually like – hopefully we can learn and understand what the cuts actually mean this year, and not eat such shitty processed food.
February last year saw the Catholic Church make a divine PR move calling on God to appear to Pope Benedict and tell him to go fishing. 2014 looks even more positive for Catholicism, with a papal Rolling Stone cover showing Francis above the Dylan- referencing strapline: “The times they are a-changin.”
It’s amazing to think that the Catholic leadership could be wrenched from conservatism, that Francis used his first major written teaching to rail against unchecked free-market capitalism and answered “Who am I to judge?” to a question on homosexual priests.
Margaret Thatcher died in spring last year and Osborne shed what appeared to be a tear, but was in fact the distilled juices of poor people’s dreams, at her funeral. My friend saw her at a high-brow do a decade ago and said she was “madder than a box of frogs”.
In 2014, the economic recovery is going from strength to strength and the Tories are finding it hard to control their excitement as David Cameron’s face slowly eats itself in rolls of smug. It’s great that we’re back to growth; now the Tories have to shake off the stigma of exactly the kind of nasty, cut-making Tory party image Thatcher embodied and address the recovery’s structural issues with inequality.
Justin Bieber’s escapades were limited to giving away a hamster (#rippac), and shouting at a cameraman or something in 2013. It didn’t even register on the rock n’ roll scale of one to Keith Moon driving a Lincoln Continental into a swimming pool after knocking out his front teeth. But this year he’s already given us ‘drag racing and driving under the influence’ and being belligerent to the cops – that’s a solid two Baby Biebs!
The VMA awards gave a Beetlejuice-garbed Robin Thicke an opportunity to sexually harass the world’s online columnists. Except instead of being summoned when someone says his name three times, he says “I know you want it” three times to summon a Gene-Simmons-tongue- wrangling Miley Cyrus who, apparently unbeknownst to her handlers, had just gone on heat.
By contrast, January’s Grammy Awards gave dozens of couples, some gay, some straight, the chance to wed as a guy who wasn’t Kendrick Lamar performed Same Love, an anthem for legal gay marriage. It’s encouraging to see an awards show used as a platform for something positive (and something that doesn’t involve Kanye’s ego or Miley’s foam finger grinding).
In 2013, King Richard III’s skeleton was found rotting underneath a car park next to Gerri Halliwell’s music career. In 2014 we discover that an old pelvis that had been lying in storage might by that of King Alfred the Great’s … but it looks like Halliwell might be brought back to life to represent the UK at Eurovision. Can’t win them all I ‘spose.
Last week Crack published this review of the second Childish Gambino record. And unfortunately, fans of the rapper/actor were less than impressed by the angle our reviewer Billy Black chose to take:
And after things got personal, Billy decided to knock up a more substantial, and probably less entertaining, 1500 word review of the album in order to expound on his theory and explain exactly why he fucking hates this record. Here it is:
01. the library (intro)
After listening to the library numerous times, I can determine absolutely nothing about this track apart from the fact it sounds like it was probably created using a preset GarageBand loop. Now maybe I’m just getting too old to understand the levels of post-reality, post-Mac ironic references emanating from this five second noise which may or may not be a reference to the ease with which music can be created and disseminated, or maybe I totally got it and I just didn’t find it clever or funny.
02. I. crawl
There’s nothing worse than trying, and failing miserably, to look clever by using Roman numerals. It’s right up there with trying, and failing miserably, to look innovative by imitating Death Grips. I will admit that Glover’s flow is actually quite agreeable and that the beats, despite the blatant influence bordering on thievery, are well turned out, and I’m almost convinced – but the moment when Glover croons ‘At her booty’ around 1 minute 7 seconds in I feel like I’m listening to a Lonely Island parody video which hasn’t been funny for about six years. I. Crawl sounds like the result of a confused young man trying far too hard to sound like he’s not trying hard. Either that or it’s all irony. I don’t find it clever, or funny.
