Well, I can summarize Sunday really quick: I slept in late; a student woke me up around noon to ask me about an internet problem, then I went back to sleep. Then I spent a few hours writing the post for Saturday night, then I went back to sleep. At some point, I made some pasta and drank some of that Aslatian red wine that I had bought on Friday. It was good, but not as tasty as whatever Alsatian red I had at Bofinger a month ago.
So, what to do with all the empty space in this post? Fill it with crap from Saturday that I forgot to post in Saturday's post. First off, I have this video from a moment in Richie Hawtin's set (it's 50MB large because I was loathe to compress it, so I suggest you right-click(PC) or option+click(Mac) it and download it for viewing). As I had suggested towards the end of my post for Saturday, there is a certain way that Richie organizes his sets that allows him to "get away" with injecting more abstract, non-dancefloor-friendly tracks between the pounding, "woo! partay!" ones. This video actually marks a moment when Richie makes a return from a "sparse" track to a "full" track. However, the puny internal mic attached to my camera only captured the middle band of the frequency spectrum, so the effect is entirely lost. It's funny, because this moment was pretty electric as I recorded it, but it's pretty unexceptional when you strip away the hi's and the lo's.
Actually, I want to retract the terms "sparse" and "full" as well as "low" vs. "high" intensity, and replace them with some other terms yet to be determined (will I have to resort to a Chakrabarty-style "type 1/type 2" binary?). Some of the "episode" tracks he used were very full with the density of musical layers they employed, and some of the "return" tracks only consisted of a pounding bass kick and a few well-placed, high-pitched samples. Similarly, I can think of many minimal, sparse, abstract tracks that are very high-intensity (see esp. most of the work of Jeff Mills, whose aggressive minimalism was likened to monastic asceticism by Simon Reynolds).
As silly as it may sound, the two categories I am working with might be better termed "far out" and "right on." In keeping with my idea of Richie's sets as episodic structures of departure and return, it seems like some of the tracks in his set trace a path both away from and eventually back to a place that can only be located by generic (i.e., transposable, translatable) expectations. This set of expectations, in turn, is continually sedimented by the return to "right on" tracks; what is offered and accepted as "right on" sets the frame of reference for "far out," all of which might shift over the duration of a set.
On the other hand, "full" might be recuperable to something I'm getting at. The qualities of these "right on" tracks aren't entirely arbitrary. For me (and, based on verbal and nonverbal language, for most of the folks around me) tracks that mark arrival make greater use of the full sonic spectrum—and, thus, the utter failure of my video recording above. I think this points to a conceptual pivot around plenitude and presence. Somehow, immersion becomes density, saturation becomes precipitation, "now!" becomes "here!". If I run with this idea, I would also argue that this "pivot" works both ways. My body certainly remembers the tactile presence of sound during those "right on" tracks. When a broad spectrum of frequencies are pounded through the body at high volume, sound becomes materially present, even if temporally evanescent.
Underlying both sides of this is intensity. As I had suggested earlier, even the "far out"/episodic tracks can be intense, but, in "right on"/return tracks, this intensity somehow precipitates into the experience of presensence, fullness, immersion, density. Now, I don't mean to claim that intensity produces presence and plenitude in some absolute and universal sense. Rather, this aesthetic practice channels and stylizes an aspiration for density through intensity. In fact, I might reword things a bit and say that intensity precipitates into the feeling of all these things. I may not leave the club any more present or complete than I was when I arrived, but for the duration of those moments of return, I felt something.
Holy crap! That's a lot of writing, and I didn't even get to my second topic for today. That will have to wait for tomorrow's post. In the meanwhile, here's some notes to myself about where to take this thread:
- What about the social? Where does the crowd fit into this?
- Crowd as a cluster of people present to each other's experiences of intensity/density.
- Not only is there an aspiration for presence and plenitude, but an aspiration for intimacy and connection.
- Intimacy here is itself an aspiration for a future together (thanks, Lauren Berlant), marked by a search for mutual emotional/affective transparency.
- "Do you feel it, too?"