PRINT December 1999

Diedrich Diederichsen

1. Various Artists (Modulations & Transformations, Volume 4) The best archive of new electronic and post-electronic, activist and non-activist music was this Mille Plateaux series. Volume 4 is the most baffling, and full of cool contradictions.

2. Sun Ra (The Singles) The hero on whom all can agree—from postcolonialists to pop musicians, from afrofuturists to archaeologists of the essential—died at the start of a decade that became his alone. The last Gesamtkünstler of the century will project beyond it the longest.

3. X-102 (Rings of Saturn) This stands for Detroit techno as the best electronic music of the decade; for Sun Ra’s influence; and for Jeff Mills’s genius.

4. Timbaland (Tim’s Bio: From the Motion Picture: Life From da Basement) The best crossover beat of the decade. What Prince was for the ’80s.

5. Son of Bazerk (Bazerk! Bazerk! Bazerk!) A project unfortunately abandoned at the decade’s outset: to confront James Brown, Led Zeppelin, and Sam & Dave.

6. Gas (Zauberberg) You asked for Germany? Here are Thomas Mann, Wagner, and Schoenberg combined in the medium of cushioned delirium.

7. Red Krayola (Fingerpainting) The reconstruction of the incomplete avant-garde lashes with the force of negative dialectics against the attempt to reconstruct neue Musik as sacred object.

8. Prefab Sprout (Andromeda Heights) Does almost the same thing, but with a music one can cuddle up to.

9. Pere Ubu (Ray Gun Suitcase) Main point: Side effects.

10. The Melvins (Honky) Their never-ending history of heavy metal as high Conceptualism remains open-ended.