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A flock of eagles fucking: an interview with Unfollow

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This ghostly techno might be insistent in momentum but that loud beating pulse could be coming from the adrenaline of fear or paranoia as much as a reliable indicator of health. Here, hearts don’t have to be healthy to be strong.

With samples reportedly summoned from the non-place that is the hospital, during a time of stark loss, Unfollow’s Zero Likes album on Kikimora Tapes adopts a strange, indefinable mood appropriate to those settings.

It is full of energy, but the energy is circular – almost obsessive. It could denote pacing or the frantic attempts to order a mind in disarray and overloaded with thoughts.

Somehow, the looping irons out the creases in these wrinkled mental states, makes them soothing. The infinite panacea of ordering and systematising.

Unfollow is one alias of the Toronto-based musician Tony Boggs. Tony thinks the below Third Eye Foundation song would “be totally fine as the last thing I would ever hear” and we grabbed a quick chat with him about his own music.

Third Eye Foundation – Donald Crowhurst

“I think my tendency for repetition comes back to my admiration for shoegaze or drum & bass, just taking a blissful moment and stretching it out as far you can. There is some sort of state of otherness you reach once a sound has been pounding into you for a while. It’s like a k-hole for the soul or something. It’s becomes a background for your imagination, it gives you time to dream and make it your own as you listen. Trance in the truest form. Wolfgang’s Voigt’s Gas project and Steve Reich were big influences to me; they definitely use repetition to their advantage.

“I think I find hope in repetition. People become more agreeable the more time you spend with them. A record you may find annoying could become your favourite after you’ve given it some time. When you download albums for free five months before they’re supposed to come out, it’s quite easy to scan through the tracks and pass judgment pretty quickly.

“I try to make things so they’re just slightly off, I embrace the glitch. Make it wrong. In the end, I kind of think of my music as sad techno. I’m really excited about dance music these days as there are a lot of amazing things happening. The nod towards industrial/noise is something I’m really, really into but nothing I’m really anxious to reference. Everyone has their own trajectory and I try to stay true to that. I was the goth kid in small town Kentucky in the 90’s with teased hair and all that… Skinny Puppy, X Marks The Pedwalk, Front 242, Chemlab, Invisible Records playing all the time. This is what I think of when I think of industrial and because of this I honestly don’t really see the reference most of the time, but I get it. I know that what is mostly being referenced is Clock DVA, TG, Neubauten.. the OG stuff.

“Once you’re able to give something a label it gets played out pretty quickly. IDM, witch house, vaporwave… There are amazing artists that get lumped into these categories and these things then expire pretty rapidly regardless of how groundbreaking it is and it all goes down with the ship and everyone is ready for the next reference.

“There are people who have been down since day one who are just now coming up. Like Beau Wanzer for instance. Beau has been Beau since I met him. When everyone was doing IDM, when IDM was not vogue and everyone started doing minimal techno.. Beau was still doing what he is doing now. Everyone was running Max/MSP and Beau would bring out his 909 and a wall of synths. It’s sort of like how they tell you if you get lost in the woods to just stay put and someone will find you. You just have to do what feels right and people will come around to it or they won’t.

“I certainly try to make dance music, but I feel I come up short. It always sort of circles back and ends up sounding like me, sort of like a curse. I’ve always been able to clear a dancefloor pretty quickly. I’m not sure that’s a skill though!

Unfollow – daysnofun

I think about hard times when I listen to my own music, blissful yet painfully monumental times. Leaving a loved one in intensive care and driving away from the hospital with the music super loud and just pounding away on the steering wheel. When you need something that’s heavy but not ignorant of the emotions you may be feeling. I think my music is good for drinking alone or maybe at 3am on the dancefloor when everyone’s drugs have run out and all the poseurs have taken Uber rides home.

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“There are so many tracks I’ve made that I think are just horrible. More often than not, it is one annoying sound that keeps coming through that just ruins it. A hi-hat that is completely too loud or maybe a really rad part that you cannot hear for shit. A melody that goes on too long… These things have fucked up many a track for me. I would rather leave things unsaid rather than shoving it down someone’s throat. I think this helps serve my minimal/repetitive tactic these days.

