RUB



Join the club on SonoBus to soundclash and to intervene or listen below:

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The cyclical originates in the cosmic, in nature: days, nights, seasons, the waves and tides of the sea, monthly cycles, etc. The linear would come rather from social practice, therefore from human activity: the monotony of actions and of movements, imposed structures. (Lefebvre 2004, p.8)

Having re-purposing EDM as ‘experimental dance music’, I’m wondering how practices of rhythm abstraction modulate what Lefebvre describes as ‘linear rhythms’. These are structured institutionalised rhythms that one associates with work, transport schedules, school; how one organises time to meet deadlines, juggle commitments and other time-sensitive institutional pressures, with the social also being an institution. These rhythms run concurrently with ‘cyclical rhythms’ such as the setting and rising of the sun and the phases of the moon. Cyclical rhythms can expand out to cosmological proportions, can they also be perceived at the level of particles?

During this time of pandemic and while bracing for a Northern winter, I’ve been thinking to open a room in an online multiuser audio streaming platform; an EDM ‘club’ on SonoBus that is also open to sound clash and other kinds of interventions.

Naming the room ‘RUB’ is a joke of sorts, because it’s not physically possible to do so in such a space. RUB is a club with a no body policy — literally no bodies in the room — but you can take the club to your room and to your body. While this absent-presence might spark braindance-induced sonic fictions, it also emphasises sonic friction, given that physically gathering may be difficult during these times. As a room for deep bass explorations, beat psyence and riddim methodologies, RUB emphasises sound as a haptic sensation, as changes in air pressure vibrate the sensitive organs of our inner ear; sound pressure that scales up with volume.

Scheduling RUB on the night of the new moon, a ‘cyclical rhythm’ according to Lefebvre and the darkest night of the lunar phase cycle, situates a practice of abstracting rhythms within interacting rhythmic categories. Rather than selecting a regular day of the Gregorian calendar (eg the first Tuesday of each month as is fugitive frequency), RUB proposes to modulate the governance of patterns and habits that arise from them. It’s seemingly irregular placement (Wed 6 October, Thur 4 November, Sat 4 December in 2021) is akin to a ‘shifting one’ in music composition, where the stress or the accent of the beat moves (with repetition) over time. Will RUB synergise with or clash against other scheduled events? Will anyone listen? Would anyone intervene? Given that RUB will begin on the first new moon following the Autumn Equinox (22 Sept 2021), it seems fitting that it’s first season should run until the Spring Equinox (20 March 2022). I’m told timing is everything…

fugitive frequency episode 09: Rhythmic Intelligence

‘Rhythmic Intelligence’ (RI) is a phrase coined by theorist and artist Kodwo Eshun when writing about hip hop and jungle in the late 1990s:

rhythm isn’t really about notes or beats, it’s about intensities, it’s about crossing a series of thresholds across your body. Sound doesn’t need any discourse of representation, it doesn’t need the idea of discourse or the signifier: you can use sound as an immediate material intensity that grabs you. When you hear a beat, a beat lands on your joints, it docks on the junction between your joints and articulates itself onto your joints, it seizes a muscle, it gives you this tension, it seizes you up, and suddenly you find your leg lifting despite your head. Sound moves faster than your head, sound moves faster than your body. What sound is doing is triggering impulses across your muscles … Anywhere you have a sense of tension, that’s the beginning, that’s the signs of a bodily intelligence switching itself on.

This hasty live mix is a rehearsal for a livestream club that fugitive-radio is proposing to host during the darker, colder months of Northern Europe to chase and perhaps harness urban bass musics’ ‘forward pressure’. The idea is not to fence in sound with concepts, trace histories or perform political alignments, but rather to simply play ‘what grabs you’.

Writing around the trajectories of jungle in the 1990s and early 2000s Simon Reynolds observed a ‘Hardcore Continuum’ across the UK and North America of mutating, viral and infectious urban dance music. Technologically enabled, such music culture can be read as an Afrofuturist extension of Black Modernity, that Eshun (1998) traces as a kind of alien and inhuman intelligence. As such, mixes such as this attempt to make a situation conducive to opening up towards sound and, as Eshun observed, to be ‘abducted by audio’.

Notably, livestream clubs operating during lockdowns have shifted the experience of such music. ‘Clubbing’, for want of a better word, is not what it used to be! It now seems unusual to enter a club and lose oneself amongst other dancing bodies, although new waves of illegal raves are undoubtably sprouting in urban peripheries. Infectious rhythms don’t rely on physical proximity to spread, but they are nevertheless a consequence of touch. Shifting air pressure presses on the eardrum and pulses through other bodily organs; RI inhabits the ‘sensual mathematics’ of code and vibration that is digital music production (Goodman 2010), the synthetic imagination of machines and the spontaneous alchemy of the mix.

I am curious about the capacity of such sound cultures to produce affects, fictions, modes of identification, and what theorist, DJ and producer Steve Goodman AKA Kode 9 describes as an ‘unorthodox hallucinatory [R]ealness’ (2010). While sound, as Eshun argues, ‘doesn’t need any discourse of representation’ music experiences and sound cultures certainly produce them, and many, such as myself, enter into these tribes via such means. (Notably, Eshun introduced and the term ‘sonic fiction’ to describe the interacting narratives and myth-science-poetics of artists, listeners and communities who collectively produce music cultures). Thinking through sounding infrastructures, such as sound systems, audio streaming platforms and peer-to-peer networks, we could draw on rhythmanalysis to consider how networked intelligences, software automation and mutating (narcosonic) music traditions shape bodies, shift behaviours, and induce states of subjectivation.

Track list
Arash Pandi – Chargah
DJ Spinn – Crazy ’n’ Deranged
KABLAM – For Hildegard
Iyer – Ratnam’s Riddim (Nonfuture Remix)
Badawi – No Schnitzel (Machinedrum Remix)
Mark Pritchard – Manabadman (Instrumental)
Jlin – Carbon 7 (161)
DJ Rashad – Love U
Rizzla – Dick
Air Max ’97 – Hounded
Subjex – Fractal Geometry
Gant-Man – Distorted Sensory (Kode 9 Remix)
DJ Rashad – Let It Go
Jlin – Asylum
RP Boo – Off Da Hook
Nkisi – Parched Lips
Iyer – Rakkama, Clap Your Hands (Wellbelove Remix)
Si Begg – Sick and Tired of the Bullshit
Zomby – Kaliko
Elysia Crampton – Oscollo (drums only version)