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Into The Audient Void mix, in support of the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon

This weekend is the 19th Annual H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon, here in Portland. To mark the occasion, to get in the mood and spread the madness to the corners of the globe not able to be here and share in the awesomeness, i’ve made a ritualistic dark ambient/drone mix of Lovecraftian audio.

I thought i would take the opportunity to give a little peak behind the curtains, as a slight installation of the Invisible College, to give some insight into how i’ve modified and modulated the audio, to share my process and give you some tips and tricks to try out.

A large part of my fervor for audio, both finding and listening, is geared towards DJing/mixing. I adore the art of the mixtape, of carefully selecting tracks, to create a world to get lost in and explore. The art of making art out of other people’s art, which has extended into what i am attempting with album reviews as well. Thus the subtitle, ‘How I Found The Akashic Records, And What I Did Once I Got There.’

My obsession with electronic music and mixing began by going to lots of raves as a teenager. I am, almost above all other things, a dancer, and i love losing myself in the Techno theta trance for hours and days at a time. I would observe the DJs with awe and envy, wondering how in the hell they were doing what they were doing. This was around the same time i began to become obsessed with electronic music and production, hungrily devouring technical manuals and magazines, trying to piece together how my favorite artists were doing what they were doing. Keep in mind, this was before the internet was completely widespread (1997 – 1998), or before i had steady access to it, anyway, so there were a lot of bits and starts and bobs, getting tiny slivers of information and seeking to apply them.

akashic-records[15]I think what got my wheels spinning, endlessly wiring modules in my head, was DJ Spooky‘s Songs Of A Dead Dreamer. I read somewhere that Spooky blended his beats and samples with field recordings he made around NYC, in some abstract fashion that i have still not entirely pieced together. I started thinking along the lines of 2 turntables, alongside a sampler, drum machine and a synth, for complete sonic control and remix capability. This was at a time when all this gear was heinously expensive and totally unavailable to me, but it got me thinking modularly, got me thinking about routing.

seqrouter_sch_148That’s why my head was fully blown when i finally got my own computer and got access to Ableton Live, and a host of other DAWs. THIS was what i had been looking for, what i had been dreaming of.

What i found, however, which a lot of you can probably relate to, is TOO many options. For years, i’d been ghetto rigging routing with cheap radio shack cables and plugs, using cheap guitar pedals, tape recorders, CD Players, whatever i had on hand. At the same time, i was busily reading every interview and watching every documentary i could on musicians i admired, trying to figure out what they were doing. Once i got Ableton, and simultaneously, access to the entire history of recorded music, the walls came down. ALL the walls.

It can be difficult to know where to go, how to use the tools at yr disposal, or what yr even trying to say. It’s been an interesting challenge and a huge growth opportunity as an artist, working with these tools, and a lot of what i hope to accomplish with Forestpunk is sharing some of my findings.

So i thought i would details some of what went into making Into The Audient Void, which is one of the first lines of Lovecraft’s story Nyarlathotep.

nyarlathotep_by_orm_z_gor-d5urhdkI started things off with the sound of waves, taken from the The BBC Original Sound Effects Library, which gives way to some disembodied ’20s jazz, floating above the waves. I started things off with the waves to establish a setting, to evoke the feeling of sunken R’lyeh rising, and the floating jazz was to give a degraded, decayed feeling of the 1920s, when a lot of Lovecraft’s stories were set. The jazz was taken from this epic Lovecraftian mix, Arkham Radio, which i will write about in full at some later date, as it is incredible. I recorded the audio through SoundFlower, which routes audio internally inside yr computer to be multitracked inside Ableton, which i then sent to a simple Filter Delay return channel, which also had a Tape Saturation plug-in, Toneboosters ReelBus, to give a further aged and degraded feeling, with the Filter Delay intended to give a feeling of the sound drifting over the waves.

From there, we go into Joseph Curwen‘s Dancing Lights In The Dark Of The Moon, a perennial favorite at FPHQ, which i mostly played unaffected. It’s a pretty bass heavy drone track, lo-fi, and with some other sounds going, i was afraid it would overdrive and distort, so i put a mild low-pass filter, rolling off the sub-bass at 30 Hz.

Voodoo drums from Haiti, courtesy of soul jazz Voodoo Drums, i brought in to give a ritualistic feel, which were then sent to a crystal cavern reverb, d16′s Toraverb, to give a further stylized sci-fi feel. For a long time, i’ve been going after a feeling of an aboriginal tribe conducting a ritual to some extraterrestrial God, with the heavens opening up to another space-time-dimension. I’ve tried multiple times, and still never entirely happy with the results. One day, i will get it perfect, but this is another attempt.

To further reinforce this juxtaposition, i have the voodoo drums go into some library music from, courtesy of De Wolfe Music Library, the surprisingly awesome Cover Up, by Ian Boddy, on Space, The Unknowns & UFOs, which sounds like some Boards Of Canada out-take. I’m looking forward to listening to the whole thing, in search of breaks.

Then, briefly, some incidental music and sound effects from ‘It Came Beneath The Sea’, to give a pulp sci-fi feel. You can hear some digital noise and glitch at the beginning of the track. It’s because it was playing back at a drastically slower speed than the original (65 bpm), and i had not yet switched to Complex Pro, which smooths out a lot of that digital distortion. Unintentionally noisy, but i kind of like it.

It_Came_From_Beneath_The_Sea_posterMore incidental music, mostly unprocessed, from the 1979 documentary Life On Earth – Music From The 1979 BBC TV Series, called “Giant Clam”, to further give an underwater feeling. I was also trying to illustrate the dichotomy between actual environments and soundtrack music, as Lovecraft’s works can be read as both. Feigning at real life, and also hinting at saturated colors and shoddy special effects, to give the sensation of how Lovecraft’s work has evolved over time, and the many ways he’s influenced culture.

Wrapping up with two titanic tracks, and some incidental music i composed myself – Eric Zann’s The Obsidian Pyramid, from Ouroborindra, on Ghost Box. The Music Of Erich Zann is of course a famous story by Lovecraft, and i like to represent for GB whenever i can, so this one was a no-brainer. The feeling i was hinting at was of coming across some enormous black pyramid beneath the ocean, which probably contains some portal to another dimension. To further emphasize this, i did some live mixing, sending the track to a return channel, using my APC40, to an instance of Ableton’s Frequency Shifter, to give some sci-fi swooping oscillator sounds and deep bass rumbles.

To try and give the feeling of a portal opening, i included a track that i made called Osterscott, which is the sound of 100 conversations meticulously layered for 1 minute. It’s one of my favorites that i’ve made, so far, as i have been seeking to make a kind of seance music. Once the protagonist steps through the portal, and the ritual is complete, i was trying to give the sensation of being able to see and hear ghosts, to peer through time. This continues on until the end, where i end with another epic from a local favorite, People Eater’s me mokutu vakamatea, which was labelled as oneiromancy on soundcloud. I was trying to give the sensation of stepping through into the dreamworld, of having totally sundered reality. This already droney track is layered with whispering vocals, as well as excerpts from Nyarlathotep and The King In Yellow, by Robert W Chambers. A truly magickal confluence. All of these elements were hand-manipulated, sent to filter delays, echoes and reverbs – true sonic psychosphere, an eerie misty afterlife.