“What music made by other people do I really hate right now ? I hate to hate, cuz who the fuck am I? So, I would never single anyone out. EDM is a an obvious scapegoat as it seems so ignorant of the music and culture that made it possible in the first place. I’ve never been a fan of the wobbly dubstep bassline. I fucking hate “the drop.” I guess what I think of as “groovebox techno” is especially lame. With everyone turning towards outboard gear, the idea that if you have this certain piece of gear that you will be all set is an annoying notion. For myself, the move away from the computer as the main brain is pretty much a no brainer as I spend all day at work staring at a computer, so the last thing I want to do when I feel creative is fire up the laptop. That shit stays downstairs. I think that’s the same for a lot of people. But in the end, it certainly doesn’t matter what you use, it’s all relative.

“If I were asked to make an album using instruments or software that I’ve never used before, I’m sure It would still sound very much like me; again a very reliable curse. When Mitchell Akiyama and I were working on the second Desormais album he brought out his viola, which we certainly didn’t know how to play and it ended up being our sort of secret weapon. The dry track sounds something like a flock of eagles fucking, but once it goes through all the fx and gets smeared it becomes very personal and makes sense.”

Buy Zero Likes by Unfollow from Kikimora Tapes


Young Girl Eating a Bird – The Pleasure by René Magritte, 1927.
Le frisson des vampires by Jean Rollin, 1971.
via http://framevsframe.tumblr.com

Infinite zest

Featuring : David Bowie

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The idea of an informational universe gives us some solace in the face of death. We survive in the information we leave behind, the information we have created, the information that others create about us, the information encoded in our descendants.

Now do this for us. Visualise this informational universe as a refulgent, complex network crackling with energy.

Can you see that big fat shining node in the centre of the network?

That’s David Bowie, and he is alive.

David Bowie – Moss Garden

Moss Garden is included in Heroes. We found the image in UI BAKA.

SATURDAY MIXTAPE: The Faked History of Böwlemmie

Featuring : Podcast

Lemmy-Bowie

It is very sad that David Bowie and Ian Lemmy and Hans Gruber died this week. But MY GOD, I don’t think any of us ever need to hear Life On Mars or Ace of Spades again now do we?

As an antidote, here is a crate-digging mixtape venturing into the darkest recesses of Lemmy and Bowie’s careers – alternate versions, pre-fame playfulness, wrong turns, collaborations, side projects, unreleased stuff and weird experiments. And Silver Machine.

Because always Silver Machine.

Features The Rockin’ Vicars, The Riot Squad, Sam Gopal, The Spiders from Mars, Hawkwind, The Robert Calvert Band, Motörhead, Probot and more, but we drew the line at Tin Machine.

Because never Tin Machine.

XXJFG – The Faked History of Böwlemmie

Sadly that beautiful picture up-top turned out to be a fake. In real life, David Bowie was this lady:

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Missed Connections

Featuring : Telepathe

telepathe-destroyerIn this week of loss (that 20JFG is totally not ready to deal with just yet) we’d like to talk about a record that we missed in 2015.  Or indeed, to talk about a video we missed in 2014.  And a band we’ve missed a great deal.

Back before this particular writer joined with the hive mind, 20JFG helped produce a series of videos for Telepathe.  You can still read about them here (although the embedding got messed up with the redesign).  I made one.  I finally met the band when they played at a night curated by Dev Hynes back around the release of Dance Mother (2008) but was too drunk and too shy to mumble much more articulate than ‘that was awesome’ (which their show was).  The last time we saw them was when they swung through Brighton and played a set that sounded like all our Freestyle dreams wrapped in smoky red light.  It too, was awesome.

And then, to us, they disappeared.

You see, Dance Mother came out on a big grown up label and something happened that meant that its follow up didn’t.  Busy and Melissa moved to LA, got obsessed with Sci-Fi and cults (and basically lived the 20JFG dream) while recording the album that would become Destroyer.  And it’s great.  Really great.  But more on that later.  This was all back in 2012 and hell, they got a single out in 2012 so all should have been there for the taking…

But it wasn’t.  For whatever reason it wasn’t.

And it wasn’t until last year that Destroyer came out on their own label BZML for digital and Young Cubs for tape and vinyl.  A year before (in 2014) they produced a video for the track I’m going to cover today.   Here it is:

And this, this is why we missed Telepathe:

 

Telepathe – Drown Around Me

The thing about living in hauntology’s world: everything’s fucking timeless.  Drown Around Me’s beauty is not dulled by sitting on a hard drive for three years.  Nor is not dulled (in my ears) by the lateness of my discovery.  It has sat there, calm and patient, a crystalline ballad.  A moment of ecstasy perfectly preserved within layers of synths.  Every chord, every chorus, every wash of synths across the fragile drum loop calibrated to steal you away into the timelessness of the night.

