A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Songs are the most common form of musical transmission. They are the cells in the phyla of the musical kingdom. They are the people, the individuals, the stories… the particulars. From the noisiest noise to the poppiest pop, as musicians, we are engaged in the pursuit of writing songs.
With the whole of music history at our fingertips, it becomes ever more essential to focus, like placing our noses two inches from a formica counter and getting lost in the details. It’s so easy to lose the trees through the forest, to get hung up on genres, eras, trends, philosophies. From time to time, we will focus on individual tracks that we have loved, to shed some light and love on their mysteries, towards that elusive goal of hearing more clearly and writing better songs.
Every song is its own universe. It has its own physics, its own philosophy. You must come to it on its own terms. You must seek to understand it, to meet it not master it.
Daniel Avery – Reception (Perc Remix)
This is fucking rise of the Terminators! Perc, Ali Wells, takes Avery’s polished minimalism and coats it in tar and nanobots. If Avery’s debut album was ‘Drone Logic,’ than this is Drone Fury. It comes on like an air-raid and spends 7 minutes beating you like a bareknuckled boxer. Garbled android vocals rise from the depths, over what is otherwise quite functional Disco House. On steroids. And methamphetamines. And demon blood.
The Quietus has named this one of the year’s top tunes, claiming it’s “mixed so loud the E17 shook when it arrived from Juno.” Avery’s been using this to slay in his live sets recently, and now YOU CAN TOO! Available as a 12″, b/w a remix of “Naive” by Danny Daze. Both Daniel Avery & Ali Wells are establishing themselves as top of the pyramid, and Perc is pretty much our favorite remixer right now, so this one’s a shoe in. Take the plunge, and discover some of the best electronic music out there. I’m including a link to the original “Reception”, so you can compare and contrast, and try and riddle out what Perc’s done.
Wizards Tell Lies – Sticks And Branches Man
“I make it easily to that round clearing in the forest. Checking my compass to make sure I’m generally heading north, I step deeper into the woods. This time I spray yellow markings on tree trunks to mark the route. Unlike Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs, spray paint’s safe from hungry birds.”
“Occasionally there’s some weird sound. A thud like something hitting the ground, a creak like floorboards groaning under weight, and others I can’t even describe. I have no idea what these mean, since there’s no knowing what they are. Sometimes they sound far away, sometimes right near by-the sense of distance expanding and contracting. Bird wings echo above me, sounding louder, more exaggerated, than they should. Every time I hear this I stop and listen intently, holding my breath, waiting for something to happen. Nothing does, and I walk on.”
“But now I’m here, deep in the forest, heading even deeper. Nobody has any idea I’m here. The only ones who do are me, and them.”
“Like some mythic scene, the music portrays somebody’s-a nameless, faceless somebody’s-dim past, all the details laid out as clearly as entrails being dragged out of the darkness. Or at least that’s how it sounds to me. The patient, repeating music ever so slowly breaks apart the real, rearranging the pieces. It has a hypnotic, menacing smell, just like the forest.”
– Haruki Murakami, Kafka On The Shore, Chapter 41
Enter the deep, dark wood with Wizards Tell Lies, the main project of Matt Bower, who we have recently discussed in his collaboration with April Llarson, as Isobell Ccircle~. “Sticks And Branches Man” is a 15 1/2 amble through cosmic horror, disco & drone; subtly shifting towards metallic post-rock, a la Mogwai or Tribes Of Neurot. There is a ritual taking place, in the heart of this dark wood. It is an initiation. It is a mystery.
Most of the music on “Sticks And Branches Man” is layered and loaded with scratchy samples, so it’s like looking at three pictures at once. It’s like watching a movie, and then falling into the movie, as the samples remove themselves and becomes a pure, thunderous roar! I’ve not heard Bower in his metal guise yet, and he reveals himself quite deft.
This was available on Bower’s bandcamp for all of 3 days, i believe. I didn’t get the tweet until too late, so now i have to listen to this tethered to my laptop like some plebe, rather than exploring some medieval forest. Let this be a lesson to the lot of us! Watch this space!
Frederic Mercier – Spirit
We love anything that sounds like a car chase through the back alleys of Detroit, possibly while outrunning a horde of demons.
If you would’ve told my 15 year old ethereal self that half a lifetime away, i would be going nuts for Cosmic Disco and French Lounge music, i would’ve looked at you bug-eyed. I had not even learned to appreciate hip-hop yet, meaning i would not yet understand the finer points of sampling, and the eccentric musical paths it would lead me down. “Spirit” was sampled by Jay-Z, in 2009, on “What We Talkin’ About”, but i wouldn’t find out about it until recently, when it was featured in the first episode of American Horror Story: Coven.
You could write a whole essay of the attraction of analog, how ’70s circuitboards and tape cast everything in a romantic, impressionistic blur. There is a soul in these machines, that make them soothing and romantic, even when the music is tense and adventuring.
“Spirit” was included on the amazing compilation, Voyage Through French Cosmic & Electronicwhich we’ve just got our hands on, so expect to hear more about this!
I’m’a gonna link to the Jay-Z video, too, just to giva y’all producers some extra advice on how to flip a sample into a hip-hop groove. It’s not a bad song, either!
that about wraps it up for this edition of FTSOTS. Check back often, as we bring you more singles we adore, and think you should know about, as well as a non-stop parade of news, reviews, ephemera and links. Get lost with us…
Anything you think we should know about? That you’d like people to hear? Leave a comment in the box. Our ears are always open.