Wednesday, December 30, 2020

fashion forward (death of a futurist)


                                                           RIP Pierre Cardin 


"The clothes that I prefer are those I invent for a life that doesn't exist yet--the world of tomorrow"' - Pierre Cardin, 1990, looking back on his past as a futurist fashion-designer.







                                                            (this clip misidentified - it's Paco Rabanne, fellow futurist) 




Hauntology Parish Mōdraniht Newsletter : Moon Wiring Club's The Most Unusual Cat in the Village

bumper package from Moon Wiring Club this season - not just an LP, but a vinyl 7-inch single too... and a hardback book, and a calendar! 

The LP is one of Ian Hodgson's best for a while -  while I enjoyed the beat-oriented short 'n' sweet bite-size focus of the recent runny of release, I do ultimately favor the foggy marshland vibe. The Most Unusual Cat In the Village is nicely portioned out as four long tracks all in the 10-minute range, enabling you to sink into a mood. But it's not completely wraithscape ambience - there are beats, but their gait is peculiar and halting. Insistent but frustrated, like feet trying to make headway through soggy ground. 

The book-of-the-album is gorgeous to fondle and peruse. Hardback but without a dust jacket, the cover images printed directly onto the cardboard, like a twilight-zone version of a school textbook... inside it's full-colour illustrated on every page... the effect hovering somewhere between a book of images with large captions and a comic book story without panels or speech bubbles. 


I quizzed Ian H about the sound procedures and narrative thematics involved this time around:

"The main ‘beat’ idea was to start off with something minimal, and see how much you could stretch out of it. So rather than multiprogramming 38 different snare patterns, it was taking something like a 1960s easy listening LP sample (of about 4 seconds) and seeing if you could loop that for ages, applying different filters and effects (hellooooo reverbbbbbbbbb) without it being just an experiment. (Alvin Lucier's I Am Sitting in a Room is the main inspiration here ~ I don’t listen to it often, but I think about it all the time). 

"I did a few (loads) of these extended loops (beats / melody / vocal / environmental / etc) and then overlaid the different parts in various combinations.... 'Spiritwave Communication' was the beat loop I liked the best ~ I see it as a solid flan-base you can keep adding ingredients to. The more jelly / fruit / cream dolloped on, the more the base beings to sag, but the more tasty it sonically becomes. It collapses almost completely at some points, then re-solidifies at the end. 

"The 4 x 10 minute LP format was a good way of structuring the music ~ long enough to allow everything room to breathe (whilst being different to the more standard 10-14 tunes you can fit onto a 40 minute LP) but short enough to prevent things from degenerating into slog-fest tedium.... 

"Thematically, I’ve had an idea for many years of an ARGO-style LP cover where a pop-folk singer was also a vampire. It was (for me) a really strong visual that never went away, but I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with it, or how the music would sound.... Roll on January 2020... a medieval plague appeared....  Being a pedestrian in lockdown meant there was no public transport, and where I live it takes about 20 minutes by foot to get to somewhere interesting. So on my daily 2020 walks of up to three hours I couldn’t ever quite escape the distinctly claustrophobic feeling of being permanently walled-in. After a while it began to feel like a mundane horror-film, a bit like the 70s Amicus ‘present-day’ Portmanteaus where daft things happen to slumming character actors. 

"Vampires traditionally appear during plague years so after a while it became clear 2020 was unquestionably the purrrfect time for that long-contemplated MWC 'Vampire Folk Singer on the Cover’ LP. If you had to sum the LP up quickly I’d say ‘Attempted Escape from Claustrophobic Village’ would do the trick. 

"I also quite like the slightly ‘trashy’ horror aspect ~ it stops things getting overly antiseptic and neatly formatted. I was pleased with how the cover turned out ~ it’s pretty much exactly the image that was in my head all these years. Like something safe had gone wrong. Which, you could argue, for a lot of people might sum up 2020. 

"There was so much stuff going around and clogging up my mind, that I thought you could even write a novel about it. 

"Generally speaking, you could either do something creative this year that offered a means of escape, or reflected in someway what was going on around you. The conclusion I personally came to, was as there was no means of escape, creating something that actually reflected this ~ 'escape from claustrophobic village' ~ was the only fulfilling course of action." 

"The Jass of Thun ‘festive single’ seemed like a good companion piece. The idea presented itself when I was experimenting with reverse bell loop sound that accidentally sounded like sleigh-bells, and it all snowballed (ho ho ho) from there." 


Visit the gift shop at the new Moon Wiring Club website and pick up these choice items.

Check out also the accompanying mix, The Most Unusual Hour, hosted by Jesse Dorris at WMFU

Release rationale #1a

The Most Unusual Cat in the Village (GEpH014LP) features 4 long-form compositions that elongate beat-loopery into a fragmented-demented dreame-language, coax easy-listening ultra-paste possessed possession collages into hallucinatory dreamscape wanderings, fuse phantom-light exotic artistic endeavours into a beyond the grave reverie and Collapse sunken-dreame-ship winebar musicke into a multi-temporal reality incantation escape wave-loop ritual. 

