Competitive Minimalism

Featuring : Steve Reich



…and over and over again.

Clapping Music is perhaps the natural, glorious death of the now unfashionable rhythm action game.  It is both the closest* a game has come to defeating the abstraction between input and effect and the simplest you can make it.  It is a one button game that’s as difficult (and rewarding) as the sadistically herculean feats enabled by the Souls games (which xxjfg adores).  It is a video game on a phone that takes Steve Reich’s Clapping Music and makes it a nerve shredding, sweat inducing contest between your own sense of rhythm and an endlessly falling series of dots.


And it’s brilliant.

It’s brilliant in that it exposes what is so impressive about a performance of Clapping Music.  It’s a piece that was designed to be simple in its instrumental requirements and in its concept.  It is inherently playful and yet, when you hear it performed you still can’t quite grasp the complexity and labour at work.  Until you perform it yourself of course.  Which, with its three difficulty levels (which dictate tempo — hard being ‘normal’ speed), the app allows you to do.


It’s brilliant in that it opens up the mathematics of music through an appropriately minimal graphic design.


It’s brilliant because because it makes minimal composition into the competitive score attack festival it always wanted to be (I’m looking at you Riley).


And finally, it’s brilliant because you may well suck at first — the human desire to conform to your virtual partner’s claps is strong — but you get better.  You get better until it clicks and in a glorious moment your rhythmic mind decouples from the tyranny of your partner’s beat and you soar through the variations.


You can get it free from the App Store here.

Many thanks to Emilia for the tip.

Bonus: real thing in action

Double bonus, James Murphy’s shout out to Reich on his Bowie remix:

* in fairness, Rocksmith comes close

The Sleeper Must Awake

Featuring : Sololust


Enfant Terrible and related labels have been infiltrating our airwaves with darkly energised psychic bombers for quite some time now. “The Sleeper Must Awake”, the title track in Sololust’s latest 7’’ release might be our favourite yet.

The reason for this is simple: it is the cold wave equivalent of the eerie statue of a chimera made of man, bat and octopus created by Henry Anthony Wilcox during a strange episode of mass hysteria that afflicted sensitive souls across the world some decades ago.

As most of our readers will surely know, this surge of nether-worldly energy was brought about by the stirrings of the most charismatic and anthropocentric of The Old Ones, The Great Cthulhu.

The Sleeper Must Awake documents the same kind of experience, but with the materials of the cold wave craftsman: a metronomic beat, a claustrophobic bass-line, a chilling synth-melody. What sets it apart from other descriptions of Chtonic interaction is the emotion that defines it: not the cosmic despair of the conventional Lovecraftian hero, the mindless impatience of the deranged cultist, or the intellectual curiosity of the sorcerer. No, what we find here is a frisson of sexual anticipation as The Sleeper circles Sololust’s frail psyche, a desire to be seized by the mighty tendrils of that terrible intelligence. A doomed romanticism, in conclusion, for which cold wave is most suitable.

This is a sentiment that is, of course, wholeheartedly shared by Brighton’s branch of the Eldritch Adventist cabal, of which we are proud members. The Great Cthulhu can tune into our souls any time it wants.

Sololust – The Sleeper Must Awake

The Sleeper Must Awake is coming out at the end of the month.

The image above is by INJ Culbard, and we found it here. While it obviously doesn’t depict The Great Cthulhu, Mr. Culbard has been responsible for some excellent comic book adaptations of HP Lovecraft’s stories (they look way nicer than 99.9% of the Cthulhu Mythos artwork out there btw).

Straight Outta Birmingham

Featuring : Baron


Baron last graced these pages back in 2013 with Hearth Shell’s synth arpeggios bubbling away underneath a New-Age via late 70s NYC vibe.   Which was about as representative of the album as any other track off it.  Which is to say, not a lot.  Which obviously made us love it.

Baron in 2015 is pretty fucking focussed in comparison.  It is, dare we say, a rock record.  Well, via Progressive Folk.  And Psyche.  And Wild Cry on the album sounds like a shamanistic David Byrne on cough syrup.  But anyway, guitars…everywhere.  And drums.  And riffs.

Which brings us to the album’s epic centrepiece, Stry.

