Monday, November 07, 2005

Bubble Metropolis

If ‘Deep Sea Dweller’ was the initial locator then 1993’s Drexciya 2 ‘Bubble Metropolis’ is when the details of that location start to be revealed. The title track here is key because we are ourselves arriving here for the first time and should probably consider ourselves as passengers on the Lardossian Cruiser which the female voice is guiding into dock at the opening of this track. Strangely there’s no vinyl etchings but we do have fresh water and salt water sides of the vinyl which is key.
The EP should be read as a journey into Drexciya itself. The fresh water side begins with ‘Aqua Worm Hole’, we can take this as the entry point, maybe a whirlpool type scenario which brings us to our first location of ‘Positron Island’. I wonder if Gerald Donald was already taking an interest in particle theory with this reference to the positron? Although it’s more likely they were both interested in this subject. As I’ve found out as I gradually steel myself for someday tackling his ‘Linear Accelerator’ album in some scientific depth, the positron is the antimatter counterpart of the electron. So maybe this island is not what we imagine, it certainly might be invisible or at least would be the opposite of what we might expect. The positron, which was the first evidence of antimatter, was first discovered by passing cosmic rays through a gas chamber and a lead plate surrounded by a magnet to distinguish the particles by bending differently charged particles in different directions. Today, positrons are produced in enormous numbers in accelerator physics laboratories. I found this explanation on some website, along with a pretty cool picture of one which looks like a planet, but I can understand what’s being
said here and can see that Gerald, some ten years later, has gone on to explore the process of producing them. This theme is not about to go away either as Drexciya 3 ‘Molecular Enhancement’ will show. Also one of the subtitles of the Storm series 12“ ‘Power of the 3rd Brain’ was ‘Mind Over Positive And Negative Dimensional Matter’. That Stinson quote about having linked each release was certainly no idle boast.
So maybe this worm hole does not yet deliver us into deeper water, because but this island seems to be out last contact with land. Perhaps it’s a dimensional thing, which will of course become a factor much later on in their career, but we know this island is our last point of reference before descending 'Beyond the Abyss’. Strictly speaking the sea is all salt water, but where a large river meets the sea there would be a grey area where the two types of water meet. Certainly with an island close by we are close to land so the fresh water side makes some sense for these 3 tracks, but once we start to submerge we enter the pure salt water of side 2. Side 2 begins, “This is Drexciyan Cruiser Control, bubble 1, to Lardossen cruiser 8-203X , please decrease your speed to 1.788.4 kilobahn, thank you, Lardossen cruiser 8-203X please use extra caution as you pass the aqua construction site on the side of the aquabahn , I repeat, proceed with caution.” Midway we hear, “ You are now clear for docking, have a nice stay here in Drexciya, I’m Drexciyan cruise controller X205, if you have any problems let me know, Bubble 1 out.” We have arrived! I’m surprised though at all the caution and warnings in this message, does this mean anything? Well the next track is called ‘Danger Bay’ so maybe we should proceed with caution, if only in that we are new here. Good advice and of course if we have any problems there is someone to ask. Just remember, from now on we are in uncharted territory, later to be dubbed the unknown aquazone. But I think the welcome is still on the positive side as the final track here is simply titled ‘Welcome to Drexciya’.
In the future we will come across at least 2 more Lardossa references, ‘The Red Hills of Lardossa’ and ‘Lardossen Funk’. I suppose this is just a region of Drexciya, maybe I’ll have figured out it’s importance by time I get to ‘Neptune‘s Lair‘. The place we are docking is of course the main city of Drexciya, is it protected inside an actual bubble or is that just an aquatic term they use?
While Deep Sea Dweller may have been somewhat schizophrenic in it’s musical styles ‘Bubble Metropolis’ is a more confidant and consistent EP all round. The generous 6 tracks on offer here begins with the quite sophisticated production sound of ‘Aqua Worm Hole’. You might even call it the second Drexciya classic, after DSD’s ‘Depressurisation’. This is certainly a strong release which goes a long way to showcase the Drexciya sound we will come to know so well.
‘Positron Island’ is the sort of track which would baffle most people on first listen but it soon reveals itself as the potential off-centre dance-floor smash it is. In many ways this non-straightforward techno is what Drexciya provided, techno and electro but not as we know it, ‘Techno from the Deep’ indeed.
‘Beyond the Abyss’ is more of an experimental groove but full of possibilities, a sign of a group over flowing with idea’s. The title track ‘Bubble Metropolis’ begins with the already mentioned female introduction and then settles down to a nice medium paced floor filler with plenty of nice touches filling out it's groove. 'Danger Bay' has vocalising that sounds like Gerald Donald. The few words we can make out are kind of throwaway but this is the first time we hear one of their voices so it's quite historic in that. 'Welcome to Drexciya' ends this side and the EP in a similar fashion as 'Beyond the Abyss' does on side 1. A short experimental track, but with some nice sounds none the less, a bit like what you might hear as incidental music on a futuristic TV show from the 70's, has old school synth sounds.
The production credit this time reads ‘Filtered by Drexciya’ a change from the more conventional credit used on the preceding DSD. I guess it’s a water thing in this context. There is also a ‘special thanks to God’. I wrote about this a bit before, save to say that if you were lucky enough to catch one of the recent Galaxy 2 Galaxy live shows you will understand that this is not about religion just a respect for a higher power, but certainly Christian. It’s a refreshingly joyous and positive attitude to God which is very African American, expressed perfectly by Gospel music. I think this Stinson quote explaining where his inspiration comes from also puts to rest why God is thanked so often, “It came from deep inside my mind. God gave me this vision and I’m building on it, bringing it to life for the whole world to see." But interestingly, in this same interview he went on to reveal some of the method, “It comes from within our soul, from tapping into our subconscious during meditation.”
The final bit of text tells us 'Tracks made in Drexciya for UR in Detroit’ which really underlines how removed Drexciya feel from their surroundings, that it is of no influence to their music.
The artwork depicts some nice drawings of dolphins underwater on each label. The fact that both images show a view which includes sky, land and sea, right down to the sea bed, is a nice fully realised picture of the world as we know it. The emphasis and detail of the pictures however is on what’s happening under sea level so we are left in no doubt what the subject is.
Only three of these tracks ended up on The Quest, ‘Positron Island’, ‘Bubble Metropolis’ and ‘Beyond the Abyss’. I guess I’m surprised that ‘ Aqua worm Hole’ never made it but of course this EP is still available and when I get to The Quest we’ll see that it’s not just a ‘Best of’. In 2003 UR re-released this 12” on coloured vinyl. This is of course the first time Drexciya put out a release with UR which makes this an even more significant piece of their past. The two camps were well suited to one another, both actively cultivating mystery and both uncompromising in their musical vision.
To sum up, this EP firmly establishes the Drexciya sound and begins to fill out the mythology of the place they have brought us to, Drexciya itself.

Drexciya 3 ‘Molecular Enhancement’ is next.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh man, this is the best blog i ve ever seen. im in love with drexciya since i heard the quest in the late 90s. it was very hard to find the other material here in ukraine but from now with help from my friends abroad i got almost everything. thanks man, and go on, your work is very very useful

11:44 AM  

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