Saturday, June 20, 2009

Der Zyklus - 'Cherenkov Radiation'

Der Zyklus released their 'Cherenkov-Radiation' 12" on the Clone sub-label Frustrated Funk in May 2008. Incidentally, this release was announced as imminent a whopping five months before it actually came out. The track, 'Quasar' did however appear on the Frustrated Funk MySpace player when it was first announced, November 2007. So the tracks were probably finished all that time. Paradoxically, at the time this seemed important but now seems completely irrelevant. A good lesson to remember when making art, it’s not the end of the world if you miss a deadline!
At the time there hadn't been a new four track 12" in the classic sense from Mueller since Der Zyklus II in 2001. Surprising I know but albums and 12 inches featuring material mostly from the album has been the norm for him for almost a decade now. I suppose I'd prefer it if he kept doing albums but these more bite-sized vinyl four trackers have their own appeal as well. I wonder how many of these tracks were played out by a DJ, not that anyone is limited to only playing vinyl anymore. I'm sure they all got an airing somewhere they might not have done otherwise simply because of their format. Clone continued their long relationship with Mueller with this release. In 2006 they had put out the 'Der Zyklus' 12” which compiled four tracks from the previous Der Zyklus 12 inches on Gigolo, which also came out on Frustrated Funk. Today they are of course working with Zerkalo, releasing three of their 12 inches, one on Frustrated Funk and the other two appearing on another sub-label, Clone Aqualong Series. They have also put out releases by Drexciya, The Other People Place and Lab Rat XL and have reissued material from Dopplereffekt, Der Zyklus, Glass Domain and L.A.M. and even released the Der Zyklus 'Biometry' album and I'm quite sure they will be intimately linked with Mueller in the future.
On the record itself there is no other information beyond some label artwork and the titles to go by but that is enough for me. The credits are a simple ‘Written and Produced by Heinrich Mueller for Dataphysix Engineering’. First of all I will go into what this is all about, the music. The title track, ‘Cherenkov-Radiation’, initially and deceptively cracks along but undergoes some structural changes which affect the tempo in some way, although the drum pattern never changes much until towards the end. It is extremely minimal in the production department with whatever is going on here being done in the most subtle of ways. In fact, once you accept its crawl you will be pleasantly carried along by its pace. The main element that isn't drums are these really nice reverb filled shot sounds which arc around the main body of the track and are framed by a series of eerie atmospheric touches. I must admit there is not a lot going on here for what is the lead and title track but there you go. In a way, going by the label, there is no official title for this release, this just happens to be the first track and for marketing purposes is listed as such. Mueller probably wasn't trying to impress anyone with it anyway, it is effective in setting a scene and draws you in if you allow it as I said.
'Quasar' is truly awesome, classic Mueller in its own way, although truly funeral paced. As I've discussed before he is well able to do these timeless and epic sounding pieces, sort of mini dramas that trigger off so many images in your head. It starts off quite weird but very quickly emerges fully formed as a gorgeously lush and slow paced pattern. It is on first inspection again quite minimal but really that is just how it is made to appear, there is a lot going on here. It has some lovely and very light touches of keyboard and an extremely snappy snare as the main beat. The bass-lines seem to have about a yard between them and a whole world of sound appears to have happened before they repeat. About midway it sounds like it is ending but then a second version quickly begins. The main difference now is a kind of vocal sample effect which kind of sustains a section of a vocal. It has this amazing hovering effect which pulls it all up to another level. Some more, again, very subtle changes have happened in the production as well which does change the feel, making it bigger certainly. What sounds like a very rough version of this track was first aired by Arpanet at the legendary La Geode show in Paris during June 2006. Definitely my favourite here, could listen to it all day.
‘Roche Limit v3’ which I presume must mean version 3 is the first one you could just about robot dance to in your own dark way. If the other side of the record appears to be more minimal these two are anything but. It is fast paced and layered with a rich variety of sounds. The drum sound and programming grab my attention the most though. It does end a bit quick though which gives it an unfinished air. ‘Roche Limit v2’still has the same drum pattern but now boasts more reverb and another sound palette I guess. My brain is struggling to hear the differences between them to be honest but they are quite different. Maybe more distinct in the tempo department, it stops and starts a bit more than the other. Maybe not so danceable early on but lets face it neither of them are truly danceable in the broadly accepted sense. It appears to have a lot more space in it as well and more bass pump. The ending is more convincing this time however and there is even a tantalising leak of glitch in the final split second. Mueller goes glitch, I wonder.
