August & the last e|i

This summer marks the end of e|i magazine, a valiant attempt by editor and publisher Darren Bergstein to inject some intelligent and thoughtful writing on (experimental) electronic music of all shades as well as new formats and convergences between sound and other media. Bergstein is, shall we say, no stranger to opinion and undoubtedly the strong views of e/i have run counter to the general malaise of "journalism" witnessed in other music magazines that, unfortunately, offer nothing more nor less than press release remixes. e/i was really a covert gonzo-art magazine from the start (and by that I mean open to the broader issues of music production through electronic means as an art and attacking it in the most gonzo of fashions) and through trial-and-error it became obvious that a) art-lovers don't pick up "music" magazines and/or that b) experimental electronic music no longer has an audience that likes to read, or, perhaps, a complacent audience no longer adventurous and content with its mainstay sources. The same can be said of distributors and stores, both of which continue to drop dead like flies and yet never understood how a magazine such as e|i with a pull-out review section could benefit their sales if displayed and marketed in-store properly. Is it no wonder the indie-shops are dying out when they are too ignorant to support their own media?

The magazine was always better received in Europe (where exchange concerning art and culture still marginally exists) while supposed festivals and institutions of the avant-garde in North America never granted the always impeccably designed magazine a decibel of exposure (often saying: I never see it -- nevermind the oxymoronic tautology to such idiotic statements, one wonders if market visibility in mainstream venues has anything to do with its worth when said festivals are for the most part underground?). That said, from the start e/i would have benefitted from an integrated online presence with the magazine and it is here that Bergstein and I had many fascinating discussions and debates (often reflected in our various columns, Immediatism on my side and Peripheral Vision on his, respectively). The only way for an endeavour such as e/i to survive today is to embrace two factors: 1) print-on-demand and 2) an integrated online version. I strongly believe that the Net will not replace a portable, physically readable surface. However this surface in the future will not be paper: "digital paper" a.k.a. rollable-screen technology will take over once it becomes touch sensitive and cheaply affordable. Until then, this intermediary stage with horrendous paper and mailing costs, visionless shops and banal distributors, a futile yet devastating stand-off between piracy and authoritarian "musician's" industry organisations and an overabundance of online websites lacking researched content will force many weird strategies. Perhaps it's better not to try at all.

In any case, e/i lasted some seven issues over three years and provided the best encounter I have ever had with an editor: Darren was someone willing to critique ruthlessly yet completely open to divergent, well-argued viewpoints. Bergstein is a conversationalist, picking up the phone to discuss a piece, a new writer, or the state of the world in general. I felt like I was being called by the ghost of HL Mencken. Or sometimes Woody Allen. In any case... Bergstein doesn't suffer fools gladly. He's a tough nut and it produced some of the best articles I have seen on innovative topics this side of the Wire (which remains the best magazine out there, folks).

Working with Darren was a pleasure (if only academic feedback could be so articulately blunt yet openly nonjudgmental!). He granted me the opportunity to publish some articles I remain proud of, and with that, I quietly mark my departure from this sick circus known as "music journalism."

The last issue, #7, features a piece by me on Sutekh and the last Immediatism. I will put up the articles in PDF form over the next few months as the issues go out of print. For the archives, here are a few remaining in Kim's NYC (East Village) as of July 06:

.../. ././

Heavens, where have I been.

Ah yes, writing. A few things. For philosophy[TM].

Well, a few things in the announcement department.

-- Philo.MTL gathers all philosophy event listings for the Montreal area

-- Canada -- under Harper's Conservative leadership -- is set to be the first country to back out of the US Fulbright scholarship program ever and, in an unprecedented move that will be hailed for millenia by religious zealots as the bringing-about-of-the-new-medieaval-era, is set to axe study-abroad programs and international exchanges at all levels of academia. (Here it comes folks: the dumbing-down of Canada. Somebody buy Harper a fiddle.)

-- I'm not sure how this fits into a point-bulletin, but here is Mazen Kerbaj's blog from Beirut

-- Over at the Upgrade, Anik Fournier will be representing Upgrade Montreal at Ars Electronica. [see also.] No Ars for me. No travel money for embassies for cultural projects!


posted. Mon - August 7, 2006 @ 03:33 PM           |