Category Archives: Higher Learning

The Event Horizon of Fucked-up Pop

Featuring : Higher Learning

In response to the terrorist attack on an Ariana Grande concert this week, Alexis Petridis wrote a quite wonderful paean to pop music (and experiencing it through the eyes of your daughter).  If you haven’t read it, you should.  I’ll wait.  It’s beautiful.

20JFG have always loved pop music.  Partly, no doubt, it began as anti-anti-pop-music posturing.  You can only hear so many people bang on about ‘real music’ until you become the reactionary.  I mean fuck, we like locked groove noise records, what’s so real about that?  But really, the love of pop comes from somewhere purer than genre revanchism.

There is a drug-like purity to pop.  A concerted effort to slide between the layers of cells defending your carefully curated tastes.  Like a brilliantly sharp scalpel, slicing open the skin almost without feeling.  And then it’s in, and it only wants to love you, from the inside.

Which brings us to the Industrial crypto-Pop of Higher Learning.  Midnight reverb and towering drums; buried synth melody; long tape-sliped chords — this is somewhere around Fever Ray trying to land a slot on the Miami Vice soundtrack.  Except, rather than compound a brutal, industrial sound, the vocal here is…pure pop.  This could be (and should be) ripped from the event horizon of fucked-up pop (the heat death of the 80s) and the coming dominance of boy-bands.  And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.

Higher Learning – All I Ever

You can hear more from Higher Learning on his Soundcloud here.  This track is taken from an EP that’s just begging for an official release.  So, if you have the power to do that, contacting him through that Soundcloud link would be a good place to start.


Featuring : Higher Learning


What times we find ourselves in.
What fevers we live amongst.
The horrors where we once visited,
we now could dwell.

Trying to find the psychic shelter from the assault of the last month has been difficult (in the extreme). Where we toyed with fanciful, post-fact reportage (usually from untamed worlds and near future hell-scapes), it seems that it’s been weaponised as a tool of unimaginable change. Reality has been commercialised, whatever flavour you like, just give us your clicks.


To make up for ending the world…we bring you Higher Learning’s latest. A suitably shattering piece of Industrialdancemusic.

Higher Learning – Found

Fractious and haunting. Drums that crash through grey skies, slowly cracking the bunker where you cower awaiting the inevitable breach. Synth stabs lighting up the dismal sky as they impact upon the earth. A voice from innumerable screens calling out in unison with what could almost be an Italo banger but the innocence is lost amongst the chaos.

Happy Friday!

Higher Handbag

Featuring : Higher Learning


There’s something about the much maligned mid-90s genre of Handbag House that seems to inspire people to see a bizarre reflection in it (not to mention the rabbit-hole of handy sexism in that alliteration).  Claire Denis ended her dissection of masculinity, Beau Travail — which is vying with Carpenter for being referenced on this site — with Denis Lavant dancing to The Rhythm of the Night.  This isn’t some revelatory moment glimpsed in the face of pop that Wenders went in for.  This is the children of Italo uncovering the strangely maudlin in the relentlessly upbeat.  It’s a vision of 1950s social stoicism in the form of Euro-dance.

An old friend now appears.  Taking the form of Higher Learning, he too has been drawn to the fun house mirror of handbag house.  Here, Toni de Bart’s 1994 #1, The Real Thing, is fed through the same machinery that has seen a re-purposing of 90s RnB into haunted mega-structures.

The original was a strangely downbeat love song; with a opening that Kompakt could easily have jacked for some mid 2000s arpegiated House anthem.  It’s actually weirdly great, as is it’s filter-tastic music video:

Higher Learning’s reinterpretation rolls a flurry of playful punches into de Bart’s midriff.  Fracturing the rigidly constructed mass entertainment of the original and leaving elements floating in space, twisting into a nostalgic web, filtering the one true light of dance music and casting haunting shadows upon the ground.

Higher Learning – The Real Thing

You can listen to more Higher Learning on his Soundcloud right here.