A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Check out ‘Firmament’, the third track off of Faint Wild Light‘s delicate, homespun self-titled LP, released in September of last year on the mighty Digitalis.
So we walk through the garden
past clusters of lilacs
exploding like flames in the sky.
Burning holes in the firmament’s
velvet sheet punctuated by stars
moving in the moonlight.
Perhaps you might be surprised to learn that the author of this pastoral symphony was also responsible for one of last year’s most destroyed Techno outings, as one half of Emptyset.
Faint Wild Light is the solo project of James Ginzburg, one half of the duo Emptyset and head of the Multiverse electronic label collective. It might come as a surprise, considering how wildly successful Ginzburg has been at the electronic music game, that he got caught up in quite by accident. Coming from a background of classic rock, blues & hip-hop, he moved to England when he was 17, developing a new personality, and a rift in his life.
After years of high profile electronic gigs, Ginzburg found himself becoming isolated from the scene in which he was a part. He began to see electronic music as a bunch of lads sitting down to collectively play a video game.
There were all these kids all over the world plugged into machines and it was very transient and very ephemeral. I felt disconnected from it, as if it had lost some kind of texture. The upshot of all of that was that, after many years, I lost interest in that particular world.
As a result, Ginzburg found himself getting back into playing instruments, rediscovering “a tactile and kinetic approach to making music. It felt like it had some inspiring quality to it. I slowly became suspicious that I could play guitar and piano and that, perhaps, maybe I could sing.”
The lack of a tactile and intuitive way of making music is something many electronic musicians can relate to. After many years of meticulously arranging dots on a screen, hands cramping in search of that perfect machine sound, you start to get nostalgic for the feeling of jamming, of pure and perfect self-expression, for that moment of divine inspiration.
Like a lot of the music we’ve been featuring, during Folk Week, Faint Wild Light represents a dichotomy and an intersection, in this case, of bucolic British folk and textural electronic music, and reveals interesting insights and possible trajectories for both, in the meanwhile.
The first thing that struck me about Faint Wild Light’s debut is the amount of naturalist imagery – the album is a tapestry of flowers and colors and sunsets and rivers, ringing with a wild Pagan poetry that is pure Albion. This love of God and countryside is particularly pronounced in British folk music, as every good British lad loves and a roll and a tumble over hill and under dale. Ginzburg’s music and lyrics evoke the wide, wild world, rather than trying to shoehorn into narrow, restrictive genre-molds. As such, his music fills yr head with colorful imagery, like the duelling Chinese dragons in a hail storm of “Firmament”, the Android marching band of “Squares Become Lines” or the Northern Lights of “Halfsleep”, my particular favorite track.
Faint Wild Light also traces the limits of electronic music, and the death squeeze of the grid, as hinted at in my post about Blind Willie Johnson. The industrial trance of repetitive 8th and 16th notes has its charm, but it is harsh and unnatural, and leaves you yearning for the real, after the time. Faint Wild Light finds a solution to this dilemma by incorporating found sounds and field recordings, knocking knackered rhythms that are ridiculously difficult to simulate.
Faint Wild Light also expands our idea of what folk music is, and can be, and suggests a way beyond the simplistic nostalgia of Folkways worship, by adorning the skeleton of acoustic guitars and cooing vocals with giant fuzz synths, pyroclastic post-rock guitars and martial percussion. This is truly Folk Music For A Modern Age.
Lastly, Faint Wild Light illustrates the limits of music journalism, of thinking in terms of cut-and-dried genre tags. You just have to have a greater understanding of music, musicians and the world at large, to truly get the point of this music. One look at the ‘similar artists’ section of Last.fm, and you will find faux horrorscores, sci-fi electronics, brutalist noisy techno and quiet folk music. Forestpunk is attempting to rectify this oversight, this logical thinking, by tracing the outlying territories of murky genres, seeking a solution to this decaying and crumbling world we are living in.
I am intensely glad that James Ginzburg picked up instruments and starting exploring organic music again. He has made a beautiful, poetic and magickal record that you will listen to, again and again. Kudos to the wonderful Digitalis label as well, for recognizing inspired music when they hear it, and not being afraid to take a risk. Our world is a stranger and more wondrous place for it.
For further illumination of the line between organic and electronic, between the past and the future, check out Ginzburg’s mix for The Outer Church, featuring tracks ranging from Max Richter to Squarepusher.
Check out the video for ‘Debris’ below, then head out to show yr support!
Get it! Faint Wild Light