03. II. WORLDSTAR
There’s nothing worse than trying, and failing miserably, to look ‘real’ by imitating 2 Chainz. Seriously though, WORLDSTAR may as well be Birthday Song even down to the bit where Glover uses a ‘brrr’ sound which feels suspiciously like appropriation of Deuce’s trademark ‘Skrrr’ sound. Two tracks in and there’s nothing original in earshot. Maybe it’s irony or something. Not clever, not funny …
04. dial up
At least the Roman numerals have gone now. Oh no, wait it’s just to let us know it’s an interlude. Interludes are great, aren’t they? Seriously, I love them.
05 I. the worst guys ft. Chance The Rapper
Oh, they’re back. Great. We almost got confused there. This one looked hopeful, there was a distinct possibility that wacky acid rap ‘innovator’ and rap’s answer to Barney The Dinosaur Chance The Rapper might just save this track but unfortunately, he doesn’t. It’s partly because he’s wet as fuck but mainly because the only thing faker than Donald Glover’s connection to rap is the pantomime tinted gimmick of a persona young Chance “I took mushrooms once at drama school” The Rapper has crafted – fair play to him though for successfully pulling the wool over the eyes of people I used to consider friends. The Sister Sister references are pretty much the only good thing about it, everything else is turgid, completely lacking excitement and that guitar solo near the end is about as pleasant as that album the bloke from The Darkness made after he decided he was too good for the rest of the band.
That Sister Sister bit though… everyone loves a good reference to a TV show from their youth, especially one that features African American people. Nostalgia is always funny. Always.
06. II. shadows
By the law of averages releasing an album having 19 tracks on it means at least one of them should be good. shadows is probably the closest thing to a banger on Because The Internet. The sample comes from a great place – Space Funk by Manzel – and the vocal is natural, it even feels more lyrically honest than the previous tracks with references to awkward email exchanges and a tongue-in-cheek aspirational bar about Jay Z and Beyoncé, presumably a hark to the hip-hop power couple’s Bonnie and Clyde references. This kind of meta-RnB is actually quite thoughtful and in fact raised a wistful half-smile on this reviewer’s face.
If only Frank Ocean hadn’t already recorded and released a critically acclaimed album full of the exact same thing, done twice as well, two years ago.
07. III. telegraph ave (“Oakland” by Lloyd)
“I was making Japanese/She’s watching DVDs”. I’m almost 100% certain these lyrics will be immortalised in the annals of hip-hop with the cerebral witticisms that made Biggie the giant he was, the tongue twisting, deep cutting bars that secured GZA his place at the top of his game or the unpredictable, hater baiting rhymes a young Marshall Mathers used to propel himself to the forefront of the hip-hop scene. (“Sarcasm” by Billy.)
08. IV. sweatpants
Was that a Charlie Sheen ‘Winning’ reference? Here is a three point list, using roman numerals, explaining why Charlie Sheen ‘Winning’ references aren’t funny. I. Drug addiction is not funny. II. Charlie Sheen wasn’t winning, the whole affair was sad and the media glorification of the situation was horrifyingly insensitive. III. It happened over a year ago, seriously, lay it to rest.
09. V. 3005
3005 is the first single from Because The Internet and we’ll put our hands up here, it deserves to be a success. 3005 is pretty impressive and, perhaps, if Glover would focus his attention on crafting more original and honest tunes like this one he might be able to assert his own credibility and dominance as a genuine artist to watch.
10. playing around before the party starts
Oh great, another interlude. Seriously though, interludes are the best.
11 I. the party
the party is probably an attempt at being experimental. The result? The most annoying piece of music I’ve ever heard. Trust me, I’ve sat through entire Whitehouse records and found them more agreeable.
12. II. no exit
Where the party fails, no exit nearly succeeds. The last minute, in fact, is a well-judged, sugary and melodious piece of RnB which emerges, unexpectedly, from a pleasantly composed clutter of electronic tweaks and bleeps. No exit is probably the best track on the record from a technical point of view, the textures and the transition feel like the result of hard work and thoughtful composition. It’s not as good as 3005, it won’t get you dancing on a table but it is actually a down-to-earth track which lets the small glimmers of hope we have for Glover’s talent shine through.
