On Friday 31 October 2014 we hosted an event at Towner, the contemporary art gallery in Eastbourne. Our evening of music and film was inspired by Towner’s current exhibition, ‘Twixt Two Worlds’, which explores the relationship between still photography and film. Our event featured DJ sets of ambient and experimental electronic music by Acquaintance and Bernholz, and a reconstruction of Acquaintance’s set is now on Mixcloud. The set includes classic ambient sounds from Pete Namlook, Gas, Jochem Paap, and others, alongside more recent material by Eva Bowan, Somni, Rosen, and Acquaintance himself.
‘Masculinity is a wonderful thing’ is a dense, sculptural clutter of gauze-thin cut up samples, loops and embellished found sounds. It’s an intense, and incredibly direct listen. Louis Johnstone seems resolutely artless and at the same time all the more an artist for it. He would no doubt hate a sentence like that. I just can’t think of a better way to describe the incredible way his collages make all formal music ideas seem worthless whilst you become lost in his world.
The newest instalment of my ongoing ‘Consequences’ series is comprised of one track, ’13’, which is based on an improvised loop pedal jam. I recorded the original straight onto 4-track tape via a loop pedal with a mic, picking up a distorted guitar amp. The result was good for me to listen to, but the quality was too poor for people to pick out the details I wanted them to hear.
So this re-recorded version stays faithful to the spontaneous arrangement of the original, and the essence of it is still ‘one-shot’ in that I would try to make the individual parts using first takes. I recorded it back onto tape once it was finished.
Hence the sub-title of this piece. It is also a reference to the book I’ve been fascinated with for a while, which questions the role of authenticity in popular music. The title of the book in turn is also an appropriation of the song by Simon and Garfunkel.
It will be available for free download from Anti-Ghost Moon Ray in the next month or so, and I am considering a limited cassette run of the 2 Consequences projects later in the year.
The second track here is a left-over from ‘Consequences 1′. I didn’t get it finished in time to go with the others, but went back to it later. It was the original track which started the whole series, so here it is in all its glory. A slightly better quality version is free for download from my bandcamp page.
C V L T S are an enigma that keep on giving. The past year has seen them previously release 2 cassettes, a split 7″, a split c-30, a download maxi-single, and create their own label – Beer on the rug. Their newest cassette, ‘Theta Distractions’, is the label’s next release.
C V L T S are an act of contradictions. ‘Theta Distractions’ is a truly transgressive album that is heavily weighted by the crackling, distorting, and whirring of old, beaten up keyboards, tape machines and delay pedals. Tape WoW and flutter roots it in earthly tones and textures, whilst the melodies take you to another ‘place’. The music is moody and unsettling, drawing the listener in, but always retaining a cold, calculated distance. The sense of detachment comes from the production. Harsh sounds are still beautiful and poignant; simple, raw in execution. The seemingly improvised compositions breathe life into something that could make the listener feel like a trapped outsider were it not for the repetitive, haunting, loops, sending shivers through the body, like the clicking of joints; nervous tension shifting into excitation and satisfaction. Yet unlike, say, Steve Reich or Terry Riley, the repetition is nowehere near as minimalist, building more like slow post-rock.
With breathtaking brevity, the sweeping, subtly shifting melodies move the listener from one place to the next. The entry of the track ‘White cluster’ is a real thing of beauty, a melody captured that feels instantly like it could bring you to tears. It is one of the strongest moments on the album which pulls the listener out of the immersive atmosphere. One of CVLTS’ strengths is in their knowingness, coaxing out moments like this, like a witch conjuring a spell. Suddenly, by transforming the mood again into a pulsating outro, they bring the audience back into the flowing atmosphere, via a mini-symphony with no regard for traditional songcraft. This is another moment which sums up what CVLTS achieve so well, doing away with unnecessary rules of song. These are sound collages, tiny soundtracks to ominous events that are happening, that you are frightened of but still want to be witness to, like some kind of voyeurism. To achieve so much within such a simple idea and set of rules is no mean feat. By retaining playfulness and casuality, they still entertain a great depth of emotion and substance. Fragmentary, momentary ideas are just a significant as longer pieces. ‘Pain management’ is another majestic track that lifts you into ecstasy, it’s slow, churning euphoria, still remaining understated and melancholy, but shifting the music into more optimistic territory, something which was rather needed by this point.
A short, 20 minute journey, and it’s over. Where did you travel? In such a short time, it feels like a long way.
I have also included other examples of C V L T S’ work, nearly all of which can be heard at their bandcamp here.