Wednesday, 3 March 2021

"UNTIMELY", MY SHOW ON RESONANCE FM IS NOW ARCHIVED ON MIXCLOUD AND AVAILABLE FOR LISTENING, NEW ALBUM AND SOMETHING ABOUT THE DUMPCAST

You can play it straight from here (player below), or it can be found here, with a load of other great stuff that Resonance puts out.

 

Doing the program in the way that I did was a good experience for me - allowing things to remain fairly ragged and trusting that "unfinished" or less-than-perfectly resolved is good enough - especially if that is all you can do, as is my case. I realised in the process that I have a pretty large amount of material with exactly that status, more than would fit into a 59 minute program. Therefore, I've resolved to make an album out of these remainders, and (probably) some brand, spanking new stuff, too. More will follow in the fulness of time. I'll post about it when it's ready (hopefully not too long) and it'll be available for a very nominal fee on my bandcamp

In all of this, I haven't forgotten my podcast series, The Dumpcast, which last year reached the milestone of two whole episodes. I know that one or two people listened to and enjoyed it... then it stopped. This syncope was for no better reason than my feeling overwhelmed at the time by... well, the same shit that was overwhelming so many other people... the narrowness of everything and the feeling that one's own narrowness had little positive contribution to make towards understanding of what was happening. So, boredom (with myself) and frustration (with myself and everything else) played their part as well.  This is all just to say that I'm fully anticipating resuming regular-ish forays into the Dumpcast pretty soon and hopefully in the process I'll work out what I want the Dumpcast to be, format and content-wise. I will announce when it happens.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

THIS FRIDAY - 26 FEBRUARY 2021 - RADIO SHOW

This Friday, the 26th of February 2021, my programme "Untimely" will air on Resonance FM, 20:00-21:00hrs. It will be repeated at 10am on the following Monday.After that, I'm assuming it will be on Resonance's Mixcloud (will post a link when it's up).

To give you an idea of what it will be about, here's some text composed for me by the ever-brilliant Nicola Woodham:

Many people mention lack of concentration, disjointed thoughts, no motivation and anxiety when they are asked about how they’ve been effected by the Covid-19 pandemic. For Robin Bale, who has two learning difficulties: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) and dyspraxia, a condition that effects organising thoughts and memory, the pandemic has been a struggle to navigate through. A performance artist and experimental musician since the 80s, his practice went up in smoke in the last year. He felt he saw his making of unfinished fragments, shifting between styles, working on lots of ideas at once as awkward failures, not fitting for release or performance. He applied to to make a program for Clear Spot with the aim to make the show just about that not being able to focus and disordered textures of lockdown. He’s taking up his work on Benjamin’s constellations again. 


The combination of the pandemic and two learning difficulties (ADHD and dyspraxia) has made Robin Bale’s experimental music and sound making even more constellated, unfinished, preposterous. The unfinshed album, the multi-genred EP, the untethered sample all collapse here, unfunctional, awkward, failed. A program designed to help you lack focus, drift, scan without feeling bad for it.

 

It will comprise of a whole load of unfinished/resolved pieces - sound and verbal - composed over the past plague year. Below is a brief taster - it's not all like that, but I like the chaotic raucousness of this one...


Sunday, 30 August 2020

Saturday, 22 August 2020

First Podcast Episode. The DumpCast #1

First (brief) episode of what I hope to be a weekly outing. In this case, concerning joggers and Steve Bannon; with brief remarks on the "centrist" wastes of space who called themselves The Independent Group - remember them?

Sunday, 22 March 2020

CANCELLED: PSYCHOSONIC ACTION LAB 26 MARCH

It will come as no surprise to anyone that this event previously posted about and scheduled for next week has been cancelled, for all the obvious reasons.

I hope that you're all staying safe and well out there. These are unsetlling times; but they have been for quite a long while.

