Dukes of Chutney – ‘Domino’

1 November 2013

Featuring at least one film maker to the fashion houses and one performance artist, the Dukes of Chutney title track from their forthcoming Domino EP has a lot of things going on with it. But then two threads soon become a bunch, all of which sound good, acclimatising its listener to a warm bath of funk rhythm and liquid ambience transmitted from a nebulous location.

Premiered on Tim Sweeney’s NYC radio show and released on his fledgling label of the same name, Beats in Space, November 5, the yield of “California born brothers from other cosmic mothers who met surfing” offers a certain gauzy slacker vibe that resonates through the label’s recent Tornado Wallace release and its Secret Circuit inaugurator. We’re sensing a definite thread here. **

  share news item


29 October 2013

Last we spoke to Heatsick‘s Steven Warwick, he made no secret of his feelings toward contemporary trends in art, centred around speculative realism and corporate aesthetics. Now, in building his own neo-materialist castle, he’s turned this dissent into art with his first full-length under the Heatsick moniker, Re-Engineering, out on PAN, November 26.

Expanding on his sashaying feedback loops of slightly beyond house sounds across styles, this track ‘RE-ENGINEERING’ is just the first of list of pointed titles like ‘E-SCAPE’, ‘WATERMARK’ and ‘ACCELARATIONISTA’. Let the take down begin. **

  share news item

Unsound 2013 reviewed

28 October 2013

The preceding, End-themed edition of Unsound marked, in certain respects, a shift in the festival’s character. At one of the panels, the organisers themselves admitted – perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek –that they may simply need to take a break. The consensus among commentators was that a particular formula, which the Krakow-based festival has developed over recent years, was beginning to wear thin and the question of ‘what now?’ became pressing. Hence, 2013 saw a remodelling: the traditional-at-first-glance Unsound schedule (bespoke artist collaborations, commissioned projects, a cutting-edge label showcase, touches of classic avant-garde, club nights and a dose of metal) gained a more radical form.

The first unexpected move began in controversy but ended with a definite win: the widely discussed ban on photography and filming during events (almost entirely complied with), contributed to a more active listening experience. Witnessing a concert unmediated by electronic devices, along with near-consensus rule adherence, enhanced audience response to the music (at least for the more static shows; the strictly dance-oriented ones have always managed to engage the crowd). Instead of traditional documentation, the festival decided to publish drawings similar to courtroom sketches; quite unexpectedly, the audience – and even the artists themselves, as proven by illustrations from Mik Musik‘s Wojciech Kucharczyk – contributed equally in turn.

DJ Richard. Illustration by Antek Skapski.
DJ Richard. Illustration by Antek Skapski.

The musical content itself was at times refreshingly fearless, even though – as stated – the usual Unsound structure didn’t radically alter. Due to this year’s theme of Interference, noise enjoyed a strong representation (Mika Vainio, Anna Zaradny), as did the voguish dark-hued strain of electronic music (Regis, Samuel Kerridge and White Material label’s DJ Richard, Young Male and Galcher Lustwerk, whose performances at Hotel Forum resulted in a fierce techno-pogo to which I was, despite the seasonal ‘Unsound curse’ of fever and coughing, a willing participant).

One of the recurring themes of the festival was the observance of how artists most celebrated by today’s music media (e.g. Laurel Halo, with a techno-based set vastly different from prior recordings, or Tropic of Cancer sounding like a Cure tribute band) failed to provide live highlights. Conversely, and especially during the Hotel Forum club events, unexpected favourites emerged: the merciless technoise of RSS B0YS, or the dynamic, engaging techno of Stellar Om Source, who appears entirely comfortable with her new style. Polish music is currently enjoying a great moment, mirrored in an Unsound edition which focussed on local artists more than usual: among the highlights of the entire event, I’d count not only the internationally-acclaimed Stara Rzeka, but also the surreal soundplays of 8rolek and Lutto Lento, and the dark synth-spaces created by Wilhelm Bras.

