Saturday, January 22, 2011

Trash Humpers and Chill Waves: On The Way To The End

"Just look around at this world, at the grisly facts of what so-called civilization has done to us . . . we are the slime and the goop."

Sitting here watching Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers, and it's amazing how much it has in common with the lo-fi psychedelic music I'm working with.  It's an experimental film with no narrative structure, and in every sense it's a continuation of Kids - a depiction of the limits of human awfulness . . . but with something that is, if not heart, at least some seductive joy.  The three central figures are three elderly people who run around drinking, destroying televisions, smashing the walls of old houses, mocking children, shouting their ignorance to the sky, putting razors in apples, and generally celebrating in the wreckage of capitalism (and yes, humping some trash).

What makes it so much like lo-fi psych is the difficulty of its causal loop, the impossibility of untangling base from superstrucuture.  The malevolence of Korine's three central figures is the result of the desolation of the culture they're in the midst of - but the essential joy they take after having thrown off the limits of that culture prefigures a better future, if in some hideously deviant form.  (The best representation of this comes early, when the three are rampaging through a parking lot gleefully smashing TVs and radios).

In much the same way, the likes of Washed Out and Neon Indian make lo-fi music at least in part because they're underemployed twentysomethings facing a bleak future - but that same cheapness helps prefigure a future that's better than the present, one in which we're moving away, backwards towards the acceptable cheapness and imperfection of a future past.

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