Music Dump 3
5 / 26 / 13
Sorta Dear Diary
Another morning of relaxed music listening for which I'm thankful. This is something I've no doubt mentioned countless times by now, but I'm a total morning person thru-n-thru, and listening to music when the sun is below the horizon and the inky pre-dawn still lingers is ideal for me. It's a perfect time for listening to the output of record labels like Kompakt, Echocord, Chain Reaction, Type, Editions Mego, etc. Atmospheric electronica ranging from dub techno to pop ambient to synth scape stuff.
In particular, I was really feeling Porter Ricks' Biokinetics this morning which lies at the intersection of a lot of styles for me. It has definite shades of Detroit techno and 80s acid house a la Phuture, industrial clamor at times like Monolake, and the whole thing is wrapped up in thick layers of Brock van Wey gauze. This particular release on the Type label seems to be a reissue and semi-compilation of his stuff from back in the Chain Reaction days.
By the end of the 12+ minute first track, "Port Gentil," you've been beamed to the Citadel space station's most happening night club with a veritable sea of hot young Asari bumping and grinding all around you.
Speaking of Brock van Wey, I've also been enjoying the Intrusion "reshapes" (kind of like remixes, I suppose) of his White Clouds Drift On and On album. Bv and his BvDub project tend to align more in the saturated, heavy washes of synth ambience camp. It's even a touch melodramatic at times. The Intrusion reshapes strip things down ever so slightly, adding in the skitter of minimalist, skeletal beats. Makes it all a bit more propulsive without sacrificing much of its etherial quality. Incidentally Intrusion was the artist I recommended to Jgray in answer to his question of where to start with this dub techno stuff, and his Seduction of SIlence album is a genre favorite of mine.
Also on rotation this morning: Variant's The Setting Sun, Onmutu Mechanicks' Nocturne, and Silent Harbour's self titled full-length debut.
The above is from last year's Phosphor EP by Onmutu Mechanicks.
While I've got Chain Reaction type artists on the brain, I feel compelled to post about Demdike Stare. They're a rather curious offshoot of another deep ambience electronica project called Pendle Coven. This latest manifestation takes things in a rather unique direction however, with lots of dark occult-tinged sampling and imagery. Whereas I've jokingly called Nordvargr "Lustmord on the dancefloor" at times, Demdike Stare could perhaps fall within the same continuum, only more on the dance side of things whereas Nordvargr is more on the swallowed-by-a-blackhole side of things. I'll post more about Nordvargr and the whole MZ412 project at a later time, probably when I talk about black metal stuff I like, but for now here's some Demdike Stare stuff:
The recording that really sold me on this project was "Forest of Evil (Dusk)," but these capture some of that ancient night sky feeling. Looking up into that inky expanse, the distance of the stars seems all the more significant somehow. In a moment I'll talk about all this other stuff I like to visualize when I look up, but for now I'll say these sounds makes me look---or rather think---past that jumble of my imagination. This stuff just has a way of brushing thoughts of civilization aside.
Human interaction on a microscopic level. Thick curtains with arms emerging from behind them. A woman wearing a pearl necklace, strangled. She never saw it coming. The subtle flip of a card with the edge of another to reveal the face, but the face of the revealer itself never revealed. A magnifying lens traversing the face of a Ouija board. It stops, hovering over "yes."
Looking up into that inky expanse, the relative scale of everything seems all the more significant somehow.
On some of these tracks there are hints of Coil and even Nurse With Wound. It's the sampling of industrial noise to a large extent, I think. The sonics have a found sound quality connoting lost transmissions and other airwave anomalies, and there's also the periodic foray into an almost inappropriately precious music collection; only instead of lounge music forcing its way in as with those other two names, for Demdike Stare it's the structural skitter of island dub. Go on, have some peanut flavored soda while you watch the stars extinguish.
My genre fixations tend to come in cyclical waves, though there's always something of a fixed constant when it comes to early morning listening and ambient-tinged, amorphous electronica. Another early morning genre in this respect is 80s-worshipping synth pop.
(Be forewarned: this video gets a little stroby at times,
if you're sensitive to that kind of thing!)
"Lafaye" from School of Seven Bells' Ghoststory.
