Together these tracks make for an incredibly immersive and congruous conception; an utterly complete and mesmerising document. But really, we've not heard anything like this before. Yet whilst their imprints could be traced by some, they resemble more of a covert presence within a nuanced whole rather than obvious aspects which moor this record to any familiar setting. In revealing the remarkable location and period in which Swamp was recorded Margetts and Miller give a vivid indication as to how these energies are so potently invoked: 'The record was mostly recorded in a caretaker's wing of a 17th century castle in Normandy.
It was early March , and our first encounter with the Spring. We had no idea how everything would unfold. There was a lot of tension. Some of us felt compelled to get out the attic room where we had set up our makeshift recording studio and just walk and walk down the vast flat meadows and explore the relics of the wartime barracks, others wanted to keep recording. The outside was serene and inviting, and even though we had been cooped up indoors recording for long stretches of time, we could see from the corner of our eyes, the branches of the trees quivering; an impersonal energy blew through us and then things just happened.
LP with black and white printed inner sleeve and four colour cover in silk screened PVC sleeve. Formed in Southport during the lates, the band came to prominence out of South London's squat scene via their own Recloose Organisation. Early releases including the band's first experiments put to tape and the now highly sought after Sudden Departure compilation featuring luminaries Colin Potter, Eg Oblique Graph Bryan Jones and Lol Coxhill, laid the foundations of their burgeoning sound.
Recorded and produced at the Recloose Studios in Camberwell in , Simon Crab, Julian Gilbert and Steven Tanza infused their music with politically charged atmospherics, instrumental exploration, heavily laden reverb and dub, all projected by drum machine rhythms to assemble a musical collage which encapsulated strands beyond contemporary music. Track titles decipher little, as with the music, a discourse not belonging to a set style or movement, but crossing boundaries of supposition, pushing distortion and outernational leanings towards something else, a primordial discant.
While tape loops warp the ears and spoken vocals propel songs like Blood Orange Bargain Day and To Hell With The Consequences and contrasting guitar acoustics pierce the mood on Qualk Street and Spanner In The Works, the overall embrace is claustrophobic, embedding a foreboding for the times. This unique, indulgent, cross genre melting pot where pounding rhythms, wailing trumpets, mournful melodica and electronic pulses all spiral in a contagious dissonance that heralded Bourbonese Qualk to the wider world.
In seeking to explore music's place in time and space, Emotional Response has cast a wide fusion. This continues with this 'archival' release of Brainwaltzera's Marzipan EP. As can occur in the nature of electronic music, the self-released original came and went in a blink. Hyped and sold out, soaring resale values testify a record successfully combining old and new, of known and unknowns, within a romanticised view of sound.
Organic, smart, melancholic, the deliberately mysterious nature of the artist fits. A life in movement, this music stands as testament. Freedom, a propensity to ignored complacency. A retro-futurist brain dance. Blurred, intelligent, trippy, deep, heady, all and more. Principally active for just a few years, these recordings were never finalised - lost as such, until now. Their remix sensually creeps up, skilled musicianship creating a warm dub, as soothing bass and laid back vocals float to sunset horizons. As finale, Simple Customers is an minute whirl of lazy, psychedelic beauty.
The interplay between bass, drum and guitar is water tight, letting vocals shine to some latter day anthem. A fitting epitaph, a band at ease, confident and as one, these proved to be their last output before Kirill regrouped as today's Kito Jempere Band. A child of punk and noise, Pierre G. Desenfant, under the Blackthread monicker, pursues the multiple incantations of an immersive and inner quest, carved from the limbo of his own dreams, cinematographic miniatures where the intimacy of words and spoken word meets the chiseled luxury of analog machines.
In his songs of a new century, Blackthread experiments with the precision of the scalpel, an outstanding storyteller floating on vaporous synthetic mist. Sumptuous magnetic clouds in which balances an emaciated bass, choirs on the horizon, a soul keyboard or a minimal, almost hypnotic beat. We slide between scenes in sequences, carried by the echo of this voice dancing between the murmuring and the sung, hints of Gil-Scott Heron flirt with Pansonic, Coil and Eno-esque ambience. Sparkling with a sensitive bark and piercing directly the heart, Blackthread delivers with The Way You Haunt My Dreams a black and red diamond, addictive hollywood wandering, already blending into the night to haunt dreams in technicolour.
Blackthread is a story of development. Removing the traditional guitars and drums of noise rock in which he made his more conventional apprenticeship, Desenfant has reached a minimalistic formula in finding a new path. Constructed with minimal tools a bass, analog synthesizers and his voice , his music, after these few years, expresses a plethora of sounds and feelings.
