The old magic strikes back

Woe is me! That Xbox 360, which has given me so many hours of delightful bloodshed and merciless sniping was recently afflicted by the loathed Red Ring of Death. So, after the initial shock and wondering about what to do with my life, I decided to climb down the stairs of my video game manor, and into the halls of the last generation, this is, I reactivated our slim alien beetle-looking PS2. I made a conscious choice regarding the games to go for. Given the emphasis on shooting things that had prevailed throughout my next generation incarnation, I would now go for more artistic experiences which have been given the accolades of the cognoscenti. Hence, Okami, Ico and the game that brings us here, Shadow of the Colossus. Think of it as a bit of a dis-intoxication from the militaristic fumes on which I have been inebriating myself during the last year, and some well-deserved rest for a finger trigger which has developed a musculature sufficient to break the collarbone of intellectual rivals during academic disputes.

Anyhow, Shadow of the Colossus is probably the best game I have ever played, and I recommend it to all of you with a taste for the grandiose, poignant and beautiful, roll down the hills of its world on a horseback lonely, chasing after those lumbering and seclusive colossi you need to defeat if you are to bring your beloved back to life. Never have I felt so sad when defeating a ‘boss’ in a battle before, the moment before sinking my sword into the gleaming rune representing its life-force there is a moment of absolute and utter guilt, an awareness of the fact I am obliterating some of the magic which animates this old world for utterly selfish reasons, hence all those black tentacles shooting out of the Colossi’ corpses. This is of course a metaphor of what mankind has done with its environment more or less present in all the games mentioned before, and also in the beautiful work of Studio Ghibli.

All of which one could also connect to American Gods, where Neil Gaiman describes the final battle between the Old Gods of yore, those which have been forgotten and scrounge the back alleys of the modern world, starved of worship from a humanity which has found new divinities to believe in, celebrity, media, technology, the culture of the material.

It is perhaps an easier, more convenient world we live in, but sometimes it feels as if there was something amiss. That is the reason why some of us who have a particular inclination, a thirst for the spiritual but a distaste for the organisationally religious, to search for this old magic simmering through the pages of a book or the spell encrypted in the transmissions from a screen, the communal spirit that can animate a multitude dancing a good dance, or this music.

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Rob(u)rang’s (also at discogs) music is fierce like a torrent of black tigers, primal like the tongue of Ougun to Mi Ami’s Papa Legba. Its sinuous percussive cycles bring to mind Olatunji’s drum magic and the tribal mass of the Boredoms, but also the progressive cadences of minimal techno at its hypnotic ritualistic best, there is an intense feeling of foreboding in those screeching horns, as if you were advancing into the psychedelic heart of darkness across a jungle of emerald, up hillocks of densely packed earth which are the decomposed bones of the old ones, then along furious streams and whirlpools where black shapes lurk, stare at you with indifference or perhaps hunger, eventually reaching a big wound on the land, a bottomless cliff from which this music leaps fearless, so do you.

Rob(u)rang- Voor Lukas (version)

This is a version of the final piece that will be included in Rob(u)rang’s album, to be released by Off. You can feel intuitively the ghosts of those sounds, flutes, clarinets, guitar, more percussions and voices that will eventually adorn its muscular body, but then it is perhaps now, this bare, when the intensity of its onslaught, inspired by Yoruba magic and the Voodoo, transpires more clearly, hits harder. We can’t wait to hear the final result in any case, hopefully deployed to devastating effect in the set of some adventurous DJ (Optimo should dig I think), because if there has been a recent place when your 20JFG dervishes have been lost in the radiance of the drum, it has been here.

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Medicine and Duty continue their burning transition to some place which I can’t describe, which is your loss, because if I had the skills to put into words the sounds of their martial onslaught, then maybe the facets of a Hellraiser-style rubik cube would reconfigure in this screen sucking you into an alternative dimension where kraut rock fiends carve drumsticks off the worn wooden stocks of vietcong AK-47s and advance between rivers of lava as beheld through the lens of a bloodsplattered camera, warlock masters of the synthwave stormbringer slicing and hacking with the discipline of This Heat, past a steely wall of Spartan shields, pumped on sub dermal injections of oscillating oomph distilled from the bulking shadows of Silver Apples, Mars, warm leatherette and gnarly dubstep, yes, you would find yourself trading the ashy grounds of a universe of instinctive and violent dialectics which these dapper gentlemen rule from a throne of skulls, heroes incarnate of a Moorcock epic as yet unwritten. You wish I could put their music into words, you wish.

Keep going strong like a satanic hurricane boys.

Medicine and Duty- Jury-Rigged

Medicine and Duty will be playing at the Greenhouse Effect in Hove, Brightonia with rather aces A Middle Sex on the 9th of October.