Dragging itself out of a some celestial marsh — all fog and stars — the song slowly makes its way towards civilisation, one enormous squelching footstep at a time.  And by civilisation we mean a 13th century dwelling teetering between worlds.  And when it gets there it does not knock but stands at the threshold with fire licking across its skin.  It glances at the ghosts of all that have lived there and all that will.  It’s at this point that the sky rips in two.

Baron – Stry

Stry is taken from Baron’s album Torpor which is out on Svart Records.  You can pre-order here  for digital and here for limited vinyl.  Both are out on today.

20JFG Mixtape: Memes of the Witch House

Featuring : Podcast


The Fitbit keeps malfunctioning. Every morning when I get up, it tells me that I have walked several miles. Maybe it is all the thrashing about in bed. Yes, I haven’t been sleeping well. I feel tired and achy all the time.

Perhaps I should take it easier with my thesis, but it is hard. I feel that I am on the verge of a big breakthrough, I can’t stop now. The basic insight is simple: space noise isn’t just random. Rather, it is random but not because it doesn’t have an intelligent source. It is random because this intelligence is chaotic. I think I am pretty close to finding its location.

But the closer I get, the worse I sleep. The worse the dreams get. Viscous things thrashing in the darkness. An indescribable flotilla approaching. A rat grimacing at me with its wicked, deformed face. I think I have also seen it in my social media feed, I scroll back down but I can’t find it.

I should talk with my supervisor and perhaps take a break, but I’m so close, I’m so close. I gaze into the night sky and can almost glimpse a gate about to open. I listen to the space noise and I hear the beginning of an awful melody, a lullaby sung in a place far away, and so I fall asleep again, with a mixture of dread and anticipation.

Memes of the Witch House 20JFG Mixtape

Happy Halloween!

Open-source psychomusic

Featuring : UMFANG


Supposedly Emma Olsen aka UMFANG views her latest release – OK – as “essentially a collection of DJ tools”, rather than an album in the classical sense.

This isn’t totally disingenous – the sounds are sparse, but purposeful. It fires the mind as to what other elements the listener could combine  to ‘complete’ these skeletal exercises. The true success of that approach, however, is in that you don’t have to apply these sounds physically in either a DAW or mixer to achieve this though – just the act of you mentally filling in the gaps allows new psychomusical configurations to manifest in your mind with each listen.


Alternatively, of course, you could resist from treating UMFANG as open-source electronic sound, and delight in the simplicities of rhythm and repetition that Olsen paints in straight lines and soft hues. Read as finished music, OK’s sounds are conspicuously unclubby – it sometimes sounds like dance music with the dance part rubbed out. Othertimes it is diagrammatical techno – unburdened with decoration; all impulse. Lots to love.

Buy the OK album from 1080p

art is Collage #171, 1940 by Karel Teige


Everything is of colour

Featuring : Lole y Manuel


We have spent the last couple of weeks immersed in a religious atmosphere. First, the trip to el Prado and its paintings we documented recently. Then, our reading of Emmanuel Carrere’s The Kingdom, an engrossing pastiche of spiritual biography and investigation into the early days of Christianity. And finally, this week, a trip to Rome where there is no way to escape the presence of the Church – the Vatican is there, as well as some other 900 churches.

The 20JFG scribe in charge of proceedings today is agnostic, and extremely sceptic of organised religion. This feeling has, if anything, been reinforced by Carrere’s description of the haphazard way in which the hallucinations, fabrications and rows between the apostles were codified and, in a terrifyingly stochastic way, eventually became Catholic dogma; also by the almost absurd opulence of the Vatican and its statues of warring, conspiring, worldly Popes.

However, as a community with strong affinities with the psychedelic and the supernatural, as people with a penchant for getting lost in the mysterious warp of the language of music, in the communion of the throbbing dance-floor, we cannot deny the desire for transcendence and the spiritual search for meaning that has animated this religion and many other for millennia. We simply wish that while doing this, it hadn’t caused so much pain and suffering.

We celebrate all that is good about those religious emotions with the searing beauty of Todo es de Color, a progressive flamenco mass by 1970s duo Lole y Manuel – a cry to the Lord of Infinite Space for consolation, peace and understanding. Heaven exists somewhere in the boundaries of its guitar staccato and Lole’s fierce chant, a place where the voice of the beautiful rose rings louder than the shriek of the thistle.

This is our kind of mass.

Lole y Manuel – Todo Es De Color

Get El Origen de una Leyenda here.

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