Laura Luna de Castillo is a Mexican multimedia artist based in Prague who creates ‘Isolarios’ by taking emotions and fragments of memories through layers of fuzz, drone, and error-inducing circuits.
You can explore the results in different ways: as a forensic architect of the Proustian school who straddles the halls of a luminescent memory palace; or as a historian riding the waves of an evolutionary process, metamorphosis or epiphany.
Either way, the prevailing feeling is one of wonder and anticipation. You stare into the glowing mist, and imagine shapes inside it, they are slivers of the emotions and memories which are at the beginning of an Isolario, and also at its conclusion.
In Aurora, the journey is one of entropy loss. Over its 9 minutes, we experience substantial gains in order, differentiation and warmth, as the chaotic noise of empty sidereal voids becomes colloidal dance, and eventually, the strange loop of a conscience looking back at the mystery of its origin, and wisely reveling in the impossibility of completely understanding it.
If the bombastic preacher that is Malick’s the Tree of Life had a little sister, agnostic and unassuming, yet equally and intensely concerned with Meaning, we think she’d play this a lot.
The journey we described above could also encompass the stages of alienation, evasion, observation, inference, comprehension and empathy undergone by Glasgow’s alien visitor in J Glazer’s ‘Under the Skin’.
Here you have, as a bonus, a track from its searingly beautiful soundtrack by Mica Levi. It is featured in our ‘To Your Scattered Bodies’ mixtape, for which you have so far failed to identify that many songs. We know you can do better.
More musicians should do figurative soundtracks to books. Wist Rec. did their beautiful Book Report series, where musicians such as Loscil and Christina Carter make 3″ CDs that fit inside the dust jackets of books by MR James, EM Forster and Malcolm Lowery.
Back in 1979, electronic instrument building genius and lighting engineer Bernard Szajner scored Dune. Not David Lynch’s film Dune, which came out in 1984 and is our Dan’s favorite ever movie, and sadly not even Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune – which the director had recently stalled work on. Nope, the Dune Szajner – under the name ‘Z’ – scored was Frank Herbert’s Dune. Dune: The Book.
Jodorowsky approached various European proggers – Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd, and Szajner’s lighting clients Magma and Gong – for his prospective Dune soundworld, but if he’d managed to hang on to the project for just a little bit longer, Z’s Dune soundtrack could have been the definitive aural description of Arrakis and Dune’s “Proustian” (according to Jodorowsky) narrative.
Hell, maybe it already is.
Szajner brewed up Visions of Dune while looking after his friend’s Oberheim sequencer and a two-track tape recorder for eight days. He set about making hundreds of loops, which he would apply to “mental impressions” of a character or scene from the book.
He describes the process as making “an auditory film” and of his role as “a musical illustrator.” Of course, like any beautiful illustration (the gorgeous concept art for Jodorowsky’s Dune from Moebius, Giger and Chris Foss included) the sound works well on its own.
But it was designed to be functional, and frankly we feel we’d be doing a grave disservice to both the Szajner and Herbert if we didn’t tell you to purchase the LP (newly-reissued on vinyl with long-lost never-before-heard tracks deemed “too futuristic” for its original release) and dust off that old car boot sale paper book of Dune you’ve got lying around, and soak up Szajner’s synaesthesia while acquainting or reacquainting yourself with Herbert’s biblical space saga.
We feel down about the Internet. We despair at its surges of collective stupidity, the banality of its articles, comments and backlashes, at the perfect replicability it enables. We also feel self-loathing, as the inner-baby inside us shrieks and tugs at the screen for attention and feedback, rendering us unable to friggin’ concentrate on anything.
And then, like a lightning bolt of magic, someone says something somewhere in the Internet and, just like that, a window is opened and through it we behold awesome vistas. New universes are revealed. A crystalline shard of beautiful experience that didn’t exist before pierces our skin and dissolves in our bloodstream and spreads through our system and we are upgraded and renewed.
And then we feel up on the Internet.
This happened this week, when our pal Matt from Where to Now/WhereIIDance/Ye Ye Fever fame posted on Facebook about a Japanese band called Mkwaju Ensemble (his was the title of this post too). The track was called Hot Air, and it sounded like the morning stirrings of a young country at the beginning of the season of love.
Hot Air is contained in Mkwaju Ensemble’s 1981 album ‘Ki-Motion.’ We also tracked down their self-titled debut Mkwaju, and tried to find out more about them, to no initial avail We had sort of resigned ourselves to allow their music exist in the kind-of-context-less mythical space defined by our imaginations, when at the bottom of the Google search results we stumbled upon a post about them at Hipinion, which provided an etymological/organic foundation for their music, in sub-Saharan culture.
