Craig Schuftan

transform the world

Culture Club 1

France, 1948. A recording studio somewhere in the bowels of Radio-Telediffusion Francais. Pierre Schaeffer is listening to a scratched record as it loops the same four seconds of  sound over and over again. He starts tapping his foot, grabs a microphone, and starts talking over the rhythm. “It goes un for the treble…” 

Concrete jungle by Schuftronics

France’s national radio station refused to play Antonin Artaud’s ground-breaking radio play ‘To Have Done With The Judgement of God’, and locked it in a cupboard for over a decade. Was Artaud’s work too far ahead of its time for France’s culture-boffins to get their heads around it? Or did they can it because it had too much screaming and too many annoying sound effects in it?

Artaud-detour by Schuftronics

A secret chapter in the history of rock and roll is brought to light. We begin at a plumbing store in New York in 1917, and end with a bald man taking a piss in an art gallery in the mid-90s. Somewhere in between, David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ is recorded.

Do something boring by Schuftronics

In most vocations, behaving like a freak and saying stuff that doesn’t make sense is considered poor form. But if you’re a musician or an artist, it’s almost a job requirement. So what if you’re a really good singer who just happens to be very well adjusted and normal? “That’s ok”, said Salvador Dali in 1936, “you can fake it. I do”.

Does that make me crazy by Schuftronics

In 1964, a young composer named John Cale sat down at the piano and played a short piece of music called ‘Vexations’ for the 840th time that evening. The one guy who had stayed for the whole show abruptly woke up and started clapping. Meanwhile, in a bar somewhere, Lou Reed played the riff from ‘Louie Louie’ for the 840th time that evening. From the packed dancefloor came a request: “Louie Louie!” Music history was about to be re-written.

Vexations by Schuftronics

Malcolm McLaren famously defined the secret of the Sex Pistols’ success as ‘Cash From Chaos’. But in the beginning, there wasn’t a lot of cash – just chaos. Was the Sex Pistols’ apetite for destruction the legacy of a rich modernist tradition going back to Surrealist pin-up Jacques Vache and his acolyte, Andre Breton? Or did they just like getting into fights?

Destroy passers-by by Schuftronics

If you’re Ben Folds’ roadie, and he asks you to ‘prepare the piano’, he doesn’t mean brushing the lint off the stool and lifting the lid. You’re expected to produce a little briefcase full of screws, tacks, pencil erasers and aluminium pie plates and start shoving them in between the strings so that when Folds hits the keys, it goes ‘bink-bonk-blonk’, in the time-honoured tradition of avant-garde piano music.

Bring the noise by Schuftronics

The inspiration for the Breeders’ ‘Cannonball’ was the 18th century sex criminal, The Marquis DeSade. Why are people still writing songs about him? It’s not because of his books – which are terrible. It’s not because of the orgies either. It’s because of the philosophy he later developed in order to justify the orgies.

You know you're a real koo-koo by Schuftronics

“Ahead of your time”. It sounds grand doesn’t it? A pioneer, a lonely genius with a vision of the future, whose work will go on to inspire people for centuries to come. But being ahead of your time doesn’t feel grand at all. Just ask Futurist composer Luigi Russolo, who heard something like The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Dig Your Own Hole’ in his head in 1910, but had nothing to perform it with except a couple of big cardboard boxes and a rubber band. 

The art of noise by Schuftronics

Art Galleries are boring because there’s not much real life in them. Real life is boring because there’s not enough art in it. The solution, for George Brecht, Nam Jun Paik, Yoko Ono and Al Hansen was obvious – everyday life as art. Some years later, when Hansen met his grandson Beck for the first time, he gave the kid a machete.

Eat the record by Schuftronics

According to Guy Debord, leader of the Situationist International, late capitalism has replaced everyday life with an alienating mish-mash of money and desire called The Spectacle. What’s a modern artist to do? Refuse the spectacle? “That’s hot,” said Debord. Turn your refusal of the spectacle into a spectacle of refusal? “That’s not.”

New radicals by Schuftronics

This is the first series of The Culture Club, which went to air on triple j in 2007. It’s mostly based on the stories and ideas from the book of the same name, so if you want to know more about any of this stuff, that’s probably a good place to start. The random yelling at the start of the intro is from Artaud’s ‘To Have Done With the Judgement of god’


Tomorrow's Harvest

"What if I tell you now that I have often longed even for plays I have seen performed - frequently the very ones which bored me most - or for books I have read in the past and did not like at all? If that is not madness, there's no such thing."



Hold to the Difficult

"And you must not let yourself be misled, in your solitude, by the fact that there is something in you that wants to escape from it. This very wish will, if you use it quietly and pre-eminently and like a tool, help to spread your solitude over wide country. People have (with the help of convention) found the solution of everything in ease, and the easiest side of ease; but it is clear that we must hold to the difficult; everything living holds to it, everything in nature grows and defends itself according to its own character and is an individual in its own right, strives to be so at any cost and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must hold to the difficult is a certainty that will not leave us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; the fact that a thing is difficult must be one more reason for our doing it."

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1904

rainer maria rilke | kate bush


Always music in the air

'Acousmatic, the Larousse dictionary tells us, is the 'name given to the disciples of Pythagoras who for five years, listened to his teachings while he was hidden behind a curtain, without seeing him, while observing a strict silence.' Hidden from their eyes, only the voice of their master reached the disciples.... In ancient times, the apparatus was a curtain; today, it is the radio and methods of reproduction, along with the entire set of electro-acoustic transformations, that place us, modern listeners to an invisible voice, under similar conditions.'

Pierre Schaeffer, 'Acousmatics', 1966

pierre schaeffer | musique concrete | sonorous objects | acousmatics | pythagoras | phenomenology | twin peaks | red room


Music Sounds Better

'Imagine a traveller from a hundred years ago arrives at our doorstep and asks us why the music of the 20th century operates so frequently on the basis of cyclic repetition. Not just the rap and dance genres of popular culture, but also minimalism - perhaps the single most viable strand of the Western art music tradition... why does so much of our music work this way? What kind of needs do these patterns satisfy?'

Susan McClary, 1999

stardust | daft punk | susan mcclary | minimalism | loop | chaka kahn | repetition


I Life

"Could it be that we come to the city in order to achieve solitude? Such has been the unspoken premise of the modern city of utopian individualism. By solitude I do not mean isolation. Isolation is a state of nature: solitude is the work of culture. Isolation is an imposition, solitude a choice."

walkman | ipod | iphone | isolation | solitude | city | the crowd

La perspective Kubrick en 104 secondesw670h372

Infancy and Progress

"The whole human species, looked at from its origins, appears to the philosopher as an immense whole, which, like an individual, has its infancy and its progress … The totality of humanity, fluctuating between calm and agitation, between good times and bad, moves steadily though slowly towards a greater perfection."

Said nobody, at any time in the last one hundred years. Nowadays, our view of the future is more like the one seen from the middle ages than the Enlightenment. But from where he stood in 1750, or perhaps sat, on a chair a bit like the one pictured above, the French statesman and economist Jacques Turgot could look back on the past five centuries and see a gradual transition from primitive agrarians torturing and killing each other over superstitious nonsense, to the confident era of the Enlightenment, with its stupendous advancements in astronomy, medicine and physics.

enlightenment | progress | history | kubrick | 2001