Maxwell Demon: Rooted and Upturned

It’s always slightly galling to read something that articulates exactly a thought that you have struggled to put into words for so long.

Thus, the ever-excellent Boing Boing  nails a problem with the current musical nostalgia that has bothered me for a long time, albeit in a very vague manner:

What was once a dim memory, a wobbly VHS tape, a slice of warped vinyl, or a bootleg DVD or CD trading hands amongst enthusiasts has become a towering digital midden so huge that it threatens to impede our view of the future.

It’s an excellent read, and rings true, too: where once, the entirety of a young artists’ sound and look may have been based an a dim but vibrant memory of, let’s say, an obscure German David Bowie video, now they can trawl an endless archive and watch it for ever.

This is clearly great for cultural librarians, but makes me wonder: does it allow – force, even – all but the most determined artists to merely produce a pastiche?

Maxwell Demon might well be someone who has deliberately avoided these traps. Maybe he did it subconsciously. Maybe he’s locked in a room without access to Youtube. Who knows?


Suffer and Burn is oddly rootless, existing in both the past and present. It sounds warped and vague, stretching over decades of music, assimilating bits and pieces in a curiously loose manner. And “Welcome to another year,” is an unusually sad start to a song when sung like that.

Quite strange, quite lovely, quite possibly one to watch.


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