As Fact and 180 Studios present the Canadian artist’s new film Minor Daemon: Volume 1, we look back on his explorations of reality in the digital age, from excursions into Second Life and Google Street View to a 3D-animated dream journal.
In Jon Rafman’s latest film, Minor Daemon: Volume 1, two young men who share an extraordinary gift for virtual reality gaming attempt to secure their freedom from a Hieronymus Bosch-like hellscape. The feature-length film, showing at London’s 180 Studios until 25 March 2023, pulls together many of threads that the Canadian artist has been exploring throughout his career – online communities, identity, the increasingly thin boundaries between the digital and physical worlds – and tells a story that drills into the anxieties surrounding our fast-moving technological present.
Rafman first came to prominence in the late ‘00s with two ongoing works: Kool-Aid Man in Second Life and Nine Eyes of Google Street View. In the first, Rafman would conduct live guided tours in the online world of Second Life through the avatar of a soft drink mascot, contrasting the absurd character with the often overtly sexualised alter egos many participants would create for themselves. In the second, Rafman trawled the vast database of Google Street View (then a new venture for Google) for strange vignettes, accentuating the odd glitches that transpire when images are stitched together.
In both of these formative works, Rafman acts as a digital flaneur, wandering around the strange corners of cyberspace to document our strange new reality – a role he has played ever since, archiving the digital detritus of the modern web. “When I’m surfing Google Street View or exploring Second Life, the narrative impulse is always there,” Rafman said in a 2009 interview. “An underlying theme or goal is a constant search for artistic tools and methods that best represent or reveal modern experience. So I look for ideas and inspiration from those who also struggle to represent their experience of modernity, whatever the time period or era. In fact, I believe the different generations or time periods that have been termed modern are more similar than different. I mean, be it Geoffrey Chaucer in the Middle Ages or the contemporary artist Cory Arcangel, the artist has searched for how to represent and critically examine the present.”
In recent years, Rafman has continued to push the boundaries of digital art with a host of challenging narrative works such as Dream Journal, a feature-length film soundtracked by Oneohtrix Point Never and Andy Morin that explores the effects of technology and information overload on the contemporary psyche. Last month, he provided the album cover for Lil Yachty’s new album Let’s Start Here, which plays with the nightmarish aesthetic of AI-generated imagery. As we are bombarded with art created by AI tools such as Midjourney, Rafman’s early work feels particularly relevant to our present situation, showing us not just the deepest, darkest corners of the web, but an early indicator of what would ultimately become mainstream digital culture.
Caution: Some of these videos contain NSFW content
Kool-Aid Man in Second Life (2008-2011)
Second Life, launched in 2003, was one of the earliest examples of what would now be classed as a ‘metaverse’, a digital space where all forms of high and low culture collide. By conducting tours in this digital domain, Rafman acknowledged its role not simply as a video game, but an extension of human creativity. “It’s not so much the amateur technologies themselves that inspire me, but what amateurs are doing with these technologies, what they are using the technologies to create,” Rafman said in 2009. “I just love looking at stuff that people have created without the intention of it being called art. I mean, stuff that is made by people semi-naively, by people who are simply excited to create things.”
Nine Eyes of Google Street View (2008-ongoing)
Rafman’s exploration of Google Street View, an archival project that came to be known as Nine Eyes of Google Street View (named after the nine lenses on the 360-degree camera used to capture the images), can be seen as a search for a more honest representation of the world than traditional photography can offer. Horses wander streets, people fall off bikes, suspects are apprehended and a farmer chases his sheep. “In Street View, I first believed I had found a more truthful and more transparent world because of the seemingly unbiased and neutral way in which reality was photographed,” Rafman said in 2009.
You, The World, And I (2010)
You, The World, And I can be read as a companion piece to Nine Eyes, in which the narrator attempts to recapture memories of his lost love by trawling Google Street View for chance images of her. “That Google Street View image began to replace all other memories of her,” the narrator says. In the end, the original image disappears, presumably overwritten as Google periodically updates its image database – a reminder that even in an age of technological permanence, the internet is an ephemeral place.
Remember Carthage (2013)
As Rafman’s experiments with narrative filmmaking evolved, so did his source material. While You, The World, And I created a haunting collage from Google Maps, Remember Carthage constructs a documentary-style narrative with footage from Second Life and PlayStation 3-era video games. Imbued with a sense of loneliness and isolation, the narrator’s commentary recounts a search for an abandoned resort in Tunisia, unable to determine ancient remains of the site from their reproductions – an idea mirrored in the fictionalised culture depicted in the digital footage.
Named after Erisichthon of Thessalay, a gluttonous king from Greek mythology who was cursed with an insatiable hunger, this film concluded part of a trilogy of works that includes Still Life (Betamale) (2013) and Mainsqueeze (2014), films that studied niche internet culture such as cosplayers and hentai pornography enthusiasts. ERYSICHTHON‘s subject is the infinite loop of user-generated content – a reference perhaps to the Greek king, who eventually consumed himself.
Sticky Drama (2015)
Oneohtrix Point Never’s 2015 album Garden of Delete was initially teased through an alternate reality game, which hid arcane lore about a fictional ‘hypergrunge’ band called Kaoss Edge and an acne-afflicted humanoid alien called Ezra amongst PDFs, MIDI files, a fake label profile on SoundCloud and an obscure Blogspot scattered via hyperlinks across the web. This was expanded on in the video for standout track ‘Sticky Drama’, a grossed-out tale of teenage cyberpunk LARPers that plays on the gamified aspect of the Garden of Delete backstory.
Dream Journal (2016-2019)
Rafman’s latest work, Minor Daemon, wasn’t the first to dive headfirst into full 3D animation. Dream Journal (2016-2019), spawned from Rafman’s practice of animating his dreams using 3D software, and turned into a feature-length animated film that explores the psychological effects of technology and information overload. Its absurdist landscapes and vaporwave soundtrack (provided by Oneohtrix Point Never, James Ferraro and Death Grips’ Andy Morin) play out like a fever dream, with a visual style that recalls the slew of cheaply-made, algorithm-baiting kids content that flooded YouTube during the same period. From our current perspective, Rafman’s work can sometimes look dated – but together it creates a historical document of our strange and ever-changing digital reality.
Punctured Sky (2021)
Punctured Sky is the strange tale of a video game designer trapped by his ex-lover in the game they were designing together. Structured like a point-and-click adventure game, the film has its origin in a personal story of Rafman’s, in which an old friend tells him he can’t find any mention of a video game they used to play with each other after school called Punctured Sky. Subjective reality is a common thread in Rafman’s work, but in Punctured Sky it takes on a personal dimension, of a reality reconfigured by the broken memories of someone else.
Minor Daemon is showing at 180 Studios until 25 March 2023. Tickets are available now from the 180 The Strand website.
The presentation at 180 Studios coincides with a solo exhibition of Jon Rafman’s work at Sprüth Magers, London (3 February – 25 March 2023).
Jon Rafman: Minor Daemon 180 The Strand, London, WC2R 1EA 2 February – 25 March 2023
Artist Sevi IkoDømochevsky visualises the kind of catastrophe that KMRU and Aho Ssan make audible in their Fact Mix, one that is painful to comprehend, yet serves as a prescient diagnosis of our present.
Kenyan sound artist Joseph Kamaru, otherwise known as KMRU, and Aho Ssan, the French producer and composer born Désiré Niamké, are two of of contemporary electronic music’s most fascinating and vital figures. While the former artist’s prolific experiments with field recording have seen him develop an approach to ambient composition that emerges from and through the listener’s relationship with the sounds of their physical environment, the latter artist uses the infamously byzantine programming language Max/MSP to delve deep into the infinite possibilities of synthetic sound. Across his catalogue, on records such as Peel, Jar and Imperceptible Perceptible, KMRU emphasises the importance of listening to what you might usually miss, using patchworks of field recordings, foley and processing to bring small details into sharp focus. In contrast, Aho Ssan operates in more speculative and expressionist space, on the one hand contorting synthesis in unexpected directions while with the other simulating sounds previously unheard. On his 2020 album, Simulacrum, Niamké created Max/MSP patches to simulate The Mensah Imaginary Band, a synthesised ensemble inspired by his grandfather Mensah Anthony, a trumpet player who in the ’50s led a Ghanaian band across the Ivory Coast and acted as a conductor at the country’s famed Abissa Festival. Having never met his grandfather, as well as never having heard any recordings of his music, the artist created The Mensah Imaginary Band as a means of connecting with the music of his heritage, making sounds lost to memory material. Though perhaps counterintuitive, KMRU and Aho Ssan find immense, crackling potential energy in the contrast between their approaches, embracing chaos and cacophony and for their astounding collaborative work, which has seen both artists eschewing the minimalism of previous solo projects in favour of an intoxicating hybrid form of ferocious digital maximalism.
“I never made something so extreme,” Niamké says of his first recording with KMRU, a brooding composition made up of dense swarms of noise, groaning low-end and heart-wrenching synth improvisations, proof incarnate that, in the right hands, ambient, far from floating off in the background, has the all-consuming power to engulf entire rooms, volcanic eruptions of sound channeled into a deeply resonant collaborative expression. Commissioned by Berlin Atonal for their Metabolic Rift event, that first recording would grow and develop to eventually bloom into Limen, the duo’s 2020 album for Subtext. Here, driven by the internal and external pressure of the pandemic, the collaborators explored the dichotomy of their partnership further, taking cyclical processes of destruction and creation as a leaping off point to record an album structured around duality in sound, concept and execution. The result, in the words of Subtext founder James Ginzburg, unfolds as a soundtrack for “deconstructing history as it detonates around us.” It’s amongst the rubble of this detonation that we find ourselves for KMRU and Aho Ssan’s latest project, an audiovisual mix created alongside visual artist Sevi Iko Dømochevsky, who plunges us through the smog of a post-apocalypse, gliding through ruined environments and ecosystems like a reality warping ghost haunting a dead planet. “The approach of the mix was quite seamless,” explains Kamaru. “It’s evident how both of our works juxtapose onto each other and the mix feels like an antiphony between our sonic worlds. I began the mix with subtle tones and tracks currently unreleased and Désiré did the same with a more abrasive ending, an alternating response to the first half of the mix, which imbues an attunement to the reality through stillness, chaos and regeneration in a dialog between both of us.”
“I can’t seem to escape the idea that humans are so blissfully ignorant of the reality of the world,” asserts Dømochevsky, framing KMRU and Aho Ssan’s apocalypse ambient in motion blur and synthetic haze, languidly moving between a haunting sequence of catastrophic scenarios. The bleached ribs of a rotting leviathan protrude from a drained sea bed like spiny columns in a post-apocalyptic cathedral, its gargantuan spinal cord jutting from a carcass slick with sea water. Salt and whale blood swirl together in the discordant drones of unreleased material from KMRU, the sounds of a Berlin train serving as a quiet reminder of a world left to ruin. Space Afrika’s ethereal smudge of The Orielles ‘Beam/s’ strikes an eerie dissonance against a crimson sun setting over a radioactive sea, their haunting refrain, “something true, something real” warped into a chilling portent of what at present feels like our planet’s inevitable climate collapse. Just as KMRU’s soundscapes drift between dissociation and unease, an amorphous smog thick with tension, Dømochevsky’s imagery seems caught between entropy and undulation, streaked with analogue grain, the beautiful accidents of corrupt technology. The frazzled onslaught of Aho Ssan & Josèfa Ntjam ‘Dislocations’ bleeding into an excerpt of ‘Ego Death,’ performed at the 2022 edition of Unsound by Niamké and Resina, signals an explosion into psychedelic glitch. Frames within frames mimic the hyperactive pulse of news cycles in the age of social media, a perpetual deluge within which it is at times impossible to discern the difference between legacy media, OSINT reportage and deepfake spectacle, where natural disasters vie for their place within the attention economy, fighting for position alongside TikTok trends and targeted ads. Dømochevsky visualises the kind of catastrophe KMRU and Aho Ssan have made audible, one that is painful to comprehend, yet serves as a prescient diagnosis of our present.
The Canadian artist’s computer-generated fever-dream examines the relationship between technology and social consciousness.
180 Studios will present the UK premiere of Minor Daemon (2022), a new film by Canadian artist and filmmaker Jon Rafman, from 2 February – 25 March 2023. Set in a surreal dystopia, Minor Daemon: Volume 1 is a feature film that tells the story of two young men who share an extraordinary gift for virtual reality gaming that could secure their freedom as they journey through a Hieronymus Bosch-like hellscape.
Rafman, whose work explores the relationship between digital technology and the communities it creates, is also known for collaborating with Oneohtrix Point Never on his video game-like narrative feature, Dream Journal (2016-19). Minor Daemon picks up where the striking Dream Journal left off, utilising consumer animation technology to raise aesthetic questions about computer-generated moving images, projecting the anxieties of 21st century techno-society into 3D motion.
Building on the often disquieting qualities of Rafman’s earlier works, Minor Daemon presents a computer-generated fever-dream universe, drawing on the landscapes of online worlds to examine the relationship between technology and social consciousness. The presentation at 180 Studios coincides with a solo exhibition of Jon Rafman’s work at Sprüth Magers, London (3 February – 25 March 2023).
An intimate ambient soundtrack to the ups and downs of 2022 from the perspective of experimental producer and sound artist Nexcyia.
Nexcyia is the musical alias of Adam Dove, an African-American/French sound artist and ambient musician who splits his time between London and Paris. His artistic practice, which encompasses sculpture, installation, painting and moving image as well as sound art, explores notions of alienation and otherness in the African-American experience. “We never really speak about the sonification of race and the racialisation of listening,” Dove told The Wire in 2022, discussing his 2021 installation INTER(FEAR)ENCE. Inspired by the Black sociologist and civil rights activist WEB Du Bois’ idea of a “transparent wall”, he placed a speaker underneath the glass of a car door playing a muffled recording of the late Sandra Bland, a Black victim of US stop and search policies. “Black and white people can only see each other, today, they can’t hear each other,” Dove said.
The notion of otherness is something that he explored in his stunning 2020 debut EP, Crawl, released on London’s Alien Jams label. Across its six deeply layered compositions, Dove combined manipulated found sounds with granular synthesis to create intimate expressions of his inner experience through vast ambient vistas peppered with delicate textures. On his follow-up, the Origin EP released on Cafe OTO’s in-house label Takuroku, Dove crafted a broader meditation on place, time and being.
When recording his Fact Mix, Dove opted to approach it in a personal a fashion, as he would when creating one of his own records. “I started recording the mix on laptop back at my family’s house in the suburbs of Paris,” Dove says. “The mix conveys different moods throughout 2022 – I see it as a soundtrack and wanted to keep a memory of how the past year has been so crazy for me. The energy intentionally changes throughout the mix almost reflecting the ups and downs of that time, dealing with mental health, chronic illness, losing my grandfather Clyde Vernel Dove, moving house three times because of shitty situations.”
“It’s also the longest mix I’ve recorded so I wanted to compile something special with all my favourite artists,” Dove says of the mix, which includes music from Racine, Stone, crimeboys, Florian T M Zeisig (as spool), Igor Dyachenko, mu tate and arad acid (as dj bathtime). “The mix starts off and ends with Barcelona based artist Nueen – I first heard the track ‘Link IV’ on a mini UK tour I did with him November last year in Glasgow and Manchester. The tour was organized by the lovely Conna Haraway & Deep Softy who run INDEX:Records – we also had the amazing Slowfoam on tour with us.”
Nexcyia will be touring in February and March 2023, playing several dates in London, as well as shows in Florence and Madrid – find more info at his website. Follow Nexcyia on Instagram and SoundCloud.
Nueen – Link IV (forthcoming 3XL) Stone – Guh gab_i – stasis_relief_ Xenia Reaper – Stereo Dipole [APPX-09] crimeboys – deja entendu (dub) (3XL) AshTreJinkins – zonedOwt [1 for Tre] (2016) duun – Losing Track With Discosexo Corell – Under the Surface (forthcoming Appendix.Files) dj bathtime – subzzero-_+ Igor Dyachenko – melt Slow Attack Ensemble – November, 1st in Detroit Oliver Coates – Forest Arrest/Search For Body Unt – For The Love Of Money 1 (forthcoming) DJ Birdbath – to see (forthcoming Appendix.Files) DJ Birdbath – spec (forthcoming Appendix.Files) mu tate – salt cat mu tate – me when u (forthcoming) crimeboys – red shift (3XL) Joseph Theodor – What Are You Thinking About Bogdan Simeonov – somewhere else Racine – Le clocher de Hamelin_M (forthcoming) McGregor – fuse_0xe5(d1) OL – 1Bar (formyset mix) crimeboys – Deja Entendu w- James K (Single Version) (3XL) usof – Brat Corell – G7 (forthcoming Appendix.Files) editer h – no culture (shiner’s edge remix) spool – its alright, seven 1 (forthcoming) Nueen – Link I (forthcoming 3XL)
Movement artist Holly Blakey reunites withdancer and actor Nandi Bhebhefor a visceral response to the writing of Alan Moore, adapted by producer and musician Andrew Broder alongside serpentwithfeet and Kazu Makino.
