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SATURDAY MIXTAPE: Cast your mind back – the water was cold

Featuring : Podcast

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The 1970s weren’t all glistening minimalism and skyscrapers of violins.

It wasn’t all sad robots.

This mix tracks the throbbing, libidinous, haunted sounds that existed parallel to the likes of Kraftwerk and Jon Gibson but are relatively under-referenced on this blog.

20JFG – Cast your mind back: the water was cold

This is Overlook Radio

Featuring : Beachers

beachers picks

Photo by Ieva Balode

There is a space in our world that exists between the material and the hedonistic.  A gap in categorisation not accounted for by gods old or new.  Within it dwell the Gristles and the Jandeks and many many Coils.  It is a place of beauty and horror concerned with fleeing this world and confronting it’s true nature.  We hang out there some days as they have a nice beer garden.

Beechers’ Portrait 3 comes from that world.  Its hypnotic organ melody feels fresh from a Giallo, forever looped — caught in a moment of tension from which it cannot escape.  It is a prolonged moment of beauty for which there is no counterbalancing horror: the presence of the ying becomes traumatic in the absence of the yang.

Portrait 3’s second movement is almost Eno-esque in its ambient beauty.  But this too can never break orbit and remains trapped in an enticing loop.  Doomed to progress through a hazy lulling melody for eternity.  Like Torrence, in a picture of the past, forever.

Beachers – Portrait 3

Beachers album Portrait came out on Illuminated Paths on 14th May.  You can get it on tape and digital right here.

You might become a pop singer, go off to Venezuela

Featuring : Jon Gibson

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“The problem is, it’s just not enough to live according to the rules. Sure, you manage to live according to the rules. Sometimes it’s tight, extremely tight, but on the whole you manage it. Your tax papers are up to date. Your bills paid on time. You never go out without your identity card (and the special little wallet for your Visa!).

“Yet you haven’t any friends.

“The rules are complex, multiform. There’s the shopping that needs doing out of working hours, the automatic dispensers where money has to be got (and where you so often have to wait). Above all there are the different payments you must make to the organizations that run different aspects of your life. You can fall ill into the bargain, which involves costs, and more formalities.

“Nevertheless, some free time remains. What’s to be done? How do you use your
time? In dedicating yourself to helping people? But basically other people don’t interest you. Listening to records? That used to be a solution, but as the years go by you have to say that music moves you less and less.

“Taken in its widest sense, a spot of do-it-yourself can be a way out. But the fact is that nothing can halt the ever-increasing recurrence of those moments when your total isolation, the sensation of an all-consuming emptiness, the foreboding that your existence is nearing a painful and definitive end all combine to plunge you into a state of real suffering.

“And yet you haven’t always wanted to die.

“You have had a life. There have been moments when you were having a life. Of
course you don’t remember too much about it; but there are photographs to prove it. This was probably happening round about the time of your adolescence, or just after. How great your appetite for life was, then! Existence seemed so rich in new possibilities. You might become a pop singer, go off to Venezuela.

“More surprising still, you have had a childhood. Observe, now, a child of seven, playing with his little soldiers on the living room carpet. I want you to observe him closely. Since the divorce he no longer has a father. Only rarely does he see his mother, who occupies an important post in a cosmetics firm. And yet he plays with his little soldiers and the interest he takes in these representations of the world and of war seems very keen. He already lacks a bit of affection, that’s for sure, but what an air he has of being interested in the world!

“You too, you took an interest in the world. That was long ago. I want you to cast your mind back to then. The domain of the rules was no longer enough for you; you were unable to live any longer in the domain of the rules; so you had to enter into the domain of the struggle. I ask you to go back to that precise moment. It was long ago, no? Cast your mind back: the water was cold.”

― Michel HouellebecqWhatever

Jon Gibson – Cycles

from Two Solo Pieces (1977)


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Xibalba techno party

Featuring : Palmbomen II

Vase of the 7 gods

Perhaps our obsession with AI is just a manifestation of an animist impulse applied to technology: we want to endow the digital artefacts and systems around us with agency and meaning.

This is not being codified anywhere though, maybe because religion is an embarrassment in our rational times. The closest we have come is through Singularitarian societies (cults) and George Dyson’s evolutionary analogies (teleologies).

