The limits of silence as protest in the age of social media

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Virgin Records Cat. No PR3420, 1990: ‘Dance Hall Of Shame’

A couple of years ago I chanced upon a curious record while browsing the bargain bins of Austin record shop End of an Ear. The record’s stark cover, containing nothing more than the solitary phrase ‘Dance Hall of Shame’ and a red marker-like smear, unfolded to reveal a short essay on censorship, opening with a Vaclav Havel quote about freedom of speech and ending with a portentous line warning that “if we… overstep our bounds with labelling and censorship, then our unwillingness to accept the risk of freedom…


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Use of technology, and our attitudes to it, are completely different things.

There is no tech backlash, the New York Times tells us; a statement met with sighs of vindication in some corners of the internet, in which invocations of an “invented narrative” sum up the minority view — albeit a vocal one — against the increasing prevalence of technology criticism in parts of the mainstream and left commentariat. In the last quarter, according to the Times, Facebook “added about a million new daily users in the United States alone”, and the implication appears to be that it’s time we all woke up and smelled the coffee: people want and like technology…


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In the past, we may not have thought of design as the terrain on which the future of democracy would be decided. But that was before we entered into an age in which more and more of the designed objects and interactions we encounter became silently curated, positioned and politicised without our consent.

The great triumph of handheld technology is the lie it conceals. Ever-present and portable, it draws our attention downwards, off-wards, at right-angles to the march of life before us. As long as our heads are bent, we’re captive, placing faith in an impermanent, implied plane of living…


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I’ve been a professional musician for around fifteen years now, and while the inspirations that first prompted me to pick up a bass guitar all those years ago still remain a constant in my life, the opportunities and media for artistic expression have changed in fundamental ways.

Last year, I decided to take my lifelong interest in graphic design and its possibility as cultural critique and apply to a Masters of Fine Art program at the University of Texas. Entering the design course, I wanted to find a new way to interrogate the things I spent much of my music…


The people who stand to benefit the most from panic, from the discord sown by scaremongering in both social and traditional media are richer than you. They want the same thing terrorists want: society in disarray. They want you running scared.

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What is terrorism? Conventionally, it’s a term defining acts of crazed, radically ideological individuals or partisan groups perpetrated either to promote fear amongst hapless bystanders or as targeted retribution. But the term in itself is a convenient blind for the myriad aims of the acts behind it. ‘Terrorism’ is a hugely loaded phrase which conveniently removes all context from…


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In a culture running out of ideas, the new Young Legionnaire album has something to say— even if it’s just goodbye

“Man’s guilt in history and in the tides of his own blood has been complicated by technology, the daily seeping falsehearted death” ~Don DeLillo, ‘White Noise’

Do you know what the end of something is like? Have you felt your belief in what’s right growing in concert with a shrinking sense of participation in the power that is around and above you? Are you lost? Have you had enough?

I have.

We’re approaching the end of a creative age. After a period during which technology represented the most exciting tool we could imagine in the quest for equality and empowerment…


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Mansun circa 1998: Rathbone, Chad, Draper and King.

What happens between the ear, the heart, and the memory

As part of my podcast series ‘Exploded Drawing’ — which is about music from the 90s — I recently sat down with great relish to discuss Mansun’s second album Six with Transgressive Records co-founder Tim Dellow.

Admittedly, the exercise of picking a particular era of music as a starting point naturally tends to nostalgia: it’s an occupational hazard, since in delving into a formative period, one whose resonance is necessarily a source of affection and affirmation, you’re pointing yourself squarely at your own past. Put two musicians together to ponder such things for an hour or two, and what you’re…


If we all have a voice, who’s actually being heard?

“Deep down inside you know, everybody wants to love big companies…” The Fall, ‘New Puritan’ — Peel Session, September 1980.

Scientists say that punk was not ‘a revolution’ in music, and much as I admire science for its ceaseless exploration of the boundaries of understanding, in this case scientists have got it wrong: punk rock isn’t an index of musical data that can be tracked with software in the same way, that say, hip-hop can. Punk rock was a revolution of thought and attitude, about taking the idea of music — in whatever form — out of the hands of…


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Solar Race: Carl Rogers, Andrew Holland and Eilidh Bradley.

‘I wanted to compete with minds I never knew…’

I was planning to write about rage. About the kind of powerful, articulate, justified rage that seems to have drifted away from today’s guitar bands, but which was so central and intricately wound into the music of Solar Race. Instead as I sit down to write I’m incapacitated with a different kind of rage: the flat, bruised rage of sadness and loss, after learning of Eilidh Bradley’s death. Her scorching voice and guitar playing burned so fiercely at the heart of Solar Race and she is gone without my noticing. In…


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Paul Klee, ‘In the Style of Kairaoun’, 1914

I am no scientist. I am a musician, but like many artists I’m as inspired by the minutiae of life as I am by huge metaphysical concepts. After all, art is one of the ways we’ve chosen to depict philosophical ideas, to grapple with life’s mysteries. So when, about four years ago, I stumbled across the problems of quantum theory in a regular Monday night BBC documentary, it opened up my thoughts in a very particular way to the nature of the unknown that lies at the core of everything around us. …

Gordon Moakes

Bass-ist / writ-ist / graphic-ist: moakesy.com

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