This year’s edition was brimming with renowned acts, beginning with a rare staging of Robert Rich‘s Sleep Concert, through Earth‘s crawling doom monoliths, to Detroit techno veterans Underground Resistance, who interestingly applied an expository structure more typical of rock concerts to their performance. Charlemagne Palestine & Rhys Chatham‘s playfully ritualised collaboration at St. Catherine’s Church managed to polarise the audience: many left shortly after the beginning, while the rest stood enchanted.

Interference manifested itself not only in inter-genre osmosis, but also in general multi-disciplinarity. While Unsound has always keenly played on the liminal ground between the arts, this year those themes were stressed more than ever. The ultimate innovation (in festival terms) was a staging of Stravinsky’s ‘Oedipus Rex’ directed by Jan Klata; in the same noble Stary theatre, Dean Blunt‘s quasi-confessional solo performance also took place. Installations held in the Bunkier Sztuki gallery managed to become festival highlights. Steve ‘Kode9’ Goodman’s project AUDINT, a multi-sensory experience delivered via wearable SubPacs, expanded on his published interest in sound-as-weapon. Richard Mosse‘s ‘The Enclave’, a 40-minute film shot using Kodak Aerochrome, a discontinued 16-mm infrared film often used for military purposes, within the conflict areas of DR Congo, was a challenge aimed at expanding the frame of war photography. Mosse’s footage and Ben Frost‘s field-recording-based soundtrack resulted in a hypnotic, unreal narration with an undercurrent of anxious awareness stemming from viewing an actual, albeit underreported war. Chris Watson‘s ‘Whispering in the Leaves’, a rainforest soundscape located in the picturesque Botanical Garden, was enjoyable – partly due to the lush surroundings – but lacked immersion.

Restoration under the sign of Interference proved to be successful, but the question of ‘what now?’ still remains – not only in relation to Unsound itself, but the wider notion of festivals per se and the currently-held ideals of musical progression. And yet, judging by this year’s bill, there may be no need for excessive worry, with fruitful ideas coming both from the tape/CD-R/internet underground and from long-established artists. As for the state of festivals, the continued focus on inter-disciplinarity is an interesting phenomenon to note, and one which may even result in a Convergence-themed edition next year.

Unsound runs in Krakow annually in October.

Header image: Richard Mosse. Illustration by Elena Harris.

  share news item

David Kanaga – ‘DYAD – OGST Spins’

23 October 2013

Releasing his second video game soundtrack since 2011’s Proteus, David Kanaga will be dropping his soundtrack for the downloadable video game, Dyad, on Software, October 28.

A dyad comes in pairs in all its incarnations, across biology, music and sociology, and there’s no doubt that sound is imperative to the the mind-bending colours and shapes of Dyad that intensify the further you get in the game. Hence, music designed and produced by the Oakland-based composer presenting synced musical events with the hallucinatory action on screen.

See the a taster from the musical and visual polymath below. **

  share news item

DJ Sprinkles @ Oval Space, Oct 25

8 October 2013

Terre Thaemlitz (aka DJ Sprinkles) was one of the more illuminating surprises of this year’s CTM festival. Sitting down with Electronic Beats editor Max Dax, the musician, artist and intellectual called on his audience to consider the fact that browsers and operating systems affect usage and accessibility, as well as queer philosophy and her contempt for the music industry generally.

She also happens to play some excellent house music as DJ Sprinkles (when she’s not releasing the longest album ever) and will be appearing alongside other producers and DJs, Radioslave, Ripperton and Iam Pooley at London’s Oval Space on Friday, Oct 25.

See the Oval Space Music events page for more details. **

  share news item

Botany – ‘Simple Creatures’

7 October 2013

Texan producer Botany (aka Spencer Stephenson) echoes the transcendent escape of 90s New Age but with a current, independent edge far removed from the exoticised ‘world sounds’ of something like Deep Forest’s ethnic-electro.

Existing in its own spacious Atlantean realm, a track like this ‘Simple Creatures’ goes beyond the realm of possibility while still graspable in the liquid movement of Stephenson’s sound. Featuring vocals by Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder-released RYAT, it’s the second single from album Lava Diviner (Truestory),  out on Western Vinyl October 29.

