#eye #eye

Nicole Cadelina


or, Songs That Make Me Wanna Call Mark Fisher

“Tell me the future, tell me what do I do”

– ‘Beat the Same’ by Joey Dosik (The Nostalgiac, 2023)


The store front is open for business. Stirred by sleep, I am forced to stand under the migraine of retail lights.

As I folded kids tops over wooden tables, an arresting beat channels through the store speakers. Tight, groovy, and half-Pinoy. Bruno Mars invades the hellish non-place of “MADE IN PRC” goods, tiled flooring, and hidden junk spaces. Between the shameless sale plugs, the automated radio was kind enough to omit the song’s bridge – the part that threatens you that “uptown” will “FUNK U UP.”

I look up at the ceiling: once clinical, now defiled by AC sweat and lost ventilation. Somewhere beneath my casual worker facade, I am scrying, but for what?


I summon Mark Fisher when I encounter him in unassuming forms – Mid90s; Skinamarink; The Artist; Robert Eggers; Latto, Mariah and Tina; videotapes; hardcopies; analogue signals…

In the spirit of summoning, I cloak myself into a silhouette, wearing a G-Star Raw Cape, a pleated black Uniqlo skirt, and Off-White Zoom Flys (courtesy of Supply Store circa 2018). I’m hushed when the candle flickers. He speaketh now.


Discrepancies in texture - the results of modern studio and recording techniques - mean that they belong neither to the present nor to the past but to some implied 'timeless' era, an eternal 1960s or an eternal 80s.

The shadow vanishes, but the smoke lingers from the wick.



Somewhere in America’s West Coast, a man appears cornered into his homely kitchen with his snare, hi-hat, and kick drum.


Beneath the colour-graded faux-film blemishes, he plays a short, two-second drum beat. He hails from Vulfpeck, a half-Jewish, German-American rhythm section. He pauses for a moment, then–


The beat continues. A second, omnipotent presence raises its compression by 4 percent. The plugin nuances the textures into a meaty, fattening pattern of punchy snares and syncopated quavers. I think it does.

The kitchen (d)evolves into a cavernous space – there must be more that exists beyond the spice rack.


A quavered hi-hat decorates the beat – clean, tight, a rudimentary staple, limited by domestic acoustics.


The same rhythm is elevated once again. The omnipotent screen increases the sample’s LOFI by 16 percent.

What does LOFI contribute to exactly? It saturates the kick drum, loudly, though I’m more inclined to ponder over the filter’s namesake. A compressor dedicated to imperfections must seek to disrupt the immediacy of perfectionism; a far cry from its studious radio cousin.

The compression samples persist within this dampened mattress of reverberated funk. For the low, low price of US$149.99, a Vulf Compressor can guarantee many things: a hint of punch n’ crunch to Michael Jackson; ethereal juno and helpinstill tones; a Bee Gees-cum-Daft Punk inspired nu-disco track for future nostalgia. It’s so funky and it’s low volume.


Watching Super 8 vision in 720p. A new gentleman enters the space, greeting us with a spot of Hebrew.

…we uh, so sorry that we couldn’t be in Detroit v’simcha. We send you all of our love, and- and lots of nachat to the kinderlach.

He christens the ears with a warm wurlitzer and a cosy voice, summoning the spirit of Marvin Gaye. A tambourine chimes on every second and fourth beat, riding with a kick drum of a common fridge.

He sings on.

Are things really gettin’ better, like the newspaper said?

What else is new my friend?


The compression of textures reminds me of something. I don’t know what that is. Vulfpeck reinvents a genre of analogue within a millenial’s earshot; they are fit for a demographic of children, yearning to escape the Sisyphean boulders of neoliberalism and labour, by virtue of make believe. Self-help comes packaged in crackled remembrance, resembling a bokeh of memory; a new nostalgia.

Nostalgia compared to what?

…Anywhere but here. Listen now. Won’t you come a little nearer? There’s newness to be found in Vulfspace.

Their minimoog invokes an infomercial for a computer, a software, a mobile device – technological shitbricks that are fated to collect dust on eBay collector shelves. Only Vulfpeck would write a theme for a late-night live action sitcom I never knew, with the help of a not-so-sleazy saxophone; emblematic of raunchy skits, stand-up openings, cringey catchphrases, and laugh tracks from the dead. A three-minute bit about an Airbnb code is far more apt for pre-Airbnb times – but how many decades behind? To which era of retro does it belong to?

Anachronism, the slippage of discrete time periods into one another, was throughout the series the major symptom of time breaking down.


This dyschronia, this temporal disjuncture, ought to feel uncanny, yet the predominance of what Reynolds calls 'retro-mania' means that it has lost any unheimlich charge: anachronism is now taken for granted.

The unheimlich propels the illusion of the restored, the recovered, the archived. Try to suppose that these tracks were remastered. Its mono origins, alas, are nowhere to be found. The crackle and blemish will provoke you like honey madeleines that take you nowhere. Just a small, nondescript sliver of flavour, destined to trace the tip of your tongue, triggering a nothing memory for the rest of time. A blank canvas perpetually primed.

