A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Új Bála, the solo experimental electronic project from Hungarian producer Hungarian producer Gábor Kovács, got in touch via e-mail, where he quoted Béla Tarr, Mark Rothko and Anselm Kiefer as influences, rather than spewing the usual laundry list of drone merchants. Being a huge fan of at least 2 out of the 3 artists mentioned above (i’ll let you guess which) i was intrigued, and delved into Olimpia’s 24-minute sonic tapestry.
Why was he quoting these artists as influences? What’s the connecting thread? What does it all mean? I love enigmatic press releases (as well as personal correspondence, a habit that goes back to adolescence, where i used to order tractor part catalogs, just to receive mail). Anselm Kiefer, a German painter and sculptor, is known for painting large-scale, ashen landscapes; somber-hued and devoid of subject. The vacant lots and aimless train tracks are hacked out of living paint, sometimes half-an-inch thick. You can imagine the painter slashing at this behemoth canvasses with brush and pallet knife, perhaps in a dingy warehouse, with rain-spotted windows. Its a ghostly realm, with a lot of buried emotions. Olimpia‘s surface crackle and tensile hum sounds like the thick texture of Kiefer’s canvasses. It makes you feel like yr wandering around looking for bottlecaps in one of these monochromatic landscapes.
Like Anselm Kiefer’s barren landscapes, or Rothko‘s abstract expressionism, Olimpia may underwhelm, if posited as background clatter. Rothko used to suggest that the viewer stand 18 inches in front of the canvas, to “experience a sense of intimacy, as well as awe, a transcendence of the individual, and a sense of the unknown.” If the adventurous listener were to treat Új Bála’s material with the same consideration, turning up the volume or donning a pair of headphones, you may find yrself lost in a world of fog and mirrors, flickering subdued colors illuminating the haze, like some Fantasia symphony. You will hear police sirens and industrial rhythms; you might find a guitar or two, as well as some gorgeous synth washes. Listening to Olimpia is like walking around at 5 am; its a bit alienated and some may find it melancholy, but its also full of warmth and magick and potential. Its romantic, its nostalgic, but most importantly, its well executed. There is a sense of composition to these minarets, a musicality lost to most bullshit drone artists.
Olimpia is available as a free download on Bandcamp.
The Vision and the Voice is a series of articles featuring the intersection of visual art and music.