K-PUNK, OR THE GLAMPUNK ART POP DISCONTINUUM

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\Gla”mour\, n. [Scot. glamour, glamer; cf. Icel. gl[‘a]meggdr one who is troubled with the glaucoma (?); or Icel. gl[=a]m-s?ni weakness of sight, glamour; gl[=a]mr name of the moon, also of a ghost + s?ni sight akin to E. see. Perh., however, a corruption of E. gramarye.] 1. A charm affecting the eye, making objects appear different from what they really are.
2. Witchcraft; magic; a spell. –Tennyson.
3. A kind of haze in the air, causing things to appear different from what they really are.
4. Any artificial interest in, or association with, an object, through which it appears delusively magnified or glorified.
Glamour gift, Glamour might, the gift or power of producing a glamour. The former is used figuratively, of the gift of fascination peculiar to women.
Masoch: ‘Every woman has the instinct and the ability to make the most of her charms. It is an excellent thing to give oneself without love or pleasure: by keeping one’s self-control, one reaps all the advantages of the situation.’
Wanda in Venus in Furs
Glam IS punk; historically and conceptually.


As Simon argued (what must be a year ago now), it was glam that made the break which allowed punk to happen.
Essentially, glam returned pop to the working class audience disgusted and turned by the hippies’ lazy sleaze.
For all its ‘androgynous’ imagery, hippie was fundamentally a middle class male phenonomenon. It was about males being allowed to regress to that state of His Majesty the Ego hedonic infantilism, with women on hand to service all their needs. (If you don’t believe me – and I’ll level with you I’m very far from being an objective commentator on hippie lol, read Atwood’s Cold Rationalist classic, Surfacing to see how ‘liberating’ this was for the women who lived through it).
‘Thus even Zarathustra/ another time loser/ could believe in you….’
Seventies glam played the Nietzsche of Beyond Good and Evil and The Genealogy of Morals (the Nietzsche who celebrated aristocracy, nobility and mastery) against the young Dionysian Nietzsche. As Simon argued:
‘Glam’s tendency (through its shifting of emphasis toward the visual rather than sonic, spectacle rather than the swarm-logic of noise and crowds) towards the Classical as opposed to Romantic. Glam as anti-Dionysian. The Dionysian being essentially democratic, vulgar, levelling, abolishing rank; about creating crowds, turbulence, a rude commotion, a rowdy communion. Glam being about monumentalism, turning yourself into a statue, a stone idol.’
But glam rectified the genetic fallacy that haunted Nietzsche’s thinking. While there’s no doubt that Nietzsche’s analysis of the deadening effects of slave-moralising ‘egalitarian’ levelling in Beyond Good and Evil and The Genealogy of Morals identified the sick mind virus that had western culture locked into life-hating disintensification-unto-death, his paeans to slave-owning aristocratic culture made the mistake of thinking that nobility could be guaranteed by social background.
Nobility is precisely a question of values; i.e. an ethical stance, that is to say, a way of behaving. As such, it is available to anyone with the will and desire to acquire it – even, presumably, the bourgeoisie, although their whole socialization teaches them to resist and loathe it. More than anyone, Nietzsche understood that, the European bourgeoisie’s deep hostility to ‘the notion of superiority’ concealed a viciously resentful psychopathology.
If Nietzschean atheology says: we must become god, bourgeois secularism says: No-one may be greater than me – not even God.
Everyone knows that there has always been a deep affinity between the working class and the aristocracy. Fundamentally aspirational, working class culture is foreign to the levelling impulse of bourgeois culture — and of course this can be politically ambivalent, since if aspiration is about the pursuit of status and authority, it will confirm and vindicate the bourgeois world. It is only if the desire to escape inspires taking a line of flight towards the proletarian collective body and Nu-earth that it is politically positive.
Glam was a return to the Mod moment(um) that had been curtailed by the hippie hedonic longeur of the late 60s. Like most names for subcultural groups, the term ‘Mod’ started off life as an insult, in this case hailing from the mods’ perpetual adversaries, the rockers. As Jeff Nuttall explains, to the rockers, “‘Mod’ meant effeminate, stuck-up, emulating the middle classes, apsiring to a competitive sophistication, snobbish, phony.’ (Bomb Culture, 33)
But no dilettante/ or filigree fancy/ beats the plastic you
Mods in the sixties were very different from how they appear in the designer cappuccino froth of 80’s soul-cialist retro-mythologization. It was the rockers who appealed to the ‘authentic’ and the ‘natural’: their rebellion posed as a Rousseauistic resistance to civilization and mass (produced) culture. The mods, on the other hand, embraced the hyper-artificial: for them, Nuttall wrote, ‘alienation had become something of a deliberate stance’. Nobility was not innate for mods: rather, it was something to be attained, through a ruthless de-naturalization of the body via decoration and chemical alteration.
