(No) Ghost in the 404: This Month’s Best Electronic and Dance Music

Ghost in the 404 is taking a break from its regular content to offer another perspective on the state of our world.
By    June 10, 2020

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Sam Ribakoff stands with everyone seeking justice for stolen Black lives.

West Indian psychiatrist and political philosopher Frantz Fanon’s book A Dying Colonialism opens with the lines, “Revolution is mankind’s way of life today. This is the age of revolution; the ‘age of indifference’ is gone forever.  But the latter age paved the way for today; for the great masses of mankind, while still suffering the greatest oppression and the greatest affronts to their dignity as human beings, never ceased to resist, to fight as well as they could, to live in combat… The whole of humanity has erupted violently, tumultuously onto the stage of history, taking its own destiny in its hands. Capitalism is under siege. surrounded by a global tide of revolution. And this revolution, still without a center, without a precise form, has its own laws, its own life and a depth of unity-accorded it by the same masses who create it, who live it, who inspire each other from across boundaries, give each other spirit and encouragement, and learn from their collective experiences.”

“The age of indifference is gone forever,” is a line that keeps coming back to me. As protests against the police murder of George Floyd continues for the third week in cities and towns in every state in the country, and many cities across the world, it’s impossible to ignore the sense that the dam of apathy and fear has broken in people. For centuries Black people in America have fought against fascist forces of surveillance and oppression from slavers to modern police forces, often by themselves, facing active violent resistance from white people.

The murder of George Floyd seems to have broken that dam of apathy in white and non-black people for the first time in a long time, if not for the first time ever. If you’ve been to your local protest, you’ve no doubt seen the masses of young people of all ethnicities marching in solidarity with Black people against state violence. People are tired of police departments that harras and murder with impunity, and political leaders that refuse to regulate and restrain them. People are tired of political leaders on the local and national level  ignoring, worsening, or offering useless policy that doesn’t actually solve the innumerable ways people needlessly suffer in this country, from the nationwide housing crisis, the homelessness crisis, poverty, educational inequality, and environmental and other public health disparities, not to mention the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that’s killed over 109,000 people, a majority of them people of color, and seniors in under regulated nursing and assisted living homes.

People have stopped hoping politicians and elections will change things, now they’re taking it into their own hands and organizing to make change in their communities.  

Out of all the people and institutions that will have to go through a reckoning now, the media is one of them. Local journalist covering the protests are now under attack from both the police violence, and the corporate hedge fund managers and editors that neuter coverage of the protests into focusing on random acts of looting, and not violence caused by the police, and coverage that chooses to look away from the root causes of the nationwide uprising to the point of moral ineptitude, and the kids at the protests know that.

Scroll through Instagram and Tik Tok and you’ll be met with countless videos of kids educating their viewers on the history of systemic racism in America and police brutality, demonstrating ways to evade arrest if you’re swept up in an unconstitutional curfew, creative ways to donate to organizations fighting police brutality, and even ways to free yourself from zip ties. We need new media organizations that are diverse and robust, independent and local that center themselves to people and communities that they serve, and actually listen to their concerns, especially those of Black people and other people of color. News that isn’t deferential to power or capital. News that’s for the people, and that goes for music journalism as well, including myself and the way that I write about Black electronic music in this column.      

While there was a lot of great dance and electronic music that came out this month that I’ll maybe get a chance to write about in the future, I haven’t been able to listen or think about it at all since May 25. Instead, please take some time to listen to Black voices this week, especially if you’re white. Below is a list of some articles and books available to read online about prison and police abolition, civil rights, and the black history of dance music.

Bandcamp will be waving all of their fees and donating the share of their profits from purchases of music on the site to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on Friday June 19. Please support artists and the music you love by paying for their music, especially Black and non-white artists on sites like Bandcamp, which directs the highest percentage of sales made through their platform directly to artists. Below the reading list is a list of artists that are donating all, or a portion, of the money made from their projects to Black Lives Matter related funds, bail funds for protestors, or to COVID-19 mutual aid projects.    

Stay safe. Stay mad. Join a local activist or community organization to organize to cement real change in your city. As the chorus of Cybotron’s “Clear,” goes, one of the earliest Black Detroit techno tracks, “time is out for us to say, tomorrow is a brand new day.”  

The Black history of techno music:

Prison and police abolition: 

Civil Rights/Black liberation books:

Artists donating to the movement:

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