DL | CD.
12th February 2020.
The new album from BD1982 (Brian Durr) to mark the 10th birthday of Diskotopia is one that succeeds in creating a seamless coherency between every item to be desired in the record collection. One which reflects the images of real-life whilst cleverly referencing the ideas contained within each oxidized page and passing chapter of the Occult. A consolidation between Jung and Jamaican dancehall, as Distance Vision sets the scene for so much we only scratch the surface of dreaming about.
”Man lives and evolves by ‘eating’ significance, as a child eats food. The deeper his sense of wonder, the wider his curiosity, the stronger his vitality becomes, and the more powerful his grip on his own existence” – Colin Wilson, 1971, The Occult.
There’s a real art; a lost art perhaps, of seamless eclecticism. An alignment of different, erratic stripes of light secreting their own unique colours capable of coexisting in the same space, with a similar sense of purpose and fluid, flowing dynamism.
Or something like that.
US-born Tokyo-based Diskotopia cofounder BD1982 (Brian Durr, who runs the label with A Taut Line) succeeds in achieving the desired effects of coherency with what, at first, and on paper, appears to be a disparate, restless, random myriad of influences stuck together; but when listening to the record as a whole, flows and falls into place like a slotting assortment of missing puzzle pieces, sailing and swimming and vibrating with their own sonorous chants and glowing with their own phosphorescent light source.
This new release, Distance Vision, is his 10th release on the label, coinciding with Diskotopia’s 10th anniversary. A deliberate sonic departure from his antecedent key releases of a tribal warehouse variety (Salience from 2015, the Arclight EP two years later), is inevitably the arrival to new, blooming grounds of creative force and conceptual thoughts, susceptible and sensitive to the whereabouts of the human being, caught up in the conundrums and cobwebs, the symphonic, electronic cacophonies of nature dying and humankind thriving; the calamitous noises and cascading array of living things and non-living things, when pushed upon against the spine of its fragile, exposed interior.
In each case; we are, they are; reaching for, and racing towards, the same summit, the same edge; the internal Van Gough – a Distance Vision.
SILENTWAVES summons up something inexplicable from the depths. Rising tides and monstrous waves filling an empty room and submerging all it crashes into and collapses upon. Destruction and desire entwined in the same helix. The spellbinding tuning up of nature’s enchanting strings. The warming up of some slumbering, somnambulant machine – the more it blooms the more it explodes with dazzling embellishments. Drifting on, sinking into, or possibly walking below, the silent waves, in outer space.
Slow and subdued, mellow, and melancholic, things trickling and tinkling, tapping and clapping, melting wax into an orchestration of empty, ceramic pans.
A synthesis of Tetraflux and Trancedetters, a brilliant system of cogs and spokes interlocking Ultravox and Kraftwerk, a forceful, cosmic crash of the great, glass wave into the shores of The Other Side. A yearning, bellowing voice mid-chrysalis heard from the marvellous expanse of the caves ahead, engendering hypnagogic synaesthesia and catalysing beautiful, eruptive, amorphous psychedelic spores, that mix and mingle, that kiss and cut, that rise to the ceiling and transcend earthbound chains of spatiality.
An experiment with molecules and minerals, an entry into other worlds, the artistry of purposeful assemblage in the face of the age of shallow shuffle-and-fuck culture, materials porous and potent, absorptive, and abundant, with their own vibrant, volatile phosphorus hues, find their strongest voice, lost when alone, but now formidable when found with structured, applicative uses, as one of many elements in the systems of totality – proto-house and post-punk, dancehall and darkwave, the Bronx and Berlin, Tokyo and Tangier, 1970s Kingston car park selectors and 1980s Temperance in Manchester, on Thursday, all mentioned in the same breath, on the same day, imagined in the same state of sensational, ecstatic play.
Deux Filles and Durruti Column meets Deleuze and Guattari in The New York Public Library. Wendy Carlos signed to Warp and featured on their imaginary/lost/stolen Artificial Intelligence II compilation. Artificial Avalanche is all dancefloors in cyberspace. They detonate from the nucleus and shatter outwards in brilliant blasts of light.
