'In 1964, a computer - the IBM 1401 Data Processing System - arrived in Iceland, one of the very first computers to be imported into the country. The 1401 has been called the "Model T" of the computer industry - the first affordable, mass produced digital business computer . The chief maintenance engineer for this machine was Jóhann Gunnarsson, my father. A keen musician, he learned of an obscure method of making music on this computer - a purpose for which this business machine was not at all designed. The method was simple. The computer's memory emitted strong electromagnetic waves and by programming the memory in a certain way and by placing a radio receiver next to it, melodies could be coaxed out - captured by the receiver as a delicate, melancholy sine-wave tone.
When the IBM 1401 was taken out of service in 1971, it wasn't simply thrown away like an old refrigerator, but was given a little farewell ceremony, almost a funeral, when its melodies were played for one last time. This "performance" was documented on tape along with recordings of the sound of the machine in operation.
When my father told me about this in the year 2001, I felt that, besides being a nice, touching story, it reflected many things that I was interested in. Man-machine interaction, old, discarded technology, the nostalgia for old computers, human and artificial intelligence, technological progress and human evolution, the "spirit" and the machine. I started to write music using those themes, basing it on those 30 year old recordings of the IBM 1401 computer.' (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
'Demdike Stare's music is concerned with opposing forces: decay and resurrection, loss and discovery, past and future, beauty and ugliness. It's almost inevitable, given that it's informed by the duo's previous work in two ostensibly opposite musical fields. Miles Whittaker has spent years making grainy and often abrasive techno as MLZ and one half of Pendle Coven, and more recently has been responsible for a series of hybrid dancefloor tracks that unite dubstep's sprawling sense of the urbane with dub-techno's rickety intensity; Sean Canty works for the Finders Keepers label, unearthing ancient and lost recordings and giving them a new lease of life. So while one half of the duo appears defiantly futurist, tapping into a lineage that began with Detroit techno's obsession with dystopian future worlds, the other's work is concerned with tunneling backwards into the past. Their records teem with the sounds of that apparent contraction, but reconcile its two halves into a form that's strikingly coherent.'
'It'd be a mistake to assume that all retrospective thought is filtered through rose-tinted spectacles. It'd be equally remiss to think of the act of remembering as an uncreative function. Some might contend that Ghost Box, an electronic music label actively engaged in a dialogue with days gone by, is merely an exercise in retro chic. But embedded in the heart of every retro aesthetic is the belief that yesterday is demonstrably better than today, and Ghost Box artists can hardly be said to offer a cosy refuge from modernity.'
'... in this paper, I will attempt to demonstrate what I consider an underdeveloped — perhaps even previously undeveloped — avenue within experimental music. I contend that The Caretaker’s latest work, entitled Patience (After Sebald), raises important questions about the nature of memory through the sampling and manipulation of an early 20th century recording of the Franz Schubert song cycle Winterreise. I will discuss the conceptual situation of Patience (After Sebald), in particular, the critical theory concept of hauntology, and how differing notions of the ontology of art music versus popular music affect the critical interpretation of hauntological works.' Blake Durham
'Although it is already old, considering hauntology as either genre, aesthetic or zeitgeist is problematic; and is so for precisely all of the reasons that it claims to be each of these things. As nostalgia for lost futures or mourning for utopia, it falls into for the exact problems of utopianism that lead to its initial loss. It is also these problems that hauntology was developed to overcome, so its reduction precisely to them is somewhat ironic, if not cause for yet another mourning. Thus through exploring the way in which hauntology has been co-opted by the over-theoretisation of music, and indeed art more generally, in such a way that repeats these problems, I will also show the way for a return to hauntology as a solution to these problems and the affirmation of a more radical thinking for the future.'
'Between the new Burial EP, the new Caretaker album, and the new Belbury Poly album--to say nothing of the rumours of a new Boards of Canada album, cruelly squashed though they were--this has been something of a banner year for hauntology. Perhaps even more than Burial at this point, whose Kindred EP was so fascinating precisely because it seemed the first glimpse of where his sound might go beyond hauntology, the releases on the Ghost Box label (and possibly those of the Caretaker) are the last vestiges of hauntology as that style was being defined in the middle part of the last decade, a kind of "pure" hauntology. The Belbury Tales is an able realization of that style, perhaps even a peak that's come long after hauntology is no longer fashionable.'
'Such is the appetite for real radiophonic inspired recordings that recent reissues have become an industry in themselves, with the now rightly celebrated and previously underrated greats of British electronic experimentation, like Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram and John Baker, the subject of lavish and brilliantly documented packages. We’re now celebrating an era of British electronic innovation that was both as mainstream as Doctor Who and as underground as anything else in the world in its field.