13. death by numbers
Seriously though, enough with the FUCKING interludes dude.
14. I. flight of the navigator
By the end of this track I felt like I’d been cheated out of five minutes. There is nothing here, like the previous track it’s full of layers and heavy on the atmosphere. It constantly feels like it’s getting somewhere but somehow – spoiler alert – it doesn’t. It just doesn’t feel like Glover has thought about the direction on this one. It sounds rushed, obvious and completely devoid of structure.
15. II. zealots of stockholm (free information)
Just for a change of form here Donald Glover has put his full back into zealots of stockholm and created a track that sounds like Frank Ocean covering Death Grips. A refreshing change from the rest of that tracks that either sound like Frank Ocean or Death Grips.
16. III. urn
I’m getting really tired of this record now, and it’s really quite hard to keep coming up with sarcastic comments about it. Had it not been for the backlash of internet concern for my ability to judge art on its merits rather than the inherently embarrassing persona of the creator, I’d have switched this off, burned the tracks to a CD-R and thrown that shit out of the window. It sounds like someone’s doing a bad Frank Ocean impression … again …
17. I. pink toes ft. jhene aiko
Look Childish, mate, no amount of credible collaborations are going to make your record sound better than it is and FOR FUCKS SAKE, FRANK OCEAN ALREADY WROTE CRACK ROCK IN TWO THOUSAND AND TWELVE.
18. II. earth: the oldest computer (the last night)
The extremely long and quite frankly pretentious title of this song is enough to put me off without even listening to the song. However, for the sake of argument I did, I listened to it all the way through and what I discovered was, well, it was emotionally charged, it was thoughtful, it was… oh no sorry I thought I was listening to Diamonds by Drake and Frank Ocean.
19. III. life: the biggest troll [andrew aurenheimer]
The generic-sounding beats and hyper-florid lyrics on this track are representative of a lot of the things Glover has gotten so wrong on this record. The thing about life… though, is that it sounds so outdated it’s impossible to imagine why Glover would consider it the perfect closer for this record. A record which, it is impossible to forget, had his whole musical career resting on it after his extremely disappointing first record completely failed to connect with anyone anywhere.
Because The Internet is a derivative, pretentious record that fails to deliver any bite or sense of real passion for music. It’s an arid, barren album that at times feels bitter and relentless in its flagrant and pronounced plagiarism of artists who have already reshaped and remodelled the fields Glover is now mimicking. The more I listen, the less I feel any connection to the disparate and completely unrealised structure of the record. Fortunately though, Honest Don has a plethora of other talents to fall back on, like, he was on an episode of Girls and ermm … he has a cringe-inducing sense of humour … and uhhh … he can use Instagram?
A monstrous amoeba-brained blob is heading for Downingtown, Informationville, consuming everything in its path in an angry, all-enveloping mass. Nothing can stop the Internet’s comments section.
Even the left-leaning websites have been consumed by faux rage. The Guardian ran an article headlined ‘Miley Cyrus’s twerking routine was cultural appropriation at its worst’ one week and a piece on ‘Nine uses for a burka … that don’t involve bashing them’ the next (includes getaway costumes and fire blankets, by the way).
The article about Cyrus’ performance at a music video awards show starts and ends with references to Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, and picked up 800-plus comments. The endless number of columnists who covered the event didn’t tune in live, they aren’t roving scholars of pop culture; everyone just watched it when it went viral on the off chance they could have their say.
Was there anything wrong with Miley’s routine? The truth is that ‘In the 90s Miley would just be another wigger’. Just kidding. That was my attempt to write another click bait headline with a buzzword like ‘wigger’, which is enticing because we’re not sure if it’s racist and 30-year-old liberals love that retro stuff.