Dark and disordered, haunted, and melodic, it approaches from the depths of elsewhere, and calls upon our conscious selves, to cradle those states of mind into deep periods of sleep, with a coarse, croaky, opioid sonnet finishing the job before total, analeptic engulfment.
This is an encapsulation of decades spent listening, spent looking, spent learning, spent falling in love, and falling through life, provides focus and proves the existence of a brilliant beauty in the fruits of one’s labours by reaping the entire archive, roaming free a vagrant propagator, resplendent with gilded details which glow from afar.
All for the art, in the name of evolving-and-preserving-the-purpose-of-the-damn-art of homogenising one sound, and one style; all for the act of suturing one space, to another time, and watching them wonderfully unfurl together on the same sonic plane.
And this is also an assemblage of many disparate things. Comingling, living, dying, and resurrected to share the same space, the same spark, in the same partial darkness, in the same mind and relishing in the freedom which arrives from never tiring of the chase and fill things in with the things we find, as we so wish, only to find new cracks emerge and pathways protrude. Because ”the assemblage is less about what it is then, and more about what it can do, what it can affect and bring about” (Deleuze and Guattari, 1988).
As exemplified by the likes of Enter. Boiling with climactic, frenetic rapidity and attack of turbulent, alkaloid electronica. Caustic switchboard sizzles. Dances and dazzles in its own sacred space, its own unknown zone, its own centrifugal groove, away from the constraints of a widely (mid)understood conception of time. Strobes through the smoke as Soft Cell’s slow-motion Sex Dwarf is stripped to the skin and used as a superconductor. Acidic twists of Wax Trax swagger and patterns of attack, gradually uplift, spiralling from the ground and toward new cerebral peaks of ethereal majesty. Rigorous states of 808 hypnotism at the centre of Siouxsie’s decadent, skeletal, starlit, inescapable, dust city.
Academically, and organically, brought to the surface, gifting us with their tricks and abilities which Durr, excited by the possibilities of exploration in zones of unknown musical interconnectedness, extracts and exploits with the approach of a contemporary electro-aesthete with a vast cache of immense musical schooling, an inquisitive wizard with the password to the treasure chest, all astute and tuned into a sumptuous smorgasbord of ideas, a blissful coexistence, all inflating and levitating, a stockpiling of records from the collection, massive and minuscule, a means of making sense of every inch of depth and grain of detail, to then arrive at some completed, composite end.
Influenced by “varying global cultural beliefs on life, death, and reincarnation” as articulated in Colin Wilson’s 1971 book The Occult: A History, what BD1982 touches on here, to equally varying degrees of curiosity and zeal, subtle and extreme, succeeds in shining new lights of exposure on whole spectrums of diverse genres.
So, this sounds like that. It really does. But how?
It does so in the form of fragments of hot, neon pop as ejected from doomy, shoegaze groove, emerge all mangled from the dark prism. An unrelenting barrage of strobes, aligned, aimed, and randomly shooting through a veil of white smoke, surrounds and submerges this compelling, compulsive beauty of demonic, ambient, nebulous wonder both calcimine and camomile rubbing up against the thin membrane, in one, beautiful swoop, in one endorphin night cruise and just…Running.
And we are running. From the West, to the edge, and back into, onto, ourselves again with nothing to show for it except a scratch on the knees. So much for the migration of the species to places unimagined in science when the Odllyic force is nothing but a lump of coal trapped between the pincers above a bunsen burner.
But the WE3ST can go to hell.
It uncoils slowly, raises its head, and tumbles to the floor again. The baby steps of electronic circuitry interacting with the edges of nature in a fabulous coexistence. Infantile and curious, phantasmagorical, and palindromic, its gentle strums and hums, delicately interconnected networks of abstract, background pangs and shuffling buttons, providing a dense, and heavily detailed array of beginnings and ends begging to be heard. Its water droplets-down-tall-leaf melodies and acid hiss-fuss gush shudder onto the still, delicate metallic sheets suspended inflight, worming itself within one’s mind, enabling new rocks to turn and new routes for the imagination to travel down every time.
The aforementioned The Occult book by Colin Wilson behaved as a literary reference throughout. So maybe this is the review of the book which inspired the soundtrack to the invisible film. Or the script of the film to the book which inspired the music. A book which, in 1971, outlined how the progressions of civilization cannot continue unless ‘the occult’ is taken seriously.
