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2. Kodwo Eshun- Motion Capture

Afrofuturism comes from Mark Dery's 93 book, but the trajectory starts with Mark Sinker. In 1992, Mark starts writing on black science fiction, that's because Mark's just been to the States and Greg [Tate]'s been writing a lot about the interface between science fiction and black music. He wrote this review called "Yo Hermeneutics" which was a review of David Toop's Rap Attack plus a Houston Baker book, plus someone else's book, and it was one of the first pieces to lay out this science fiction of black technological music right there.
    swarm 1
  1. Nick Land-Meltdown
  2. Kodwo Eshun-Motion Capture
  3. R.Mackay/M.Fisher-Pomophobia
  4. Rohit Lekhi-Futureloop/ Black Bedlam
  5. Ccru-Swarmachines
    swarm 2
  1. Steve Metcalf-Killing Time/Strife Kolony/NeoFuturism
  2. Angus Carlyle-Amortal Kombat/No UFOs
  3. Rob Heath & Christina Paouros-Destination 3000 Degrees
  4. David Cole-Post-Cybernetic Judicial War
  5. Iain Hamilton Grant-Burning AutoPoiOedipus
    swarm 3
  1. S.Livingston/L.Parisi/
    A.Greenspan-Amphibious Maidens
  2. Kodwo Eshun-Abducted by Audio (Live)
  3. Steve Goodman-Darkcore
  4. Tom Epps-The Body of Foucault
  5. Switch-Flee Control
    digital hyperstition
  1. Ccru- Barker Speaks
  2. Melanie Newton-Y2Panik
  3. Steve Goodman- Hyper-C: Breaking the Net
  4. Ron Eglash - Recursive Numeric Sequences in Africa
  5. Ron Eglash - Africa in the Origins of the Binary Code
  6. Ccru - Tales from the Cthulhu Club:
    The Vault of Murmurs,
    Leaks from the Miskatonic Bunker-Hotel,
    The Templeton Episode
  7. Ccru - Pandemonium
  8. Ccru - Glossary

"And so anyway Mark went over, spoke to Greg, came back, started writing on black science fiction. He wrote a big piece in The Wire, a really early piece on black science fiction in which he posed this question, asks "What does it mean to be human?" In other words, Mark made the correlation between Blade Runner and slavery, between the idea of alien abduction and the real events of slavery. It was an amazing thing, because as soon as I read this, I thought, my god, it just allows so many things. You can collapse all of these things; science fiction and music, they're the same. And then from there, it was pretty much out. It was out and various people started picking up on it and using it in various ways. And Mark Dery, through the Greg Tate route, simultaneously started doing it in 93, but he had no idea that there was anyone in London following it, and since then you've got people like Kevin Martin, who's a journalist, who's been following it, you've got people like Simon Reynolds following it. So there's a real perception of black science fiction as this ongoing thing.

"The [forthcoming] book is a number of things. First of all, at its simplest, it's a study of visions of the future in music from Sun Ra to about 4 Hero. One of the big strands is breakbeat science, and breakbeat science, as I see it, is when Grandmaster Flash and DJ Kool Herc and all those guys isolate the breakbeat, when they literally go to the moment of a record where the melody and the harmony drops away and where the beats and the drum and the bass moves forward. By isolating this, they did something comparable to switching on a kind of electricity, by making the beat portable, by extracting the beat. I call it motion capturing, which is like, in things like Jurassic Park and all the big animatronic films, motion capure is the device by which they synthesize, they virtualize, the human body. They have a guy that's dancing slowly, and each of his joints are fixed to lights and they map that onto an interface, and then you've got it. You've literally captured the motion of a human; now you can proceed to virtualize it. And I think that's kind of what they did with the beat. They more or less grabbed a kind of potential beat which was always there, by severing it from the funk engine, by materializing it as actually a portion of vinyl that could be repeated. They basically let loose, they basically switched on, the material potential of the break which had been lying dormant for a long time. So I follow that, that isolation of the breakbeat through different spheres. Through Grandmaster Flash and the invention of scratchadelia.

