MILANO, GIUGNO 2023
Reggae Sound Systems, Jungle Pirate Radio and Grime YouTube Music Videos
With the Italian version of the book Sonic Intimacy by Malcolm James, Segnale Digitale presents a new cultural initiative of an editorial nature with which it intends to deepen the research on musical counter-cultures and provide new analytical material regarding studies widely disseminated in the international academic scene but completely absent in the Italian one. The themes present in the text, the topicality of the concepts and analyzes proposed by the author can provide new ‘working tools’ to deeply interpret the emerging cultural phenomena in continuous evolution in metropolitan social contexts. Segnale Digitale Edizioni wants to be an opportunity to give visibility to texts and analyzes that focus on the studies of alternative subcultures of the last thirty years to create a possibility of greater understanding and insight into these social phenomena that are much discussed but never truly accepted in our society.
In the version published in Italian, we have added a preface with a specific contribution on Sonic Intimacy in Italy, especially in Pergola in Milan, also making available the recording of the last evening and of numerous other self-produced events in Bomboclaat! at the link:https: //segnaledigitale.org/dev/last-night-in-pergola-eng/
Sonic Intimacy addresses and establishes the new concept of “sonic intimacy” as a key term through which sound, human, and technological relations can be assessed and understood in relation to capitalism: what is sonic intimacy, how it is changing, and what is at stake in its transformation? Analyzing “sonic intimacy” through key case studies of three alternative music technologies of the black Atlantic (sound systems, pirate radio, and YouTube), James addresses in particular the aural transmission of care (intimacies), the internal (intimate) affects of sound and the collective affect of sound (intimacy) and its relation to (intimate) times and spaces. Sonic Intimacy thus explores what is at stake in the development of sonic intimacy for human relations and alternative black and anti- capitalist public politics.
This discussion on the transformation of sonic intimacy starts with the sound system. The sound system highlights the affective and political implications of in-time: collective and bass mediated intimacies. Pirate radio permits an exploration of the initial privatization of this intimacy, as bass is scooped out and dialogues established between bedrooms, and over radio infrastructure. An analysis of the YouTube music video then provides insight into sonic intimacy’s further fragmentation as alternative sound waves are commodified, speakers shrunk, distances increased and human relations made out-of-sync. More importantly, however, these case studies also provide the book with latitude for exploring how old intimacies have been retraced and where new intimacies have arisen: the aimless fervour generated through the pirate radio; the immediacy, uncertainty, deferral, multiplication, repetition and mobility of the YouTube music video.
Ultimately, Sonic Intimacy outlines the importance of sonic intimacy as an area of study, argues that changes in sonic intimacy are contingent with the shrinking possibilities of alternative public culture, and tentatively identifies potential new sonic intimacies that may provide a resource for the struggle against, and demand beyond, neoliberal capitalism.
Malcolm James is a Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex, UK.
YOU CAN BUY AT THIS LINK SONIC INTIMACY
“For a world too often rupturing the basic intimacies of social life, James meticulously
details the operations of sonic life support systems for Black Britain – a constant
remaking of “getting down below” the propulsions of racial capitalism through deploying vibes, hypes and grimes as the medium through which black wisdom, wholeness, craft
and mutuality are sutured into the sound of collective breath.”
AbdouMaliq Simone, Senior Professorial Fellow, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield, UK
“Sonic Intimacy is an extraordinary exploration of the intricate relationships between sound, space and sociality. It charts a crucial but wholly under-explored slice of our recent cultural history with theoretical acuity and political sensitivity; making a significant contribution to the study of music culture in general, to contemporary cultural studies and to the genealogy of the sound system assemblage in particular.”
Jeremy Gilbert, Professor of Cultural and Political Theory, University of East London, UK
“Sonic Intimacy is a relentlessly thoughtful and intelligent historical investigation into how the role of music in black life has been transformed technologically, ethically and politically. Malcolm James’ provocative and insightful analysis sets a new standard for future work on sound, space and race politics.”
Paul Gilroy, Professor of Cultural and Postcolonial Studies, University of Naples, Orientale.
“In the sound of the bass, in the sound from below, reverberating through the black diaspora, we can hear – despite the rejection, resistance and non-authorization of the hegemonic world – the soundtrack of another modernity. Beware of cutting and dubbing or dub of the contemporary world, this volume transports us into the recent transformations of black sonic culture under the impact of social media.Listening to musical paths that map and probe other possibilities in the intimacy of the present, we hear the perpetual questions posed with new accents to history of Western racism and inequality.”
Iain Chambers, Professor of Cultural and Postcolonial Studies, University of Napol, Orientale.
“Malcolm James analyzes the infrastructures, mechanics and geographies of sound to theorize black sonic as places of relationships, conjunctures, impermanence and diaspora. By coupling sonic intimacies with technologies of expression, James draws attention to the way black cultural texts operate”
Katherine McKittrìck, Professor di Studi di genere, Queen’s University, Canada
“For a world that too often destroys the basic intimacies of social life, James meticulously analyzes how sound systems operate as a support system for life in black Britain – a constant remaking of the notion of ‘getting down’ propulsions of racial capitalism through the deployment of vibes, hypes and grimes as the medium through which black wisdom, wholeness, craftsmanship and mutualities are connected to the sound of collective breath.”
Abdou Maliq Simone, Senior Professor, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield, UK