Back in 2020 the Minneapolis producer and multi-talented musician Andrew Broder was tapped for the soundtrack for The Show, a fantasy neo-noir film written by legendary comic book writer and national treasure Alan Moore. Having previously worked with Moore on the score for the authors semi-autobiographical, audio novella Unearthing, Broder jumped at the chance, crafting a suite of evocative compositions channelled from the dreamscapes of Moore’s script, which follows a detective searching for a mysterious artefact around Moore’s birthplace of Northampton. The Show Original Soundtrack sees Broder revisiting the score, remixing and re-contextualising his own sounds with the help of a stellar cast of collaborators, including Moor Mother, Billy Woods, Denzel Curry and Haleek Maul. For ‘These Seas,’ Broder enlisted the talents of serpentwithfeet and Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead to spin the surging instrumental into an urgent anthem for dreamers, weaving an interpolation of Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’ together with hiccuping samples, synthetic squelches and propulsive percussion. “It was a cool opportunity and challenge to make a track around Alan Moore’s lyrics, to hit his reference points and underlying thematic narrative,” explains Broder. “Serpent and Kazu both have such unique and different approaches to singing, so transportive and perfect for a song about living and dying in dreamworld. This is a track for the scary and exciting club in one’s dreams.” For the track’s surreal visual movement artist Holly Blakey reunites with dancer and actor Nandi Bhebhe, who Blakey captured in the “gum chewing, colour changing portrait” Wrath – presented by Fact as part of Holly Blakey’s stunning Fact Residency. Translating Broder’s pulsating synth swarms into visceral, instinctive movement, Blakey and Bhebhe draw the dream in close to the body, spinning between sexual tension and violent release.
Opting for eerie monochrome and low resolution infrared, Blakey plays with the internal spectacle of dream space, bleaching the colour from much of the visual, drawing attention away from aesthetic detail and pulling focus on the brutal simplicity of her stage and the rawness of Bhebhe’s movements. When Blakey does introduce colour into the frame it is as an obscuring gesture, rather than adding more detail she takes it away, with pixellated, high-contrast footage invoking the visual language of surveillance, a dancer trapped in a dream, as opposed to moving freely through it. With the introduction of another dancer the scene strays further from our initial understanding, leaving us questioning whether what we have witnessed was a dance or a possession, the prelude to a demonstration of intense physical intimacy or a violent exchange. This ambiguity is central to the project, both in Broder’s music and in Alan Moore’s wider writing practice. “Alan Moore is such an inspiring writer, thinker and social critic – uncompromising in his artistic vision,” concludes Broder. “I wanted this record to pay tribute to those qualities and step out of my own character a bit, work with some new friends and make something dark and mysterious but also confidently physical, with a lot of momentum. I am moving into more focused exploration of electronic music now, away from my time as a songwriter. I want to approach music with little adherence to genre, and a universal outlook, dwelling less on the self and more about painting with sound. Like Moore, trying to find some threads to weave together the cosmic, psychedelic realm with the more human and vulnerable melodic sense, something that still aches.”
Through intense introspection and a DIY approach to sound, Richie Culver taps into the loose, potent energy of the afterparty, capturing the feeling of discovering worlds thought impossible in cigarette smoke and shitty speakers.
Richie Culver is responsible for some of the most quietly devastating music of recent years. Already infamous for his visual practice, which has been described as “squat art” (a label the artist is more than happy to stand behind), in recent years Culver has turned his attention to music. Between Post Traumatic Fantasy, an EP for Italian label SUPERPANG, A Change Of Nothing, a collaborative release with Pavel Milyakov for his own label, Participant, and his debut album, I was born by the sea, last year, Richie Culver announced himself as a musician with an unmistakable voice, shining new light on the themes of his work and in ways both excruciatingly raw and singularly evocative. While his visual works portray autobiographical vignettes of outsider observations and macabre parables scrawled and sprayed across canvas, walls and cardboard, fleeting and fraught glimpses of a difficult past captured with a crackling, transient urgency, with his music, his words are set adrift on threadbare loops worn raw and ragged, spray paint rendered as synthesis, glacial swells of ambience, industrial throbs of noise and dark insomniac drones exhaled together as thick melancholy haze. For Culver the transition from visual art to music is hardly surprising, he came up in the rave, developing his outlook on both art and life in the thick of the free party scene in and around Hull, a period so formative that the spirit has never left him. “I remember when I first got introduced to rave culture and then, shortly after, club culture, instantly deciding on the spot that I was going to dedicate my life and soul to this,” he explains. “With no tools, talent or links I rolled the dice.”
“This mix gently echos the underbelly of a desire or obsession to be part of something that doesn’t really exist,” he continues. “Maybe it was a myth? It can’t have been because I saw people succeeding, getting paid to do something they would do for free. Was that too much to ask? That was always my goal.” Moving through a choice selection of tracks from the year past, remixes, re-edits and a trove of unreleased material, Culver chases the ghosts of dance music through the atmospheres and ambiences of his formative years, like sifting for ecstasy in the cold waters of the Humber. “I remember watching Boyz N The Hood when I was around 12 or 13,” he recalls. “Laurence Fishburne’s character, Furious Styles, always stood out to me. He was my secret idol. I never mentioned it to any of my friends at the time when we would watch it on repeat. None of us had great male role models but I figured we were all thinking the same thing. This was my first glimpse of what I thought a man should be. Someone to look up to, someone to give you good advice at those critical stages of life. Someone who cares about you. Even though it was through a TV screen. He gave me hope, some kind of a blueprint to turn to when those life-changing, crossroads moments should appear later down the road.” It’s this hope that pervades much of the new material presented here, like Rainy Miller’s reverberant, avant-drill rework of ‘Daytime TV’, taken from an upcoming collection of remixes of tracks from Culver’s debut, which threads skittering hi-hats and queasy bass surges through the original’s sombre ambient cascade, or the staccato synth stabs of ‘We got to be,’ heralding distant crashes of percussion, evocative of breakbeat and hardcore, only heard from miles away in the distance.
The mix is littered with crossroads moments like these, an unexpected burst aquatic surf guitar warble, courtesy of Pavel Milyakov, signalling an onslaught of new sound, the unreleased ‘Scream if you don’t exist’ unravelling in hiccuping piano licks and pitch-shifted exhortations, an unhinged mantra spiralling off into the void. The deadpan delivery of ‘Afterparty stranger,’ a stark spoken word piece, splits the mix in two, finding Culver viscerally inhabiting the creeping paranoia and low self-esteem of an addled memory, his worst impulses echoed back at him, his desperation relived with unflinching clarity. In the mix’s most poignant moments, Culver pulls focus from his own voice to the voices of others, wrenching open the ribcage of his own experience to make space for a new polyphony. ‘Oh my god they’re gone’ sets bright, looping chimes against an etherised monologue from Culver’s wife, who draws from her experiences working as a death doula to work through the transcience of life and the permanence of grief. As the mix draws to a close, Culver exits the stage to let a text-to-speech tool play him out, as though breathing artificial life into words too painful to be spoken, too painful, even, to be scrawled. What we’re left with is a retrospective of sorts, both of Culver’s recent releases, instant cult classics, inscribed messily in the canon of outsider music and experimental electronics, but also of the full circle that brings Culver back, through art, to music. Through intense introspection and a DIY approach to sound, the artist is able to reproduce the loose, potent energy of the afterparty, capturing the feeling of discovering worlds thought impossible in cigarette smoke and shitty speakers. “At age 15 I left school early as I got a good job offer on a caravan site,” Culver concludes. “At age 17 I left that job and decided to dedicate my life to rave in whatever way the genre would accept me. A decision I made on my own. I never did find a place in any kind of genre.”
‘Dream about yourself’ (Re-Edit) ‘Daytime TV’ (Rainy Miller Remix) ‘We got to be’ ‘Gateway drug’ ‘It’s hard to get to know you’ Pavel Milyakov & Richie Culver – ‘Track 2’ ‘Scream if you don’t exist’ ‘Afterparty stranger’ ‘Create a lifestyle around your problems’ ‘Clenched jaw’ ‘Underground flower’ (Rainy Miller Re-Edit) ‘Oh my god they’re gone’ ‘A victim of my own thoughts’ (Nuno Loureiro Re-Edit) Blackhaine & Richie Culver – ‘I’m not gonna cum’
Artist, composer, producer and DJ Holodec tunes into the ethereal sounds of a dog’s eye view of Los Angeles.
Holodec met Kelman Duran outside the old Chinatown studio of NTS in Los Angeles. “He had the show before mine,” he explains. “We were both out in the alley smoking, just chopping it up and it all grew from that, here we are now.” Where we are now is still Los Angeles, yet viewed through through many different lenses at once, superimposing the contemporary experiences of diasporic communities with reflections on the sociopolitical conditions of America in the ’90s and ’00s, as well as more personal reflections on universal themes of family, love and loss. Such is the setting for All Dogs Come From Wolves, an album encompassing Holodec’s irresistibly narcotic sonic palette, low-lit sounds for blissed-out ravers, as well as a statement, a reminder that you need to understand where you’re from before you can know where you’re going. Released on Scorpio Red, the label run by multidisciplinary artist Ans M and Duran and home to essential projects from ONY, LC & Charles Verni and Duran himself, All Dogs Come From Wolves is described by Holodec as “an album about one and their environment, their thoughts, feelings, sounds, textures, smells, conversations. The things one hears in the distance, what one sees in the distance. An album for the city – any city, your city, where you are from, where you are at. Stylistically speaking, the sum of all my influences, a convergence.” He continues: “The album is constructed as scenes, sequenced out. Not entirely linear but nonetheless connected, coexisting. Think of it as a someone’s photo album. If you found a random photo album on the side of the street, looked at it from cover to cover, you can probably get a good idea of that person’s world. There’s a sincerity you can’t replicate.”
‘Dog’ and ‘Just U,’ two highlights from the album, unfurl as twin snapshots of the same space, the smudged, reverberant keys and synthetic murmur of the former track’s ambient interlude winding up into the restless, 2-step skip, pining synth line and smoked-out, pitch shifted vocals of the latter, the pulse of the city felt with a full heart. Director Allek Bien‘s hyper-saturated visuals reveal a dog’s eye view of LA at night, dust particle tracers dissolving into technicolor powder, ghostly graffiti blurred into a single, continuous texture, the city’s subway tunnels stretched into infinity. Holodec’s words surface fleetingly amidst the city lights, like phrases momentarily glimpsed from a moving car: “sound of city / sounds of cities in which I formed / sounds of cities in which I survive.” Picking out an instinctive poetry from the humming polyphony of their home, Holodec and Bien paint a portrait in superimposition, the continual condition of the streets they grew up on. As shaky pet cam footage is layered on top of itself, the artists depict a city both past and present, a gesture which is both a “statement” and a “toast,” a sentiment which leads back to the potency of the album’s title, an affirmation that looking back will show you the way forward. “Past lives become this life, this life becomes the next life,” says Holodec. “The title speaks to the spectrum of one’s evolution. Remember where you came from. Savour the present. Build the future.” Though transmitted from the complexity of immigrant identity within the cursed history of contemporary America, Holodec’s message pulls focus on the kinds of optimism one can find in solidarity, “a toast / all dogs come from wolves / we survive together.”
A journey at light speed through the universe of Akua, focusing on old school techno from the ’90s and early 2000s.
Over the past several years, Ghanian-American artist Akua has established herself both as a fixture of the New York’s dance music community at venues including Basement and Public Records, and as an internationally renowned techno DJ who has played at festivals such as Draaimolen and Dekmantel, and clubs like Berghain and C12. Central to her approach is activating timeless strains of raw, mechanized expression while also educating her audiences on the Black futurity that lies at the foundations of techno, as she told Fact in 2019.
In keeping with this focus on Black artistry, Akua’s sets are frequently filled with foundational US techno from Detroit and Midwest artists, music she feels is raw and straightforward yet deeply immersive for the listener. “I’m fascinated with old school techno because it seemed the only thing that truly mattered then was finding and following one’s authentic groove and I yearn for this energy so much in the present day,” Akua tells Fact. “I see the opposite very often in the present day as DJs and artists are so attached to achieving perfection and following trends in what they share with their audiences especially because of technologies we engage with through our practice.”
It’s this era that Akua hones in on for our first Fact Mix of 2023, an all-vinyl, high-octane trip through the cosmos that provides a jolt of much-needed energy for the new year. “The mix is definitely a journey through my universe at light speed,” Akua says. “It clocks in at around 146bpm the whole time. It starts out a bit intense but by the end of it after many twists and turns has a euphoric ending once it’s reached its destination.” Featuring classic tracks from K.Hand, Robert Hood and Spank Spank of Chicago acid innovators Phuture, as well as artists who were inspired by American techno innovation like Surgeon and Steve Bicknell, it looks resolutely to Akua’s vision for techno’s future while referencing the past.
Akua’s interest in the era also stems from a deep commitment to researching the vast archives of techno’s past – not just the classic tracks but the art of the techno mix itself. “I am constantly listening to and searching for ’90s techno mixtapes and I wanted to create something that emulates the vibe and energy of all of my favorite promo mixes,” Akua says of her Fact mix. “Some [of the mixes] that have inspired me the most have been by artists including Jay Denham, Claude Young, and Jeff Mills (all who have tracks are featured in the mix), Mike Dearborn, and DJ Hyperactive. I love how carefree and fearless they were in their mixing and how they were not so focused on technical perfection but rather on creating a compelling story that connects and resonates deeply with dancers.”
In the first of a new series of audiovisual mixes, Fact is extremely proud to present a new collaboration from visionary jungle powerhouse Tim Reaper and digital artist and DJ Jack Anderson.
Tim Reaper is one of contemporary dance music’s most prodigious talents, a wildly prolific producer and life-long jungle devotee balancing revivalist rigor and bleeding edge innovation, all with an era-defining grace and intimidating skill. Between his label Future Retro, Globex Corp, the Simpsons-themed, 7th Storey Projects sub-label he runs with friend and collaborator Dwarde, a steady stream of solo releases over the course of a decade and the hard-won, well-deserved ascendency he has experienced over the last few years, Reaper has emerged as an essential bridge between the jungle die-hards and the scenes that surround them, splicing the old-school ’90s sound with elements of techno and drum and bass while maintaining both the hardcore spirit and a preternatural ear for the future of the sound. A dedicated digger and obsessive trawler of jungle and d&b forums and message boards ever since he picked up an Andy C mix CD that came free with a copy of Mixmag he was using for his Media Studies GCSE, Reaper is both a devoted student and one of the key technicians of jungle’s current iteration. While wielding an encyclopaedic knowledge and profound respect for the old-school styles developed at institutional London jungle parties Rupture, Jungle Syndicate and Technicality with one hand, Reaper is able to tweak and re-tool his productions with the other, deftly expanding jungle’s horizons while staying true to the discipline of the pioneers that came before him. Yet his overarching project is one in service of the scene, paying dues to the old heads while shifting focus to the new guard: artists brought together for his legendary run of Meeting Of The Minds compilations, collaborators Dwarde, Sully and Kloke, as well as Future Retro regulars Kid Lib and Phineus II. Never one to hitch himself to the hype that surrounds him, Tim Reaper plays by the same rules he always has.
Jack Anderson similarly blurs the line between artist and technician, having developed a multi-disciplinary digital practice that has seen him create visuals for DJ Python, Anthony Naples, Simo Cell and Lil Uzi Vert, 3D design for Mugler, direct and VJ at Draaimolen Festival and produce stunning music videos for xl.iks, Elise Massoni and Huerco S. Anderson is also just as at home in the rave as he is behind the laptop screen, DJing as Jek and dropping killer mixes for the likes of down2earth, The Lot Radio and Juanita’s Mix. A longtime fan of Tim Reaper, here, Anderson blends live 360-degree footage with audio-reactive effects and live improvisations to bring his singular vision to a lethal transmission of Reaper’s own productions, some unreleased exclusives, classic remixes and contemporary heat, pitching even further into the future than Reaper has done previously. “This video is inspired by my relationship with jungle music and travel/transit,” Anderson says of the visuals. “I wanted to visually interpret how Jungle can separate the mind from the body, in a way teleporting you to another world. I focused on the energy of the mix using the complex drum breaks to drive the distortion of footage, and more moody parts to create interesting forms in the generative system I used. This mix is incredibly technical and I wanted the visuals to match Tim’s pure skill and track selection. I used a 360 camera to film hours of commuting and then ran the video through Touch Designer to apply the audio-reactive effect. I then mapped a MIDI controller to certain parameters and jammed over the mix.”