When scratching first came out people thought it was a gimmick first of all, then initially they thought it was an interesting effect. And then, if you look in books, when most people talk about scratchadelia, about scratching on vinyl, they say it's a rhythmic rubbing of the vinyl in a percussive way, so as to accompany the rest of the song. And they basically read back vinyl in terms of some kind of rhythmic process. But actually a rhythmic process isn't really what's going on. What's going on is a new textural effect. Scratching, there's no parallel to scratching; it never existed before the actual materiality of it being used in this incredible way. Scratching is more like a transformation sequence, more like the audio parallel of The Thing maybe, or American Werewolf , Altered States, where you see the human transformed into a werewolf, and just before they finally become werewolf you suddenly get a glimpse of the human, then it flashes away again. That's kind of what scratchadelia does. It's this unstable mix of the voice and the vinyl. It's this new texture effect. You could say the voice has become materialized. It's literally phase-shifted into this new sound. So I follow scratchadelia through Grandmaster Flash into electro, with another group called Knights of the Turntable. And I follow it through to Goldie and 4 Hero, specifically in terms of graffiti, in terms of breakbeat's involution via wildstyle. Cos graffiti wildstyle is like this cryptographic language, in which the single letter turns into a typographic environment that you literally enter. And it's like doing a kind of origami of the head. You have to see it in the head. Your whole head is seized in this origami motion. It's very much like a perceptual gymnastics, looking at Wildstyle. So that's what happens to graffiti, and there's a big interface between graffiti and the break. Goldie says things like, "My beats are sculpted in 4D, in four dimensions." And, similarly, there's this famous graffiti guy called Kaze-2 who, back in 89, was already talking about the step beyond wildstyle. Wildstyle was 3D, but Kaze-2 was talking about five dimensions, he was talking about computer style. He said, "In my work I do the computer style, I do the five step dimensional parallel step staircase." This is straight out of Escher. So basically I follow breakbeat science right from this isolation of the rhythmic DNA right through to its Escherization, right through to its moment of involution and then I follow that into Drum 'n' Bass where, of course, because the beats are digitalized, it's information to be manipulated. I follow breakbeat science, I follow it to the conclusion of tracks of people like 4 Hero, specifically "Parallel Universe", where I turn the emphasis and focus on the science in breakbeat. And the thing I notice about breakbeat science, about the way science is used in music in general, is that science is always used as a science of intensified sensation. In the classical two cultures in mainstream society, science is still supposedly the science that drains the blood of life and leaves everything vivisected, in analysis. But in music it's never been like that; as soon as you hear the word science, you know you're in for an intensification of sensation. In this way, science then refers to a science of sensory engineering, so Drum 'n' Bass announces this, when it has titles like "Sunspots" or "Wrinkles in Time", these are the points where the laws of gravity and the laws of time and space collapse, and they're simultaneously saying rhythm is about to collapse when you enter these zones. So you've got someone like Goldie who does "Timeless", and "timeless" is obviously referring to simply the infinite loop of the breakbeat, which Goldie's trying to tap into.

"There's the whole thing about the synth race, entering the synth race, which is techno and Kraftwerk, the whole interface between the first Detroit guys and what I call the import ear. The guys listening to this stuff coming out of Europe, coming out of England, listening to the whiteness of the synthesizer and using it because that sound would make them alien within America. That's the secret behind all of the early Detroit records. All those guys - Model 500, Cybertron - they've all got these affected Flock of Seagulls type accents. Why do they have this? Because they want to be alien in America. How do they do this? By singing like white New Romantic English kids.

So it's the idea of white music being exotic to black American ears. So it's more or less like trying to turn the exotic eye back onto the English, because that's part of the process that happened. Also what happened, basically techno was happening without the registration, without the registering mark of the UK media, the traditional steps in which America comes out with an original music, and it's usually bastardised in England and Europe and mixed, remixed, and then sent back. That was reversed; in this case, it was America bastardising, taking English music and doing strange things with it. Hence the weird embarrassment, the famous embarassment, English journalists would head over to Detroit to say, "Where's this music come from?", only to find out this music had come from where they'd just, only to find out that they were the origin. This is the first explicit case where white music is the origin, and it's the black American musicians who are the adulterators and the bastardisers. So techno's a complete reversal of the classic 60s myth of the blues and the Rolling Stones, the entire rock heritage which starts out with this famous myth of Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones. In techno, you've got an immediate reversal. In techno, Kraftwerk is the delta blues, Kraftwerk is where it all starts. In techno, Depeche Mode are like Leadbelly. For techno, A Flock of Seagulls are like Blind Lemon Jefferson. So Europe and whiteness generally take the place of the origin. And Black Americans are synthetic; the key in techno is literally to synthesize yourself into a new American alien. So I look at that and I look at the synth race in terms of various developments of that, for instance, there's a whole dark side with Detroit which I talk about. And then I go into Underground Resistance, especially, who've developed an entire war, an entire military assault, a whole kinaesthetic of war based around the release of their single. How each single becomes like a missile launched in war against the programmers.

"But the main point is that I'm trying to bring out what I call the sonic fiction of records, which is the entire kind of series of things which swing into action as soon as you have music with no words. As soon as you have music with no words, then everything else becomes more crucial: the label, the sleeve, the picture on the cover, the picture on the back, the titles. All these become the jump-off points for your route through the music, or for the way the music captures you and abducts you into its world. So all these things become really important. So a lot of the main sources of the book are from sleeve notes; they're the main thing. A lot of the book talks about sleeve note artists. It talks about the guys who did the covers for those Miles Davis sleeves, this guy Mati Klarwein, another guy Robert Springett, who did the covers for Herbie Hancock's early 70s albums. From them to this guy Dave Nodds who did all the early Suburban Base covers of DJ Hype, where DJ Hype looks like Judge Dredd. There's this single, "The Trooper", and DJ Hype is on the cover, and he's got two decks strapped to his side. He's got the cross fader, the plus and minus, across his middle. He's got these guns, which I think are actual vinyl themselves. It's sound as a weapon, sound as a military instrument that you can kill people with. It's total Judge Dredd; it's mechanismo, basically.

I talk a lot about sleeve note artists. There's obviously different interfaces between different sonic fictions, between the title and the music. You can say, Hendrix would say, `What I'm doing is a painting in sound'. And you can say reversely with the sleeve notes, the reason the sleeve note pictures capture you is because they're like a sounding in paint. If you listen to them, you imagine them as weird visions conjured up through the music. It's really strange.

