Reviews

Simone de Beauvior, Sigmund Freud, Diana Anthill and Others on Ageing

How old are you? And perhaps more importantly, does the question frighten you? It frightens Lynne Segal, author of Out of Time: The Pleasures and the Perils of Ageing.


Out of Time: The Pleasures and Perils of Ageing

Publisher: Verso
Length: 320 pages
Author: Lynne Segal
Price: $26.95
Format: Hardcover
Publication date: 2013-11
Amazon

The final chapter of Out of Time: The Pleasures and the Perils of Ageing opens with “The real question is—how are we to live our lives?” And that seems to be the primary theme of the book.

In six chapters that, at times, perhaps focus a little more on the perils rather than the pleasures of ageing, author Lynne Segal draws from poets, philosophers, feminists, novelists, and social scientists to create almost a literary history of ageing. And with this history comes questions; in fact, Segal opens with another one: “How old am I?” and then proceeds to show how Simone de Beauvior, Sigmund Freud, and Diana Anthill, among others, have addressed this question. Add in a few of Segal’s own thoughts and the format for the book is established.

Segal’s research is impressive, but even more impressive is the scope of the book, from finances to sex to loneliness. Many of the chapter titles are unsettling because of their somewhat violent undertones: “Generational Warfare”, “The Perils of Desire”, “Flags of Resistance”.

And there are some disturbing moments, such as when Segal notes that it was primarily older women living alone who were targeted in witch hunts and that even in the 21st century there are many critics, such as journalist Brendan O’Neill, of the elderly: “Baby boomers like to trumpet their generation’s achievements. But their fondness for conspicuous consumption and foreign travel has led to many a modern-day ill, from rising debt to environmental woes”. Another example, Tory MP David Willetts’ publication entitled The Pinch: How the Baby-Boomers Took Their Children’s Future—and Why They Should Give it Back, and Segal notes that since the latest financial crisis, more and more people have turned the elderly into “scapegoats”.

The book’s point is not to depress or scare, however, and while some of the information may not be all sunshine and flowers, it does live up to the praise. Elaine Showalter closes her introduction, stating “It’s about time for a book like Out of Time, compassionate, seasoned, honest, and wise, which asks questions about age but aims to enlighten, rather than frighten us.” Showalter might have added hopeful to that list.

Early on, Segal—referencing the fight against things such as a lack of good roles for older actresses—states “It is a battle I want to join. Old age is no longer the condition that dare not speak its name, but we have a long way to go before we can joke that it is the identity that refuses to be silent.”

Even with the research and the number of literary elites she references and quotes, Segal’s voice is still the one that stands out. For all her profound insights, Segal is essentially the woman next door when she relates, “'You haven’t changed at all’ are words I love to hear when meeting people I haven’t seen in a while. Guiltily, I cherish the thought that I don’t look my age, and like to believe friends and acquaintances when they flatter.”

She possesses a bluntness that is simply admirable: “Orgasms are good for you, and good to have often.” Nor does she blindly accept all the sources she includes: “The buoyancy of these spokeswomen insisting upon the joys of old age, especially in their celebration of the rebirth of self-sufficiency, seems to me to promote the illusion that we can age agelessly.”

In fact, one small criticism of the book is that Segal’s voice does not come through often enough.

While much of Out of Time does focus on women, Segal often compares ageing men and women. She notes that, while double standards certainly exist concerning men, women, and ageing, historically women deal with some aspects of ageing, such as retirement, better than their male counterparts. She further notes that older men have a higher rate of suicide than do their female counterparts. Segal does not just discuss men and ageing, however; she also includes men’s voices in the book and examines the writings of Phillip Roth, John Updike, and Julian Barnes among others.

Out of Time is a thoughtful, reflective book. It encourages people to keep dreaming, keep fighting, and perhaps most of all keep living. Don’t let the cover put you off (having a woman’s face peering out of an "O" probably wasn’t a good idea). This book is a wonderfully honest look into a subject everyone should be thinking about.

8

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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