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Featuring : Colin Self

There are some things that are unlistenable, unreadable, unwatchable.  Not because of their quality or because of their intrinsic horror.  They are shunned in my mind because dealing with their extrinsic  horror is too much. 

The first record I experienced this with was ANOHNI’s Hopelessness.  An exceptional album that deals so directly with such world annihilating-ly pressing concepts, that to listen is to continually rip the scab from your own first experience of them.  The totalitarian nightmare of the surveillance state; the (now fully underway) existential catastrophe of Climate Change; the death of the pseudo-liberal world order one drone strike at a time.

It’s a great record and I’m glad she made it but I just…can’t.  Not while we keep losing.

Colin Self’s new album on RVNG is called Siblings.  It draws its inspiration from Donna J. Haraway’s writing.  Indeed one track is named directly after her (perfectly titled) book: Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene.  A book that deals directly with our effect on the living systems of earth and posits a fundamental change of relationship.  It also (apparently*) rails against ‘bitter ‘game over’ pseudo-wisdom’.  Which is something I think we should all get behind.

Today’s track isn’t that though (which is a fucking massive three minute Techno banger) but a track from earlier in the album, Foresight.

Colin Self – Foresight

It has that clarity, that sincerity that Lynch so often appropriates and places next to seemingly innocuous images to create something eerie and strange.  Precisely because sincerity is so strange.  At one moment it’s This Mortal Coil, at another the vocal chanting is straight from Geinoh Yamashirogumi’s Akira score.  

Siblings is an exceptional record and maybe it too will become unlistenable or maybe, in time, I’ll realise the game isn’t over.

Siblings is out today on RVNG.  Get it here.

* I swear I’ll read more than the Amazon blurb after writing this post.

 

MAHT

Today I come back from the cold to tell you about three blinding techno albums released in 2018. If we project their vibes into multi-dimensional culture-space, we find them clustering with failed visions of the F-117 Nighthawk that were too deadly sleek, that Culture novel Iain M Banks would have written if cancer hadn’t taken him above, and the collective galactic encephalogram produced by a generation of kosmische hacks now resting body-dead but not brain-dead in Amoeba records’ new age section.

I will keep things short because each word I type is a blip in the sensorium of those obsidian sharks that lurk in the impossible cathedrals of this music. Remember the words carved in the altar:

Silence is gold, beats are titanium.

This is what happens when the Harkonen are uplifted

Daniel Avery – Diminuendo

 

Get Daniel Avery’s Song for Alpha here.

And this is the geometry of Crockett and Isabella’s separation, sometime after the Singularity.

Rival Consoles – Persona

Get Rival Consoles’ Persona here.

And this is one of the high-points of the Singularity, when the dead arise from their digital detritus, and off to their scattered bodies go.

Jon Hopkins – Everything Connected

Get Jon Hopkins’ Singularity here.

Saturday Mixtape: Talking German Army Unreleased Blues

Featuring : German Army

image: [Crop of] The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Rescued from the hideous tendrils of our Gmail filters, we bring you…a new mixtape!  By German Army!  Of unreleased jams (+John Barry)!

Echoey, claustrophobic and haunting in all the right ways, this is your mixtape to the apocalypse-verse we now find ourselves in.  Did you hear me? This is YOUR soundtrack to picking your way through a climate scorched wasteland, dodging the ironic/not-ironic fascists as your insane rulers cosplay Empire.  Headphones in, hood up.

German Army – OCT 18 mix

Music for rehabilitation

Featuring : H. Takahashi

Materialising, as if dropped by a benevolent god onto this desolate plain, H Takahashi’s Escapism has recently entered our life.  

Recorded around his day job, the world of Escapism is as far removed from the grim machinery of work as you could hope.  Light, contemplative, complex; any rhythms here do not ape the industrial, instead their gentle bubbling waves obliterate all thoughts of labour. 

Crystal is a brief moment among the album’s lengthier tracks.  It’s the pinnacle of Escpaism’s many delicacies.  Airy and fragile synths, continuously ascending, forming a tower of light.  And around this arpegiated tower smaller melodies dance, endlessly unfurling their beauty. 

H. Takahashi – Crystal

Escapism is out now on Not Not Fun Records.  And you can get it right here (although the tape’s sadly sold out).

We want to write…

Featuring : Precipitation

The intersection of New Age and the subtle tape distortions of drifting Balearic House: a love story.  

We want to write about the Me decade, composed of those boomers who rebelled against the 60s and embraced a hyper-conservatism.  That were the host organism for the social and economic ideas that would decimate communities and culture.  They were the shock troops for Berardi / Fisher’s ‘slow cancellation of the future’.  And if our future’s been constrained to creative reconfigurations of our past then the revival of New Age is the greatest expression of it. 