"Part of the thing is to very much reverse traditional accounts of black music. Traditionally, they've either been autobiographical, they've been biographical, or they've been heavily social, they've been heavily political. My aim is to suspend all of that, absolutely, and then, in the shock of these absences, you put in everything else, you put in this huge world opened up by a microperception of the actual material vinyl. What immediately happens, in almost all accounts, people immediately look over, they literally look over, the vinyl to whatever transcendent logic they can use instead of actually starting with the vinyl. The book is very much a a materialization of it. So I'm looking at all these sonic fictions, I'm looking at all the different levels of science that exist within the material object.

Stuff like motion capture almost sounds like a mechanical operation being conducted. You can just imagine some kind of telepresence character already at work. Part of the thing is that all these terms are things that are already familiar to a lot of us. They constitute basically an unofficial mythology at end of the century, this entire range of sonic fictions. They're pretty much like a shared language amongst a whole generation of people. It's very much the difference between over 40s and under 40s is a real familiarity with this entire - almost like different dataverses or polyverses stacked on top of each other. There's all kind of fascinating implications which I want to work out in the book. Things like the 21st century nervous system. If you go back to Norman Mailer, The White Negro, he talks a lot about building a new nervous system. And then if you read on a bit to Ballard, Ballard often talks about the conflict between the geometry and posture, the competition between the animate and the inanimate and the way the inanimate often creeps in and wins.

"To me, it makes complete sense to see action movies in the same stratum as scratchadelia. There's the same velocities, the same vectors, the same sounds: the sound of a car as it skids round a corner is the same sound as the wheels of steel make as they ride around. You're captured, abducted by the same sounds in each. It's this fantastic sound of velocity, as two surfaces in friction literally converge and then shoot apart at fantastic speeds. It's an incredible excitement. These things are happening concurrently, at any moment in time it's really easy to see that's where sonic invention has gone. It's part of being captured by tiny moments of time, being obsessed with tiny moments of time. Part of what happens with sampladelia is that you've got a lot of music based on sampler memory, so that a lot of the hooks, a lot of the music that abducts you will have to be 4 seconds or 9 seconds. So there's this huge pyschedelia based upon disguising these seconds; it's like Mark Sinker says, Mark's got this great line about finding the universe in a grain of sound and that's what the sampler does.

There's this huge psychedelia grown up in which you're able to literally fall into a universe of sound and it's literally granular, tiny microphonemes of sound. Or in Abbaon Fat Tracks by Tricky, there's this woman who whispers to her kid `Quick, quick, fly away, fast as you can to be with Jesus', she really whispers it. That whole sample must last, I dunno, 5, 7 seconds, 8 seconds, 11 seconds, but there's something so incredible about it. It abducts you so much, because you can hear an atmosphere in it, you can hear an ambience, you can hear levels of foreground within that sample. You can feel yourself getting abducted by it. So there's way in which the visual really seems to suggest that. Then there's this whole thing I was reading with Michel Chion, where he was saying in Audio-Vision. Michel Chion is a really interesting guy, he was a student of Pierre Schaffer, the guy who started Concrete, then he became a theorist. So he's the best person on film and sound ever. Part of my relation to sound is that he talks about sound in film, and sound in film, I'm only just realising it now, a lot of my favourite samples are of course from sound in film.

So sampladelia opens a continuum between visual sound and audio sound. Visual sound is always feeding in from one to the other. Hence why I love a lot of film samples. Probably why I love the visual so much is that it's always being grabbed any way by the music. By extinguishing the visual output, the music is switching it on elsewhere. It's almost as if the eyes start to have ears, as if, Michel Chion would say this, your ears have had their optical capacity switched on. In a strange way, your ear starts to see. Chion is saying that each of the senses have the full capactity of all the others. It's simply that hearing happens to go through the ear, but all the other senses can go through the ear as well. The ear is meant to hear, but it can do all the other things as well, if it was switched on to the right capacity. I think that's what he meant, but that's what I take from it any way. And sometimes when you hear those samples, Predator 2 or Flytronix, it does feel like the ear is somehow sensing things.

"A similar thing that happens a lot is a big transference to tactility, which I talk a lot about as well. Whenever sound gets subdermal, whenever in Drum 'n' Bass the sound gets very scratchy and lots of shakers and rattlers, there's often a lot of sounds where the percussion is too distributed, too motile, too mobile for the ear to grasp as a solid sound. And once the ear stops grasping it as solid sound, sound very quickly travels to the skin instead, and it's like the skin starts to hear for you. And whenever the skin starts to hear, that's where you feel a creepy crawly, and that's when conduction creeps in, when people say, `I felt really cold', or really cold music: that's literally because their skin has dropped maybe a centigrade or something as literally the music has hit it, as the beat has pressed across it. So I follow all those kind of things. I think light and sound, there's a stratum across which both elements cross all the time. They've both become versions of a sampladelia. And that sampladelia, by definition, allows you to, lets you analogize a lot of things. And not only does it analogize, it lets you mutate and recombinate.

"Sampladelia is a mandate to recombinate. That's what it is, that's how it works. You start to realise that, when most people try and analogize something, or when most people try to praise something they praise it in terms of something that's gone 30, 40 years ago. You start to see the drags people place on the emergence of the new, the way in which people constantly put the brakes on any kind of breaks. So if I'm reaching for parallels, I'll always try and reach for parallels that are actually ahead of what I'm suggesting. Hence, don't think of breakbeat in terms of some kind of ancient technique which has been recusitated. For instance, you see a lot of people saying breakbeat is the African drum, the return of the African drumming sound, but it's the other way around. The breakbeat should be moved forward. Think of it in terms of a motion capture device being made on vinyl, before there was any digital equipment to be made. If he could have been, Grandmaster Flash would have been a computer designer, if Grandmaster Flash had been an animator, he'd be doing motion capturing. He's just doing it on vinyl first. So those are the kinds of things I tend to look for.