What this accumulation of dates and performances and videos and music amounts to is that glimpse-behind-the-curtain feeling that the good ones can slip through the fingers of the hidden hand (totally murdering that metaphor).  Just making relentlessly good music isn’t enough.  Telepathe simply shouldn’t be exiled within a flickering netherworld, snatching back their music and fitfully shoving it through into our realm.  Without fanfare or acclaim.  We missed you and we’re sorry.

You can get Destroyer from Young Cubs here.

 

A mumuration, a sunset: an interview with Hakobune

Featuring : Hakobune

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Hakobune makes music that describes the incremental change of seasons in simple huge rushes of melancholy or joy, or something that is a bit of both – something that is perhaps closer, therefore, to lust; but desexualised and not humanised and instead just a thing that is – a smear of sound in the atmosphere, a murmuration, a sunset.

Hakobune is Takahiro Yorifuji, who resides in Tokyo. He has released dozens of Hakobune albums on supra-cool imprints such as Constellation Tatsu, Patient Sounds, Sacred Phrases and many more.

We chatted to Taka about his music, why he makes it and what it means to him.

You have made punk, hardcore, grindcore and powerviolence noise music as well as the gentler and more intimate ambient/minimal music – have you ever attempted to combine the two, or is it important to keep these two halves of your musical identity separate? What do they individually bring to your life?

I like both noise music and ambient music but I’d never thought of combining the two. There are other artists who already do this kind of stuff so I don’t bother to do the same. I want to form a band again someday, if I have an opportunity, but as it stands now, it’s not too realistic to produce and play music with multiple people.

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What feelings do you think are expressed most in your music? Where does it send you emotionally, either when playing or listening? What images do you visualise?

I get inspiration from landscapes, books, and movies, as you do. I hope my music makes listeners have many images in their mind.

Who are your favourite musicians working in Japan currently? What do you wish you could emulate about their work?

We are from completely different genres but DJ NOBU is the artist whom I shared stages the most with in 2015. He is a leading artist of the Japanese underground techno scene but he always keeps himself open to various genres of music, and the music he mixes makes me thrilled all the time.

Is there anything in music you have always wanted to do, but have found beyond your abilities, or that you have attempted but don’t think you are ready for others to hear yet?

Juke

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Of all your many releases, which is your favourite, and why? What do you feel you achieved with that release that the other releases did not?

This is my 1st album “Sense of Place”. I wrote all the tracks in my teenage years and completed in a technique different from now. It’s not feasible to produce in the same style today.

If you could pick one piece of music by another musician that summed you up completely as a human being and composer, what would it be?

Bach

Your music feels very colourful to me – what colours do you associate with it?

I can’t specify one single colour. I compose by building up many layers of sound as impressionist painters use various colors.

Hakobune – Landfall

Buy Love Knows Where by Hakobune from Constellation Tatsu
There are a staggering 57 releases by Hakobune available on Discogs!


Images from Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees (Masahiro Shinoda, 1975)

 

Do androids hallucinate of jeweled alligators?

Featuring : Mecánica Popular

Que Sucede Con El Tiempo

Happy New Year to you all!

Let us begin 2016 transmissions by gazing backwards and forwards at the same time, Janus stylee.

To the past, by reporting a 2015 reissue we missed out on, of a much older band we had also missed out on. The reissue is called ¿Qué sucede con el tiempo? and the band is Mecánica Popular, a Spanish experimental electronic duo formed by two audio engineers who bootlegged this advanced mecha-musics in after-hour sessions at RCA’s luxurious studios in Madrid. The record was originally released in DRO, Aviador Dro’s record label in 1984, and has been reissued by the wonderful Finders Keepers, through the Dead Cert Certified Artistic Archival Pressing label.

Let us also consider the future, by connecting the mood this music generates in us with a set of unfolding trends, in particular, the pervasive adoption of algorithmic systems for decision-making in an increasing number of areas of human activity. This music makes us think of the irrational projections – hallucinations, dreams, obsessions – of these budding artificial intelligences as they are overwhelmed by the complexity of the environments where they have to operate.

Imagine the traumatic processes of psycho-technological fusion in JG Ballard’s fiction, but told from the perspective of the machine. Note that this music wasn’t built with samplers, but with synthesisers and electronic manipulations of the recordings of other machines. There are humans in the loop, but the voice that we hear is mechanic.

In La Edad del Bronce, its message is relatively simple: shimmy shimmy ya.

