Category Archives: zombi

Best of 2011, part II: Resurrection of the Synthesist

Given our name, it’s no secret that we gorge on electronic sound, be it discomforting or transcendent.  Guttural or sublime.

We’re forever wary of confirmation bias but this year does seem to have seen wave upon wave of synth based music.  Not just music that features a synth but music that’s built around the synth, great cathedrals constructed to encapsulate the idea of making synthetic sounds that by their design are alien and other.  Except, they’re not anymore.  Thirty years of indoctrination has made the music of the synths mean something else.  A piece of retro nostalgia at one moment, something transgressive the next.  Often extremely beautiful in that airbrushed way that was once cliche but now — as the world folds in on its credit default swapped self –seems aspirational; utopian.

So this then, is our loosely assembled collection of synth focussed tracks which, like a good Bela Tarr movie, create a world and give us time to think within its borders.

 

Jonas Reinhardt: Eos, the Dawn In 2011, Jonas Reinhardt returned to these warm zones: constantly maintained by solar winds and the unfathomably complex gravitational dance moves of the planets.

Speeding through the heavens of blue refracted light that bounce freely off of vast glassed worlds, before slowing to take in the cresting of a sun over its many orbiting bodies.  Eos, the Dawn holds itself in a perfect moment before the god of arpegiated synth pulses rises from her slumber to usher in a new day.  Below a strange planet populated by sentient piers springs into life, their symbiotic Wurlitzers emerging out of the wooden decks like budding flowers to pipe a salute to the new day.

Jonas Reinhardt – Eos, the Dawn

Buy: Music for the Tactile Dome

 

Gatto Fritto: S/T Beachy Head is a beautiful suicide spot in the Sussex coast not far away from Brighton. It is the place depicted in the front cover of Throbbing Gristle’s 20jazzfunkgreats, and soundtracked in a most foreboding manner in the selfsame record. It also seems to be a place that Gatto Fritto, one of the most accomplished sages of the neo-Kosmische diaspora has given some thought to. His Beachy Head is a wonderful quantum waltz that stares not at the maelstrom swirling below, but at a night sky above, where subtle shifts in the luminosity of the constellations reveal a soothing message of galactic rebirth.

Gatto Fritto: Beachy Head

Buy: S/T.

 

Eric Enocksson: Apan Ramble through the hazy palace of your past, and into a cellar of gentle ruins where you collect memories of those pets that grew up with you, and grew old and frail and one day, died.  Bask in the portentous sadness of a wordless farewell, sweetened by the remembrance of the joy that was, and your ability to love, which is also the root of all your tears.  Now picture a dynasty of galactic shepherds whose flock is of planets and constellations, and of the races that thrived and decayed and perished therein, their affection and ache as great as yours, but stretched over aeons of blackness, interrupted by a blinding light, once in a while, once in a while.

Across which echoes a song like this.

Erik Enocksson – IV

Buy: Apan.

 

Borden/Ferraro/Godin/Halo/Lopatin: FRKWYS Vol. 7 One of the many strands that compose our love of music made with synthesisers is its ability to describe nature in a medium that is completely abstracted from.  As the sounds become more sythesised the creator’s intent is more nakedly revealed and in this instance, the feeling of drifting into night — which let’s face it is pretty fucking abstract — is conjured from the minds of the song’s participants.  Droning waves of synths layer each other like laser coloured veils until more excited flourishes tweet their arrival like thousands of birds of pure light arising for the gloom.

Borden, Ferraro, Godin, Halo & Lopatin – Twilight Pacific

Buy: FRKWYS Vol. 7

 

Harald Grosskopf: Synthesist (Reissue) Picture the collection of delicate vibrations through which sound is transported across air as a nascent civilisation of golden-skinned homunculi toiling in barren lands, developing in a super-compressed evolutionary process a theory of the mind and language. If the stars are our destination, then we must be theirs, for they populate our sensory system with awe-inspiring structures that will thrive long after a supernova of silence has obliterated the system whence they arrived. Harald Grosskopf is the Deus-ex-Machina behind this beautiful infiltration, the all-knowing watchmaker that set this process in movement. He is their God, I wouldn’t be surprised if he became ours too.

Harald Grosskopf- Synthesist

Buy: Synthesist

 

Food Pyramid: Food Pyramid III Food Pyramid don’t (need to) mention anything eluding to German 60s/early 70s music in their email to us, but as with the Boredoms, Juan Atkins, Holy Fuck, Death in Vegas, Fuck Buttons, The Time and Space Machine, Deerhunter, Gavin Russom, Oneida, Lindstrom or P.I.L. – reading between the lines gives us great delight.

Food Pyramid – E-Harmony

Buy: Food Pyramid III.