It's all about trying to establish kinaesthesias, cos that's really what's happened. I think almost all rhythmic psychedelias, different varieties of rhythmic psychedelia, there's almost a warzone of kinaesthesia going on. There's a sense in which the nervous system is being reshaped and rehalted by beats for a new kind of state, for a new kind of sensory condition. Different parts of your body are actually at different states of evolution. Your head may well be lagging quite far behind the rest of your body. In Drum & Bass, there's obviously quite a lot of attention, through dub, to the stepper. There's possibly the idea that the feet may well be more evolved, and hands obviously, feet and hands. DJs, hands are very involved. Terminator X spoke with his hands. Other DJs yelled with their hands. I've got this brilliant scratchadelia album called `Return of the DJ', put out by the Bomb magazine in 'Frisco, and it's all done by DJs, it's a brilliant album. One guy's done a track called `Terrorwrist', so his wrist is a terror, his wrist sends out terrifying bombs. The idea of a terroristic wrist action is fantastic. That's like a predatory wrist. So you can see in that the DJ has really evolved the kind of hand-on, the hand that sends terror by a flick, by the way it touches vinyl. So I often think that the actual body is at different stages of evolution. There's a constant war on.

"A lot of mainstream media's main job as what I call a future shock absorber is to maintain a homeostasis, maintain traditional inherited rules of melody over harmony, beats over rhythm, beats over melody or whatever, maintain in terms of proper music, or true music, or respectable music, and that's always a way in which people try and hierarchize the body. Part of the big thing is to talk about dance music simultaneously as a kinaesthetic and a head music cos it tends to be both. As soon as you listen to dance music at home, it's repetitiveness becomes quite head music-like. I've never understood why they can't be, why they aren't the same thing. Part of the thing is that hip hop is head music, it's not stage music, hip hop never works best on stage. And that's because it's using all these sonic fictions, all these musics, they're simultaneoulsy kinaesthetic, so there's a whole kinaesthetic direction, but on the other hand, the book is divided on a kinaesthetic continuum, and simultaneously a head continuum. Hip hop even has a whole term of the heads, which is more or less saying that hip hop has it own hippie, progressive music. So I talk about Cypress Hill and the bongs and all that stuff, hip hop and its whole drug-tech interface is all about hip hop and its hippies. Simultaneously, I say that John Coltrane is the first hippie. I look at John Coltrane's last records, records like Cosmic Music, Interstellar Space, Om. Coltrane famously tripped in 65, then he did this record Om. Manuel De Landa has this whole thing about when you trip you become a liquid computer, because your brain literally liquefies, and I think that's what pretty much happened to Coltrane in about 65. Cos what he does is he starts using Om, the Indian chant, and he's trying to assemble a universal music, and the whole thing about the Om is that it turns the human into this huge, giant, vibrating power station really. Om is this operation to turn yourself into this energy field. So you have this late 60s jazz when all these guys were basically turning themselves into power generators. And you had this incredible music that was more or less trying to bootstrap a universal sound. And it kind of worked. I look a lot at that whole strain from Coltrane through to Sun Ra, through to Alice Coltrane. A whole kind of holiness through volume, a kind of holy amplification.

The reason I don't talk about the literary is that there's just no need to. What with thinking about amplification, the kind of impact of the sensory environment of amplification, loudness in itself, the sensory impact of volume, the sensory impact of repetition, of broadcasting, all these things. There's so much to talk about, just at the level of volume, of pressure. There's a way in which you can directly connect those with everything else. You can talk about the audio-social and immediately you've connected the sound to everything else; the literary just never really seems to appear, except as different kinds of sonic fiction. In which case, precisely because they're on record, precisely because they're not in a book, they don't come out as literary, they come out as more like the difference between reading a paper and hearing it read out on the news. You get the idea of hearing a voice coming at you through various channels, just as you never hear the news directly, you always hear an audio feed, you always hear a voice transmitted through a whole series of other things before it ever gets to you. That's what happens to fiction once it gets on vinyl; you hear it through the studio. So it's not literary, the literary doesn't work in that space at all. Simultaneously, there's no need for representation, for the signifier, of for the text, or for the law, of for anything. There's no need for any of that at all.