So that’s a rather detailed description of some of my thoughts and motivations of this mix. I tried to use the strengths and advantages of drone and dub music, using echoes and delays to maximum efficacy and with subtlety. Messed quite a bit with panning (so try it with headphones sometime), and tried to control the frequencies and levels, to avoid a muddy, blown out mix.

Mixing with ambient music and sounds is tremendous fun, as it’s easy to make smeary, droney sound collages, but i’m going to keep going, as i aspire to make tight, tailored techno sets, along with many other styles of musics. Mash-ups, cut-ups, sound collage, bangers and anthems and middle of the night weirdness, we won’t stop until we get there.

Do you all like this kind of thing? Any kind of tool or production style you’d like more info on, or like to share? Let us know in the comments! I’m hoping for this to be a cool resource for all of us.

A field guide to the akashic records.

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Violet Poison – Voices From The Hell

violet poisonEver wondered what Wolf Eyes would sound like, if produced by Loscil? Welcome to yr daily white noise binaural baptism.

Voices From The Hell was the first LP from anonymous Techno producer Violet Poison, after a series of EPs, released in March 2013 on Hospital Productions. Violet Poison have risen in prominence and visibility, collaborating with Shapednoise as Violetshaped, and running the Violet Poison label. He is a lynchpin, and a good illustration of the emergent ruined analog Techno set, the kind favored by Hospital Productions, a blending of lo-fi, antiquated electronics and processing and filthy rough-hewn beats. And while VFTH has a similar aesthetic to artists like Ron Morelli , there are differences, as well. Violet Poison seems way more rooted in dub, swathed in echoes, gentler, more distant. It’s an ethereal brand of Techno.

Voices From The Hell comes on with “Beyond The Door”, with distant, looping, echoing temple drums, smarmed with reverb and a pulsing, growling bass drone, as ancient voices whisper past yr ears. It sounds like finding some hatch in the earth, and placing yr ear to its metallic surface, hearing some Egyptian ceremony from the bowels. If Porto Ronco‘s hatch led you to some abandoned space station, then Voices From The Hell is an orbiting mechanical pyramid. There is the feeling of ancient machinery resurrecting, arcane furnaces springing to life, the lights flashing in hieroglyphic tunnels. Yr piss-scared, but you can’t help but go on. Its too thrilling, too curious.

The mnml dub techno leaning really starts to rear its head on “Asphyxia”, as the machinery starts to breathe and spark to life. Simple, repetitive clicky dust mites dance over a surface of swooning, chugging oily water, pulling you into its murk.

Then all hell breaks loose on “Spooky Pendulum”, as yr chased down ancient ruined temple halls by the Rhythm Of The Heat.

You finally reach the inner sanctum on the title track, as disembodied Italian voices murmur over a slow/n/stately 4/4 bass pulse, and more ducking, ruinous hypnosis. This is the mechanistic ritual, the machine trance.

Voices From The Hell is a good illustration of all that is right and (un)holy about this record. First of all: the beats. Its the simplest thing on Earth (or above it), but it sounds so great! So solid, so punchy, never too loud. A pure and perfect pulse that kicks in just the right way. From there, the swooning degraded machine tones, definitely a synth but not exactly a melody, gives this that perfect degraded lo-fi quality, that cheap dithering noisebox effect, but its not harsh. Its mixed just so. So much of the time, with cheap or noisy electronics, they’re mixed so harshly or not at all. Digital distortion hurts my ears, wears me out after a very short time, whereas records that have some analog in the chain, or have placed the levels in the right ways, and it sounds warm and generous, hypnotic and trancey rather than grating or boring.

And that’s why i’m so fascinated with these emerging trends. There are so many good signal degraders out there, so many ways to mangle and process audio, but you’ve got to work it. You’ve got to sculpt those tones, but when you do, it can work wonders. It can take you places.

I would definitely say that people who like dub techno, either classic, like Rhythm & Sound, or contemporary and experimental, like Loscil (as mentioned above), Pole, or some Pye Corner Audio, NEED to hear this. Same goes for fan of vintage, lo-fi electronic sounds, like vintage John Carpenter soundtracks, also fans of contemporary beat sculptors like Ekoplekz or Vatican Shadow, and the locked grooves of Muslimgauze. But while Violet Poison may have a lot of sonic similarities and forebears, this is not recreationist or revisionist techno. Rather, VP uses the machinery of the past to create original and innovative psychscapes.

This makes Voices From The Hell a virulent strain of retrofuturism, but handled in a very modern and intentional way. It reveals something very interesting, and essential, about the current climate.

1. THERE ARE TOO MANY OPTIONS: even the simplest digital synth is infinitely more powerful and flexible than the early oscillators, and you could spend 12 years just fudging with envelopes or building drums out of coat hangers.

Its hard to know where to go, where to turn.

so, 2. ANALOG HAS SOUL: there is a feeling, a presence to any signal that has known air, has seen the light of day. It makes a HUGE difference when people who take the time to re-record and hand process their audio, and automatically makes it stand apart from work made entirely ‘in the box’, digitally. Its the difference between a Macintosh Plus record and a Vangelis score.

The thing of it is, when you hear well done, well thought out, well placed, carefully mixed and recorded music of any stripe, it inspires you. It shows you how its done. It trains yr ears, hones yr instincts.

So for those that have a yen for late ’70s electronics and dub delays, let Violet Poison show you how its done.

https://soundcloud.com/violet-poison/voices-from-the-hell

He (she? they?) put it eloquently, speaking to Secret13, ““there is no future without past”.

The nice thing about writing yr own blog is you can post whatever the hell you feel like, whenever the hell you feel like. It irritates me that you can only talk about a record for 5 minutes after its been made, like it ceases being relevant after that. VFTH is entirely relevant and of the moment, even if it was made 13 months ago, and i’ve been giving myself headaches trying to know what to write about, to keep up with each passing trend and every big release. I want to try just writing about what i feel like writing about, perhaps organizing them into themes as i go. I expect to write a lot more this way.

You can hear Voices From The Hell at Spotify:
or grab a copy from Amazon: Voices From The Hell
you can read another fine review of VFTW as this blog i just discovered, i die you die.
and check out this superb mix for Secret13!
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Broken Deer – Polaraura

broken deerIt was a means of grounding — connecting to the unspoken stories in that particular place. So, in short, I think the aesthetic tie in my art is the process, less than a subject matter or medium. And the process is me interacting with a particular place, and all the materials it offers – whether they be a kazoo, crayons, wool or soil – with the intention of finding some truth. I really hope I have that fresh approach my whole life, and not get stuck in a routine. I think an artist can always discover different worlds, transform as a person but create work that is consistent with who they are, even if it be superficially different.

- interview with Weird Canada

Broken Deer is the solo experimental folk project of Lindsay Dobbin, an artist and musician who lives in the Yukon, and explores traditional shamanism and shamanic drumming via handheld tape recorders and field recordings.

Polaraura, released in March of 2013, explores the intersection of folk musick, acoustic instruments, field recordings and electrical tones, and brings the strengths of each to each.

As i’ve mentioned before, Folk Music is strongly rooted in a sense of place, whether that be Siberia or the Appalachian Mountains. Whether its regional folklore, dialect, or instrumentation, the music seems to automatically suggest a particular locale. That’s why i’ve always felt it such a shame that people interested in traditional music have not explored the possibilities of field recordings, and its part of the reason of why we have such an undying interest/affection for what you might call ‘experimental folk’, which is a pretty damn useless tag, which is part of what we’re seeking to rectify.