Mecánica Popular – La Edad Del Bronce

Get Qué Sucede con el Tiempo in vinyl from Boomkat before it sells out again.

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Invitation to dream: an interview with Max Richter

Featuring : Max Richter

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The latest in our series of interviews with modern classical composers (read the previous on Whitney George, Roomful of Teeth, William Basinski) brings us to a chat with the architect of one of the defining musical landmarks of 2015, Max Richter, writer of the 8-hour sleepcycle-soundtracking composition SLEEP.

Max has described the music as “an invitation to dream”, and although the composer’s intention is for audiences to experience SLEEP in its entirety across the everyday – but still mysterious and kind of magical – process of setting down to sleep, and sliding in and out of consciousness before waking 8 hours later, its gentle, repetitive patterns of chamber orchestra and electronics generally just makes for beautiful listening in any setting.

Max’s band has performed SLEEP in its entirety at a night-long show in Germany, where audiences were provided with beds. The troupe have just announced a UK tour for 2016 performing an abridged version of SLEEP.

This is what Max told us about his motivations for creating SLEEP and the unique challenges the project has presented:

“From recent sleep research we have learned that two things specifically are handy in triggering slow waves, namely extremely low frequency sounds and small repeated fragments of material. It just so happens that these are two things I regularly use in my work anyhow, so it was a sort of permission slip to do what I would just do by instinct.

“I think there is something magical about those frequencies. We can make them with acoustic instruments easily, and we encounter them in Nature only in thunder storms and other large scale events. To be able to control and shape these sorts of things feels like a magical or maybe super human kind of activity, and is one of the reasons I fell in love with electronic music when I was a kid.

“Thinking about it now this isn’t really surprising, and it reinforces my feeling that SLEEP is, in a way, foregrounding elements which are already present in my earlier things.

Max 2 landcscape

“I decided early on to write the album as a big set of variations. There are lots of reasons for this. First, I love variation forms (memoryhouse is a big set of variations). Second I felt that if I were sleeping through a piece and woke up half way through (as people are bound to do) I would like to have something familiar around me, something to recognise, and variation forms are perfect for this because the basic DNA is always the same. There is also a precedent in music history, namel Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which were apparently written to accompany the insomnia of the nobleman who commissioned them. If its good enough for Bach…

“In a way the project is really an experiment to see what happens when sounds and consciousness meet in this other context. Thats exactly the question I was looking to examine. In a sense it is an intrusion in the sleep state, but a voluntary one. For me the centre of the project is this unique encounter between the music and the singular consciousness of the sleeper. It is a giant ‘What if…?’

“I thought only of how the music might connect to a sleeping mind, not of any other contexts for it. Of course people find their own relationships to the work once its out there, and thats one of the most interesting things really – how people encounter the material and what they do with it – thats when you really find out what it is you have made.

“The  8-hour live performance of SLEEP went really well – though for the first half hour we had two technicians literally taking the piano apart and repairing it while I was playing! Overall it felt like a mixture between running a marathon and sitting zazen. The audience all had beds to sleep in and most people did go to sleep for most of the show. It was quite a special atmosphere playing to people who are asleep because the performance dynamics were completely different. We were not projecting the material to the audience the way you do in a normal gig, but rather we felt like the audience were in some way in our care during their voyage throughout the night – it felt special. When dawn broke and the last chord faded away there was a brilliant 2 or 3 minute silence, which was maybe my favourite thing in the gig. I think overall people were quite affected by the show, though obviously everybody experiences these things in their own unique way – and thats the most interesting thing really.

Max Richter – Rainlight (composed for for Random International’s ‘Rain Room’ at the Barbican)

“This year I also wrote a full length Ballet, a TV series (The leftovers) and a couple of film scores. So, yeah, exhaustion is pretty much it.

“As to whats next, I’m not sure yet. I tend to wait for an idea to strike me rather than just do things, and nothing has really solidified yet, so I’m waiting for the next thing that feels like it wants to get done…”

 The full 8-hour version of SLEEP has been made physically-available for the first time as a deluxe box set containing eight CDs and a high-definition pure audio Blu-Ray disc. In May, the Max Richter Ensemble will tour an abbreviated version of SLEEP alongside a full performance of Max’s Tilda Swinton-narrated Kafka homage, The Blue Notebooks. A Vulnicura-style series of SLEEP reworking by acclaimed artists is also planned, with the first of these – by Mogwai – out now.


art is O Darkness! O Darkness! by Edward Ka-Spel