Release rationale #1b

This delightful matt laminated A5 Hardbound book features 92 pages of full colour 200gsm MWC photo-collage-illustration with an unusual, dreamlike narrative-wandering text that could quite possibly eerily echo the claustrophobic implausibility of 1596 / 1898 / 2020.

Release rationale #2

JASS OF THUN is a jaunty-step classic MWC ritualistic concoction that deftly conjures alpine-deity seasonal activities with a spicy abundance of irresistibly-curdled melodic offerings and off-piste aural manifestations! AWARD THYSELF and (possible) future generations this FESTIVE TREAT / FESTERING THREAT

Release rationale #3

Professionally manufactured and ring-bound, this full colour A3 170gsm silk calendar will provide a hypnotic, unearthly focal-point for blank space reinvigoration and illuminate even the most subdued Billiard Room support-wall / executive crypt.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

future retro

DJ magazine feature on jungle-remaker Tim Reaper caught my eye. 

His label's called Future Retro. 

In the interview, Gabriel Szatan asks Reaper about a collaborative project called Meeting of the Minds and his busy year accepting invites to do remixes and generally churning tuneage out.  It all sounds pretty good to my ears, it's certainly managed to get that vintage sound down pat, and  I'm the kind of nostalgic ardkore-codger it would appeal to. But then this bit snaggled my ingrained if dormant futurist reflexes: 

"With the history of hardcore, jungle and drum & bass at his fingertips, each stage of Reaper’s musical evolution is like an adjustment of the depth field on a microscope; little tweaks bringing him ever-closer to clarity.

'Each time I find a label or an artist that I’m unfamiliar with,' he explains, 'I’m digging deep on them — frantically. That’s what it’s all about. You listen to every single tune within a catalogue, mark your favourites, and move onto the next: building, building, building to retain that knowledge in your head and carry it with you in the form of selection.'"

Well and good, but this is obviously the exact opposite of the approach of the producers in the original era  - they didn't study canonical blueprints, there weren't any blueprints to study - just raw materials, disparate scraps of stolen stuff. They were making it up as they went along... 

Another bit: 

"A few years into his development, Reaper realised he had been subconsciously neglecting anything prior to jungle’s inception. Once he began seeking out cuts from ’91 and ’92, his technique made a dramatic leap forward. Even to jungle-attuned ears, people struggle for terminology when describing his style: it’s intelligent and darkside and roughneck and 4x4 and atmospheric and Photek and Bizzy B and DJ SS and Smooth But Hazzardous all at once. This era-switching is the point, Reaper says. “I mean, if I didn’t bounce between it all, I think I’d get pretty bored? I want people to not be able to fully predict what they’re going to hear.

But anyone with any passing knowledge of the era will be able to predict - or at least instantly recognise - anything that is presented to the ears, whether it's a 91-flava or a 94-trait that's being supposedly surprisingly welded together.

When Szatan elsewhere comments:

"and although he leans toward a certain vintage, there’s been progress along the way"

 I don't know what this could possibly mean. Unless "progress" here signifies simply an improvement in craftsmanship, in technical prowess in the precise reproduction of period sounds.

I guess the White Stripes-ification of rave was always bound to happen....    and in fact has been happening over and over, for a period of time (20 years!) that's about five times longer than the original heyday it's fixated on (91-92-93-94)

Talking of which, paralleling Jack White's gigantic reissues, look and gasp at the girth of this box (and look out for a review by me of in a future-retro issue of the Wire). 


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Hauntology: Ghosts of Futures Past

I don't know if this is the very first book wholly dedicated to hauntology (there's been a couple of tomes from A Year in the Country that cover that terrain where it particularly overlaps with the pastoral horror / rural uncanny). But Hauntology: Ghosts of Futures Past is a notably thorough and probing survey of the field from the marvelously monikered Merlin Coverley (and that's his birthname, not an assumed alias), whose prior works include the adjacently-themed Psychogeography  and Occult London. Mark Fisher comes up rather often (and yours truly makes the odd appearance too) along with expected suspects like J. Derrida and M.R. James. 

Release rationale:

"Ghosts and spectres, the eerie and the occult. Why is contemporary culture so preoccupied by the supernatural, so captivated by the revenants of an earlier age, so haunted? The concept of Hauntology has evolved since first emerging in the 1990s, and has now entered the cultural mainstream as a shorthand for our new-found obsession with the recent past. But where does this term come from and what exactly does it mean? This book seeks to answer these questions by examining the history of our fascination with the uncanny from the golden age of the Victorian ghost story to the present day... Moving between the literary and the theoretical, the visual and the political, Hauntology explores our nostalgia for the cultural artefacts of a past from which we seem unable to break free."

More information about Hauntology: Ghosts of Futures Past can be found at the Oldcastle Books website. You can check out the introduction in pdf form here

The front cover photograph of long shadows gave me a little haunty shiver as it recalled "Ghosts of NYC": a family self-portrait we took in the golden hour of the day before we left Manhattan and moved to Los Angeles, about ten and a half years ago now.