Seriously to the point, it is on par with atomic energy. Seriously to the point mankind is a but a pointless, onward march; a futile fumbling forward if a return to ancestral dispositions to dig for things divorced from the trappings and trivialities of the modern age which enslave us (no, that’s not a Manics lyric).
Wilson postulates the importance of learning to expand inward, to establish a sense of orenda: unseen forces in American Indian, buried deep, until man’s latent powers have been unlocked by the atrocities of the modern age and conceal them through a savage, rampant barrage of obstacles – burning adverts to observe, the tarnished ambiance of the morning in New York, items to immerse, intensive conflicts and contradictions to be consumed by as an indefatigable, undefeatable blockage from this voyage of perception, this discovery of things not through a system of schooling, or through the internal organs we are bound to in these sinking bodies; but rather through perception, as conduits and incubators, of the inner experience at the centre of our very own spun web.
Order of the Golden Fang could well be a chapter in Wilson’s book. Glistening seas of science-fiction synths coated in photosensitive liquid. A menacing, and monotonous soundtrack to a narrative we all play a part in unable to escape the screen, before us, behind us, beside us, above us. Disturbed is the voice which calls from above; the giant’s foot as looked upon by Chris and Cosey, a lingering, looping eye containing, in the wild, spiking heat of a hypnogogic hallucination, the haunted, warped history of a million digital thrills and sacrilegious rendezvous.
This is Durr’s ”most realized project from conception to completion”. Worthy of appraising considering the volatile mix of ingredients that comprises the much larger picture. A journey that starts with a handful of grimy, smokey, swagger-until-shatter dancehall-inspired street-level, detonator bassline sound judders releases on Seclusiasis (sun by Starkey and Dev79) such as Let’s Talk Math. To the debut Diskotopia release; a chromatic, crazy maze of 12-bit exploration, taking us through fuzzy, scuzzy videogame landscapes of strange, hieratic graffiti bridges; Black Arc meets laser-fast Atari melodies, which pop and pounce from the speakers; deeply immersed in other worlds not dissimilar from Durr’s VHS Nite EP released in 2011… to now.
And the commonality from one release to another has always been to see how assortments can be assembled. Warehouse Soul, to Factory post-punk and those little atoms and intricate acorns which settle between.
So this record is Made of Light, and it bursts at the seams with detail and breaks apart but fucking hell it feels good to see the pieces glue themselves back together again. A panoramic shot of skyline and skyscraper. Mechanical dragons and mushrooming melodies ascend upward through the dirt during a unified exhaling of a forest of neon trees. Voice attempting to penetrate static from beyond the corporeal world, briefly lost and briefly found, regaining consciousness and intoning into the ears, hushed lullabies and husky; baritone and caramel, swimming and swirling in a kraut-psyche carousel of jarring jabs of silver feedback splinters like something sharp slicing through the surface of the sky’s devouring, buttermilk wideness.
Rhythms itch and tick and talk from the concrete openness of the ethers. Nine Inch Nails signed to Ninja Tune, Kraftwerk signed to Some Bizzare, it dribbles all delayed and distracted and interweaving in multiple different languages. As the button-shaped seeds of peyote cactus are squeezed of Mescaline, the electronics erupt, rip, race and roar onward in violent stroboscopic motions.
A cacophonous, cosmic, xenon strata of living things are tranquilised, fall asleep and reload, like the chattering, hyperactive systems of birdsong, perched chirping upon the crumbled edges of crippled, black, brutalist buildings; antlers now ashes, bones now branches, all excited and intrigued, unfolding and erupting from all angles of inflammable experience as clouds pass and comet tails are observed from Earth’s small orbit.
Anima Migration observes machines of all sizes explore the earth’s edge. They observe the overwhelming expanse of a black horizon, busying itself without an impression to sully its natural crescent. Barbed stars dart through its neon organs, rapid blasts of celestial projectiles shoot by, destined to crash land into the laps of other lost worlds but reach deep with their peculiar puzzlements of angular, strangulated textures, which stretch and unwind like footsteps into shallow puddles of molten rock.