Any psychoanalyst would tell you that to keep these impulses repressed is not healthy. Perhaps we need a rebooted Popol Vuh embodying contemporary concerns in powerful icons and places, including a techno-Xibalba (underworld) at whose court sit malicious gods who steal the identities of their victims, zombify them, sealion and humiliate them, ultimately automate them out of their livelihoods and existences.

Imagine the complex loas and vast crawling intelligences of cyberpunk lore and high-frequency trading conspiracy theory named and located in a pantheon where we can make offerings, and where we can challenge them like the heroic twins of Mayan legend did.

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Palmbomen II’s music makes us think of these things not because it is grim, or scary or malignant. To the contrary, it is full of primitive dance joy, and an abstracted organicism connecting it to early Chicago House and the dancing ghosts of Chris and Coseyan mythology.

Therein lies its link with the netherworld we’d like to map. The pure bounce of its rhythms, its spiralling melodies and meowing acid lines emerge from a séance designed to remove all layers standing on the way of a full communion with fundamental technological forces.

The results are soaked with a mysterious force, a feeling of impenetrable depth like what the old Mayans must have felt when they gazed into the gaping caves that they believed were the beginning of the road to Xibalba (or what the odd people of Twin Peaks felt when they gazed into the woods, another connection made explicit by the mesmerising videos Palmbomen II creates to accompany his music).

Palmbomen II – Gerd Thomas

Palmbonen II has been out for ages in RVNG. If you haven’t bought it already (you fool) go here and sort it out.

Angels Made of Lasers: The Movie

Featuring : Copy

copy chalice agenda

There were a lot of action movie game tie ins in the 8-bit era.  Loads.  Thanks Ocean!  Aside from your pixilated Arnold you also got maudlin chiptune re-imaginings of themes while you contemplated which joystick to use.  There really wasn’t anything quite like the ennui deployed in service of an 80s* action movie tie-in.

Witness:

As if preparing a generation wide sleeper cell, many of the musicians behind these videogame soundtracks where deeply into Krautrock.  Deeply.  And thus, a generation of kids (your writer included) were programmed to devour as much Cluster as possible once the floodgates of available German experimental music were made available in the late 90s (about the time the children of the 80s had some spending power).  And thus the great Teutonic-Spectrum Industrial Complex reaped its rewards.

Our favourite track on Copy’s new album sounds like this:

Copy – Why Does It?

And why, you surely aren’t asking, did we go on a tenuous secret history of crass commercialisation in videogame tie-ins.  Why?  Because Why Does It? is akin to layering decades of synthetic love atop one another at right angles until a huge fucking cathedral is constructed to worship at the altar of maudlin little expectronic sounds.  As if we rush from Stockhousen to Riley though Spiegel, fly over Eno and Cluster and Ralf and Florian, down past the minimal bands, wave at Chris and Cosey, Carpenter and the gang and explode in crystaline shards of joy.

Why?

Because we hear a bit of the euphoric genius of Wut, one of the saddest whole-club-loses-its-shit tracks we’ve had the pleasure of witnessing.  Because that shuffling drum beat creates a gyroscopic momentum that prevents the many layers of synths from crashing to the ground.  Because at just over three and a half minutes long it’s like the Parallax View** of 20JFG loves.

Why Does It? is taken from the album Chalice Agenda which is out on 15/5/15 on Audio Dregs.  You can find out more here.

*I know it’s 1990 but this sneaks in as part of a Hobsbawn-ian ‘long 80s’

** We understand that Marvel no longer considers this canon.

Water dreaming of being steam

Featuring : Takehisa Kosugi

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Delay like bubbles each one dispersing a new fraction of your self. You percolating there, all water dreaming of being steam, thoughts of heaven.

That hand on your face pushing you further and further into the black can only be your own. Your thoughts sound metallic now. Echoing loudly in what used to be your ears. Down into the silt goes the flesh and from it beautiful things will rise and evaporate and cease to be.

Takehisa Kosugi – Wave Code #E-1

from Catch-Wave (1975)


image:  Zhujiajiao, Shanghai
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