See the Western Vinyl website for more details. **

  share news item

An interview with Nate Boyce

2 October 2013

“I’m interested in how I feel about everything I come in contact with,” says “New Materialist” Nate Boyce, over Skype, about his practice spanning video, sculpture and ‘other’. Born in Kansas and living in San Francisco for the last ten years, he’s worked with the likes of Takeshi Murata and Robert Beatty, while dealing in some pretty big ideas. Talking to him about the complexity of the world at a macro level, beyond human subjectivity, can be as overwhelming as trying to deconstruct the references informing friend and collaborator Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never)’s R Plus Seven album, released on Warp, September 30.

The product of endless conversations and infinite variables across social constructivism, surrealism, procedural poetry and the philosophy of Manuel DeLanda, Boyce’s video for Lopatin’s Still Life expresses ideas from the reciprocal working relationship with Lopatin, despite the latter living across the country in New York and working primarily in music. Yet, somehow, Boyce’s sculptures are so abstracted, Lopatin’s music made so tangible that they bridge the gap from material into the immaterial, while exploring the blurred distinction between the physical and the virtual, the natural and the supernatural, in their respective explorations of transmuting (un)forms.

Their creative symbiosis is most apparent in their live performances, where Boyce’s image projections of figures, morphing and mutating, emerging and evaporating, interact with the Lopatin’s lurid, hyperreal soundscapes. Going beyond the earlier “slabs” of sound in, say, Rifts and Replica, R Plus Seven consists complex structural compositions, or what Boyce calls an “unhinged morphogenesis”, that functions on textural contrasts, exploring subjectivity and materiality. While watching these vital, formless forms one can’t help but try to ascribe meaning to them: am I looking at a cell? Is that anomalous ‘thing’ floating, or is it stationary? Is it pulling or parasitising another moving figure? Organic but otherworldly, it climbs the illusion of an incline, a liquid machine-like (non) structure that no words can make into matter.

At one point, during the unsettlingly cheerful melody of Problem Areas, the projection becomes a series of square boxes containing images of obscure sculptures by Joseph Slusky, suspended in a mirage of swirling clouds, resembling a screen, plucked from a portrait photographer’s studio and given life. As Boyce later explains to me via email, “it’s a mode of working that fell off since the art world took a very socio political turn for the last 30 years or so”. That goes some way in illustrating Boyce’s artistic preoccupations, which are anything but sociopolitically driven. Instead, his interests lie squarely in the aesthetic, “anti-anthropocentric” realm, one of objects abstracted: “even though it’s digital material, it’s still something I want to manually move.”

There’s are sense of your work existing in this realm of real unreality.

Nate Boyce: This is like the video for Still Life, of morphing out of this grid. The steel grating is thematic for the pixel grid or something but it’s also this organism, kind of morphing out. A lot of the things I do with Dan is purely in this virtual world, this kind of synthetic CGI space. Often times its like exploring a sculptural idea that I’ll eventually get to in real life.


Do you make a distinction between the real and the virtual?

NB: It’s funny because I’m sensitive to the areas of plasticity that make themselves available to me with different materials. With CGI, I’m interested in simulations. You can simulate physics, which I think is being able to become formally involved and formally experiment with gravity, and forces, and liquid simulations, all that. That’s not a set of parameters that is readily available in actual physical space. So I’m interested in all of that when I’m working on a computer; in accessing that set of parameters.

But then, working in the physical space, the computer still has a lot of rules of what you can do and how to make shapes that become apparent once you start working with it. Like, with this video here [Lavender] is actually a carved piece of foam. That’s like a real object that I shot on a green screen. Working with my hands, it has gestural residue.

So you couldn’t have done that digitally?

NB: I could, like I could scan it in or something, but in the computer, there’s something about the residue of gesture that is going to be created differently. This is like holding a tool with a bit of foam. I’m interested in that and then bringing that into the computer.

That makes me think about Dan’s use of OULIPO and procedural poetry, creating these self-imposed constraints.

NB: Yeah, constraints relate to selection pressures too, like in evolution. I’m interested in observing how, if you work within these constrains forms can emerge. In a sense, making sculpture is like a microcosm, or a simulation, of evolution in general; where within human subjectivity you create these constraints for the evolution of these objects.


