AI NO DERRIDA

Thursday, 18 November 2010

proto-hauntologists (an irregular series), #2




Even more proto-hauntological than Mount Vernon Arts Lab! These releases came out in 1995 or 1996. Note that one of the tracks is named "Hobbs End", a good five/six years ahead of Mulholland's Quatermass-referencing LP.

The Lower Depths was the later version of a trio who went by the name D-Generation. Not to be confused with the scuzz'n'roll group from New York operating at roughly the same time, D-Generation received a morsel of hype in 1994 in the UK music press. Not too hard to work out which journalist was responsible for the Melody Maker piece below ... But who can guess which member of this parish was actually in the group?

D-Generation are highly influenced by '60s mod and freakbeat. This Manchester trio took their name from The Eyes' "My Degeneration", a parody of The Who's anthem. D-Generation love the psychedelic/psychotic intensity of freakbeat bands like The Eyes, John's Children, The Creation, but they don't want to recreate it. Psychedelia means abusing technology, they argue, and today that means fucking with samplers and sequencers, not guitars.

Unlike These Animal Men and Blur, D-Generation haven't forgotten that mod was short for modernist. The original mods wanted to fast-forward into the future, not replay lost golden ages. So D-Generation's "psychedelic futurism" draws on ambient and jungle--music that's absolutely NOW, absolutely BRITISH. And instead of the usual iconography of swinging London or English whimsy, D-Generation pledge allegiance to a "dark, deviant tradition" of Englishness that includes The Fall, Syd Barrett, Wyndham Lewis, Powell/Pressburger and Michael Moorcock.

D-Generation's atmospheric dance is like a twilight-zone Ultramarine--lots of English imagery, but instead of bucolic bliss, the vibe is urban decay, dread and disassociation. On their EP "Entropy In the UK", "73/93" rails against the "Nostalgia Conspiracy", using Doctor Who samples of "no future". D-Generation call their music "techno haunted by the ghost of
punk" and on 'The Condition Of Muzak' that's literally the case, as it samples Johnny Rotten's infamous taunt: 'ever get the feeling you've been cheated?".

Originally, the target was rave culture itself, but this has widened out, says band ideologue Simon Biddell, "to implicate the entire culture of cynical irony." Then there's "Rotting Hill", a stab at "a 'Ghost Town' for the '90s"; Elgar's patriotic triumphalism is offset by samples from the movie Lucky Jim--"Merrie England? England was never merry!".

D-Generation, says Biddell, are dismayed by the way "young people are content to embrace a rock canon handed down to them, and seem unable to embrace the present, let alone posit a future." But they're optimistic about the emergence of "a counter-scene, bands like Disco Inferno, Bark Psychosis, Pram, Insides, who are using ambient and techno ideas but saying something about the 'real world', not withdrawing from it".

Add D-Generation to the list of this nation's saving graces.



Incidentally, I have a clip of the piece as printed with a photograph of D-Generation, including the parishioner sporting long hair.

3 comments:

  1. Wee, I think I remember reading that piece, or one with a spookily similar slant - in particular the bit about being inspired by the past but not recreating it. Was it yerself or Neil Kulkarni wot wrote it?

    Also: photo - yes please!

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  2. Y'know, at the time I assumed you'd invented them...!

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  3. a lot of people thought i'd just made them up

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