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.

Kara Lisa Overdrive

Featuring : Kara-lis Coverdale

Kara Lis Coverdale is playing in London this coming Wednesday, at Cafe OTO. Several 20JFG will be there, and so should you. KLC will be celebrating the recent launch of Grafts, a 22 minutes piece which could well be the impossible beautiful McGuffin for a William Gibson noir. She is also responsible for one of our favourite albums in the last couple of years, 2015’s majestic Aftertouches.

We love Aftertouches very much, but then we just told you that. Its full stack of electronica, minimal composition and machine balladry conveys a possible future where humanity adapts to the info-tech-rich environment which is so messing with its collective mind right now.

In this scenario, the ability to parse and appreciate the beauty of complexity currently found in a small number of academic departments and big science projects becomes pervasive, and Aftertuches mops the floors of the pop charts with Bruno Mars and his ilk without feeling the slightly sense of satisfaction about its victory, since it has transcended the primal inclination to compete and defeat an adversary. At the system level, there are no adversaries, only nodes in a network distributing packets of  information and resources that come together in beautiful iridescent patterns, just like this the cybernetic Popol Vuhl chant at the apex of X 4EWI.

Kara Lis Coverdale – X 4EWI

Get tickets here.

Image from O’Reilly.

Guest mixtape: Multiple Man

Featuring : Multiple Man + Podcast

We’re honoured today to host a guest mix from the pummelling, Brisbane-based EBM machine Multiple Man!

Multiple Man is indeed multiple men – though two crafted from the same basic DNA – brothers Sean and Chris Campion.

Their New Metal LP has been a big favourite of ours this year, and this fantastic mix for 20JFG really allows us a peak under the bonnet at their cornerstone influences.

Multiple Man – 20JFG mix

Buy New Metal from DKA Records

Art is from Experiments in Motion Graphics (1968) by John Whitney Snr.

The Island that Doesn’t Exist

Featuring : Mark Barrott

There are few musicians that we cover on this blog more adept at creating a sense of place than Mark Barrott.  Ever since he moved to Ibiza, the records he’s put out feel like portals.  Although most interestingly, not portals to an Ibiza that can be located, prosaically, among the Balearic Isles.  But rather a possible Ibiza, a place perhaps imagined but never really there.

His island is a place where bodies and feelings and sounds and ideas drift in along the wind.  Snatches of other, more distant places, caught whole but caught oh so briefly.


Mark Barrott – Music for Santoor, Bansuri, Tanpura y Sarodto 

Music for Santoor, Nansuri, Tanpura y Sarod is a beautiful piece of Indian music from the Spanish island.  A prolonged drone piece, improvised over two hours and edited down to six minutes, as if in an attempt to dislocate both time and space.  Or perhaps to open up portals within the portal, collapsing segments of the world into each other.

Throughout you can hear, albeit distantly, the sound of the native birds.

This is the B-side to Mark Barrott’s sumptuous new 12″, The Pathways of our Lives.  It’s out on his label, International Feel and you can get it right here (and at other good record shops that didn’t have their pre-order page up yet).


The Discotheque of Babel

Featuring : Interior

The discotheque of Babel contains an infinite set of records made from all possible permutations of cool sounds – mellow marimbas and fuzzy basslines, tropical percussions and phased drums, Pacific Highway sunrise guitar solos and synthesisers made of fireworks.

The overwhelming majority of the results are pleasant enough. If you are lucky they will improve the quality of the time you spend on hold during a call to customer services, or your ascent up a skyscraper implemented by sound designers in a retro-ironic mood.

And from time to time, an exception: a similar form animated by a spirit of melancholy, existentialism and sadness, an awareness of the nostalgia we will feel for the present we live today, which adds an irresistible dash of complexity to what otherwise would be a shallow pastel façade.

These records have a touch of genius and are frantically tracked across the Discotheque by otherwise suave gentlemen and ladies straight out of a Michael Mann flick.

And they are frequently produced by Haruomi Hosono. He needs no introduction. Yellow Magic Orchestra member, hyper-creative solo artist and producer extraordinaire, Japanese left-field pop’s version of Conny Plank. And you will know him by the trail of smooth.

We have only started exploring his catalogue recently, and in doing this discovered two 1980s albums by Japanese synthy loungers Interior, which is what we will focus on today. These records are called Interior and Design, and they perfectly represent what we said before: a confluence of cool styles arranged in exquisite harmony, above which hover a spirit full of enigma and soul that helps them transcend what could have otherwise been cheesy or banal.

Just listen to the joyous ‘math rock soundtrack for a John Hughes film’ of Giant Steps, and Shadows of You, which begins as you enter the dressing room of a fashion-store to try on a  white suit, and instead step into a Narnia-style fantasy land of flying dragons and Jean Michel Jarre wizards.

Interior – Giant Steps

Interior – Shadows of You

Find out (a little) more about Interior in Discogs.

A Mandala for Mega-bear

Featuring : Eitetsu Hayashi

From one angle, Jeff Van DerMeer’s Borne is The Road with levitating mega-bears. From another it is Akira on foot. From another, it is Repulsion if Catherine Deneuve adopted the spiky Dali horrors creeping through the cracks on the walls of her house. From yet another, it is a coming of age tale for the barrel-shaped star-headed things in the Mountains of Madness.

Now you see why it is our favourite book of the year, and why you need to read it.

Whenever we say the word ‘Akira’, a gamelan drone unfurls inside our heads, so today we’ll leave you with this one, by Eitetsu Hayashi. It’s mystical layers probably aren’t the best fit for Borne’s squishy body horror, but then we have always associated gamelan’s a-linear mandalas with the uncannily harmonious cycle of the double helix, so there’s that connection if you need one.

Eitetsu Hayashi -カラビンカ (Karabinka)

Karabinka is included in Hayashi’s first album, 風の使者.  More info via Discogs.