It’s not simply the sheer velocity of Reaper’s sound that Anderson is able to translate into visuals, but the distinctive dialogue between tension and stimulation experienced when traversing the harsh density of a metropolis, head down, hands in pockets, head phones on. Organic, liquid effects smear and warp sunlight shone through foliage into pulsing, mutant greens, acid rain spattered along a bus window. Streets and sidewalks rotate and liquify in time with the pitch-black ooze of bass and relentless barrage of breaks, pedestrians flipped and fractalised beyond recognition. Blocky urban architecture is melted down into mercury, spread out into rivulets with each whip-fast transition. The result is like experiencing your commute to work in some dystopian future, trying to move around with corrupted augmented reality optic nerve implants. In this way Anderson pays homage to jungle’s cyberpunk pedigree, capturing the sound’s irresistible vibration between dark euphoria and ecstatic paranoia in glitch and blur, channeling the technologically-enhanced anxiety of the hyper-stimulated present. This quality is something that Tim Reaper is also abundantly aware of and can be heard across his catalogue, as well as in the monotone mantra of Amit’s ‘Swastika’: People. Government. People. Truth. People. Government. People. Conspiracy. “Because I’m a web developer as well, I sort of know the implications as to how much data is being collected about all of us by all these places,” he told Tempo. “All the dark patterns, all the manipulation. All the A.I. and algorithms that work out what you’re like and feed back at you.” Reaper’s distinct approach and attitude builds a case for jungle being as apt a soundtrack today as it was in the ’90s and, together with Jack Anderson’s visuals, provides us with a glimpse of what it might be like in the future.
We curate a selection of our favourite commissions, documentaries, music videos, audiovisual works and mixes we presented in 2022.
Most people would agree that 2022 was a mess. It was a year spent in permacrisis, with goblin mode thoroughly engaged, a year in which vibes were shifted, culture wars were waged, won, lost and cancelled and very real wars were escalated in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Whether we’re in the Endcore now, or have communally relocated to Clown Town, the spaces for culture, more specifically the spaces for the singular kinds of expression Fact has been mapping for the last two years, have been and continue to be in a constant state of fragmentation and atomisation, emerging as theatres for what Dane Sutherland of Most Dismal Swamp describes as “arcane, encrypted cultures flourishing among the recesses of an online megalopolis and reinforced by offline organisation and social balkanization.” Perhaps a most dismal swamp is a fitting metaphor for the mess of 2022, what Sutherland identifies as an “inextricably entangled, adversarial Mixed Reality system: a bazaar of amateur heresies, microworld-building protocols, and dog-whistle memetics,” a place for the goblins to dance.
It is a flattened space, in which the teething problems of nascent technologies are transformed into new art practices and visual disciplines and the collapse of speculation on the future reloads the end of history, rendering the present absurd and impossible to parse. In the most recent memo from consultancy and creative studio Nemesis, Emily Segal, Martti Kalliala (of Amnesia Scanner) and Lucas Mascatello borrow a concept from sound/information theory: “The amplification of a dissonant signal creates distortion with artefacts (random sonic material accidentally produced by the editing process). These artefacts can themselves become an aesthetic.” We see powerful reflections on this dissonant amplification and distortion in Torus and Mark Prendergast’s hypnotic visual for ‘3000 Mirrors’, which uncouples footage of the sun from its digital footprint, transforming ghosting and lens flare into separately autonomous digital entities, in the now familiar lysergic squirm of Stephen McLaughlin’s GAN animations for Maxwell Stirling, or in the knotty patchwork of visual systems and effects used by Actual Objects to create the surreal ‘Notoriously Fast’ video for VTSS.
Exhaustion, chaos and confusion are some of the central tenets that writer Shumon Basar points to in his definition of ‘endcore,’ another term that could be used for the time and place that is 2022, where even that which has been accelerated is accelerating, the future has already been cancelled and signifiers and references are wrenched from their original contexts and stuck on top of each other – Katamari Damacy after the end of the world. We have seen some of the most exciting emerging artists and musicians grappling with these ideas: Hannah Rose Stewart and Blackhaine capture an egregore formed from the “architecture, ephemera and history of the working class in the North” in a bleak virtual environment, Thomas Harrington Rawle and Bjarki explore an alternative near-future in which corporations have weaponised mindfulness meditation and self-care practice to enslave what’s left of a divided humanity into its infinitely expanding workforce, while Visio and Rustan Söderling collapse myth and folklore into the post-apocalypse, imagining a great re-enchantment once civilisation has faded away.
In his final column for Spike Art Magazine, Dean Kissick asserts: “We’re told every morning that life is miserable and hideous, which it’s not, and also that culture is high-quality and life-affirming, which is plainly ridiculous. This is breathtakingly diabolical because the opposite is true: life is still beautiful, it’s culture that’s in the doldrums.” While we may largely agree, Fact has had the privilege this year of bearing witness to music and art that reminds us of Kissick’s optimistic take on life. See Lyra Pramuk’s intimate performance of bodily affirmation, live at the Volksbühne, or Theo Triantafyllidis and Slugabed’s comedic CG vanitas, a intricate assemblage of crab legs, apricot halves, esoteric knight’s helmets all serving as a joyous reminder of quotidian absurdity. Tune in, almost every Monday, to the Fact mix, which this year has presented the most forward-thinking, boundary-breaking, horizon-expanding producers and DJs you can hear right now. 2022 might be a swamp at the end of time, but there’s a lot that’s worth seeing and so many worth listening to.
In an original commission from Trauma Bar und Kino and Fact Magazine, concept artist and 3D designer Hannah Rose Stewart and musician and performance artist Blackhaine present MIASMA, a haunted world of lost souls, abandoned spaces and egregores. At once a visceral live production and an intricate digital environment and performance built in Unreal Engine, MIASMA is enveloped by what Stewart describes as “socially imbued feelings of loss, ghosts, magical realism and the uncanny in post-industrial society,” chasing an egregore formed from the “architecture, ephemera and history of the working class in the North,” as well as death drone, the Japanese dance theatre of Butoh and abandoned urban simulation as seen through the eyes of philosophical horror writer Thomas Ligotti.
For this episode of Patch Notes, we invited Manchester-based sound artist Vicky Clarke to 180 Studios for a special performance of her AURA MACHINE project, accompanied by visuals from her collaborator Sean Clarke. The piece, which takes the listener on a journey through what happens to a sound object when processed by a neural network, sees Clarke perform with live objects including her AURA Sculpture #1 STEEL – a resonant AI generated transmutational object and a glass bong.
In September 2021, Lyra Pramuk premiered a special live show at Berlin’s Volksbühne based on her album Fountain, developed in collaboration with choreographers Kianí del Valle and Nana, who brought a new dimension to the music of Fountain through dance and movement. In this original film from Fact, the trio talk about their own personal relationships with Fountain, the inspirations behind their work and the live show, and how the ideas and themes behind Fountain closely align with the movement of the body.
In this film, Romain Gavras and Surkin provide a unique insight into their collaborative project and audiovisual triptych, Neo Surf, which featured at Fact and 180 Studios’ Future Shock exhibition in 2021. “It’s almost more controversial to see a positive side, that even when the world is collapsing, kids will be kids and do stupid shit,” Gavras says of the work, offers a uniquely optimistic view of the future despite a sense of slowly unfolding catastrophe.
Created at 180 Studios’ XR space at 180 The Strand in collaboration with Actual Objects, ‘Notoriously Fast’ is a sci-fi horror thrill ride starring Martyna Maja, the artist known as VTSS. Drawing inspiration from Leos Carax’s modern classic Holy Motors and Jonathan Glazer’s astonishing Under The Skin, Case Miller, Claire and Rick Farin seamlessly blend live footage, CGI and A.I.-assisted imaging to create a high-speed fever dream steeped in visceral surrealism.
In this documentary, creative studio Actual Objects go into the themes and ideas behind their immersive installation Vicky, which featured at Fact and 180 Studios’ Future Shock exhibition over the summer. The narrative, which tells the story of a disaster from multiple different viewpoints and is augmented by sound design from Theo Karon, is spread across multiple screens, each of which houses a different character reflecting on the situation in different ways.
Still Life With Platypus, an original Fact commission, sees digital artist Theo Triantafyllidis and producer and sound artist Slugabed navigating a series of increasingly complex and surreal vanitases, ultra high detail assemblages of crab legs, apricot halves, esoteric knight’s helmets, glowing mesh nets, lit cigarettes and tree trunks, as well as the titular Platypus, revolving and reacting to Slugabed’s atmospheric score.
In this film, directed by Fact’s Pedro S. Küster and featuring exclusive footage from the live performance of the MUNCH Museet commission Not Yet, experimental saxophonist Bendik Giske discusses the many innovative techniques that go into creating his work, from circular breathing to using microphones mounted on the instrument to create different tonal qualities. Giske also discusses the inspiration behind Not Yet and the idea of ‘stepping out of the binary’ to create a unique tonal and spatial experience, one that communicates with both the audience and the performance environment.
‘Spores,’ a sinister highlight from London-based producer aircode’s debut album Grounded, sets foreboding squalls of noise against creeping horrorshow keys and ritualistic percussive clanks, constantly flirting with the sinister suggestion that something ancient and sprawling lurks just beneath the surface. The visual, made in collaboration with director Federico Barni and the South London Botanical Institute, cuts between a third person perspective and the perspective of a botanist, as glimpsed through the lens of a microscope, exploring interconnected ecological systems at both a micro and macro level.
In ‘Bot Møther’, art world provocateurs Paul Barsch and Tilman Hornig enlist the talents of CGI artist Darío Alva for a suitably surrealist visual for their exquisitely dissonant experimental jazz salvo, which smashes together squalls of saxophone and ripples of percussion with the sounds of sci-fi artillery, like an amphetamine-fuelled, midnight jam hammered out oblivious to an ongoing alien invasion. Alva taps into this surrealist barrage to bring us an urgent news bulletin, a scabrous send-up of the ludicrous spectacle of the sluggish spin of new cycles spewed forth from outdated legacy media institutions.
Eden Samara’s debut album Rough Night bounds from cosmic introspection on ‘Ultimatum’ and ‘Interlude’ to the sun-dappled skip and sensual stumble of ‘The Local’ and ‘Growing Into Your New Skin,’ weaving between bittersweet torch songs and near-future sex jams on ‘Sophie,’ ‘D4M,’ and title track ‘Rough Night’. Samara explores her internal worlds with openness and generosity, bringing us along for the ride no matter how raw and real. It is this exploratory quality of Rough Night that formed the primary inspiration for Samara’s collaboration with friend, artist and animator Natalia Podgorska, a hallucinatory game world modelled around each track from the album.
On Turn Of Phrase, Maxwell Sterling interpolates spatiotemporal displacement into highly emotional, richly textured sound design, feeding neoclassical instrumentation and arrangements into an experimental electronics centrifuge to distill a sound that is at once atmospherically expansive and technically rigorous. It’s this anachronism, of space and time, of composition and process, that audiovisual artist Stephen McLaughlin teases out with his maximalist visual response to ‘Decay Time’, arranging twitching GAN animations, video montage, Baroque lettering and esoteric iconography to construct a dream like sequence of intersecting histories and bisecting timelines, a blossoming rhizome of aesthetic practices past, present and future.
On the beautifully dazed visual for ‘a romance, the opener of more eaze’s album oneric, ‘a romance’, directors Zoé Martin and her husband Leo Gack transport us to the moments that follow on waking, as two young creatures of the night awake to the aftermath of a particularly debauched party. Cinematic synth swells and tactile sound design signal the first crepuscular rays of dawn light, a wave of warm distortion duplicated in the twilit haze that illuminates the site of what reveals itself to have been an orgiastic banquet charged with vampiric desire.
Emerging out of the curatorial experiments of Dane Sutherland, whose focus had previously centered around gallery exhibitions, distributive sonic fiction, club nights and other live events, Most Dismal Swamp is described by its creator as “an art project, a curatorial MMORPG, a fiction, a party, and a mixed-reality biome.” MUSH is the latest iteration of this process, an immersive world build adapted from a site-specific installation at the 2021 edition of Mira Festival in Barcelona, that blurs the lines between film essay, cursed ASMR and weird fiction.
Under the gaze of experimental filmmaker and video artist Rebecca Salvadori, refurbished factories and warehouses, industrial parks, dimly-lit underpasses and motorway-adjacent woodlands are produced not only as hedonistic spaces, the as yet undeveloped real estate upon which London’s clubs and free parties can find an all too often temporary home, but as liminal sites of transformative potential, in which one is suspended in fleeting moments of intimacy and communal connection. Cutting between non-linear documentary and abstract montage in a dissociative assemblage of image, sound and text, The Sun Has No Shadow navigates a vital shared territory between the moving image and live sound and performance, splicing footage from Canning Town institution FOLD and its beloved Sunday day rave UNFOLD next to testimonials from ecstatic ravers and Salvadori’s own friends.
Care More is artist Thomas Harrington Rawle’s series created in response to the confusion and absurdity of contemporary narratives of self-care in an increasingly cruel and atomised world. The film takes place in an intricately rendered, broken universe, in which the Care Corporation have weaponized mindfulness meditation and self-care practice to enslave what’s left of a divided humanity into its infinitely expanding workforce. In Affirmation Chamber, Rawle explores another of the dehumanizing procedures employed by Care Corp in the form of an overwhelming barrage of affirmation via immersion in a rigor mortis death grin “Affirmizer Helmet”. Featuring a stellar cast of voice actors, including VTSS, Bruce, Breanna Box, Joanna Kuchta, Hinako Omori, Mui Zyu, Enzo Samuel and Cathal Mckeon, the writer and co-creator of the Care More universe, Affirmation Chamber plays out against rich, textural sound design from producer Bjarki and serves as an introduction to their new live AV show, which debuted at the 2021 edition of Sheffield’s No Bounds Festival.
Developed from a previous collaboration between the producer and sound artist Torus and filmmaker Mark Prendergast, 3000 Mirrors uncouples footage of the sun from its digital footprint, transforming ghosting and lens flare into separately autonomous digital entities. Opening on rolling clouds, evocative of the infinite scroll and the imperceptibly frictionless relationship we have with our screens, the radial flare of the sun indicates a technologically enabled flattening of the star, it’s image digitally reproduced as visual effect. Just as Torus’s arpeggiated euphoria begins its serotonin spiking ascendency, the sun and its iPhone-induced visual artefacts are separated, moving as tracers disconnected from one another, as though manifesting the tension between silence and sonic swell that drives Woudstra’s production.
Set in a similar universe as Russel Hoban’s 1980s science fiction novel Riddley Walker, a stylistic portrait of a new Iron Age occurring two thousand years after a nuclear apocalypse, VISIO and Rustan Söderling lead us through a landscape of post-apocalyptic mythology, illuminated by fairy light in Youth Grows Forever, which explores the birth of a new mythology as the world becomes magical again following the end of civilisation.
Rising Manchester DJ Abena, one of the figures behind All Hands on Deck, the city’s foremost open deck party and DJ workshop for women, non-binary and trans people, spins through an ode to weird, trippy warm-up set sounds.
No one captured the manic energy of 2022 better than DJ Travella, the 19-year-old producer from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania responsible for the most exhilarating music of recent memory. Injecting crackling cybernetic energy into singeli, he has developed a semi-improvisational style incorporating production, DJing and live performance, in which samples are triggered using a Bluetooth keyboard he wields with the flair of a glam rocker. His Fact mix features improvised remixes from his album Mr Mixondo, one of the most essential projects of the year.
Ehua makes music that drifts irresistibly between shadow and sensuality, formed from dense swirls of carefully crafted sound design and lethal percussive gymnastics that permeate space and envelop bodies, precision-engineered for loose, instinctual movement. For her Fact mix she ventures further into the evocative expansiveness of her sound, exploring deconstructed and experimental soundscapes.