"But of course the way to do it is to realise the music is theorising itself quite well. There's one concept I especially like called percussapella, which is percussion and acapella and percusapella is just the beats on their own. Some DJ thought up a term which describes this sampladelic alloy of percussion going solo, percussion as an acapella. And it's just brilliant. So I can use that, and once music's instrumental, these things suddenly loom into shape and you start to use them . And there's so many concepts, already existent in the music, that all you need do is extract those and use them to build the machine you want to build, use them as parts in a giant connection machine that you want to build. You just hook it on, solder it onto the next concept that you want. So part of the whole drive is very much written as a book of emergence; it's not a history at all, it's very enjoyable to resist the urge to history, because, especially in black music, there's a whole drive towards history and tradition and continuity, and this book is explicitly about the breaks, about the discontinuum. Marshall McLuhan talks about the twentieth century discontinuum. It's all about the breaks and the cuts. Not the flows, more the inheritance has been extremely overstressed in ideas of black music. Except, of course, it isn't a study of black music in the traditional sense. By bringing up, first, the machine and then second, the actual vinyl, all the different qualities move between the machines, and become as much effects of the machines they make as they are pre-existent. So it's the idea that the sonic can produce identities in itself. For example, Clinton is black, but the Star Child is an alien animatronic figure - it's hard to say what colour the Star Child is, the Star Child is pure animatronic. And part of the book always looks that way, always looks to see which hallucination the sonic engenders and then chases that. I never try and collapse the sonic back into the social, and precisely because it's such an almost unanimous tendency, I've gone quite far the other way, I've exagerated it entirely, to the extent, it makes sense when you read someone like Sun Ra, Sun Ra would talk a lot about cosmic music. And I think in cosmic music, he meant it literally in the sense that, what would cosmic music be, it would be the music of the electromagnetic field, the music of radio transmissions say, crossing the electromagnetic field, punctuating its perimeter, disersing and then returning or rebounding. It would literally be the music of electrical disturbances, the atmospheric cosmic disturbances that literally exist in the sky. And if you listen to Sun Ra's Astro Black, those are exactly the sounds he's making with his Moog, he's literally turning the Moog synthesizer into something like a circuit which can literally act as a giant alternating current between the people listening, between the Arkestra, and between the cosmos itself. The Moog is the kind of amplifier that directs current in and out. On one hand, there's a very material way in which he does that because of the actual Moogy sounds are really similar to, if not identical to, the sounds of the cosmos. So it's really fascinating, because if I see it in that way, then things Sun Ra often said, like “I am an instrument” and “the Arkestra is an instrument”. On one hand, he said the Arkestra were tone scientists, sonic scientists, on the other, the Arkestra were his instruments. So you get this idea of music as this sonic production circuit which, as Deleuze was saying, molecules of a new people may be planted here or there. Something like that, Deleuze said. That's very much what Sun Ra's doing: he's using the Moog to produce a new sonic people. Out of this circuit, he's using it to produce a new astro black American of the 70s.

"So, to a fault, absolutely that's what I do all along, to extend the sonic outwards, thereby getting at this feeling of impossibility which this music often gives you. At its best, any music should strike you with its impossibility, and its complete evasion of the rules of traditional fidelity to a live sound. And the way to get at the strangeness of music, rather than to habitualise that music via any other kind of field, is to exaggerate the sonic, and use the sonic as a probe into new environments. Because every new sonic sensation that I can align is simultaneously like a new sensory lifeform. So there's this constant play between the sonic and the sensory, which become the same thing often. It's partly a lot between scale. Often you can open the scale and sound really wide and then disappear into a sound. Often you can shut the scale back up and withdraw to look at the vinyl, or withdraw to look at the sleeves. There's a constant telescoping of perception from very close attention to a record, to pulling back to looking at the vinyl. But I think this is new and fresh. Because vinyl is often ignored.The things most immediately pleasurable about buying a record and about the sonic, about sonic sensation are the things which are always ignored, it's bizarre. So by bringing that to the front - the book should be written weith a sense of familiarity, people will take it to their hearts. The book's been designed to have a very tactile feel, in the same way that your fingers hunger for a sleeve, when you see a sleeve that you like: your fingers kind of reach towards it, they can't help themselves, they really want that. And that's very much the same thing in that the books sleeve and the jacket is meant to design. And it's quite obvious that what I'm trying to do - every object is a machine of subjectivity: the record player is, the record is, the book is, and I simply want my book to become a machine for producing subjectivity. It should be a machine for putting music together.

"For us in the last ten, twenty years, there's been no gap between science art and music, they all form the same thing. Its simply that at any one time things tend to be blocked, and when you have moments of rhythmic psychedelia, its easy to see what can be dislodged and brought out and made into connection machines with other things. Other times things seem to seize up. Breakbeat has opened various retroactive chapters. Similarly the breakdown of techno's longheld Kraftwerk origin point means that people can zip between the 70s and the 90s in a much freer way, move between Krautrock, Herbie Hancock. There's a certain openness in music.

"The key thing to do now is to move into a new field. I've stopped calling myself a writer, for the book I'm just going to call myself a concept engineer. That makes the whole thing much fresher, much more exciting and much less known about. Because that's really what we're really doing. What we're doing is engineering, is grasping fictions, grasping concepts, grasping hallucinations from our own area, translating them into another one, mixing them, and seeing where we go with them. We use these different concepts to probe new areas of experience, to anticipate and fastforward different explorations into new fields of perceptions which are always there, but whose strength lies in that they don't exist in traditional mainstream terms. Traditional mainstream terms are still completely bound up with the literary, and the two cultures, and thank god for that, that means that they can't in any way get in on what's going on - which is just this sudden glance at the end of the century, through the synthesiser. I've renamed all the instruments, I've renamed the synthesiser the Sonatron. Zenakis called the synthesiser the sonatron back in 1980 in one of his books on computers. That's perfect because Sonatron just sounds like a superhero comic, so again there's that convergence of sound into a ballistics. And the drum machine should be renamed what it is: a rhythm synthesizer. I call that rear view hearing. The drum machine isn't a drum machine, there's no drums in it - it's pulses and signals synthesized into new pulses and new signals. There's no drums in it. That's a weird thing that's confused me for years and years - until I worked it out. You'd listen and they'd sound utterly different from drums. The movement from funk to drum machines is an exteremely incredible one: people's whole rhythmic perception changed overnight. And people of course pretended that nothing had happened but it was a major shift, hearing bleeps and signals and different kinds of alternating current as sound. It was a huge kind of shift. In a similar sense Varese calls the drum machine a rhythm synthesizer, and that's a good way to describe it. So all those kind of things, all those concepts, make a sense that really the mainstream are just completely incapable of really grasping at all.

