Wednesday, January 18, 2017

REFLECTION II






Okay, so listen up, punks. I'm listening to Eno's latest ambient album REFLECTION right now in my office. I couldn't find it on the normal channels online, so I logged in to Spotify and found the four minute and twenty-one second excerpt--and am listening to that on repeat. *(Click the image above to link directly to the Reflection excerpt on Spotify)


I just wanted to set the record straight here. In the previous section of this diptych on Eno's latest release, I waxed on about some ridiculous notions concerning the potential for his ambient music to evolve radically over an indefinite period of time; for it to potentially mutate into an unfamiliar form. While such fancies make fun notions to suddenly jot down by the ends of my fingertips whilst madly blogging without a care in the world, I return in this sobering sequel to reassure you all that no such thing could possibly take place insofar, at least, as the original tape loop recordings Eno pioneered 42 years ago. (I assume the technique which yields REFLECTION to be analogous to that, only in digital format.)

The point being, if you set up the original different-length tape loops to play endlessly, yes they'd never quite repeat the exact same configuration of sounds yet rest assured the exact same level of tonality and texture would remain consistent throughout all eternity.   This is the answer we'd expect to hear from Mr. Eno, were he required to explain the nature of his ambient tape loops. I feel Reflection to most likely be constrained within the same inflexible parameters which allow the digitized loops to interplay--producing endless sonic configurations--while remaining relatively consistent in tone and texture.

I've been getting increasingly intriguing glimpses into the full potential of the Reflection app from having listened to various differing snippets of Reflection.  Namely, the four sides of the 2LP vinyl (which I more often than not select to put on the turntable randomly, as if the four tracks were on shuffle) and now this endless looping four minute, twenty-one second excerpt on Spotify unspooling gently in the background from my office computer here.

Given the observation that even this limited four minute snippet loop doesn't get old after multiple repeats, it widens the album's vista into a dimensional fourfold.  I think of the album as a folded up, sonic hypercube now. That renders the app as the spaceship that will catapult the listener into warp drive. This is your spacey dJ & vinyl junkie Thornswrath signing off for now, reminding you that we are well underway into the unfolding Technological Singularity.









Thursday, January 5, 2017

REFLECTION




I bought Eno's latest ambient album REFLECTION yesterday, and after listening to it several times, have been able to determine just what his remarkable accomplishment is, this time around.  It's this:

Eno has released an album whose ideal and ultimate format is not the vinyl LP, nor the CD, but rather, the APP available for purchase on iTunes.  To my mind, this is a significant achievement. 

The REFLECTION APP allegedly self-generates endless mutations of the music's keynote themes, arranged and programmed by Eno himself to engender non-identical variations for as long as (I assume) you keep it playing on your iPad or computer or smart phone, whichever the case may be. 

The question which immediately leaps to my mind, and which I'd seriously love to ask Brian, is just how far from its set parameters can the sound of Reflection's music deviate over the long term?  Because the possibilities which come to mind are fascinating:  Are the parameters set by Eno such that, sort of like being continually wound around the prongs of a tuning fork, yet only allowing a limited scope of infinitesimal variations, which despite being permitted to play for a century (let's say), would result in only minor evolutionary changes?  Or, is it possible that, after allowing Reflection to play for an extended period of time, might the sound complicate itself in a manner which could potentially degenerate into unbearable noise?  Or more wondrous even, is it possible that in a manner much like life itself, could the music of Reflection, after being allowed to play a sufficient amount of time, begin organizing itself into completely unexpected and startling patterns?  I suspect that either Brian Eno is wondering about this himself, or he already knows the answer (which more than likely would be the former supposition, which is to say, the parameters are limited enough by which this "river" of music, although constantly changing over the course of time by minor increments that are barely noticeable, will yet retain its essential shape of a river of continually flowing music, regardless how long it plays).   

Here's a YouTube video of a guy showing off his LP version of REFLECTION, for your perusal. 