These rediscovered artists have in turn inspired a new generation of new electronic innovators mixing up a skewed take on their folk history, with wonky forward looking electronics. Check out the intriguing and occasionally certifiable Moon Wiring Club, the bonkers Bee Mask, the post Detroit utopianism of Lone, electro maverick Keith Fullerton Whitman and his reissue programme of obscure electronic curiosities on the Creel Pone label, as well as a whole host of post dubstep purveyors haunted by the city bound, post rave resonances of that other hauntologist’s dream, Burial.'
'Julian and I agreed that one of the biggest problems with something like BBC1's Life on Mars is that has exactly the opposite emphasis: it is all foreground and no background. Life on Mars forces its 70s props into our face because behind then there is a fundamental emptiness. This is partly why, in Life on Mars nothing feels lived in.
British TV's problem, we agreed, is that is too in thrall to film. The classic serials of the seventies produced a world you felt a part of, a sense of inclusion to which 'wobbly sets' somehow contributed. The professionalism and glossiness of current TV, by contrast, locks you out, subordinates you to Spectacle.'
'Why hauntology now? Well, has there ever been a time when finding gaps in the seamless surfaces of 'reality' has ever felt more pressing? Excessive presence leaves no traces. Hauntology's absent present, meanwhile, is nothing but traces....'
'A quick refresher: atemporality most simply refers to the idea that our experience of time is not necessarily as linear as we like to present it; that we don’t just move in a straight line from A to B in time but that we often experience aspects of the past, the present, and the future simultaneously, simply by virtue of our nature as remembering, imagining creatures — as I wrote in my last piece on this topic, we remember the future, imagine the present, and experience the past. Moreover, this phenomenon is intensified by technology and especially by technologies of documentation and sharing. Abandoned physical space, because of the way it encourages us to imagine our own ruined futures at the same time as we imagine an unruined past, is uniquely atemporal.'
'This [Flickr] group is for images you make where some part of a modern day scene is overlapped by an old photograph. For example, you hold up an old photo so that you can see its place in the modern context.'
'In this speech about the studio as composition tool, Eno directs our attention at a shift in our conception of music in relation to recording, which I believe is a perfect metaphor for what I view as the concept of "atemporality". (A guy responsible for The Long Now Foundation should have some idea, right?)'
'created by american brendan chilcutt, the 'museum of endangered sounds' is an online archive of the archaic noises of technology: the connecting of 56k modems, loading of VCRs, and operators of payphones. additional clips include a skipping CD and the gameplay music of 'mind maze' (the quiz game built into early versions of microsoft encarta).'
'If the term “ruin porn” has any utility, it may lie in the reminder it presents that what we see is only what we see, and what we see is often the construction of a gaze separate from our own. Just as pornography is a mediated creation based on sex without being an actual, unmediated representation of the act itself, we should understand images of anything in the same terms without mistaking them for the “real thing” - if for no other reason than because the “real thing” may prove impossible to pin down, both in terms of time and in terms of space. Images of ruined spaces are like temporal ghost stories: it is difficult to be sure if what we see is truly a fragment of an objective past, an echo of our own future, or simply a shifting chiaroscuro–a play of digital shadow and light.'
'So the music of Boards of Canada evoked a particular era in a highly coded manner -- sans lyrical content, through the mere choice of musical instrumentation, production, and style. Plus there are also the supplemental references evoked by track titles, sleeve art, accompanying visuals, and non-musical samples. These often involved allusions to both outmoded notions of technological progress, and to bygone counter-cultural aspirations (complete with many of its "Age of Aquarius" trimmings). Add to this repeated impressionist connotations of a Whole Earth Catalog-styled naturalism and excerpts from nature documentaries that filtered through the interludes, all signifying the idyllic, neo-Arcadian dreams of yesterday. But for each of these ideals there's an antithesis -- for each of these cultural quotes or signifiers would eventually offset by allusions to the withering or the demise of these ideals. References to hippie communal life and "alternative spirituality" of the 1960s inevitably canceled out by an oblique cross-reference to the Manson Family, the occult, or the Branch Davidians. The invocation of untarnished bucolic tranquility contrasted with the specter of encroaching industry, environmental degradation, technological alienation, etcetera.'
'Jacques Derrida's Spectres of Marx suggests that the ghost or specter haunts because it has come undone from time: it haunts from the past and the future. However if Derrida's version of the ghost is that of a paradoxically-embodied voice "out of joint" in time and space, Zizek's model is that of the Lacanian "barred subject" - a subject structurally "out of joint." The Lacanian model supposes a subject structured around an irrepresentable-impossible kernel, the Real, to which it cannot have access, instead anamorphically accessing "reality" through the work of "fantasy" - not a sustained illusion, but the way through which we structure reality ["truth has the structure of fiction"]. Zizek's claim, like Derrida's, is that now more than ever we find ourselves in a world of increasing virtualization, as it has always been. For Zizek, we are surrounded by a "plague of fantasies" - pseudo-concrete images which cover over the mounting abstractions at work in our lives.'