Guest Mix: Susan Balmar
GLUED TO WALL AS HEAD, TAR BODIES IN AFTERLIFE
Follow Brighton-based artist Susan Balmar down the rabbit hole, and you might not ever come back. Being a fan of Susan Balmar — expert beat maker, drone channeler, noise maker, sound manipulator, SLF Tapes proprietor, and Roland SP extraordinaire — requires a proactive mentality, the sort of mindset spawned from endless scrolls through audio streams and Tumblrs, but nurtured only through a modernist obsession. New tracks exist on SoundCloud for mere hours; limited-edition tapes sell out before we even hear about their existence. It’s even harder to keep tabs since Susan Balmar is just one moniker of many from one Perry Trollope — others include Warm Thighs, 0000-A70U-0075, LEWIS CARROL & THE ACADEMY, and _lip — and, seriously, just while writing this post, I found out that he released a cassette as Prada & Oregon in April on Auditory Field Theory.
For his guest mix for TMT, Trollope recorded select tracks to cassette, bounced them back through SP effects, and ends up with a breathtaking 46-minute survey of the deeply obscure. And I’m not talking about those from the beat/cassette culture. On this mix, Trollope unearths tracks by the comparatively unknown likes of 80s classical composer Alo Põldmäe, 60s jazz saxophonist Steve Marcus, and Italo Disco artist Francesco Messina, even delving into 90s RPG soundtracks for games like Elder Scrolls Arena and Stonekeep. You’ll still hear some of Trollope’s “contemporaries” (Wanda Group, John Wiese, P00K), but no matter when the tracks on this mix were released, what we’re just as importantly listening to is Trollope’s audio manipulations, the sound of an artist not only compiling the mix, but also embedding himself into it, implicating both himself and us, the listeners, in the process.
Trollope’s identity on the web may be ever-changing and his methodologies may be transient, but his in-command, in-control presence in both his music and this mix is always felt, showing that perhaps Trollope’s many pseudonyms have less to do with a crisis in identity and more to do with an aestheticization of it.
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[00:06] Hong Kong 73 - “Electronic ID”
[00:17] Jeanne Lee - “When Flamingos Fly”
[02:48] Eric Miller - “The Loneliness of Objects”
[03:47] (80) Berlin - “Children of the Sun (Buhl - Kniel)”
[05:20] Sogar - “Isolohr”
[06:15] Son Sauvage - “Son Sauvage”
[09:49] Alo Põldmäe - “Sentimentaalne Valss”
[10:50] Eric Miller - “Sinter”
[10:50] Susan Balmar - “After Exterior Seeing Your Baby Inside Her E-Meter”
[14:11] WANDA GROUP - “U GRA”
[16:39] Interior - “N.F.G.”
[19:15] Lena Platonos - “Markos”
[19:37] Unreal Tournament 1999
[20:15] Ape Explorer - “He Stabs Himself in the Eye with the Crystal to Gain Her Power”
[22:08] Elder Scrolls Arena
[23:00] Steve Marcus - “Amy”
[23:00] Hexen - “Guardian Of Steel”
[24:17] Colored Music - “Ei Sei Raku”
[28:43] Francesco Messina - “Uffici Dei 126 Piano”
[32:40] Clarence Peters - “The Magnetic Atmospher”
[32:40] Sogar - “Ui Spalt”
[33:11] Bayete - “Pruda’s Shoes”
[34:14] THE HERS - “OX DANCE”
[37:20] John Wiese - “Track 1”
[39:08] Editor - “Digital People - Useless”
[39:19] Joe Lee Wilson - “One”
[43:29] Alo Põldmäe - “Onneseen (7 LAULU HANDO RUNNELI SONADELE)”
Preservation featuring 32 FX
Do you like ski masks? How about VHS? Are your main modes of transportation forcefully borrowed skateboards and stolen cars? Ever feel like kidnapping an engineer so you can force him or her to record you and your buddy’s ’90s-style boom-bap threat matches, or like graffiti-painting a stranger’s back in broad daylight just for the hell of it?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then this video is definitely for you. If you answered “no” to all of them, then you’re probably an upstanding citizen of the 21st century, but that’s perfectly fine too because you still might get a kick out of the rest of Preservation’s debut production album, Old Numbers, available now on LP, CD, or iTunes. In addition to “Disorderly Conduct,” the album features raps by Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Jean Grae, Edo G, and several others, not to mention a piece called “O” written by GZA and read by Jim Jarmusch. Get it here.