 

Broken Deer also helps to redefine what we consider ‘folk music’, as it is music by and for the people, music from everyday life, as opposed to ‘art music’ or music as commodity. When i was reviewing James Ginzburg‘s Faint Wild Light record, i came across an interesting comment from Ginzburg, where he talked about journalists appropriating the term folk music:

It’s become such a terrible word – it’s as bad as ‘trip hop’. It’s such a broadly-used term. If I talked to my grandmother about a folk album, she would imagine it with bagpipes. When I was a kid and only had access to a limited amount of music, I thought Simon and Garfunkel, or Bob Dylan, was folk music. I was a victim of the journalistic misappropriation of folk. So, I may have made a folk album using the already misused word.

Clearly, music made on 4-tracks and dictaphones and cellphones have become part of the folk vernacular, but most people get hung up on the trappings, the idea and aesthetic of folk, which turns it from something potentially powerful and uplifting into a dangerous trap, a deadly nostalgia for something you’ve never known. The romanticization of The Other, cultural appropriation, the Noble Savage, the perils of Exotica, and a whole other thorny nest of Demons that most people don’t even begin to notice, let alone think about.

Instead, Lindsay Dobbin goes the other direction, and has made something vibrant, living, powerful; the opposite of Exotica, she has actually transmitted an atom of the Great White North, which she clearly loves so dear. Wolf calls and frozen rivers meet degraded chamber pianos and Victrola vocals. Rather than dressing in a headband and purchasing some rattle & shaker, she has performed a feat of real shamanism, that is, getting into the heart and dreamtime of a place, and we all care just a little bit more for it. My inner world has been lit up with wolves silhouette on snowy hilltops, and gray spraying whales cracking through ice, even as Portland breaks into a flowery spring.

The last reason i am bringing this record to y’all’s attention is that it is probably my favorite type of music, and there’s just no good name for it. Very intimate, homemade, handmade, analog recordings, laid down to small tape recorders. I love the surface texture, i love the grit, i love the rumble and shake and warbly detuning of the vocals. You can hear it in effect in this I AM THE LAKE OF FIRE tape i wrote about it. You can hear it in the cassette seances of The Ectoplasm Girls (who i wish to g_d would release a new record) and in the slimy grooves of Pye Corner Audio‘s Black Mill Tapes Vol. 1.


 

It makes me think of chartreuse, of the bottom of the sea. It makes me think of the bottom of some musky, moth-eaten trunk. It makes me think of age, and degradation, but championing it, rather than dreading the decay.

Broken Deer’s music is beautifully aged, but it also stands up as just plain, good music. I like her spirit of investigation and adventure, when it comes to playing instruments. The piano jams are my favorite part of this record, which have transformed my home in a gentle Parisian tea cafe on numerous occasions. I suggest you let her do the same to your office/den/laboratory.

I highly recommend you check out Broken Deer. Fans of Joanna Newsom, Gonzales‘ solo piano records, or the dedgraded Victorian haunted loveliness of Paper Dollhouse (who i will write about here at a later date, as she’s another of our favorites), will get lost in these sounds, and have sweet dreams.

Broken Deer has brought some real loveliness, real healing, real peace to my life, over the past couple of weeks. She’s really something special.

Does anyone out there know of anything else that sounds like this? I’m on the prowl, and it has no name, so i have no way to look for it. If you do, let me know in the comments. Yr knowledge, expertise and general good taste is very much appreciated.

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Horrorscores: Blkhrts – Death, Romance & The Color BLK

blkhrt-album-dave-sitekSex, drugs, violence, money, death, romance and the color black

the 7 deadly virtues of Blkhrt‘s mixtape.

Welcome to another installment of Horrorscores,an ongoing investigation of horror soundtracks and aesthetics. With Horrorscores, we discuss both classic soundtracks and recordings, as well as music that draws inspiration or source material from the classics, and also music that EMULATES the classics. It’s an example of how any field of investigation can open up into a million tributaries, and tell us a lot about people, about culture, about psychology. Maybe even spirit.

Of course, a prolonged investigation into horror aesthetics first raises the question, What Is Horror?, which is something a lot of minds have chewed on, which then leads to the next question, Why Are We Obsessed With It? To start with the first, there’s a lot of definitions you could take, but the one i’ve been working with lately is Horror is something that produces a sensation of repulsion. One common characteristic of Monsters is that they are Unclean, which goes to explain why, even in movies when the monsters are goofy, the people still recoil in Terror. It might look innocuous, but there’s no telling if it smells like 10,000 diapers left in the sun, if it is swarming with insects. Yr not quite sure WHAT it is, but one thing you do know, is you do not want it to touch you.

Which then leads into the second question: why are we fascinated with horror? It is the most counter-intuitive thing on the planet, to be obsessed with things that repulse us, to lean in to things that make us recoil. It is in this divided state that horror begins to reveal itself, show some of its strengths as well as some of its downfalls.

For this installment of Horrorscores, we will not be looking at classic Universal orchestral themes or digging for industrial breakbeats in the ’80s. BLKHRT’s Death, Romance & The Color BLK is not even technically horror, but closely related. BLKHRT have described their sound as ‘ghetto goth’, mentioned Ian Curtis in interviews, sample Bauhaus, described themselves as ‘Morrissey meets M.O.P’. But this is not skinny, trenchcoat wearing rap nor horrible shitty-metalcore-rap-crossover. This is REAL hip-hop; with tight beats and fluent rapping, soaked in a pitch-black vibe. It reclaims a victory for would be horrorcore, that is, rap influenced by Horror, which should be good, but often isn’t.

If there’s one goth, metal, electronica, and most of the music we cover here have in common, it’s Music For Nighttime. For the darker side of life, the things that don’t happen in the daylight.

And hip-hop is made for the nighttime. It’s made for the streets, for running missions. It’s about staying up late, about getting high, about fucking. It’s about living vividly, about being strong. About getting what you need. About rising up. Hip-hop has a power and a pulse, that is truly mighty when fused with the ideas and aesthetics of other genres.

a3561983572_10Blkhrts – Death, Romance & The Color BLK mixtape

While Yonnas Abraham may talk about Morrissey and sample Echo And The Bunnymen, their actual music is much more muscular and deranged than that. Death, Romance & The Color Blk is trve tough street rap, meant to be thumped from subs at 3 a.m. Their music is more Death Grips than Christian Death, but there is still a goth sensibility – a sense of incense.

Of course, no manner of clever sample appropriation nor name dropping has any bearing on the success of the music self. Thankfully, BLKHRTS need no backstory or comparison to other, well-known artists to make this music stand up and scream. This music speaks for itself.

The first thing i noticed, after spending some time with this record, is the MCs; the tipping point for rap music. Rappers that just spit some inane chorus over and over quickly bores me, starts to wash over my ears like TV static. But BLKHRTS know what they’re doing. They know their lines, and deliver them with conviction. Because of this, they’re able to interject the lyrics with little pings and flourishes, like a real MC crew, like a well-oiled B-Boy machine. DETAILS are what make music stand up or fall down. You can see this most clearly in the song “At Least I Can Say I Loved (You)”, with a screaming diva chorus call-and-response. Real heat; biting passion. Pretty voice, too.
 

