Wednesday, June 15, 2016

L.A.M. & Glass Domain reissues on Clone Aqualung

Clone via their Drexciya related sub-label, Clone Aqualung, will be reissuing the L.A.M. (Life After Mutation) Balance of Terror 12" (1992) and Glass Domain's s/t 12" (1991) at some point in the near future. Both releases are currently listed as upcoming on their website (L.A.M. and Glass Domain). L.A.M. (new label artwork above) was the first work together of James Stinson and Gerald Donald and originally came out on Robert Hood's Hardwax label. Glass Domain was the first production of Gerald Donald aka Heinrich Mueller, which he released on his own Pornophonic Sound Disc Label. Both of these key early releases have already been reissued once already by Clone in 2003 but since then have become scarce all over again. I have previously written articles detailing both the L.A.M. and Glass Domain releases.

It looks like the long flagged vinyl release of Zwischenwelt's Paranormale Aktivitat on Clone Aqualung is also getting closer with a release date of 18th July, although one online retailer is saying 30th June is when it will be ready to ship.

Arpanent will be playing live at a very special event, 25 years of Tresor at the Tresor club in Berlin on 21st July. Juan Atkins, DJ Stingray and Moritz von Oswald, Vainqueur and more are also included on an outstanding bill and that's just Day 1! More details and the rest of the mouth-watering full weekend line-up at this link.

I came across a kind of home movie made by some Drexciya fans back in 2011 (not sure if I've linked this here before). As you will see they used their titles to plot out a story, their music and some special effects. It looks like it was a lot of fun to make too. Part 1 & Part 2

Friday, June 10, 2016

Drexciya, The Ocean After Nature, YBCA, San Francisco

Drexciya are featured in a very prestigious travelling exhibition, The Ocean After Nature, which opens at the YBCA, San Francisco on 17th June. Alongside an international selection of established and emerging artists they will be represented by a vitrine, with four of their albums and a playlist of songs drawn from their EP releases. The Otolith Group's Hydra Decapita (2010) film, which references the Drexciyan mythos, will also be screened (image above). In the exhibition catalogue there will be an excerpt from Drexciya as Spectre by Kodwo Eshun from Aquatopia: The Imaginary of the Ocean Deep (2013) and a short essay/poem by Virgil Taylor about Hydra Decapita. I was contacted by the curator, Alaina Claire Feldman, and the producers of the show, Independent Curators International, early this year and answered some questions about them and am very pleased to see all of their efforts come to fruition and the direct recognition of Drexciya in this context. Details of other featured artists, full programme etc here.

“Our premise is that the sea remains the crucial space of globalization. Nowhere else is the disorientation, violence, and alienation of contemporary capitalism more manifest, but this truth is not self-evident, and must be approached as a puzzle, or mystery, a problem to be solved.” — Allan Sekula and Noël Burch, 2013

The Ocean After Nature considers the ocean as a site reflecting the ecological, cultural, political, and economic realities of a globalized world through the work of twenty artists and collectives. These internationally established and emerging artists explore new ways of representing the seascape as a means to identify and critique the various interrelated and chaotic systems of power, such as land-sea divides, the circulation of people and goods, and the vulnerabilities of our ecosystems.
-from description of show

In the past fifteen years, technological, scientific, and economic shifts advanced through globalization have prompted new considerations of the ocean. Instead of fetishizing the ocean as separate from humanity, it is now understood that nature and culture are physically and representationally equivalent in power and influence. How we speak about the ocean and what we do about the ocean have become inextricably intertwined.

The international selection of established and emerging artists featured in The Ocean After Nature explore these recent shifts and reflect on the complicated planetary effects that humanity and the oceans have on each other. The exhibition features more than twenty works of art in a wide variety of media—including photography, video, sculpture, music, and design—that propose new representations of seascapes. The works span not only personal themes of identity and migration, but also more universal concerns regarding tourism, trade, climate change, and the exploitation of natural resources.
-from curator's statement

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Der Zyklus - Renormalon review

The new Der Zyklus release, Renormalon, is a six track mini album on 12" vinyl, on the Belgium label, WeMe. The music this time around is extremely different from Der Zyklus' Axonometric EP from last year, with very few beats and more of a focus on the background sounds and textures. However in recent times Der Zyklus did include a track, 'T4', on WeMe's 10 year anniversary album, WeMe Ans (2014), which would sound quite similar. Not to mention Der Zyklus' debut album, Biometry (2004), is pretty damn experimental too. Even though in live performances as Dopplereffekt Mueller is joined by another member, there is a kind of presumption abroad that since at least 1999 he has been working alone in the studio as Dopplereffekt, Arpanet and Der Zyklus. We might be dead wrong about this but it is a surprise when another collaborator gets credited here, Elena Sizova. All that is known about her is that she is a DJ and producer from Minsk, Belarus. There is also a third collaborator in this particular project, the mysterious Dr Olga Karelkina, who was responsible for the LP artwork I think and the beautiful video for 'Diffeomorphism', which strangely disappeared from YouTube after a day or so.

