Elka Chants

[1080p; 2016]

Styles: hardware house, boogie
Others: MacBook™, Davy Jones’ Locker

When I was nine years old, my parents and I were separated in a strange country. They were in the luggage car of a train, and I was on the platform with a number of suitcases. I remember little except for having no idea what to do and thinking I’d spend the rest of my life sitting there, alone. For however many minutes it took for a train to arrive at where I was standing from wherever the other train had gone, I struggled to form a conception of transportation infrastructure. As it turns out, trains don’t move for an arbitrarily long time in a random direction, never to be seen again; of course, nearly all of them run simultaneously in two opposite directions and with relatively predictable periodicity. What I needed was a rhythm, and though it was there, stopping and going the whole time, it came together in front of my swollen, teary eyes for the first time in this place. The only ecstasy I’ve known is that of falling out of step only to find it anew.

Everybody needs a mantra, so to speak, but a mantra isn’t an adage or a word of wisdom, and repeating one certainly doesn’t imply forward motion. Destination-oriented movement, as a way of life, has no real destination except disappointment. Living well is a matter of moving around with an erratic step. It’s to hear the off-kilter chanting of billions of voices as one, and to hear the one voice as a noisy billion. This lifestyle has no patience for looking back in romantic abandon at the path now-beaten and those not taken. Those who, on the flip side, see the vast multitude of producers, DJs, and other performers furnishing their studios with “obsolete” tools and cry out that ours is a time of pure nostalgia and medieval aesthetic regression have invested themselves too deeply in one particular direction and might benefit from a lazy stroll down some other path. The same could be said of the purists who refuse to touch a MacBook™. Wherever you are and wherever your gaze is wandering, plop it down there somewhere on the horizon and compose its mantra with your footsteps. From those first, lush sweeps of “Luxere,” Chants dreams and sings of tropical shores, goofy dreamscapes, sketchy side streets, and messy bedrooms with tangled patch cords strewn across the floor. Individualism being a lie, the whole world wants to be known through Elka’s loner beats; spin this one and just go somewhere. When it speaks most clearly, Chants is a voice whose face is everything. Look up!

Of course, rhythm doesn’t work on us the right way in the tidied absence of all things mistaken, errant, and fucked up. It took house music a minute to realize that, and Vancouver’s 1080p might, with its assertively tongue-in-cheek name, be the moment’s perfect representatives of that necessary mantra. So, how do you pull it apart and bring it together at the same time? Those super-high sine wave flourishes that show up for the first time with “Pass Groove” are total, domesticated evil. Elka puts annoyingly staggered delays on the kick drums and the hats that constantly threaten to stop your foot from tapping (it never works). Few recent house records have wiggled their way back into my shitty earbuds again and again, like a neighbor saying hi, with the nonchalant openness of Chants, a digital release with few discernibly computerized flourishes, and which still manages to sound crisp and contemporary as hell. It’s been distracting me from the demands of my screened-out existence.

Actually, though I wasn’t listening to Elka at the time, I totally left my laptop on a random riverboat last night. In a strange country. I felt nine years old again. There I was on some train platform, sure that the boat had set sail, never to return, en route to deliver my MacBook™ to Davy Jones’ Locker. A nautical cataclysm of unmatched proportion. Thank Neptune that, when I returned to the dock this morning, the boat was still there, the captain on board, his vessel untidied and still littered with garbage and this landlubber’s expensive toy. He made some joke about maritime law as I ran about looking for it, laughing through the language barrier. After I found it and stepped back onto solid ground, I heard the boat set sail again and looked back to watch its woozy crawl for just a moment before walking back to the train. You’ll never find your rhythm if you don’t stumble a bit over someone else’s, I guess.

Links: 1080p

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