Sunday, 16 May 2010

Hauntological Record Breaking

I didn't get a chance to go the Wire's Hauntology Salon a few weeks ago, but I recently listened to the recording of the event from the Wire's website. I was struck by something that Adam Harper said, which was along the lines of "'Indignant Senility's Wagner project is the furthest back that Hauntology has gone". Now, personally I don't think the Indignant Senility record is particularly good, as it brings absolutely nothing to the table that isn't already done better in the Caretaker, and acts as a continuation of the reduction of the interesting aspects of hauntology into a kit of aesthetic parts. This is despite Harper's protestations regarding the 'utopian' aspects of Wagner, which I'm not buying, especially after having just read Adorno's book on Mahler. Adorno's ideas about the inclusive nature of Mahler's sound world are a lot more suitable to Harper's notions of sonic collage, which he points out in Charles Ives, than the doubtless universes of Wagner. Hauntology, when it is interesting, is defined by weakness, a quality almost completely absent in Wagner but continually present in Mahler. While in hauntological music this weakness is often manifested in crackle, dust etc, in the pre-recording music of Mahler it is manifested not only by the use of common tunes inamongst his high art, but also in a continual refusal to make a definitive statement; his pieces are often arguments with themselves, making doubt into a creative force.

Anyway, I was digging around my hard drive today and I found the above piece, which surely must be the earliest hauntological source, unless somebody wants to do Palestrina or John Dowland... It's based on a fragment of Bach's Komm Süßer Tod, (Come, Sweet Death) which is also the source for Knut Nysted's utterly amazing 'Immortal Bach', which I've written about before, and is a lot more interesting than my simple and derivative sketch.

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