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The mods were in every sense hooked on speed, and the black American music they gulped down with their bennies and coffees was consumed in the same spirit and for the same reasons: as an accelerator, an intensifier, an artificial source of ecstasy. That is, as a chemical rush into Now, NOT as some timeless expression of Pride and Dignity.
In the desire (my official position on this now btw is that ‘libido’ should be used in place of ‘desire’)-pleasure relation, there is a third, occluded term: sensuality.
The hippies’ sloppy, ill-fitting clothes, unkempt appearance and Fuzzed-out psychedelic fascist drug talk displayed a disdain for sensuality characteristic of the western master class (hey man, it’s all about the MIND).
When hippies rose from their supine hedono-haze to assume power (a very short step), they brought their contempt for sensuality with them. Brute functional utilitarianism plus aesthetic sloppiness and an imperturbable sense of their own rights are the hallmarks of the bourgeois sensibility (look at all those shops in Stoke Newington that say they’ll open ‘tennish’ and you know exactly what class you’re dealing with).
The hippie power class wanted power without having to go to the effort of power dressing. Naturally, middle class hippie ‘feminists’ never missed a stride in their move from alleged egalitarianism to supercilious judgementalism. What is the disdain for cosmetics and clothes if not an attack on the working class? The assumption of bourgeois so-called feminists is that their lives of neurotic bed-hopping ‘freedom’ and Carrie Bradshawing perpetual adolescent equivocation are better than the working class pattern of (once) getting married young and (now) having children young, when it is clear that it is just another trap – and not necessarily a more congenial one.
Now the bourgeois philistines have destroyed glam and returned us to their preferred aesthetic mode: Romanticism. The contemporary bourgeois Romantic has realised Romanticism in its most distilled form yet. While the so-called Romantic poets, musicians and painters of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century remained sensualists, whereas our contemporary Romantics are defined by their view that sensuality is at best an irrelevance, a distraction from the important business of the expression of subjectivity.
Romanticism is the dressing-up of Teenage Ontology as an aesthetic cosmology. Teenage Ontology is governed by the conviction that what really matters is interiority: how you feel inside, and what your experiences and opinions are. In this sense, sloppy drunkard Ladette Tracy Emin is one of the most Romantic artists ever. Like Lads – the real inheritors of the hippie legacy – Emin’s bleary, blurry, beery, leery, lairy anti-sensualist sensibility is an advert for the vacuity of her own preferences.
What we find in Emin, Hirst, Whiteread and whoever the idiot was who rebuilt his dad’s house in the Tate is a disdain for the artificial, for art as such, in a desperately naif bid to (re)present that pre-Warholian, pre-Duchampian, pre-Kantian unadorned Real. Like our whole won’t-get-fooled-again PoRoMo culture, what they fear above all is being glamoured. Remember that glamour means, ‘Any artificial interest in, or association with, an object, through which it appears delusively magnified or glorified.’
But let’s make our case by considering some artifacts in some detail.
Exhibit one: the cover of Roxy Music’s For Your Pleasure, 1973
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The image is a mistresspiece of ambivalence.
Let’s approach it through the eyes of Ian Penman, the most consummate of Roxy observers. (No doubt, Penman, like me, is endlessly drawn back to Ferry because he took the same journey from the working class into acceptance into the English master class).
(I make no apologies for citing Penman’s text, ‘The Shattered Glass: Notes on Bryan Ferry’ at some length, since it is almost criminal that this bravura display of theoretical elegance should be mouldering amidst the pages of a long-forgotten, chalk dusty Cult Studs collection*).
‘On the shoreline of For Your Pleasure, beneath it, on the waterfront strand, stands the second of many new models: at first sight the second installation of the stock Ferry/ Roxy woman.’