Juggling a day job in data science, creating deep learning models for predicting natural disasters, with running the reliably brilliant CHROME imprint, his long-running NTS show and releasing killer mixtapes for Promesses, Cav Empt and $hotta Tapes, Felix Hall’s is one of the deadliest ears around. His Fact mix bounds through some contemporary dancehall standards, a loving selection of some of 2022’s best dembow tunes, as well as some prime contemporary club cuts.
Latvian-born, Amsterdam-based producer Himera’s Fact mix is what falling in love on the internet sounds like, the overdriven, hyper saturated soundtrack to vaping in the club, k-holing in the bathroom and crying on the bus on the way home.
Stockholm-born, Bristol-based DJ k means leans hard into the deep, dark and amphibian, pitching us into a irresistible descent through high-pressure industrial throb, dread techno, ghost footwork, deepest, darkest dub and everything in-between.
A stark juxtaposition of comfort and discomfort, pleasure and pain, delicate and harsh from the Glasgow-based artist, DJ and producer KAVARI, who draws inspiration from drum and bass, industrial, hard dance, noise and ’90s electronica, creating tonally and rhythmically intricate tracks and edits that cross into the pop realm.
To mark the occasion of her cover feature in Fact Magazine Issue 03, Klein excavates a fragmentary soundscape that finds deeply expressive and personal texture within dissonance and disruption, navigating the music of her life by teasing out the connective tissue between avant-garde composition, spiritual songs, nu-metal and hip-hop.
If you have so much as a little finger on the pulse of south London’s unfuckwithable club scene, chances are mi-el needs absolutely no introduction. As co-booker of south Bermondsey institution Venue MOT and one of the driving forces behind the livestream and party series Late Night Shopper, as well as the brains behinds the reliably incredible design for both organizations, mi-el’s impeccable sonic and aesthetic tastes have been instrumental in setting the vibes throughout the pandemic and post-plague celebrations. For her Fact mix she turns in an irresistible session of formative music, ferocious club flames and some personal favorites, all as hot and humid as a 40-degree storm moving over London.
On perhaps the most ambitious Fact mix of the year, Sarahsson obscures beauty with grotesquerie, scraping ethereal sequences of harmony and light raw with squalls of dissonance and chaos, joining the dots between Adele and Giant Claw, System Of A Down and Anna Von Hausswolff, Bad Bunny and György Sándor Ligeti. “One of the themes I’ve been interested in musically recently is this idea of ‘vague music,’ these kind of suggestions of sounds and things that are almost there but maybe obfuscated or ambiguous in some way,” she explains.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing the lysergic sounds of Spekki Webu, chances are he was sending you into orbit. For his Fact mix, it’s clear we’re already there, drifting through deep space, enveloped in black hole drone, the dull light of distant stars suggesting itself in reverberant echoes, like condensation dripping in a cosmic ocean cave.
Torus embarks on a pilgrimage through sound and harmony, extracting the purest seams of emotion from the most maximalist forms of dance music, distilling intensely evocative compositions out of an omnivorous sonic palette to guide us, gently, on a transcendent commute through ambient music for apoplectic times. TikTok tornado siren resonance to study/relax to.
Torus embarks on a pilgrimage through sound and harmony, a transcendent commute through ambient music for apoplectic times.
One of the most arresting moments from The Flash, the modern classic split record from Torus, the production alias of visual and sound artist Joeri Woudstra, and DJ Lostboi, an alter ego of producer and composer Malibu, appears on DJ Lostboi’s track ‘Ordinary People’. The distorted trill of a dial tone opens the track, three friendly notes chiming in quick ascension, looping briefly only to be cut short by the synthetic familiarity of Giffgaff’s answerphone automaton, at once evoking that singular loneliness experienced while waiting in vain for a voice to fill the void and the pining dislocation of long distance calls with loved ones. Lostboi’s response: a melancholy sigh. It’s a moment of both raw emotion and tongue-in-cheek melodrama, a classic move from the “world emo boss,” but it’s the emotional weight of this sequence that Torus dials in on in his recent, vertigo-inducing expansion of the track, ‘Ordinary Twilight’. Taken from the ‘Deluxe’ version of The Flash, released earlier this month, here we start with the sigh, the muffled dial tone stretched out, drifting through a low, ethereal hum, the sounds of digitally-mediated intimacy and hours spent staring at phone screens, a small, quiet moment, amplified exponentially. “When I’m looking for music I’m not only looking for songs I like, but specifically what I like about them,” he told TANK Magazine. “Often it’s just one pad or a chord progression. I think focusing on that specific detail helps me understand myself and my own music more and helps me become more puristic in developing myself sonically. Finding sounds and looking for a way to harmonise them is kind of like a pilgrimage.”
This deferential approach to sound design is something that informs all of Woudstra’s music, which sees him extracting the purest seams of emotion from the most maximalist forms of dance music, distilling intensely evocative compositions out of an omnivorous sonic palette. But it’s the smallest details that matter most, a quality Woudstra’s productions and mixes share with Malibu’s cinematic soundscapes and DJ Lostboi’s irresistibly tender ambient pop edits. In may ways, Woudstra’s Fact mix inhabits a similar space to Malibu’s stunning addition to the series from last year, each weaving together a gossamer patchwork of ’90s trance and chill out, ’00s pop and modern experimental club music with intricate threads of their own production. “This mix is the ambient counter part of my 4444 DJ mix I did for Kaltblut back in August,” explains Woudstra. “Besides the selection being an extension of the latest record on the deeper, more ambient end of my musical spectrum, I tried to reimagine highlights of this summer performing throughout Europe. Closing Laserclub Marseille during sunrise in the mountains; playing two hours of ambient at Horst Festival in Belgium; performing the new live show at Kraftwerk Berlin, performing at sunset in front of my installation at Kunstfort Vijfhuizen, playing the Razzmatazz big room at the Primavera Year0001 stage. Songs that played a significant role on stage and in between stages; such as Opinion’s ‘Transcontinental’, which I play on loop for the entire duration of recent travels. Some forthcoming tracks by myself and close music friends. I haven’t made a proper ambient mix in quite a while and I feel like I’ve been holding it in for this occasion.”
Woudstra’s pilgrimage through sound and harmony moves between these scenes with a knowing, dewy-eyed nostalgia, a personal commute back through thoughts and feelings obscured from view yet thoroughly relatable in their poignancy. Opening with the natural resonance of Rafina Port in Athens, the crackle of iPhone recorded wind buffets seamlessly into the blissed out drift of Opinion’s ‘Transcontinental’. Transplanting short sequences from tracks, like the serotonin-spiking surge of Deadmau5’s ‘Strobe,’ or the gentle ricochet of the intro to Nightlands’ ‘No Kiss For The Lonely’, Woudstra isolates moments of glancing beauty and presents them in a new, suspended context, like carving movement in marble. He pulls soft focus on swathes of crystalline synthesis and visceral gurgles in Elysia Crampton Chuquimia’s ‘The Totaled Angelic,’ as extraordinary to be confronted by today as it was a decade ago, or on the distant stroboscopic loops of his own track ‘3000 Mirrors,’ the ascendent beauty of eye-lid twitching trance refracted three thousand ways. Snatches of heart-in-throat vocals from Kerry Leatham and Florence Sinclair rise to the surface before melting back below the clouds. At the beating heart of the mix Woudstra revisits one of the most beautiful accidents of recent memory, the moment when TikTok user @Maxoto_ found himself in the perfect point of superimposition of four tornado sirens phasing in perfect harmony, a celestial drone chorus heralding the onslaught of freak weather. It’s a fitting sound to signal the close of a year that has consistently unfolded with this kind of tension, caught between optimism and catastrophe, sliding uncontrollably between online and offline meaning making. Woudstra’s mix is similarly awe-inspiring, ambient music for apoplectic times.
The Flash (Deluxe) is out now. You can find Torus on Instagram.
Shaped around words taken from Count Ossie’s legendary track ‘Poem,’ Tom Neilan and Gareth Kirby send up a haunting homage to the reggae innovator in minimal percussion and high pressure bass weight.
“In the stillness of the night and the clamour of the day, Count Ossie’s wise poetic words ring true in every single way. Long live his legacy.” This homage opens the latest project from Alan Johnson, the dub-drenched alias of producers Tom Neilan and Gareth Kirby. Arriving in the same year as the 50th anniversary of Grounation, the ground-breaking album from Count Ossie’s foundational group, The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari, ‘Stillness’ serves as both timeless monument to and urgent invocation of the spirit of the legendary drummer, band leader and essential figure to many Rastafari. Shaping deadly bass weight and minimal percussion around words taken from Ossie’s track ‘Poem’, Neilan and Kirby trace the origins of their reverberant sound while offering a singular statement of their own, drawing from the deep well of earth energy tapped into by Ossie’s words. “This is a track that initially came together fairly quickly in the studio in Bristol, some time back in 2020, mainly due to the fact that it had clear direction and strong narrative for us,” explain the duo. “We think visual representation can be as strong in its effect on the senses as any audio output, in creating an entirely different dynamic in delivery of an idea. Working with Liam Higgins on the visual side of this project really provided us with the ability to journey creatively along paths rarely travelled within this type of music, from an audio visual perspective. Providing the opportunity to explore creativity instinctively and collaboratively on a visual level within a unique project for both of us, we really wanted to deliver something unique and personal.”
“We had similar interpretations on theme and it felt right to take it to a moody, frantic at times and eventually paranoid, place,” they continue. “We think the hybrid direction of both live and still images works well in the context of the musical message.” Snatches of shadowboxing set against fast approaching dusk, lonely rooms framed in black and red montage, monolithic residential buildings piercing dim skies, each eerie image captures the swirling tension and creeping paranoia of ‘Stillness,’ steeped in the uneasy balance between dread stasis and sudden explosions of sound and movement. “Ever since I was a youth / I’ve always been searching for the truth / But having been told so many lies / Life, like good music, never dies,” intones Count Ossie, at once prophetic and cautionary, a diagnosis of contemporary struggle as well as a gesture towards a means of overcoming it. “A man is a sufferer of no mean order / I must die one day you’ll all hear people say / Storing up wealth, ignoring their health / But a tree is known by its fruits.” Directing us back to the earth, the ground and the power that resides in it, both Count Ossie and Alan Johnson are aligned in their grasp of the physical, Ossie in his magical realist proclamations, Neilan and Kirby in the heft of their deep bass excavations, the surge of smoke-filled air rushing from hulking sound system. Designed to be amplified loud in the dark, ‘Stillness’ zeroes in on the introspective potency of dubstep, illuminating internal caverns with their sound, allowing Count Ossie’s words the space their weight demands.
A high-energy trip through international rave sounds old and new from Belizean-American DJ and producer Ariel Zetina.
As a resident of Chicago’s famed Smartbar, it makes sense that Ariel Zetina is strongly influenced by the city’s long history of house music. However, since her 2019 EP Organism, Zetina’s music has pushed the style forward by pulling in a varied tapestry of styles – soca, punta and brukdown (a nod to her mother’s Belizean origin) as well as video game soundtracks and late ’90s trance have all filtered into her process, which has consistently delivered some of the most inventive US club tracks of recent years.
Zetina’s debut album, Cyclorama – released earlier this year on Local Action – continued this run of form, drawing on her background as a theatre writer and her personal experience as a trans woman of colour to craft a dazzling set of tracks rich in narrative. “I imagine all the tracks on this as the lights and action projected onto the cyclorama,” Zetina says of the album. “The whole album is like the cyc, a representation of the sky. Or an imagined sky. An imagined dancefloor. An imagined theatrical production.”
On Zetina’s Fact Mix, she provides a window into the sound of her Diamond Formation party at Smartbar and that of her other nights in the city, including Ariel’s Party and Rumors. It kicks off with Morgan Hislop’s clattering club edit of Samantha Urbani’s ‘Time Time Time’, taking in barrelling rave techno from Devoye, Ikonika’s funk-tinged classic ‘PR812’, James Bangura’s punchy club tool ‘Monterrey’ and Jonny L’s hardcore classic ‘The Ansaphone’ before closing out with MCR-T & horsegiirL’s equine banger, ‘My Barn, My Rules’.
Stock footage and AI techniques combine on Rawle’s sardonic visual for Bjarki’s new single.
Bjarki’s ‘I Wish I Was A Model’ is the latest release on Differance, the new label from the Icelandic techno producer and visual artist Thomas Harrington Rawle. The track’s visual is an extension of Rawle’s previous work in his Care More universe, which exposes the absurdity of contemporary narratives of self-care through the fictional Care Corporation. His previous work, Affirmation Chamber, saw a human being gradually worn away into a smooth metallic humanoid, an idea that is explored from a different perspective in ‘I Wish I Was A Model’, whose video and repeated lyrical refrain function as a wry comment on how people view themselves in relation to their online personas.
“Care More is basically a response to that feeling,” Rawle says. “I’ve always felt making art is such a joyous and wonderful experience, the thru line of my experience in making things has been this. The Care More world is really just a mirror of this world and it helps me tie together my own visual language. I didn’t go to art school or have any formal education in doing what I do so putting it in an imaginary world which I can idly dream about helps makes the process make sense to me.”
While the previous two films in the Care More universe were made primarily with animation, the use of stock footage on ‘I Wish I Was A Model’ together with 3D graphics software Blender and text-to-image AI tool Stable Diffusion adds a new layer of disturbing realism to the ongoing narrative.
“I liked the idea of using Stable Diffusion to warp footage then selectively mask it out,” he says. “I was trying to find the most aspirational footage and throw it into what essentially feels like a meat grinder. I think essentially it feels like our world is becoming more and more fractured and in a state of decline. At the same time though there is this surge in technology. Also increasingly surreal ‘aspirational’ visions about how the world can work or what is important. It’s almost like normal, happy stress-free living is boarding a UFO and slowly taking off. Or sometimes I think of it like the titanic as one side sinks the other side is getting momentarily raised up sky high but then everybody slides down. So in that sense I liked the idea of viewing aspirational imagery and then throwing it through AI to make it somewhat abrasive.”
‘I Wish I Was A Model’ is also the latest in an ongoing collaboration between Rawle and Bjarki, which includes Affirmation Chamber and an AV live show, Look At Yourself. “I like to think the live shows are a bit like a live broadcast from that world.” Rawle says. The difference with the show is that we actively ask people to send pictures, videos and audio in so we can use it as a dataset and also as an input for the visuals. It was amazing when we did it in Amsterdam because people would see themselves on the screen or in the magazine and they had basically been processed in such a way that they would see a picture of someone that looked like them but not quite them, so it creates a bit of an uncanny valley experience.”
‘I Wish I Was A Model’ is the first single to be released on Bjarki and Rawle’s new label, Differance, which will also house Bjarki’s existing bbbbbb imprint. An extension of their ongoing audiovisual collaboration on and off stage, Differance is described as a new home to release and showcase AV projects, and will also incorporate a print magazine called GUM. “It’s the natural next step in our relationship, we can’t be together in a room without coming up with new ideas or stuff we would like to make,” Bjarki says. “Better to have one umbrella under all the things we would like to do, whether it is to start a strange magazine or an airline.”
GUM Magazine’s name comes from the idea that magazines are sometimes seen as disposable items. “Magazines are usually just like chewing gum, it’s single use. you look at it and throw it away – unless you are on the cover,” says Bjarki. “We like to create a magazine that can be based on maybe one person only, or a party. Focusing on forward-thinking art that is inspiring, a bit uncomfortable with volume of vulnerability and truth – candy for the brain.” The magazine will also use QR codes to link the reader direct to AV material that can’t be viewed on the printed page.
“Imagine a chewing gum that boosts your serotonin levels so much into a euphoric state but will taste like rotten horse marinated in chlorine. It will be something like that,” Bjarki says.
‘I Wish I Was A Model’ is out now. The track features on Bjarki’s new EP, ‘Look At Yourself Part 1’, which lands on Differance in January 2023. Bjarki and Rawle will also be playing live in forthcoming Foligno, Italy on 29 December and in London in the New Year.
Behind the scenes of Mosse’s latest film, now showing at 180 Studios.
Richard Mosse’s Broken Sceptre uses a range of scientific imaging technologies to capture environmental crimes in the remotest parts of the Brazilian Amazon. Created in collaboration with artist and cinematographer Trevor Tweeten and composer Ben Frost, the film, now installed at London’s 180 Studios, is the result of three years of painstaking documentation, using satellite imagery and extreme close-up techniques to capture macro and micro perspectives of a man-made environmental disaster.
