Category Archives: 2nd Sun

Face Riders in the Sky

Featuring : 2nd Sun

This week, we infiltrated the cybernetic vault where Blue Tapes hoard their musical secrets. So delighted were we by the richness of wares on display – abstract mementoes from a dislocated tradition, hits from our tribal future fresh off the time travel machine, tender fillets sliced off the cortex of the collective brain – that we were almost caught by the Black ICE guarding the place.

We scurried off through a stochastic network of nodes in TOR’s onion router losing everyone in our tail, we think, to bring you two tunes which, together, fit perfectly with the vibes of our current read, Walter Jon Williams’ 1986 Cyberpunk classic Hardwired.

Hardwired is set in a future where aloof corporations dominate Earth from their orbital dwellings. They monopolise Earth markets with their zero-G fabbed produce, while those stuck down the gravity-well fight for the scraps. Only a handful of hovercraft-riding smugglers keep the spirit of freedom alive, but for how long?

It is trashy but not as much as that summary made it sound. The setpieces are awesome and the imaginery is banging: Streetfighting dirtgirls with cybernetic snakes coiled in their throats, waiting to strike; chrome-eyed panzerboys with a steel guitar vibrating in their spines; the ghost of a stockbroker who went too far with his implants scattered across the ‘net, hacking the multidimensional crystalline architectures of pharma corporations.

Banging, right?

2ndSun’s techno-music things capture the frantic mood as the novel’s protagonists, Cowboy and Sarah, traverse the robotically harvested fields of an imploding America, neon vectors pumped on stimulants and interface addiction, that data high when you jack in and your eyes become infrared sensors, kerosene pumps through your veins, fingers flicking radar-homing missiles like they were pebbles.  

All these things and many more we feel in the melange of electro, techno and juke, Drexciyan paranoia and crackling noises of 2ndSun’s outbursts. There is no monolithic sense of progression here, only the hypnotic convolutions with which the system devours itself, just to keep going.

2ndSun – Totem Spire

If one half of Hardwired is technoid fetishism and rampant gun-porn, the other is folk American individualism, as Cowboy and Sarah chase their freedom from the Orbitals. Logistically this is impossible. The countries of Earth already tried, and were brought to heel by an asteroid bombardment that killed millions. Brave pilots flew into the sky in their deltas to fight a battle they had already lost, only to tumble back down burning like roman candles.

Our protagonists know this fact in their bones but occasionally manage to suppress it, creating spaces of agency free from the imperative to survive if only for a moment, spaces where they can remove their armour and drink, love and sing. We imagine that a simmering, incessantly soaring guitar like Brian John McBrearty’s creates the protective force-field in the perimeter of these brief zones of defiance.

Brian John McBrearty – Let the Wind Guide You

Get Blue twenty-three here.

Cosmic bangers from the heart of the Empire: an interview with 2ndSun

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It was perhaps a foregone conclusion that XXJFG would fall for a net label that had the nous to name itself Tessier-Ashpool Recordings. That they also had spot-on cyberpunk artwork and retro-futurist graphic design was already enough to seal the deal.

But all of these lovingly curated aesthetics are mere accoutrements to the sheer Caterpillar P-5000 Work Loader-strength bangingess of the awesome, hard – and, often, weirdly catchy – techno that you can download straight to your neural cortex from Tessier-Ashpool’s Bandcamp.

2ndSun, in particular, sound like the kind of noise you can imagine Darths Sidious and Vader boogying away to in the Death Star’s after-hours bar after they’ve clocked-off from a a hard day of laying waste to star systems. Cosmic bangers from the heart of the Empire.

We chatted to Olly and Ste aka 2ndSun about their creative process below. The duo also gave us a heads up on their favourite ever tracks by other artists:

Idris Muhammed – Could Heaven Ever Be Like This

Nuyorican Soul – I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun (Lead Vocals By Jocelyn Brown)

“From a dancing point of view, there are no set rules – every crowd is different, and each individual has their own idea of what constitutes a good tune or not. We’re always playing music that we love first and foremost, and hopefully that comes through as passion is a big part of music, whichever side of the booth you’re on. In terms of making a track, there is no such thing as easy! No set formula will automatically guarantee what you want to achieve in your head, and sometimes translating ideas to a sequencer can be a difficult process when trying extracting the core idea. Generally though, rhythm, melody, or both are always going to be the driving factors.

“There are no pre-conceived notions when we set out to make a track, as we find sitting down with a plan always results in dead ends – we like to feel a track out as we’re going along. Recently in particular we’ve been focussing much more on different rhythms rather than traditional “4 to the floor” beats, which we needed to do to keep ourselves interested in what we are doing. We both have short attention spans when it comes to different styles of music, and we find if we dwell for too long in one particular area, it curbs our creativity too much.

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“If you try to use set tactics you are ultimately just conforming to a formula anyway. Obviously we have certain mixing techniques that we use, but we don’t heavily rely on them as a staple for every track. It depends what the track needs – some sound great drenched in tape saturation, whereas others may benefit from a more spacey vibe. Ultimately we treat each track based on its own merits.

“I guess Divisive Circuit or Control, both off our Quanta EP, are our heaviest tracks. With the former, it’s got a very room 2 techno crunch going on, with a smudge of acid and a nod to Berlin. Control is much deeper, and more of a percussive drum track, but because it’s relatively stripped back, each element is more focussed and the delivery of that comes across well on a big sound system.

We wouldn’t change anything about either of them as we’ve passed that stage – our sound is evolving all the time and tracks act as markers on that journey. You are always going to be critical from a mixing point of view when you look back at older tunes, but that’s a standard producer problem. Some of our newer, unreleased bits are probably heavier than both of these tunes – hopefully you’ll be able to hear them soon.”

2ndSun – Canopy

You can buy 2ndSun’s Quanta from the excellent Tessier-Ashpool Recordings


Tron-style Darth Sidious – Star Wars fan art by David Vacek

Entry for [StarWars reimagined contest on CGplus]