Sex, laws and rock ’n’ roll: On music as a radical organising principle
The most recent example of the cut-up technique in popular culture is Take Me Out, a song composed and performed by post-punk Glaswegians Franz Ferdinand. The video-clip, which in this case is part of the performance rather than just a vehicle for the song, is a montage of early twentieth-century avant-garde images in the style of Russian Constructivism and Bauhaus design. They are reminiscent of the way Hans Arp used to tear apart his drawings, throw them up in the air and then glue the fragments on a surface in the order they have fallen on the ground. They also remind us of Franz Radziwill’s city landscapes, cut-up in the painting’s composition but also by carpet-bombing.1 The same goes for Franz Ferdinand’s music: just as it occurs with the imagery and the iconography, their music follows the pattern established in the last century in literature and the visual arts by avant-garde artists in Europe, Latin America and the likes of William S. Burroughs and Bryon Gysin in North America: to refrain from following the straight line, to interrupt the vicious circle of self-referentiality, via the random rearrangement of text, sound and image.