 
And then the best lyrics in the world can’t succeed without the right production; and BLKHRTS shine in this area as well. Their bass totally stomps and pounds, truly rough and tough. They also accomplish the nearly-impossible feat of making Trap Beats not sound harsh and grating. I mean, i’m as excited as anyone else, with the possibility of retuning any sound on Earth, and i get the addiction of chopping and re-arranging everything you come across, but music that spends too much time on the computer can end up sounding as sharp as rusted tin cans on yr eardrums, make you feel exhausted after 35 minutes.

That’s the thing with BLKHRTS; they’re making modern hip-hop, taking advantage of the tools we have around us, but they’re using them EXTREMELY WELL. Its kind of staggering, that this was just a rehearsal mixtape. They’ve got mixing skills, production acumen. They know what they’re doing.

BLKHRTS tame and wrangle their samples, and make them work for them. It’s hard to tell where the samples end and the drum machines begin; it all hangs together as a whole, to drag you into their soundworld. Mysterious middle-eastern guitars meet gothic choirs, Iggy Pop rises from the ether. Joy Division basslines twitch over tectonic beats.
They are also moving away from and beyond the samples, using more original production. Starting with their inspiration, and spreading out. It seems to me this is a band on the move, one to watch.
 

 

If The Weeknd‘s Trilogy is a post-rave comedown, an ecstacy comedown with the shades drawn, then Death, Romance & The Color BLK is the cat burglary happening next door. This music is not resigned, not complacent, not nodding out. They’re out running missions. They’re sporting steel. They’re going to take the life that they want, or at least go find it.

That’s the thing about the night time. You’ve got to be strong. Hearty. There’s predators out there. And angels. Yr alone in the forest; you’ve got to be ready.

But hip-hop, and goth, and horror, are not afraid. Or we are, but we go through it anyway. Cuz it’s worth it. There’s miracles out there. There’s a better life. There’s passion; and heat. Better afraid in the dark, than boring and serving in the day.

BLKHRTS hail from Denver, but seem to be in L.A., whether its just playing some shows and recording, or permanently, is unclear. The thing is, find out where they are, and if they’re anywhere near you, go see their shows, buy their tapes. These guys are the shit; some of the best rap i’ve heard in a minute.

Their debut album should be out any second, so get a taste here, and stay posted.

Recommended for fans of: Death Grips, Demon Queen, Techno Animal

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Submissions: Fourmi – Super Plastron + John Blake – Your Light (let it shine) feat. Elisa Planco [single]

elysiumWe take a through swinging space-age bachelor pads, orbiting casinos + some positivist hip-hop, from some of our readers.

a4123970696_10Fourmi – Super Plastron

A lot of us are inspired by old library records, ’70s soundtracks, exotica, but it can be difficult to tolerate the UNFUNKINESS of it.

Instead, Fourmi, a retro synthesizer outfit from Paris, use a pallet of Hammer horror organs, Atari basslines, and properly dusted Hammond rhythm machines, which are bent and skewed to do impossible, skittering things, to create a feeling of some casino in close orbit to Earth. There’s a hip-hop dance party happening in the ballroom, though, cuz Fourmi’s beats get down!

On Super Plastron, they choose an odd, but well-picked, combination of ’50s plastic organs and electric harpsichords, which are paired with tight and punchy beats. It’s all the sounds of a vintage groovebox, but programmed with intricacy. They’re making a kind of hypervivid ’50s bachelor pad music, where they’ve sucked out the schmaltz, and then portraying the whole thing through an aquamarine jello filter.

 

 

While this album is a no-brainer for people who like the harpsichord transmissions of Ghost Box and Hammer Horror soundtracks, i’d like to see it cross over into the hands of hip-hop producers and potential chillwavers, as 1.) These guys really do swing, and their beats are exceptionally polished and well-placed and 2.) these songs somewhat evince the feeling of swaying on a beach and, or potentially dance on a beach at sunset.

 

 

While these dudes are looking back to the ’50s, they also recall the days of vintage braindance, as Fourmi remind us of the thrill of well-placed, intricate machine beats blended with stacks of arpeggiators. They sound kind of like Aphex Twin taking stock of current hip-hop trajectories, and while their drum ‘n bass occasionally drills, everything remains relaxed, mellowed, dipped in reverb. Its busy, its convoluted, but its not aggressive, more the byproduct of an inquisitive mind.

 

 

Its that atmosphere that ultimately makes Super Plastron succeed as a transmission. Everything is well-picked and well-placed and well-mixed. Their funky organs rinkety-dink roller skate synths, and Atari basslines are very vintage, entirely harmonic, eminently hummable. These guys are cherry-picking the past, and picking the absolute best.

I think, ultimately, that Super Plastron is a strange vision, as it so clearly has yesterday’s sci-fi visions in mind, but are delivered as modern dance. Its both retro soundtrack AND club fodder. One can only conclude that Fourmi are attempting to transform modern dance clubs into dayglo, jumpsuited discotheques, and in that, i hope they succeed.

I am a huge advocate for the return of all manner of retrofuturism, from ’50s space age, to ’60s psychedelia, to ’70s sci-fi and ’80s synth, not to mention all manner of rave music, as pretty much all of these had some hope for the future, even if it were sometimes a bleak one. Sometimes we get too rooted in rust and decay, and while i enjoy post-industrial grit more than most, it is essential to have a bit of the other, to have some shiny chrome hope among the dust.

These guys seem like one to watch. Their beats are evolving, and they seem to be playing live a decent amount. I anticipate their rise.

 

 
Super Plastron is available as a free download, either from bandcamp, or from mediafire. These guys clearly want to be heard, and they deserve to be.
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Its sometimes easy to overlook hip-hop’s ability to uplift and unite. Hip-hop crawls through the streets, and talks about what it sees there, good and bad. Its not all anger and violence, but it is certainly there.

And i like my hip-hop more damaged and deranged and dirty than most, it can be easy to shy away from something so obviously positive as John Blake’s Your Light. It can be easy to shy away from the light. With its seagull cover and wistful gaze, you worry this could be some we-are-the-world moment, and there might be some hand-holding. Please don’t touch me.

But, instead, as soon as you press play on this single, you find John Blake means what he says, and is an honest and beautiful sentiment.

Much like the last album, this is because of the atmosphere. It’s so funny the subtleties you can pick up from music, and how there is a subjectivity in every attempt at criticism or review. Because some people, with some grand vision of how to save the world, if only you’d LISTEN TO THEM, if only you’d pay attention to them. They have all the answers. They’re screaming in yr face.

But Blake invites. He entices. The instruments are soft and gentle, classic-sounding. REAL piano, with a tight beat that’s solid, but not abrasive. And its all held together with a classic soul singalong tag. Elisa Polanco knows how to sing On Key and In Tune.

What’s surprising, is that, even with its cheerful disposition, my vantage point on life is pretty much the exact same as their’s, word-for-word:

“gotta represent for the god in me”
“just gotta change this world”
“don’t give up on yr life”
“my heart can’t be heavy/for the battle to come/for the king of the sun”
“we all want a world where we can live in peace”

So stop being jaded for a minute. Listen to something pretty.