But to get the full picture we have to fold out the sleeve, so that we can see Ferry looking on…
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Penman goes on:
‘Ferry fills out his function as her chauffeur (landlocked ferryman: a sign of the times). He waits in amused admiration, surveying the neatness of the visual pun – the model takes her cat (for a) walk: forming a uni-form and uniformly predatory alliance with her black panther, eyes and mouth directed out at the viewer. Imperiously, she takes the air, she fields his grace, takes her anima for a prowl and a stretch. Ferry – for sure – remains to be seen, smiling manfully behind her back, artfully protected by the fold in his sleeve. He had arranged his own look as both within and outside of the main frame.’
(’Within and outside of the main frame: is that so often where we find ourselves, lost, stranded, these days —?)
Cut.
‘She is a model woman, to be sure; fashion pushing into abstraction and rarified codification, not there for the benefit of a product as such or altogether in the name of Art; so she appears to be what? She appears, on the condition that she appear to be without attributes. We can attrribute nothing to her beyond a certain imaginary realm of wealth, of wealth as fetish, (Helmut) Newton’s law of physiques. She is sheerest sharp blue nothingness. (For the cool-and-blue post-Duchamp artist, it seems entirely for beauty to take the veiled form of scissors
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As an aside, since this concerns another debate: the last things Ferry’s songs were – at this stage at least – were ‘just good tunes’. The first thing they were, were questions: including questions about what a good tune might mean…
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And – at this stage- Ferry’s songs were no more ‘love songs’ than Magritte’s Human Condition was a representation of a landscape. Like Magritte, Ferry’s sheer coldness and distantiation cannot but draw our attention to the framing machines that make possible the emotions of which he sings.
Another cut, to a ‘realm of a certain narcissistic eroticism he is not allowed entrance to without putting his heterosexual sensibility in doubt.’
‘All his Songs’ women (and this will be especially so with ‘Stranded’ and subsequent plaints) are voiceless sirens who – although wielding the utmost power over the artist’s life and sensibility – seem to be without implication (which is to say: eternalised out of existence). Neutered time and place (those perennial spans of Fashion) coalesce naturally into the figure of the woman. Woman as figure, or scene – war pin up, cat-woman, amazon, siren, Riefehstahl Maedchen.’
[W]ielding the utmost power over the artist’s life and sensibility…’ The utmost power…. Is he, the artist, Severin, the protagonist of Masoch’s Venus in Furs? Or Sarasine, the hapless hero-dupe of Balzac’s novel who unwittingly falls in love with a castrato?
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Amanda Lear with Dali
Because, you see, the ironic punchline was: she is not(-all) a woman.
Amanda Lear, the For Your Pleasure model was a transsexual (though, in yet another complication, she later denied it). A transsexual, moreover, whose operation might have been paid for by none other than Salvador Dali.
Either way, it is clear that Ferry has set the tone for a 1970s in which the male is both glamorous and glamoured, himself a gorgeously-styled photogenic object, entranced and seduced by a cosmetic beauty he partly wants to make contact with, but mostly wants to cold pastoralise into an immutable untouchability. ‘Mother of Pearl’ – which as Penman observed on Pillbox, is the whole of Lacan in seven minutes, more or less – is the closest Ferry comes to writing a manifesto for his meta-melancholia, a meta-love song about the impossibility – and undesirability – of attaining the Ideal object.
Now this melancholia is not straightforwardly ‘tragic’ (and even if it were, it would have little to do with any bourgeois sensibility, since, as everyone from Shakespeare to George Steiner [The Death of Tragedy] to Nietzsche to Bataille demonstrate, bourgeois secularism is inherently inimical to any notion of the tragic).
But Ferry’s sensibility is definitely Masochistic. (As opposed to that of the Sixties, which, as Nuttall, for one, suggests, was Sadean. Compare the Sixties-sired Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ – the Sadist apologizes – to Ferry’s reading of the song – the masochist sumptuously enjoying his own pain – for a snapshot of a contrast between the two sensibilities.)
The Masochist’s perversity consists in the refusal of an exclusive or even primary focus on genitality or sexuality even in its Sadean polymorphous sense, which is perverse only in a very degraded sense.
The Sadean imagination quickly reaches its limits when confronted with the limited number of orifices the organism has available for penetration. But the Masochist – and Newton is in this respect, as in so many others, a Masochist through and through, as is Ballard – distributes libido across the whole scene. The erotic is to be located in all the components of the machine, whether liveware – the soft pressure of flesh – or dead animal pelt – the fur coat – or technical. Masochism is cyberotics, precisely because it recognizes no distinction between the animate and inanimate. After all, when you run your fingers through your beloved’s hair, you are caressing something dead.
