It’s sometimes difficult for a music writer working in modern-day vernacular to know exactly what term should describe a piece of music. For instance, consider Egyptology’s beautiful, subtly surprising “The Skies,” the video of which we’re premiering here. “The Skies” seems to transcend the catch-all, generic concept of a “song” or a “track;” Egyptology’s opus is more finely pointed, more deliberate, more aware of its historical position than these labels convey. Rather than lazy, contemporary terms like “breakdown” or “wub-wub,” “The Skies” is better prepped for dissection when we apply more formal concepts, such as “cadence,” “arpeggiation,” and even, vaguely, “fugue.” It is music that offers a kind of old wisdom, a time-tested form, even as its sounds arise from synthetic aural materials, which are relatively new.
The marriage between electric sounds and classical structure makes me think of Wendy Carlos, who 40 years ago established herself as an indelible icon of that kind of unorthodox musical union (along with her other brave, bold unions, of course). Then in turn I think of Carlos’ work with Kubrick. With Carlos’ help, the director married a man to a machine in A Clockwork Orange. To follow this kaleidoscope further (akin to the fractal-esque images of the video for “The Skies”), I also remember Kubrick’s own famous version of a swirling, polychromatic sinkhole: 2001 is an illustration of a blazing evolution. And yet that film’s score had a traditional orchestration. Evolution is an ouroboros. It is powered by unions. It is dependent on loops.
Egyptology make an emphatic point to be neither solely “retro” nor heretically futurist, forsaking history. These are basic prerequisites for evolution: there must be both a past to depart from and a future to depart toward. The hieroglyphics of ancient Egyptians baffled archeologists for their opaque, concentrated meanings. Now we use minute, square logos on our tablets and phones as the signals for expansive concepts and communication. The ancient has become new; the illegible, intuitive. Egyptology are well-named, indeed. They become synonymous with evolution, history, and the mysterious workings of digital things. They sound damn fine too.
In addition to the video for “The Skies,” also check out The Skies EP from Clapping Music and Desire Records (pre-order here), which contains four remixes of the title track by a variety of digital champs.