Friday, July 17, 2009


Okay, so maybe thawing slightly to Flying Lotus - "Glendale Galleria" (Tectonic) is swirling cough-syrup samples and gelatine beats; the sound of jelly setting. It fits in with some of my current micro-obsessions: hypermoderne exotica and ketaminised architecture. Slooow 4am neon eyeball flicker.

The idea that music is a form of architecture itself; a construction, an artifice, but one that also has the capability of describing The Other...'places', buildings, both real and imagined.

Have always loov'd the word "Galleria"; it exudes a whiff of Calif.Exotica...of Ballardian Mall.Spaces; the hollowed-out, the vacuous and the empty. Shopping at twilight. It describes a type of 'place'; a state of mind; a retail that didn't fully come into being here until early 80s (late 70s at most). I caught sight of it in London on a couple o'occasions around '81, '82 - and maybe in Bristol once, too: certain types of low-level bleached pine shelves, the way the staff folded and laid out the garments in designer clothes-shops, the light, the displays, the space...

Up until then I'd never realised that even the placement of retail objects - the display of fewer things, rather than more - could be pre-loaded w/ all sorts of cultural signifiers. I was just a po' boy up from the (West) Country, with no formal art training, who knew nothing of the ways of Design with a capital D. I knew nothing about anything. Still don't, in fact; still guessing, probing, peeking round corners...

Where I came from, shops just more or less stacked stuff up and either sold it or didn't. We'd just exited the Seventies. I didn't realise Design was a Science. And, then, to be confronted by, erm, Retail Design: well...I dunno, it felt like The Future was still coming; it was, y'know, just another aspect of impending futurity, like, uh, Electro, or something. I didn't realise it was also the start of trickle-down Thatcher Big-Town Boom-Economics.

Then, all of a sudden, that Peter York bloke was everywhere. And The Face. And Neville Brody... and everyone was talking about Design and how things looked...and how it was suddenly important that things looked 'right', whereas before things just 'were'. They seemed to exist unto themselves without any explanation or back-story.

Design recast as Cultural Exposition.

And - rewiiind: that's how the word "Galleria" still makes me feel. It's that first moment of seeing something - some elusive, abstract aspect of retail.architecture that I didn't/couldn't quite recognise or grok. That doesn't happen any more. Well, hardly ever. The Future slipped away. It was soaked up by a thirsty sponge called Greed. But that word still makes me feel that way.

(caught myself increasingly using the first-person here; is this Canonical, then?)

It's an empty, nothing word is "Galleria" and in America it has completely utterly different connotations - something banal, but I don't care - I've got my fingers in my ears now; I don' wanna hear - I don't want to know the truth - I want that word to remain exotic and elusive to me: a bubble of Faux-European Americana.

But this is the point at wh/ 'America' - or rather the concept of 'America' - floats away and becomes something unfathomably alien to me; an idea - something I can't comprehend; another planet. I like that America.

(I remember hearing Moon Zappa say "Galleria" in her Andreas Wolfson voice - her at 3am in her dressing-gown in dad's studio (he's just got her out of bed) - and when I first heard heard that word spoken in ValleySpeak it sounded like the start of a new language, a new human sub-species splitting off; divergent evolution. Shallow and self-obsessed, but a new species nevertheless. And she was documenting it. That moment was another kind of futurity to me. )

But back to the music: it's got that shimmer, that swirl; a sense of nocturnal motion, of being inexplicably carried forward, lost in a limbo retail zone. Don't call it Wonky. Call it Woozy.

Are we moving? Or is everything else moving relative to us? It's like a dream, everything's lost in a blur of light and shadow; the banal becomes mysterious again, a fiction...we're a few seconds out of sync with the rest of the world; we percieve it as a series of after-images, a vague warm neon glow...the physical world seems out of reach somehow, never quite coming into focus.

The Present, Future and Past have somehow overlapped. This is how The Future feels now; it's wrapped up in some respun aspect of its own past; the two have become intertwined somehow. This is how it's going to be from now on.

We are in The Galleria now.

The Galleria.