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Sister/Body – Lucifer Efekt (Tesla Tapes)

a2683526819_10Do the words ‘post-noise’ or ‘ritual grooves’ heat yr blood? Read on…

Lucifer Efekt is the most recent installment on what is fast becoming one of our favorite imprints, Gnod’s Tesla Tapes. It is a smoky, murky, hypnotic blend of disembodied vocals and churning, “poisonous electronics”, from two members of the Czech underground, Head in Body (also in Lightning Glove, RUiNU) and Miss Camilla – both on synths, voices, and other electronics. They rarely play live, and focus on creating these monochromatic transmissions from the other side.

christian-martin-weiss-annaLucifer Efekt kicks off with “Efekt”, full of swooning, growling, binaural synths pulse and breathe around yr ears, while knocking dub rhythms skitter around like chitinous wind-up scarabs, and Miss Camilla mutters morosely like a medium possessed through an echoplex – echoes of Throbbing Gristle and Wolf Eyes.

 

 

 

The process coagulates with “Secret Turned Revulsion”, as a lopsided, evolving beat presents itself, as woozy new age synths give these events an abalone grow, and Camilla pours out her secrets.

 

 

“Crescending Glitter” is back to being disembodied, as the synths arc like Jacob’s ladder, before a solid but simple dub riddim comes in, to give this intergalactic manowar an exoskeleton. It is like wandering through some dilapidated space station, with frayed and hanging power cords spark and hiss, then getting suited for a zero gravity mission. It’s a holding pattern, and a breakout. “Crescending Glitter” is also the most “dub techno” outing on here, so far, that is highly recommended for the fans of Stefan Betke‘s Pole project, or the sparser end of Basic Channel.

 

 

There is a subdued wildness to “Crazy = Black”; there is a feeling, when listening to Lucifer Efekt, of a slow-building frenzy; it’s held back, and restrained, but feral and heartfelt. This is the heart of a martial artist – pause and then strike, that comes as much-needed relief for the sometimes obvious and formulaic pleasures of electronic music. Sister/Body‘s body blows are minimalist but well placed, letting every soothing, pummeling kick hit in all the right places, with plenty of room to breathe, as every jagged, rusty hi-hat is used to its maximum slice-n-dice potential.

 

 

Lastly, “Evol Of Lluf” takes us fully to the other side, dropping us in the Black Lodge for a machine seance – infinity captured and coded onto circuit boards, as backwards masked vocals rise and fall like regret, like memories of the dead.

 

 

Lucifer Efekt is a ritual, with these two sonic magicians huddled around their machines like ouija boards, wielding their synths like divining rods to suss out the currents of desire, of melancholy and celebration running through the collective unconscious.

I personally am delighted to see S/B (and their affiliated projects, who i can’t wait to dive into fully), exploring this angle, as i feel that the ritualistic, meditative potential of synthesizers, drum machines and looped samples is underutilized. Repetitive sounds have been used since the beginning of time to produce an altered state of consciousness, and drum circles and chanting are some of the staples of the pagan celebration. When you listen to electronic music, you are listening to loopy, hypnosis-inducing repetition for hours out of yr day, while synths use sine waves to produce binaural theta trance in the hemispheres of our brains, producing deep trance, perhaps without us even being aware of it.

Sister/Body, and a handful of other artists that i write about on these pages, are saving electronic music. We are swarmed and drowning in possibilities, with the simplest digital recording technology having nearly unlimited potential, which is actually damaging to the creativity. It’s up to us to pick the best sounds, to place them exquisitely, to use every tool to maximum efficacy. This is the way through the confusion – the blending of the electronic and the spirit.

And i am happy to report, for at least this humble scribe, this prolonged ritual seems to be working. In the last 6 months or so, when i’ve been getting heavily into handmade techno, i am coming to understand music on a much deeper level than ever before, and i am finally starting to be happy with some of my own productions. They are teaching me to focus and to pay attention, to glory in the details, to break even down to the barest essentials, and then build the most glorious cathedrals.

This is a perfect record, that you can listen to over and over again. Comes with the highest possible recommendation, and you’d be advised to spend some time on Tesla Tapes bandcamp pages, as there is much to surprise and delight.

Tesla Tapes @ FB
Lightning Glove @ FB

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Invisible College: Yale Engl 300: Introduction To Theory Of Literature Lecture 2

science10_425Welcome back to the Invisible College, where we sort through the Akashic Records, and attempt to make sense of the information that is swarming around us.

There has been much lamentation and gnashing of teeth about the Decline Of Western Civilization (a perennially popular topic), much talk about the Death Of The Critic, the decay of literature, and many other apocalypses. While this may all be true, it neglects the fact that we have more opportunities to be creative and to educate ourselves than any other time in history. We just have to make the most of it.

There is an intimidating amount of information out there, which is a large part of why Forestpunk exists. We sort through the dusty stacks and report back on what we find. In that way, it can be seen as part archive, part criticism, part autobiography, part metaphysical spew.

For this week’s installment of the Invisible College, we bring you two outstanding lecture series: continuing on with last week’s look at Paul Fry’s Introduction To Theory Of Literature.

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Paul Fry – Yale’s Introduction To Theory Of Literature

Yale’s open course on the Theory Of Literature is an extensive look at 20th century literature, and the changing role of criticism. It is an essential investigation into why and how we read (and listen).

The second lecture in the series is the conclusion of the introduction, in which Prof. Fry investigates the decline of authorship and authority in the 20th century, as we succumb to subjectivity, postmodernism and deconstruction.

In the first lecture, Prof. Fry introduced the concept of skepticism in literary theory, which is expanded upon in volume 2. He talks about how we are all influenced and affected by our history and our society, and in this, the author is NOT an authority, but rather a byproduct. In this, when examining a work of art, you can read it with a number of big theories: feminism, post-colonial, Marxist, Freudian, Darwinian. He postulates that, when criticizing or analyzing a piece of art, that we are looking for the human beneath the work. “When the author has been found, the work has been “explained” – a victory to the “critic”. When this occurs, a text can be “closed”.

Fry mentions a critic (the name escapes me at the moment), who wrote an entire, sprawling book based upon a short story by Honore De Balzac. Speaking from the vantage of a student, he states:

“”I don’t want to be told that I could sit here for the rest of my life just sort of parsing one sentence. Don’t tell me about that. Don’t tell me about these complicated sentences from Balzac’s short story. I’m here to know what things mean. I don’t care if it’s policing or not. Whatever it is, let’s get it done.”

Alas, alack! The game is afoot!

This cuts right to the heart of why these lectures are posted amidst obscure noise artifacts and mind-melting esoterica.

As i mentioned last time, when i was getting into trying to write album reviews, the criticism of the time was extremely theory-heavy, mostly from the good Mssrs. Simon Reynolds and K-Punk, during the hauntological heyday (which has never really died or gone away, which is another integral reason this blog exists). I mean, i was just trying to learn how to learn how to describe (and ultimately, play) bitching guitar soloes and plasticine breakbeats, and instead, i was heaped under stacks of Derrida, Walter Benjamin, Hamlet, and 20th-century history!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIn retrospect, i’m grateful for it, as it’s made my life a richer and more interesting existence, but it’s also a heavy workload, that has had me on the brink of madness for the last 6 years.

I’ve been going it alone, with nothing but the library, a hungry mind and passionate ears to guide me.

Which is part of why i’m so glad to have series like Paul Fry’s, and the emerging MOOC scene.

For anybody who’s ever tried to describe a piece of music or a book, learning to “close the text” is the specter in the room. Would that i could be ignorant enough to merely describe the high-hats, or how a band has progressed from their last album (if i could even remember, or if i knew in the first place), but every time i strap on a pair of headphones, i’ve got the weight of the western world on my shoulders. It even begs the question, “should an album be “closed”/”explained”? The moment an album has become codified and analyzed and filed away, it ceases to live, and you start to forget about it, unless yr looking for nostalgia or comfort.

