Twenty-one years after Reynolds wrote about Mille Plateaux, Achim Szepanski compiled twenty-one essays into a book, presented on both Mille Plateaux, and another platform in Szenpanski’s territory called “NON” .
This text is one of the most far reaching and interesting critiques of the music world today, and the title seems to embody this radicalism: “The Ultrablack of Music”. The contents page reads like a runic or lost form of English, seeming to dissect the totality of music in radical new ways: “Technocultures, Inhuman Rhythmights and the Ultrablack of Non-Music”; “Rhythm and Nano-Fascism”; “Connegactive-Approaches, to the production of Vibrational Matters”; “(cybernetic-)Post-Pop affect art(s) & (emotional) self-governing”. The legendary Frankfurt school is now a legendary Frankfurt label.
The work is as far out as it sounds, with the majority rooting themselves in the work of Deleuze, with multiple titles indicating the prominence of Deleuzeoguattarian ideas within each essay respectively. While the language is hypermodern, the authors by no means operate in some exclusive vacuum, and indeed some of the contributors are highly regarded, commonly cited named amongst poststructuralist enthusiasts, such as Frederic Neyrat, who fairly recently presented a work of incredible scholarship called “Atopias”, a radical new manifesto for existentialism. Of his many concerns, Neyrat wishes to understand how to reconceptualise existentialism in a way that complies with more radical or contemporary political understandings, that, for example, do not position humans in the centre as it is suggested that Jean-Paul Sartre or Heideggar do. Ultrablack of Music also features Thomas Brinkmann, a noteworthy electronic and experimental electronic music and performer from the 80s-90s, complete with lists of binary recipes.
If Simon Reynolds observes correctly, and that after years of being lost in retromania, our attention is slowly turning back to what is ahead of us, we may find that works such as Ultrablack of Music are waiting for us, not yet-uncreated, simply yet-to-be noticed. It is a must-embrace for those who are really interested in Deleuze, Baudrillard, Foucault, and it is fair to say that there is perhaps no other text that so confidently stands on the cutting edge of music theory; the answer to the questions asked by these writers will define the future of music and music philosophy.
» when non-frequency-politics listen to the clock, it does not hear the uniform tic tic, tic, but it hears tic—toc—fuck the clock. «
“Ultrablack of Music speculates on the manifold ways in which the objective, inhuman soundworlds, which roar underneath humans’ sensological apparatus, pervade and smoothly colonize our humanoid-alien, affective and cognitive capacities - and how to construct ways out of the mess of the Master Rhythms of Sonic Thanaticist Capital and its stratagems of annihilation and pulpification.
Speculative rhythm productions drive the mathematical operationality and its decisional self-amputations to the edge and create the missing corporeality that rewires our affective capacities and inhibitions by un-mooering, alienating, derealising our relations to the killing abstractions (reductive Binarism, identitism), the techghnostical mindset and its mystifications. Ultrablackened music confronts and pushes us into the experimentation with this nameless in-between, in which new temporalities can emerge whose winding paths and outcomes can neither be predicted nor guaranteed. Its cruel love is vigorously informed and fueled by the hate in ending this World, as we know and sonically experience it
“Music is a machine for producing anticipation: A sonata theme looked forward eagerly to its own recapitulation. Every note, every phrase would be precisely tailored to set up particular expectations that would either be fulfilled or frustrated, producing specific sensations in the listener” — Robert Barry
I would suggest to assume this to be the general case of how musical form functions, not just for certain systems in Western classical music – its distinct mode is not all that important. Whether the music itself is repetitive & looping (as »time‘s cycle«), is continually progressing (as »time‘s arrow«, which is connected to a certain understanding of »history in itself«/Geschichte) or trying to transcend the feeling of time (as »timelessness«) and most recently polyrhythmical & -temporal processes (most probably inscribed by networked glocalization ) –, but while listening to music, understanding and ‚reading‘ of what happened (so far) will always impose anticipation of & produce what is about to come. This notion of music bears similarities to fortune telling (as in mythic times) on one side and speculative anticipation, an always updating calculation of becoming, (as in rational times) on the other. In both cases men fearfully try to control time, or more precisely the future, to fend off possible threats.
On a psycho-biological perspective it is more or less necessary & inevitably – as we are all going to die (anyway), and the resulting anxiety following this truth produces the general need of control –, while it is important to note that the psycho-sociological conditions, in which this perspective is all the more powerful and imposed on each individual, happens through capitalisation in the grammatics of a future-past »Buying is prevention.
It insures against death. The inevitable. We all know our time will come. But if we follow the existential imperative of capitalism - don‘t crack under pressure (pick the right watch) - we don‘t have to worry about never having been. Even if we take a licking, our consumer heritage will keep on ticking. We will live on in the sparkle of our great-great-grandchildren‘s fashion accessories.
Our purchasing present may vanish, but our future past will never end. We will glow on, dimly, the afterimage of the afterimage of our former ravine-riven presence, now stabilized into an objectified memory. We will not be forgotten (unless it is we who forget - to write a will). The future perfect - or to translate the more suggestive French term, the ‚future anterior‘ - is the fundamental sense of the time-form constitutive of the consuming subject (‚will have….‘: also readable as an imperative, the existential imperative of capitalism in its most condensed expression). ‚Will have bought = will have been‘: the equation for capitalist salvation.«”
— Extract from: Bill B. Wintermute, Chapter 20 “(Cybernetic-) ‘Post-Pop‘: affect art(s) & (emotional) self-governing”