Art21’s new documentary, What The Camera Cannot See, follows Mosse, Frost and Tweeten as they travel across the world to film under-reported world events in zones of conflict, repurposing surveillance technologies and scientific tools to capture stories and scenes that evoke deeper understanding and motivate audiences to act. “Climate change exists outside of human perception,” says Mosse. “I’m interested in trying to find a way to express deeply complex things by looking at these loaded landscapes. Bigger subjects that the camera can’t necessarily see.”
“Photography is at the very heart of understanding the velocity of deforestation and I began researching the cameras in the satellites that produce all the data, Mosse says in the documentary. “But what really made me more curious was the fact that the same cameras are being used by agribusiness and mining to maximize the exploitation of the land.”
“But I also wanted to change gears because a lot of the stuff we see in the Amazon is taken from over, from a high altitude. What about the stuff we don’t see, the non-human? If you take one square inch of life in the rainforest, it’s tripping with life. Just the amount of species is extraordinary. Scientists use ultraviolet lights to try and show things about plants. So I borrow that language and created these very strange, almost gothic nocturns.”
As well as going behind the scenes of Broken Sceptre, What The Camera Cannot See talks to Mosse about his career to date, from his early photojournalism documenting the missing persons crisis in postwar Balkan nations to later video works The Enclave, centred around war in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Incoming, about the migrant crisis. “I’m very interested in trying to find a way to express extremely, deeply complex things by looking very carefully at these loaded landscapes, bigger subjects that the camera can’t necessarily see,” Mosse says.
Broken Sceptre is showing at London’s 180 Studios, 180 The Strand until 30 December, 2022. Tickets are available from the 180 The Strand website. The installation is showing alongside Always Everything’s Lifeforms exhibition, which also runs until 30 December – tickets for that are available here.
Artist Chris Golden seeks to channel the spirit of nature within his digital practice, rendering natural objects within a virtual space and in so doing manifesting what he understands to be their true essence.
“It’s about the rebirth of a new reality,” says artist Chris Golden of his new film, Psychic Magic. Working in Unreal Engine and Cinema 4D, Golden seeks to connect objects, colour and form across digital and physical planes, developing his practice around the belief that a consistent energy flows through the natural and the virtual world, a belief which allows him to explore both the real and the unreal. “The film starts in this rocky desert space where we come across this summoning sculpture,” explains Golden. “The sculpture awakens the spirit of nature and the world is reborn.” Setting esoteric imagery – an alabaster horse head balancing on a stone pine cone, a bed of flickering candle stubs – against a gently euphoric score from Ross Ross, the artist lends cinematic weight to a tableau brimming with hidden meaning, an abandoned ceremony of a lost civilisation, the release of an earthly power long forgotten. “Psychic magic focuses on exploring the essence of reality,” continues Golden, “spiritually influenced and sharing alternative states of being.” As plucked MIDI strings and a chorus of synthesis mark a shift in perspective, the process of rebirth begins in flashes of blue light, snatches of voice marking the start of a new world, the natural reborn inside the digital.
“I see this spirit of nature as a manifestation of our true essence,” says Golden. “In my own practice, escaping into nature allows me to re-centre myself and allows myself to connect to an alternate perspective that I can bring into my life to spark creativity and inspiration. Bringing the need of balance into my life is so important to continue to grow and expand continuously, so the film is inspired by this point of view.” Golden’s new reality exists in this balance, blossoming from the overlap between natural forms and 3D render, caught in the interplay between photorealism and uncanny digital textures. We are presented with a sequence of scenarios that challenge our perception of reality and unreality: an open flower with a metallic stamen, tree bark dappled with impossible blue light, dense foliage frozen in time. What is reborn in these images is our own grasp of reality, each a manifestation of the natural and the digital in superimposition, existing across multiple planes of existence, coursing with psychic magic.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing the lysergic sounds of Spekki Webu, chances are he was sending you into orbit. For his Fact mix, it’s clear we’re already there.
With a powerfully psychedelic blend of trance, techno and ambient Dutch DJ and producer Spekki Webu has continually explored the realms of immeasurably deep, totally immersive sound system alchemy, seeking to open up portals to transport you, body and soul, to somewhere else, oscillating on another plane of existence entirely. In the opening moments of his Fact mix, it’s clear we’re already there, drifting through deep space, enveloped in black hole drone, the dull light of distant stars suggesting itself in reverberant echoes, like condensation dripping in a cosmic ocean cave. “It’s a super tripped out one,” explains the artist, “taking it a bit back in the BPMs, which I haven’t been doing for a while. I have been going back into some rhythmic, noise-orientated music that has been inspiring me lately. Lots of movement and hypnotic repetitive sound design.” A ghostly hum begins to assert itself, an eerie surge of bass echo and spiralling tessellations of phantom whispers, the steady throb of a monolithic presence moving in the darkness, clanks, stutters and glitches signalling a creeping chorus of high-tensile twinges moving slowly up your spinal chord. Perhaps this is the Mirror Zone, the transformative space from which Spekki Webu’s influential imprint takes its name. “Mirror Zone is you and me, it’s life,” the artist told Patterns Of Perception. “Everybody has a journey with his or her inner self throughout life. I have seen a few very good friends within my inner circle change so beautifully as human beings. That’s what really gets me inspired, that is the Mirror Zone for me.”
“Endless back and forth. Fragmented memories. Reconstructed dimension, new beginning.“
“It lifts off at a certain point in the mix,” continues Spekki Webu, “balancing between minimalistic hypnotism and more trance state textures with a shamanic twist for everybody, in all dimensions. The mix consists of my own tracks, tracks by friends, and upcoming label material. I have been experimenting with a hybrid setup, so the mix is hybrid recorded, mixing tunes while playing sound structures, rhythms and sound design live.” From out of the shadow the muffled sounds of bludgeoning kick drums ooze into focus, smudged until almost unrecognisable, addled chatter and voice floating through the soundscape like smoke. This faint suggestion of hardcore pressure unfurls as a nod to the artist’s formative years tripping between hard techno and gabber raves in Delft, Rotterdam and The Hague, something he cites as one of the primary inspirations behind his love of all things dark and psychedelic. “Experiencing how artists tried to push themselves time and time again to break boundaries, be unique and have an identity – to do what they really wanted to do and show such dedication – has been very inspiring and important for my mindset as an artist and label owner,” he has said. “The experimental and psychedelic part that comes from there is definitely something that has stuck with me as well within my style. In and around the country there were sound systems doing illegal raves, often playing harder styles and having a very psychedelic touch.”
“Vacated soul. Reborn into the new. Not how, but why?“
As more urgent percussive textures begin to take shape, hefty drums vibrating bones and internal organs, reminding us once more of terrestrial weight through stellar webs of static, Spekki Webu tilts into a one-way stream of forward momentum, disparate elements swirling together into more familiar configurations. Building to a relentless chug towards clarity, a mushroom-tinged techno pulse reveals itself slowly, the bright glow of a luminous planet swimming into focus on the event horizon. Shifting between jet black rattle and gauzy aquatic textures, IDM trills and ticks bobbing across the mix like eye floaters, our pulse suddenly quickens, our direction is set, a plunge back into the gravitational pull of solid ground. An interplay between dread ambience shot through with shadowy percussive charge and moments of illumination evoke stars streaking past into space, while gradually, from the darkness, a profoundly somatic groove winds its way to the surface. Phasing through patches of light and shade, riding a raging stratospheric tide of tension, Spekki Webu darts between polyrhythms before opening out onto this new planet’s surface, hurtling into chasms of sub bass and deep trenches of alien sound design. As though staring through mist into the sun of a new world a sequence of melancholy, piano-laced trip hop haze sets a new scene, before Spekki Webu releases the rhythm of our descent entirely, making contact with a textural coda of glitched-out ambient, caught in the overlap of extraterrestrial radio signals, a new sound from a new place.
“Ending cycle. Field of Eternity. Into the light.“
An Trinse sets a swirling soundscape of hypnotic drones, tumbling synthesis and double bass, courtesy of Maxwell Sterling, against stroboscopic fragments of 3D renderings of prehistoric sites, grainy, monochromatic fractals stamped with ancient glyphs and ancient, science fiction schematics.
As An Trinse, Northern Irish audiovisual artist Stephen McLaughlin reckons with the cultural history of Ireland with sound and image, mapping what he describes as “the uneasy atmospheres and silences left in the Irish psyche in the aftermath of colonial and religious repression, using archaeology and ancient history as a conduit.” Of particular interest to McLaughlin are bog fossils, specifically, the incredible preservative effects that the anaerobic environment of bogs can have in relation to natural tannic acids that result from the natural degrading of peat moss. “Bogs themselves contain a unique environment free of oxygen which prevents the growth of bacteria which would normally decompose flesh,” explains McLaughlin. “In their place are a species which degrades peat moss to form humic acid, which acts as a natural embalming environment similar to the process used when tanning leather.” This process can result in the perfect conditions for preservation, with ancient artefacts including bog wood, barrels of bog butter, entire farming landscapes enveloped by blanket bogs and bog bodies, with skin, hair and internal organs intact, having been found in incredible condition up to 5000 years after they were submerged in the wetlands. “There is a general mystery surrounding these artefacts,” continues McLaughlin, “and it is unknown whether the bodies were the result of human sacrifice, a punishment for a crime worthy of shame or honour, but they have captivated artists and thinkers as diverse and Joseph Beuys, Seamus Heaney, Sigmund Freud and Karl Jung whose feud over the meaning of these bodies inspired my earlier work, Corpses From the North. “They emerge as what Karin Sanders calls: ‘corporeal time capsules that transcend archaeology to challenge our assumptions about what we know about the past. By restoring them to the roster of cultural phenomena that force us to confront our ethical and aesthetic boundaries…excavates anew the question of what it means to be human.’”
It is within this frame that An Trinse explores Ireland’s violent history of colonial and religious oppression, incorporating iconography and the fossilised prehistoric culture of Ireland into his abstract excavations of cultural memory. It was during research completed as part of a collaboration with Sardinian artist Il Santo Bevitore, the same collaboration that served as the starting point for the above audiovisual work, that McLaughlin made the discovery that some of the oldest human remains unearthed in present day Northern Ireland, which date back about 5000 years, share close ancestral relatives with native Sardinians. “It is hard for the archaeological imagination not to run with this,” continues McLaughlin, “given the similar myths of giants, megalithic constructions and the concentric rings that run through both cultures’ artwork, which has been found as far away as the USA, and imagine there was some ancient network running between these cultures. Maybe it was simply through the slow process of cultural transfer, but perhaps a more mystical technology.” It’s these twin secret histories of ancient technology that McLaughlin explores in Humic Acid Regress, setting a swirling soundscape of hypnotic drones, tumbling synthesis, passages of uncanny ambience and double bass, courtesy of Maxwell Sterling, against stroboscopic fragments of 3D renderings of prehistoric sites, grainy, monochromatic fractals stamped with ancient glyphs and science fiction schematics. Mechanised, filtered footage of abandoned human settlements, as though plucked from an archive for extraterrestrial research, is superimposed with a self-generating, organic user interface, as though the artist has recovered the advanced communications technology of a lost civilisation from unknown depths, dripping with bog acid.
Ordnance survey maps of interstitial spaces seem to plot a lost megalithic network, while the overlay of an interconnected matrix of golden transmitters gestures towards the kinds of technology now lost to these ancient civilisations drowned in soil and moss. In this collage of imagery, McLaughlin seeks to trace an alternate history of these mysterious sites, developing a multidisciplinary practice he describes as “based on research undertaken looking into connections between ancient civilisations and the speculative history of a global prehistoric society with advanced manufacturing technology that was destroyed by some kind of apocalyptic event leaving few clues to their origin. There is something especially troubling here, deep in the Anthropocene, where signs of societal and ecological collapse seem to loom.” What McLaughlin effects, then, is a form of audiovisual time travel, in which his non-linear depiction of a speculative ancient history generates a space in which hidden pasts bleed into lost futures, a concept he lifts from the writings of The Teardrop Explodes frontman and Neolithic authority Julian Cope. “Another influence was Julian Cope’s ‘Time-shifting Gnostic Hooligan Road Novel,’ One Three One, where a psychedelic traveller finds a way to journey to ancient Sardinia through massive doses of hallucinogens,” says McLaughlin. “Over the last 30 years Cope has become an expert on the megaliths and ancients of European prehistory and has published several highly sought-after books on the subject that point towards a complex and mystical society that, despite being much more advanced that conventional wisdom would have us believe, has also left very few clues to who they were or how they met their end. These two different types of acid fused into imagining an ancient technology, travelling through time and space, within the ecology of the bog.”
“The piece itself was developed as the end of the current An Trinse live show that has been showing this year,” continues McLaughlin. “The backbone has remained, but what has gone over the top has been in flux, so I only recently had the idea of having Maxwell to provide strings to add some humanity to the chasms of noise.” You can catch Maxwell Sterling performing live with Stephen McLaughlin, who will provide live visuals, at Cafe Oto on December 6.
An Trinse will perform live at [ADSR]4, an experimental music event showcasing new and international sonic artists. Ticket are available now.
Courting chaos and curiosity through a continent-crossing bounce between dancehall, dub, tarraxo, techno, gqom and drill, this week’s Fact mix is a typically joyous dispatch from Tash LC.
“This mix is a real representation of me: a lil chaotic, curious, ambitious, gutsy,” says Tashan Leah Campbell of this week’s Fact mix. “It’s a snapshot of what I’m about as a DJ, always ready to try new things and explore new and unexpected ways of linking genres.” Courting chaos and curiosity through a continent-crossing bounce between dancehall, dub, tarraxo, techno, gqom and drill, it’s a typically joyous dispatch from one of the most exploratory and vital voices in a scene in sore need of exploration and vitality. Alongside kindred spirits Mina and Juba she is a third of Boko! Boko!, one of London’s most essential parties and DJ collectives, which since 2015 has been an incubator for all three of their influential, all-embracing approaches to music, as well a powerful force for good in the shape of a community of like-minded artists and ravers built on diversity, inclusivity and sustainability. It’s a project that Tash has continued and expanded upon with her own club night, community, radio show and record label, Club Yeke, which presents styles from the African Diaspora, South and Latin America, all channeled through the irrepressible sweaty energy of UK dance culture. “At my core, success is doing the things that I love and doing them with integrity,” she told Wonderland. “I want to be continually putting out artists that I really rate and continuing to build a platform for those people.”
This same spirit lights up every second of her Fact mix. Whether it’s a recently unearthed disco mix of a UK dancehall gem from Sister Candy bubbling through screwed ragga and humid jungle dub from Seekersinternational, hiccuping tarraxo clatter from B1 Produções ricocheting off the seismic rumble of pioneering Cairene producer and rapper Rozzma and Bambounou’s dissonant percussive excavations, or an inspired whip pan from ‘Afrorave’ megastar Rema to ethereal psych throb from Daniel Avery and the deepest, darkest new rhythms from RS Produções lynchpin DJ Narciso, Tash LC draws wide and never misses, finding precise through lines in rhythm and mood with one ear while the other is tuned to a truly global frequency. She even finds time for a sequence exploring African artists experimenting with technology and sound in ways that present progressive alternatives to Eurocentric standards. UX designer Babusi Nyoni uses machine learning to create an algorithmically generated gqom track that bangs harder than your life with ‘Artificial Intelligence Gqom’, Nigerian sound and installation artist Emeka Ogboh threads together a creeping dub patchwork of field recordings, percussion and reverb on ‘Ayilara,’ which was heard echoing off the concrete walls of Berghain during their pandemic exhibition, Studio Berlin, while Brian Bamanya, better known as Afrorack, demonstrates the transformative power of his DIY modular system with ‘African Drum Machine,’ which uses a Euclidean rhythm sequencer to divide CV signals into intricate algo-polyrhythms that mimic structures that exist in many East African musical forms.
Moments that demonstrate a formidable knowledge and a sensitive finger to the pulse of global dance styles are found throughout the mix, a result of the deep care and consideration that Tash invariably brings to her work. “It sounds cheesy, but I’m creating a story through my set a lot of the time,” she says. “I love connecting with people in a crowd, knowing that you’ve got somebody’s attention or you can almost see their eyes light up when they discover something they haven’t heard before.” Not simply satisfied with her own expansive focus, it’s clear that Tash LC is determined to open up all of our ears, too.
In an original commission from Trauma Bar und Kino and Fact Magazine, concept artist and 3D designer Hannah Rose Stewart and musician and performance artist Blackhaine present MIASMA, a haunted world of lost souls, abandoned spaces and egregores.
