desire; spotify’s ‘hauntology’ playlist
Essential in this speculative framework of lingering, is the romanticised ‘wash’ of longing. There is a distinct melancholy in lyrical texture in Drain Gang tracks which has evolved from a more violent loneliness to a space of in-between-ness. Sadness has become aestheticised to the point of irony - a longing which extends to their online fanbase - the r/sadboys discord server contains a multitude of diaristic entries from drainers which are so wrapped up in performing sadness that it becomes hard to draw the line between public confession and parody. The scene, characterised by “an abyss of in-jokes”, operates in a folding cliche of perpetual adolescent uncertainty (Press-Reynolds, 2022). The fictioning of eternal presence and its encasement is precisely what characterises this movement.
This eternal present on the surface seems at first to run in direct contrast to Mark Fisher’s proposition of hauntology: the “not really now not any more’’ - which“points to the postmodern impasse, the disappearance of the present and the possibility of representing the present” (Fisher, 2012). However, I would suggest that the cultural byproduct of Fisher’s writing on hauntology and lost futures (outside of academia) has contributed to the overarching sensation of collapsing time; evolving from concept to aesthetic.
Recently, I was recommended an algorithmically generated ‘Hauntology’ playlist by Spotify. Intrigued, I clicked and found a collection of 70s-00s ambient music, early electronic experimental music and film / television soundtracks to which the only context provided was “walk the threshold into the netherworld…”. The trademark ellipses for these kinds of generated playlists always gestures to something off-screen, out of reach. Symptomatic of the social media taxonomy of everything, streaming services such as Spotify distil concepts into playlists. This mimicry of social media hashtags suggests that the increasing population of aesthetic microscenes is a reaction of placelessness, of lingering, and youth culture’s attempt to locate itself somewhere. Indeed, the format of the streaming service playlist itself erases dimensionality, timestamps and documentation.