Walking about at night

“In England, walking about at night was a crime for a very long time. William the Conqueror ordained that a bell should be rung at 8 p.m., at which point Londoners were supposed to put their fires and candles out and their heads down. Again and again, until modern times, Matthew Beaumont tells us, specifically nocturnal laws were promulgated against draw-latchets, roberdsmen, barraters, roysterers, roarers, harlots and other nefarious nightwalkers — including those ‘eavesdroppers’ who stood listening in the close darkness where the rain dripped from a house’s eaves.

Beaumont reads such laws as being designed to exert political and social control. To walk the city streets at night, by contrast, is to make ‘a libertine assault on what might be called the ideology of good hours’, to pose ‘an intrinsic challenge to the diurnal regime on which, from the end of the Middle Ages, Protestant ideology and the political economy of capitalism partly depended’. Nightwalking is sticking it to the Man.”

Dickens’s dark side: walking at night helped ease his conscience at killing off characters, The Spectator.

Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London by Matthew Beaumont.

Give me back my broken nights

At some point during the 2000s I used to go to gothic clubs. I’ve never been a darkwave or synthpop fan, but there’re some specific songs from the 90/00s that I like, and another ones that I find pretty kitsch and funny.

Some dark synthpop German bands, as And One, are really funny; Wolfsheim are a little too pop for me but they have some good songs; other bands, as Beborn Beton or De/Vision, are just too bland and cliché. In any case, what I find interesting is the fact of listening to that kind of dark music at night clubs; it’s a bit incongruous, to say the least, but it’s also intriguing.

The German dark synthpop from the 90s evolved into something that I find much more interesting, bands like Haujobb and Klangstabil. Haujobb, Klangstabil or Alec Empire are not darkwave or synthpop per se, but synthpop have some things in common with electronic industrial music, and most gothic clubs play both kinds of music (among a lot of other things).

I genuinely like And One, and some specific albums by Wolfsheim and Covenant, but I prefer Haujobb and Klangstabil. In fact, Klangstabil is one of my favourite electronic industrial bands—Taking Nothing Seriously is a really great album. I’ve seen a lot of these bands live here (in Barcelona) and at some German festivals, as Wave-Gotik-Treffen and Maschinenfest, and I have some good and fucked-up memories of that time…

Ruidos triviales, ruidos excéntricos

«En cuanto a las circunstancias de tu trabajo, intenta sustraerte a la mediocridad de la vida cotidiana. La tranquilidad a medias, si se da acompañada de ruidos triviales, resulta humillante. Por el contrario, el acompañamiento de un estudio para piano o de una verdadera algarabía puede llegar a ser tan importante para el trabajo como el silencio perceptible de la noche. Éste te agudiza el oído interior, y aquél es en cambio la piedra de toque de una dicción cuya copiosidad va sepultando hasta los ruidos más excéntricos».

Calle de dirección única, Walter Benjamin.

Le Quartier Sinistre

“Le Quartier Sinistre n’aurait nul besoin de recéler des dangers réels, tels que pièges, oubliettes, ou mines. Il serait d’approche compliquée, affreusement décoré (sifflets stridents, cloches d’alarmes, sirènes périodiques à cadence irrégulière, sculptures monstrueuses, mobiles mécaniques à moteurs, dits Auto-Mobiles) et peu éclairé la nuit, autant que violemment éclairé le jour par un emploi abusif du phénomène de réverbération. Au centre, la « Place du Mobile Épouvantable ». La saturation du marché par un produit provoque la baisse de ce produit: l’enfant et l’adulte apprendraient par l’exploration du quartier sinistre à ne plus craindre les manifestations angoissantes de la vie, mais à s’en amuser.”

Formulaire pour un urbanisme nouveau by Gilles Ivain


Tonight was quite a windy night, I wake up at 05:30 a.m. because of the wind noise, and that’s quite unusual in Barcelona. I spent the rest of the night in bed, half sleep half awake. Suddenly the blind that is just next to my bed started making a really loud noise, and it wasn’t because of the wind because the blind is far from the window, it just separates the bedroom from the living room. I thought immediately that someone was in my room pushing the blind, quite a scary idea because I live alone. The fact is that I was having an hypnagogic hallucination, something that happens to me from time to time, I got up quickly and I saw that the blind was absolutely still: no movement, no noise (it was completely up, as usual). The curious thing is that I don’t remember having heard before hypnagogic sounds, I just saw images.