August 1st, 2008

Opposite of Babble = Silence?

Recent discussions spurred by Matt Shadetek and /Rupture quoting him feel like the culmination of a couple years of critical discourse, clumsy practice, and increasing interconnection between the two. I’m enheartened to see this kind of debate taking place and the number of insightful perspectives offered up, and I think it can only be good for “the scene” — if we can — for there to be a greater degree of reflection around all the production and circulation in which we’re engaged.

But the last thing I want to emerge from this critical conversation about “global ghettotech / gobbledigook” is for people like Stu to disengage or stop what they’re doing. I totally understand the conflict Stu describes between one’s time and the ability to blog richly contextual pieces about the wonderful (musical) things we can access these days. It’s a balancing act, no doubt. Which is why my own blog wanes&waxes between linkthink and essay-like catharsis.

This whole dilemma reminds me too much of the crippling process of becoming a graduate student — probably in most disciplines but especially disciplines that practice an explicit degree of self-reflection (e.g., anthro and its kin). I used to get so caught up on words and language and representations (in my academic writing) that I could hardly write at all without employing enough qualifications to paralyze the prose. It sucked, frankly, all around. And I’m deeply grateful to blogging for helping me break out of that particular kind of self-consciousness (b/c surely blogging has plenty of its own) and to feel less timid about just putting something out there.

It’s better, I think, to engage, if clumsily, than not to.

Better still to be thoughtful, careful, and graceful about it. But we can’t all be Jace Claytons. Some of us have to be Stu Buchanans and Wayne Marshalls and Guillaume Decouflets and Will Quinneys and Matt Shadeteks (or whatever his real name is) — or any of you other dear avatars out there.

Let’s keep the deep conversation going, yes, and/but the linkthink too —


  • 1. Guillaume / Masala  |  August 1st, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    God these words about academic writing meta self-reflection “page blanche” syndrom are bringing back dark memories….

  • 2. vamanos  |  August 2nd, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Having keenly read all the chat on Dutty Artz and Negrophonic, i’ve held back from commenting. Don’t know why, maybe waay too much to talk about here, however many of the insightful thoughts have made me question and reflect on why I’m actually writing my blog and the reprocussions (if any?) it may have in the real world. I’ve come to the simple conclusion that while I don’t have the time, like Stu, to really engage as much as i’d like to with the music & artists i’m blogging about, these posts can have their own small effect.

    To me its simply about spreading the word to new & old readers. The more these metagenres are out there in a positive, enthusiastic light, the more chance they can have to evolve on an international level. Its about putting it out there.

    These blogs we read and write are is essentially like amateur music journalism or fanzine writing to educate and inspire. Often we’re preaching to the converted. However some authors are maybe are deluded in thinking their words have more effect in the real world than they really do. e.g I’m sure many of Brazil’s bails funk DJs couldn’t give two shits if we are bogging about their music provided they are still getting the gigs in Rio, their real world. But by just including a link to where your reader can purchase some music or go to a show, in its small way can offer some support the to artist. Friends often ask me ‘where do you find this music?’. I go looking for it. Lets not forget that we are all music geeks in our own specialist Nu-whirl’d context corner pouring over sounds that we have found by intent not chance.

    On that note I’m with Wayne, “It’s better, I think, to engage, if clumsily, than not to.”

  • 3. Birdseed  |  August 2nd, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    It’d be a pity to lose Stu, becuase I think it’s a bit refreshing to see someone with a different perspective, that at the same time is totally contrasted with my own. He is the only one in the nuelectronicworld etc. etc. blogging crowd who’s mixing it up with traditional worldbeat and world music, instead of pretending that there’s a huge, paradigm-shifting difference between MIA and Ali Farka Touré. And while I personally may dislike world music, I think it’s great that someone stands up and defends it now that it’s become unfashionable.

  • 4. rachel  |  August 2nd, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    matt @ benn loxo mixes them both too tho not nearly as much as stu, and its something hes done more recently. Stus done it all along. I think that while our blogs may be divided, a lot of us are the same people. Our aesthetic is sorta a reactionary movement against our problems with ‘old world music’, but we prolly grew up on or were heavily influenced by 90s world music. I know i am.

  • 5. wayneandwax  |  August 3rd, 2008 at 6:36 am

    I love that we can now say “traditional worldbeat” without blinking an eye. And while I’m no big fan of _Graceland_ and its fusion-y ilk, it should go without saying that I’m a devotee of “world music.” I mean, I _am_ an ethnomusicologist.

  • 6. Birdseed  |  August 3rd, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    You know, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if that kind of music would make more of an inroads into the “tropical bass” community (as I’ve decided to call it for the next five minutes). It was a bit different five years ago when it was all playing records made by kids in poor neighbourhoods with fruityloops, but now the metagenre supposedly also includes Luakabop-ish middle-class music (the electrocumbia thing) and straightforward worldbeat collaborations. Because does anything really set Diplo and Ghislain apart from Ry Cooder and Paul Simon, besides age and taste? There’s nothing that says they won’t approach each other eventually.

  • 7. Stu  |  August 4th, 2008 at 3:44 am

    It’s been incredibly heartening to receive positive feedback and read comments both here and on the blog itself. My departing piece on the blog was intentionally meant to draw reference from the ongoing ‘global ghettotech’ discussion, as an indicator of what I feared Fat Planet would become – that, with my assistance, emerging global music becomes a blank-faced commodity, ready to be plundered.

    That’s abundantly true throughout the majority of the blog landscape where endless random remixes from Justice-a-likes proliferate. One sitting at Hype Machine and a hard drive can fill up with meaningless collateral – easy to collate and consume, impossible to understand. Whilst that swift and adundant distribution of music can be applauded in some ways, it’s also a sign of the decay of context, texture and the ‘richness’ that informs our understanding. I’m not an apologist for vinyl, record sleeves or artwork per se – but I do need to know where music is coming from (both literally and figuratively). That was the genesis for the Fat Planet blog in the first place – to provide context – and without such context, my hand turns from being the solution to part of the problem.

    Of course, the real reason is just time – Fat Planet sits outside of a full time web producer job, a personal blog, a podcast, a radio show, DJ-ing, a family (inc. a 3-year old) and finding time to relax and enjoy life. Something had to give – and Fat Planet was the both the hardest and easiest cut to make. That said, I’m confident that it will return in some capacity, at some point in the coming years. Until then, the signal continues via the podcast at

  • 8. wayneandwax  |  August 13th, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Thanks for all the comments. What Vamanos and Stu say really resonate. I think it’s some middle-ground between reflective, careful representation and all-out enthusiasm that we’re all looking for. Neither is quite right, but you gotta have a little bit of both.

    As for Birdseed’s question about how nu-whirled mediators relate to “old” world music agents like Byrne and Cooder, I guess I’m just not sure. That’s part of the central question, though, and was exactly what I was wondering about when I wrote about nu-whirl music way-back-when and in a more recent follow-up (or two). I still suspect (hope?), for all the parallels, that there’s a significant, profound difference between earlier attempts by (white) 1st-world stars to broker the sounds of the Other to “Western” audiences and the kind of p2p/hip-hop-informed aesthetics and approach — enabled by digital tech — exemplified by Ghislain, Maga Bo, etc. Still needs some teasing out, though, I s’pose.


I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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