A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Jane Weaver creates a cosmic motorik folk concept record, based on a banned Andrzej Żuławski film, on her most ambitious and well-realized album to date.
Jane Weaver is a lynchpin of the Finders Keepers universe, purveyors of fine British esoterica. She’s been a part of the Manchester music scene for over 20 years, starting with the group Kill Laura. The credits on her masterful The Watchbird Alluminate, released on Bird Records, which she runs – is a who’s who of British occult techno, featuring Demdike Stare, Anworth Kirk, as well as haunted folk sculptures from Magpahi and Emma Tricca. She also collaborates with Demdike’s Sean Canty, the enigmatic N. Racker, and her partner and Finders Keepers labelhead, Andy Votel, in the radiophonic crackle unit NeoTantrik.
The Silver Globe was born out of a period of frustration – with the music industry, and with the limitations of the singer/songwriter pallet that she had been working with. After spending 3 days at Eve Studios in Manchester, working on a mini-soundtrack, Weaver realized her new work would be her most ambitious to date, due to the elaborate arrangements she was hearing in her head. The Silver Globe was recorded over a span of three-and-a-half years, across a handful of studios, with a gaggle of collaborators, whenever she could grab them.
The Silver Globe was roughly patterned after the movie Na Srebrnym Globie, by Polish filmmaker Andrzej Żuławski, best known for 1981’s Possession, a stone classic. The Silver Globe tells the story of a group of astronauts who leave Earth to found a better society in outer space. Filmed in 1975, the film was suppressed by the authoritarian regime of the time, who interpreted it as a criticism. The film would not see the light of day until the Cannes Film Festival, in 1988.
Weaver’s The Silver Globe begins with the burbling outer space ambiance of Suzanne Ciani’s modular synths. Suzanne Ciani used to make incidental music for Atari commercials, so right from dead bang, we have a link-up from ’80s cyber-culture to gothic decadence, via Zalewski, and what The Quietus review referred to as “an age of movie sci-fi when all kinds of philosophical ideas were routinely smuggled onto the screen, from the sublime (2001, Solaris) to the ridiculous (Barbarella, Zardoz).” (*note: i thought i read this somewhere, but this citation disappeared. I read elsewhere that Ciani’s modular only shows up on “Cells”. I’ll try and find out.)
If you were only judging based on surface characteristics, you might not see a thread from Tarkovsky to Zalewski to Atari commercials. It’s an alternate history we’re tracing.
This history is broadened and deepened further when the actual music picks up, on the infinite groove of “Argent”, to include visionary German psychedelic music of the ’70s. Propulsive motorik beats meet falling Hammer Horror organs and Weaver’s incantatory vocals. Weaver’s voice, and minimalist trance states are oftentimes reminiscent of Stereolab or Broadcast, or they seem to have a similar motivation anyway. But Tim Gaines of Stereolab seemed to sometimes have an academic appreciation of Library Music and artful pop, like he was studying it under a microscope. Their music, because of it, can come across like a study, rather than a work of artful expression.
Jane Weaver is interested in the sounds of the past, but she re-animates those threads, into a spooky second-life.
Such is the case with “The Electric Mountain”, which was fashioned out a repurposed chunk of Hawkwind’s “Star Cannibal”. Weaver’s loops never sound repetitive, or grating – instead, she takes their recombinant RNA and brings them into new, jittering, mutant life.
To me, this is probably the most exciting scene-with-no-name happening in the UK; they have true conneiseurs’ passion for the archives, devoted crate diggers one and all, but they repurpose, scudge, and morph their source material into unrecognizability. When you listen to a Demdike Stare record, you don’t know if yr hearing a remix, or just a shoddy re-recording of a horror film on someone’s handheld tape recorder. And that’s as it should be, as that is what it is like to worship art, in the embers of 2014.
We hear it all. We hear everything, across all times, and all continents. I will listen to the winds of Antartica, over morning coffee, and be on to girl group pop by quitting time at 6. We all worship the past, the art that we have known and loved, and the art that is still there to be discovered. But when it comes time to sit down and make something, it’s just you and yr muse, whether yr working with a bunch of chopped samples or an acoustic guitar or a couple of turntables. It’s up to you to try and make something good. You’ve only got this one shot – make it as best you can!
Jane Weaver took her time, and made the record that she wanted to make, with ‘The Silver Globe’. In this interview for The Quietus, she talks about picking through hours of keyboard takes, and what a nightmare that can be, but the results paid off. The record truly has a classic, and fully realized feeling.
The trance repetition of the krautgrooves are interrupted by the dusted waltz and euphonium polka of “Don’t Take My Soul”, which also features some squiggly guitar from Damon Gough, and some of Weaver’s loveliest vocals to date – high and clear, like a bird with crystal plumage. As usual, with Weaver’s album, there’s an orchestra room of instrument exotica on The Silver Globe – vibraphones, marxophones, a Radio Shack’s worth of synths, drum machines, percussion… all of these things lead to being more than yr average neo-synth motorik sequencer extrapolation.
It seems that we are returning our eyes to the Future. We are trying to sort through the rubble and figure out how to rearrange the pieces. I think a new conversation is beginning, from the crumbled ruin nation of the hauntological discourse. The past is alive and well, in the present – all of the pasts. There’s still too much music, too much TV, too many movies, too many opportunities, and yet we all keep on keeping on. And, the thing i’d like to point out, is that while i may have heard a lot of bullshit since 2001, i have also heard galaxies of amazing art, from every era, in the last 13 years. We still march on. We still try and make brilliant things.
It seems, with big pictures like Interstellar this year, that we are finally returning our eyes to the skies, which suggests we have hope for a future. A spirit of exploration is returning, which is part of why, in my opinion, art from the late ’70s is coming back in fashion. The cosmic expansiveness of Star Wars and Star Trek, alongside the ruins of the industrial disintegration, with the beginnings of cyberpunk, Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire. I think it is telling to watch the ’80s geist fade in and out of focus, to varying degrees, in the mainstream and the underground. The ’80s was all glitz and glamour and hedonism, and was all the rage a few years ago. It is my theory that maybe things were just TOO bleak at that time, and we couldn’t deal, so we adopted a “fuck it, let’s part” stance, that was championed by the early 20-something hipster culture.
With the late ’70s spreading its mauve and olive shadow across the present, it suggests we are ready to look, and to begin to cope. The ’70s is also when they discovered the asteroid Chiron, the astrological signifier of personal growth and healing, which coincided with the ’70s self-help movement. All of these things suggest a resurgence of interest in depth psychology, new age philosophies, and some hope of utopia.
With music that is masterfully woven as The Silver Globe by Jane Weaver, the debate of whether people can still make new and pertinent artwork is over. We are all influenced by the past, but it is our duty to conjure the future, with care, and dedication, and heart.
Jane Weaver – Silver Globe
Jane Weaver FB
Bird Records @ Finders Keepers
Bird Records FB
Finders Keepers FB
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