A Journal Of The Dark Arts
I would like to nominate Andy Votel for Patron Saint Of Diggers. Between his extensive DJ career, his albums of psychic psycho breakbeat manipulation, and his work with the Finders Keepers label and the B-Music Collective, the man has done more to air out dusty forgotten gems than Howard Carter. Apparently this is not enough, as Votel has announced a NEW label, Cacophonic, which has been described as Finders Keepers anti-social older brother, with excellent taste but perhaps some sort of emotional/psychological problems. Votel started the label as an alternate universe to Finders Keepers, where populist music never existed, devoid of pre-conception or genre influence, drawing material from free-jazz, noise, academic recordings, and the private press. This makes for compelling, adventurous listening, mandatory to dispel the myth of progress, to break down the cubicles in yr mind and begin to think wildly and creatively again.
On this mixtape, Votel returns us to a time before electronics were safely codified and contextualized, before electronic music became safe, understandable commodities to be sold to the newest car commercials. There was a time when synthesizers and drum machines were risky, daring, weird… futurist dystopian sonatas, belching out of smoke stacks, pouring out of garages. As i have stated previously, in the world of electronic music, only new was allowed, dancefloors with the attention span of a guppy quickly bored and moving on the newest flashiest loudest things. With what i have been calling the atavistic return, which could be considered a “reproduction” and a “recurrence” of the past in the present, and indicates a primal pull we all possess, a tendency to rip it up and start again. In short, we have no flipping idea of what modernity is or means, and it seems an impossible task to define the present, because we are living in the future, and no one knows what that means, and what it will entail.
One of the ways in which we hack our way through this existentialist dilemma is to return to the beginning, in this case, the prehistory of electronic music, and objectively evaluate its early forms. Its like sonic archaeology, and it can give you a clue how to break yr own ennui, how to guide and structure yr own creativity, observing what has come before. It’s like witnessing a chthonic rite, and noticing the similarities to Christianity. Deep within its cells, there is something archetypal, universal and Human.
Deep within the recesses of this mixtape’s RNA, you will find the ghost in the machine, the seed of Electronic Music, which is music constructed out of base materials, that have no bearing or basis on physical reality, space or time. You can make ANY sound you imagine, stacking and arranging them in a nearly infinite array, like ten Beethoven symphonies, simultaneously, even from the meekest laptops. With this vast possibility of sounds, we return to basics, melody, harmony, rhythm… and underneath it all, the ghost in the machine, a spark of human soul and imagination, coded into sine waves, digitized into ones and zeroes. You can tell when someone has something to say. Even though it defies logic.
It is this contradiction of rationality that interests us most. What is the difference between a musique concrete symphony and a drum ‘n bass remix, bashed out in seconds? Is it the time and attention to detail that our ears respond to? It’s like the physics of the human imagination, and if we really get down to it, and analyze (i.e.: listen to and enjoy) classic forms and structures, we could create an algorithm of inspiration and unlock the door to our own genius and rare potential.
So big ups to Andy Votel, for big ears and massive inspiration. There is an intense amount of material out there, and this kind of guided meditation is increasingly mandatory. This man has never lead me astray, and has led me down many dark, dank corridors, reeking of epiphanies.
The theme for this mixtape seems to be early electronic instruments. Some standout tracks, from upcoming Cacophonic releases, are T.R.A.S.E., Kat Epple & Bob Stohl, X-Ray Pop and Suzanne Ciani.
Read Votel’s extensive liner notes here
There are still a few physical copies left, at Self-Titled’s Merch Table