There's another YouTube video of a prog guy "reviewing" REFLECTION, and although he brings up some good points, I have to say, he doesn't even offer to tell us what he thinks of the music itself--he merely concludes that he "can't" offer a review due to the fact Eno has "outdone" him by having provided this endlessly generating ambient suite.  So here's that guy's "review" (or lack of) so you can check it out for yourself, then I'll conclude this entry by providing my own opinion on what I think of it, in contrast to his other legendary ambient recordings.  





So while the above YouTube video may have been worth checking out, I'm still a little disappointed that our prog guy there didn't even offer us his opinion on whether he liked it that much, or not.  As for me--while yes, I can clearly state that I enjoyed having REFLECTION play out in the background, I don't think it's anywhere near as satisfying or good as, say, THURSDAY AFTERNOON, or DISCREET MUSIC, or MUSIC FOR AIRPORTS, or even LUX.  That said, I find it a worthy addition to the Eno canon.  I remain most amused by the fact that the 2LP version (which  necessarily slices the potential endless nature of the music into 4 separate segments) is most certainly the least optimal version of the album.  That's a first, in my experience.  This renders the CD as being better than the LP, because at least we get all four tracks as one 53-minute, uninterrupted experience.  Leaving the APP as the optimal format for this particular album.  (I must note here that Adrian Belew came out with a similar concept with his album FLUX, also available as an interactive APP which allows the listener to play around with the parameters--set by Belew--in order to create their own alternate versions of FLUX.  Eno's REFLECTION is a bit different in that it's not interactive). If I could set up a permanent installation in my home--or even outdoors in a garden, for instance--of the REFLECTION APP, I certainly would.  I'm willing to bet Eno himself, at the very least, has done so, specifically with the intent to stand by for the rest of his life in order to see how far the variations stray from his parameters.  

REFLECTION joins Eno's most minimal works (such as NEROLI and some of his lesser-known ambient installation albums) and as such, I personally find it to remain valuable insofar as putting on more discreet background music for relaxation or writing purposes goes. It's a lovely addition to a stellar career in having pioneered this sort of thing.  What I like about the 2LP vinyl version is that I can pretty much disregard the four sides (a, b, c, & d) and listen to them in any sequence without really interfering noticeably with their progression.  The only annoying thing about it, really, is having to get up and flip the records over three times about every thirteen minutes.  That's why I intend to secure for myself the APP for this wonderful new Eno album.  Make no mistake about it:  Eno has always done his own thing, and that's what I consider to lie at the heart of being very punk indeed.   

Friday, September 30, 2016

THE SCURVY DEEPS

Arrr, and welcome to the Scurvy Deeps, mates.  Today we're listening to some LEVIATHAN on the turn-table, that's right.


 


in particular their I mean his
uber rare vinyl-only (at the time)
2005 release A SILHOUETTE
IN SPLINTERS, LP album cover
depicted above (with a die hard
candy red vinyl that looks like
blood if it were suspended
beneath ocean waves while 
transfixed by a shaft of sunlight). 

The music itself delves far deeper
than that until it's descended to 
a highly pressurized realm of
sonic pings and distant echoes
crashing off the shores of mad
ness buried under old sand
driven dunes occupied by
chromataphore lit cephalopods
undulating their tentacles slow
as the funereal and dirge like
dark ambient music unfolds
around you like a diver's bell
dropping beneath the plates of hell.   

I've always enjoyed listening to this album regardless of the time of day or month or season.  I've come to appreciate its subtle dynamics all the more over the years as I begin to hear more emerge from its lightless configurations in a gradual gyrational mutation twisting into new flowering shapes budding up out of the inky darkness of the soul and out pouring through our eyes and mouths as we're taken down to the ultimate conclusion remaining: that of our burial at sea. 

 

Just push PLAY on the YouTube video above featuring all forty-eight minutes of this luscious masterwork of ambient music.  An album even Brian Eno would appreciate, for all its dark evocations as well as for the instrumentation provided, even the simplest bass lines add a dimension of haunting space which helps coalesce the bigger picture the songs on this album sonically depict.