What I suppose we might safely call ‘Roche Limit v1’ appeared in January 2007 on the Arpanet radio show, this officially unreleased track can be heard on a YouTube link I give below. Even though this track always seemed unfinished or rough to me it might actually be my favourite version of the three. Around the three minute mark it flounders badly but it has these great long keyboard lines that make it for me, totally distinct from the other versions. The basic drum pattern is the same though. We are really getting a very rare glimpse of Mueller’s working method with these three versions. Play them in order and you can see not so much a progression but more a new approach each time. Version 1 looks like it was never tidied up which he probably did with 2 and 3. There is also other unreleased music on these radio show things but they are more snippets. I wish he would do something like that again!
As I was saying earlier, all we have to go on this time is three titles, one image and very dark purple, luckily those few titles alone are chockfull of associations. Taking the first, 'Cherenkov Radiation' is electromagnetic radiation emitted when a charged particle (such as an electron) passes through an insulator at a constant speed greater than the speed of light in that medium. Hard to imagine I know but the characteristic "blue glow" of nuclear reactors is due to Cherenkov radiation. This would be what it is most commonly associated with as well. Incidentally it is named after a Russian scientist Pavel Alekseyevich Cherenkov who discovered it in 1934. I also found it described as analogous to the creation of a sonic boom when an object exceeds the speed of sound in a medium. I think this is more easy to visualise for the layman. There is a connection with it and the study of particle physics as it is important for particle identification. This is more than likely the context Mueller is thinking of. It works in this way, one could measure (or put limits on) the velocity of an electrically charged elementary particle by the properties of the Cherenkov light it emits in a certain medium. If the momentum of the particle is measured independently, one could compute the mass of the particle by its momentum and velocity and hence identify the particle. You will find such a detector which uses this method, although this might also be the only method commonly in use today, at, surprise, surprise, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. It is under-construction there at least for their ALICE project, A Large Ion Collider Experiment. As far as the colour of vinyl goes, it is a dark purple. But you could be forgiven for thinking it was so dark as to be black. But hold it up to the light and you'll see the purple. Although I would expect Mueller sees it as more of a violet. This is because Cherenkov radiation is in the ultraviolet colour spectrum. The human eye only sees it as a bright blue, eg. the glow of cherenkov radiation from a nuclear reactor. In fact it mostly exists visibly in the ultraviolet colour spectrum which the human eye cannot see. The sensitivity of the human eye peaks at green, and is very low in the violet portion of the spectrum. Hence violet or a dark purple would be the nearest colour we can relate to it. This certainly proves at least two things about Mr. Mueller; he is a real stickler for detail, like any good scientist and that he has thought about all this fairly deeply and completely.
Roche Limit, sometimes referred to as the Roche radius, is the distance within which a celestial body, held together only by its own gravity, will disintegrate due to a second celestial body's tidal forces exceeding the first body's gravitational self-attraction. OK so what does this mean. Think of it as the phenomenon of the rings of Saturn where inside the Roche limit, orbiting material will tend to disperse and form rings, while outside the limit, material will tend to coalesce. The term is named after Edouard Roche, a French astronomer who first calculated this theoretical limit in 1848. Gravity has been a general theme of Mueller’s for sometime and also you can find it in Drexiya if you look. But then again gravity effects everything in its own way.
A quasi-stellar radio source (quasar) is a powerfully energetic and distant galaxy with an active galactic nucleus. Quasars were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that were point-like, similar to stars, rather than extended sources similar to galaxies. While there was initially some controversy over the nature of these objects — as recently as the early 1980s, there was no clear consensus as to their nature — there is now a scientific consensus that a quasar is a compact region 10-10,000 times the Schwarzschild radius of the central supermassive black hole of a galaxy. We have come across the title ‘Schwarzschild Radius’ on Arpanet’s ’Inertial Frame’ album already.
The image on the label could be anything, a disk surface from a machine, it has been photo-shopped so it is hard to know what it is or was. It might also be an original image as well. I guess it just functions as a circular image which fitted the label well. It could be said to form a symbol, although it is an ambivalent symbol if it is one at all. I guess like all the best art you can find what you want to in it, for me its got a kind of cold harmony of the machine vibe to it. This image could also be found on the Der Zyklus MySpace, as far as I remember it was there before the record came out. This at the time made me think this was probably an official site run by Mueller himself or someone connected with him, perhaps by Clone. Although it has the look in some regards of being a fan site, it has supposedly for a brief period had an early version of ’Cherenkov Radiation’ which bore a resemblance to the Zerkalo track ‘Invisible’ on its Player as well. These tracks do I guess sound similar musically and the time period would tie in very well so it is plausible they both grew from the same source. But I never got to hear this version myself so can’t say for sure, it would be cool to hear it if anyone copied it at the time. Although it looks like only four people ever listened to it! There are also some other images on the site which are new, maybe they will be used by Der Zyklus in the future as well? Time will tell.
