Tattoo You?

Based on this article on BBC website and the research of Dr. Andrew Timming and various assumptions that can and are drawn from research regarding tattoos and employability.

I’m not really concerned with majority of the article. In many ways it’s a nonsense piece. However, there are some assertions made that require being put into some sort of perspective.

This passage from the section subtitled ‘Tidal wave’ is of particular note:

However academic Andrew Timming at St Andrews University, who has researched the role of tattoos in hiring practices, says a change in attitudes is inevitable.

“There’s a tidal wave of young people with tattoos these days and they’re not always going to be young.”

“Employers are going to have to accept that they’re integral to the fabric of society and accept that they may potentially have a place at work.”

 

The second comment is worthy of reading several times. Surely the BBC researcher/interviewer didn’t quite do their job as thoroughly as they should have? Makes Andrew appear somewhat confused in what he’s trying to say.

What’s even more ridiculous is the suggestion that tattoos have agency and a role to play in the action/decision making process. Are tattoos active? Let’s not try and gift them with some sort of power. The decisive power and choice lies with the people who have tattoos and those who decide against them or are concerned about the effect tattooed employees might have on their businesses. Are tattoos integral to the fabric of society? Perhaps that’s still a while coming.

A change in attitudes is inevitable, is also questionable. Yes, some attitudes change, perhaps soften around the edges, but someone who has a spider’s web tattooed on their face or CFC on their forehead, does not mean that they will be working for the Palace anytime soon.  We’ll have to wait for that revolution, regardless of what ACAS might say.

The final assertion in the section labelled ‘Missing out’, requires some examination.

In his research Dr Timming found there were some organisations where a tattoo might be deemed an asset – those marketing towards younger people, including bars and clubs or in the creative industries where it can be seen as a sign of original thinking.

 

Marketing towards younger people.  Are these the same people in the tidal wave of which some won’t even be young? Are those working in bars and clubs really going to spend a lifetime doing this job because of their tattoos?

The creative industries where it’s a sign of original thinking? Does that mean anyone who doesn’t have a tattoo is somehow lacking in original thinking? Really? The degree of modification, recuperation and absorption into the daily fabric is quite perplexing. A couple of propositions from Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle seem especially relevant and applicable here:

165 The capitalist production system has unified space, breaking down the boundaries between one society and the next. This unification is also a process, at once extensive and intensive, of trivialization.

and

172 … But the general trend toward isolation, which is the essential reality of urbanism, must also embody a controlled reintegration of the workers based on the planned needs of production and consumption. Such an integration into the system must recapture isolated individuals as individuals isolated together.

 

To my way of thinking, the recuperation, that this article is clearly an agent of, is generally presented by quite benign, non-threatening means. Slightly ‘fluffy’ newspaper articles, usually backed by some sort of research of a qualitative nature transformed into ‘numbers’ and attached to an illusory pretence of a scientific method. Humorous end of the news, light hearted pieces that everyone can chuckle about.

Essentially this is really an attempt to get everyone employed regardless of possible barriers or impediments and to create favourable conditions of reception and acceptance.

196 … meanwhile, from within the various disciplines in which structuralism has taken root, an apologetics of the spectacle is disseminated as the thought of non­thought, as an authorized amnesia with respect to historical practice. As forms of enslaved thought, however, there is nothing to choose between the fake despair of a nondialectical critique on the one hand and the fake optimism of a plain and simple boosting of the system on the other.

 

There are some marvelously, descriptive phrases here that really capture the working of the system and the promulgation of its ideology by unwitting agents using the scientific tools of the day to create the winning argument to create acceptance being disseminated by an official, authoritative outlet. I might well be using a very large hammer, in the shape of Debord’s text, to counter a ‘fluff’ piece but unfortunately this is a good example of the Spectacle at work. Ideology at its best!

Whilst the probable aim of this article is perhaps to offer solutions to ensure employment is maintained as much as possible and that exclusion, for whatever reason, is maintained at low enough level,s to ensure ‘full’ employment, one should keep in mind that whilst something might appear to have a sort of rationality, you should not confuse the things of logic with the logic of things.

Why Markit/CIPS PMI is Speculative At Best

In reference to this news article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37274279

Why would the above article be of any use or news to either musicians and more importantly to economists who don’t do music? Well, here goes.

