A Journal Of The Dark Arts
“We fear the abyss called death because of a lack of imagination. Give up your death! Other dimensions exist beyond this material world, and the people there are shining a light for us to follow”
Art, by its very nature, is concerned with the external. With words, images, and sounds, we do our best to not only describe the wider world, and cultures, in which we dwell, but also try our best to show ourselves to the outside. It’s both a valiant and important task, as well as being utterly impossible. No matter how hard we try, we are trapped within ourselves – in our experiences and conditioning, not to mention our sensory organs and subjective interpretations.
Regardless of its feasibility, it is important to try and get out of one’s self. Who can say they’ve seen it all, know it all? If so, they are either:
Art is the way in which our inner experiences become external reality, whether or not they are interpreted they way that we would hope. Ambient, experimental, and drone works, like the exquisite new LP from Andrew Hargreaves (The Boats/Cotton Goods), is well-suited for this type of rumination.
The Invisibles follows the wildly acclaimed Go Straight Towards The Light Of All That You Love, with an even gauzier, more ethereal, and more emotive affair. Tape Loop Orchestra investigates the nature of memory and decay, similar to The Caretaker or William Basinski, in a style we’ve taken to calling Memoradelia. While previous TLO works have focused on the dreamy, distant, faded aesthetics of Film Noir, with the classic In A Lonely Place (inspired by the Humphrey Bogart film of the same name), The Invisibles performs a similar rumination on ghostly synthpop, chopping, slurring, and smudging Beth Roberts‘ (of The Mistys) vocals until they are barely there. What might’ve begun as some kind of hedonistic party anthem instead becomes an ode to living in the margins, in the peripheries, forever outside of your realm of experience; dwelling in the shadows, instead of the bright light of uncertainty.
Sonically, Hargreaves approximates this disintegration with ebbing clouds of glowing, crepuscular strings and synths, creeping on like a fog bank during a dream sequence, making everything indistinct and remote.
The Invisibles is comprised of two side-long droning soliloquies. Roberts’ vocals are more squarely front-and-center on the A-side, “Part One”, while the backdrop comes to the foreground on side B, “Part Two”. If “Part One” might be some poetic-but-followable travel diary, describing a party’s journeys, adventures, interactions, as well as their thoughts, feelings, dreams, and stream-of-consciousness, Side B would be all ambient backdrops – a dim street light against an inky blackness, a brief bubble of illumination in an indistinct world.
For The Invisibles, Hargreaves took inspiration from an obscure paperback of 20th Century parapsychology, making it a wonderfully surreal soundtrack for seances, EVP, and speculative horror involving labs full of antiquated analog equipment, measuring psychic powers and disincarnate spirits, most likely with disastrous results.
It’s an absolutely essential modern Ambient record – gloriously, glowingly Analog, yet polished and poised to perfection. In the harsh light of the digital, even the act of forgetting becomes a treasure, with memories playing themselves over and over as a lossless replica, like some hideous broken GIF half-life. We long for the natural decay, if only to make room for the new, like we long for The Other, to break down our own illusory ego boundaries.
As with yesterday’s post, i’m calling upon y’all’s expertise! First of all, I’ve been greatly interested in tracing this roughened, textural visual aesthetic across varieties of genre and media, looking for some kind of aesthetic or conceptual unity. Could you recommend some more roughened, textural album covers, reminiscent of analog film quality?
Secondly, can you also recommend some more memoradelic music, apart from the aforementioned Basinski and Leyland Kirby/Caretaker nexus?
Lastly, what’s some other media reminiscent of retrofuturistic parapsychology experiments? Thinking of The Quiet Ones, but would love to know of more!
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Tune into every Sunday night/Monday morning for Morningstar: The Light In The Darkness @ Freeform Portland! Exploring the dark side of techno, hip-hop, shoegaze, metal, psych, folk, and soundtrack. You can listen to the archives online at mixcloud.com/for3stpunk.