An ‘egregore’ can be defined in various ways. An occult concept dating back to the 16th-century Enochian magic of John Dee and Edward Kelley, egregores were understood to be angelic beings, watchers of earthbound civilisations and the ancestors of the Nephilim, mysterious beings of gigantic stature that are written about in the Hebrew Bible. An egregore can also be understood as a non-physical entity, or thought-form, created by the conscious or unconscious will of a group or community, whose emotional and energetic focus imbues the entity with autonomy and the power to influence. Defined variously as an energised astral form, the result of communal will and visualisation and as a symbolic pattern, the concept of the egregore lends itself eerily well to the hyperstitional meme magic of our contemporary multi-platform mire, a strategy for thinking through the increasingly esoteric and atomised communities, complete with their own multi-user shared hallucinations, that break off as the result of the dispersion and entropy of the platforms we once mistook for a digital commons. For Hannah Rose Stewart and Blackhaine, the egregore is also the spectre which haunts and is embodied by MIASMA, their ambitious and enigmatic multi-disciplinary collaboration stretching from Berlin’s foremost exploratory art space, Trauma Bar und Kino, to the algorithmically compressed plane of the screen. At once a visceral live production and an intricate digital environment and performance built in Unreal Engine, MIASMA is enveloped by what Stewart describes as “socially imbued feelings of loss, ghosts, magical realism and the uncanny in post-industrial society,” chasing an egregore formed from the “architecture, ephemera and history of the working class in the North,” as well as death drone, the Japanese dance theatre of Butoh and abandoned urban simulation as seen through the eyes of philosophical horror writer Thomas Ligotti.
Opening in total darkness, the opening excerpt of MIASMA presented above makes itself known via the dread hum and rusted industrial buzz of Blackhaine’s score, a dark, amniotic throb that rises up from pitch dark waters which slowly reveal themselves, the undulating surface of the waves forming a writhing skin, as though stretched over the crawling, intumescent flesh of a hulking leviathan. Submerged on the other side of this a man drifts listless, limbs outstretched toward the mirrored membrane of the water’s surface, pale flesh barely visible through grey currents. Wrenched up and out of the water, the muffled echoes of Blackhaine’s defiant cry come keening through thick fog, an inaudible invocation that nonetheless transports us to MIASMA’s next apparition, a grey glimpse of a stained beach, framed by the grim bricks of industrial coastal development. “One example of the egregore that MIASMA incorporates is world building in games,” explains Stewart of MIASMA’s opening scene, which is modelled on a culmination of places, non-places, and spaces important to both her and Blackhaine. “There’s a similar building by the beach in my home that was also used as a WWII artillery,” she continues. “I remember similar spaces being abandoned and littered. Each state changes how they are perceived through time.” Understanding her own process of collaborative world building as itself the making of an egregore, a contemporary, Neo-Gothic mode of ghostly virtual composition, Stewart associates her practice with Mark Fisher’s writings on hauntology, specifically, as Fisher describes in Ghosts Of My Life, the transposition of “ghost stories out of the Victorian context and into contemporary places, the still inhabited or the recently abandoned.” In this excerpt of MIASMA, an abandoned beach, the “shallow place, bled dry” of Blackhaine’s macabre utterance, is positioned as one of these ‘non-places,’ pervaded by the kind of haunted stillness that permeates the dull concrete of once thriving ports and old military fortifications, paved over with memories of death and drowning.
“One recurring theme in gaming worlds is that of the ghost town, found in titles like Silent Hill, or in the fact that game architecture sits vacant until the player enters,” says Stewart. “Vacant aesthetics generally proliferate game space. I think this parallels physical spaces plagued by ghosts such as defunct industrial shipyards, old bed and breakfasts no longer in use, or empty playgrounds in the rain.” The harsh whirr of Blackhaine’s score signals an uncanny glide onto the beach, revealing abandoned pill boxes and signal towers, all sodden metal, salt-flecked stone and splintered wood, standing as headstones marking the violent processes of industrialisation that birthed them. Here is from where the egregore emerges, a haunted space of a different kind. For Stewart and Blackhaine these ghosts have a very material presence, the result of post-industrial chaos magic in the liminal spaces of late capitalism, producing phantoms hanging in the wake of the disembowelling effects of austerity and inequality. In this way, the sinister autonomy of the egregores of MIASMA can be understood in terms of what Fisher described as “the agency of the virtual,” a spectre understood “not as anything supernatural, but as that which acts without (physically) existing,” a formulation borne out in Stewart’s 3D practice. “Even though the buildings are taken from real places, they are hollow and merely a veneer,” notes Stewart. “In the Unreal environment, you wouldn’t see anything behind any door, just grey. We took a similar approach to the defunct business signage, which we generated through AI tools that rendered this stylised, illegible language. That detail brought out a dissociating quality to walking through a place designed to be familiar.” Suspended in time, as though past, present and apocalypse are all collapsing in on each other, the virtual world of MIASMA can itself be understood as an egregore, a familiar place made strange, an environment that has created an apparition, which itself is an entity around which an environment has been constructed.
In his essay ‘The Slow Cancellation Of The Future,’ Mark Fisher describes haunting as “a failed mourning,” asserting that “it is about refraining to give up the ghost or – and this can sometimes amount to the same thing – the refusal of the ghost to give up on us.” Washed up on this beach at the end of the world, Blackhaine exists as a digital homunculus, an avatar made in the image of a man, left to wander through the ruins of MIASMA, his words echoing off wet brick and cold stone. Reflections on desperation, dead bodies and suicidal thoughts are shot through with void noise and creeping tension, vivid images of heels dug in dirt, a spade dug into sand. “Tide’s keeping me awake,” he mutters under his breath, “been numb to the waves, let me dance let me dance let me dance.” Drawing on Stewart’s imagery, which for Blackhaine evokes “Blackpool, another hotel room,” the artist uses MIASMA as space to reckon with personal demons in a motion capture performance he describes as “semi biographical” and incorporates elements of Japanese dance theatre practice Butoh. “It came about from an empty resort,” he explains, “it is a situation with both possibility and doomed inside – I chose to use this space as a symbol of how I feel.” Butoh, developed in the years following World War II, is a discipline that by its very nature evades definition, drawing from taboo and modelled on movement under duress or pain as an aggressive response to bourgeoise refinement. One of its pioneers, Tatsumi Hijikata, described it as a “turn away from the Western styles of dance, ballet and modern,” intended to evoke “the natural movements” of working class people. Assimilated into Blackhaine’s iconoclastic movement practice, Butoh serves as a cathartic expression of raw emotion, his violent, primal movement translated in staccato animation and virtual glitch. Bent double with rage, contorted with pain, hands and fingers twitching with rigor mortis tension, the Blackhaine avatar is pinned under the collective weight of MIASMA, neither entity able to give up the ghost.
“The movements were not captured entirely by the computer,” notes Stewart. “For me, Tom’s approach ascribed a certain possessed quality to the character on screen, which helped emphasise the feelings we were looking to capture in the work.” As iron lung bass and harsh percussive scrapes beat out a slow, funereal pulse, rock formations shrouded in smog swinging past, Blackhaine’s intonations become more urgent, eerie ambient wails glancing off his words as he breathes: “got me hung up on this wire.” The oceans turning turbulent, his naked appeal churning the waters around MIASMA’s rocks, his visions become apocalyptic (“I’m the only one alive in these streets”), glacial synths staking his stream-of-conscious prayer of pain into the sand, delivered at once inward and outward, the voice of MIASMA, channelled through the collective smog of generational trauma and malaise from which the egregore emerges. “Through the virtual and the choreographic, MIASMA autopsies the post-industrial urban corpse, carves out and meditates on its wounds in unparalleled catharsis,” concludes Stewart, “an embrace with a dark simulacrum that’s intimate, melancholic and abrasive.” Parsing through the entrails of this non-place, one of many sites of the most egregious hollowing out via the tentacles of capital, we can catch glimpses of its true nature, shards of mirrored glass protruding from internal organs, glinting back the familiar from within the abject flesh of the haunted. “We must also recognise the extent to which the capitalist dystopia of 21st Century culture is not something that was simply imposed on us,” writes Fisher. “It was built out of our captured desires.” From a now empty chest cavity there springs a new entity, an intoxicating miasma, a cold and empty portrait of our captured desires shone back at us, presented as abandoned architecture for us to chase ourselves through. In this contemporary Gothic mode the present is irrevocably ruptured by the eternal creep of the past, all signs of life extracted, leaving Hannah Rose Stewart to map its ruined landscape and Blackhaine the only one left alive to speak its name. With no glimmer of hope, no room for optimism, each artist is compelled to share this emptiness with each other, as well as with us. “Being able to talk about a shared experience is a form of solidarity,” asserts Stewart.
MIASMA was originally performed at and commissioned by Trauma Bar und Kino, curated by Madalina Stanescu and featuring music from Rainy Miller and Croww. The above excerpt is a new commission from Fact, elements of which were presented in Issue 04 of Fact Magazine alongside original poetry from Blackhaine.
For more information about Hannah Rose Stewart and her work you can visit her website and follow her on Instagram. You can find Blackhaine on Instagram and Bandcamp.
Video, installation, & performance Presented at Trauma Bar und Kino on October 12, 2022.
Curated by Madalina Stanescu Credits – Hannah Rose Stewart & Blackhaine Photo Credit – Lengua Principal Filmography, Production UE5 – Filip Setmanuk Editor – Marco Stoltze Motion Capture – Samuel Capps MOCAP Cleanup – Anastasia Holumbovska 3D Asset Creation – Lucas Hadjam Lighting Design – Felix Ward Music Production – Rainy Miller Music Production – Croww Choreographic Performance – Louis Ellis Graphic Design – Jordi Theler
Special thanks to Kyle Van Horn & The Trauma Bar und Kino team
Taken from her third album, All Above, dedicated to the memory of legendary experimental musician and Editions Mego founder Peter Rehberg.
On ‘Human,’ a stunning assemblage of acoustic instrumentation and elegant synthesis from the Berlin-based, Dutch-Italian composer and sound designer Aimée Portioli, better known as Grand River, a restrained tension between fleeting moments of corporeal beauty and a devastating wave of synthetic sublimity pervades. Gently stuttering samples, looping vocal chatter and choral peals drift between the heart-breaking vibration of resonant piano and artist Marco Ciceri‘s imagery, heavy mist draped over the rocks around a waterfall, the sounds of unseen voices reverberating around sheer rock. Starting as little more than a flutter, the rising surge of driving bass synth begins to clear the air, the arrival of a silent, monochromatic torrent, billowing clouds of foam and spray signalling a change in the emotional tide of the track. While constantly threatening to overwhelm the fleeting mortal beauty of voice and struck string in this electronic deluge, we’re never totally submerged, never subjected to the crushing weight of the waterfall’s base, as ornate glimmers echo in the distance, the ever-present piano and ethereal haze of choirs and voice continue to swirl through the lethal current, captured as an infinitely repeating, slow motion cascade.
Taken from Portioli’s third album as Grand River, All Above, ‘Human’ is indicative of the expansive scope of the record, which sees the artist building voices, strings, organs, guitars and synthesis around acoustic piano compositions, which resonates at the heart of each. It is the emotional heft of the piano that Portioli seeks to channel throughout the record, which seeks to explore the guiding forces behind our internal drives and urges, mapping different instruments onto different moods, using arrangements to chart progression through different states of being. Drawing from her training as a linguist, this sonic vernacular is conceived as an emotional language transcendent of cultural constraints, eschewing visual metaphor and imagery for non-verbal forms of self-expression. With his visual for ‘Human,’ Marco Ciceri achieves something similar, never showing us the source of the water, instead pulling focus on the unstoppable force of the waterfall’s terminal velocity and the roiling river underneath. What we are left with is an image of natural sublimity abstracted, with Grand River’s composition ringing in our ears.
‘Human’ is taken from All Above, which arrives on February 24, 2023, via Editions Mego. The album is dedicated to the memory of legendary experimental musician and Editions Mego founder Peter Rehberg, who died suddenly last year at the age of 53.
For more information about Grand River and her work you can find her on Instagram and visit her website. You can find Marco Ciceri on Instagram and at his website.
Modern rave music from one of Scotland’s most exciting new club producers.
In 2021, Glasgow-born and based producer and DJ TAAHLIAH made an impact with the release of her debut EP, Angelica, a deeply personal collection of tracks that explored her identity as a trans, working class person that grew up in the small Scottish town of Kilmarnock. The seven-track release showcased her irresistible combination of hard dance and pop influences, a sound that reflects Scotland’s legacy of rave and hardcore, influenced in part by the similarly adventurous pop of artists such as SOPHIE and Purity Ring.
TAAHLIAH’s DJ style is just as fearless as her productions. Rarely dipping below 140BPM, her sets are a celebration of modern rave music, blending happy hardcore edits of commercial pop tracks with fast paced music from her contemporaries. TAAHLIAH’s Fact Mix is off the wall in the best possible way, combining reworks of David Guetta, Azaelia Banks and Rosalía with the blog house revival from Doss, a piano house remix of SOPHIE’s ‘Infatuation’ and host of frenetic club cuts from ÅMRTÜM, Dialog, Himera and TAAHLIAH herself.
“The definition of play… with a drive for kinetic energy,” is how TAAHLIAH describes the mix. “The prioritisation of movement and glamour, during a time when there’s a lack of sunlight.”
Next year, TAAHLIAH will be playing two exciting live shows: a collaboration with the London Contemporary Orchestra at London’s Southbank Centre on 1 Feb, 2023, and her new live show The Ultimate Angels, at Glasgow’s SWG3 on Feb 18, 2023.
Skin on Skin — ‘For Tha Shot’ Mikey Barreneche & Z A K — ‘Shots Fired’ Forbid & Coppa — ‘Pose Position’ ROSALIA — ‘CUUUUuuuuuute’ (TIDEWARP TREATMENT) MK — ’17’ (Bleu Clair Edit) David Guetta — ‘Titanium’ (ft. SIA) (PZZS Flip) Darren After — ‘Pretend (Edit)’ Sam Smith & Kim Petras — ‘Unholy’ (Disclosure Remix) [Kim’s Verse] Moksi – ‘So Fly ft Lil Debbie’ (Mikey Barreneche Bootleg) Ayesha Erotica – ‘SexyBack x Rockstar x Taboo’ (AARONON Mashup) Azealia Banks — ‘ATM JAM’ (The Oddword Remix) Doss — ‘Look feat. Rye Rye’ (All Night Mix) SOPHIE — ‘Infatuation’ (Lichtbogen Dreamin’ Remix) ÅMRTÜM – ‘ACAB’ TAAHLIAH — ‘Bodies’ (feat. Luca Eck) Azealia Banks — ‘New Bottega’ Dialog – ‘Muthafucca’ Himera – ‘You Make It Look So Easy (Lucky)’ [feat. Petal Supply] Materia — ‘Kids’ (UHD Remix) Manni Dee — ‘Pillow Princess’ (TAAHLIAH Remix)
Working in collaboration with friend, artist and animator Natalia Podgorska, Eden Samara explores a hallucinatory game world modelled around each track from her debut album, Rough Night.
Rough Night, self-described as “a tragicomedy in seven scenes and an interlude,” is the sound of singer, writer and producer Eden Samara working things out. Pulling focus on an irresistible club pop sound, threaded through with contributions from the best and brightest in contemporary dance music, including Call Super, Shanti Celeste, TSVI and Loraine James, Samara’s debut album is at once a coming of age story and an intimate testament to the challenges of drawing from such personal places. “I think well into our adulthood we still go through cycles of losing ourselves and finding ourselves again, so the album encompasses a cycle of growing pains, then coming out the other end where one might appear the same but inside something has shifted,” the artist explains. “I wanted the album as a whole to sound a bit unpolished, like real people making music with little to no equipment and a lot of heart.” Bounding from cosmic introspection on ‘Ultimatum’ and ‘Interlude’ to the sun-dappled skip and sensual stumble of ‘The Local’ and ‘Growing Into Your New Skin,’ weaving between bittersweet torch songs and near-future sex jams on ‘Sophie,’ ‘D4M,’ and title track ‘Rough Night,’ all the while whipping up an anthem for emotional complexity in the shape of ‘Madonna,’ Samara explores her internal worlds with openness and generosity, bringing us along for the ride no matter how raw and real. It is this exploratory quality of Rough Night that formed the primary inspiration for Samara’s collaboration with friend, artist and animator Natalia Podgorska, a hallucinatory game world modelled around each track from the album.
