It’s so late. The streetlights should have come on by now, but the block is dark. Marie Davidson stands out in the street, still, facing your front door. You peek through the blinds every six minutes. She has made it her personal mission to prevent you from sleeping. She has tactics:
1. The spectral monologue.
2. The inducing of nightmares.
3. The intimate knowledge of your intimate knowledge.
4. The beats.
5. The cyborg synths.
6. The church organs.
7. The hypnosis.
Work up a quick life-flash-before-your-eyes montage before you queue up “Perte D’identite,” and watch, helpless, as Davidson peels away your memories as the rind of a fruit. Her matrix of intertwined synth hardware pulses and breathes, modulating your heartbeat into step. Your eyelids sag. If you don’t understand her whispers, you glean their intention. If you don’t follow her train of thought, you aren’t focusing hard enough. Davidson’s elegant amalgam of dark ambient textures, clattering technoid rhythms, and vocal incantations soundtracks your night sweats, your persisting illusions, your clawing for the doorknob. Her synth arrangements seethe and evolve as the clock ticks. Her voice beckons you outside. You look down to see your body moving on its own. Let her win.
Berber Ox / LV Morris / Hobo Cubes / Herring und seine seiben Sachen
“Witness Finger.” Taking the stand. Pleading it’s true, “The man did evaporate into her body. He became all at once non-existent and then alive. But through her. You’re honor, it’s true. She is not who she says she is! That woman there was murdered. The man found behind the King Kullen at Sound View isn’t real. It must be the work of Berber Ox.” The woman smiles across from the “Witness Finger” and continues to let the noise ride out. “There. That smile. It’s the Berber Ox. This sounds like a lie, but I’m being honest!”
Out in the lobby, “Industrial Music” swells the walls, and gets louder as the witness quickly descends the stand and runs out of the courtroom. Gasps and falling cops are heard as the doors close behind her as she scours the hallway for the tense hollow sound being emitted and then blasted by other noises. She runs to the window, open, and shrills at the people walking, construction workers drilling and hammering, and birds singing in the breeze. As the courtroom doors burst open, cops fling themselves out, and see the stairs door slowly closing in an empty lobby, one of them radioing, “LV Morris, we’ve one on the move.”
Opening the doors of the courthouse to the world, the witness sees Hobo Cubes by way of “Slowed Variations For Unsynchronised Tempos,” and the sight is beyond her comprehension. Although much calmer now, the woman begins to walk around with this pops and crackles and serenely melts herself in the acceptance that her mentality may never stabilize, and continues to think of that woman’s smile as a man from the courtroom. She forfeits upon the lawn outside and can’t see everyone staring as the cops drag her limp body away.
Back in the courthouse, within the basement corridors, she Herring und seine seiben Sachen, and is presented the “Gateways” of her new consciousness. “This isn’t me. I’m not her. I can’t be the transformation. If you put me through those ‘Gateways,’ I’ll never return. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. That calender isn’t true. Stop dragging me. I’m fine. You’ve the wrong guy!!”
Rocket Machine Tapes will boldly slay your ears this spring with the new 2xCS60 from sound shamans Berber Ox, LV Morris, Hobo Cubes, and Herring und seine seiben Sachen. You can also snag it in a bundle deal with Kyle Landstra’s new tape too. Stream them both off the Rocket Machine Tapes Bandcamp, and grip at them ASAP!
• Rocket Machine Tapes: http://rocketmachine.bandcamp.com
• Berber Ox: http://berberox.com
• LV Morris: http://www.discogs.com/artist/3526977-L-V-Morris
• Hobo Cubes: http://hobocubes.bandcamp.com
• Herring und seine seiben Sachen: http://laichoflove.bandcamp.com
Can we decode the language of the ambient underground? We perceive it as an alphabet of tropes diffused through the deluge of tapes, limited-edition vinyl presses, and music videos pouring from the tap: warm synth tones, analog video manipulation, drones, kaleidoscopes, field recordings, fractals, tape hiss, rainbows, collages, bleeps, the occasional datamosh. Our familiarity with these A/V mainstays doesn’t suppress their effects. Our schemata help us zero in on new forms, digest ideas, and picture each offering as one signpost on a continuum of exploration stretched across oceans and international basements. As our memory banks fill with shapes and patterns of movement, the legible slides into abstraction, while the abstract exudes a calming effect: the comfort of the familiar unknown; the appreciation of oblivion. “This is new, but it is ancient.” “This is alien, and we are happy to witness it.”