Neither of the two Guardian articles are badly written, but they hint at part of a bigger problem – the need to steal eyeballs through click bait headlines. This leads us to quickly wrap every developing story in easy-to-digest comment.
It means that on the same day The Express says ‘The burka is an affront to women and a free society’, The Spectator ‘Why I want my schools to ban the burka (and the miniskirt)’ and The Daily Mail ‘You don’t need a burka, just mad hair and a tatty tracksuit’.
Watching that life affirming video of Tom Daley outing himself, I could feel the army of commentators gearing up to write think pieces. The problem is the scale, speed and prevalence of online cultural commentary is forcing false polemics and detracting from important debates.
I don’t care too much one way or the other about Miley’s performance, but I know it’s the kind of thing that might get commissioned by the knee-jerk comment farms. And there’s the problem; we’re all learning to write faux rage articles. Richard and Judy of wholesome-morning-TV fame wrote that reactionary Express piece for fuck sake.
Faux rage isn’t new either, it’s just that the left-wing media are now signing up to what The New York Times calls the Daily Mail’s unofficial motto: “What Fresh Hell Is This?”
The Mail has been doing it online for a long time, and look how good they’ve gotten (I haven’t made this up, you couldn’t): ‘Why the Left hates families: MELANIE PHIILLIPS reveals how the selfish sneers of Guardianistas made her see how the Left actively fosters – and revels in – family breakdown.’ In fairness to Phillips, I never finished reading her article. There might be some revolutionary thinking past the bit where she crows about being the maligned party, under that headline, without a hint of irony.
It’s not that every piece of online commentary is bad, but you can see how quickly this back and forth creates a hollow, unnecessary and distracting dialogue. At some point you realise it’s not necessarily worth digging through statistics or records of speeches to point out policy failures, the key is being first to file a polemic. I’m cynical enough to realise that this is becoming a problem, but not clever enough to stop it, I’m afraid.
This week’s autumn statement is the first I haven’t covered in a while. You have to send your work to editors almost immediately after the chancellor sits down. Inevitably you just reiterate whatever dogma you’ve embraced – ‘the Tories are out-of-touch millionaires who grow more powerful every time the dreams of a poor person die’ etc. Maybe I’ll take the opportunity to assess the fiscal measure and check the numbers again – was I right? Who knows, but at least I’ll question my assumptions and do some genuine footwork to figure it out.
Has everyone gone a little bit dim? Seriously though. Is the future of the human attention span completely fucking rotten? Is it even possible to read these simple sentences without getting helplessly distracted?
It’s not exactly a stretch to say it’s becoming imperative to the continued existence of our species that we relearn how to process information in slightly larger chunks, like, now. For example, how are you supposed to understand how to operate a hoover or turn on the dishwasher if you can’t decipher page after page of poorly translated instructions? More importantly, how will my many, many future children ever be able to sit through a whole episode of Celebrity Cash In The Attic if they can only sit still for long enough to digest tiny pieces of information designed to trick their brains into thinking they’re participating in some form of self-advancement when they’re really, really not?
The reason for all this brain-dulling seems pretty clear from where most of my generation are standing; the government wants us all on our knees. After all, they’re just reptilian moon people who are only interested in all the money and all the power anyway. Fuck the new world order, yeah? Yeah, maybe, or maybe they’re just boring old men in boring old suits with boring old haircuts who won’t play GTA 5 because they’re too ashamed to face the parallels it draws to their own miserable, prostitute slaying, dog beating sociopathic ego-driven existences. Either way, it doesn’t matter: none of us will be able to stop them, we’re all too distracted by fucking lists.
Yes, that’s what it all boils down to. Lists. Beats me if I know where it all went wrong but this is where we are now, sadly. Oh what’s that? You didn’t realise it had happened because you were too busy shoving big piles of white powder up your nose from the end of your mate’s house key and listening to repetitive electronic music? Who am I to deny you small pleasures I suppose, everyone’s got to get their kicks, besides at least you’re not on BuzzFeed reading a list of 15 Ugly Old Toys Only A Blind Ugandan Organist Could Use To Escape From The Former Home Of A Left Leaning Tulip Grower Who Became Gradually More Conservative With Age. OK, that one might not be real but it might as well be. Seriously; this is the stuff of dystopian nightmares.
The most disturbing thing of all is that nobody is immune; I frequently find myself putting off actual work in order to read articles with catchy and relatable tiles. Titles like 12 Things Only Girls With Curly Hair Will Understand – Iread the whole fucking thing, start to finish, despite being both male and straight haired – or 39 Times Neal Caffrey Was The Sexiest Man On TV. If you’re interested, ‘That time he emerged from the water and gave Daniel Craig a run for his money’ came in at number one. They’re right too, I mean who could forget that time. Well, I mean it kind of relies on having seen that bit from whatever film that actor you’ve heard of was in, but y’know.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not berating the idea of lists as a form of disseminating opinions altogether, in fact I think intaking someone else’s views in a form that is both satisfying and easy is probably as good a way to pass some time as any and hey, just because I have no idea who Neal Caffrey is doesn’t mean he doesn’t resonate in the hearts and minds of a million teenage girls. I just worry – as I am wont to do – about the state of our collective intelligence. Our capacity to collect and retain information and our capacity to actually think. However, anything I say now is basically inconsequential considering that the lack of bullet points on this page means that virtually everyone who opened it has long since been preoccupied by the distant, glowing allure of an article called something like, oh I don’t know, 37 Ways To Convince Yourself You Are Living A Satisfying And Entirely Realised Existence.
It is with a heavy heart that I place my fingers on the keyboard of my very silver, rather expensive, incredibly hip laptop – already, I digress, but just so you understand I am middle class, white and know what Instagram is so you can trust me. Some things are very hard to say, and while I know I may not speak on behalf of everyone I certainly speak on behalf of at least 99.9% of humanity when I say what I am about to say. Right after I have persuaded you that I am a relevant social entity through two paragraphs of verbose drivel.
I won’t continue to beat around the bush, for it is of the utmost importance that I share with you and the world my extremely decisive and utterly apposite modus opinari. Plainly speaking there is an issue, the heart of which is of earnest and consequential concern to some people who are not you, all of whom I am assuming do not have access to any form of social media, which must be addressed – post haste!
The matter at hand, I hasten to add, must be gently approached for it is so immensely pertinent that not only you but everyone in the whole world – or at least everyone on Twitter – must know how I personally feel about it. I would have simply just tweeted but, as you will soon realise, it needs more words than Twitter can offer and, with any luck, will be picked up by a major cultural publication. If that helps build publicity for me and at the same time reminds people that I am literate as well as handsome, well then I guess I’ll just have to live with that, won’t I?
So without further ado, here it is, Open Letters. The truth, brutal as it may be, hard as it is to hear; YOU SERVE NO PURPOSE.
Oh no wait, that would have fit in a tweet, wouldn’t it? My bad. Do one.
What’s the difference between the decimated hulk of newspaper and CD businesses, and broadcast television? Couch potatoes and bandwidth, probably.
You know the future’s arrived when describing technology from your childhood makes you sound like a 19th Century chimney sweep: “My documents were saved on 3.5 inch floppy disks, which stored less than half a five-minute song. We only had one phone line in the whole house and I made calls using a rotary dialler. And when I was 16 I used to smoke roll ups in pubs.”
That’s how it feels to describe broadcast television in the internet age. It’s amazing we haven’t kicked the habit.
It’s a medium where a quarter of the content is non- targeted advertising. The rest is a mind-numbing 24-hour entertainment spiel over some hundred- odd channels that you can scroll through for hours without ever quite landing on something you want to watch when it’s about to begin.
Right now I could tune into a rerun of a prime time show in which contestants guess the contents of red boxes based on absolutely nothing. The ‘jeopardy’ factor is introduced by a man who looks like the 6th form philosophy lecturer that’s always hitting on students, calling The Banker on exactly the type of phone described a moment ago.
