Sanctums MM001

[Modern Math; 2013]

Styles: two-toned, post-minimal, breathing-bass, downtempo, dub-techno, whatever
Others: Four Tet, Burial, Raime, Tim Hecker, Andy Stott

[The following is loosely based on a conversation/connection between Kim and Jessie. Thank you, for everything.]

Fuck you, guy who thinks my music is too weird. Sometimes I prefer earned catharsis over immediate ecstasy — deal with it. No, I don’t feel like dancing to “Thrift Shop” or the most recent wave of chill. Yes, I realize that playing Som Sakrifis would kill the party mood, and I’m fully aware that people would probably dislocate things if they tried to dance to most of Бh○§†.

Also, and especially, fuck you, guy who doesn’t think my music isn’t weird enough. Sometimes I prefer sustained ecstasy over the climb to catharsis — deal with it. Yeah, I’m a huge fan of Drake. What was that? Do I contemplate meaningful things like art and theology while listening to “HYFR?” That was a stupid fucking question. I don’t like you.

Do I think I’m better than you? Well, maybe, but that has absolutely nothing to do with my taste in music and everything to do with not wanting to have your expectations thrust upon me. Friends? Okay, I’ll give you that one: a lack of dedication to a specific snobbery is not for the socialite; in fact, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. You’re probably not cut out for it, anyway — it can be pretty fucking lonely.

What’s that you say, guy who doesn’t fit in the above categories? I can have my cake and eat it too — music can have substance and be social? I don’t know; that sounds too good to be true, and worse yet, it sounds like a middle-ground compromise that Pitchfork would give BNM. (In all seriousness, I like a lot of the music that Pitchfork extols, so fuck you also, guy who’s too cool for Pitchfork.)

But, like, really? And this supposed revelation is happening in a place oft referred to as “Cowtown?” Alright, you have my attention.

Duos are the new unos, and Sanctums — comprised of Evangelos Typist and Dan Solo (ironic, I know) — are a duo. Why is that important? Well, unlike with lonestar electronic musicians, their pairing is concrete proof that they are both able to sustain at least one connection — and within the trying context of creativity, no less. Furthermore, Solo collaborated with others in Calgary’s music scene to establish a new imprint — this EP being the label’s first release — initiating a community around their brand of electronic music. Therefore, not only are Sanctums capable of creating connections, but they’re able to form networks. I strain this point because dance music is inherently social, requiring a connection with the audience as well as an ability to establish connections within the audience: like dancing, collaboration requires measured concessions and, most importantly, communication — these traits can be felt in all of the best social music (i.e., “Pyramid Scheme”).

Of course, though, this proclivity towards interconnection can be taken too far, and that can be felt as well: this is where concession becomes compromise; this is where conversation becomes mirroring, baiting, and unregulated people-pleasing. Connections rarely survive the met expectations of plastic romanticization, and Sanctums know better than to sacrifice weight and dynamism for amiability: these tracks breathe and flow in a way that makes them feel independently animated and yet entirely unconscious of their audience. This is likely the result of Sanctums’ keen sense of the consequence of sound (the actual idea, not the website): a focus on the aftermath of sonic incident offers a unique depth to their music and, for me, redefines popular culture’s long-standing obsession with the “ghost in the machine”. Here we get proof of the sonic afterlife, and there’s creeping vitality in the wake of the death of a sound (i.e., “Jaguar (Silence in Presence)”).

But more than just the ghost in the machine, Sanctums are the ghost in the machine meeting the actual machine. The life-element of the music has momentum and destination, while the ghost-element is beyond the confines of inertia: it’s two different time-based interpretations on a single self. The connection of these two competing purposes creates a musical poltergeist: it’s affective music that incites movement and yet manages to remain atmospheric and invisible. In some of their rare and recent press, Typist and Solo talk about this blending of ambience and rhythm, referring to the effect as “shadow play moodiness”: the conflict arises in the fact that, in this performance, both the shadows and the two-dimensional figurines are made visible. The audience is thus deprived of theater’s inherent mysticism and must accept what they see/hear as reality, deepening the emotional impact (i.e., “Magnum Opiate”).

Above all else, this conflict is central to MM001 poignancy: the duality of their two discrete perspectives (ambient sound-forging and propulsive beat-making) and the two competing destinations (headphones and the dancefloor) make the connections that the EP imply feel unfeigned and tangible. Most importantly, Typist and Solo sustain this conflict objectively without ever resorting to melodramatic and obvious juxtaposition. Unlike most of fringe music’s reliance on brusqueness and abrasion to create conflict, Sanctums reveal and resolve their schism through patience, a necessary tool in the fluid coalescence of any of two streams of ideas. The result is cohesive in a way that doesn’t alienate either faction of their audience, creating an uncommon connection between the public and private spheres of music listening (i.e., “Thirst or Land”).

Alright, I’m convinced. I suppose it’s possible to make intellectual music with an acute attention to detail without the aftereffect of sterility; and some art can successfully both affect and connect its audience; and a person can be an artist without being an asshole; and, I suppose, that by not choosing a side, a person has inevitably chosen a side: we all have our pretensions and success is always relative to a person’s goals. Sanctums show that serious music can be made without taking music and its categorization too seriously, that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can make a point and still make a connection.

Links: Sanctums - Modern Math

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