 

S.C.U.M.: Again into Eyes When teenagers making epic industrial goth by way of southend on sea make a first album on Mute records team up with the combined production talents of Ken and Jolyon Thomas you might expect something interesting. Again into Eyes goes beyond anything you’d expect as a first album, beyond the combined age and wisdom of all involved. If this is their first offering, then personally we cannot wait for more.

S.C.U.M – Whitechapel

Buy : Again into Eyes

 

Rene Hell: The Terminal Symphony Rene Hell gives us large hadron collider tickets to an abstract universe where Andrei Tarkovski directed Tron, and Terry Riley teamed up with Aphex Twin to make the soundtrack. BLAM.

Rene Hell – Lighthouse Marvel

Buy: The Terminal Symphony.

 

Moon Gangs: S/T Moon Gangs  plug a whole array of synthetic apparatus into the output devices of our planetary sensory system, thus generating a tape, the latest episode in an invisible collection of factual documentaries through which generation after generation of stargazing weirdoes (Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Terry Riley, Ligeti, Lindström, OPN, etc.) have attempted to reveal a truth that can’t be spoken.

Moon Gangs – Sea

Buy: S/T (sold out soz)

 

IFEEL Studio: Morgengruss III IFEEL Studio stretches fingers of gold into the core of the galaxy, and the deepest recesses of the human heart to grasp the mysteries of love, and scatter them into the wind. From these seeds grows a mighty tree under whose shadow we rest in a furious summer afternoon, eating cheese and bread like humble and satisfied shepherds, humming a melody of beauty and peace.

IFEEL Studio – Watching Stars Over The Rubicon Beltway

Buy: Morgengruss III

 

Zombi: Escape Velocity Escape Velocity is a new instantiation of our manifesto: numinous motorik disco for emergent new era cults, party music for the post-singularity hivemind, the blueprint of an interstellar motorway where a suicidal priesthood accelerates its sexy silver machines towards the ultimate event horizon.

Zombi – DE3

Buy: Escape Velocity.

 

Mist: House Mist’s House is a collection of prophesies about the day-to-day of our poly-mathematic future, and a tribute to the pioneering work of the Kosmische school that first calibrated its main parameters, and anticipated its sentiment.

In it, the fundamental relations in the science of harmony are expressed mechanically by marshalled regiments of numbers marching with irresistible power

Mist – Twin Lanes

Buy: House

 

Deep Earth: House of Mighty Deep Earth lash out with the pent-up energy of a zillion Zenta laser panthers as they lunge forward, not to snap your neck with mighty fangs of antediluvian vintage, but to carry you dangling from their mouth into exotic lands of strife and illumination like a psychedelic version of He-Man’s Battle Cat, dreamed up in some German progressive commune circa 1976.

Deep Earth – House of Mighty II

Buy: House of Mighty

 

Thug Entrancer: Case  Mounting a late surge into this list Thug Entrancer’s email popped into our swamp-like inbox linking us to Volume 1 and 2 of Tropics Mind.  Pulling in Carpenter synth workouts, Juke influences and more ambient meanderings they’re nothing if not superbly ambitions explorations of synth driven dance music.

Whereas initially they volumes seem arbitrary, volume 1 soon reveals itself as a finely honed, low key Juke inspired, bubbling gem.  With only Spiritual Growth losing the frantic rhythm of its peers, opting instead for a spot on the Carpenter/Goblin axis of tension/terror.  Volume 2 seems more focused on the aforementioned Carpenter/Goblin/(slowed)-Italo synth driven genre…we still haven’t got a suitable name for.  [We suck at genres]  From which Case comes.

Thug Entrancer – Case

Buy: Tropics Mind

 

Throbbing Gristle: all of it (re-mastered reissues) All of them.  On vinyl.  Get them now.  Even if they’re not really ‘synth’ albums — in the same way that David Lynch isn’t really a pop star.

Buy: ALL THE THINGS

I have seen the dragons on the wind of morning

Featuring : The Alba Project + zombi

(You know which Boris)

Arthur C. Clarke once said that ‘Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology is Undistinguishable from Magic’. Let us work this aphorism backwards, and apply it to Zombi’s corpus, as manifested and further advanced in their latest release, ‘Escape Velocity’.

For what does something that sounds like black magic tell us about the technology causing the effects that this magic is? That it is a sufficiently advanced technology, for sure, whose sophistication is directly correlated to the power of the magic to which we are subjected.

Is it a human technology? Is it an alien technology? Is it a crude technology reconfigured in some deft exercise of will?