The label Moribund Cult reissued this on CD in 2008, I'd wager even that item remains rare today. For three years at least I enjoyed my vinyl-only album rendering it for a brief spell one of the truly kvlt items from my catalog of blackened wax.   Until next time, I bid you not to drown in adieu ~

People, Hell, and Angels

 


I've been spinning my 2LP  2013   debut release posthumous album from Jimi Hendrix, People, Hell, and Angels.   Hearing the rich sounds of immaculate blues rock and roll music emerge from my speakers has me amazed at the thought this may have been the very best release that year but for the life of most of us, who would get the opportunity to find out?  Those who deserve it (must be the only reasonable answer in a world gone mad from disproportional memefication to the point of proliferating its circumstantial virus through every lock and keyhole in the land).  Who's Jimi Hendrix, some of you submillenials may ask?  He's the mythic lead singer of the band Jimi Eat World.  Did you know he owned the largest occult book collection in the world, before his Lord and Master took his soul in good standing as per the deal at the crossroads.   It's true he lived in Anton Levay's castle, out on the fringes of Northampton.  He was also the folk singer (as they referred to his type back in the day) who turned the Beatles on to acid and taught Bob Dylan how to sing and play the guitar.  Not many people know this, today.  That's why I'm here to tell you, straight up, how it all went down, my friends. Back when Jimi Eat World were at the height of their popularity--in the early 90's--when Sinead O'Connor was the uncrowned Queen of Scotland and no one even knew who Forrest Whitaker was.   Those were the days some of us still around who survived them recall dimly through a haze induced by smoking powdered Kool-Aid, I'm afraid.  Very afraid, to tell you the truth, because I don't see how anything beautiful's going to survive intact as we traipse our way forward from here.  Hey Gypsy Boy, why'd you shoot your woman down?  It's alright, Ma, I'm Only Bleeding.   And if you want to bleed, just bleed.   Speaking of Skeleton Tree--that's the other magnificent release of these late lost years quickly being pulled along a gravitational conveyor belt only to disappear into an expanding black hole.


From Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds comes the sixteenth album, this year's Skeleton Tree, as desolate and stripped down sounding foray into lonely madness as I've ever had the consolation to listen to. The entire fucking album is available to listen to for free on YouTube, right here.

  

This album arrived in its pristine vinyl format to my household just the other day like a scared and lonely crow swept down wings upraised having given up to alight on the flat wrought iron hand rail on my front porch.  It seemed to regard me balefully from within it's high sheen exterior packaging. I've invited it in since to join up with its other vinyl  friends and together we often throw a party.  Turn out all the lights in the house once night falls and light a solitary candle in honor of the dead.  



Saturday, September 17, 2016

EVERYTHING BLEEDS

Do you know my name? Do you know what I've shared? Do you think I'm lost? 
Do you think I care? Everything bleeds. 
Everything bleeds, Gary Numan sings on his twenty-thirteen album, 
SPLINTER, Songs From A Broken Mind.  





 


Today at the 9th & 9th St. Fair, we stumbled into a Barber Shop where Graywhale had set up a booth selling vinyl records for up to 70% off.  Sure enough, I scored this latest Gary Numan album, which came out three years ago and I never sprang for.  Today for just ten dollars I couldn't pass it up, and it's playing now on my turntable.  I'd heard a few of the songs on mp3s and was digging the style and feel of the approach this latest incarnation of Numan takes down it's own dark and twisted little  alleway.  Now that the profound anguished beats of this record are having their opportunity to escape from my speakers into the house, I'm really pleased with the sound of this record.  This is some kind of post -everything album, merging such a wide disarray of post -Industrial gothic sounds together that all you gotta do is turn out all the lights, sit back and enjoy.  It's a sort of desolate crumbling underground apocalyptic opera detailing the disintegration of a life, or something along those lines. I can tell I'm going to like getting to know this sick and twisted concept album from Gary Numan. I can't believe three years have already passed since it was released.  We're reeling around the Sun still and it's beginning to feel like we're losing control and going to crash.