• Mon Dieu Music: http://www.mondieumusic.com
“The Weight Of Gold”
Forest Swords (Matthew Barnes) has always drawn from a deep sheath of patience. Lightly gripping the handle. Stroking the hilt with his pinky. Ringing metal against bamboo, gradually pulling out the blade. You can hear the sharpness. Barnes waits for the right time to implement his attack: sounds, beats, melody, samples, rhythms, vocals (!!!), etc. Planning only strategy, he both delivers and reveals the mysteries behind “The Weight Of Gold.” Carving into the heart of art, one can only distinguish the piece as a whole, not in sections; the sounds mix masterfully and fluidly. Barnes grinds feedback into tape-warp-squeezed crackles, from beat to heat, to sweltering a pace that is unending and driven from the core.
Three years after the Forest Swords’ epic Dagger Paths EP, Tri Angle Records was finally able to squeeze a debut album outta him. Engravings arrives on August 26 in CD, digital, and double-LP formats. Hi!
“The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow”
The men of ZS continue their multimedia conquest of our consciousnesses with another sublime visual offering: the video clip for the title track of Diamond Terrifier (Sam Hillmer)’s The Subtle Body Casts a Shadow LP, directed by drummer/omnipotent shredder Greg Fox. At face value, the video presents a montage of ZS tour footage, focused mostly on Milan, Torino, and the Swiss Alps, with a slice of Japan thrown in. Matched with Hillmer’s sax mantras and polyphonic self-harmonization, Fox’s manipulations of the source material elevate the piece to a different plane entirely. The word “kaleidoscopic” pops up plenty in psychedelic visual circles, but the complex fractal spirals on display here set a high kaleidoscope benchmark (the passage that begins around 3:40, for example… daaaaaaamn). When television-like distortion overtakes the video’s conclusion, a robotic voice quotes 8th-century Bodhisattva Shantideva, transplanting the lament for our subconscious pursuit of misery into a modern, technology-encumbered context.
I got in touch with Greg Fox to ask about the video’s conception. He told me:
I used that video [of Hillmer performing in Marseille] to make the Mandala, which is the floating consciousness that comes in and out throughout. I was thinking about how you go through a series of events or travels or what-have-you, and throughout, no matter what the range of experience, there is always a familiar flavor to them — and that flavor is you, the filter through which you experience life as it happens around you. How one’s sadness or happiness can both have the same familiar taste, and how you identify specifically with that, more than with the other elements that are attached to it.
When I asked Fox about the technical processes through which he abstracted the video, he replied:
The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow is available now on LP and CD from Terrible Records.
“Eternal Condition” / “Stuck 2”
“This record is about my demons just as much as its about society’s demons, I was reflecting on both through out the entirety of writing the album. at the time it was blind but I felt everything that was around me coming together inside to make the material that eventually became this album.presenting my environment / location, samples from 9/11 news coverage, surveillance camera audio, TV ads and other sources were used and all arranged together to create a surreal psychological sculpture of American decay and confusion, a map of New York’s nihilism and it’s self referential hedonism. Within this the songs are moments of clarity, times when something made sense enough to be represented with words, being kind of dark and noir. I don’t believe that I offer any pathos but an eternal condition, or a statement about my emotional Hell a statement of my surroundings and my experiences capturing the things I see: rats, metal landscape, toxic water, Junkie friends, HIV billboards, evil news, Luxury and unbound wealth, exclusivity, facelifts, romance, insane police presence, lonely people, all against the sinister vastness of Manhattan’s alienating skyline.” – James Ferraro
These songs are fantastic:
[Photo: Slyvia Kochinski]