A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Imagine: It is Halloween. You are sitting at home. Maybe watching television. Maybe not. Feeling lame for not going out, for not seizing the opportunity. You decide to say Fuck It: lace up thy boots and head for a friend’s house. Not feeling particularly superstitious, you decide to take a shortcut through the old dark woods. The black wind kicks up with a late Oct. chill; the branches begin to creak and moan. You start to have flashbacks of after school specials from when you were a kid.
Where there should be suburban sprawl, the forest inexplicably extends. You find yrself surrounded by darkness. You find yrself at an Olde Dark House. A creepy log cabin, like something out of Evil Dead or The Blair Witch Project.
You step inside, common sense screaming against you, beating against yr ear drums in the sinusoidal shape of a pulse. You have abandoned sanity, rationality: this simply cannot be happening.
You wake up in yr armchair. You exhale. It must’ve been a dream. The television screen reaches out a plasma tentacle and sucks yr head, reels you in, pulls you through.
You are standing again in the cabin’s foyer. You know the score, now, you know the drill. You are wrestling with the malevolent winds of Samhain. You reach out yr hand and rend the veil, you know what yr seeing is not, cannot be real.
Reality rips like a cobweb, and you see the titanic machinery of night. The pounding, rusting cogs behind, with lions and dragons flickering in the stillness.
For this maiden voyage of the Wholeness Recordings imprint, longstanding dronecultist The Implicit Order meets ghostly folklorists Lost Trail to create a journey through memory, imagination and spectral dread.
It’s not as terrifying as the press may make it out to be, or by my earlier imaginings. There are moments on The Blackridge Tapes of startling beauty, slowed down like a technicolor glacier, all the better to count its intricacies.
This album was compiled by Lost Trail manipulating tape from implicit order, sometimes processing the audio, sometimes gilding the lily with neon organs and ghostly moaning. The chopped’n’slurred effect of extreme slowing places this record in the Modern Drone genus, PaulStretch microsound granulation. Some have called it hauntological, but to be accurate, hauntology usually replicates authentic period pieces, modern musicians making Doctor Who and Chopping Mall outtakes. Here, found sound field recordings, pertaining to Halloween and Witchcraft, give a sense of age and reminiscence and i would more correctly identify this release as Memoradelia; music that references the act of remembering, the most famous being Boards Of Canada or my personal favorite, Leyland Kirby, aka The Caretaker.
The most exciting aspect of this recording is the broadening of the retrodelic pallet; musicians figuring out new and intriguing experiments in how to manipulate recordings. Some of it comes off like soundtrack work (‘workshop fanatic’), some of it dub techno (‘trip nowhere’). The artists incorporate Dark Ambient flavors and Noise frequencies, and offer up a wide variety of tributaries into the hauntological slipstream.
Many critics think nostalgia is a dead end, a death knell for creativity, and people have been crying the death of Ghost Box and of hauntology for years. But like Marcel Proust showed us, the memory is a powerful thing. It has a dreamy, ethereal gauzy surrealism, like watching a Cocteau film high on cough syrup. Its invocation is just another hook to snag the listener, to produce odd and subjective mental journeys.
The Blackridge Tapes doesn’t just succeed as Critical Theory, however. It’s bewitching and lovely. It’s also good music, pleasant to lull about to, eerily lovely at times. It can prepare the listener for future appreciation of fine, classic Horror soundtracks, or other strata of the underground, not yet known or explored. It’s like a lexicon of the obscure, made by restless experimenters of sound.
This is the first we’ve heard of either of these outfits, and will be listening further. Yr advised to do the same.
The Implicit Order