Music for board-gaming

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.

We started our imaginative careers in sci-fi and fantasy worlds of literature and role-playing. Later, we applied the sense-making apparatus thus developed to process music into kinaesthetic scenarios where beats stomped like the boots of space commandos, and synths unfurled in front of your eyes like the evil pixels thats simmer in the boundaries of a necromantic spell.

Today, we play board-games where whole universes are reduced to compact and elegant sets of rules. We create mixtapes to animate the ensuing soirées. The arts meld and clash and in their overlap create a wormhole through which we are again transported some place else. We become once again children, teenagers, young men, us, searching for the weird fantastic high that lies in hiding behind all our intermediate highs.

Here are some examples:

In Seven Wonders you are the ruler of an ancient Mediterranean civilisations who through industry, trade and war, accumulates the resources to build a Wonder that will astonish the world, bring immortality to your name and glory to your people. Gail Laughton’s “Harps of the Ancient Temples” is its perfect soundtrack: brief and enigmatic harp compositions with melodies that simmer holographically like torches glowing over the stone walls of corridors extending into the darkness, into rooms of full of treasure, ritual and mystery inhabited that peoples that were like us, but oh so alien.

Gail Laughton – The Hebrews 425 A.D.

In Great Western Trail you are a cattle farmer, cowboy and engineer. You assemble wonderfully diverse herds of cows which you will drive across the plains, into steam locomotives that will take them to their mass slaughter and consumption in markets far away.

Although this is a game of cold economic strategy and route and resource optimisation, it nevertheless brims with the romance of the Wild West: open skies and epiphany-inducing masses of clouds, the wind in your face and the echo of an harmonica. What better sounds to accompany this adventure than Dibson T Hoffweiler’s glowing guitar whirlpools of timeless Americana?

Dibson T Hoffweiler – German Wedding Journey

You can acquire When I Went West here.

Saturday mixtape: Myxomatosis

Featuring : Podcast

Life is short. Filled with stuff. Don’t know what for. Some ball of various stuff. Like the love of your friends. That’s the important stuff. The rest never got going. But i have a business proposition.

I learned all I know. By the age of nine. But I could better myself. If I could only find. Some kinda seed funding and a tax haven. Some kinda inheritance i never worked for.

I’m looking, I’m looking I’m looking for, something only a few of us are lucky enough to be born into.

Like wages don’t rise. Like corporations don’t pay tax. Like we need a minimum living wage. This baby needs…

An FM radio jock telling you who each moment in your life was sponsored by, and how helpful that is to your very existence.

XXJFG mixtape – Myxomatosis

This post was brought to you by Living Wage & Stop Funding Hate & The Cramps.

Some Zone, Some Threshold

Featuring : Identity Theft

With two Identity Theft posts in a month it’s almost like the old days,  putting up as many tracks by our favourite bands as we could.  And so here we are (again) with a new track from a new album by Identity Theft.

Reconnaissance Peak is a giddy mix of early-80s Eastern Block spy thriller and tape delayed vocal experimentation.  The noise of the later buried underneath the melodies of the former, like some demon among the spires.  The hissy, drum machine and bass line propelling us on with almost metronomic fervour towards some border checkpoint.  Some zone.  Some threshold.

It’s music that has become strangely comforting.  The bleakness it evokes — cold cyan vistas, brutalist architecture, hollowed out heroes smoking against the night — now seems at least anchored.  In a world of all out information war where post-modernism’s been weaponised, the past’s ennui seems somehow preferable.  A concrete dread rather than a gaseous one.

Identity Theft – Reconnaissance Peak

Reconnaissance Peak is taken from Identity Theft’s album Reconnaissance.  You can get the tape from here or the digital from here.  and you should because it’s very good and very sad but very good.

Kalte Steroid

Featuring : Die Wilde Jagd

Die Wilde Jagd are too cool to exist. They are too alive (and well dressed) to be Neubauten and too disciplined to be Add (n) to (x). Too organic to be Photek and too robotic to be Deerhunter. We have been listening to their stellar s/t album a lot recently, and wished we could travel with it to the past to play it at 1am at the Do or 13 Monsters. Wah Wah Wallenstein or Jagd auf den Hirsch would have been dancefloor hits there, and Austerlitz would have provided the national anthem for our independence movement.

Yes, we need to talk about Austerlitz, a motorik tune so full of hooks and drops it makes the space-time continuum wobble somewhat whenever it’s played. You know all that distortion in Leia’s holographic message to Obi Wan Kenobi? Some rebels were blasting Austerlitz as they made their last stand against the Imperials. You know Kaneda’s rush towards his date with Tetsuo at Akira’s mausoleum? He was listening to this on the way there, just to get pumped. Can you imagine a football match between Fortuna Duesseldorf and Skynet’s mightiest? This  soundtracked humanity’s last minute comeback to save us from AI’s tyranny and inspire the first planetary conga.   