I am thinking that we have two possible themes going on here, that of phenomenon and reaching a limit. The fairly straight-forward phenomenon’s of Cherenkov radiation and the Roche Limit don’t need further explanation and you could consider a quasar a phenomenon in the same way you could call the Earth a phenomenon of the slow coalescing of the solar nebula, the disk-shaped mass of dust and gas left over from the formation of the Sun. Although much like gravity effects everything, anything could be considered a phenomenon of something. With the MySpace projects of Black Replica and Zwischenwelt it could be argued that he, alongside his collaborators, was already taking an interest in the phenomena’s around ESP. I would prefer to wait and see what he does next before I’d be sure that this may turn out to be his new approach but maybe this is where he is going? If so I think it’s worth pointing out it could potentially be a less interesting approach to take considering what he has done to this point, which would only serve to cover a lot of the same ground again only from another angle, but it all depends on how he handles it. It’s worth pointing out that if this EP had come out when it was supposed to, just five months after 'Calabi Yau Space', it would have slotted in more conveniently time-wise and serve more obviously as something of a final bookend to what had gone before. I personally still see it as more connected with the themes of the previous five albums and not a new beginning, but time will tell.
The second is limitation. Cherenkov radiation could represent the effects of pushing particles to the limit, the Roche Limit is all about what happens at the limits of gravity and a Quasar represents what is happening at the currently knowable limits of our visible galaxy. This second theme of limits ties in I feel with what I discovered when doing the previous article on Dopplereffekt’s ‘Calabi Yau Space’. I noticed the following breakdown of themes for the last five albums which conveniently appear to cover the five known levels of matter.
Macroscopic level - Arpanet ‘Inertial Frame’ (Space)
Molecular level - Der Zyklus ‘Biometry’ (Biology)
Atomic level - Dopplereffekt ‘Linear Accelerator’ (Particles)
Subatomic level - Arpanet ‘Quantum Transposition’ (Quarks)
String level - Dopplereffekt ‘Calabi Yau Space’ (Strings)
Now if this is true it implies that he has reached the limit to where he himself can go with this cycle and is here admitting it to us, to those that know and all that! Mueller has certainly, since this release, been taking a prolonged break, for him, from new releases. I’m sure he will surprise us all with his future approaches and even if he does continue to use subjects he has dealt with before he will probably keep them up to date and continue pushing deeper into the unknown just as the leading scientists do.
This EP leaves us with an artist totally on top of his production and music writing game, ‘Quasar’ alone is worth it. It also leaves us potentially with an artist at something of a conceptual crossroads, looking like they are telling us they have reached the limit with this subject or that they are about to come at it all again from another angle. Hopefully it will be the former and he will begin a whole new cycle. Der Zyklus is German for the cycle after all. If so, where ever he takes us next could be as big a surprise as Linear Accelerator was at the time. Although his music has of course continued to evolve since that time, I believe his theme may be about to alter radically. I may be taking a gamble with this speculation but as usual this is just my own subjective opinion which I am rightly or wrongly choosing to share. If your still reading I presume you are in the affirmative. I hope you have found something of value in it all anyway, I know I have on so many different levels.
Finishing this article in particular fittingly brings me to the end of catching up with Mueller’s new output, not sure if I should do full articles on each of the Zerkalo 12’s having already tackled them from the MySpace perspective but who knows. The Zwischenwelt album is forever imminent and I am still waiting on Daughter Produkt to put more than one track on their player to justify a closer look as well. Although I see Mueller’s name is no longer listed as a member on their website. But I have been looking forward to getting my teeth into Clarence G and L.A.M. for sometime and expect to begin an article on the former soon. There will of course continue to be posts on any new activities that come my way and hopefully some more interviews in the future. Thanks for reading DRL so far, all for now.
Der Zyklus
‘Roche Limit v1’ (Unreleased Track)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Zerkalo Mix

Very cool mix by Zerkalo now available for download with some choice cuts there for sure. The mix is dedicated to Marie Alexandra Van Huffel who I can't find any obvious candidates for online, although it may be a more personal reference. On the Zerkalo MySpace it says this mix will only be up for a short period of time.

The latest news on those Zerkalo live dates are two shows upcoming in Europe, check out their MySpace for more details.

Track-listing is
et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum - i. des profondeurs de l'abîme.../ olivier messiaen
zero volume/arpanet
icct hedral {edit} /aphex twin
we are eternal /ultradyne
cosmic car/cybotron
secret desire/ i_F
insecticide/ fad gadget
das leben und der tod /analog
in your pyramid / luke eargoggle
when i was sick/zerkalo
odessa theme/alden tyrell
the man machine/kraftwerk

Article on Clarence G you might find interesting.

Dopplereffekt live in Austin, Texas has shown up.
Arpanet - ‘Probability Densities’
Arpanet - ‘Ergosphere’
Arpanet -’Gravitational Lense’
Der Zyklus - ‘Cherenkov Radiation’