But there is a centre, a black hole, in every piece of art; something ineffable. I call it its ‘visionary quality’; what you think that artist is trying to say, and what it makes you think/feel.

These big theories also add an interesting element to art appreciation, as it is actually a moving picture of history and larger forces at work. There are as many big theories as you can think up, and you can find them in nearly every piece of art you look at. Like, examine The Shining or The Amityville Horror, and speculate on the betrayal and dissolution of the nuclear family in the ’70s.

To summarize, let’s look at one last quote from this lecture:

“Well, it’s all very well to consider a textual field, the workmanship, but at the same time we want to remind ourselves of our worth. We want to say, “Well, gee, that wasn’t produced by a machine. That’s not just a set of functions–variables, as one might say in the lab. It’s produced by genius. It’s something that allows us to rate human ability high.”

We are searching for the human. We are looking for to be inspired, to show what we are capable of. I have ceased thinking of criticism as the points and rankings battle, but rather as a collaborative effort, with every human that has ever lived hacking away at the puzzle, and every angle is unique.

It is actually a battle cry for the critic, or the theorist, or the afficianado, and especially the artist.

Part of all the woe-speak is the feeling that art is valueless, meaningless, or even worse, a trivial distraction, a new opiate for the masses. And its true, in many respects. Its something i struggle with every day. I have a voracious mind for ephemera, and i have dedicated my entire life to listening to albums and reading books, towards the goal of making excellent music and writing good books myself, one day.

So it all boils down to what you use it for. What role does art/music/literature/cinema play in yr life? It can be the holiest of the holiest, or the slimiest of slimes.

By taking the time to peruse a course like Paul Fry’s, it’s taking a moment to step back, to analyze and appreciate. To see clearly and more finely!

Tune in next week, when we’ll get into hermeneutics!

Lecture 2

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Horrorscores: The Hitcher OST – Mark Isham

tumblr_m9vt23IL1w1rtyh7lo1_500Headlights cut through the fog; a lonesome trumpet cries in the night. Synthesizers fall like crystal rain on the parched, thirsty desert earth. “He won’t make it very far, I cut off his arms and legs.” “I want you to stop me.”

Welcome to another edition of Horrorscores, where we transform your waking thoughts into living nightmares. We’ve got a real gem this evening, a dusty treasure: Mark Isham‘s score for the 1986 film The Hitcher, starring Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell and Jennifer Jason Leigh. It was directed by Robert Harmon.

The Hitcher tells the story of Jim Halsey, played by C. Thomas Howell, driving across America, from Chicago to San Diego. Along the way, he stops to pick up a hitchhiker in the desert, a skeletal man called Ryder, played by the villainous Rutger Hauer, who tells him he murdered and dismembered a car’s driver, and he intends to do the same to him. Halsey pushes Ryder out the door, and the game is afoot!

TheHitcher3Composer Mark Isham has composed hundreds of soundtracks for film and documentaries, and in this case was asked to deliver something along the lines of John WilliamsJaws. Instead, he delivered a transmission of proto-industrial beats, ambient synth washes, and desert jazz, to evoke a sense of dust and fog and dread and wide-open expanses; equal parts dark ambient, Vangelis soundscape, and Sketches Of Spain.

I figured if we’re going to listen to so many revisionist horror soundtracks, we might as well return to the originals, to see how it’s done, to return to center. To orient ourselves. To find out where we’re going.

Its refreshing to hear a professional, masterful score: such phrasing! Such musicality! Its inspiring to listen to Mark Isham at work – he’s highly polished and trained. His background in jazz and trumpet playing gives him a musical ear; there’s melodies at work here. This musicality, when applied to eerie, electronic soundscapes, creates something truly exceptional.

This is truly an exceptional soundtrack, that will ring the bells of those who freak for Brad Fidel‘s score for the original Terminator, the clangorous soundtracks of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, synthy ’70s Tangerine Dream works, and Ry Cooder’s desertscapes, a la Paris, Texas, you probably didn’t even know this existed, did you?

The Hitcher OST seems firmly rooted in the ’80s, with plastic-sounding sequencers and arpeggiators creating false marimba minimalism. The sound quality of the early digital synths can be a downside, as they were kind of harsh by nature, and also threaten to date this work, perhaps why it hasn’t experienced a resurgence. I figure with so many people creating artificial ’80s works, these days, this is a good time to get past the limitations, and examine the quality of these songs.

To me, The Hitcher occupies an interesting crossroads: between ’70s electronic ambient works, like Eno‘s Apollo Soundtracks, to minimalism to ’80s art rock, and pointing the way forward, towards what would become dark ambient and doom jazz.

It’s. Just. Cool.

With so many people having access to good music production equipment, i figured it would be useful to examine some classic works of the genre. Most of the equipment in our bedrooms is probably superior to what Mark Isham was working with, but Isham had a fully-fledged musical education and upbringing to bring to the table, working with these electronic instruments, which is something most of us can’t say. That’s why i mentioned musicality; the blending of hardcore chops, applied to dark ambient territory is a potent beast. There’s some synthy, soundscape material here, but there’s a lot of classic themes, which makes this seem like a classic Bernard Hermann or Morricone score.

His classic background also ensures that his synths are expertly selected and mixed: these are some of the finest choral pads you’ll hear on this planet. When blended with flashings of furious percussion: it brings chills.

The prevalence of falling arpeggio themes gives this that pulsing, minimalist feel, which also places The Hitcher at an intersection of Steve Reich’s minimalism and proto-techno, and reminds us how hypnotic listening to loops can be. It’s like a plastic gamelan.

Curious crate diggers may notice that there are numerous sections of thunderous industrial machine beats, along the lines of the Terminator score, that would probably fit in nicely with a heavy hip-hop beat.

With so many people interested and making this kind of music lately (myself included), you’d be advised to go back and revisit some classics; to evaluate objectively what works and what doesn’t, to train yr ears to pick the best synths and learn some new rhythm and sequencer patterns, as well as how to mix and master records.

Its worth noting that i’ve never actually seen The Hitcher, but my mind was already reaching for images of the desert, before reading a description. That’s because Isham was engaged about the task of setting music to images, of telling a story, by any means necessary. It’s interesting how his high, lonesome trumpet signifies the American southwest, in its burnished brass. It’s an interesting insight in how sampling and referencing can evoke an atmosphere.

You can be damn sure, now that i’ve fallen in love with this soundtrack, that i will see this film.

Apart from the somewhat grating quality of some of the digital instruments, i would afford this score the classic status, and highly recommend it to any fans of thriller soundtracks or electronic music in general. I say, for the Pye Corner Audio-revisionists out there, put this in yr textbook.

And for the slicer/dicers, there is a goldmine of digging to do, in this record. Put it on yr mixtape.

Hard copies are somewhat hard to come by, so dig around if you want one (or somebody re-issue this), but you can listen, in its entirety, on youtube.

 

 

 

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Invisible College: Yale Open Courses Engl. 300 Introduction To Literature Lecture 1

fryhomeposterhow i found the Akashic Records, and what i did there.

So you might be asking yrself; ‘what’s this? a philosophy lecture? doesn’t he normally talk about weird records and such?’