You could even apply that to music. Like, after No wave destroyed any set rules on what constitutes music, you have to place limits on yourself within this new landscape.

NB: Yeah, this Cagean expanse of where all sound is all music.

And that could also apply to both Dan’s narratives and your sculpture?

NB: Yeah, totally. It’s funny because I use all my tools very intuitively. Theoretically, you can make any form in the computer and it’s going to be easy to do but at this point, I like to toggle back and forth in terms of accessing sets of formal parameters that make themselves available to me.

It sounds like your respective ideas really feed into each other’s work. 

NB: I think this idea of R Plus Seven, which kind of implies this whole system of contingent structural possibilities, was a way to enter into a more sculptural approach to the music. You can see that with how the forms are much more complex, the pieces have so much more textural contrast and they go to different places and kind of morph.

I think that our discussions about sculpture kind of factored into that. Obviously my work is essentially, sculpture; it’s video but I’m interested in form. It’s like a kind of hyperformalism, a ‘morphogenetic formalism’, as I like to think about it. Maybe it’s like a bridge between my sculpture and this formal, procedural text-generation.

When I watched Still Life it felt like it echoed a lot of DeLanda’s ideas from that ‘DeLanda Destratified’ piece by Erik Davis that you and Dan both reference, particularly these motifs of liquid systems and synthetic organisms.

NB: Yeah, there’s this recurrent idea of morphogenesis; this sort of infinite mutability that anything can potentially become anything else. That it’s all matter and energy flows is another thing that’s important. A lot of my work seems like it’s getting into this. I’m interested in the idea of the natural versus supernatural. In the Still Life video there’s all these things that look like apparitions and there’s a certain cosmic horror. It’s Lovecraftian, in a sense, but it’s a very natural horror.


Do these ideas ever make you anxious?

NB: There are different ways of thinking about it. I’m more fascinated by the possibilities. I have a number of different emotions. I have a fetishistic relationship to materials and I’m interested in witnessing the potential for morphosis. I’m interested in this infinite potential for form and the complexity of how the human mind confronts those forms. Super-complex forms can be loaded with different emotional information and that can become very intense.

It’s not necessarily just about anxiety. It’s about a wide range of affective responses to the complexity of form. Sometimes it’s a sexual kind of feeling, like a sensual arousal, a fetishistic thing, and sometimes it can get into anxiety or fear. I think that range of emotions is on R Plus Seven too, at least with what I’m trying to get across with my work. I’m interested in the complexity of human affect in relation to the material world around us. I’m interested in how I feel about everything I come in contact with; different finishes on different types of material and the experiences or memories I bring to those interactions too.

Do you ever interact with these materials symbolically, say, if you saw the McDonald’s arches?

NB: If I was looking at the McDonald’s arches, I would just be thinking about the vacuum formed plastic that those are made out of [laughs]. I’m not interested in socio political commentary so much.

How come?

NB: You could say there’s something political about a certain philosophical vantage point and, in my case, it’s an anti-anthropocentric one; against this idea that these materials are subservient to human interests. I’m interested in different theory, I’m into DeLanda, I’m into Bruno Latour, phenomenology.  Ultimately, I’m aligned with, maybe, some kind of New Materialist way of looking at things.

Do you think that if you were in different circumstances that your philosophy would be different, if you were being violently exploited by the machinations that these materials might represent, for example?

NB: Maybe my philosophy is developed within a purely aesthetic way of thinking about things. There is a kind of violence and aggression in my work though, a range of associations and feelings. Hopefully it’s extremely complex, that there isn’t just one kind of feeling that’s being conveyed.

There is an aspect of pathos. I like images and sounds to be aggressive because they make you aware of your body. But I can’t go so far as to say that I’m somehow a conduit for some sort of nefarious system of exploitation that ultimately underlies the technology that’s being used. I can’t really speculate on it so much but I guess someone could read it that way.

The ‘complexity’ you talk about. Watching your videos there’s a mood that I can’t put my finger on. There’s a sense of the awful sublime.