Chairlift and Still Corners are other groups that get me there. You'd think a lot of dream pop would give me that same kind of vibe, seemingly even more appropriate for the early hours just prior to sunrise, but this isn't the case. Stuff like Beach House? It connotes late morning, early afternoon drives in the hot summer sun with the air conditioning on full blast for me. I guess there's a lot of room for overlap here, however. I suppose the most straight forward test I can conjure up off the top of my head would be the "does it sound like something that would play in a skycar as you travel through a giant space station, or does it sound grounded on Earth?"
Looking up into that inky expanse, I just imagine this ceiling of lights sort of like Hengsha in Deus Ex. Only I see skycars and space elevators and neon lights and floating dance platforms in my mind's eye (had I left that last part out, I wouldn't blame you for wondering if I was taking my medication). Sort of Mass Effect meets Blood Dragon I guess. It has to be assertively futuristic. In that sense, M83's Hurry Up We're Dreaming has been one of the most significant albums for my morning listening sessions in the last few years. "Klaus I Love You" pretty much captures the imagery I just described perfectly. Looking up into that inky expanse, the lingering dark seems comforting somehow.
Even with that aforementioned sense of comfort, there's still a certain uncertainty---a feeling of mystery---to the early pre-dawn hours. Or so I like to tell myself. Seems this is something other people have told themselves too for a while now, as 3 AM is supposed to be a time of heightened magical receptiveness according to folklore. It also features in the title of several DJ Screw tape compilations, which is perfect given the sounds he produced. I remember driving back to college during the start of the semester listening to some of those tape compilations, beginning the journey in the early morning hours since it was halfway across the state, out in the middle of nowhere.
Demdike Stare certainly conveys that sensation at times. Keiji Haino most of the time, though for me Keiji Haino is more of a late night, 'round midnight, listen. In fact I used to sit in my closet with all the lights turned off late at night listening to him crying out with his voice and guitar. He's definitely a magician; his spellcraft isn't about stars and outwardly expansive inky skies, but about the pitch black depths of the inner void.
The only thing left is your soul's mirror, your hand, and this man's voice.
The voice compels you to reach out with a trembling finger to smudge the mirror.
Returning from the brink, moving from that threshold of night into the morning hours, venturing out from the closet (I was never really in it for long in more than one sense) back into the bedroom. Back to bedroom pop. When filtered through those mysterious sensibilities, it produces some interesting things like the stuff on Tri Angle records. Take Water Borders' Harbored Mantras:
Unlike the voice mentioned above, this one has camp to insulate it. Rather than self effacement, this one lingers and begs for ridicule like a masochistic lover. Should it be any other way? These morning hours are more substantive. They're move indulgent.
When you add more electronic processing into the Tri Angle mix, you arrive at the crux of the label: witch house. Or haunted house. These notoriously stupid sub-genre tags describe---or rather don't describe---a musical movement that some don't even consider a movement at all. I suppose movement is appropriate in that sense too however, as such language conveys the excremental nature of it: it's a residual strain, a leftover comprised of everything that doesn't fit into this or that other heading. Indeed, I recall several blog posts which declared witch house to be dead before it was even that widely known. Dead on arrival? Whatever the case may be, many of the artists who associated themselves or where associated by others with the abortive trend still produce music. Since their muse is already dead, perhaps they're more necromancers than musicians.
The above artist is named oOoOO. That's actually one of the more pedestrian epitaphs, too. Other gravestones have names comprised of symbols and wingdings. If there's one thing witch house will no doubt leave in its wake, it's a series of frustrating Google searches.
Before I run out of steam, let's bring it all back around full-circle. From cemetery to symmetry.
King Midas Sound has been making some of the best electronic-tinged dub of the last few years in my opinion. Their Waiting For You album has a real sense of early morning mystery to it.
"Lost" is a good track. I also recommend checking out the title track "Waiting For You," as the creep of those beats perfectly captures 3 AM. I would have posted the YouTube video for it here, but whoever uploaded it decided to put a still shot of a nug up as background imagery, and I'd rather not upset anyone's delicate constitution. But yeah, 3 AM and the sense of mystery. It's great.
Looking up into that inky expanse as four o' clock rolls on over, I'm reminded of myself somehow.