How had Ferry got here, become stranded in the early seventies, an artist-voyeur art-director Masochist?
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Richard Hamilton, ‘Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealing’ (1956)
Ferry famously studied painting under Richard Hamilton, the so-called godfather of British Pop Art, at Newcastle University. Can we even begin to reconstruct the impact that Hamilton’s art had on British culture?
Well, you can get some impression of it from the fact that, in a documentary on Hamilton made by C4 in the early 1990s, Ballard cited Hamilton’s 1956 ‘Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealling’ as one of the cultural events that made it possible for him to be a science-fiction writer. It would be better to say that Hamilton made possible Ballard’s exceeding of science fiction, his discovery of k-punk.
’56 was, of course, the year of Presley’s breakthrough records. In its own way, though, Hamilton’s collage was at least as important as Presley in the development of British Pop. (You see Siobhan, everything starts in Newcastle!)
After the 50s, Pop and Art have always been reversible and reciprocally implicating in British culture in the way that they are not in America. Nuttall: ‘The students and the mods cross-fertilized… Purple hearts appeared in strange profusion. Bell-bottoms blossomed into wild colours. Shoes were painted with Woolworths lacquer. Both sexes wore make-up and dyed their hair… The air in the streets was tingling with a new delirium.’ (34)
British pop’s irreducible artificiality makes it resistant to the Romanticist naturalization that the likes of Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs achieved in respect of American rock. There is no way of grounding British Art Pop in a landscape.
Not a natural landscape in any case.
If Art Pop had a landscape it would be the agressively anti-naturalistic one Ferry collaged together on ‘Virginia Plain’ (named after one of his paintings, which was itself named after a brand of tobacco). Is this an internal landscape, what the mind’s eye sees? Perhaps. But only if we recognize that – as Hamilton’s collage and Ballard’s fiction insist – in the late twentieth century the ‘space’ of the internal-psychological was completely penetrated by what Ballard calls the media landscape.
When the British pop star sings, it is not ‘the land’ which speaks (and what does Marcus hear in the American rock he mythologizes in Mystery Train if not the American land?) but the deterritority of Amerikan-originated Consumer culture. Hence the braying grotesquerie of Ferry’s singing voice on those early Roxy releases. (And the different grotesquerie of today’s simoting pop idols.)
With the firsthand expertise of someone who has had to lose his voice in order to speak (for that is what you must do if you educate yourself – or are educated – out of a working class background ), Penman brings out very well how integral the problem of accent – of losing a Geordie accent, of not gaining an American accent – was to Ferry’s career.
As a student, Ferry’s life was divided between his daytime movement through the art milieu and night time fronting of a soul band doing covers. Two voices, two lives. ‘I hadn’t found anything to incorporate all of me.’
The early Roxy records are Ferry’s Warhol-Frankensteinian attempts – the joins still showing, thrillingly, horrifyingly – to hand-machine a space that would incorporate his day and his night self. So they are not so much expressions of a coherent subjectivity as a kind of destratification-in-progress, the production, on the fly, of a Pop Art plane of consistency which he could feel at unhome in.
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So here was a Pop music, astonishingly, more shaped by Duchamp than Bo Diddley. The methodology Ferry deployed on his solo albums of cover versions (and remember that such albums were almost unknown in rock music at the time) was explicitly Duchampian. His renditions of standards such as ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ and ‘These Foolish Things’ were, he said, Duchampian ‘readymades’: found objects upon which he put his own stamp.
Duchamp’s Large Glass (aka The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even): the version in Tate Modern was reconstructed by Richard Hamilton
Part of what made the early Roxy sound so cold – particularly by comparison with the hot authenticity of American rock – was the fact that they were evidently not an aggregation of pontaneous, creative subjects, but a meticulously executed Duchamp-type Concept: a group whose every gesture was micro-designed, and who credited their sylist, fashion designer Anthony Price, on their album sleeves.
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Bryan Ferry on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973, in black contact lenses and Anthony Price suit
The great temptation for Ferry would always be to slip inside the frame: to become, really, the heartaching bachelor in the dreamhome, to achieve what Simon calls the ‘fantasy of stepping outside the lowly world of production into a sovereign realm of pure unfettered expression and sensuous indulgence, an imaginary and fictitious notion of aristocracy (more Huysmans than real lords who have to do humdrum things like manage their estates, juggle their investments, do a bit of arms dealing).’ To achieve the total simulation of manners that he was up till then only pastiching-affecting.