Before the introduction of barcodes and point of sales data, music charts were compiled by teams of researchers asking record store owners how particular records were selling/doing in their store that week. They were never asked how many units were sold. At best it was a guesstimate with no hard sales figures. Essentially a ‘quality’ was converted into a number, treated as an incontrovertible fact. Many records and artists received variously hued discs in recognition of sales of said items. Even the production numbers from record labels did not provide an accurate accounting of sales as record labels tended to press more than they sold, destroyed the unsold items and only reported the sold items. Doing this ensured that a record didn’t look like a ‘dud’!

Once hard data items were deployed using point of sales systems i.e. barcodes, the landscape of the music charts changed. Arguably streaming brings a whole other dimension into play but we’ll leave this for another day.


So what does all of this have to do with the article anyway? It struck me when reading it, and researching very quickly how the survey is compiled, that it is very similar to telephone researchers phoning up record stores and getting a less than accurate response back that is then converted into numbers to be treated as hard data that results in an improvement in the UK economy that results in a positive forecast of growth. If ever economics wanted to be a treated as a science then this piece of chicanery is a piece of arch deception.

Plainly speaking, it is a company (Markit and CIPS) ‘innovation’, PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index ) whereby they create a tool of impatience and charge you for the use of it whereby hard data is fed back to all interested parties resulting in one of three positions:

  • Positive – improvement in the economic outlook
  • Negative – a downturn in the economic outlook
  • No Change – better than the previous forecast but potential a downward trend

So what is the score required to result in a positive outlook? 50! Achieving a score better than 50 can improve the economic outlook of the country, improve currency value and growth predictions. The opposite, rather like being downgraded by credit agencies, can result in negative effects.

However, let us be clear, this is wholly based upon a business manager’s subjective opinion of how well their business is performing. It’s a tool of impatience and therefore a tool of false economy, because, allegedly, the real hard data arrives too late to be of use, so they end up creating something that is an impression at best and not real. Huh??!


Economics is illusory. It deals in a sophisticated and elaborate illusion of science and data mixed in a way that they should not have. Even the economist Fredrich Hayek had this to say about data:

But Hayek pointed out that the data are not “given.” The data do not exist, and cannot exist, in any one mind or small number of minds. Rather, each individual has knowledge about particular resources and potential opportunities for using these resources that a central planner can never have. The virtue of the free market, argued Hayek, is that it gives the maximum latitude for people to use information that only they have. In short, the market process generates the data. Without markets, data are almost nonexistent. Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

 

It could be argued that Markit/CIPS and their PMI survey are the free market but they are a bureaucratic instrument masquerading as free market agents. When they created the reporting mechanism they created an instrument that is very ‘Statist’. Secondly, by sampling the thoughts of businesses they could argue that they are operating mindfully of the ‘small number of minds’ and gathering data of a ‘market consciousness’. However the problem is already apparent when freedom/freewill is removed by the publication of this data. What in truth happens is that the qualitative views of business are transformed into numbers that affect the stock market that ultimately leads to affecting the Nation’s Financial health, prosperity and growth. Clearly not what Hayek was advocating and why this is a bureaucratic instrument rather than a business tool.


The key problem here is that Markit/CIPS and all the industry commentators must allow the illusion to exist without question. They do not realise the degree to which they are agents of the State rather than free market agents. If this were so then they’d behave in a more renegade/independent/radical fashion, for example, as George Soros or Warren Buffet et. al rather than in this ultra conservative herd mentality. In many ways they operate like A&R men where the classic joke punchline is:

I don’t know, what do you think?

 


In the end what should you do? In the absence of any other valid and possible game being played or system of measurement based on fact, you are going to have to rely on some bloke’s opinion of how his business is doing and that opinion being converted into data which is then used to determine your nation’s fiscal health and growth for the coming quarter. It’s an abstraction rendered as truth delivered by an illusory mechanism masquerading as business intelligence. An oxymoron if ever there was one. What we have here are risk averse people attempting to create as much false security as possible whilst profiting from the use of their tool, purchase of reports etc. Unless everyone chooses to reject it which is never going to happen.


All we are left with is a subjective personal opinion/impression that leads to a nation embarking on the roller coaster of uncertainty being navigated every quarter with no relief from the constant chatter of those who seem to not grasp what they’ve signed up for. File under: Intelligent for all the wrong reasons!

BoJo Blue Plaque – Love It

The British are such an enterprising people, especially Londoners!

You have got to love a response like this as an alternative to egg or tomatoes!

“Boris Johnson, 1964 -, BOJO, destroyer of cosmopolitan unity & passer of buck lives here,”

 

Wish there was more of it.

 

Kygo and Primacy or Why I’m Not an Avicii Copy!

I love the words and lengths people go to to justify or make claims for something. One case in point is this article in Billboard that concerns Kygo, Diplo, Coldplay and Avicii.

I think it’s always interesting when the ‘how did you get started’ question is asked. Here Kygo (Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll) recalls

Avicii’s melodies were so simple and cool, and they were actually similar to the melodies I played on piano

 

Notice the order of events. Avicii’s melodies were similar to his melodies and not the other way round. To reverse the propositions would be to admit the possibility of copying, inferiority, authenticity and to go against the ‘we’re all creative’ paradigm that seems to beset everyone. Could you imagine a young Eric Clapton being interviewed and asked the same question by responding ‘well I noticed that Muddy Water’s guitar playing and licks were similar to mine’? Of course not. Sounds ridiculous. So does Kygo’s reasoning. It’s mere camouflage for originality.

A case of the ‘cart before the horse’!

Clint Eastwood and Authority to Speak

I like Clint or at least I like some of his films, pretty much across his career. However, his inability (and it is inability) to see what’s inherently wrong and has always been wrong, causes one to ponder what sort of position this speaks of?

So, in the first instance we should consider whether the thoughts and opinions of someone who is successful in a particular part of industry, Entertainment in this case, should be given prominence. Sure he may well be influential to those who ‘identify’ with his ‘hard ass’ image. However it is/was the cultivation of an onscreen persona and habitus that has drifted into the ‘real world’ to become reified and verified as ‘concrete’.

In this instance are his thoughts and opinions more valid and noteworthy than anyone else? Are they meaningful and what do they tell us that we did not already know or, at least, suspect? Sure a magazine wanted to interview him because they want to ‘sell some issues’ but at what price your soul when it can be bargained so cheaply?

Who grants authority to speak? The papers, magazines, TV stations, journalists? On one level they all do.  They create a means, ‘the story’, by which a form of ‘truth’ is supplied but always presented with little challenge or counter balance. That is not the purpose of these reports ‘we just report the facts’. It’s a shame really that there’s little in the way of interplay and challenge. Eastwood is essentially allowed print and airtime to put forward a rather crooked set of values under the guise of integrity.

Perhaps the most worrying part of all of this is that his claim that there was a time when none of the spiel put forward by Trump was considered as racist. It is here where one questions, yes there were different rules in place but these were at the point of lynchings, shootings, having to use different restrooms, bars, eateries, buses and so on. Because it happened does it somehow excuse what goes on now when clearly Trump is playing the race card in a play of divide and conquer? The US Military used black soldiers, racial inferiority, for experimental programmes. This was also believed, at the time, to be OK and a ‘rationally’ based decision. In fact there are a catalogue of unethical medical experiments conducted on black slaves and their descendants. Some of the issues are around race and some around poverty. However all of them were deemed to be sound for their time.

There was a time when women didn’t have the vote, or go a bit further back most men were not allowed to vote or own property or you could purchase opiates and cocaine quite legally. Whilst all of these have been past practices and are now acknowledged as being wrong can or should they be excused just because they happened? Eastwood in many ways deploys ambiguity by playing games with historical perception (dehistoricisation) and universalism (there was a time when this was OK). Following Eastwood’s logic you could employ a form of legitimacy for every aberrant societal convention that hid the true facts of what was going on. Namely the total domination and subjugation of a race(s), class, gender or other, for the benefit of the ruling class which is everyone in the society who believes their practices to be ‘natural’ and ordained by God as a means to obscure their arbitrariness.

