Elsewhere VXIII

Many years ago – about 15, I think – I was chatting with someone who was guesting at a library I was working at and the subject of the fact I make music came up. When describing his own approach to music, he said that unlike me, he only consumes music…

It is impossible to consume music. You can engage with it or you can ignore it, or somewhere in between, but you cannot consume it. The music will remain unchanged, although your perception of it won’t.

Imagine thinking like that? I was too nice to debate with him about it, plus I think my thoughts on it took a while to become coherent even though it jarred me immediately. But it speaks to a mindset that believes it is only in existence to consume things because of much larger sociological factors that are not even wrong, that would be giving them waaay too much credit.

I was reminded of this exchange by all the giddy hype about what AI (sidebar: it’s all A, no I) can do for us to save us from the drudgery of, like, leisure and stuff, and reading, and writing, and creating, and making, and, and, and… all we have to do is give some prompts and it do all that for us! And then what do we do? More free time to merely consume things, I suppose.

A compilation like what I bring to your attention today simply could not be made with that kind of approach to music and discernment. There is a thread running through this that can only be done with human judgement. And indeed, DJ soFa, for it is he who has compiled this, has made several compilations and all of them have a particular feel to them though it would be an insult to insinuate they are in any way the same as each other; they are not.

This is why an algorithmic approach to music discovery will never throw the surprises at you that other humans can. You simply could not build in the coherent unpredictability required. In fact, all the best compilations, DJ sets, mixes – what they have in common is a coherent unpredictability. And probably all great art, for that matter.

If you want merely functional, then go ahead and knock yourself out with your AI approach to creativity and novelty, which will be neither creative or novel unless you assign a depressingly low value to what you consider creative or novel. But if you want the great, the sublime… you need the human touch.

Gnod – Easy to build, hard to destroy

Because I mentioned this to Chris on Saturday. This is probably my go to Gnod album at the moment. This is them doing trance and repetition unto infinity.

For those unfamiliar, this is a compilation of tracks, jams and grooves from earlier in their history. These days they tend to the louder and angrier, and whilst it’s still good, I always preferred this approach.

I mentioned on one of my posts yesterday about Tony’s First Communion, amongst my fave ever tunes. Well, there’s a kind of proto-version of it on here. It’s not the the same as the one on Crystal Pagoda, which is also well worth your time.

Nova Express – Twenty One

I have a colleague at work with whom we discuss music fairly frequently and through each other we have discovered some good stuff over the years, although some of the stuff I’ve tried him on has been a bit hard for him to bear – he described Gnod as Pink Floyd having a bad trip after I played him Tony’s First Communion (one of the best pieces of music ever, imo), and said he’d rather pull his own teeth out than listen to Oneida again.

Anywho, a success story was a band called Appliance, who I’m sure you all remember from the beginning of this cursed millennium. He said to me that he couldn’t believe he’d missed them as he was well into that type of music then and he was familiar with all their contemporaries yet Appliance completely passed him by.

I feel somewhat that way about Nova Express, who I now know to have been around at that time too, though I didn’t then. And whilst I’m not going to claim that my journey into repetition and minimalism was complete by that time, it had certainly started and I’m convinced I would have done the listening equivalent of feasting on this stuff.

Be that as it may, I know it now, and I know it gladly.

Gnod & João Pais Filipe – Faca de Fogo

And since we’re talking about dudes who are on it, why don’t we add Gnod to the party?

This is where maelstromic trance goes dark. My only complaint is it ain’t long enough, but I don’t think it ever could be.

I’ve noticed I type less and less words with my posts these days. This can only be a good thing.

Paisiel – Unconscious Death Wishes

Whims, eh? There’s actually a fair bit I’ve discovered lately, but I’m on the wrong PC and have bad memory. Otherwise I suspect I’d bombard you with another buses series.

How often do I need to post the work of Julius Gabriel? Probably as often as he does it. Dude is properly on it. So is his partner in this maelstrom, João Pais Filipe, who you will also hear in the next post, equally maelstromic. Neologisms, eh? I love ’em. This is the musical equivalent.

This be the second Paisiel album, so I hope it means there will be more.

Bonnacons of Doom – self titled

bonnacons

So I did it again because I’d done it before. Remaining yet unconvinced, I tried a third time; indeed, I soon stopped counting.
Then a voice asked me
‘Why?’
Having no answer, I ignored it. If I couldn’t convince myself then I was in no place to justify my actions but since I lacked an alternative, I continued doing them.
and then another voice asked
‘Why?’
‘Because’
replied the first voice, which I was grateful for because I was about to say that very thing. A conversation started which was really boring, so I won’t repeat it here. I tuned it out into background mental chatter.
and then
apropos of nothing
I said
‘Why?’
and the chatter stopped
I’d forgotten how unsettling the silence was.

 

Goat – Requiem

requiemstill don’t quite know how to handle Goat, which may be a sign of genius on their part and/or stupidity on mine. I even wrote a 4-part opinion inspired by them not long after I started this blog. And continuing that relationship, I had this album in my Bandcamp wishlist prior to its birth and once it was out, I went to listen to it. After 6 songs, I removed it from my wishlist, but kept it playing anyway. By the end of the album I’d done a 180 and bought it.

What you may gather from that is that the best stuff is on the second half of the album, although my subsequent repeated listening has opened up many of the treasures to be found in the first few songs too. Not surprisingly, it’s the longer tunes that are my favourite; Goatband in particular emphasising a kind of Fleetwood Mac-having-a-jam feel, and is currently up there amongst my favourite tunes of the year.

The styles range from psych-tinged afro-pop to the aforementioned 70s behemoth approach, with occasionally hypnagogic moments to the melodies and regular snake-like rhythms. Indeed, one such rhythm it was that inspired my dive back into the Fela Kuti catalogue a few months back when it was the b-side on a recent single.

The back story might be a load of old bollocks, but the music is often great, as well as fun and thought provoking. I also think it would make a great soundtrack for dancing around campfires, something I need to do more often.