The next channel’s showing non-stop episodes of Ted ‘punch me in the face’ Mosby making 20-minute soliloquies about how someday he’s going to ruin the life of a perfectly nice woman with a yellow umbrella that have me frantically trying to break the safety guards off my BIC razor.
In the meantime, the internet has become a multifaceted thing of media beauty that costs next to nothing to use and has unimaginable depths of content. Looking at the TV guide and choosing something to watch on a Saturday night seems about as relevant as walking into Blockbuster and renting Speed 2: Cruise Control on VHS.
I’m not saying there’s nothing but bad content on broadcast television. Episodic drama, led by the likes of The Wire, Breaking Bad and The Sopranos, has been taken to unbelievable new heights. And I suppose there’s an argument that some people choose to watch the shows from the last few paragraphs, too.
What I’m saying is that broadcast television is a terrible content delivery system. It doesn’t learn, it’s old and it needs to be quietly retired. It’s the John McCain of electronic goods.
We already know what the alternatives are. Streaming services hit another new high-tide point when Netflix announced it has more subscribers than HBO last month, and more TVs are being built to work with streaming services, albeit they still promote regular channels and lack the right kind of interface.
When you have an internet connection faster than 20mbps, there’s no more reason to pay for phone line rental and a satellite package. Everything will come through the same pipe via a platform that’s interactive, on-demand, intelligent and utilises peer recommendation, and your friends will be there to talk to and play with.
When this happens the old gatekeepers like Sky and Virgin will be decimated. Signing up to a satellite provider will make about as much sense as paying for the AOL-content-only internet the now-defunct ISP peddled in the 90s. Existing channels will try to adapt, but most will fail. Broadcast television will go through the same structural change that newspaper businesses are struggling with. They might be able to sell some content and operate big draw live events like the X Factor, but the monopoly will be smashed.
We just need to reach the tipping point in what I’m going to call the Big Pipe Theory (the name comes from a discussion about the future of television and ‘High Resolution Home Graphic Centres’ that took place in the 80s). When enough households are connected, multimedia companies which are building huge audiences online – think Vice and TMZ – will explode. Sure, some will need companies like YouTube to wrap adverts around their content, but imagine what’ll happen when a company like BuzzFeed plugs directly into the living rooms of millions of households. Will Dave really be able to compete?
It’ll take about 10 years, but the coach potato habit will be chipped away piece by piece until the Big Pipe audience gains real traction. Then broadcast television will be all but killed off. In 50 years, explaining a five- channel television to a 20-year-old will be like trying to explain a microwave to a cowboy.
And finally, our headliner. Steadily making his mark on the state of contemporary music for the past six years, Nicolas Jaar has become one of the world’s most sought after acts.
The precociously talented son of Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar released his first EP when he was just 17. Following a string of EPs on Wolf + Lamb, not to mention his own Clown and Sunset label, it was his debut full length Space Is Only Noise that truly caught critics’ attention. Since then, he has continued to carve his own niche: from releasing music on a specially designed silver prism to remixing the entirety of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. But where the tangible embodiment of this auteur’s significance manifests most is undoubtedly within his live performance.
These shows utilise anything from film noir narratives, to female choirs, to the tender blues of Jaar’s own voice. Engrossing snatches of detail with hypnotic melody, his notorious use of negative space tantalizingly builds the most ambitious of settings to fever pitch. The grandiose setting of the Colston Hall will provide the ideal platform for this truly unique trip through of sound and lack thereof.
Jaar’s early evening headline set will be in collaboration with pioneering audiovisual composer Tarik Barri, who has previously worked with Atoms For Peace and Monolake on their live shows, providing a stunning live and interactive backdrop sure to only add to the singular beauty of Jaar’s music.
We’re not sure how much more we can express in words just how special this rare Bristol appearance will be. To find out for yourself, you can purchase one of the very few remaining tickets here. See you tomorrow.