I just wanted to add a couple of thoughts whilst I am here:

This virus is frequently being described as an enemy. We are at war with it. This language has been used by members of the UK government as well as French and American ones. This is patently ridiculous and insulting. What we have is an enormous crisis in public health. There's been the “wars” on terror/drugs etc. for a very long time now; though, oddly, what happened to Iraq or Afghanistan in the earlier part of this century (still ongoing) was never declared, nor the obvious war on Libya more recently. Prosecuting a war on another human regime or nation is at least logically coherent. But nonetheless, it has to be a “war” on Covid, despite the fact that it has no uniforms, flags or territory beyond the individual human body, wherever that body might happen to be. It has to be this way because, in accordance with the emotional blackmail of the so-called “blitz spirit” in the UK, the total mobilisation of civil society, commercial interests and government in order to promote individual survival and the public good can only be understood via the metaphor of war. Peacetime is defined by individualism and endemic competition; solidarity is rare, or even regarded as unhelpful to economic growth or the nation “punching above its weight” in trade and other such banalities. 

Because our society is emphatically not predicated on mutual support and solidarity, protecting the vulnerable and promoting the public good in its “normal” operations, the extraordinary condition must be invoked: that of war with its connotations of existential struggle, sacrifice for the greater good etc.

It seems that the proof that this "enemy" is defeated would simply be getting back to screwing over the vulnerable and each other in a collective-yet-individualised frenzy of business-as-usual? That's something to exercise the virtues of public spirit and self-sacrifice for?


If this current situation is an unprecedented threat to our collective and individual well-being what can be said about what preceded it, the normal background against which this now stands in such supposedly stark contrast that it must be described as a "war"? That this virus is a serious threat to our collective life I do not for a moment deny. It is. I just want to point out that what passed for “collective life” prior to the outbreak - taken as a whole - was also a serious threat to our collective life.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

PSYCHONIC ACTION LAB: UNFORMED - MARCH 26

I am delighted to be included in the following event, with a whole load of other great people: 26 March in south London. Come if you can...




A testing ground for new live artworks, collaborations and chance meetings.

artists working in or across the borders of:

experimental music, sound art, noise, performance, live art, live A/V, artist video, spoken word, poetry, rants, rituals, lectures, workshops...

live:

Mother Disorder
https://www.motherdisorder.co.uk/

Steve Wrong
https://www.mixcloud.com/discover/the-wrong-show/

Nicola Woodham
https://www.nicolawoodham.com/

Tom Bland
https://badbettypress.com/product/the-death-of-a-clown-tom-bland/

raxil4
https://raxil4.bandcamp.com/

Robin Bale
https://robinbale.blogspot.com/

Luke Jordan
https://l-r-jordan.tumblr.com/

dj:

Richard Crow
https://institution-of-rot.org/home/about-2/

video:

Talitha Bell
https://talithabell.com/

SpaceAffect
https://www.facebook.com/spaceaffect/

with new loud speaker system from:
Cheeky Soundsystem

art / book / record stall
cheap bar

£5 suggested donation

https://psychosonicactionlab.blogspot.com/

THE MURAL CROWN




Improvised spoken and music/noise performance. Presented 17th July 2018 at the Spread Eagle pub in Croydon as part of Tempting Failure international festival of performance and noise.

It was an apocalyptically hot day. The streets smelled of drying piss. The one-stringed instrument deployed via a harmoniser pedal is one that I made. The Blanket/robe I wore is covered in texts from the Bike Cemetery wall, surrounding a sigil derived therefrom. Below are some clearer images of it, from Bad Blood, an improvised performance at "Frivolous Convulsions" show at Turf Gallery, Croydon 11 January 2018.

Bad Blood 2018. Photo: Pouya Mota, 2018

Bad Blood 2018. Photo: Pouya Mota, 2018


I am also wearing, of course, the titular Mural Crown, which is essentially a representation of the walls of the polis that is placed on the head of an allegorical representation of that polis, or an aspect of it, often a tutelary deity. This was commonplace in the ancient world and persisted for many centuries when allegorical public sculptures were made.