Press [►] on the video for Symbol’s “Tracer,” premiering below, and enter a sublime state of half knowledge. You’ve seen the glyphs somewhere before, but their context here, traced by an oscilloscope manned by Symbol himself (born Christopher Royal King, also of This Will Destroy You), sketches out a new visual dialect. Green beams interlace in manic consonance, sketching out a pulsing web of waveforms synchronized to the synth arpeggios and surges of low-end escaping the speakers. A Rorschach test in motion produces rippled deltas, venus fly traps, feathers in the wind. We ID the decaying tape aesthetic and the VHS title cue haze that we’ve tagged before to Boards of Canada or Looks Realistic as Symbol propels his swirling tones into a long-form ecstasy that toys with our expectations of harmony and repetition. We turn off some lobe, some cortex, and we’re left there all like, “Oooooh,” as the baroque polygons writhe before us. With a chord change, the blots blossom, and a crew of dancing women flow into the frame. Yeah. We have reached the clouds. We have no use for an alphabet up here.
Symbol’s debut LP, Online Architecture, is available now on LP and cassette from Holodeck Records.
“The Elevator: Cities and the Sky”
To avoid swag-jacking our pal Tay-Tay Petes, Ima just link the story the fellah recently for NUVO, Inc. about Stuart Hyatt’s adventures along the Indy Sound Map (filmed by Jonathan Frey). “The Elevator: Cities and the Sky” is from the new FIELD WORKS album The National Road – aptly named in terms of this video – and the LP came out last Friday via TEAM Records. And it’s neat to reflect upon the video, seeing that it’s early spring now, and the terrain in Indiana here looks mid-winter. The looped vocals and tonal intro really provide a friendly yet haunted feel to what’s being seen, while also matching the wobble of the vocals and steadiness of drums. Apparition or not, these people ARE residents of Indiana, and they WILL be gone one day, so it’s nice to see their spirit alive via video prior to future America setting into their beautiful Mid-West land. Scope the rest of the FIELD WORKS album The National Road via TEAM Records and feel the tickle of a breeze that isn’t there.
• TEAM Records: http://www.teamrecords.org
Michael Pisaro & Miguel Prado
Lately, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of simultaneity in relationship to the development of artistic movements and musical genres. For instance, the very different emergences of noise music that occurred around the early 1980s in the UK with Whitehouse and in Japan with Merzbow are inextricably linked despite their geographic disparities. Black metal was also in its formative stages during this time with bands like Venom and the conceptual ideas driving all three of these movements is shockingly similar (intentionally abrasive/confrontational music, shocking imagery, rejection of Western cultural ideals, distortion, etc.). The sonic characteristics of these artists’ work may be different, but they are all driven by similar aesthetic concerns that just happened to manifest themselves in various ways due to geographic and social factors. In this way, this music’s genesis is united despite these artists not necessarily coming into contact with each other’s work at the time of creation.
A similar thing happened during the 1990s in Europe and Japan with onkyo music and the work of the Wandelweiser collective. Both genres are marked by a fascination with “silence as sound,” as well as the connections between silence and noise, but their approaches are manifested in very different ways. Wandelweiser’s work deals more with composed chamber music that is in direct lineage with the ideas of John Cage and Morton Feldman. On the other hand, onkyo largely grew out of the world of free improvisation and in many cases was much more focused on the use of minimal electronic materials (the turntables of Otomo Yoshihide, the sinetones of Sachiko M, the no-input mixer of Toshimaru Nakumara, etc.). These various strains of reductionist music often produce similar results using different means and the score for Michael Pisaro’s White Metal seems to deal directly with the relationship between these two aesthetics.
The score for White Metal essentially creates an EAI type of situation. It’s a further exploration of Pisaro’s desire to create and control fascinating textures through notation that is both open yet highly specific. This puts the performers (in this case Miguel Prado and Pisaro) in a particularly interesting position of largely controlling the timbral quality of the work while still adhering to the structural specificity of the composition. Prado’s co-realization of the piece with Pisaro is particularly stunning and their various layers of noise and tones mix to create mysterious all consuming harmonies and textures throughout. The sound sources here seem primarily electronic and as a result, the work has the feel of a more dynamic Francisco Lopez piece. Like Lopez, Pisaro and Prado understand that there’s a thin line between amplified white noise and the silence of a space and this dichotomy is explored throughout White Metal.
While White Metal acknowledges and addresses the sonic similarities between the worlds of onkyo and Wandelweiser, it goes even further to explore the dichotomy between these quiet musical realms and the aforementioned worlds of noise and metal. The piece’s title simultaneously invokes black metal and white noise, which instantly draws a line between those two genres. With White Metal, it becomes apparent that the extremity of these alternately silent and loud styles is inextricably linked through their focuses on white noise on all levels and Pisaro and Prado make this abundantly clear by expertly exploding and reducing noise sounds on this excellent record.
White Metal is out now via Senufo Editions. You can stream an excerpt of the album below: