A Shout Out To Louis Barabbas

@Louis Barabbas

first of all I want to say thank you for playing my track on your radio show. It was an unexpected bonus, if that’s the right way to express it. I’m glad that you liked the interplay. Can this be said??, I am a fan of critical theory and find the applicability of ideas and concepts in the everyday to be enriching. I find that these ideas and approaches inform quite a lot of the material I choose to write.

I thought I’d give you a bit more background. A while ago I decided to do a drum and bass album entitled Critical Theory (seven tracks in total and not like the record label) which would be accompanied by mini-essays elaborating on the ideas that formed the impetus for the pieces. Ideas were drawn from people such as Marx, Althusser, Gramsci, and a fair slice of Bourdieu, as a means of allowing a discussion of sociological/philosophical ideas/works facilitated by music. The idea was that the music would always point to the larger written work and ideally disseminate these idea/theories in and amongst a listening public. I’ve completed the tunes and have the short-essays/abstracts to complete. I want the music and essays to enable ideas around music, its production and consumption to be debated by placing accompanying or competing arguments together rather than merely providing a one sided, totalising view but also its position in a changing world and its role as agent of social change.

Many of my ideas for pieces are triggered by everyday phrases or writing that seem to have a poeticism or meaning beyond the initial application and I feel the need to represent it in someway. I find the writing of Bourdieu or Foucault and many others to have these qualities. For example this passage from Foucault’s Archaeology of Knowledge:

‘It is influenced by the climate of ideas in any given era, and it therefore betrays – often unwittingly – the prejudices of its time and place’

To my mind this entirely applicable to Albini and anyone else who seeks to assert some sort of authority and control over taste making, expressive vehicles? I think the most difficult part of the Albini piece is the notion that there’s some sort of criterion or standard for the creative act/impulse and that the impulse or act for dance music is somehow inferior and therefore not ‘creative’ and comes up short. This blanket assumption should have been challenged by Hobbs but it seemed outside of her remit or that of her producer to do so.

Even though I don’t agree with Albini, his flow is quite interesting. His use of the pause, his quite musical lilting speech patterns located in and around Bb minor (Dorian mode due to the G natural rather than Aeolian). It’s a very measured diatribe and if there’s anything to be learned here it is that music and its valuing systems have been contested for far longer than many expect and that standards, whilst most will appear to be fixed, are flexible and constructed. The real questions though are, how and what does it make you feel? If, as Albini attests that he doesn’t like it nor listen to it, then why waste energy commenting on it? The quest for superiority/significance can manifest in many guises and the illusion or affectation of disinterest in his diatribe I feel is the real message to be examined. Put simply, it is an illusion!

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your time spent talking about the work and the ideas it brings up and for playing it on your show. I certainly find myself spinning off in other directions to counter the Albini Position and I’m glad it’s been received positively.

I’ll finish with a Mark Twain quote:

‘Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world–and never will.’




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