A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Label: Little League Records
Sounds Like: Machinefabriek, The Evil Dead, insomnia, Hitchcock, too many chewable vitamins, Joseph Curwen, The Dirty Knobs
stain the sun
with fragments of night
forget the day
forget the light
Did you ever read The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice? There’s a clairovoyant named Michael Curry, overwhelmed by life, who sits in his house with the shades drawn, repetitively watching the old black and white version of Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. The image of this robust young contractor, retreated, watching the ghostly form of Miss Havesham in her gothic mansion and wedding dress as the summer blazes outside is an apt illustration of this new droner from drolle.
Drolle is the project of Garrett B., from Montana, creating audio sculptures from incidental music and film samples, bending screwing and tearing the air into surreal half-memories and flickering psosphene. It’s a slim and slight offering, 5 tracks clocking 8 minutes, so if yr not yet familiar with the world of digital sound sculpture, this may be the place to whet yr appetite and curiosity.
Haunted is sculpted from samples taken from Suspense and Horror films, then stitched together and layer to make the audio equivalent of a Richard Kern dream sequence. The film starts, a faded waltz drifts into focus. A chill dark wind blows in on ‘The World Is A Lie’; it conjures the image of long lace curtains, undulating beneath unseen fingers. The nighttime is close at hand, and the lovers cling together for creature comfort, suddenly two small frightened mammals, huddling against the night. There is no succor here, however, this place is cursed, and no one is spared the blade. Perhaps they are already the ghosts; this drone goes on forever. The mood conjured here, and perhaps its just my associations, are classic B&W films like The Innocents or The Haunting, crisp noctural noir, but digitally tweaked and modulated. Like a remix of The Hour Of The Wolf. The interesting thing here is how, even when the sound is atomized and stripped of all context, there is a mood contained within the samples, a subliminal specter breathing down the back of yr neck, no matter what time of day or night. This is good news for anyone who can’t get enough horror or haunted history in their lives, who want to take it with them, walk around inside of it. I could imagine listening to this record in a busy shopping mall on a Fri. night, watching the normal families dissolve into dust, behind mine eyes.
There is a new type of artist emerging, taxonomists and alchemists of sound, obsessed with possibilities, of emergent chimerical forms. This form is a direct result of the technology; almost everybody has the capacity to sample, with powerful warping and modulating capabilities. What this basically boils down to is the humblest bedsit bedroom laptop studio is at least capable of being as deep and versatile as the Westdeutscher Rundfunk, where Stockhausen got his start. The thing that we all have to learn how to deal with, when possessing such powerful tools and possibilities, is that by the time these historic luminaries got to such a position of prominence, they had a lifetime of hardcore training in the conservatories, being exposed to composition, ear training, performance and the like. These were composers who were getting into the new technology, and adapting it to musical ends.
Now we are technologists learning to be composers. We are deconstructing, working backwards, and frequently you can hear every note along the way, like an aural time lapse photography. There are strengths and drawbacks to each approach. The downside of the conservatories is that they were pushing an agenda, there was a certain sound or method that was perceived as ‘art’ and therefore ‘good’ or ‘interesting’. Because of this, you can hear similarities between Stockhausen, Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Schaeffer, and others working in the early stages of musique concrete and synthesis. This new school of ambient musician are more freewheeling, anarchic, anything could happen and often does. It’s a lot like reading someone’s dream journals, or watching slice of life youtube clips. You really get the feeling that this generation, this way of working, will yield genius, for those that can withstand obscurity, criticism, and disinterest, and keep doing what they do.
I would love to hear what this would sound like with some analog mixing and mastering. The main downfall of the bedroom auteur is that everything exists entirely within the digital realm, and it is all too easy for things to get out of hand, overbalanced and shrill. A little mastering, some loving eq, and proper mixing techniques like moving objects around in the stereo field, prevent this from happening. There are moments on Haunted that border on shrill, when the feedback is starting to storm and rage, that plants this pretty firmly in the lo-fi ambient camp, which will automatically make it more appealing to the obscurist. Garrett B., trying running sounds out of yr machine, re-recording and tweaking as you go. This is not a deal breaker, by any stretch of the imagination, and this enigma from Montana makes A LOT of music (he’s released 2 digital eps this month, so far); there are moments of transcendence on each, and i am planning on delving further into this sonic loam.
This nice little slice comes by way of Little League Records, based out of Ireland. They seem quite busy, as well, and have just put out a record with a member of The Music Tapes and Elephant 6 collaborator Nesey Gallons; they are rising stars, ones to watch out for. Thanks to Collum, for getting in touch and giving me dark and dreary sounds to get through this humidity, and thanks to drolle for making them. Keep going, i’ll keep listening.