Sez Drudge, who wrote this post:
The tamarind, known as “mkwaju” in Swahili, is a large, adaptable, drought resistant tree native to Sudan and tropical Africa. A dense, durable, insect-resistant wood, mkwaju is used in the production of furniture, wheels, planking, tools, and musical instruments. Prized also for its horticultural, culinary, and medical uses, mkwaju is essential to the life and identity of the Central African grasslands.
Taking their name from the tree whose wood was used to produce some of the very first mallets and marimba, Mkwaju Ensemble’s rhythmic, minimalistic work draws on the region’s music and culture. In a brief six month span, the ensemble combined a wide array of talent and instrumentation to explore syncopation, repetition, and silence in new and ambitious ways.
Many sub-Saharan languages do not have a word for rhythm, or even music. Rhythms represent the very fabric of life, and embody the interdependence of human relationships. Cross-beats can symbolize challenging moments or emotional stress, and playing them while fully grounded in main beats is thought to prepare one to maintain purpose while dealing with life’s challenges. This simultaneous use of contrasting rhythmic patterns lies at the core of Africa’s rhythmic tradition, and is evident in much of the ensemble’s work. Marimba, vibraphone, bamboo percussion and synth intertwine to create something both traditional and new.
Which is a beautiful and enlightening explanation/description of the furious, liquid, interweaving, threaded and parallel eddies and whirlpools of minimalism, percussion and electronica in Mkwaju.
It doesn’t end there. The post about Mkwaju Ensemble was part of a wider discussion about Japanese music that began 3 pages earlier, beginning with exquisite 80s pop, continuing into Mkwaju Ensemble, and following with our beloved Geinoh Yamashirogumi and others.
We predict this will provide a rich source of awesome music for us to enjoy and convey to you in future days, hopefully making us part of that chain of connected vessels through which great stuff (and belief in the web as a force for good) spreads all over.
This one is about the way it feels just as you step into the unknown. It has a sci-fi angle to it, but also a personal one. You can help us clarify what the situation is by naming some of its contents in the comment box.
In the dream logic of Lynch’s Muholland Drive, the club (Silencio) lies at the centre of a fracture between worlds. Much like it did in Twin Peaks. Much like it did in Blue Velvet. For in these venues the torch song is the portal through which Lynch’s likeable, inquisitive leads find a moment of calm among the surreal maelstrom that pulsates through Lynch’s Mysteries. And it’s in this calm that they gain a horrifying insight into their world, as if a smiling plastic veneer is gently pealed back revealing a dark mess of evil. Much like a 20JFG post.
The incantation used in Mulholland Drive is Roy Orbison’s Crying. Acapella. In Spanish. Sung by Rebekah Del Rio both on the soundtrack and on film.
Mulholland Drive probably represents the last of Lynch’s plucky detective stories, beginning with Blue Velvet and continuing on through Twin Peaks. The dreamlike wish-fulfilment that always underpinned the earlier stories is at its most exposed in Mulholland Drive. The fantasy at its most fragile. Fittingly then, the rawest, most heartbreaking portal is unaccompanied. “No hay banda.”
Now, here is an example of late 70s British album design I love so much that I even have the cover framed in my living room!
Yep, my love for Cool For Cats is unambiguous and genuine.
There is nothing I would change about the geometry of the Cool For Cats album cover. It even looks good in yellow!
And on a T-shirt!
In fact, my copy isn’t even purple at all – but a lurid, retina-razing pink version, that I somehow can’t seem to find an image of anywhere in the cyberspace. Is it rare? I don’t know, but it looks exactly like how I want my imaginary 1979 Britain to look.
The music also sounds exactly like how my revisionist Life On Mars made-up 1970s sounds. Lots of squelching moogs and chatting up “birds” over a bag of chips on the way home from a disco – the squelching moogs against the sometimes-ribald lyrics seeming suddenly less futurist and more bodily function-synthesising end of the pier juvenilia.
Add more masturbation and Freudian complexes and you basically have Pulp, 15 years too soon.
Squeeze, for a while, had a perfect pop art pop band schtick – part Dennis Waterman in Minder, part early Moroder.
You’re not likely to hear it admitted very often, but outside of the songwriting nucleus of Difford/Tilbrook (then being touted quite earnestly by the music press as the heirs to Lennon/McCartney), a huge part of the success of that sound had to do with He Who Shall Not Be Named.
Far right in this photo. Now an expert backwards-walker and much-derided thumper of the boogie-woogie piano.
I don’t care what you say. I still love Squeeze and I don’t even hate Later…
For context, here’s a mixtape of what other music sounded like in 1979. Use the comments box if you’re old enough to know the track IDs!