"There really is a sensory involution away from traditions, whatever the divisions of art as supposed to be. It's very much like Sadie [Plant] says, it's not high or low it's just complex, because it has so many travelling and spiralling arms that you can hook onto. This is why when the Americans lament about the virtualization of the body, it just seems bizarre, because it feels like we're doing the opposite, it feels like we're just beginning on this journey into the centre of our senses. It seems the opposite: science always means a hyper sensoriness. Traditional science still means a depletion, cold scientists, extreme logic and all these corny cliches: the ads still show this. But in musical terms, science is the opposite, science is intensification, more sensation. Science is basically rhythm intensified, rhythm estranged. And that's the kind of science, that's how whole generations understand science. When they talk about abstract, what they mean by abstract is sensations so new it hasn't yet got a language for it. So the shorthand is to just call it abstract. There's a whole generation who've grown used to thinking of sensory emotions without a language for them yet. Classically, when most people talk about rhythmic psychedelia, rhythmic psychedelia's broadly been the psychedelic aspect of any particular scene. So it could be anything: from House to trance, to breakbeat to jazz, it could be any scene but I’m interested in the rhythmic psychedelia aspect of each scene, not the scene itself. I'm interested in the points of maximum rhythmic hyperdelia, that's what I'm really interested in. So it could be any of these...

"Postmodernism doen't mean anything in music at all. It doesn't mean anything, it hasn't meant anything since at least 68 when the first versions started coming out of Jamaica. As soon as you had the particular social condition of no copyright, this nineteenth century copyright was already gone, instantly you had the freedom to replicate, to literally recombinate, almost immediately. That encouraged a wildstyle of rhythms where things would attach themselves and recombinate. And as soon as you had that, that's postmdernism accomplished and done with, right then in 68, this is another reason why traditional things don't make any sense in music, ever since then by defintion you've had postmodernism and it hasn't been any big deal at all, it's just already been accomplished. The key thing is to go even further back. For instance, Walter Benjamin's traditional "Work of Art in the Age of ..", that argument doesn't work any more, because Benjamin simply says, one of his main points, or the one his admirers use over and over again, although he says loads of other stuff, the main thing they always say is that in the age of reproduction there's obviously no aura left, the single, unique aura has gone, but of course as soon as you have the dubplate then that's all gone out of the window. The dub plate is where you've got the reproductive process, the mechanical process of pressing vinyl onto the plate that's being played, and suddenly in the middle of that you've got the one-off remix, you've got the track that there's only one of in the world, but it's not an original, it's like a copy, or a third copy. So you've got this thing that's never supposed to exist in Benjamin's world: you've got the one-off copy, you've got the one-off fifth remix, you've got the one-off tenth remix, you've got the one-off twentieth remix. There's only one of it. So the dubplate means that the whole idea of the aura being over doesn't make any sense because the aura is reborn in the middle of the industrial reproduction. Hence the whole jungle acceleration, intensification of the dub plate; the dub plate is reborn as this music of the future. You're hearing music that won't be on the streets till ten months, eleven months later, immediately this gap opens up between you and 1996.

You suddenly imagine yourself in 97, going "Where will I be when I buy this?" and of course you never will, but listening to a dub plate kind of does this little projection on you. You feel yourself 18 months ahead, you literally feel ahead, you're on a plain of acceleration, you're moving faster than you are, because there's only one of these plates. So for that reason alone postmodernism just hasn't existed and as soon as you have a state of remixology - the thing that happened is that remixology got held up in different areas. In jazz, for instance, you had Alice Coltrane remixing John Coltrane, but jazz tradition hated that and said it was basically blasphemy. You had the Beach Boys remixing their stuff and it being refused. So in the major corporations remixology was always stopped, and in Jamaica remixology just became the immediate state of play, first of all cos it's simultaneously hperpredatory as well, it allows a kind of agglomeration of rhythms, a ruthlessness of rhythms, a kind of break war. Andy C calls it a break war. People bid for breaks, or just steal them. This kind of wild frontier, this wild break war going on, rhythms just going mad. So we're far beyond postmodernism here, so immediately all those things, all the traditional arguments just drop out of the window. The idea of exhaustion, that's just gone, cos music doesn't work in that way. It's already a gene pool, so it's not going to exhaust itself.

"And then a whole series of things - the idea of quotation and citation, the idea of ironic distance, that doesn't work, that's far too literary. That assumes a distance which by definiton volume overcomes. There is no distance with volume, you're swallowed up by sound. There's no room, you can't be ironic if you're being swallowed by volume, and volume is overwhelming you. It's impossible to stay ironic, so postmodernism, all the implications of that go out of the window, simultaneous with Benjamin and all the modernist arguments, all those go out of the window as well. So not only is it the literary that's useless, all of the traditional theory is pointless. All that works is the sonic plus the machine that you're building. So you can bring back any of those particular things if you like, but it better work. And the way you can test it out is to actually play it. That's how you test if my book works, because I want it to be a machine. When I say works, I mean I want it to engineer a kind of sensory alteration, some kind of perceptual disturbance. I think I'd really like that very much, because even a tiny sensory disturbance is enough to send out a kind of signal which can get transmitted.