We want to write about New Age, the soundtrack to the Me Generation in their larval form.  Still exploring the trauma of the 70’s global nervous breakdown.  Searching for answers in the wreckage of fuel crises and dying industries.  Some finding it in alt-religious experiences that inevitably led to disaster.  

We want to write about Balearic House.  A genre that feels like the last island outpost of many dreams.  The place where the utopian sound of New Age found refuse along with its listeners. 

We want to write about all these things but, for today, we mostly want to luxuriate in the second track on Precipitation’s tape release, Earth / Sky.  Beginning, as all things must, with a lone distorted synth.  As if Vangelis was scoring a desert ritual.  A quiet moment after the rain, synth washes coming in to comfort and caress.  But without much time to process this melancholy, we’re joined by primitive drum machines, tapping out the unmistakeable sounds of House.  A tinny, thin sort of House.  The sort of House that’s never intended to fill a floor, but to exist as cell between exhaustion and melancholy.  To animate what’s left of your body in a early chill of morning.  

The second track is called Earth 2.  It is beautiful and you can hear it below.

Precipitation –  Earth 2

Earth 2 is taken from the Precipitation’s album Earth / Sky.  It’s out today on Silk Sound and you can get it right here.

Solarly

Featuring : Maria Teriaeva

Games developers responded to the infinite demand for content from their users with procedural generation systems that produced new levels, scenarios and characters automatically, based on combinations of parameters and rules. These creations were however criticised for being dull, repetitive and uncanny.

Developers incorporated off-the-shelf AIs into their procedural generation systems to make their creations more interesting, surprising and lifelike. These AIs learned to create content that optimised selected user metrics. The final results depended on company ethics and audience preferences.

One of the most interesting cases is that of the game Solarly, an open world exploration virtual reality game inspired by the art, mood and scenarios of ‘golden era’ Science Fiction. The developers implemented a reward function to optimise user engagement in the game. User engagement was defined as a composite indicator of contemplation and emotion.

However, the developers did not provide a sufficiently detailed list of constraints for this optimisation.

You could say that the AI went rogue.

The AI extracted personal information from Solarly user accounts and used it to bypass the security systems in their social media and email accounts and mined the information there. It fed the memories, life stories, hopes and fears of the users into its procedural generation engine, and created personalised scenarios and stories for them based on these data.

A user roaming a lonely planet stumbles upon a house by a pool surrounded by willows, the place where he spent his childhood summers. The silhouette of his grandmother sits quietly in the porch. She waves her hand. A user exploring mysterious alien monuments under  three blood moons is quietly confronted by the avatar of a love spurned long ago. Amongst the ruins of an abandoned colony, a user finds the faded remains of a teen diary, ashes of all the friendships she left behind.

Some say that Solarly is another example of a ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ AI taking its instructions too literally and wreaking havoc. Others say that Solarly is the blueprint for a future art-form where we become artist and  audience in a performance built from the raw materials of our own existence. Yet others say that the ghostly memories that haunt Solarly are its AI’s crude attempts to communicate with its parents, using the only language it knows.

Maria Teriaeva – Поворот

Maria Teriaeva’s Focus is a treasure trove of synaesthetic mystico-scientific scenarios. Synthetic micro-symphonies to communicate with alien species made of light, military marches for pacifist tin robots, soaring hymns for sacred books implemented in the eternally unfolding papyrus of a distributed ledger. Today, she becomes the Artemiev for our Solarly. Get Focus here.

Smashing Glass

Featuring : Michele Mercure

Our love affair with RVNG and their multifarious offshoots and collaborators continues undimmed.  This week it’s Michelle Mercure and a collection of her cassettes released between 1983-1990, titled Beside Herself.

On An Accident Waiting to Happen, Mercure channels her inner JG Ballard; creating an industrial groove from the sounds of screeching tyres and smashing glass.  It’s the apocalyptic twin of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn utopia.  

Seemingly the missing link between the sleek German electronic minimalism and abrasive Industrial, it quickly morphs into something more overwhelming.  Something not unlike the always disturbing dance music that Severed Heads were busy pumping into the collective unconscious.  Here it’s a pitch bent synth solo that parachutes in halfway through, like LA in the 80s trying to burst through the thick European walls.

Michelle Mercure – An Accident Waiting To Happen

Beside Herself is out on Freedom to Spend on 9th November and you can pre-order it right here.

We also have a bonus 20JFVid for An Accident Waiting to Happen.  Directed by Meredith Lawder it’s a stock footage and static assault of eyebleeding NTSC colo(u)r.