And, isn’t Simon right, aren’t Ferry’s later records all about ‘the disillusionment of actually achieving the supermonied aristo life–Ferry, condemned to mooch jaded forever through art openings, fashion shows, all tomorrow’s parties (that old tis better to journey than arrive line)’?
Let’s leave Ferry there, stranded, framed.
And cut.
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To 1982. Compass Point, Nassau.
Grace Jones’ astonishing recording of Joy Division’s ‘She’s Lost Control’.
Masoch: ‘A slap in the face is more effective than ten lectures, especially if it is delivered by the hand of a lady.’
Kodwo Eshun: ‘The womanmachine Grace Jones’ 82 remodel of Joy Division’s 79 She’s Lost Control updates the ’50s mechanical bride. For the latter losing control meant electric epilepsy, voice drained dry by feedback. For Jones, the female model that’s losing control induces the sense of automation running down, the human seizing up into a machine rictus. The model – as girl, as car, as synthesizer – incarnates the assembly time of generations, obsolescence, 3-year lifespans.
The model is the blueprint for the post-Cold War cyborg, the womanmachine modified and mutated by the military medical entertainment complex. Hence Kraftwerk’s The Model, where the bachelormachines are threatened by the womanmachine’s superior reproductive capability. The Model is an excerpt from the post-war machine-reproduction wars.’ (095)
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Jones is the sublime object before which Ferry prostrated himself — and who talked back. Through vagina-dentatal teeth.
Be careful of the womanimal-machine. It bites.
Jones is not a cyborg because she is not an organism of any kind (and the modifier ‘cybernetic’ is in any case redundant, since all organisms, like everything that works, are cybernetic).
She is a neurobotic femachine.
The mechanical bride stripping her bachelors bare.
Jones was herself once a model, but when she has the opportunity to ‘express herself’, she ruthlessly exploits her own body and image much more than any (male) photographer would have dared to. ‘In a recent poll by Men’s Health magazine, the male readership named Grace Jones … among the women who scared them the most.’ (Brian Chin).
The game becomes the hunter.
She out-Duchamps Ferry, (dis)covering his ‘Love is the Drug’ as a found object to be absorbed by the femachine.
Jones understands her body Spinozistically as a machine capable of being affected and producing affects. This body is in no way limited to the organism; it is distributed across photographs, sound and video – and none of these media constitute a representation of an originary organic body. They are, each of them, unique expressive components of the Jones singularity.
It’s total immanence.
There is no Grace Jones the subject who expresses her subjectivity in sound and image. There is only Jones the abstract hyperbody, the cut-up scissormachine that cuts itself up, relentlessly.
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The Jones body is immanent, too, in that, as Kodwo repeatedly insists of sonic fiction throughout More Brilliant than the Sun, it produces its own theory.
Certainly, by the time that Haraway’s ‘Cyborg Manifesto’ limps onto the scene, it is only to mislead via reterritorialization.
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The cover of The Anvil: Steve Strange photographed by Helmut Newton
Cut again.
To London, 1982.
(Reproduced from the early days of blogger k-punk.)
The sex appeal of the inorganic.
Paul Tickell’s review of The Anvil,
NME 27 Mar 82 (whole review reproduced on the excellent Magazine site):
‘I’d thought ‘Contort Yourself’ the right kind of music for Newton’s sado-eroticism – but ‘The Anvil’ is a greater approximation. You wanted -the moderne dance – well … here it is: the night-time moves of marionettes – dummies – puppets – clowns – and imaginary celluloid beings. -it’s all a little deathly – the sound of commodities fucking – but a noise which can be a good deal more exhilarating (“the sex appeal of the inorganic” – Walter Benjamin) than healthy fun-loving creatures going at it.
All in all – Visage are a rather seductive disease – the skull beneath the made-up skin.’
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More material from early k-punk:
‘Roxy versus Visage: a shift from subject to Object (therefore, following Baudrillard’s logic in Seduction, from masculine to feminine). Fem-glam notwithstanding, Ferry retained for himself the male role of the one-who-looks . The problem , for Ferry, is the (male) gaze – how much to look? For how long? ‘Then I look away/ too much for one day.’ Strange, meanwhile, is invariably the looked-at . He is the discarded plaything in ‘Mind of a Toy’ (telling title, that), the object of gossip in The Anvil’s maudlin ‘Look What They’ve Done’ and ‘Whispers.’ The model, here, is, — the model: the anxiety – how am I seen ?
