[L.I.E.S.; 2014]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: shivering, shaking, quivering, quaking
Others: Demdike Stare, Delroy Edwards, Koopsta Knicca, Death in June

“Everything can become magical work.”
– Novalis

The occult project (a revitalization of lost/forgotten knowledges) has largely fallen by the wayside in the light of rationalistic, humanistic models, but NGLY hearkens them back, locating powers that might rightly be called inhuman. House and techno provide the structure for his/her/its (our?) archaeology, but they are useful only insofar that they provide categories to be deconstructed. While the range of influence on NGLY’s sound is vast, they’re piecemeal: “Service Cost HH2” bubbles around Driftwood-esque house, whereas “Some Relationships” flirts with an acid-tinged trip-hop. There’s no nostalgia in these references, just ancient wisdoms.

Far be it from me to suggest that 4/4 is the heartbeat of the animus mundi, but there is in NGLY the suggestion that repetitious invocation can create real powers that might lie outside the spectrum of empirical inquiry. The stirring of the cauldron, the whispered mantras, melodies floating on shadows-of-a-beat. NGLY’s only previous release was with Russian Torrent Versions, an untitled album whose mystique stemmed from a decidedly “harder” place, beats culminating within one another to overwhelm the reflex functions. For NGLY, even if the ceremony were to consider the individualities of others, it essentially functions privately (perfectly fitting in with L.I.E.S.’ noted interest in “bedroom” house producers). Audrey Horne might have once danced alone to it, but other than in the most misanthropic DJ sets, it’s difficult to imagine that it will garner much dancefloor play.

The greater key comes with “Speechless Tape,” the asymptotic anti-climax of the EP. An obviously ironical contradiction between title and content reveals itself not with a smirk, but with a distant stare fixated somewhere beneath long, greasy hair. It’s truly a successful occult project, as “Speechless Tape” doesn’t work from a paradigm of desire-enhancement, but from precisely the opposite: it stays calm in the face of unendurable entropies. No synthesis, no assimilation, no recuperation, but an immense power made manageable only through a vital act of disengagement.

At the risk of veering too sharply into Deleuze, we might examine the repetitive affirmation as being the Real signifier of meaninglessness. The house nation turned just such meaninglessness into the ritual of the dance, some interpreting it as a call to ascetic minimal techno, others finding a will-to-pleasure in hedonistic acid house or trance. But it was always the precisely meaningless quality of the dance that imbued nights in clubs or at raves with such energy. NGLY has made a record out of these referents that accesses a similar power, yet refuses to let go, not simply ideologically, but out of a kind of cosmic necessity.

As we get to final track “I Don’t Have A Soul” (yet another attack forward, into post-humanism), it becomes clear that NGLY is not an “anti-dance” record — at least not exactly. It’s a cautious, ghostly track: another test. It’s not noise, it’s music, and, like it or not, not having a soul is one of its conditions. Here we will find success not in consummation, but in dissipation.

Links: NGLY - L.I.E.S.

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