JGB, Interplay and Ghosts
April 13, 2011, 7:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized, Unpublished

JGB Interplay and Ghosts

_words John Calvert


After kissing goodbye you walk up through the concourse, assessing the local night-crawlers as you travel. You pass through the phantasmagoric bustle into a narrow side-alley. The abrupt disparity of volume precipitates a visceral sensation of sudden solitude. It’s oppressive. You feel embraced but naked. So you’re travelling this energy-pocket, this infinitesimal nook of the greater urban matrix, this something / nothing repurposed by the human traffic. The wonderers impose new imaginations on the concrete that the city planners could never have anticipated; extracting the ‘hidden architectural intentions’. In that way we own it; or our minds too for the duration of our stay. The sound of your footprints are reformed, pitching up, then down, starved and dry, gated thumps on a hollow patio – the city making its impression on you, changing you with dead echo and unnatural contours. As you pass below the obnoxious sodium orange, your shadow emerges from beneath your feet then elongates smoothly to a distance of 10 metres. At its tip is a person. Before it’s too late the faceless creature passes by at an erotic proximity. Another close encounter with another stranger, in a strange land.

This Is Interplay.

Hauntology academic Peter Buse’s description of the ghost as neither of the present or of the past perfectly describes Interplay; as do Foxx’s own ‘sound recording as séance’ ideas or his ruminations on the ‘ghosts of the media age’: specifically the way in which media from the past “haunts the creative acts of our present and future”.

However. Mouth-watering though it may be to imagine a cross between Foxx’s classic Ballardian diagrams and modern-day hauntology, to categorise Interplay as ghostly in the Pink / Salem / Demdike Stare sense is drawing an incorrect parallel. This is a pop album, in the traditional sense, all spiky perspicacity and a brittle magnetism.

The distinction is thus: rather than channel the ghost, Foxx is the ghost, returned to us here to walk that thoroughfare of vintage Ballardian psycho-geography, repeating a flickering transmission in 15-second loops forever, in more or less his past self form c.1980.

On Interplay with the multitude of various treatment distorting his voice, Foxx inhabits his own concept of spectrality, which in interviews he forms around the video records of Marilyn Monroe – elaborated on here in Foxx’s conversation with Stereoklang: “made of light and electricity, she talks dances, sings, smiles, yet she has been dead for forty years, she is dust – yet she lives on”.

It’s important to note how on the money the electro-deity was in the Hauntology respect:

The attendant tune to Foxx’s Monroe fixation – ‘Dust and Light’ from 2003’s Crash And Burn contains prototypes of Mike Powell’s concepts, especially that of ‘the anamorph’ and the peripheral location of ‘the ghost’ in any effective spook story: “Sometimes I’ve seen you walking among the population /Hidden in the margins for a while / Flickering through the faces and the times / Glittering in the corner of my eye’.

Consider too Foxx’s recent comparisons between his avant material and a séance, or his points in a recent interview with Fortean Times: “We still use the term ‘medium’ to describe a modern technological communications process, for instance, when this was previously used as a term for someone who claimed to communicate with spirits”.

cf.K-Punk saw it wise to interrogate Foxx on concepts closely connected to the subject, way back in 2006.

cf. Foxx’s take on the discourse seems closely alignment with the J-horror concept of the ghost – a something which exists in the non-spaces of television static, telephone wires, cctv footage and other virtual dimensions of modern tech.

cf. In Nineties hard sci-fi novel Snow Crash – a study on memetics and archeology – the television static is a gateway into a metaverse.

cf. In Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist the little girl breaks the fourth wall backwards, into the negative expanses the girl is a tv tommy type who’s habits put her closer to the spirit world. She’s a blonde button nosed paragon of americanism; a very hauntological-esque figure. The television is her portal.

cf. Between events at The Red Room, Lynch often cuts away to the TV Snow, so to reimpose the artifice and hyperreality on the viewer.

cf. Applicable to Interplay, Wire magazine have described how James Blake makes music that is a memory of itself.


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