“Techno is more than just music, it’s a total sensory experience”, Modeselektor’s Sebastian Szary told us when we interviewed the duo for our cover feature earlier this year. Well, if that’s the way they feel about it, we’re certain they’ll fully embrace opportunity to unleash their music in Colston Hall’s grandiose main room.
This year, Modeselektor released a documentary which charted their rise from small town German obscurity to arguably the biggest techno act in their country, if not the world. From releasing their now classic debut Hello Mom! in 2005, to running Monkeytown and 50 Weapons, to reprising their recent collaborative Moderat project, Sebastian Szary and Gernot Bronsert’s work has consistently influenced leftfield dance music on a global scale. As you the know, the aforementioned Moderat were initially booked for this slot, but due to Apparat’s recent motorcycle accident he was unable to perform, so Szary and Bronsert stepped in for a live set as Modeselektor.
Combining their wild theatrics and dutty bass, a Modeselektor set is a typically immersive experience. We’re sure Szary and Bronsert will induce levels of energy that the Colston Hall has seldom seen before, a more than appropriate scene on which to close the stunning Main Room.
OK, let’s get it out of the way … Yes, he is West Philadelphia born and raised. But far from being a novelty act, Jazzy Jeff is genuinely one of the most skilled turntablists on the planet; a man who’s been honing his reputation for slaying parties across the world with mash-up bedlam for going on 30 years.
With an arsenal of sounds, from hip-hop to dubstep, brought to life by a prodigious flair for cutting and scratching, Jeff appeals to some of the key virtues of the Red Bull Music Academy: technical mastery, diversity, and the indispensable worth of experience. Having made contributions to Red Bull Music Academy Radio, it’s fitting that he appears on the institution’s Firestation stage. Getting the day off to an explosive start, he’s sure to draw a huge crowd for his 15:40 set over at The Island complex. Get there early for a rousing education.
By punctuating dense, shoegazey clouds of melodic distortion with bratty, US hardcore influenced four chord bangers, No Age’s sound often gets described as ‘ambient punk’. The fact that this ambitious, oxymoronic formula has been conjured by just two individuals – Randy Randall (guitar/effects) and Dean Spunt (drums/vocals) is nothing short of amazing, and the LA band’s performances have provoked scenes reminiscent of the pandemonium caused at the punk shows that inspired them.
This summer, No Age dropped their highly anticipated third album An Object. For this record, the duo shredded up their formula, putting together an album with unconventional song structures, cellos, re-wired guitar amps and de-tuned guitars.
When we spent some time with the band a few months back, they fondly reminisced about the energy and chaos of their last Bristol gig at Start The Bus. We’re so hyped to be bringing No Age back to this city for the first time in three years. The band are headlining The Colston Hall’s Howling Owl hosted Second Room. They’ll be taking to the stage at an hour that’s later than your average gig curfew, and we’re sure that bands on before them like Hookworms, Wet Nuns and Idles will have generated a suitably raucous atmosphere.
Through his various guises, his superstar pop production, his uncanny and alluring field recordings and his unfailingly gorgeous piano work, we always knew that deep down, Jon Hopkins had a world-beating techno album in the locker. And unless you’ve been in a new music-proofed cell for the last few months, you’ll know he’s just gone and made it.
Immunity, complete with the irresistibly abrasive earworm single Open Eye Signal, is simply the best electronic album of 2013, and the finest work of Hopkins’ esteemed career. It’s also made the small step of taking techno to the Mercury Prize nominees list.
This Saturday Hopkins performs his hugely lauded live show alongside an illustrious cast on the Red Bull Music Academy Presents: The Firestation stage. This unique setting welcomes RBMA alumni such as Evian Christ, Doc Daneeka and Benjamin Damage, as well as the best party DJ on the planet Jazzy Jeff, hip-hop agitator Mykki Blanco and Berlin techno stalwart Marcel Dettmann in an exhilaratingly diverse line-up.