"I think the combination of the DJ and the writer makes a lot of sense. I think it's both different kinds of remixology at work, and all we're really doing is bringing writing and putting it onto the second deck and just accelerating it as much. I think possibly because so much English traditional Brit prose is so matey, and so blokish, and so bluff, no-nonsense, that kind of encourages me in always going for the impossible which can be registered as what the future feels like as sensation. That's why the key things in this book are McLuhan and Ballard, although by the end there won't be any McLuhan and Ballard, but they'll be the guys I was reading throughout. Both those guys have got a fantastic sense, McLuhan in his famous lines about the human being the sex organs for the machine world, those lines are crucial. The Kraftwerk chapter is all about Kraftwerk as the sex organs of the synthesizer.

"The whole series of things about accidents, about bugs, about the producer being someone who can nurture a bug, who can breed a bug and simultaneously most of the key musics have been accidents, they've actually been formed through errors. They're like software errors, syntax errors in the machine's programming, and they form these sounds, and the producer's taken these sounds and more or less nurtured this error, built on this mistake, and if you grab a mistake you've got a new audio lifeform. And you look at it, and it's quite common, back with Can in the 70s, Holger Czukay was saying machines have a lifeform, repetition is the life of machines, so there's a whole thing about machine life that already exists with musicians any way. Producers have already started working out a theory of machine life, and all I'm doing, as soon as you look at what they've been saying, magnify it, and start to use it, you realise that there's almost like a series of, halfway between sonic fictions and scientific fabulations, which I just call sonic fictions, all of them, but sound is produced. There's twenty years of speculation on the machine as a lifeform, there's twenty years of these guys talking about sound as a ghost form, of dub as a ghost. There's twenty years of stuff about music as electronics and cosmic fields, so what I'm doing is literally using them, activating them, switching them on. That way the whole book feels alive, by using musicians, a lot of musiciains, by using a lot of producers who are living now and connecting them up to ones in the past, you switch on the sonic, you switch on a whole sonic register, a whole unofficial register. These people nobody quotes in traditional literature. Nobody quotes Lee Perry as an authority, it's always the grotesque thing of Heidegger and Clinton, it's never the other way around. But Clinton came up with mixadelics, the theory of mixology as a psychedelia, the theory of the mixing desk as a psychedelia, in 79, there it is, mixadelics. That's a concept, he thought of a psychedelia of the mixing desk. So you don't need Heidegger, because Clinton's already theoretical. So what I've done is extract those and set them to work, because those concepts work because they're tied to records. And that's because the vector that a lot of this works on is the record player. And it's the habitualness, you have to look at yourself as a machine programmed, as a biocomputer programmed by the decks. The motions you have to make to put a needle onto the record as the flight of the stylus takes across the groove, think of the hundreds of thousands of times that you've made that motion, the habitualness of putting it on. The way to see this is very clearly for instance when you're listening to a rare groove original, say there's a track you know really well, and you're listening for the first time to the original of it. You suddenly realise that the bit you know is only a tiny bit, just like a three second bit, and then the record just plunges into usually a disappointing mediocrity, before the next sound that you recognise comes up, then it plunges again before the next bit comes up. Sometimes with Parliament tracks you cah hear about five in the first two minutes, I can hear about five recognisable bits of songs that have been snatched away, and these bits, it's almost like they recognise you, because what they're doing is recognising your habitualness in putting them on. When you hear a sound, you have a memory flash, but you almost have a muscular memory, you remember the times you danced to it. You don't just remember the times you danced to it, you remember the times you literally bent over to put the needle on the record to play that bit. Sometimes you even love that bit so much, you even remember going over and over and over that bit again. So when you hear that sound that you love, when you hear the recognisable sample in the middle of alien sound, it's like that sound is recognising your habitualness, and it's really incredible, you suddenly get this picture of as a habit. Clinton's even got a name for it, Clinton calls it a habit-form. You suddenly get a glimpse of yourself as a habit-form, a habit-formed being, a process of habit formation. You suddenly see yourself over the years, how I loved this record. It's incredible, it's like the sound takes a picture of your habits, snaps your habits. And you suddenly see it very clearly. How many times have I put that on? That's what I want to get at, that's the kind of kinaesthetic, these are new sensations which have never existed before, that feeling of being recognised by sound that I've just described. That's kind of new, it hasn't happened before. By definition, it could only happen in the sampladelic generation, by definition it could only happen to people who listen to sampladelic music. And those kind of things just haven't been written about, they haven't even been captured yet.

"So by extending the sonic further and further, I'm on the hunt, I'm chasing for, I'm trying to find out new perceptions, perceptions that have always been there, but haven't yet been grasped and haven't yet been connected to anything else yet. It's literally like this exploration into the unknown. At this point I don't know where it's going and I think at that point, whenever I don't know where things are going, that's when I put the track on again. Cos it's not that the track tells you where it's going, it's that the track allows that unknowingness to take a shape or a form. And it's more or less like connecting it to another track. So everything comes back to the track, the track is always the launching pad, over and over again.