NB: For instance, at the beginning of that Still Life excerpt I did, there’s this quasi-arm plunging into this surface. Maybe that’s sort of a metaphor for how I want to deal with the video. I just want to reach into the screen and manipulate the material. **

Oneohtrix Point Never’s R Plus Seven was released on Warp, September 30. Nate Boyce and Daniel Lopatin play London, on Thursday, October 3, 2013.

  share news item

Lizzo – ‘Batches & Cookies feat. Sophia Eris’

30 September 2013

As is the nature of trends, things have gone rather quiet in the realms of rap ever since the hype machine, of which aqnb is inescapably a cog, ceased on that so-called ‘weird’ strain of hip hop, across the likes of Mykki Blanco, Zebra Katz and Riff Raff. That’s not say there isn’t still some good stuff out there and here’s Detroit-born, Minneapolis based Lizzo as an example.

A throwback to the fun and ridiculous rap of the likes of Missy Elliot, who was probably getting her start when Lizzo was a toddler, ‘Batches & Cookies feat. Sophia Eris’ confuses the potential innuendo of “cookies and cream” across some brilliantly bouncing old school samples from her forthcoming album LIZZOBANGERS, out on Totally Gross National Product, November 4. **

  share news item

Jacob 2-2 – ‘Herbivore’ trailer

23 September 2013

Jacob 2-2 heralds his album Herbivore, out on Canada’s King Deluxe, September 23, with a trailer in the form of a 80s children educational programme montage by the artist himself and Samuel Rhodes.

Inspiration for the video comes from youth-oriented sci-fi and fantasy films from around the era where children are often left to their own devices, at the mercy of their imagination, usually in a playroom, after being placed under observation for their “psychic powers, alien interaction, or robotic physiology”. Sounds like a regular Starseed to us.

See the trailer and track listing below and see the Jacob 2-2 website for more details. **

1. 2LTL
2. Lower 3rds
3. Milo De Venus
4. Platforms
5. Sunrises (feat. Pogflipper)
6. Red Heather, Yellow Heather
7. Rm W1
8. Empire Plaza
9. Struck Out / Foliage
10. Baby Duckbill
11. Construxon Time Again
12. Snow Brite
13. So Long, Solaris
14. Asphyxiation
15. Herbivore
16. Quarantine Kid
17. The Light Shines

  share news item

Gardland – ‘Syndrome Syndrome’

23 September 2013

Getting a release on eminent independent label RVNG Intl., Australian duo Gardland (aka Alex Murray & Mark Smith) will be releasing their album, Syndrome Syndrome, on Oct 28 in the UK. Harnessing the weird energy of the Australian desert during a ten-day, hardware-based wigout, the outcome exists outside of time -a temporal shift only someone from the empty Southern continent could truly understand.

Lead-single and title track ‘Syndrome Syndrome’ is probably one the album’s most primal, moving over arhythmic percussion, the odd hollow metallic crash and bass bounces that peak with a cheesy impression of a dance buildup. The duo also play Krakow’s Unsound festival in October.

See the RVNG Intl. website for more details. **

  share news item

Throwing Shade – ‘Mystic Places’

19 September 2013

Performing at the Nina Christante’s Eva By Heart launch last week, London-based producer and NTS Radio host Nabihah Iqbal, aka Throwing Shade, will be releasing a debut 12-inch, Mystic Places/Lights, on Ominira, October 7.

Having already released a cassette on the label run by Kassem Mosse (who also provided a remix for Stellar OM Source‘s recent Joy One Mile), Iqbal’s moody, self-branded “cosmic RnB” plays out like a mystical radio signal, run through a foreboding Dune-like soundtrack alternative to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, or thereabouts and features artwork by Boudicca Collins. File next to Nguzunguzu, Fade to Mind and Visionist.