I’m not so sad about it. No, not for now.



I showered in my Paddington flat, my JBL Clip attuned to Chapter 71 of Sasha Marie Radio. That same week, I divorced myself from a conservative communist comrade; never forgotten for his love of Zizek and vendetta for hand soaps (there’s a correlation here somewhere…).

A recovering limerent back then, I found creature comforts in CBD vapes, Ben’s Cookies, and tame Indian cuisine. I finished showering, and my front door knocked five times.

Someone’s at the door.

Ah, who is it?

It’s your future lover.

Come on in.

The hamam wrapped me after I shower. It dried me well, but not enough to compensate for this accrued melancholy. There is neither a future, nor an alternative. I’m still yearning for winged Eros to christen me with a lover to entangle me in red poetry. All I’ve got are spectres – bespoke partners imagined to my liking, haunting me with romances that are seldom pursued, filling me with dissolution.

My hand remains empty. I trace my own palm lines to keep me company.


Standing before us is a woman donning a peachy cocktail dress stitched in pearls and sequins; behind her, an ensemble dressed to the nines in Roaring 1920s cosplay.

With her banjoist and pianist by the side, she opens her number.

I've seen the world, done it all, had my cake now
Diamonds, brilliant, and Bel Air now

Her ensemble joins her in the rendition – the tapestry of brass instruments and swinging snare beats, reharmonised into a melancholic ragtime standard.

There’s truth to material here: the diaphragm condenser mics on the instruments, the crisp DSLR camera quality, the spaghetti of XLR cords on the carpet, the iMovie caption that opens with Postmodern Jukebox: “Young and Beautiful” in Arial Bold. They disrupt the illusion of restoration, divorced from the blemishes of lo-fi.

But Scot Bradlee is more concerned about marrying the “present” 2010s with a replicated imagining of swingtime and forlorn jazz. With my eyes closed, the ensemble nails this – from the guttural muted trumpet, down to the birdsong clarinet solo. It’s too perfect, too immaculate to call it authentic when the decade would not even afford the technology to record in stereo.

The singer croons the answer to her own question: a faithfulness to form will make her forever loved, forever young, forever beautiful.

Oh that grace, oh that body!
Oh that face makes me wanna party!
He's my sun, he makes me shine like diaaaamooooooondsss

Every pop needs a bit of crackle, I’m told.

Crackle makes us aware that we are listening to a time that is out of joint; it won’t allow us to fall into the illusion of presence.

Fortunately for one listener, the crackle is not a prerequisite for Alzheimer's victims.

You wanna know how accurate this is, to the genre they're going for? I showed this to my grandmother who was born in 1927. She says she remembers this song. I didn't have the heart to tell her she doesn't…

Another anonymous user relieves the commenter’s bereavement.

I’m so glad you didn’t tell her. Thank you.


I light the candle again. The wick does not crackle this time, but the flame fizzles out quick like a Mevius dart. Mark Fisher does not answer me.

None of us know we’re at an impasse here – modernism is on hold, failing to promise us an antithesis to the lo-fi. There’s melancholy to be found everywhere – be it in the party hauntology of Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, or the depressive hedonism of HSU hypebaes. Maybe tonight you’ll be at the club with everyone smellin’ their keys, or in your room, pretending to be there and blasting industry plant jungle (not my words!). At best, you could find yourself at Town Hall McDonald’s, cycling over self-indulgent fantasies, waiting for an archangel to nurse you back to sobriety.

Ain’t that funny? This world is collapsing, compressed into an eternal nothing, but I’m told a lot of love can still happen in the rubble. I wonder about how we’re tethered to this allegiance to repeat; how we should then be selective on what carcasses to resuscitate into the present. A love-comradeship could work, perhaps.

There was so much more to say. In all this, I resurrect nothing. I give him a call.

Mark Fisher, is that you? Good. You’re not gonna believe this.

Nicole Cadelina is an artist, writer, and digital producer living and working on unceded Dharug land (Western Sydney). A Bachelor of Fine Arts/Arts graduate at UNSW Sydney, her work has been featured in Tharunka, PULP, and FBI Radio. Nicole has also published poetry in the UNSWeetened Literary Journal in 2022, where she received the Runner-Up Prize in Poetry. Across her creative career, Nicole was a recipient of the Varuna WestWords Fellowship and Blacktown Arts Residency Program.

Nicole is currently developing her debut short film at Testing Ground, a creative mentorship program run by CuriousWorks. She is a contributor to the community-based media platform, The Western, and co-founder of Filipino-Australian community group, Bayanihan Sydney. Her influences as a creative include Louise Glück, Robert Bresson, Tsai Ming-Liang and Sasha Marie Radio. Nicole's favourite genre of film is SBS World Movies after 9pm.