The real problem isn’t that Eastwood spoke his mind. He can think whatever he wishes to. No, the real issue is that he’s been given coverage and access, and that his utterances remain wholly unchallenged on a face to face, point by point basis. Essentially they’ve let some old rich bloke have his way and it’s been allowed to happen in the name of the ‘special interest’ as a cover for family values. It’s not. It might as well be a couple of blokes in an EDL pub in Bermondsey. The lack of challenge is the problem. Where violence is committed against a society, a race, a gender, a person and so on and that violence remains unchallenged, then it is considered Symbolic. What Eastwood has done is not going to lead to outbreaks of civil unrest. The Symbolism of the event however is not defused. This is what journalists should be doing. Rendering a service to the world by negating and nullifying acts of Symbolic Violence that are perpetrated on a daily basis. But the lifestyle mag coupled with resyndication has allowed the violence to propagate.

When the words on side of the Brexit bus were found to be false, has anyone been held to account? Nope, make BoJo Foreign Secretary, he’ll keep all those Johnny foreigners in their place; Norman Tebbit and ‘get on your bike’ definitely symbolic violence perpetrated against a class of labour and the destruction of community. Blame Liverpool fans at Hillsborough? All are examples of Symbolic Violence, because they remained largely unchallenged and held to be ‘truthful’, conducted by the state or a political class (if there’s such a thing). Any dissent was curtailed quickly. Murdoch is responsible for so much of this, but then you knew that didn’t you?

The violence continues publicly in a number of forms especially where celebrity is allowed to pronounce without being challenged on fact, where power is allowed to soften its image so as to beguile, wherever money is allowed to win because its money and everyone seems to be so horny for it that they no longer think rationally when it’s around. See it for what it is. Call it what it is. The simple solution to Symbolic Violence is to challenge it at the moment it happens. Diminish its power and expose it for what it truly is.

Overall, I doubt anyone in the press or media will change partly because of job insecurity but also because no one likes a smart arse! Everyone seems to prefer inhabiting the surface rather than diving deep.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Orwell

He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it

Belated Response to John Harris – @Guardian

So, here’s an interesting article that essentially outlines a position that I recognise and identify with. Unfortunately I’m a bit late to the party as I’m not a Guardian reader.

There are a couple of things to observe here. The first is a key, missing aspect of Debord’s work from the Society of the Spectacle and that is the activity identified as ‘Recuperation‘. I say this partly because Harris has left it out and it is a central part of the theory. But more importantly in the comments section there is clear indication of how little some people have understood.

Is Debord an example of metaphysical meandering? No. I think it’s reasonably straight forward and has obvious application, more so now than ever.

Is it a difficult read? Yes and no. I think one of the goals is to read and to consider applicability in the everyday. One sees it all around us. However the Matrix analogy used by Harris is one that has occurred to me on numerous occasions.

Is it right to identify an aspect as practised by society, e.g. social media, as the locus for this discontent? No. It is everywhere. Whether it is gambling responsibly (is there such a thing?), or lottery winners to political parties aligning with ‘hard working families’ whilst profiting from compound interest and inheritance. Wherever there is the possibility of resistance and difference, then it is the purpose of the ‘Recuperation’ to ‘nullify’. It is like a single celled blob/virus that has the capacity to incorporate (consume), regardless, and allow a variety of practices to be absorbed before they can threaten the ‘construct’. How else can you account for corporate punk rock? If ever the words pivot were applicable, rather than in a business sense, then it is in this instance. The Spectacle has the capacity to pivot and absorb quite schismatic ideas and concepts into its framework. Almost everything operates or achieves a meme like status that allows it to pass unrecognised into daily use and to hide in plain sight.

The question of what would be an adequate resistance is complex. I do believe that one part of a resistance is to not use someone else’s name, such as Richard Dawkins or Malcolm Gladwell etc, to stand in place of individual thought, opinion and discussion. It is here where the ‘recuperation’ can claim a victory, where the use of a ‘star’ to stand in place of considered argument, dissension or resistance.

Perhaps to break off into smaller particles of thought, spread amongst all of humanity and not managed by government or corporations or the media, is probably part of the solution to the problem of the ‘recuperation’.

Advice On What To Do

I’ve just written this article and you should head on over to here to read more.

