28th July 2014

Procedural Wonder Labyrinth


Mike Cooper & Steve Gunn

dwarf fortress

(Dwarf  Fortress image via Stuart’s Gaming blog).

The Roguelike video game genre puts the player in a procedurally generated (random) set of interlinked dungeons that she explores with trepidation because every conflict with its denizens could be the last. Death is permanent in these lands, so the stakes are high: defeat means the total obliteration not only of the player, but of the universe that she has generated with her progress through the dungeons, like a sword and sorcery version of the bookish wanderings across Borges’ Library of Babel.

This is a journey through surprising landscapes, conjured out of the complex interplay between our decisions, the imagination of the human authors, and their technology.  We could also call it Frontierslike, a trip through the procedural wonder labyrinth.


Which is precisely what Steve Gunn + Mike Cooper’s Pena Panorama is: a sonic ramble up abrupt mountains and down primeval valleys, in a party of companionable psychedelia, its rhythms are the drone in the muscles and the weight in the bones telling us that we’ll be tired tonight, and satisfied too.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Right now, a guitar melody describes the vector of our progress, a steel guitar raga the interval of uncertainty around it, alternative branches opening up new provinces of space and seasons of time and weather. Out of chaos and randomness we build order, map the eternal frontier, under a sky luminous with the portent of the revelation waiting past the summit of the hill ahead, always past the summit of the hill ahead.

Steve Gunn and Mike Cooper – Pena Panorama

Pena Panorama is included in the frankly astounding ‘Cantos de Lisboa’ FRKWYS collaboration between Steve Gunn and Mike Cooper which RVNG released not long ago. As usual, you can get some actually informative documentation about the release from the wonderful, loving source.

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25th July 2014

It is night and you are in a land of warm strangers


Jose Padilla


It’s Friday and it’s another exquisite summertime jam from the eternally tropical hacienda of International Feel.

Today’s warm brush of dry air on freshly tanned skin, comes from Jose Padilla.

Jose Padilla – Solito

Solito does that effortless ‘rhythm without moving’ thing that sometimes seems International Feel’s specialist subject.  Drums don’t hit, they wave.  Synths don’t stab, they bubble.  Everything stays in the air, gaseous and intoxicating.  Ephemeral and penetrating everything it comes into contact with.  Like a spice, addictive and mind altering.

And while your mind is altered, North African melodies play behind you.  A voice whispers in your ear and all is calm.

We slept on this one till the summer forced our hand.  It was out in June and you can still grab it from Juno here.

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23rd July 2014



Stoneburner & Xasthur


Marianne approached the window, keeping well to one side and peered out between the bars. Beyond the little garden was a faence of high, uneven posts. Beyond the posts she could see the outlines of squat figures, standing round the garden like sentinels. She jumped back.

‘Mark! People, outside!’

‘Look again,’ Mark said.

Marianne peered out, more cautiously than ever. The people stood in strangely stiff, unyielding positions. She looked fixedly at one to see him shift his position, give some indication that he was alive. But he stayed absolutely still. So did the others.

‘Oh,’ she cried in relief. ‘They’re not live people. They’re only stones.’

‘Be quiet,’ Mark hissed at her. ‘I told you. I don’t know if THEY can hear as well as see.’

‘See? How can stones see?’

‘Look! Don’t talk, look.’

Marianne looked again. It was difficult to see much of any one of the stones because of the bars and the fence hindering her view. But as she concentrated on one of the humped squat figures with all her attention, she saw suddenly a movement. A dark oval patch, which she’d taken to be a hole, disappeared, as a pale eyelid dropped slowly for a moment and then was raised again. And in the dark oval, the ball of an eye swivelled slowly towards the house and remained there, staring with a fixed unwinking gaze straight, it appeared, at Marianne herself.

Stoneburner – An Apology to a Friend in Need

She shrank away from the window and turned to Mark.

‘One of them looked right at me!’ she said.

‘I can never tell whether THEY really see me, or just pretend to,’ Mark said, in a low voice.

‘It’s horrible!’ Marianne said. She shivered suddenly. ‘Mark, I’m frightened!’ Do they do that all the time? Don’t they ever shut their eyes? Go to sleep?’

Xasthur – Prison of Mirrors

‘I don’t know what happens at night,’ Mark said. ‘I can’t see them in the dark, but I have a horrible sort of feeling that they can see me.’

‘Do they ever move?’

‘Only their eyes. At least, I’ve never seen anything else move. And the same ones always seem to be in the same place every time I look out.’

‘I’m frightened,’ Marianne said again. ‘I don’t like it, Mark.’

Buy Stoneburner’s new album Life Drawing from Neurot

(gif is by Bill Domonkos. text is from Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr.)

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