Glide Level explodes with every hole punched into the computer card which controls the great, underground machines. Experimental abrasions of post-punk dancehall noise, unfold like smoke, dispersing across derelict floors, like a Pop Group or a Public Image, paint dazzling flashes of erratic sonic pop and ion noise below the hot stare of a crystalline rainbow. Ponderous waves of vapor-rave keyboards talk as active participants in the process of the creation of strange life. A sonorous voice flickers in and out of focus, an underlying guide in splinters of slow-motion cinema.
A precious spectrum of images spontaneously projects on stone walls as fragile and savage melodic ghosts are unearthed for the ceremony of tribal automatons, capturing sensations through the art of found sounds, mangled and augmented here with every bright brush, bending and breaking what it rubs against whilst surrounded by the erotic warmth of sleepy generators and dark, matchstick against sandpaper ambiance and thumping machine-funk-meets-dub-reggae cadences through the industrial stomach.
A rave in the face of a the complacent-idiot-pygmy-species.
A rave in the name of the return of primitive man’s inner wheel and natural pill, for savage man to swallow and evolve.
A rave at the edge of The Intelligent Universe.
A procession, as conducted by Hopkins and Hannett, grows and groans forth in the form of paranoid, ominous responses to extraordinary visual stimuli pulsate in the song’s heavy, jungle bustle veins. Echoes flow, sourced at objects with phosphorus properties. Along with tones, and timbres, adrift and afloat, in chambers and channels, some weightless and hollow, others heavy and enmeshed in the dirt, lift, and decline upon one suck of the astronauts decorative, radon bong. An untangled array of many changing colours, writhing with ribbons, held up by a pair of hands sometimes seen, but attached to no arms and running in chains, at many different speeds; each heave and cascade into one fantastic opening, from which everything spills, through which, all the light that could ever chime, passes and seeps like being sucked into a dream through the creases in one’s pillow and into the point between a field occupied by Cascading Titans.
The album also comes with 3 bonus tracks if you purchase the limited edition CD. And you should, because they ain’t fillers. They merely fall and neatly slot and nicely tie themselves to the thematic and musical flow providing space and provoking the album’s wild musical turns into strategic, considered compositions.
In Hell, in particular, where we witness a mystical rebooting of the human supercomputer take place, sat inside a transparent, plastic cage communicates to the reaches beyond. Sublevel bass and supernatural synths grumble and glow in the opaque dark, soon being joined by layer after layer of sharp glimpses and shredded glimmers of elegant, and elegiac, kinetic fuzz. Like Conny Plank producing Dead Can Dance under a pulsating network of blue and red lights.
Out of time, and out of place, yet apart of everything, attached to the dark, aligned to the light, analysed from the position which is situated between noise and order – its ability to defy the orthodox logic by one opposite settling amongst another as though the album is more a musical illusion than a mere random pattern of musical thoughts or bricolage of snippets and oddities is a fine way to exemplify another quote by the text which secretes ideas of the development of humankind and the constant zone of combat between life and death we are all in the middle of: ”Life is not at the mercy of death. It is in control of death”.
It takes a true artist to transpose such notions. To the point, it could be said that music is not at the mercy of genre. It is in control of it.
Detached from a distance, yet interconnected and sizzling with one idea, smashed against another at every turn, Distance Vision ascends to new realms of contemporary music but being able to harness whatever should eject from the kaleidoscope’s mouth, from the rhizome’s stem. And to be endlessly restless, to never tire of trying, to be impressed to these extremes, and to pigeonhole it as either absolutely Exhibit A, or absolutely Exhibit B, would, through its tarnishing of the creation of the concrete, empathetic to the differences of what has been pieced together by the artist, be a thoroughly pointless exercise.
But if you must know, a coalescence of A and B, or a closer inspection of the supposed void between the busts of such valleys, and the bosoms of such galaxies, is where you’ll strike true gold ”as a way of bringing forth and mapping out a territory at the same time” (Varela
Because to hell with the pious totality of absolutes.
And here’s to drawing your own box.
And if you really must know – krautrocksteady is also fine.
Ryan Walker is a writer from Bolton, his online archive can be found here.