Introducing ‘Currents’, a new music column for the North…

By November 13, 2022

Music. Manchester.

Credit: BLK 45 / 45 Ent.

TSOTA is excited to welcome a new column from Manchester-based contributor and producer BLK 45, focusing on the best new music coming out of the North right now. Enjoy the first instalment below.


Nostalgia, Novelty, and Ghosts of the Past


Salutations, and welcome to my brand-new monthly column with my friends at The State of The Arts.

Each month, I’ll be highlighting five songs from Northern artists that were released over the last month. Obviously, I’ll be highlighting the ones that I liked, that I heard. Where the border between North and South, between good and bad, heaven and hell truly lies is anyone’s guess, but I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere just to the north of Stoke. But we can cross that bridge when we come to it. The music – a bit like the North – won’t be pigeonholed by genre, form, or popularity; just by geography and how good I think it is. Whether you agree or not, is also anyone’s guess.

I’m also keen for this to be a music roundup that avoids becoming a pastiche press release party. With this in mind, I’d like to declare an embargo on the following;

  • Snoozy-schmoozy copy; IE This is X and they make Y and they’re really Z at it
  • Artist bios (As a society, from Spotify to Instagram, we are drowning in bios; I’m sure one out there does a better job than I care to)
  • The words “effortlessly”, “perfectly” and “exceptionally”
  • Song rankings
  • Exclamation marks
  • The word “blistering”, IE “blistering guitar solo”


Whilst it may now not seem possible to proceed with said music column, I’m going to try my best.

Instead of reviewing each song, what I’d like to do here is write an accompaniment piece to all five tracks. The more I listen, the more likely it is that a weird thought will appear in my brain that I can work towards. We’ll see whether the themes of the writing make marriage with the music in your brain, too.

If you’re just anxious to stay on top of new music, you can skip my brain-dumps and jump straight in. If you’re opting in for the scatter-brain scribbles that make up the rest of the column, then I apologize in advance.

Hope you enjoy X


“No idea’s original, there’s nothing new under the sun, it’s never what you do, but how it’s done”

Nas, No Idea’s Original, Lost Tapes, 2003

“Those who can’t remember the past are condemned to have it resold to them forever.”

Mark Fisher, Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures, 2012

In a macro sense, things changed at the turn of the millenia, never to be the same again. The internet explosion, the birth of the endless scroll, our collective upload to the cloud. But while we basked in tech novelty, did our sense of and desire for the new (as in original, as in leftfield) get lost in the rear-view?

There are certainly some who think so. One of those people, in fact, someone who’s work pioneered the idea, was Mark Fisher AKA K-Punk. His book, The Ghosts Of My Life, is what I’m reading as I write this column and listen to this music. In the mid-2000s, Mark and a string of other academics-turned-hardcore-bloggers took the concept of Hauntology, coined in 1993 by Jacques Derrida in his book Spectres of Marx, and began applying it to the particular shade of popular culture that casts over our era. For Derrida, a Marxist, Hauntology was a clever-pants pun that described how Marxism would haunt society forever from beyond its proverbial grave (the fall of the Berlin Wall was the motivation for the book) in the form of a promised future that never was. What’s that got to do with Interplanetary Criminal’s brilliant 2022 take on UK Garage, though?

Well, Hauntology, in the form in which I am learning about it through Fisher (also a marginal Marxist, though perhaps more of a Junglist than anything) is about many elements of the past, beyond just Marx and The Promise of Paradise™, returning to haunt us in the present. Beyond haunting and ghostly spectres, Fisher described a present in which nothing is new, everything is borrowed. Or worse, everything is just one big remix of what was once an original.

Yes, the rose-tint of nostalgia has always been something we’ve looked to for inspiration. And Hauntology doesn’t seem to deny the inextricable chaining of past-to-present-to-future. But where nostalgia is a kind of harmless, romantic, voluntary voyage into the past, the haunt in Hauntology refers to our inability to come up with anything truly new for the future, or a new now for the present. And what we end up with is a present that doesn’t just pull from the past, but is actually trapped in a loopy lockstep with it. A “strange simultaneity”, Fisher calls it.