"By now, I've stopped saying `Black culture'. There's always a much stronger perception in America of black culture and that's part obviously because it's been counter-defined agains the traditional knowledge apartheid structure which has been in there. And you can tell almost all American writers are working against this knowledge apartheid, which has been really firmly laid out. After all, everybody should know that in the 60s, most black Americans couldn't even get to art school until about 1969. That's how severe American apartheid was, from the knowledge structure down. So most black Americans write in a way that assumes a unified black culture, then goes on to explain the dissensions between it, or not. But sitting here in England, in London, it's much harder for me to even assume a unified anything, let alone a unified black culture. I tend to start from the opposite. I tend to think of things more in some kind of freefloating form, and there's various things, various strange attractors trying to agglomerate things, there's various inertia-producing forces, which are trying to centre, and trying to attract material to it, calcify it, petrify it, solidify it, reterritorialize it, calcify it, and then usually it gets called tradition, or it gets called history, it becomes a traditional assumption.

"I look at black culture much more as a series of, on one hand, a series of material that's been agglomerated, on the other hand, it's much more like a series of techniques that start out. I tend to think of it much more as a lot of particular figures, for instance, a lot of the particular black producers, engineers that I talk about, see themselves as scientists or technicians. I tend to think of black culture then as an instrument or an environment that they've invented. So I deliberately work against doing it, because if I do, I'll end up with a traditional kind of argument. I'm very much looking into the synthesizings, looking into new black synthetic versions. I can never think of a unified black culture out of which everything comes. To me everything now looks like it's synthesized. There's obviously stuff that's been around long enough so that it feels solidified, calcified, and all the rest of it, but actually it's all synthesized stuff, it's all stuff that was drawn together. Because I'm looking at emergences, by defintion they're going to be really synthetic, like techno. Because I bring the machine into it. Therefore, it changes. But on the other hand, it makes things much more complex because instead of talking about black culture, I'll talk for instance a lot about Ghanaian drum choirs, or talk a lot about the African polyrhythmic engine, polyrhythmic percussion engine. And those will be very particular African traits. It's almost like sound is a sensory technology, so I often talk a lot about black technologies. They're almost like machines - if we're talking about 19th or 18th century Africa, then they'd be machines built a long time ago and passed down. But in the present, it's more like black culture is this series of machines built here and there. The dub plate was one, built in Jamaica. The breakbeat was another, built in New York. I'm so much more focussed on the long end of the telescope and shooting out from that, that I never ever pull back, although I think I will for the end, because otherwise people will do it any way, so I think I should do it.

"I haven't yet pulled back to make commanding statements about what it is in black culture that produces these kind of synthetic technologies. I haven't yet been able to go back a strata to the big what-if question. And that's probably because I don't think it really exists, because I'm so consumed and amazed by the teeming variety of stuff at the other end of the telescope that I can't pull back to see the view, probably because I distrust the idea that there's views, but it wouldn't be like distrusting it but more like a shift in tempo or scale. So shifting to a major oversight, a horizon view then switching back. But basically, I haven't really worked it out, what it is in black culture itself. It could be that, one large thing Greg used to say which worked really well, was that the Middle Passage in America by definition forced culture to become immediately mental. All of the other things by definition were left behind, ruined, architecture, everything else, so culture immediately became mental, immediately became dematerialized. So oral culture is by definition dematerialized, it's all the things you carry in your head, and that's it. And then it has to be rematerialized, first through hitting the hands, or through the mouth or whatever, it had to be passed on again, and reinvented all over again. So there's that whole strain. And there's the key thing which drew me into all this, which was the idea of alien abduction, the idea of slavery itself as an alien abduction which means that we've all been living in an alien-nation since the 18th century. And I definitely agree with that, I definitely use that a lot. But it would simply to be to say that the move, the mutation of the African - I don't even believe in the African - the mutation of African male and female slaves in the 18th century into what became negro, and into the entire series of humans that were designed in America. That whole process, the key thing behind it all is that in America none of these humans were designated human. Therefore, it's in music you get this sense that most African-Americans owe nothing to the status of the human. African-Americans still had to protest, still had to riot to be judged Enlightenment humans in the 1960s - it's quite incredible. And in music, if you listen to guys like Sun Ra - I call them the despotic guys, the real despots - Sun Ra and Rammelzee, Mad Mike - part of the whole thing about being an African-American and an alien musician, is that there's a sense of the human as being a really pointless and treacherous category, one which has never meant anything to African-Americans. This is particularly with Sun Ra - just because Sun Ra pushes it along by just saying he comes from Saturn, so I always accept the impossibility of that. I always start with that, most people try and claim it was an allegory or something. But it isn't an allegory. He really did come from Saturn. I try to exaggerate that impossibility, until it's irritating, until it's annoying, and this annoyance is merely a threshold being crossed in the readers' heads, and once they unseize, unclench their sensorium, they'll have passed through a new threshold and they'll be in my world, I'll have got them. The key thing to do is to register this annoyance, because I think a lot of the moves I've described will provoke real annoyance, the lack of the literary, the lack of the modernist, the lack of the postmodern. All of these things should provoke a real irritation, and simultaneously a real relief, a relief that somebody has left all that stuff behind, and started from the pleasure principle, started from the materials, started from the stuff that really gives people pleasure."