I don’t think it’s an easy question to respond to.
So here’s my best guidance/advice:

1. As you are in this position what is/was your plan or intention?
2. How close are you from actioning your plan?

3. If not close what steps do you need to undertake to get closer to realising your plan?

4. What role do other people play in this, if any? They can still be your friends but the question is to what degree are they invested in the project you have together and how do you think removing yourself from it would be received?

5. Question 4 is irrelevant if it doesn’t get you closer to your goal.

6. To what extent have you identified the sorts of skills/resources (including human) that you will need to access, to get closer towards realising what you wanted to do when you decided to study?

7. If you don’t or didn’t have a plan then points 2-6 are meaningless until you have something of substance.

Balanced with all of this is being able to produce material that works in whichever part of the Commercial Music field you would like to position yourself. Do you know yet? Who are the best players in that field, identify them, work out why they are top of their domain and try and be better. And if you can’t be better then be different enough to make a distinction and/or difference. It’s easy to dismiss another rapper, DJ, singer, metal band, producer etc and not comprehend the, whilst not uniqueness, a sufficient difference to make the abstracted artistic persona/identity, tangible. At the core of all of this will always be songs and performances that have something that are reasonably difficult to replace or substitute with. At least in the beginning. When you find out who the top players are in your field, listen to their early songs, the ones that got them noticed, signed, attention and think what would that look like now as the world has moved on and become that little bit more hip to the sound.

Head on over to here to read more.

Morgan Page – Open Heart Ft Lissie (Seb Konstantine Remix)

This is probably one of my favourite remixes of the past year. Most remixes I tend to keep for a few months on Soundcloud and then delete once they’ve out stayed their welcome.

The things that I look for in a remix and aim at for myself as a guiding principal is to do something that takes it away from the original an steers it in a new direction. This doesn’t necessarily mean put it in an already existing genre that would be acceptable but to really try something. there are some songs where this is a possibility. Sometimes it means trying two, three or however many versions until you arrive at one that seems to resonate. However there are just as many lying buried on a hard drive that failed to even get off the ground.

I like voices. I especially like voices that have some sort of quality to them, some sort of grit. Clearly Lissie has this and it really comes out. If you get a chance to just listen to the voice without the music then you’ll probably hear this quality. She’s got a sound that’s very reminiscent of many female artists, especially from the 70s.

Anyway, the remix type I opted for was one where I tried to keep the vocal performance in its entirety with as few edits as possible other than the insertion of space to allow for new sections of differing length. SI also wanted to integrate the acoustic and electric guitar parts at some point, played, I assume, by Morgan Page and piano. To these I overlayed some more acoustic and electric guitar parts and additional piano.

The overall aim was to make something of a heavier acoustic ballad track that was the opposite of the original and its electronic setting. Within this overall style aim was the drive to create something that allowed for a developing narrative to emerge as the song progressed. As much as I like voices, I also like sounds and instruments. I think it’s great when producers are comfortable not to succumb to the ‘tyranny of the voice’ and not allow anything else to come through.

I think my attempts are evident in the following sections. The middle, starting at 1’59” and the extended outro starting from 3’36”. They’re all demonstrative of my aim and working practice. The process is less refined or defined in the beginning, partly because I’m working on capturing a feeling or sense of something I’ve associated with the song. Many of the sections are built over time and generally jammed through and then refined.

Anyway, I hope you’ll have a listen to all versions of this track. Page still has the files available on Splice if you fancy doing your own remix.

Creativity with a Small c

I attended an event not so long ago where the conversation turned to creativity (luckily Innovation took the night off). It seemed to me that everyone wanted to claim some portion of it and the list of ‘creative’ endeavours and what constituted creativity are lengthy and quite laborious, particularly when espoused by learned individuals who associate with companies ‘known’ for creativity or at least inspiring it.

But here’s the thing. So little of what is done actually moves people. Very little of it, if ever, means something to anyone and it seems that any passing ‘guru’ or disruptor can claim the space without actually ever doing a thing of value to deserve the ‘crown of distortion’. Observation is a marvelous thing, especially when allied with hindsight coupled with not actually having to do anything under the guise of ‘facilitation’. There are many sites that tell you what you can do to be creative in writing essays or ‘think differently’ or ‘do stuff differently at work’ or ‘don’t be boring’, and yet the very thing practiced by the individual exhorting everyone else to be creative is poor at best. Frequently it is also wrapped in a veneer of self deprecation that suggests ‘hey guys, I’m just like you, please don’t pick on me’! I suppose it could be summed up as a behaviour type.

