Saturday, 31 March 2012

Jah-wah? Deadline


I was reading an article, an interview with Jah Wobble in an old issue of the long deceased Deadline magazine. I have many fond memories of Deadline as I stumbled through my late teens. Although it probably means very little to very few these days, back then it was a counter culture connection, a way of joining an insignificant malcontent at the edges of modern Australia with the punky, anarchist spirit of the UK in the 90s. From Tank Girl to Milk and Cheese and reviews of cider I never drank, Deadline was, when available an intermittent bible.

Meanwhile, in the above mentioned interview with Wobble, two points in particular piqued my interest. The first was the reality of a disenfranchised generation whose awareness of their disenchantment was very different to the interviewee’s own. This struck me as profoundly prescient, as latter generations including my own would arrive at very different formations of belonging and identity mediated by a social flattening via technology. Dissatisfaction with status quo certainly still exists but the level of access to certain types of material goods and technological levels has, in my opinion, created a very different perception of the connection, of self identity, society and the state wherein helplessness has been reconfigured as inevitability. Transgression of this new state requires technological transgression/fleeing and in this age of technological dominance in everyday life, performing such a break can be source of great pain and alienation.

Frankly, I believe that the current overreliance on contemporary methods of communication are in themselves a form of alienation. Though their potential in actualising a level of connection between peoples cannot be denied, their function requires excision from the physical/natural world. This is more than just about a rehash of analog versus digital but rather a reimagining identity that gives more weight to its cyberspace articulation than its realworld counterpart. To break with technology now is to break with the forward momentum of modern society. Scary stuff.

The second point of interest in the Wobble interview was on the appearance of culturally different influences in music.  He referred to when Stockhausen went to Japan and returned utilising Japanese influences in his compositions. Or so people said. To which Stockhausen replied, “I am not influenced by Japanese music, I simply found the Japanese in me”. Wobble extends this further with regard to his own context as I do now with my own.

I have written in the past, a number of times about blues, jazz and metal and always tried to understand just what attracts me to it. Thanks to Wobble, I believe I may well have opened a door onto the beginning of such an understanding.

As a child of mixed ethnic heritage, descendents of colonisers and post World War Two European refugees, I grew up in the rural outskirts of Australia and felt an intimate connection to the landscape. Being poor put me in a context where I was alienated from my ethnic roots and connected with a “non-ethnic” white meanstream but mixed up too with an indigenous context. This three pronged ethnic environment engaged European roots, colonial duration in foreign landscapes and the great despair and pride of the displaced and abused indigenous. It is now as I write that I begin to see where my affinity for jazz and the blues comes from.  It has been about finding the pain and joy of the colonial within.
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