Stefan Szczelkun, Anthony Iles – Agit Disco

Stefan Szczelkun

Mute Books, ISBN: 9781906496517, 184 pages, 2011, English
This is a conceptual, readable book with a well-developed and unique theme. Agit Disco, in fact, is a “collection of annotated playlists made by 23 writers documenting how music has politically influenced them.” The editors call it an “archive project” and it’s doubtless that, but it’s also a live archive as the editors have personally involved the contributors in a process of sharing music, thoughts and CD(r)s. It short-circuits the personal selection of music through the playlist medium, with the production of an amateurial physical copy and a discussion of lyrics. Mute Books has set up a YouTube channel with all the playlists from the book to help the process. It’s a brilliant idea, defining in a limited space (the CD, a medium that can circulate, but with very little amount of storable music compared to any current mp3 reader) a personal political path, finding unreliable connections within the track list, but still reflecting the connection between popular music and working class politics. The combination of the slow reading on paper and the listening establishes a strong base for collective awareness and political discourse. Originating from a WordPress blog the project involved, among the others, some underground British celebrities like Howard Slater, Stewart Home, Louise Carolin and Tom Vague, and each playlist has become a CDr with its own colored label (all pictured in the book). Music ranges in time and taste but always makes room for desire and freedom. Can making lists become a revolutionary act?