At risk of A) being completely out of my depth B) ruining my first column with philosophical gobbledygook C) turning this into a different kind of snoozy-schmooze, let’s come up for air and look at some things we might use to identify what pop-culture looks and feels like right now:

Y2K Fashion, The Return of Magazines, Blogging/Tweeting, Rave Revivalism, Knitting, Festivals, Vintage Football Shirts, Vintage Shopping, Vintage Everything, Camping, 808s, Radical Environmentalism, Seltzers, Latto’s “Big D*** Energy”, Thrifting, Vinyl, VHS, Moodboards/Collages, Top Gun & Jurassic Park Remakes, Kate Bush, Micro-Brewing, Bridgerton, Tracksuits, Polaroids, Synthwave, Lad Culture/Blokecore, Emo Style, Juicing, Juicy Couture, Nicki Minaj’s “Super Freaky Girl”, True Religion, Indie Sleaze, Neo-Soul, Sweet Caroline, Knee-High Boots, Jazz, Sneaker Collection, Cargo Pants, Bomber Jackets, Nu Disco, Campervans, Harry Styles’ “As It Was”, Velour, Baggy Clothes, Dungarees, Bassline, The New Beyonce Album, Podcasting/Talk Radio, Reggaeton, BoomBap, Natural Wines, Hiking, Smashed Burgers

Some of it is stuff that’s enjoying its second, third or fourth trend cycle. Some of it ebbs and flows in and out of cultural relevancy. Some of it is machine-made carbon-copy. Some of it is evolution. Some of it is fun. Some of it isn’t. But none of it is new. None of it is new in the way Kraftwerk or House was new. None of it is new in the way The Beatles or Hip-Hop was new. And, dare I say, none of it is new in the way Marxism was new.

Mark Fisher. Source: Open Democracy

“Where is the 21st-century equivalent of Kraftwerk?

Mark Fisher, Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures, 2012

And that seems to be Fisher’s point, I think. He explains his theories much better than I ever could, and also ultimately comes at the problem (if it is one) from a political angle (more than you can expect from me *exclamation mark*). Fisher is a baby of the Cold War, of the “so-called post-war coalition”, of public broadcasting. For him, Post-fordist austerity and neo-liberalism and blahdy blahdy blah is the reason we don’t get nice new things anymore. From the gutting of institutions like the local youth club and the public broadcaster, to the commodification of art and brandification of artists, it is hard to argue against him when you put the book down and look around (mostly because he is an irritatingly good writer). Something has certainly gone wrong, somewhere, at some point. It is hard to find anything that sounds new now. But for me, like most things, that’s more interesting than it is intimidating; where do we go from here? Surely something will come along? Isn’t something like Amapiano just as much of a rupture to the status quo as Disco was?*

And most importantly, is living in a culture that is totally consumed with worshiping the past… that bad? The five tracks from these Northern artists would indicate it’s a hard “No”. From Interplanetary Criminal’s dark 2-step, to Pip Millet’s dub-tinted groove, to Nia Archives’ mastery of the Amen break, to Pulled Apart By Horses’ pulling of The Stooges, to Synkro’s collaging of a lifetime of electronic music… the ghosts of the past are, without doubt, everywhere, and I like it (for now).

See you in December, when I hope this particular column piece doesn’t come back to haunt me.

*(I should say, Mark sadly passed away in 2017, and without going out on a limb, I can tell he would’ve loved Amapiano).



Songs (October)

Synkro – Cycles

From: Stockport

Release Date: 07/10/22

Label: R&S Records


Nia Archives – Baianá

From: Leeds

Release Date: 30/09/22

Label: HIJINXX / Universal 


Pip Millett – My Way

From: Manchester

Release Date: 21/10/22

Label: Dream Life / Sony


Pulled Apart By Horses – Rat Race

From: Leeds

Release Date: 30/09/22

Label: Alcopop! 


Interplanetary Criminal – Gangster Time feat. Killa P

From: Manchester

Release Date: 30/09/22

Label: Shall Not Fade