I guess we all saw this coming – the Irish Green party (who have spent the last decade trying to posture as marginally left-wing) have chosen to enter coalition with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, the two main landlord parties on our island. This coalition is notable in and of itself due to how blatantly cynical it is – Fine Gael stopped pretending they wanted to head into opposition, Fianna Fáil stopped pretending that they were any different than Fine Gael, and the Green Party stopped pretending that they actually care about things. RISE TD Paul Murphy aptly described this coalition as a “last-ditch attempt” by our political establishment to retain power – Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil completely bottled this year’s election due to their assumption that we’re only capable of hating one party at a time and have given up on feigning cultural differences as a result. Every single soulless media pundit spent the pre-COVID months of February and March droning on about how the electorate voted for “change” – a vague concept that basically just boils down to “a government that doesn’t disable homeless people with JCBs“.
I originally had a significantly longer piece in the works to go up today, but technical issues meant that I won’t be able to complete it by midnight – something I’m admittedly quite salty about (a 2000 word piece cut itself down to 500 due to an app failing to sync, something I will never get over). To make up for this here’s a piece that never ended up surfacing – it was initially penned at some stage in May for a Neocities-based webzine that was meant to release at the start of the month. The person behind the zine completely vanished from the internet, and I’m unsure as to whether they’ll ever return. If they’re reading this, I apologize! With this essay I tried to condense my style down into the shortest form possible, throwing together every possible reference I could make into a really confusing mess while trying to shoehorn in the zine’s theme of “heat death”. This was penned before we essentially gave up on lockdown and is extremely dated (especially when you consider the fact it was due to go up 24 days ago). Hopefully we’ll be back to normal content next week – apologies about the technical issues.
The thing about music is that you’re not really supposed to be writing about it. Music is fundamentally subjective – your review scores will never be right, your readers will just get bored if you just list whatever instruments were played on each track, and your personal emotions do more to shape your opinion on a record than any objective qualification. You’ll never actually be able to translate the experience of listening to a song into words, at best you can just distill the intensity into something that spurs others to seek it out, and at worst you can just sound like you really want to be an academic. I don’t think I’m personally capable of writing objectively about music and that freaks me out a little, mainly just as I’m running out of phases of my life to condense down into paragraph segments. There’s only so much you can say about listening to Sam Ray records on trains and you can only make so many vague references to records being intense until your reader (let’s be optimistic and assume we even have one) gives up and returns to their really intense Geoguessr session. Whenever a record doesn’t fully click I often find myself scrolling through its RateYourMusic reviews in the vain hope that by reading about another person’s strong emotions I’ll suddenly gain an appreciation by proxy – I don’t particularly care about what some random person thought about the drum machine used on a certain track but I find myself obsessed with the feelings said drum machine surrounded. Writing is arguably at its best when it focuses on translating an unattainable intensity – a gig on the other side of the country, an emotion you’re yet to feel, or the experience of actually understanding the appeal of metal. What that looks during a time where a decent chunk of everything recorded is available on Soulseek is really beyond me however.
I’m genuinely convinced that there is no decent reason for anyone to pay active attention to Irish politics, and I’m not just saying that as I’m forcing myself to write about it again. If I was trying really hard to be smart I’d claim that Ireland serves as a textbook example of what neoliberal class unity looks like – there are no functional differences between the two “main” parties (read: the ones the media don’t hate), our current Taoiseach somehow ended up feuding with LCD Soundsystem, and our former Minister for Justice published a romance novel that’s surprisingly hard to find used copies of. Any differences are purely aesthetic, any movement that captures the attention of the wider public eventually gets sucked into some soulless coalition, and Danny Healy Rae is perpetually on Soundcloud rapper drugs. One of the main complaints that sane people have about our political system is that its “boring” – our party leaders are essentially just chopped and screwed remixes of soulless neolibs in more interesting countries, our politicians all shop in Marks & Spencer, and our media is a glorified regurgitation of whatever’s going on across the pond. Irish politics has essentially been reduced in the eyes of most functioning humans as a glorified playpen for the failsons of property – instead of picking which particular representative of the oppressing class are to misrepresent us each five years, we just pick which local careerist gets to write our RIP.IE condolences. It’s hard to get mad at this system due to how undeniably mundane it is – there is no person on this island who can maintain active emotion when thinking about Micheál Martin for over five minutes and perhaps that’s why he’s about to become our next Taoiseach. Now this’d be the point where I’d usually launch off into a pseudo-Marxist rant about how we need to reclaim the political but today I thought it’d be fun to look at something different – Irish political rap songs.
It feels concerningly good to get properly obsessed with an album again, especially when you consider how many hours I spend each Monday choosing what records to write about. I’ve basically done feck all but listen to music since lockdown started but none of it seems to register – albums end up blending into one another, my last.fm charts all seem suspiciously similar, and revisiting an album from 2018 feels easier than pretending to follow whatever gets released. New albums take at least two or three listens for me to fully appreciate – this is a bit of a problem when I’m barely arsed to listen to something the whole way through once. It feels nearly exciting to find something that warrants the three repeat listens it takes me to understand it – I’m still in some state of stasis but at least it’s morphing in some way (and at least a new album cover will stare me down each time I open Spotify). I have something new to repeat over and over again – a new way to look back on and define this era of my life nostalgically once I’ve forgotten all the details that aren’t related to music. My lockdown has been defined through getting some minor excitement out of the utterly banal – whatever dopamine I do come across arrives from pretentious electronic music, the idea of having endless football highlight shows to catch up on, and getting more than two likes on a tweet. The other day I joked on Twitter about how lockdown killed any ambition I had towards life – my only real power fantasy at the moment is just driving to some random leisure centre while listening to an Oli Xl mix and I feel as if these rapidly lowering expectations help shape my relationship with music in a minor way. I’ve stopped wanting music to offer me some form of escape but to instead capture my full attention for more than five minutes – even if I only want that full attention solely so it’s slightly easier to write these music posts.
I’m no longer capable of keeping track of a full news cycle and perhaps that’s a blessing in disguise – I may be regressing and slowly losing the ability to do much of anything but at least I don’t have the energy to read all ye’re mundane Twitter takes about it. Everything seems to move too fast, everything seems extremely bleak, and every time I open Twitter it’s solely to see if I can get a dopamine hit from getting another like for comparing Shannon to a GMOD skybox. I’ve talked in the past in here about my lockdown life being solely defined by inbetween moments – I have these posts to write and reading group sessions to attend but besides that a lot of my week is just spent looking at the calendar and preparing for what’s next (read: the next time I have to awkwardly talk in front of a webcam). My reading has (seemingly) stalled over the past week – I’m around 56% into Philip Gourevitch’s ‘We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families’ and am (somehow) keeping up with the texts that my reading groups are working on but besides that I’m in an odd state of stasis. I’ll pick up my Kindle, get through a few pages, and then get distracted by staring at the ceiling – which doesn’t help considering how many books I want to get around to before I have to consistently leave the house again. This inability to pay attention to minor Twitter controversies or read books I hold an active interest in doesn’t help when it comes to these Thursday posts – it turns out that I’m actually quite boring when not harking on about Klein’s discography and I guess we’re stuck dealing with that fact until I finally return to my senses and not write anything for six months.
Each day I edge closer to seeming like the world’s most pretentious wannabe English major and there’s feck all I can do to stop it – or at least it seemed that way when I overslept on Saturday and missed out on a Trotskyist Zoom reading group session as a result. Actually leaving the house and interacting with real people who don’t know (or particularly care) about whatever three topics I’m obsessed with arguably grounds me a fair bit – I have to translate my Paul Durcan jokes into a language that normally-adjusted people can pick up on and that prevents me from reverting into utter pretension, presumably saving my soul in the process. As all people who write about music on a regular basis should, I often feel a lot of shame and I think that this is why my obsessions eventually diffuse – my friends can only pretend to understand who Eoghan Harris is for a certain amount of time and that means that I’ll eventually give up on mentioning him, even if I do so solely out of a misplaced (yet well-deserved) sense of embarrassment. Like all the sporting events that I pretend to follow on Twitter, lockdown has put a temporary halt on this external shame mechanism – I’ve been free to stew around in my minute fascinations non-stop for what feels like ages and it turns out that perhaps the shame served some form of purpose, even if said purpose was just ensuring that the one person made to read this blog post doesn’t actually realize how much of an arse I am. My life feels like it’s entering some minor form of stasis – my sole aim now seems to just be annoying the arrangements of pixels on my phone screen that serve as my sole connection with the outside world, something I’m excelling at solely through my inability to start writing about actual music.
I can’t tell if I was actually closer to quitting social media before lockdown or if I just had less time to waste on there. A lot of my writing is based around (supposedly) disliking the internet while still solely existing on there and I feel as if lockdown has exacerbated this trend – I haven’t awkwardly stood around a bleak-looking train station in ages and it’s clearly made me even more boring, no small feat considering the fact I run a music blog. The only real “interaction” I’ve had with the outside world (besides endless Zoom meetings where I fail to make coherent points) was small talk during a funeral two weeks ago, which presumably doesn’t count because I was talking to rabid culchies about the weather (and my failure of a beard). This disconnection has just generally messed with my sleep schedule – I get up in the afternoon and alternate between reading books I have an active interest in and staring at random internet controversies that I don’t and then end up writing cookie-cutter polemics about both of these things each Thursday at quarter to four in the morning.
I set up Google Analytics for this site the other night and that feels like a bad omen. Everything I do feels terminally short-lived – I always know I’m going to eventually return to lying on top of my bed refreshing the same three websites at some stage, so it often seems as if I either milk whatever productivity bursts I have to all hell or just count down the days until everything falls apart. Without fail each time I write something for this blog I become genuinely convinced that I’ll lose the ability to put words together for a few months and I’m half-convinced that this fear is exactly why this blog has been consistently updated since mid-April – if I think too much this will all fall apart, which is ironic since my whole personality is based around constantly overthinking. This heavily applies to the music I cover on here, I often find myself picking albums to cover five minutes before starting a draft and I will usually start off aiming to cover two artists but then waste too many words on the first to warrant another ham-fisted paragraph where I cry about how an album sounds like the Internet – I have genuinely no idea as to what I’m doing each week and I jokingly admit as such to make incompetence seem like self-awareness, hence why these posts all have the same opening where I half-jokingly apologize for being incapable of using words properly, give a vague update as to how much writer’s block I’m currently feeling, and spend as much time as possible dodging the actual topic. Now that I’ve actually pointed this out (ignore that I do as such every single week) I guess this means I have to actually start writing about music now, something which I actively dread (or at least it seems as such based on all these blog posts).