“Rough Night is a journey through internal change and growth, and we wanted to reflect that in the visuals – every song is a different scene that visually represents my internal world,” explains Samara. “The record documents a four year period at the end of my twenties where I totally changed as a person. Some people call it a Saturn return. It was like growing pains – when we grow, we go through all these feelings that are a progressive experience.” Podgorska takes the record’s eight tracks and constructs an intricate ecosystem around each of them, through which a virtual avatar of Samara is free to explore, manifesting her soul-searching into an expansive virtual odyssey. “I loved the idea of having a collection of visual pieces that tie together through music within an album that’s also very coherent,” says Podgorska. “It’s growing pains, it’s growth. I love having something that ties it all together visually. Technically it was a fun challenge to work with music I already had and I could create this world where certain elements of the game engine are reactive to the music, so watching the album video you can spot elements that are not just animated for your pleasure, but respond to beats and certain frequencies.” Starting out in a central hub area that invokes the warm memory of the Toronto neighbourhood bar that ‘The Local’ takes its name from, the titular Rough Night unfolds through landscapes of alien flora and fauna, iridescent bubbles and tentacular speaker stacks, flitting between outer and inner space. In one moment Samara floats through a shoal of richly textured sheets of fabric, rippling in zero gravity, while the next sees her strolling across a rainbow bridge, stepping past neon tracers of jubilant ravers, the spirit of letting loose picked out in shimmering light.
“It’s all made possible by using the game engine Unreal,” continues Podgorska. “I wanted to embrace the game-like associations, working in a game engine, so we have this character that looks a bit like Eden. She travels across the space as the listener is progressing through the music. The album is a journey in every aspect, so I wanted the video to reflect the journey of this character, which is Eden, and she’s going through that experience, that space and we get to travel around with her.” In a gesture that mimics the confessional quality of Samara’s lyrics, both artists are committed to opening up the experience of Rough Night further, with the intention to release the game for anyone with a PC to play. Just as everyone coming to the game will witness Samara’s journey in a wholly singular way, the process of opening out the album into a sequence of immersive worlds sheds new light on the artist’s own experience of making the album. “The record follows me evolving into an adult, I guess in a nutshell it’s my own adult coming of age story,” Samara reflects. “Ultimatum was the first song that I wrote for the record, and summarises my headspace at the beginning of this period of change. I was very disconnected from myself and had to go on a journey of reconnecting back in. Funnily enough, that included a physical journey of relocating from Canada to the UK”. We see this relocation reflected in Podgorska’s level design, with the progression from the first stage of the game to the second, from ‘Ultimatum’ to ‘The Local,’ following Samara taking flight from her neighbourhood bar, touching down into the loving buzz of a new world teeming with life. Fittingly, it’s this same hub we find ourselves ending up at in the game’s final stages, a chance to return with new experiences and fresh perspective.
“The title track ‘Rough Night’ I also wrote early on, but purposely placed it last in the album track listing as a way to represent my eventual choice to come back from that place of disconnect and start actively participating in my own life again,” Samara says of the cyclical nature of the game. “Basically, you’re going through a bunch of fucked up shit but moving through that and navigating back to an emotional place where everything looks different, better, almost like going through stages of grief, where at first we tend to disconnect and then maybe hang out in denial for a while. Thinking that you’re back on track, you just end up partying all the time and fooling yourself that you have your shit together. Some of that partying is really fun and maybe cathartic, I’ve always found the dance floor healing. So there are lots of moments of joy too, and that’s also reflected in the music.” Ultimately, the internal worlds crafted by Podgorska exist to be explored at your own pace, a metaphor, perhaps, for the growing pains from which Samara draws inspiration from, the unrefined emotion that makes these songs hit so close to the heart. “It was a big challenge, being an album length piece,” says Podgorska. “It’s also a very interesting middle place of work for me. Usually clients just want to use my skills, whereas Eden also wanted my creative input. To have this thing where, I want it to be good, but also this artist is breathing down my neck because they want it to be good – I cherished this relationship. Thank you Eden.”
Rough Night is out now, on Local Action. You can find Eden Samara on Instagram, Bandcamp, and catch her performing tracks from Rough Night live for the first time on Wednesday, November 16, in support of Bodysync. Tickets are available now.
For more information about Natalia Podgorska and her work, follow her on Instagram and visit her website.
For her Fact mix, Sarahsson obscures beauty with grotesquerie, scraping ethereal sequences of harmony and light raw with squalls of dissonance and chaos.
The Horgenaith, the astounding debut album of hardcore classical vivisections from polymathic composer, producer, performance artist, DJ and instrument maker Sarahsson, takes its name from something the artist misheard. “My dad is a big Tom Waits fan,” she told The Quietus, “and in ‘Cemetery Polka’ there’s the line “independent as a hog on ice”. As a child, I misheard this as ‘Horgenaith.’ Because it sounds similar to the word ‘Argonaut’ and I’d seen bits of the film Jason And The Argonauts with the Hydra, I made this association in my head, and have had this idea ever since of a creature called The Horgenaith.” Describing the creature in an interview with Kaltblut as “a colossal thurse, a many-necked beast thrashing and lamenting and wrought of iron and clay, leather and moss, organ pipes and bellows,” the conjuring of this mythopoetic beast serves to mirror the artist’s own transformative acts of queer cacophony. Drawing as much inspiration from folklore and the natural world as she does harsh noise and gore, Sarahsson alloys classical composition with hardcore, metal and electronic experimentation, finding a shape-shifting sound between recordings of a homemade daxophone, an experimental, electronic instrument crafted from hard wood, self-made samples and a patchwork of field recordings. Through and with all of this noise, the sound of the Horgenaith, she explores queerness through the lens of “transmutation, embodying contradicting parts of oneself,” as she describes: “finding familiarity in difference is a lot of what queerness is about for me.”
Pursuing that which you have misheard, or can’t quite hear, is something Sarahsson continues to explore with her all-embracing Fact mix. “One of the themes I’ve been interested in musically recently is this idea of ‘vague music,’ these kind of suggestions of sounds and things that are almost there but maybe obfuscated or ambiguous in some way,” she explains. The Horgenaith opens with ‘Ancient Dildo Intro,’ a bracing blast of choral peals, sensual squelches and distorted exhalations, the cry of the Horgenaith, every sound save for piano and birdsong made by the artist’s mouth. It’s an urgent introduction, as well as powerful statement of intent, a vocal warm up exercise for an entity in constant flux. Sarahsson pulls off a similar trick for the introduction to her mix, a smog clearing medley of Adele, Giant Claw’s masterful inversion of ‘Set Fire To The Rain’, and Lexxi & Elysia Crampton’s canonical ‘Esposas 2013 (No Drums)’, the combined effect of which sounds like a MIDI orchestra tuning up, air horns blown in contrapuntal rhythm with pizzicato strings and flourishes of laser-focused oscillation. “A lot of the mix feels very autumnal, sort of turning inwards and flourishing through decomposition,” she continues. “The tracklist is mostly things I’ve been listening to whilst touring and it feels like the different types of events I’ve been playing really show in the variety here, some very ambient moments, some very intense.” It’s a mix of dramatic contrasts, in which beauty is obscured by grotesquerie, ethereal sequences of harmony and light scraped raw by squalls of dissonance and chaos.
Gabor Lazar’s synthetic dissection of Jesse Osborne-Lanthier & Grischa Lichtenberger’s ‘Good Morning America’ is stretched into the connective tissue between the hopeful procession of Yves Tumor’s ‘Role In Creation’ and the MIDI harpsichord jam ‘Sunbeams Streaming Through Leaves on the Hill,’ a cult favourite cut from the Evergrace OST, performed by the in-house band from the infamously uncompromising video game studio From Software. FKA twigs, Future and performance artist Betty Apple are submerged deep into the Mariana trench by new American metaphysicists 01168 and S280F, twigs’ stark vocals and Future’s playground sing-along set adrift on Joe Hisaishi keys, drifting further through field recordings made in Cork’s upper Blackwater Valley by agri-ambient artist Michael Lightborne and the avant-garde organ clusters of Ligeti’s ‘Volumina.’ “I really recommend listening to the whole thing,” says Sarahsson of the composition, “it’s a really confusing sensation, especially knowing that it’s just an organ.” In perhaps the most climactic, and inspired, sequence, the devastating organ drones of Anna Von Hausswolff’s ‘Persefone’ are melted into a ‘slowed + reverb’ version of System Of A Down’s ‘Chop Suey,’ every drop of the iconic track’s melodrama wrung out in a transcendent, elegiac crawl. Elsewhere we discover music plucked from obscure YouTube channels, the radioactive ache of Hildur Guðnadóttir’s halldorophone (an electro-acoustic cello) emanating from Sam Slater’s ‘I Do Not Wish To Be Known As A Vandal’, doom prophet spoken word from Chino Amobi, music for motorised grand pianos and the opening theme from obscure anime series Oban Star Racers.
“I like to imagine my mixes have a narrative element to them,” concludes Sarahsson. “Melodies become plot points and transitions become characters, whilst lyrics provide an architectural structure or setting.” In her Fact mix, amidst the noise, the striking power of voice pierces its way to the surface. From the somnambulant sensuality of Tara’s ‘Duppy Ride’ and the haunting grace of composer, vocalist and actor Keeley Forsyth to the tense theatricality of Kate Bush’s ‘Under Ice,’ the gut-wrenching pow wow incantations of Joe Rainy and Delaram Kamareh’s jaw-dropping rendition of Stravinsky’s ‘Chanson Du Rossignol,’ the splendour and the extremity of voice reverberates as a grounding presence sent skyward, around which the rest of the mix gravitates. Like The Horgenaith, Sarahsson’s mix unfolds as emotionally charged testimony, both transformative and transforming, probing at the limits of queerness and trans identity. “I’m trying to reach a very specific feeling,” she says. “One tiny point in the middle of a nuclear explosion where everything happens all at once, bittersweet and fierce, a moment when opposites collide into one.” We are held in this space for the duration of the mix, embodying all the contradicting parts of ourselves, left changed in the wake of the Horgenaith.
Adele – ‘Set Fire To The Rain’ Giant Claw – ‘Soft Channel 001’ Lexxi & Elysia Crampton – ‘Esposas 2013 (No Drums)’ Kronos Quartet – ‘Steve Reich: Different Trains – After The War (Third Movement)’ Femmexy – ‘Clitoris’ Tara – ‘Duppy Ride’ Yves Tumor – ‘Role In Creation’ Jesse Osborne-Lanthier & Grischa Lichtenberger – ‘Good Morning America (Gabor Lazar Remix)’ Frequency (Kota Hoshino) – ‘Sunbeams Streaming Through Leaves on the Hill’ Sanguinarius – ‘Goth Jam’ Keeley Forsyth – ‘Limbs’ Sam Slater – ‘Darn! III’ 011668 / S280F – ‘FKA Twigs – holy terrain (00168 edit ft. Betty Apple – “The Rubber Mermaid”) / 011668 – untitled fish (ft. Kuthi Jin)’ Michael Lightborne – ‘Lugh’ Piet van der Steen – ‘Ligeti: Volumina’ Anna Von Hausswolff – ‘Persefone’ System Of A Down – ‘Chop Suey (slowed + reverb)’ Anthony Laguerre – ‘V’ City of Quartz – ‘E’ Chino Amobi – ‘Emmanuel’ Tom James Scott – ‘See The Glass’ Bad Bunny & Daddy Yankee – ‘La Santa (Balas De Aqua Edit)’ Kate Bush – ‘Under Ice’ Kurama – ‘Seraph’ Quayola / Seta – ‘Transient #D_002-01 Yennu Ariendra & J. Mo’ong Santosa Pribadi – ‘Raja Kirik (Dog King)’ Indus Bonze – ‘山怪 (The Ghost Stories of The Gorge)’ Teya Logos – ‘Mother Devours’ Joe Rainey – ‘no chants’ Shoeg – ‘Unstable’ Delaram Kamareh – ‘Stravinsky: Chanson Du Rossignol’ Issei Herr – ‘Aveu (The Beginning Is a Farewell) ft. Maria BC’ Rachika Nayar – ‘The Price of Serenity’ AKINO from bless4 – Chance To Shine
In a short film about crisis, liminality, witchcraft and quantum physics, artist Solveig Settemsdal and producer and composer Melkeveienlevel a spirited critique of the materialist relationship between subject and object.
the i sea, the newest video work from London-based artist Solveig Settemsdal, owes its structure to one of the first verses of 14th century poet Dante Alighieri’s epic poem Inferno, the first part of The Divine Comedy: “in the midway of this our mortal life I found myself on a darkened path, astray.” Working in response to what Settemsdal terms “a great flattening,” the artist takes aim at conventional, materialist theories of the observable universe, looking towards speculative fiction, alternate models of understanding and the contemporary condition of the image at a time in which reality can be said to be unfolding in both virtual and physical space simultaneously, for a new way to look at the world from a position of emotional and literal entanglement. “It’s about knowing, for a fact, that at most points in the past, in the place into which I was born, I would have been burnt as a witch,” says Settemsdal about the film. “It’s about quantum physics, but most of all and most importantly, it’s about relationships, how we see and are seen, how we change and are changed. And I don’t think you need to know about any of these things when you watch it.” Drawing particular influence from Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli’s recent book Helgoland, which details his thoughts on quantum mechanics and relational interpretation, first developed by Werner Heisenberg while secluded on the titular island in the North Sea in 1925, the i sea develops Rovelli’s desire to move away from “naive materialism,” instead working towards, in the physicist’s own words: “a theory that accounts for a structure of the universe that clarifies what it is to be an observer in the universe – not a theory that makes the universe depend on me.”
Settemsdal, like Rovelli, is critical of a model of understanding in which the all-knowing subject operates outside of the observable universe, granting presence through categorisation and labelling of the objects the subject observes make up the materialist universe. The artist draws parallels between this point of view and Rovelli’s critique of cubism within Helgoland. “Rovelli is particularly scathing about cubism – as built around an ‘I’ that knows, for which the world performs, and a self that, with its ego, is somehow outside of nature,” explains Settemsdal. “Cubism anchors reality to a subject of knowledge, being outside of nature and knowing best due to holding the top of the current food chain, which has led us to our current precipice,” a precipice the artist asserts is characterised by, “a great lack of empathy and disregard for life.” In the opening moments of the i sea this model of understanding is immediately countered, our point of view as the audience of Dante’s dark forest immediately obscured by entangled strands forming on a perpendicular plane of reality. This is then further complicated with another entity’s point of view, shining torch light on the quotidian objects of another, simultaneous existential space – a brick wall, a green lawn at night. Ever present throughout the work is the expansive darkness of the North Sea, which both Settemsdal and Rovelli take as a case study for the shortcomings of the naive materialist conception of the world. “The seas were considered silent and used as a toilet (still the case) but stopped being silent when we developed hydrophones that could pick up sound waves underwater,” says Settemsdal. “Suddenly everything speaks, but we still don’t know.”
Within the world of the i sea, the silence of the sea is filled with a constantly mutating score byKristian Møller Johansen, the producer known as Melkeveien, whom Settemsdal at art school in Oslo back in 2005 which throbs between eerie low-end ambience and shuffling synthetic beat science, as though flickering between two conflicting perspectives of the same scene, created using analog drum machines, organismic and monophonic synthesisers and recordings of electromagnetism, including recordings of fluorescent lighting from elevators and phone booths. Muddled in-between these perspectives on the world, we are presented with a literal eye, restlessly gazing back at the viewer, a mirrored image of the participatory observation we as the audience are ourselves entangled within as we view Settemsdal’s work. In this way, the artist shines a light on what she perceives as a lack of empathy for both the viewer and the viewed, illuminating a greater significance on both the roles of the observer and the observed as active shapers of the universe, collapsing the distinction between artist and audience, between reader and writer in a defiant move against the dissolving of the materialist world into content. “There is a great flattening happening, with all human experience compressed onto screens, all things condensed into language and human culture, everything becoming second, third hand experience,” asserts Settemsdal. “We are told, we don’t feel. We don’t play. We are so tempted to escape into a clean digital future fantasy, which seems increasingly unsustainable as we struggle to keep the lights on.” In response, the artist posits a different way to think and feel through the world, to operate from a point of view inextricably entangled within the world.
Gesturing towards one possible alternative, Settemsdal invokes Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, a short story by Jorge Luis Borges centring around a secret organisation, Orbis Tertius, responsible for the creation of the fictional city of Uqbar and its fictional legend of Tlön, a mythical world in which a materialist understanding of the universe is rejected in favour of subjective idealism. Tlön is a world which is understood “not as a concurrence of objects in space, but as a heterogeneous series of independent acts,” a world in which, during the course of the short story, seems to be growing out of the confines of the secret organisation’s fictional universe and seeping into the universe in which Borges himself inhabits. A similar phenomena can be observed in the i sea, in which a series of objects, cobbled together from LEDs, wires, silicone skin casts from toy animals sewn together and egg yolks suspended in space, are superimposed on top of and in between the various perspectives of the universe we are shown. “As in Borges’ Tlön, the fantasy is taking over reality and membranes between them are worn to the point where impossible objects percolate through between the spheres of fiction and reality,” explains Settemsdal. Both the presence of the artist and the presence of the audience are reflected in these objects, as Settemsdal’s own practice is presented from multiple different angles.
As her sculptures rotate, are submerged in primordial ooze and burnt to cinders, it is our entanglement with those objects, both Settemsdal’s and our own, that lend them their presence. “Looking IS changing something,” concludes Settemsdal. “What does nature care whether or not something is being observed? We could see the world being reflected in the observer and not the other way around. The only way to learn about something is to get entangled with it. The cat is yawning.”
For more information about Solveig Settemsdal and her work you can find her on Instagram and visit her website. You can find Kristian Møller Johansen on Instagram, and check out his music as Melkveien on Spotify.
Filmmaker Benjamin Juhel explores the physical process and internal universe of designer William Guillon, who extends his multidisciplinary sculptural practice in collaboration with dancer Nicole Muratov of L’Opera National de Bordeaux and production duo Maelstrom & Louisahhh.
Anatomy Of Chaos is a dark and visceral portrait of Bordelais designer and art director William Guillon, whose visceral sculptural practice is captured by filmmaker Benjamin Juhel, of Maison Mouton Noir. Working in collaboration with dancer Nicole Muratov of L’Opera National de Bordeaux and longtime production partners Maelstrom and Louisahhh, Guillon achieves a multidisciplinary extension of his singular style, which amplifies beauty in unconventional forms. Primarily working in cast bronze, a process documented in Anatomy Of Chaos, Guillon seeks to push past the limits of the material, crafting textural and complex works that seemingly draw as much influence form the natural world as they do from more esoteric and macabre places, forging towards a kind of contemporary gothic sculpture, part functional art, part alchemical instrument. His process is translated into movement by Muratov, whose twisted, instinctual physicality follows the gnarled, imperfect forms of Guillon’s sculpture. Putting the artist’s concept of functional art into haunting context, Guillon’s objects are revealed as part of some grander, transformative ritual, the result of his alchemical experimentation.
As though channeling the dark energy emanating from Guillon’s work, producers Maelstrom and Louisahhh lend their new track ‘If I Could Hold’ to Juhel and Guillon’s vision, which serves as the lead single for the collaborators’ long-awaited debut album, Sustained Resistance. A jagged reflection on the excruciating pains of the deepest love, ‘If I Could Hold’ sees Maelstrom and Louisahhh contorting their “punk for techno heads, techno for punks” sound into impassioned and foreboding new forms, invoking the frustration and paranoia of post-pandemic disillusionment. “It was a happy accident that the audio-visual universes collide so seamlessly, with both sonic and aesthetic teams sharing an appreciation of process, a relationship with the instinctual and divine work that is channeling and manifesting creation,” the duo explain. “The film explores the method, both in terms of metaphorical ‘chasing the muse’ (as represented by Nicole Muratov of L’Opera National de Bordeaux) and also literal: the carving, casting and shaping of raw materials that make up Guillon’s celebrated sculptural work. It is always a great pleasure when art creates more art, and it feels like the synergy between our music and William’s sculpture (as captured in this video) has created a new and thrilling ‘third thing’ that is almost unintentional, and therefore more magical.”
They continue. “We are really humbled to have gotten to work on this project, and the fact that the themes of ‘hunting the muse’, or the chaotic, ecstatic, sometimes painful act of creation are so dear to us and so present here mean a lot when it comes to a visual representation of our sound, and the announcement of this record.” Sustained Resistance arrives as the culmination of a creative partnership that dates back to 2013, when Louisahhh first visited Maelstrom in his base of Nantes. Following four collaborative EPs for Bromance Records and the start of their own label, RAAR, their debut album sees Maelstrom and Louisahhh and their most brutal at most beautiful, taking rage at broken systems of governance, grief for those lost over the last few turbulent years and determination to find new ways of thinking and being as the raw material for a loud and urgent testimony. Sustained Resistance is the sound of fighting back, at once a prescient diagnosis and a battle cry for the future.
‘If I Could Hold’ is taken from Sustained Resistance, which arrives via RAAR on February 10, 2023. You can find both Louisahhh and Maelstrom on Instagram.
For more information about William Guillon and his work, you can find him on Instagram and check out his website.
Anatomy Of Chaos Credits:
A Project By William Guillon Director – Maison Mouton Noir Music – Maelstrom & Louisahhh Choreography & Dance – Nicole Muratov Sound Design – Into The Wave Studio Special Thanks – YNDO Hotel, Fonderie Des Cyclops, Ateliers Arquié, Undercover, Mairie De Saint Emilion, Foundation Banque Populaire
A trip through peak time club music mixed by the Helsinki artist, from vintage ’90s techno and trance to modern cuts.
Since the release of his debut cassette in 2018, Helsinki-based DJ and producer Sansibar has respectfully looked back to the past to craft a style of techno that nevertheless feels fresh and forward-facing. Early trance, euphoric ’90s techno and hardcore, Artificial Intelligence-era electronica and chillout room ambient all seem to be touchpoints for Sansibar’s sleek, fast and uplifting productions, which have appeared on labels including Kalahari Oyster Cult, Natural Sciences and Émotsiya.
Sansibar’s DJ sets are a similar mix of old and new, often placing rare old school gems and forgotten techno and trance classics alongside contemporary cuts. Although he frequently DJs across Europe, Sansibar has held down residencies in Helsinki’s Kaiku and Post Bar over the past few years, allowing him the space to develop an eclectic style that still manages to go hard.
On his Fact Mix, Sansibar balances these moods with music from Steve Rachmad, Terry Lee Brown Jr., Rowland & Simon, DJ Swisha and Dylan Forbes together with his own edits of Art of Trance’s cosmic 1994 track and ‘Cambodia’ and Darkman’s 1992 jungle cut, ‘Escape From The Planet Of The Zombie Droids’. In Sansibar’s words, it’s a selection of “old and new peak time club music, recorded with two CDJs and 1s and 2s at the comfort of my own home.”
Air Liquide – ‘Tongues Of Fire’ Cherry Bomb – ‘Asylum’ The Lonely Guy – ‘Saying All That Crap’ (Old School Mix) Scan Carriers – ‘Bandini’ Steve Rachmad – ‘Sinosphere’ (John Thomas Remix) Terry Lee Brown Jr. – ‘Impact State’ (Original Mix) Art Of Trance – ‘Cambodia’ (Sans edit) Maara – ‘Forget The World’ DJ Swisha – ‘Reconstructed Club’ Dylan Forbes –’Resoblaster’ The Advent – ‘House Seed’ Rowland & Simon – ‘Oscillator 2’ (Live Mix) Compass – ‘Steam’ Les Points – ‘Youknowwhatminimalisch’ Generali Minerali – ‘Batteries Arent Low’ Darkman – ‘Escape From The Planet Of The Zombie Droids’ (Sans edit) Khetama – ‘Rotation’
Filmmaker and Participant Records co-founder William Markarian-Martin captures iconoclast, outsider artist Richie Culver in his mother’s house near Hull, revisiting the home town he spent his entire young adult life trying to escape.
The resonant barrage of concrète clatter and MRI machine churn of ‘Create A Lifestyle Around Your Problems’ swells at the beating heart of I Was Born By The Sea, the devastating debut album from iconoclast, outsider artist Richie Culver. Unfurling as relentless friction, a Sisyphean surge and retreat that evokes trying and failing, again and again, to break out of an itching cycle of frustration, the track’s DIY sonics sandpaper a malleable surface upon which Culver inscribes his observations from the fringes that take on cavernous emotional potency with each repetition of his dissociated delivery. Here, the artist looks back at the “hardest working man in the job centre,” this “habitual bastard,” the “most underrated person in your family,” pinned under the crushing weight of his home town, obsessing over the need to escape while battling the apparent absurdity of such ambition: “you and god on a rollercoaster.” For the accompanying visual Culver, alongside close collaborator and Participant Records co-founder William Markarian-Martin, fittingly makes a return to his mother’s house in Withernsea, the titular seaside town of his birth. “The video was shot in my Mothers home near Hull. Where I was brought up also,” explains Culver. “You can hear the Sea from inside the house in Winter. Sometimes you can’t walk on the promenade because it’s so wet & wild.” Captured with an unflinching and poignant fusion of grey nostalgia and tender catharsis, Create A Lifestyle Around Your Problems evokes a past battered by the rain, shaken by personal struggle and ransacked by Tory austerity. Footage of foam-flecked waves crashing across sodden concrete is obscured by the phrase “picture yourself succeeding,” as cold rain smudges a blurry lens.
Supplementing the track’s original bleak seaside poetry with additional writing, Culver and Markarian-Martin’s video reimagines the composition as a surreal broadcast from the Withernsea tourist board, inciting viewers to “think a positive thought to drown out a negative thought,” to “minimise obstacles,” while the fraying crunch of the broadcast’s grim soundtrack evokes the kind of limbo it feels impossible to imagine ending. Shifting focus in a hallucinatory sequence of dusty bottles of cologne, grey skies and various items of Elvis Presley memorabilia, the broadcast messages abruptly turn to faith, as though picking up evangelical radio signals or plundered from local church billboards. “If god be for us, who can be against us?” we are asked, before an unconvinced assertion: “I can do all things through christ which strengthen me.” This soggy invocation to faith transubstantiates the images of Elvis presented to us into escapist iconography, the fading remnants of the ‘Fantasy Island’ of Culver’s turbulent past, monolithic and technicolour, yet dull with salt and petrol fumes. “My Mother is obsessed with Elvis. Always has been,” explains Culver. “My stepdad was a singer in the local pubs. We always used to sing Roger Whittaker – ‘The Last Farewell’. That’s what I am singing in the video. I never really learned the words properly. Nothing like staring down the barrel of the North Sea on a wet & wild Tuesday evening in January.” All of this before pitching in to the spoken word of the track proper, a doom-laden introductory exclamation singularly evocative of an unmistakeable anxious stasis: “Woke up. In the morning. Pray for me. Don’t trust Elvis. Bad vibes. I wish I could sing. I listen to grime.”
The work vibrates with a tension between painful recollection and optimistic forward momentum, something that characterises the emotional texture of I Was Born By The Sea. Culver’s cold narration matches the temperature of Markarian-Martin’s seaside footage, yet at the same time alludes to the position he now finds himself in, ready and able to look back without blinking, a process that has continuously provided the engine for his ongoing journey as an artist and musician. “Hometowns are odd things,” he says. “Nothing can hold you back like a hometown. Imagine if your hometown was New York though. I wonder if New Yorkers know about the North Sea in January. My eldest son was originally in the video. But my partner said we should edit him out cos the video was a bit too morbid.” It’s this playful irreverence around very real strife that drives Create A Lifestyle Around Your Problems, around which the industrial scrape and hum of the track turns, burrowing towards some deeply buried feeling, probing at the waterlogged roots of the artist’s present clarity. Even the track’s title, which at once to alludes to Culver’s past struggles with substance abuse, evoked in the sparse paranoia of his television static soundscapes, also seems to refer to the uncompromisingly autobiographical nature of his visual and sound art, which tackles with piercing economy his trajectory from self-described shut-in, wracked with low self-esteem, to a vital voice of the resolutely fucked, contemporary condition of the United Kingdom, echoing from the outside in. Like finding god in an Elvis mug, or translating the North sea into both blistering noise and heart-breaking song on I Was Born By The Sea, Culver finds wild beauty in places that once looked desperate.
‘Create A Lifestyle Around Your Problems’ is taken from I Was Born By The Sea, which arrives via REIF on November 11.
For more information about Richie Culver and his work you can follow him on Instagram. You can also find William Markarian-Martin on Instagram.
Create A Lifestyle Around Your Problems Credits:
Director – William Markarian-Martin Additional Camera – Takeru Brady Music – Richie Culver
DJ Voices balances an exploratory and omnivorous appetite for new sounds with a passionate predilection for the trippy, the deep and the sensual.
Kristin Malossi is a crucial node in the rich and energetic network of producers, DJs, venues and parties that crackles tirelessly through New York City. As a founding member of the collective Working Women and booker at Ridgewood institution Nowadays, Malossi consistently platforms the best and brightest talents, both established and rising, with an empathetic and enthusiastic approach that demonstrates a loving and dedicated relationship to the scene. Between her residency at The Lot Radio, Nothing In Moderation, her resident shows at Nowadays and the rapidly rising demand for her genre-less, emotional, vibe-centric work as DJ Voices, it’s clear that Malossi’s ear is one of the keenest around, balancing an exploratory and omnivorous appetite for new sounds with a passionate predilection for the trippy, the deep and the sensual.
This is exactly the territory we find ourselves in for Malossi’s hypnotic Fact mix, which unfolds in stately fashion through submerged house and amniotic techno, cosmic breaks and deep space bass. “This mix was originally intended to be more of a ‘chill out’ mix, but the final result sits somewhere closer to the dance floor,” Malossi explains. “Still, it showcases my love for deep and psychedelic sounds, lots of heads down, eyes closed moments. Recorded on 3 CDJs with liberal use of wide mode.” The perfect soundtrack for those nights during which it’s unclear where the sofa ends and the dance floor begins, Malossi’s mix marks a constantly shifting transition between internal reflection and outward expression, a swirl of sounds designed for the moments when instinctive movement and expansive thought become one and the same, a concoction for dissolving the mind in the body.
A legend of UK club music mixes grimey and funky tracks with heavy gqom and amapiano influences from South Africa.
Scratchclart is the latest moniker of a multifaceted UK artist who has also gone under the names DVA, Scratcha DVA and DVA [Hi:Emotions] throughout his long and storied career. Coming to prominence through a legendary stint on Rinse FM’s breakfast slot, Scratchclart’s keen ear and love for new and emerging sounds has kept him at the forefront of UK dance music for 20 years, through releases on Hyperdub and his own DVA Music and Allyallrecords labels.
As his career has evolved Scratchclart’s music has continued to innovate, moving from grime and UK funky towards his own potent take on UK club music that draws inspiration from South African electronic styles such as gqom and amapiano, both solo through his recent DRMTRK series and in collaboration with North London MC Lady Lykez. Scratchclart’s Fact Mix (published over 13 years after he first delivered a mix for Fact as Scratcha DVA – number 64, no less) is a succinct snapshot of where he’s at now, featuring plenty of recent solo material and collaborations with Lady Lykez, Citizen Boy, Trim, Ikonika and Mxshi Mo alongside tracks from Bok Bok, Logan Olm and Toya Delazy.
You can catch Scratchclart playing at London’s Printworks this Saturday, 29 October, where he’s appearing alongside Lady Lykez as part of The Hydra and Hessle Audio’s massive double birthday rave celebrating 15 years of Ben UFO, Pearson Sound and Pangaea’s label and a decade of The Hydra events in the capital. The event is sold out but resale tickets are available.
Follow Scratchclart on Instagram and SoundCloud, and find his music at Bandcamp. You can also tune into his weekly Soup To Nuts show on NTS Radio every Friday at 11am.
Lady Lykez x Trim – ‘Shapez’ Logan Olm – ‘Crash Dem Down’ Mez – ‘Big Seed’ Doller – ‘Vybz & Energy’ Toya Delazy – ‘Water’ Ikonika x Scratchclart – ‘Crash Riddim’ (Worst Behaviour Remix) Scratchclart – ‘Marixylo’ Lady Lykez x Lioness – ‘Muhammad Ali (Remix)’ Scratchclart x Citizen Boy – ‘Ammo VIP’ Sonia Calico – ‘Mukbang Roller’ (Scratchclart’s Afrotek Remix) Whistle Dub Lady Lykez x Scratchclart – ‘Killa Bee’ Scratchclart x Mxshi Mo – ‘Afrotek’ (9’s Mix) Trim x Scratchclart – ‘Yardman’ Scratchclart – ‘Queen’ Lady Lykez x Scratchclart – ‘Buzz Lightyear’ Scratchclart – ‘Gun Walk’ Durrty Goodz x Scratchclart – ‘Ganja Time’ Bok Bok – ‘Ouais’ Mez x Scratchclart x Razzler Man – ‘Think About It’ Mak10 x Scratchclart – ‘Smoke Signal’ Lady Lykez x Toya Delazy x Scratchclart – ‘Woza’