A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Label: Self-Released (bandcamp)
Release Date: 9.13
Sounds Like: Aki Onda, Nonhorse/G. Lucas Crane, Francisco Lopez
Central Complex takes you on a dreamquest through the soul of Central America, by way of Wellington, New Zealand. Bird sounds, street scenes, snippets of drunken conversation and delirious, diseased-sounding mariachi brass are strung together with a vibrating silver thread of tenuous, droning synths. He manages to consolidate 5 months of journeying into 26 minutes, a trawl through the annals of Taare’s unconscious.
It’s like passing through Roberto Bolano‘s Juarez to visit Burroughs’ Cities Of The Red Night. Surreal, uncanny, twisted and poetic.
Tape collage and drone music broaden the horizons of what is possible to express with “music,” moving beyond the predictable trajectory of pop/verse-chorus-verse songwriting, expressing new and intricate emotions. They make a rhythm of our footsteps, our heartbeats, the slow intake of breath. This is a continuation and a furthering of the mission started by Stockhausen and Schoenberg, in the middle of the 20th Century, and is vital for the development of music.
Sound artists are creating new, weird worlds out of their daily lives, in dadaist jump cuts and surrealist juxtapositions, as the ear struggles to identify recognizable sounds. Closer to irreality than surrealism, the sounds are bent and skewed, leaving the listener to figure out what the fuck is going on. It will mess with yr head. It will change the way that you see/hear the world.
With the prevalence of iPhones, cheap laptops and PaulStretch, it sometimes seems like everybody considers themselves a field recordist and sound artist. What’s to seperate a release like Central Complex from simply scrolling through Freesound and Archive.org?
Firstly, and most importantly, Nathan Taare is concerned with substance over style. He has a story in mind, ahead of time, or at least discovers one in the making, and uses all the production tools at his disposal to bring these creations to strange, limping life. He’s not like, “I’m gonna make a drone record,” and fall asleep on his NanaKorg for 2 hours. There is actual MEAT on these bones.
Secondly, and almost as importantly, is the lengths that Taare went in procuring these sounds. During his 5 months in Central America, he got involved with pirates and money launderers and spent a day in a Mexican prison. He would record his adventures during the day, and mix the audio at night. As if traveling halfway around the world and spending 5 months on the road weren’t enough, Taare did some of the post-production in his Toyota, and some in a storage unit. This kind of guerrilla record making and going to extreme lengths is commendable, and exactly the kind of thing this blog exists to support.
It’s an interesting thing, how yr ears can seem to pick out care and craftsmanship, even if you know nothing about an album was made. You can sense the attention to detail in E/N/T: the album art (made by Taare himself) seems slick and finished, even going so far as to make a shirt, and he actually took the trouble to have Central Complex mastered (by Thomas Lambert of Sonorous Circle). It’s polished and presentable, but it’s still weird as heck. Central Complex is poised to actually break out of the noise ghetto and actually reach some people, disorienting the way they think about the world, and raising some awareness of the shadow of Central America.
Just to be clear, although this sounds like a harrowing listen, Central Complex is not a “dark” listening experience. This is not noise, dark ambient, or industrial music, not case in somber monochromatic hues. It’s extremely colorful, actually, it’s like viewing the jungle through tinted lenses while high on dramamine. It’s not “dark”, it’s disorienting. It holds to a dream logic all its own.
Many thanks to Nathan Taare for reaching out, and for making careful music, and to Timothy Blackman for pointing him in this direction. Here’s to a long and fruitful collaboration between NZ and the PNW.