Thursday, 26 July 2012


“ We find it hard to identify what it is about a particular face or piece of music or building – or painting – that makes it entrancingly attractive. We see beauty more readily than we recognize its causes. Because of this our grip on our own experience is uncertain. We are open to corrupting influences because we don’t have confidence in our responses. The lack of confidence derives from the fact that we don’t understand why we think something is beautiful. By discussing the principles that, he claims, account for beauty Hogarth aims to give us confidence in our responses. This will deliver us safely from the hands of opinion-mongers and aesthetic quacks.”

“Most artists describe their work as experiments – part of a series of efforts designed to explore a common concern or to establish a viewpoint.”

- John Armstrong, “The Secret Power Of Beauty”


A reasoning of my actions. The desire for authenticity. - Reasons for posting the video from Youtube of Siege playing “Drop Dead” in Boston, 1984.

Was it in some small way, via way of an obscure website that is the online ‘presence’ for a creative endeavor, to prove I have knowledge of the era? I certainly don’t, my knowledge is extremely limited on the Boston Hardcore scene of 1984. However a quick search of Wikipedia would suffice to ward off any questions of authenticity if I so required, an hour or so to download and digest Siege’s, and related artists, back catalogue, read through some forums and websites, who are deemed authentic, opinion forming individuals, to gleam general opinion and potentially amalgamate with, or regurgitate as my own. I know of Siege, I have heard their name before, Boston is well known for a certain style of hardcore and making a educated judgement, knowing that 1984 was near the beginnings of the nascent American Hardcore scene, I could guess that they are probably either trailblazers or at least very influential in this particular scene. By this deduction I could easily assume many people in the inner circles of punk hold them in high regard. I’m also assuming that the slightly more modern band, Drop/Dead were named after the song being performed in the video, and seeing their logo (Drop/Dead’s) disseminated throughout many DIY punk shows I have attended via individuals sowing patches of said logo onto clothing and painting it onto leather jackets, I would safely assume they also hold a position of high regard amongst a certain section of the DIY punk community. After watching the video though I felt no need to do any of those things and still long after I have had no desire to follow through on these or (for me) more traditional routes and either talk to people about them or buy any of their records. I still reside in a happy state of ignorance about Siege and the 1984 Boston Hardcore scene.
I came across the video from a website who’s rss feed I follow but rarely fully ingest. Every now and again I will watch the videos they post of obscure punk bands and listen to their podcasts containing a slew of bands I’ve never heard of, I will for the most part enjoy them but essentially the experience leaves me feeling like there are huge gaping holes in my knowledge and that I can barely keep up with current and modern releases, let alone listen to and discover where these current modes of music originally came from. I sit as a stranger to a scene and genre I hold a close affinity to. I know I will feel detached from the songs I hear because the likelihood I will ever own the songs in a physical format is highly unlikely. I feel empty listening to history viewing from behind my glass screen, the opposite of why the music existed in the first place. A real physical action.
But back to why the video appealed to me in the first place. It appealed on several levels; The aforementioned ‘insider knowledge’, the open exclusivity. If you know, you know, if you don’t I would’ve opened the door to you, shown you something you hadn’t seen before; Then the music, it takes a few listens to acclimatise yourself to the music. It’s a muddy mix of a fast noisy band, recorded on VHS from a gig in what looks like an empty room. It grates, the music blurs into one, the drums barely audible in the fast sections, finally cutting through to anchor the rhythm when it slows then disappearing once again just as fast. The vocals are unintelligible, a bark that conveys anger, the voice is stattaco and playing around the beat, barely in time with the music; what appealed to me most though was the overall aesthetic of the video. The setting, the way it looks like a performance piece. It has a very deliberate and considered look but only now in the age of access and analysis. The white room, the American flag, the grain of the film. The performance without any visible audience, the obtuse music, the blown-out sound. It looks like a pointless exercise, an attempt to say something but no-one can hear and no-one is there to hear anyway. It could be taken as a choice, a choice for futility. Trying to encapsulate frustration and anger. Trapped within where they live, trying to express something intangible now reduced to a compressed video file on Youtube via a VHS cassette to be consumed and digested as history, as the past. Modern tributes in re-enactment distill and distort the original intent.
It looks like most the incredible show, to be witness to it. It is intense in the most clinical way. An experiment. 

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