The press blurb from WeMe states the albums "purpose technically is to visually and sonically communicate the renormalon physics principle. Each composition is a separate component of the theory representing a particular phenomenon in the realm of quantum uncertainty.The observer is to be immersed conceptually and hopefully will experience discrete states of energy which is integral in atomic behaviour." I would guess one of the collaborators penned this description, which makes their intentions for this release very clear in one respect. At the real risk of adding more confusion, from my own research into the subject I think it's worth adding that paradoxes are common in this realm of the very small and the Uncertainty Principle implies that the more precise we are about one aspect of the quantum particle the less sure we can be about some other aspect of it. A renormalon itself is  a particular source of divergence in Quantum Field Theory and also a possible type of singularity, which is always a potentially very special discovery to make. They have certainly picked one of the 'weird' and potentially amazing subjects of Quantum Theory with this project for sure.

All of the tracks here could easily represent and soundtrack this aspect of Quantum Theory but in an emperors new clothes kind of way, they could also quite possibly represent any number of different subjects as well. Long after the concept has been forgotten it will always be the music that counts. Importantly for the listeners imagination, the LP design doesn't include anything other than the artwork, titles and personnel.

The droney and beatless opening track, 'Visible Spectrum', very much sets the tone for the album with an organ rising and falling in an elegant and almost overwhelming way and very little else outside harmonics caused by the random overloading of the organ itself. 'Interference Pattern' has pops instead of beats but it is a rhythm none the less with some very sparse layers of synth-type sounds continuing to creep in and out of the mix. It's all quite ghostly as an inference pattern might behave. At the 5 minute mark the pops suddenly drop out, leaving us with just the other sounds echoing about in the atmosphere.  'Spatial Multiplexing' sounds very much like an emergency alarm, very like a moment from a film's soundtrack (which is an area I've always thought that Mueller could work very well in). The second half morphs into what sounds like the radioactive decay of the first section. 'Diffeomorphism' opens side 2 and is quite lush in a way and by far the most accessible track and my favourite, it doesn't surprise me that it was used for the video. Beats appear about halfway through and they really get the track going. The track is quite majestic and mysterious, just shimmering into existence and then disappearing again, a joy. 'Photopolymer' is much more contemplative, just rolling along in a very delicate and seductive pattern with some slightly off key sounds. 'Optical Distortion' is like some kind of uneasy weather pattern, it has a randomness that reminds me of the wind. The sort of track that could play for ever in the background and still be interesting as it has a very naturally evolving quality to it, like some exotic fungus on a petri dish.

Like most of Mueller's work since Dopplereffekt's Linear Accelerator in 2003, this is another grower, which forces you to very much change your perceptions of what music can be.  For me, while it does have a lot of changes of mood for just six tracks, with a kind of uneasy resolution at the end, there is enough variety and one really standout track to keep me interested throughout.

It can be downloaded from WeMe here and purchased on limited clear vinyl direct from WeMe here and on black vinyl at various online and real stores.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

New Zerkalo video & Drexciya themed mix

There is now an official video for Zerkalo's 'The Lake', made by Anaïs Boudot. This is a previously unreleased track which is available for free download from Bandcamp, the track was included on a compilation of unreleased music by Victoria Lukas, Closet. In a public post on Victoria Lukas' personal Facebook page she included the text 'Zerkalo is dead, viva Zerkalo !' when she posted this video a few days ago and on a previous posting about upcoming releases for 2016 there is nothing listed for Zerkalo. If this is truly the end of the 10 year collaboration between Heinrich Mueller and Victoria Lukas then 'The Lake' is a beautiful and very fitting way to close (they began in 2006 by sharing their music via MySpace). I'm sure the music of Zerkalo will indeed continue to entertain, influence and resonate. Long live Zerkalo!

Alex Downey performed a very special Drexciya themed electro set for the last ever Bloc Weekender this year. Very fittingly his 'Wave -Jumper' mix was aired at the Waterworld stage. There is a good interview with him as well at this link for the mix.

"It was an honour to be asked by the Bloc guys to do this at their last ever Butlins weekender, it certainly goes down in history for me as one of the highlights, and was quite possibly the most unique DJing experience I’ve ever had. Loads of my mates were there enjoying the waterslides, rocking out to UR & Aphex, flapping about in the waves whilst I played ‘Wavejumper’, I even got flashed by a girlfriend when I dropped ‘Pornoactress’, it was so much fun - I will remember it for the rest of my life!"

For a very brief time there was an official video for 'Diffeomorphism' from the new Der Zylus album, Renormalon on YouTube. The video was the work of the third collaborator in this project, Dr Olga Karelkina, in which she visually explored the principle of renormalon physics. The video was actually quite mesmerising and synced to the music in places with a low key surprise landing at the end. If it ever reappears I will link it here and on the DRL Facebook for sure.