Let me propose two very different models of contemporaneity. The first is from Terry Smith, art historian and author of What Is Contemporary Art?, in an essay from 2006 (PDF link). “Contemporaneity,” Smith writes, “consists precisely in the constant experience of radical disjunctures of perception, mismatching ways of seeing and valuing the same world, in the actual coincidence of asynchronous temporalities, in the jostling contingency of various cultural and social multiplicities, all thrown together in ways that highlight the fast-growing inequalities within and between them.”
Sonically, this is a version of the contemporary most obviously embodied in the music of James Ferraro and Daniel Lopatin. Both artists have embraced the values enumerated by Smith not only within individual works (Far Side Virtual, Replica), but between their many and “disjunctive” projects too (The Skaters, BODYGUARD, the Ferraro of Night Dolls with Hairspray on the one hand; 0PN, Ford and Lopatin, Sunset Corp on the other). These are artists, in other words, whose “nowness” consists precisely in (1) their concern with earlier periods of music-making and (2) their insistence on multiplicity and divergence as their primary modus operandi.
Well, UK producer Lapalux’s third EP (his first on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint) is contemporary in a totally different way. It’s a product of the kind of incremental modernism advocated by Adam Harper in his recent manifesto-like Infinite Music: Imagining the Next Millennium of Human Music-Making, a book that insists only on ‘sufficient novelty’ in contemporary music rather than great Reynoldsian leaps into the future.
When You’re Gone is contemporary in precisely this sense. It’s not groundbreaking exactly, but in terms of the recent aesthetics that it so expertly gathers together and distills, it still manages to sound genuinely fresh. More than any other record I’ve heard so far in 2012, When You’re Gone sounds like it could only have been released this year. It’s contemporaneity consists in the fact that it’s unmistakably of the Now. This isn’t tomorrow’s music, in other words; it’s today’s...
For the rest, head to the full review on TMT.