Spoken words, whispers and explosions, this disciple of Brian Eno, Silver Apples and Alva Noto writes a beatless techno, rock devoid of guitar, an ambient enhanced with texts of icy beauty. With The Way You Haunt My Dreams, Blackthread grapples with the tension of a certain genre of dark rock and literary post punk, superimposed in ambient music. Continuing with this sense of mood, Desenfant succeeds with this new album in developing a rare songwriting in experimental synth music.
Blackthread is also a story of the voice. Never suffocated by acoustic research, the words of the vocalist give this disc its depth of personality, somewhere between neuroleptic reverie and confrontation with the musician's catharsis. Osaka born ALTZ has forged a genre-defying career both behind the decks and in the studio, always unconventional, he combines a wealth of influences into something genuinely fresh.
He capably takes the A side here, with 'Ottie' a loose, musical and low-end heavy Theo style jam, while 'Sly' is a gurgling synth-out. Finally 'Unnn' leaves us with another beatless synth exchange, ending what has to be one of the strongest debut 12's we've heard in a while! Diataxis is an audio interplay between Optical Networks terminology and the main artwork of the release. The sound is transmitted throughout abstractly and emotionally structured spaces. Bonnet, released under his project name Kassel Jaeger.
Elaborating a dialogue between these aspects, Kassel Jaeger draws here an intermediary space where pulsations become textures and layers, and where rhythmic elements are found in the qualities and bodies of sounds instead of being functionnalised, pre-determined sound objects, abstracted and frozen onto a temporal grid.
O give me the clew! Glasgow-based musician and producer Lo Kindre is at the heart of his local electronic music scene. Heroes care 'bout what'sright. And that's what makes them so fucking cool. It can now be revealed. If you're reading this, the Von Party element probably makes so much sense that you'll never forgive yourself for not realizing it sooner. The vibes, the production; it was there the whole time. Those who guessed both members are now on some kind of list. For the remixes, Simple Symmetry pull you through a wormhole to the sunny beaches of Moscow, The Beat Escape add massive doses of class and elegance.
We tested these descriptions on 50 tastemaker chimps, and all 50 were still at least 'somewhat jazzed' about hearing the tracks anyway. And of course it goes without saying that Multi Culti is proud to present this. Instead he strives and succeeds to create something personal and charismatic from a perhaps familiar palette of sounds. Zopelar is multi instrumentist, DJ and producer based in SP, responsible for the keyboards, synths and basslines of the record.
He studied piano on his youth and made music college in rio with 18 yo. GIDI is a tribute to all the church keyboard players in the world. Inspired by the time when hardware was the only real option for making dance music, applying the same limitation and tactile approach lead to the creation of these tunes from a technical perspective. London via Margate composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Raven has collaborated with many well-respected artists including Kate Tempest, Paul Weller, Mica Levi, Kwes and Bullion.
His music upholds a balance between the orchestral and electronic, abstract and conventional. Parallels can be drawn to the artist Arthur Russell, in terms of their diversity, creating tracks you can dance to, but also songs and music for reflection. The release is a collection of projects he started when he was just 18 and then refined as he collected more sounds, travelled and got more exposure to different music and cultures. Second release for Nantes based Abstrack crew.
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Three takes on obscure ethnic recordings with an unknown origin! Abstrack comeS up with A batch OF music that sounds like them : spanning all the way from trippy grooves to heady dancefloor material. An unbelievable anecdote from the 20th century led to these three tracks. Breaky and trippy vibes are played with on the opener : coming in and out of the groove, while the ambient air is sparkled with surprises. Malcolm TURNS up with a rolling acid and drums workout, coming up subtly and bringing hands upwards for sure. Label man Vidock goes afro, epic and vocal on the last piece.
A track to open up the vibe without losing dancefloor intensity. Super emotional and beautiful. The true? During the cold war, many cylinders and tapes were safely kept out of danger out of the country and sent to the four corners of the globe. Ten days later the ship sinks. The eight crew members were rescued by a Swedish cargo ship and a few floating trunks along with them.
We digitized them and sent them to several musicians and producers. The difficulty to give them an age or a geographic origin gives us the feeling that they come from an unknown land and time. Dreamtown Ethnic Tapes is intended as a wink to this beautiful story, that started a century ago, in the city of dreams…. Commendably, and temporarily sacrificing his consciousness for the good of your trip, on this release Maxime Primault aka BZMC has realised some of the most phantasmagoric sounds in his entire catalogue, which now stretches back over ten years and includes notable highlights in his psych drone project as High Wolf, and pulsing rhythmic noise as Iibiis Rooge.
Schulte's feel for off kilter sounds and rhythms and a playful approach to the sometimes po-faced world of dance music have resulted in some incredibly well received releases Instrumental Musik Von Der Mitte Der World and the compilation Tropical Drums of Deutschland being prime examples. Santuri East Africa is an organisation set up to connect musicians and producers from around the globe, a process of co-collaboration that has led to some highly well received releases on Soundway Msafiri Zawose Sofrito Auntie Flo's Soniferous Garden and On the Corner Makadem and Mugwisa.
