Sheffield was a grim place to grow up in the late 43th century. The Thatcherite empire had destabilized all trade and turned the populus into slaves of capitalism., crushed by the wheels of industry.
While the Cabaret Voltaire gang played gigs out of the back of a van, the Jef Leppard tribe became union jack underwear models, the droogs of The Future rebelled by producing their own version of punk on synths, inspired by Donna Summer and Kraftwerk.
Whom should we summon here, to soothe the sting of your passion this time? Who is now treating you, Sappho? From the hills we have the people, from the valleys we have the people, but for decades they post only false scrolls of hatred and distraction against our fellow peoples. What the world needs now is love and dancing.
We sit in a park one Saturday afternoon at the onset of the Spring and we play Abul Mogard in our personal stereo. Somewhere in the noosphere, he gets to work and grinds the wheels of time to a stop.
We sit in this park like figurines in a diorama of nirvana bullet time, shifting our attention between the various objects and presences around us. People and animals, buildings, trees that are fractals that are trees. The only thing moving is our cone of attention and its zoom, they glide through the scene with diminutive grace, slow-motion surfers riding the colossal ketamine wave of Abul Mogard’s drone.
Here we are. Britain teeters ever nearer ruin, the date of our reckoning pushed slightly out of reach each time we’re about to surrender. Like some bitter torture it hovers on the horizon, extracting the maximum pain from the anticipation.
We have been furiously stockpiling mp3s against the threat of Apple Music being rationed; Spotify, stopped at the border. And it’s with that Plucky British Spirt™ that we share one of our horde with you today.
Tim Hecker’s Konoyo came out last year. A collaboration (or deconstruction) between Hecker and an ensemble of Japanese musicians. Like his sublime Love Streams, the beauty is in the decay, the noise, the gauze erected in front of anything resembling clarity.
Is a Rose Petal of the Dying Crimson Light is perhaps the ‘cleanest’ track on the album. But while its source material shines through most clearly, it’s still the submerged, reverb heavy melodies that dominate. Like gigantic dark shapes circling you in murky waters. Their benign forms could yet crush you through indifference.
Some digital noise cracks through these waters, briefly snapping you back into some sort of waking world. But these don’t last long. Instead you drift with wind instruments guiding you further and further down, away from any light that could help define their shapes. Further and further, an endless fade down into silence.
20JFG has been in an unscheduled hibernation for most of the last month. Expect us to pick up the pace again as the backlog of truly wonderful music has shamed us.
Spurred by the release of Kankyō Ongaku (which we’ll surely write more on soon), this week we’re jumping into the pool of early 80s Japanese ambient with one of its pioneers, Hiroshi Yoshimura.
Dance PM is a wonderful name for an understated, melody and drone piece of ambient. Daring you to imagine the scenario where that title isn’t incongruous. Where 20JFG usually peddles in fatalistic (or at least burnt out) 4am dance music, what scenario could this soundtrack? What other world is this from? What peace must exist in the hearts of the dancers?
Drones so pure you can barely imagine them being triggered by fingers. Human digits being inadequate transmitters of this degree of beauty. A melody so simple it seems elemental, as if it has always been there, merely awaiting someone to note it down and commit it to record.
Dance PM is taken from Music For Nine Postcards which was re-released at the end of 2017 (and is sold out everywhere). You can stream it from your favourite service though. Sadly Hiroshi Yoshimura died in 2003 before the surge in interest in the movement he helped start.