A Phuture fair for all

We would like to think that any decision about the future of our ‘democracy’ would be driven by a greater hope for the improvement of our lot, not by fear for whatever might happen if the other guy gets chosen.

As far as I’ve heard, the discussions between candidates have focussed on who screwed things up the most in the past (go back 30 years and you have the frightful stormtroopers, go back 5 and you have pale & gaunt financiers sinking their fangs in the collective throats of the nation), who is likely to screw things up more in the future (‘we need to keep discipline in classrooms full of immigrants least we have to put them in jails and nuke them’), and, finally, perhaps even more depressingly, who will be better able to deliver some fuzzy vision of change that some times sounds like a yearning hallucination for past times that never existed (i.e. Hobbiton a couple of decades before the shadow of Sauron spread in the East), others like an upgrade of the present as exciting as the upgrade from Windows XP to Vista.

So we want hope and we only get a word, we get a promise of change which feels like a facelift. As usual, words lose their meaning when hurled around with abandon. Which leads to the question that should begin the debate, rather than be buried by it, viz, what is hope? What is a change for the better? Perhaps hope only becomes truly meaningful in more extreme circumstances than the ones we find ourselves in. In spite of the current difficulties, most are (or are assumed to be) content enough not to want too much change, so the appeal is to avoid things getting worse, or to undertake incremental readjustments.

Compare this to other places where change is the only way, and hope a condition for survival. Compare this with the situation in the city of Agadez, in the North of Niger, isolated from the rest of the country and flooded with refugees. Over the last couple of years, the Tuareg people have been fighting for their way of living, and they have sang, and played beautiful music, and deployed it as a political weapon. This has been documented by the ever-awesome folks at Sublime Frequencies.

After the wonderful Group Inerane release came Group Bombino at the end of last year. Most joyous and alive and hopeful stuff you are unlikely to hear anywhere, and it comes from a place war torn, with roads littered by road mines and peoples still disappearing. Which begets the question, who would be able to sing like this in our little island? And if someone sang like this, who would listen, and do something about it?

That’s the one who would get our vote.

Group Bombino- Imuhar

None of the candidates has addressed what in our opinion is another key issue- your right to party. We are not talking about a more liberal approach to drug prescription in the NHS, or opening hours for clubs. We are not interested in minor fixes for major issues. We are talking about something deeper: what can be done to create parties which work not as an escape from the drudgery of the real world, but as augmentation and complement to what should by rights be a fulfilling life? We are talking quality, not quantity, enlightened-and enriching- hedonism rather than binge gorging.

A lot has to do with the aims of party suppliers, and the industrial structure of the sector. As long as you have a purely profit motivated ‘leisure industry’ where investments in expensive capital needs to be recouped with high throughput, you will have a drive towards industrial concentration via economies of scale, and a disconnection between design and the local context of demand, resulting in homogeneity, alienation and a race towards the minimum common denominator, the dreaded ‘entertainment’. And of course, a rationale to encourage bingeing.

By contrast, a model based in networks of small locally embedded cultural units competing and collaborating with each other, and following a business model that emphasises sustainability, should encourage entry and the ensuing diversity of supply which reflects fragmenting audiences. This is happening as it is- the ethos of this blog is reporting such activities here in the UK and elsewhere- the question is whether this scene thrives in spite of existing regulations and incentives, by sheer enthusiasm and conviction.

Mahjongg’s spirit does very much represent what we are talking about here- they are a daredevil energy-charged proton hurling itself across the vertices of the network of goodness, scorching every node they cross with the righteous fire of party. They were there when we started this operation, and they keep going strong, dare we say stronger, as we grow.

They shall be dropping their new album in K Records in July the 20th, so we are giving you an early taster with Wardance, a muscular piece of future afrobeat which comes across like Oneida if they were produced by Maurice Fulton of ‘Let’s Get Sick’ fame- listening to it is like being shredded by the rotor blade at the heart of the progressive Ark mother-ship as it initiates its journey to distant stars, only to be immediately reconfigured as a better-dancing person. Mighty high five stuff.

Mahjongg- Wardance

When we told them that the post heralding the arrival of their new release was to coincide with our very own election, they gave us a word of advice which everyone would do well to heed, not just when putting their vote inside the decision box, but more generally: ‘Watch out for those BNP dudes’. And in doing this, do remember that the BNP is not a ‘political party’- it is a state of mind that I suspect lies hidden in the little souls of many other people running for election next Thursday, in some parties more than others. Don’t forget this, vote wisely. Vote for change