Open Culture ran a very small Eno video that ‘mourned’ the loss of humanity in music. Of course it got retweeted by everyone who identifies with this loss or is at least sympathetic to the ’cause’. But is this the truth? Is it representative and is it fair? Do we need to be fair or should we accept unmitigated opinion for the sake of ‘being provocative’? I suppose the retweet, especially of someone like Eno that stands in place for considered dialogue, is the most that these creatives are capable of mustering in the absence of any real dialogue. It’s not really a solution is it? It doesn’t seek to discuss the topic and is symptomatic of the person lacking ‘cojones’ to speak a truth against power. Eno commands a lot of attention in some circles, and many seem to gift power to him. So much so that he can ‘name his successor’ in that pseudo-aristocratic practice! However not everything that he says is right, nor should it be blown up to become meaningful when it isn’t. It is just the sound of an old bloke being asked his opinion for the millionth time in his own echo chamber.

It is at this point that I should wrap my closing comments in a cloak of self deprecation, so that you don’t pick on me, but I won’t because what I’ve written is observational and seeks to redress the balance where there is none. Perhaps the goal of media is to always be biased and perhaps we should view those who do media studies with suspicion!

From The Society of the Spectacle (Debord), it seems that proposition 60 is applicable to Eno:

Media stars are spectacular representations of living human beings, distilling the essence of the spectacle’s banality into images of possible roles. Stardom is a diversification in the semblance of life the object of an identification with mere appearance which is intended to compensate for the crumbling of directly experienced diversifications of productive activity. (Guy Debord)

 

The ‘diversifications of productive activity’ might well encompass the very works that Eno and his followers disapprove of. I also believe that proposition 63 has a lot applicability as well:

What spectacular antagonisms conceal is the unity of poverty. Differing forms of a single alienation contend in the masquerade of total freedom of choice by virtue of the fact that they are all founded on real repressed contradictions. Depending on the needs of the particular stage of poverty that it is supposed at once to deny and sustain, the spectacle may be concentrated or diffuse in form.

In either case, it is no more than an image of harmony set amidst desolation and dread, at the still center of misfortune. (Guy Debord)

I realise that for some the reaction, naturally, will be to ‘defend’ Eno but the opposite requires defence. That music as practised and made by young people, generationally different from Eno and the phalanx of retweeters, might actually display different values and reasons for making the music they choose to make. Are the younger generation somehow less creative, in constructing the soundtrack of their times?

When change happens, something always gets lost to make space for something new. Isn’t it better to allow the space for the new and potentially exciting thing rather than cling on to what never was and can’t be reclaimed?

Sample Library Manufacturers

I use Ableton and there are a load of small quite niche oriented sample library makers. I love the versatility and I love discovering things within the packs and to repurpose them. One such plugin pack, which comes free with Ableton, is Hecq The Forge.

Generally things go well in the world of bespoke sample packs but occasionally there are packs with unresolved file references. Recently, I’ve purchased packs from two sources that exhibit this problem. Personally, I expect not to encounter any dialogue box telling me that the file can’t be found. However, when it’s quite clear to me that the issue concerns file naming conventions then it should be a straightforward swap.

Of the two manufacturers, one replied with courtesy and didn’t take me for a ‘numpty’ and the other one was so full of himself that any decent discussion was never going to get off the ground. the latter developers’ position was that the (paying) customer was always wrong. If you’re interested I’d spent nearly £100 with this developer. Their username Starts with a Z but doesn’t have a G in it!

There is a certain arrogance among some of the smaller providers that all issues are the users and not them. Of course they’ve probably modelled their approach on that taken by Native Instruments who have never responded to a single email. However, many developers and sample companies are great and people could learn a lot from someone like Steve Duda creator of Serum and LFOTool. Even big companies like Waves respond with very little prompting.

So well done to the other developer, Afro DJ Mac, for hanging in there. Take a bow!