General, Music, Nonsense

Yes, it’s a post about Richie Hawtin (sort of)

Today on the Plastikman website an interesting posting was made. It seems that Mr Hawtin is about to return back to his Plastikman guise for a series of shows and some re-releases of old material. Personally speaking i think Hawtin’s Plastikman work is his finest and was one of the entry points for me into quality electronic music so it’s certainly the most interesting thing he’s opted to do in some time. BUT, as you can see in on the page here, Mr Hawtin has asked us to fill out a survery regards Plastikman. What your favourite songs and albums are, where you’d like him to play and so on. He states that due to the rise in online sites such as facebook and other different avenues of communication between audience and artist that it makes sense to formulate the performances around the fans.

Irregardless of the performer suggesting this – if it was someone else within this realm I’d be mentioning this too – I can’t see the attraction in this.  Due to all these different avenues that the internet has brought upon us it’s become increasingly easy to find out what performers are up to. The most obvious one being people in the crowd uploading tonnes of videos from gigs. It takes away the element of surprise, the wow factor of going to see a live performance. Yes, we can avoid these things quite a bit of the time but curiosity can be a horrible thing and there is always just the incident where you open up a thread on a forum and someone is going on about “oh he played such and such followed by” etc…

One of the most interesting aspects of techno music in the past has been the mystery that developed around artists and their work – be it say Plastikman, Drexciya or Basic Channel. While Drexciya never made it out to the live arena both Basic Channel and Plastikman have had seminal shows in the past that blew people’s mind, partly due to the mystery and the sense of not really knowing what to expect. You weren’t standing there waiting for a certain track to drop at a certain time, you weren’t getting a set catered to your means. Music can be about challenging people’s perceptions, bringing them out of their comfort zone and taking them to somewhere they don’t expect to go. A thrilling journey into the mind of the performer. Is this not a more exciting prospect for both performer and audience member? As either  a live performer, a Dj or a crowd member we have to take a step back and reasses why we are into all this if we want to take the easy option and pander towards what people want or expect. How does one develop in a positive manner in that situation?

17 Comments

  1. rudy rhubarb says:

    RH is like Andy Warhol in the 1970’s. He is this old guy who is surrounded by young kids who is just kind of cruising on the brand that he developed in the 1960’s when his work was vital. Now he is just sort of wrapped in a cocoon of wealth and age. He makes a ton of money servicing the middlebrow market. He isn’t Tiesto, but he isn’t KDJ either.

    RH is a huge business and it is geared towards serving it’s customers. This isn’t any different from a food company doing product and demographic research. This is the kind of research that is commonplace with any metrics driven company. They are gathering data so that they can allocate their resources most effectively.

    This isn’t art, this is soundtracking and promotion for alcohol and drug consumption. Hawtin’s name sells a lot of beer. The BUSINESS of dance music is about consuming product. The alcohol industry has made more money from this music than any of the artists, record labels or gear makers could ever dream of.

    This demographic information is great for his booking agent. He has objective data from his customers regarding the demand for his product. He is going to be able to hold that info over the head of any promoter who chooses to do business with him. I would love to how much he is going to charge per gig.

    “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” AW

  2. Md says:

    “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” AW

    Shitty quote, disagree.

  3. James says:

    Thanks for posting this — seeing that Plastikman had a customer survey really threw me.

    If Hawtin wants to play at running a fashion label or drive M-nus into the ground, that’s his right and I’m fine with it, but fooling with Plastikman strikes a nerve because it is such a landmark and, as you pointed out, its strength was tied to a sense of mystery and even anarchy: mysterious transmissions issuing from black boxes, illegal parties in power plants, even urban legends about the contents (and legal problems) of the cover of Sheet One.

    Although it is tempting to rationalize this customer survey as ‘postmodern collaboration’ or as taking advantage of today’s computernet technology, it’s simply cold marketing and little more.

    It’s such an awful and transparent and condescending tactic! Really, after 15 years of reviews, sales data, remixes, licensing, and feedback, why do you need to ask which tracks people prefer? You know the answer to all of these questions.

    To vent my frustration another way: regardless of the Cube or Richly.Hawtin or the past two years of M-nus output, I could always point to Plastikman as this terrific and honest thing that gave Hawtin the right to fool around. Now he’s cannibalizing his past before he even steps into the studio. Just because Warhol chained art to commerce forty years ago doesn’t make it good.

    But hopefully I’m completely wrong and the album will be mindblowing.

  4. Teshno says:

    A cynic would say he’s asking the audience what they want to see what would be best received, would sell most tickets/LPs and would make him most money…

  5. rudy rhubarb says:

    The point I was trying to make is that they were both washed up by middle age. Warhol in the late 70’s is like Hawtin in the late 00’s.

    Ten years past their prime and making more money than ever. I am not saying it’s good, but it is what it is.

