Thursday, 18 November 2010

How could your nothings be so sweet? (You left your love letters incomplete)

Scritti's Sweet Sickness

    How could your nothings be so sweet?

    What to make of Green's voice, then? Or, to pose the same question from the other side: what is the minimal difference that has always separated Scritti's deconstructions from the Real Thing? There's a tendency to locate Green's undoings and unsettlings on the level of signifiers, as if his subversion were all to do with Wordplay, and his voice were merely a site for natural expressivity. But, as Dolar establishes, the 'object voice' is neither the voice stripped of all sensual qualities in order to become the neutral transmitter of signifiers, nor the voice stripped of all signification in order to become a pure source of aesthetic pleasure. With Green's voice, we continually slide between two types of Non-Sense: the nonsense of 'the lover's discourse', the nursery-rhyme-like reiterations of baby-talk phrases that are devoid of meaning, but which are nevertheless the most important utterances people perform or hear; and also the nonsense of the voice as sound, another kind of sweet nothing. That is why Green's lyrics look very different when you read them; the voice almost prevents you hearing them except as senseless sonorous blocks, mechanically repeated refrains.

    What is disturbing about Cupid & Psyche by comparison with the New Pop that preceded is precisely its lack of any self-conscious meta-presence. This is where I slightly disagree with Simon, when he argues that Cupid & Psyche is 'about love rather than in love.' It seems to me that what makes Cupid & Psyche so disturbingly depthless is precisely the absence of that space between the song's form and the subject; the songs instantiate the lover's discourse, they do not comment on it. Cupid & Psyche's songs, creepily, aren't about anything, any more than love itself is. Compare Cupid & Psyche with ABC's The Lexicon of Love (an album of love songs about love songs, if ever there was one), for instance. Martin Fry's presence is ubiquitous in The Lexicon of Love, manifesting itself in every raised eyebrow and set of inverted commas. But on Cupid & Psyche we get precious little sense of a 'real', biographical Green behind or beyond the record; as opposed to Self-consciousness, we have 'reflexivity without a self (not a bad name for the subject').' (Dolar) There is only the void, the voice and the signifying chain, unraveling forever in a shopping mall of mirrors, a whispering gallery of sweet nothings...

    I guess it's a sickness/ that keeps me wanting...

    The excess of Green's voice resides in its sweetness, a sweetness that seems unhealthy, sickly, which puts us on our guard even as it seduces us. Green's voice is synthetic, candied, rather than authentic, wholesome. It already sounds inhuman, so that, upon first hearing rave's pitched-up chirruping vocals, the obvious comparison was with Scritti's androgynous cooing.


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  2. maybe it is a bit lame of me to...hereby admit that as a scritti fan I have consciously been influenced by gartside...when i sing.

    at the same time my own sweetness annoys me. would like to sing like diamanda galas.

    word up!

  3. I don't know, Galas is a legend, but I'm not a massive fan. Its amazing really how the voice can become so dated.

    The song you posted is pretty good by the way, I didn't hear that one last time I looked at your myspace. Is it new stuff?