Sunday, April 19, 2009

Industrial People

JG Ballard is dead at 78. I think it's fair to say that if there's a single author who was a literary influence on more of the artists in my record collection than any other, Ballard would be it. The range of artists who've been inspired by Ballard is tremendous: Joy Division, Brian Eno, huge swaths of the early punk and new wave landscapes. I don't think it's entirely unreasonable to suggest that without Ballard, industrial music as we understand it might never have coalesced. His themes - technology, sex, architecture, psychology - became those of musicians whose opted neither to flee from nor gleefully embrace the emergence of electronic music within the pop world, but instead to engage in a dialectic with it: Throbbing Gristle, Fad Gadget, Orchestral Manouevres In The Dark. We do not wage war against the machine, nor do we ignore it as it seeps into our aesthetics and subtly shifts our expectations. We study it and its history and through it our own as we observe the changes it enacts in us and we in it.

Ballard was as good a navigator as we could've hoped for of the multiplicity of our futures, those we've inherited and those we've forged. Pick up a copy of "High Rise" or "Concret Jungle", put your TG24 boxset on loop and reflect on what we've lost, kiddies. We'll never see his likes again.