Just listen to it and see. Because epic… is only a word.

Die Wilde Jagd – Austerlitz

Get the album from Bureau B.

Here we Stomp

Featuring : Zombies in Miami

Here we stomp, sucked into a dance vortex after our participation in Helena Hauff’s Printworks revival, an injection of dark Latin American body music and too many videos of Boiler Room mixes, bodies swinging vacant and pure like phantoms in a Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore reenactment.

Mexican motorik-tek duo Zombies in Miami are the right guides for this trip: They make Kosmische disco that soars to elysian heights like a Lindström and Prins Thomas’ solar glider, but replacing all our Norwegian patrons’ elegance and glamour with muscle and danger: the shadows projected over this dancefloor are not eagles or machines of loving grace, but carrion birds ready to feast on the souls of whoever’s left standing.

We leave you with two examples today: Fuego, a pure blast of Bostich filth and Odissey (sic), a lurid descent into a 1980s update of HP Lovecraft’s Dreamlands.


Zombies In Miami – El Fuego

Zombies in Miami – Odissey (Original Mix)

Fuego is included in ZiM’s Snake Language EP (in Love on the Rocks); you can find Odyssey in Odissey EP (Suara)

Me and MR James

Your humble scribe has been away from 20JFG for a while. Lots to catch up on. Get cracking (and have an sanity-destroying Halloween).

 We went to see Helena Hauff at Printworks last week. Her set wasn’t… subtle. She seemed hell-bent on splitting space from time while the audience seemed intent on merging their cerebral cortex with their calf muscles. The outcome was religious in a Brian Yuzna kind of way.

We loved the whole thing hard but would have loved it even more if she had played some of her electroid / EBM stuff as well as the bangers. Say, tunes such as Piece of Pleasure, from her 2015 Discreet Desires album, where she demonstrates a synth-arpeggio virtuosity somewhere in between John Carpenter’s urban dysto-poems, and a Wolfenstein lazerkraftwerk rampage at the underground lab where the Nazis were trying to crack the secrets of quantum reality.

There is a very special colour that can only be seen when human flesh melts into another dimension. This song sprays it all over your face.

Helena Hauff – Piece of Pleasure

Get Discreet Pleasures from Ninja Tunes.

Ricardo Tobar’s Red Sea belongs to a obscene sub-genre of motorik practiced by Throbbing Gristle, Delia Gonzalez and Gavin Russom, and few others. Its only purpose seems to be to induce in your writer hallucinations about Ballardian deserts populated by HR Giger-esque worms rid by stern cybernetic gimps. Think Dune but turn the jihad self-replicating mind-virus that will devour the universe vibes to 11.

The whole process is beautiful and awe-inspiring in a way that makes a mouthless part of you shriek with horror, like a plague of locusts, piles of deformed skulls in Paris’ catacombs or the last 10 seconds before the heat death of the universe Bauhaus emptiness of a De Chirico painting.

Ricardo Tobar – Eleven

Get Red Sea from Correspondant Records.

They bring the drums, oh yes

Featuring : Atlea + Identity Theft

Thanks to Mara, of the excellent Group Rhoda, we recently received a veritable horde of records from the West Coast label, Katabaik.  By this point we’re pretty deep into the Punk DIY ethos does dance music era — which given all the other (terrifying) eras we seem to be living through right now, we have to say we’re pretty psyched about.  Katabatik are very much part of that.

The artwork’s also pretty fucking far from the minimalism associated with dance records.  It’s far nearer to the to early 80s tape trading scene, early 90s Industrial  CD covers and early 00’s acid coloured internet art.  I mean, up there you’ve got some totemic Moebius stuff going on and below you’ve got collage via surveillance culture.  Its visual stimulation is generous.

So the records then…

Atlea – Beyond

Beyond brings the Techno.  The thumping, eerie unmoored place.  The bass that hints at enormous indifferent shapes beneath your feet, gliding by in their own unfathomable dance.  The distorted melodies that swirl about an unintelligible vocal that doesn’t so much as add to the dread as it does fulfil a role in the scene unfolding before you.  Like a compare to a dance you’ve stumbled upon, it invites you in and soothes your anxiety while indoctrinating you to the unquestionable futurism of techno.


Identity Theft – Pierrot

Pierrot begins with a sample, so distorted it could have been taken from a wax cylinder.  But rather than use this as a scene setting flourish it’s allowed to loop and build until you can start to see the grain before your eyes.  And as soon as that begins to happen it all falls away into something smooth and sleek.  And lo, we are told that ‘this is the final curtain call’ by a voice impassive and reassuring, like a private press of New Age induction lectures.  That harshness, then calmness, eventually segues into a jittery hall of dance, the Techno throbbing throughout.

You can grab | by Atlea from their Bandcamp here and similarly you can buy Pierrot directly from Identity Theft’s Bandcamp right here.