    If you don’t like it, don’t pay any attention to what he does. I never would have known this was happening if it hadn’t been posted here. I check this blog because I usually don’t have to hear about this kind of crap. Hawtin has been dead to me since 1998, nothing he does surprises me anymore.

    I would love it if he came through with some next level shit, but I am not holding my breath.

  6. James says:

    I agree with you and it’s an interesting comparison — I’m sure being the ‘Warhol of techno’ must have been written into Hawtin’s to-do list years ago. And if Hawtin had even a drop of the honesty that Warhol possessed, I’d be completely fine with this foolishness.

    Warhol was brutally honest about the connection between money and art. He painted pictures of money, he published his sales figures, and he never stopped talking about money and fame — which was groundbreaking and even necessary in the 1970s.

    That said, Hawtin’s recent efforts are so obviously cash driven and of little other merit, yet they’re bundled in pretentious language about technology, communication, and culture. And it’s this dishonesty that drives me nuts.

    You’re right: I shouldn’t pay attention to what he does — and I usually don’t. But Plastikman is too tall of a landmark for me to overlook and it’s reassuring to see a respectable site like ISM calling bullshit.

  7. Kenny says:

    “I check this blog because I usually don’t have to hear about this kind of crap.”

    This is a valid point and usually Hawtin’s antics wouldn’t get a mention – and it’s not something you will see much of in the future either – but as someone mentioned this is Plastikman he’s fucking with and also I didn’t make this post specifically cause it’s Hawtin – he’s the easiest target out there – but also it was a springboard for me to talk about live performances in general within techno and how something like this – if it was Gerald Donald at something like this (i know, never gonna happen, but hear me out)I’d be saying the same – is a shitty was for things to have developed, and something I really hope I see little of again.

  8. clom says:

    Hawtin seems to be interested (for whatever reason) in the possibilities of online networks in terms of creating a relationship (of whatever nature) between artist/performer and fans. As far as I can see that’s driven by money. But so are a lot of reunion/revival tours. I just think the idea that a set list picked by fans is just one step too far, it implies the performer doesn’t have any interest in revisiting the music for any reason other than fans reaction. That doesn’t work for me, I prefer the notion of an artist presenting their own vision as they see it.

    Is anyone else reminded of when you get those wedding invites that say “please RSVP with a song that will get you up dancing” (which, when you see it, you know you’re going to be bombarded with hour after hour of awful chart guff watching your Uncle Larry slavering over your missus). Or something.

    Not for me thanks bucko, although i’ll be having a sniff around some of the vinyl reissues.

  9. All I would say is it just seems desperate. Maybe if being on top is all you’ve ever known you’d do almost anything to keep it that way…

    Let us hope he just concentrates on making music and not money while he’s in the studio. I mean for God’s sake Plastikman music is going to sell.

  10. brian says:

    Good post Kenny.
    Art is not surveying people and giving them what they want. Art should be an expression of a person, an outpouring, a message, a desire, SOMETHING other than asking the public what they want and serving it to them in the most business-like fashion. This sort of “ask the audience” mentality is the ruination of popular culture since it is driven by ticket sales.
    I find it so offensive that modern Hollywood producers would not dare release a movie without having screen-tested one or more endings with focus group audiences. Surely, writing a movie, directing it, telling the story should be the work of one creative person or group who have a vision to unfold. Whether the viewers enjoy it or not is up to them. A movie should not be a jumble of scenes to which the lowest common denominators of society have given a thumbs-up to.
    In much the same way, the thought of going to a Plastikman live show with the elements decided in advance by the Hawtin faithful is ridiculous.

  11. chrisdisco says:

    “but also it was a springboard for me to talk about live performances in general…”

    it is a really worthwhile post for this reason. i fully agree with what you say about losing a bit of the mystery. been thinking that myself for a while.

  12. Jack says:

    Irregardless is not a word!

  13. kenny says:

    And I don’t have a sub-editor. 😉

  14. Jack says:

    Most of the time you couldn’t tell – but when it comes to perpetuating Bushisms you’ve gotta draw the line! 🙂

  15. i’m not waiting anything from Hawtin, but i definitely agree with Andy Warhol comparision. if he loves making money, why not? i don’t care. from this prespective the whole minimal techno could be seen like pop-art. btw, on the other side mr. Wolfgang Voigt was defining a “genuinely German pop music” creating Kompakt. and he did it!

    cheers

  16. jtechnoir says:

    YAWN. Call me a cynic, but either way I don’t care, survey or not. As a consumer of electronic music, I’ll make my own decision when he’s finally ready to release another “good” record. In my opinion, he hasn’t done anything worthwhile since the Consumed album. So by all means take the survey and tweet about whatever tracks he may choose to debut due to the populous vote, in the meantime, I’m not holding my breath. Fuk that!

  17. brut! records says:

    Richie who??

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