We asked our crypto-engineer/interdisciplinary wiz kid in residence, Wilhelmina Vincenti to look into this matter in detail. She has spent the last few days in her laboratory, parsing Zombi sound-sequences with high-end scientific equipment smuggled from the former Soviet bloc; we now report some of the hypotheses coming out from this effort:

  • Software: I have reverse engineered the sound waves from the Escape Velocity album to produce a sequence of instructions that can be transformed into machine code. When run, the program evolves into a neural network that after a handful of iterations shows clear signs of consciousness. It speaks solemnly in a dead language, both in the lab and in my dreams.
  • Hardware: The 3D engine crashed when I attempted to visualise the geometrical structures that underpin this music. I edited some of the files to incorporate non-Euclidean assumptions into the analysis, and now it works. I have sent the output to some colleagues, including people at NASA. They say it looks like the blueprint for a self-replicating space probe powered by an energy source that generates wormholes for instant transportation across vast expanses of space, perhaps time too.
  • Wetware: I have decrypted the output of the frequency heat-map by allocating pitch buckets to DNA bases, producing a snippet of genetic code that when injected into a bacteria dish rapidly takes control over the population, improving the efficiency of its nutritional processes, and generating new organic structures. The slit-eyed, leather winged aberration that has evolved through this process is getting too big for its cage.

We suspect that these are different aspects of the same phenomenon. Mina is at her chemistry lab right now, synthesising an organic compound with some of the information codified in the analogue chains of ‘Escape Velocity’. We are planning to take a small dose of this organic compound later, while staring at the clear night sky. We will let you know how it goes.

Zombi – DE3

Escape Velocity is a new instantiation of our manifesto: numinous motorik disco for emergent shamanic cults, party music for the post-singularity hivemind, the blueprint of an interstellar motorway for sexy silver machines piloted by a suicidal priesthood accelerating towards the ultimate event horizon. Go get.

Having gone so high, we needed to come down, and what better way to come down than into a damp cellar where a sweaty crowd bobs in synch with the exalted pulses of a lost italo classic? None, I tell you.

Only this isn’t a lost italo classic, but a new production by the Alba Project (Alba featuring the mighty Fred Ventura) forthcoming in Aube records, with sweet artwork by Syd Brak. It has all the signature elements of that synth-pop variant of 1980s eurodance that your 20jazzfunkgreats scribe is in particular thrall of, put together with technical accomplishment and emotional integrity – a melodic freestyle exploration of that pastel space somewhere in between heaven and hell where the freaks dance, rolling over an evil bass and a sexbot beat.

The Alba Project – Without You (Dub)

Check the original version here.

Prehistory

Featuring : Belbury Poly + zombi

pic_belbury

For the last few years Ghost Box have been releasing unto the world a steady stream of mysterious and intoxicating records dedicated to sound tracking a quintessentially eccentric British past saturated in Tomorrow’s World technology and ancient pagan traditions that may have never actually existed. Consequently Ghost Box have undoubtedly emerged to be one of the most easily lovable of British labels functioning at this moment in time, a statement which could be construed as ever so slightly contradictory in reference to Belbury Poly’s music and the recurring preoccupation with notions of eternalism that consistently has such an influence on it’s haunted analogue world.

belburypoly-album-cover-main

Belbury Poly have a new album out now. It’s called From An Ancient Star and we urge you to buy it as it’s seriously incredible. The title track is an entrancing slab of sci-fi disco that sounds like Cerrone and Delia Derbyshire convened one night to throw a full moon party at Stonehenge where woodland nymphs and strange Lords and Ladies came out to sway beneath the constellations in the sky, hypnotized by the fruity, sinister sounds of Summerisle being engulfed by astral swirls of prog dancefloor atmospherics, and what sounds in the last seconds like the invoking of the spirit of Oliver Postgate and his family of magical cloth creatures.

Belbury Poly – From An Ancient Star

zombi

Zombi, meaner than Herod and bigger than Jesus.

Zombi- Spirit Animal

Your flabbergasted 20jazzfunkgreats crew can barely handle the awesomeness anymore, what with the Boredoms last week, Mi Ami sharpening the punji sticks of their percussive death-trap and now Zombi, an outfit which leaves the rest of the macabre crew so far behind they find themselves puffing on a cigarette in the passenger seat of a second hand chevy parked in the middle of the night listening fearful to the ominously metronomic sound of an indescribable something that pounds against the ceiling above them, it is Zombi who stand there brandishing a grotesquely grimacing head they bash with the fury of their darken convictions.

This is not an imaginary soundtrack for an Argento chiller that doesn’t exist, it is the real soundtrack for an Argento chiller that should be made just so that its shadowy confines can be filled with these thick progressive and beautifully poignant vibes. This is the reason why Dario Argento should get his shit together, and John Carpenter and George A. Romero should go back to shooting with the grainy photographic styles of yore. It sounds like Fabio Frizzi, Jean Claude Vannier and Wendy Carlos wasted on laudanum duelling with silver daggers in an Italian basement studio packed with arcane synthesisers and walls covered with grainy photographs of softcore porn.

On a full moon.

Spirit Animal is the real deal, it is the sound of falling in love as you enter the house of Usher, seriously, get it for your sweetheart and have happy Valentine’s Day!