City Arcadia

[Halcyon Veil; 2016]

Styles: disposability, scorched earth, small technology
Others: Jaakko Pallasvuo, Druid Cloak, TCF

As the digital sound-machine rolls forward, the lines territorializing the sound plateau continue to sketch novel topographies of assembled dirt — those patches of sound-land in need of drainage. Arcadia is the mythologized outland zone of unspoiled wilderness, a last frontier — a seemingly pastoral stretch of land that rises delicately above the world’s oceanic muck. It is here that the extra-spoiled remains of net-club musicology drift into grassland, flatland, no-land — to blacken its earth, to spoil it, to render it known through inefficient sound-transmission — to make it more obscure, less secluded: wronged, tortured, and stirred by calcium-skeletons wrapped in squishy mineral.

City assaults Arcadia. The mix is a wounded metropolis built atop schist and flat-rock. If a field recording is a plot of land, then metropoleian synthesis inevitably scrapes and gouges into its clay. The arpeggiated blip is an inevitably and grossly human attempt, a simulation that literally, sonically smashes harshly into the recording, filling its spectrum with dusty frequencies; they push into each other like mud clods smushed underfoot. Stringed instruments are voiced electronically in simple motifs, while static rhythms crunch — a sonic manifestation of a human limb smacking against the plane of immanence, against a seemingly limitless land. Vitality emerges.

Arcadia is a brilliant assemblage of how haphazardly and brightly synthesized/sampled musical techniques are still smattered together by the whim of drifting desire. A troubled object, the mix squirms at the intersection of these tactics. Overblown sound-striations and rough patches of ambience scrape against each other like kindle bluntly attempting to spark moist rocks. Industrial tendencies are subsumed in grey-scale re-contextualizations of rainforest cafe trance. Somehow, this trance has the uncanny ability to uplift other sound sources into blissful and strange terrain, the kind of terrain possible through the fragmentation of sound-zones into smaller plots of affect filled with entombed, poisonous time-capsules.

Jaako Pallusvuo gives the mix a beautiful visual companion — a hybrid humanoid brushed delicately with watercolor or diluted sumi ink. The image recalls how small technologies like ink and brush are as intimately entangled with craft’s origins as beautiful, futile human sound. On the West’s telling, human beings were crafted from mixtures of earth and fire, endowed with barely suitable powers. These were sorry creatures — us — with scant the ability to develop and maintain sturdy artifacts. Arcadia sketches out a wide field where these shoddy artifacts are half-buried. Functioning as an onkyo treatment of the modern alt-club mix, the result is a celebration of smallness, of the transportive and delicate possibilities of unarmed music, of fallow soil and placid terrain — the fragility of a distinctive human world — capable of hat-tricks and theories about plankton.

Links: City - Halcyon Veil

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