STM 310 - Das Ding

Secret Thirteen Mix 310 - Das Ding of Minimal Wave and Pinkman and Tear Apart Tapes
Self-Portrait by Das Ding himself

Das Ding smashes today’s social, political and cultural dynamics with a frantic sound collage combining post-punk, no wave, industrial, electro, space-rock, noise-rock… and Woody Guthrie

Das Ding smashes today’s social, political and cultural dynamics with a frantic sound collage combining post-punk, no wave, industrial, electro, space-rock, noise-rock… and Woody Guthrie

For this mix, we need to go back to the early eighties, when a young Danny Bosten (a.k.a. Das Ding) started, together with Johan de Koeyer (a.k.a. Les Yeux Interdits), the label Tear Apart Tapes in The Netherlands. Those were the days of mail-art, DIY, lo-fi, fanzines and post-punk. Less than a year later, Danny had already put out on STUM what would later become a milestone of electronic music. “Highly Sophisticated Technological Achievement'' —“HSTA”— would see the light of day. It was 1982.

A quarter-century later, NYC photographer, DJ and label owner Veronica Varsicka found out about this precocious Dutch musician and the fairy tale just came true. Minimal Wave released his first work in almost 25 years and Danny captured the attention of an audience eager to dig into old analogical gems. Maybe it was the right time and the right place, but undoubtedly —and deservedly—, Das Ding became a big name among underground electronic music lovers.

“Lockdown Headphone Apocalypse Mix”, as STM310 is entitled, paints a polychromatic collage of sounds, tracks, movie clips and snippets. Built upon a firm political perspective, this long mix —almost 2-hour long— is thought-provoking, surprising and, incendiary. In the blink of an eye, Danny manages to take listeners from one edge to the other: from one genre to another completely different, from a heart rate monitor’s beeping to a soliloquy criticising capitalism. In line with Negativland or Burroughs, the cut-up approach provides the mix with a true artistic, industrial and revolutionary essence, even sarcastic. Among the tracks, Tuxedomoon’s “James Whale”, Woody Guthrie’s “Little Black Train” or Spacemen 3’s “Revolution” —mixed with a bunch of trademark stupidities pronounced by ex-president Donald Trump—, intermingle with MUM’s “We have a Map of the Piano”, KLF’s “It’s Grim Up North” or Portishead’s “Machine Gun”, to name a few. No shit.

All in all, Das Ding, a living legend, honored us with an exquisite sound manifesto. He uses eclecticism to convey a powerful message around the present society, the current weakness of subculture as a driving force, and the risks of an information overload that keeps us comfortably numb. Not much left to do or say. Maybe this time, for once, we could focus on listening carefully and, even, learning.

We used to do these soundscape-mixes on Amsterdam pirate radio, back when they had real transmitters, nothing online. This was in the nineties. We'd go to the video store for horror movies, record soundtracks and TV fragments, mixed them with ambient homemade sounds and rhythm tracks and the occasional (weird) record. We operated on the Burroughs cut-up method I suppose. We were into Negativland and Emergency Broadcast Network. I still have more than 500 cassettes full of material. The Burroughs Method holds that it is useless to attempt to produce autonomous art in order to portray or critique contemporary society, all you can do is break its output into pieces and juxtapose them to illustrate fissures and underlying tensions and contradictions. This is also what the Situationists did.

But these days, in practice, with digital cable TV channels in the hundreds, and the internet and social media, it is all but impossible to keep up, you always know you're missing something somewhere. Besides, these days it takes no special skill anymore to hunt down that one movie-sample you were looking for, since almost everything can be found online. That is very handy of course, but it takes the fun out of the hunt. In a strange, Gibsonian way, I feel the internet has destroyed subcultural progress. Everything is flat and more or less the same. Is there a future left to look forward to?

Punk was said to owe a lot of its original spark to boredom. Boredom does not exist anymore, with all the distractions available.

Still, old habits die hard, and I wanted to document the ongoing madness in the world today. Which is so bad, you'll notice it never even mentions the pandemic…

Anyhow, I did not want to do the traditional DJ-set, I am not a DJ. I want it to be about something.

01. Woody Guthrie - Little Black Train
02. Walter Carlos - Timesteps
03. David Bowie - Neukoln
04. Spacemen 3 - Revolution
05. Mark Stewart - As The Veneer Of Democracy Starts To Fade
06. Nine Inch Nails - Zero Sum
07. Meat Beat Manifesto - Helter Skelter
08. John Starlight - Shadowbreaker
09. Killing Joke - Bloodsport
10. English System - System
11. MUM - We Have A Map Of The Piano
12. Portishead - Machine Gun
13. Hypnobeat - A Brief Introduction To Acid Kobalt Pneumatics
14. Sonic Youth - 100%
15. KLF - It's Grim Up North
16. Null Command - Necessary Degradation
17. Tuxedo Moon - James Whale
18. Die Antwoord - $O$
19. Makke - Cauldron

Interconnected with various snippets from movies, newsclips and assorted noises.

Movies include Cloud Atlas, X-men, Black Rainbow, Collossus; The Forbin Project, Brexit; The Uncivil War, Demoni, My Dinner With Andre, The Alamo, Saucer Men, Prince of Darkness, Videodrome, Blade Runner 2049, True Detective, The Time Machine, Her, Waterworld, The Outer Limits, THX1138, The Time Machine

Snips of sound include Schedelvreter and Gijs Gieskes

Newsclips include snippets from among others: Edward Snowden, Tucker Carlson, Matt Taibbi, Katie Halper, Noam Chomsky, Krystal Ball, Saagar Enjeti, Mark Fisher, Adam Curtis, Barack Obama, Adam Schiff, Matt Christman, Malcolm X, and others
Oh, and Donald J. Tr*mp

About Author

Armando Valdés, the man behind Secret Thirteen album reviews, is a translator, music journalist and a member of noise-ambient + spoken word band “Granny On Donkey”.

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