Thursday, August 9, 2007

Surfing the Inner 'Net

"Assuming that I am a thorough person, I must attempt to protract everything."
- Kafka    

It seems like a long time since I last posted. Speaking of long times...

If history is best conceived as a longue durée and space happens in light years, then why not experience sound as a thing extended in time - and why not extend it really far into the temporal continuum? Beats me! In fact, why not stimulate the audio nerve directly by posting a smattering of songs, scattered over a lengthy chunk of time and across genres, that are loosely related by their use of drones and/or patterns sustained for long durations? Obviously these questions are purely rhetorical.

Although La Monte Young, Sunn O))), and Ricardo Villalobos are not often compared to one another, they share an affinity for protracted pieces that develop a meditative atmosphere through (more or less) subtle changes in tone, timbre, or rhythm. "Minimal" is the buzz word here - but experientially, the intense violin work of La Monte's cohort Tony Conrad has as little to do with any minimum as the tinnitus-inducing Sunn O))) performance I saw last summer (which was so loud that my incessant back pain was miraculously cured by sheer sonic force as I sprawled out in front of the nearest speaker). So-called minimalism has always been prone to excess. That said, this isn't a sampler of "minimal" music, but rather a handful of songs that complement a particular mode of perception, which might be something like the one described in La Monte's pleonasm below. At any rate, these jams sound real good to me after several days without sleep - as it turns out, the same Adderall that stimulates the booty can also cause time to become elastic. Who knew?

Yes, this state of mind is intentionally ill-defined, which is precisely why it's such a great pretext for posting anything I want. Don't worry about that - that's just how music journalism works these days. (Cf. "freak-folk," "new weird America," etc.) Just think of this as a soundtrack for the space flight to the "new Earth" - as Carl Sagan says, the journey into deep space begins for each of us in the dome-space.

"My work with continuous frequency environments led to my concept of the drone-state-of-mind. These frequency environments set up a drone state of periodic composite waveforms in the nervous system, establishing periodic patterns. These patterns are the internal representations of the external air molecule patterns, which vibrate the eardrums and send pulses throughout the nervous system. Once this so-called drone-state-of-mind is established, the mind should be able to embark on very special explorations and in new directions, because it will always have a fixed point of reference to come back to, to relate to; it could perhaps go further into more complex types of refined relationships than it can in the ordinary state."
- La Monte Young    

For those of you in NYC, the very best way to experience La Monte Young's "continuous frequency environments" is to visit his sound/light installation at the Dream House in Tribeca. The rest of you are pretty much out of luck, as recordings of La Monte's music are virtually impossible to find. Here's an exception, an Indian-style raga circa the early '60s. Drone-guru-cum-midwife-of-minimalism Pandit Pran Nath might provide vocals on this track, but I haven't been able to verify this - if anyone has more information, please comment.

La Monte Young - "Raga for Ravi" [alt link]

Pelt is guitarist Jack Rose's outlet for psychotropic drone. The collective have yielded comparisons to Bardo Pond, The Dead C, and La Monte's Theatre of Eternal Music, among others. Drawing on Indian raga music, John Fahey, and various mind-altering substances, Pelt manage to cover a lot of sonic territory without sacrificing coherence. Their music morphs subliminally from Rose's masterful guitar fingerpicking to tidal noise to Eastern-tinged haze - or rather, they make sonic gumbo out of all these elements simultaneously. This song is from their 2001 album on VHF Records, Ayahuasca, which was dedicated to Fahey.

Pelt - "Raga Called John, Pt. II" [alt link]

And here are some more tracks from the VHF label. Kawabata Makoto is best known for his psychedelic guitar meltdowns with the Acid Mothers Temple collective, but his solo projects, particularly his Inui series, show that he has a soft side as well. "Son" from the first Inui disc is an extended acoustic drone piece. Also, here's a track from Æthenor, featuring members of Sunn O))) and Guapo. Their debut album Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light is a tapestry of improvised organ, guitar, and ambient sound which, as the band members themselves have stated in interviews, sounds great when you're sleep deprived.

Kawabata Makoto - "Son" [alt link]

Æthenor - Untitled [alt link]


Describing themselves as "the AMM of punk," The Dead C are a New Zealand improv group, active since the late '80s, who specialize in overheating their tube amps with guitar fuzz and feedback. More recently, the band have reportedly begun to employ laptop processing and other electronic sounds in their work, but I haven't been able to hear any of the (presumably interesting) results yet. "Driver UFO" is from their 1991 album Harsh '70s Reality.

The Dead C -"Driver UFO" [alt link]

Vladislav Delay is one of the many pseudonyms of Finnish producer Sasu Ripatti (AKA Luomo, Uusitalo, etc.). As Vladislav Delay and Uusitalo, Sasu makes hypnagogic beatscapes and ambience for the minimal/dub crowd (the track below was released on Basic Channel's Chain Reaction label), while the Luomo alias is his outlet for spacious vocal house.

Vladislav Delay - "Huone" [alt link]

Ricardo Villalobos, of course, needs no introduction. His 40-minute colossus Fizheuer Zieheuer got plenty of hype last year, and established him as the posterboy for extremely long minimal techno tracks. In recent months, Villalobos has certainly maintained this reputation, most notably with his hypnotic remix of "Blood on My Hands" by my favorite dubstep producer, Skull Disco's Shackleton. Because this remix is presumably all over the blogosphere by now, I've included Ricardo's recent collab with Jay Haze as Social Being.

Shackleton - "Blood On My Hands (Ricardo Villalobos Apocalypso Now Mix)" [alt link]

Social Being - "Free Your Mind" [alt link]

Note: while writing this post it occurred to me that I have a pretty large stockpile of drone, improv, and the like that I could post. However, I'm not sure if it would be a good thing to inundate TRP with all of it. I mention this to gague readers' interest in such material, which will help me to decide whether I should maintain a separate blog for that sort of oddness, while still posting (mostly) music with beats here. Comments are appreciated.

9 comments:

Stinky Jim said...

anyone who posts the dead c and villalobos's mix of shackleton in the same post gets my undying respect and grateful appreciation.
most folks aren't looking to be surprised or stretched, respect to you for doing that (and im familair with both tracks)
don't go changing

E. P. Herrington said...

check out this new blog
onleavingoutwhatitslike.blogspot.com

Andrew said...

yeah..i would totally be interested in more posts like this one...more "minimal" techno and its disparate precursors etc etc
thanks!

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