Can we assume, btw, that Gibson derived the name Neuromancer from ‘New Romantic’? If so, Gibson’s transposition suggests a much more interesting, and appropriate, name for the nerve sorcery of these newly-wired electronauts. ‘Romantic’ always struck me as way-off beam for a culture so fastidiously uninterested in depth/ emotions/ truth.)
The case against Visage always seemed to me to depend on rockist prejudice: they didn’t play live, they were a vehicle for a clothes horse who ‘couldn’t sing’, they represented the return of prog. Isn’t there also a masculinist agenda, too, in the implict rejection of the ‘superficiality’ of fashion and clubbing?
Visage thoroughly stripped their sound of the trappings of r and r, ostentatiously parading an Un-American ancestry. Thematically and sonically, Visage evoked a decadent Europe of seductive urban alienation (cf the Mondrian-like vision of endless high rises in Blocks on Blocks) and sumptuous glamour (cf the name, and the track, ‘Visage’; the French vox on ‘Fade to Grey’), conjured through vocoder vox, synthesizers and Billy Currie’s pseudo-classical flourishes. American influences came rerouted/ refracted through Europe: Moroder disco; Morricone (cf McGeoch’s ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’-isms on the Spaghetti western/ Clint tribute ‘Malpaso Man’ off ‘Visage’). Cinema was a major node: much of Visage’s sound belongs to what would later be called ‘virtual soundtracks’ (Barry Adamson, one of the architects of this genre, was of course a Visage member). The mood was one of dis-affection, not the robotic functionality of Kraftwerk, nor the schizo-dislocation of Foxx/ Numan, but the Euro-aesthete’s ‘exhaustion from life’, nowhere better expressed than on the Interview with the Vampire-like ‘Damned Don’t Cry.’ Visage didn’t thematize machines in the way that Kraftwerk, Numan and Ultravox did: like Yello, they seemed to operate in a future-past glittering hall-of-mirrors in which synthesizers and electronics were less a new innovation than a taken-for-granted mainstay.
Visage’s ‘cyberpunk baroque’ is a link between Roxy Music, Vangelis, disco and what would later become dance culture. Anyone who doubts this should check out the dance mixes of Frequency 7 or Pleasure Boys: the instrumental breakdown in the Pleasure Boys remix is pure acid house, and Frequency 7 is nothing but a breakdown, a thrillingly anachronistic slice of machine-techno. It was no doubt Strange and Egan’s role in the Blitz/ Camden Palace that facilitated the move into dance. Making clubbing and dancing, rather than the gig, central was a crucial step (for Visage specifically, but for the New Romantic scene in general). Strange was less important as ‘frontman’ than as pure image, his very diffidence and passivity as a vocalist anticipating dance’s later complete effacement of the singer.’
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Except the singer doesn’t get completely effaced by dance.
It returns as the femachine Roisin.
Cut to Now.
I’ve little to add to my recent remarks on Moloko and Roisin Murphy as the latest – but I hope not last – contribution to the Art Pop story.
But it’s worth distinguishing Murphy from two artists John recently mentioned in the comments boxes: Madonna and Kylie.
Minogue is a sex worker in the most banal and degrading sense, since it is clear that her simpering subordination to the Lad’s Gaze is nothing more than a career(ist) gambit. Murphy, by contrast, gives the impression of enjoying herself, of doing what she would do any way (and just happening to have an audience). It’s clear that she enjoys attention (male or otherwise) but like all great performers, her jouissance seems to be fundamentally auto-erotic. The audience function not as passive-consumer onanist spectators, but as a feedback component in the Roisin-machine.
And unlike Madonna, Murphy does not photoshop out all the joins and the cuts in her performance. Whereas Madonna’s hyper-professional show is all about attaining the cgi seamlessness of a corporate film, Murphy – pulling her leather fetish boots on onstage – is always playing – albeit seriously.
‘Q: You’re becoming quite the style icon, is that an area that interests you?
R: Well, I think I dress for myself, I mean, I’ve always dressed up anyway, and I just enjoy it. I think maybe people are just fed up of pop stars that are told what to do and what to wear.’
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