Forestpunk is a vast and rambling edifice, with many arms and offshoots, and i am perpetually expanding and clarifying the mission of this here deadspace.

benjamin-angel-2We are living in a time, a unique time in History, where we have access to nearly every drop of Human creativity, immediately, every second of the day. All that glorious Art, all those obscure books you hungered for as a teenager, all lying beneath yr pillow.

So, the question then, ‘what, then, to do with all of it?’

The answer begins with knowing yrself, and knowing where yr going.

If you have a clear envisioning of what you are trying to do, you can succeed without fail.

And what, then, does this have to do with reviewing records?

bullseye-tattoo

I’ve been a musical obsessive for my entire adult life, with nearly every second swallowed and swarmed with obscure ephemera, weird oddball eccentric transmissions from every corner. I’ve always had a curious mind, and a collector’s vigor. I applied all that vim and vitriol to obscure psych bands, rare laboratory electronics records, garage rock from the Pacific Northwest. It didn’t matter. I have to hear it all.

I have also been a writer my entire life, always taken easily to pen and tablet and keypad. When i was in my early 20s, i read a lot of music magazines, illicitly acquired, i would read and dream of unknown sounds and bands that i would be too poor to afford to hear, but wonder and entice over what they sounded like.

I began to scheme and daydream for ways to get free music, and the attempts at album reviewing began. I had skads and skads of obscure noise albums and post-rock to write about, and i sat in empty apartments and wrote about stacks of CDs.

But just because you listen to music, and just because you write, doesn’t mean you have the foggiest notion of how to write about music.

It’s its own form, its own beast, with its own laws of physics. You are describing somebody’s else’s creativity; in a sense you are describing that person themselves. It is a deep and intimate experience to listen to someone’s music, to let it overtake you, to let it envelop yr time.

So it raises the question, before we get into this lecture, what is music? and what is the experience of music?

Like Prof. Fry is going to say in this lecture, its a tough thing to describe. Music, at this point, can be damn near anything you want it to be, can mean exactly what you want it to mean, but again, you have to know yrself, and what you are trying to do with yr life?

Since i was 18 years old, i’ve wanted to be a musician. I went to sound-engineering school for 2 years, took a bunch of music theory courses. I can adequately, and even somewhat proficiently, play guitar, bass, drums, percussion, keyboards and electronics.

After having my mind blown with a few religious musical experiences, i became hardwired. I HAD TO KNOW HOW TO DO THAT. I was, and am, a man possessed.

But, like listening to and writing about music, wanting to write and play music and doing it are two different universes.

What was i trying to say? And how was i going to say it?

I’ve always suffered from anxiety of the blank page, of the empty space. There are, quite simply, too many possibilities. You’ve got to narrow it down, you’ve got to focus.

So, the simple question: what role do you want music to play in yr life?

Is it Pop? Vacuuming soundtrack? Mental exercise? Pot-smoking soundtrack?

The question of what you use music for, is inherent in any attempt at criticism, or evaluation.

It just goes to show one of a billion ways you can turn a piece of music, any piece of Art at all, really – Paul Fry uses the word ‘post-colonial’ in this lecture. He also talks about Freud and Lacan and Nietzsche and Hegel and Lacan.

So again, the question begs, what does this have to do with reviewing records?

As i was coming up, there was a popular trend among music critics to be very theoretical and philosophical in their interpretation of media. They were talking about Derrida and Marx, a record company was naming itself after Gilles Deleuze (Mille Plateuax); it was, and remains, a rather heavy time to dub one’s self a self-made journalist.

To talk about any work of the latter half of the 20th century, and up into the present, was a very loaded and convoluted path to tread.

But writing about music gave me an excuse, or rather a way, to LISTEN to music. To pay attention. To let it light up my mind’s eye, my creativity. A way and a reason, to pay attention.

So my particular Hermeneutic Circle, or my version of it (we’ll talk about that in a second) goes making music > listening to music > write about what i hear. Add a factor into that in that my art is somewhat sample-based, and that opens up every other media ever.

It is essential to know yrself, and what you are trying to do.

By listening to the records i was into, reading up on the artists, i found myself baptized in a fount of Walter Benjamin and Obscure Horror Films; Adorno and cheap porno. Art became a writhing, breathing beast.

So i found myself in the position of trying to write about and explain albums. I came face to face with the specter of writing album reviews, over and over. For years. Of finding something meaningful to say, over and over.

So, you’d think that, after having done something thousands of times, that this would be an easy and an almost automatic task?

I am a self-taught man, since the money ran out when i was 23. I have lived out of backpacks and in the backseats of cars. My life gained some stability, over the years, and i was able to get a modicum of gear beneath my belt. I got my own MacBook. Everything is possible now.

So i’ve got a bunch of instruments, some recording equipment better than my salacious, salivating dreams of my early 20s. I’ve got hard-drives full of 2000 years of music. Should be ready to rock, no?

Again, we run into the specter of the album review, as well as that of songwriting.

Because writing a song is not the same thing as listening to a song, which is not the same thing as writing about a song.

They are all their own separate traditions, with their own laws of the jungle, their own sphere of physics.

And the beauty of it is, is when you fix those traditions in yr dead-eyed gaze, you can absolutely master them.

It all comes down to precision of thinking. Of knowing yr intentions. Of a steady and continual application of the will.

We are living in a time, more than ever, where we have every drop of information ever, at our cuticles. What would you like to do with it? What role does Art play in yr life?

The thing that i doubt many would argue is that Art is important, it seems to be, we’ve always done it. From scratching on rocks, to pounding on stones, we’ve always made painting and poetry and sang songs.

The thing, which Paul Fry touches upon in this lecture, the thing itself is an elusive and ineffable thing. Every mystical songwriter or sci-fi novelist will tell you they don’t know where they get their ideas from. All over the place, really, is probably the answer. Art activates the imagination, the intangible aspects of the Human, the non-rational, the non-linear.

So, if i were to describe Forestpunk in one sentence it would: using the mind to clearly describe the ineffable.

Because the thing is, is you CAN describe states. Not all thinking/communication is in vain.

In this first video of the Open Yale Course Introduction To Literary Theory, Paul Fry will speak about definition: an attempt to define Literature. This could just as easily be swapped out for “harsh noise music” or “British horror movies” or whatever it is you are trying to define and analyze. Much as everybody hates it, genres DO exist, and they all have their own standards.

So the truth of the matter is that i just like what i like. I know it when i find it. I spend most of my time looking for it (i have an acquisitive mind, remember), and in the casting about, i have bushwhacked 1000 imaginary continents, and these pages will continue to be my travel journal and field guide.

So, the point, the single point of this message is, you can accomplish absolutely anything you seek to master, if you know exactly what you are trying to do.

This comes down to using the mind as it should be used. At certain things, it is a fine, fine instrument, can be whittled to diamond-fine precision, but at other things it is woefully inept, like how to deal with sensitive roommates, or the guilt at not calling yr mother.

You can describe Art, and you CAN attempt to define literature. It all starts with defining what it means, TO YOU.

So, that’s part of the confusing, circuitous nature of these journals, is that it is one part criticism, and one part archive. This is a journey that i am taking, and i’m sharing my notes.

Because, like i said, i’ve been entirely self-taught, and i’ve had to wade through this spider-web of Academia and Philosophy for over a decade, and i have found a lot of useful things along the way.

I have also found a lot of amazing art.