I cannot now remember where I got the idea that this deity/personification was placed on the city walls whilst simultaneously wearing the city walls but I suspect it must have been somewhere in Marina Warner's excellent Monuments and Maidens: the Allegory of the Female Form. In my view, this figure both supporting and being supported by the boundaries of the polis is a concrete illustration of the dual nature of example and exception: the exemplar and the outcast, as described by Giorgio Agamben -

[...T]he exception is situated in a symmetrical position with respect to the example, with which it forms a system. Exception and example constitute the two modes by which a set tries to found and maintain its own coherence. But while the exception is, as we saw, an inclusive exclusion (which thus serves to include what is excluded), the example instead functions as an exclusive inclusion [...].

By Lonpicman - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12778930
Pictured above are some more recent(ish) examples of the mural crown. These are to be found on the Holborn Viaduct adorning allegorical representations of activities important to the city. In this case "Agriculture" and "Commerce".



Unsurprisingly, Brexit was much on everybody's mind at the time, including mine. Beyond the bare result, nothing much had happened at that point, but there was a lot of crap being talked about sovereignty - in the dual sense of that of the nation-state and of the individuals who chose to vote Leave. It was rather as if these two concepts had been fused; so the piece begins with a recording of Nigel Farage early in the morning of the day after the referendum when first reports came of a probable victory for Leave:

This […] will be a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people. 

This remark gives an insight into the sort of fantasies at play in at least some quarters. "Reality" ("real people") is achieved insofar as subjects align with the “ordinary”, the supposedly familiar, yet unspoken, substrate of the social. This emblematic “real” was assigned by many national haruspices to the “white working class”, a demographic supposedly hitherto ignored and despised, who were presented as being the core Leave-voting demographic. However, contrary to this fantasy, Leave voters were not overwhelmingly Northerners and neither were they exclusively, or even mostly, working class. Why working class Northerners should be more "real" than anyone else was, of course, never explained any more than a clarification of what would actually constitute "realness" in a person was given or why this fantasy of the "Northern Working Class" should be exclusively white, for that matter. The purpose of this caricature was to enable numerous actors in the media/political class to ventriloquise this phantasm of an ur-Brexit voter, to treat them (although a fantasy) as simultaneously, some sort of "left behind", or what Alberto Toscano calls "non-synchronous people" whilst also being the avatars of some "real Britain": both abjected residuum and elevated exemplars. That vast numbers of people have been thoroughly screwed over by the post-welfare statist, post-Fordist iteration of capitalism in the UK is undeniable. That they all voted fervently for Brexit is bullshit.

The piece was intended to allegorically combine the exemplary sovereignty of the (head of) state or the city walls - the boundaries that mark out the exception or provide a plinth for the exemplar - with the abjected subjectivity, space and time of the Bike Cemetery (hence the blanket/robe and the incongruous West Ham chant at the beginning). I wanted to present the paradoxical strands of (welfare statist) liberal democracy in confrontation with the supposed autonomy of the empty space of performance. The ambivalence Rimbaud expresses in the poem Bad Blood towards both the bourgeois democratic society against and within which he lived with his role as artist whilst acknowledging the mutual complicity involved. This appeared apt to me at the time (and still does) so found their way into this and other pieces:

Not a single family in Europe I don’t know –– By that I mean families like mine, who owe everything to the Declaration of the Rights of Man

 As Lauren Berlant remarked"[…t]here are no unmixed political feelings, there is no unambivalent potentiality for the social"; this is accurate and useful. The whole Brexit debate was at that time and as far as I know still is (I have given up all news and current events in disgust) marked by performative fervency on both sides; allowing no room for ambivalence about the EU or either  staying in or leaving it. It was all pretty unedifying; a cartoon of politics. The whole thing looked and looks like the denoument of a power struggle between two factions of the financialised ruling class, who called themselves "Leave" and "Remain" for convenience. A crucial aspect of liberal democracy, as we knew it and didn't exactly love it, was that ambivalence was a structural element to it.