See the Omnira website for more details. **

  share news item

Zenial’s ‘Chimera’ reviewed

18 September 2013

Zoharum Records, a label gathering a significant roster of artists associated with those scenes commonly bracketed as “post-industrial” (Hybryds, Rapoon, Z’Ev), recently released a new album, Chimera, by Zenial, aka – a composer and sound designer linked to the worlds of experimental, noise and electroacoustic music. Initially a member of the demoscene – an early computer subculture based around transcending hardware limitations – he went on to collaborate with the likes of Zbigniew Karkowski, as well as perform in the glitchy duo Aabzu. And yet the multimedia nature of demoscene output has remained a constant element of his solo activity, in which sound is often conjoined with visual installations or augmented by a conceptual framework.

Chimera, a slightly more accessible successor to 2012’s Connection Reset by Peer, comprises just the sonic elements of works originally intended for gallery spaces and live performance. Its most interesting facet (perhaps of Zenial’s oeuvre in general) lies in highlighting the connection between the digital and the occult. In one of his presentations, he tried to induce EVP (electronic voice phenomena) via a network of interconnected portable cassette players (EVP being the unidentified speech-like scraps of sound sometimes woven into recordings, thought by some to be of paranormal origin). On side B of Chimera, a two-chapter composition, ‘Rosora’ is inspired by hermetic magic practitioner Franz Bardon; on a purely sonic level, the track explores the meditative nature of “mild noise” in a manner reminiscent of Kevin Drumm’s recordings with Lasse Marhaug.

The link has been present for a long time. In Techgnosis, Erik Davis wrote about technologies being a modern vessel for ancient beliefs, suggesting that information and communication technology, especially the Internet, are rife with threads of magick and mysticism. This notion developed in numerous ways throughout the last century. The chaos magick movement of the 1970s claimed to introduce the discoveries of quantum physics into a mystical worldview, thereby making magick a less hermetic, more practical art. In the early days of the Internet, the Reality Hackers (founders of influential magazine Mondo 2000) announced their manifesto, according to which they “use high technology for a life beyond limits”, “use media to send out mutational memes (thought viruses)” and “blur the distinctions between high technology and magic”. Early cyberculture, captured by Douglas Rushkoff in Cyberia, was closely related to the countercultural ferment of the same period, assimilating the ideas of Terence McKenna and Robert Anton Wilson into its philosophy.

Scaremongering preachers may have claimed that rock music was inherently possessed by demonic powers, but beyond a pantomime correlation, it was actually electronic music that became the true vehicle for ideas of magical transgression. The ritual nature of music (and anti-music) was explored by the industrial and post-industrial scenes, in a manner either cathartic (Throbbing Gristle) or meditative (Rapoon, :Zoviet*France:). The ability to evoke altered states of consciousness by means of electronic sound was proven most convincingly by Coil on Time Machines, the experience of which was said to cause “temporal slips”, and displayed the potential of drone music to affect both ear and awareness.

Compared to these declared musical-occultists, Zenial taps the techno-mystical in a subtle, nearly academic way; magickal elements are present, albeit in an implicit manner. His compositions, woven of drones, distortion, buzzing and bleeps, slowly coalesce into shapes in the listener’s mind, like sonic spectres or the aforementioned EVP, and occasionally –as in the case of the title track –gain an near-melodic quality. In this sense, Chimera is more a scientific experiment in the supernatural qualities of sound than the audio equivalent of an occult artefact. Given that creative pursuit itself can be considered the most successful and measurable act of magic (as explained by Alan Moore in Fossil Angels), Zenial’s approach retains plenty of transformative power.

Zenial’s ‘Chimera’ is out now on Zoharum Records

  share news item

TELFAR X Future Brown

12 September 2013

In a match made in utopia fashion designer Telfar Clemens and our favourite ‘fake capitalist’ Babak Radboy echo the mainstream fetishism of the day by introducing the forthcoming TELFAR line. It’s a collection of customizable sportswear that they describe as neither conceptual nor practical; “highly polished, eminently accessible, yet stranger than any underground production”.

The backing instrumentals come from a track called ‘Marbles’ by none other than 2020 hyper-stars Future Brown. As a band named after an inorganic colour, its an ideal complement to the creepy grins reminiscent of Shanzhai Biennial‘s Yue Minjun-inspired branding campaign, as well as DIS’ ‘Watermarked I Kenzo Fall 2012′. Mind is blown.

See the video below and read a recent interview we did with Radboy. **

  share news item