24 May 2007

Battles. Exercises in Deleuzian Deterritorialisation?

Visually, I use to associate Deleuze’s thought with avant-garde architecture woven into the busyness of contemporary metropoles, with the rhizomatic arms of the London-subway or with the chaotic though clean structures of a city like Tokyo. Deleuze’s philosophy also seems to be a philosophy for the inhabitants of these hypertech cities, for those having lost their affinity with a life centered around the church-tower. ‘Battles’ then might provide them with a soundtrack. The more I listen to their recent album ‘Mirrored’, the more I’m inclined to consider it as a musical equivalent of at least some key elements of Deleuzian thought. The core concept here is ‘immanence’. In their aspired neutrality, Battles tries to present a pure immanent musical vision: the music doesn’t serve to express emotions, political agenda’s or intellectual thoughts; its aim is not to comfort us with recognizable patterns which allow us a homecoming in the song, nor just to distract us. But it is also not the case that thoughts, emotions or politics do not matter. What makes their music immanent is that there are not trying to open up the musical language through direct references to an outside. If they express any of these (emotions, thoughts...), it’s aimed to happen only through a pure musical play of differences, through shifting rhythmical patterns and references which remain within their own self constructed musical language (they have for example invented their own system of annotation by way of diagrams). The cover of their album perfectly symbolizes this: locked up in a monad, they generate difference from within. And ‘Mirrored’ is not the outside; only the inside is. Nevertheless, precisely the generation of difference from within should enable true connection. In some way, this is comparable to what Deleuze calls ‘disjunctive synthesis’: all monads express the One, and this guarantees that all monads are connected, although there is no direct connection between them: everything is locked up within the inside of monad.

“The first musical operation is to machine the voice” (Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 303).

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