More than anything, why i am doing this is so that music, movies, books and TV remain important in my world; that i use them constructively. I truly love them, with the depths of my soul, but i do not just want to be a consumer zombie. I do not want to consume them as sugar pellets. Besides, knowing anything doesn’t make you cool anymore, its just a matter of if yr into it, or not.

But, like i said, i have an inquisitive mind.

I also have hopes of being a great artist. Of doing something meaningful. Of leaving something behind. Is reading Shakespeare and H. P. Lovecraft going to make me a better artist, or make more art? Well, that’s always kind of been the question, hasn’t it? and that’s part of what we’re going to find out.

So check out the Invisible College tag on the sidebar sometime, to find a series of informative and useful resources of a variety of traditions, that will be continually expanding. We’re at a point where just about anybody could make the most staggering creations, if they have a mind to do so.

Part of why i’m doing it is for whoever is reading this. I am attempting to hone and refine myself, my thoughts, my perceptions, that i may experince clearly, and report back what i find.

Because i know there’s a lot of stuff out there, and i spend a lot of time connecting dots, pointing things out, turning people on to unknown stuff, and being turned on. Its sincerely fun, and i appreciate the people i have met through publishing this journal, the likeminded lampholders, from transmitting these broadcasts.

I dedicate myself to finding the best, of describing imaginary countries and intangible thoughts; to talk about weird horror movies and philosophers and composers no one cares about. To find poetry in soundcloud rips and small-batch noise tapes. To be able to write eloquently about any topic under the sun.

You can be anyone you like, this time around. What kind of you would you like to be?

Open Yale Courses: Introducion To Literary Theory Lecture I

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Horrorscores: La Casa Di Omicidia (Active Listener Records)

a3020707947_10An Italian thriller soundtrack from 1979, made in 2012 in Brooklyn?

Welcome to another installment of Horrorscores, where we subvert yr waking dreams into a nightmare for an hour or so. We’re devoted priests of the obscure soundtrack, here in the turret, gibbering freaks for funky breaks and Atari grooves. Its kind of sick, but i spend more time listening to Library and Incidental music in my offtime than perhaps anything else, either digging around for samples or inspiration or the ultimate rarity.

Horror movie soundtracks have been our obsession, the past 2 years or so. It all started with Demdike Stare, and their occult manipulations, then the flames were stoked by the exquisite archaeology of Death Waltz Records, the authentic forgeries of Pye Corner Audio or Umberto. Finally, it gave us a reason to dig through all those years of hard drives from the internet, full of archaic mixtapes and mislabeled mp3s. There was a thrill in the past again.

This all dovetailed with a time where i was discovering the magick of handmade samples and handmade artifacts – crudely re-recording stuff, degrading it with guitar pedals, making static noise in basements. It gave me a newfound awe and respect for the perfectly-constructed sample, for the authentic illusion.

Because the thing is, although the past is a thrilling thing, and sonic archaeology is an endless (and highly fun) task, you will always run out. There will be an end to the rarities, to the reissues, and you feel like you’ve seen ever Giallo and Brian De Palmo movie 150 times.

Enter La Casa Di Omicidio…

Jeff Rose and Noah Poole have created an authentic prog Giallo soundtrack, from the borough of Brooklyn, in the year of 2012. Its a short slice of disco bloodbath, full of electric harpsichords and guitar wigouts. Ponderous breakbeats and Armageddon choruses. Somewhere between The Omen and Inferno, lies La Casa Di Omicidio. I am seriously hoping there is going to be an outbreak of dancefloors covered in cobwebs and candlabra.

They mention the famous Argento composers Goblin and John Carpenter as influences. Add Keith Emerson and you’ve got a match. Most of La Casa Di Omicidio is keyboard driven, full of grand and stately electric pianos and whirling organs, late ’70s chorus pads like you would hear on an old Danzig record and electric flute. This keyboard-centric approach, along with the authentic dusting of aging, puts this in line with the Ghost Box trajectory, particularly The Focus Group. And while LCDO have the same authentic veneer as GB, they are decidedly woolier and more frenzied Ghost Box’s rather polite and restrained approach. This is Giallo, after all, not Children Of The Stones. Knives will fall. Blood will rain. In waterfalls.

The overall sensation of listening to La Casa Di Omicidio’s all-too-short 5 tracks is of the lost and killer Soundtrack that never was. Full of headtrips and storming Library grooves – this is a head record if ever there was one, and i dare the adventurous beat-gourmand on these to put audiences under these grooves’ seductive spell. Because the rhythm section is one of the things that makes this record stand up, particularly on “L’Omicidio Euphorbia Milli (En, Cactus Murder)” which is a trve acid jam. These guys can get heavy, as well as creep. So major props to Sean Campbell, for capturing the voodoo.

 


 

The performances are ultimately what make this record, particularly the exquisite keyboard skills of both Jeff Rose and Noah Poole, especially on the track ‘Il Lungo Viaggio Dagli Inferi (En, Shelly Rides the Bus)’, which is downright classical, if played on an electric piano. Just goes to remind you, the rare bird of inspiration and classic beauty lies in unexpected grooves, and you can’t ever stop listening or looking.

That’s one of the beauties of stylized artwork like this – it gives someone a form to work with. A lot of critics gnash their teeth and tear their shirts over the death of originality, and rail against recreationist art like this. But i’ve heard it said, recently, as an artist first you ingest, then you imitate, then you innovate. We’ve all got to start somewhere.

La Casa Di Omicidio have a clear and deep understanding of Giallo and Italian soundtracks. The time travel to 1979 is complete, from the production to the instrumentation to the musical style, all witchy and freakout, even down to the warp of the imprint of a record on the album cover. Its a really impressive illusion; they’ve gone to great detail. But, in between the form and the clever graphic design, there are moments of real heart, true emotion, musicians doing what we have always done, pouring ourselves out through our instruments, no matter what the gig. The guitar at the beginning of “Un Sermone Compone nel Dolore Padre Giacobbe (En, Father Jacob’s Mass)” is tender and reminiscent, almost baroque. It’s a reflective ballad, worthy of Loren Connors, or Paco De Lucia playing slowly, before revving the album down with a funky freakout.

Fans of former Horrorscores inductees Yves Malone, Pye Corner Audio, Death And Vanilla, or Antoni Maiovvi, need to get this.

For those of us who have burned a hole in our Piero Umiliani and Riz Ortolani LPs, here’s a chance to replenish the crates.

La Casa Di Omicidio remind us to never stop digging, to never become jaded. To truly love what we love, to pay attention to the minutae. Remember, its the PAST in the PRESENT.

It is with real pleasure we announce La Casa Di Omicidio appear courtesy of Active Listener Records. The Active Listener is a vibrant community of psychedelic artists that we have the pleasure of contributing sometimes. It is helmed by New Zealender Nathan Ford, and started with the mighty fine Active Listener blog. A community built up around the artists being written about, people reaching out to the blog, and Active Listener’s monthly compilations. Nathan found himself with a cloverfield of musical talent around him, and Active Listener Records has been going insanely strong – they’ve put out 15 records so far! Its a winning testament to the musical ecosystem that is in the Aether these days, and it is inspiring to see a talented, heartfelt and homemade blog blossoming into a rainforest canopy of far-out sounds and stoned grooves.

I can’t wait to dig the rest of their stockpile, and start writing about zoned out jams for them again.

Killer stuff.