Clocking in at a shade over 15 minutes, A-side 'Mabomba Dance' gradually layers Kasiva Mutua's needle-sharp percussion over a deep analogue bass pulse, building into a hypnotic dancefloor workout. The B-side sees erstwhile Owiny Sigoma Band collaborator Rapasa Nyatrapasa showcase his Nyatiti harp before delving into an almost Afrobeat-esque slice of afro-minimalism.
Orbital London is born. A concept from the big smoke, providing a platform for the natural and raw talent of Jack Michael and associates. The title track is somewhat sought after, after support from several heads in the London scene. A seductive vocal sample leading you to a bassline, asking to be played on a club system.
Dogmatik boss Alex Arnout provides his take on 'Opposite Vision' with a dubbed side winding rhythm, full support from the experienced artist. Carrying on the heads down affair on the B side is 'Ghetto Trooper' and 'Kult'. Heavy sounds for the two steppers, laced with flickering rap style vocals.
Will make you move. The piece Side A and Side B is divided into 10 motives and embracing several moods: Sub Genres, methods and sound sources are consistently intermingled in order to create a richer more complete music experience — in avoidance of formalism and standarization. Limited White Vinyl. Chen Yi aims for a collective approach of art. BB comes with funny stickers. Recorded and pressed in Germany. Mastered by Kitaro Beeh Schnittstelle.
A dual focus on tribal primitivism in parallel with a futuristic vision of the possibilities provided by their vast arsenal of electronic gear and processors, the overall outcome has produced something beyond 'world music' that is positively ritualistic. Two companion pieces make up the new Foom 12'. The Naturals' debut album is more than just an rediscovery of one of the great lost albums of the last decade, but of how things were always intended.
Now at last the pulse is set for outer orbit and all are welcome to join. After a mind-melting debut EP sold again and again, an album expanding their unique psychebalearicfolk imaginings was prepared and even pressed before being lost somewhere between a lock up in New York and limited quantities reaching Asian shores and dealers trading at dizzying Yen. Lost, but never forgotten, years passed until a nagging memory that an earlier, rawer mix had always been superior.
A return to the original band name seemed The Natural s choice and so a project idea started to be re born. A sunny Spring afternoon in a grand English garden, pots of tea, talk of life's travails, deep yogani, love affairs, kids growing up, the power of now and music, always music led to two labels coming together to dust down the desk and not just resurrect, but seek and offer the original intentions.
Here at last is the double album as intended. Of two great friends jamming their deepest vibes and flowing with love to offer tales of higher consciousness. Travel inward, beyond meer chakras. Aim for the stars. The devil is in the details so see the trails and follow to some avail. Begin your own journey. Martin Bartlett should be a familiar name. As well as working with a who's who of electronic music, he was an inspiring and original thinker, composer, performer and organiser.
His music is distinctive for its warmth and fleshiness, for taking joy from the incidental and anecdotal, and it remains a characterful counterpoint to much contemporary electronic music.
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It is his preoccupation with building aleatoric elements into electronic music that distinguishes his work, and he devised elegant and open interactions for instrumental performers and computer-controlled synthesizers. This included building his own electronic devices, and extensive work on the Buchla Born in Croydon in , he was adopted as a baby, and later moved with his family to Canada. He did a short stint in the Navy and completed a music degree at the University of British Columbia, studying under Barbara Pentland, before going on to study composition at Mills College in the late 60s.
In Bartlett and seven others founded the Western Front in Vancouver — a cultural cooperative, gallery and performance space that still exists today, housed in the old meeting hall of the Knights of Pythias a mason-like fraternity. He continued with his research and teaching, and in was made professor at Simon Fraser University where he remained for the rest of his life. His performances were often collaborative — for the Western Front's second anniversary in he devised the four-channel piece One Piece for Everyone, a composition where he prepared and cooked a cauliflower curry on a table connected to a synthesizer he had built, while reading from texts on food.
When the curry was cooked, the piece ended, and everyone was fed. Bartlett was a prolific writer, and he expresses himself in fresh, lucid, and wonderfully descriptive prose, offering clear thinking on social aspects of electronic music performance; on the barriers between the performer and the 'black box' and on possibilities for organic systems in electronic music. Like many of his generation, he became interested in non-Western compositional and philosophical practices, and in he travelled to India to study Carnatic vocal music with V.
Lakshminarayana Iyer in Madras and then on to Burma, Thailand and Indonesia where he studied shadow theatre. Wasitidipuro, and closely collaborated with Don Buchla on live performances and synthesiser design. He was particularly interested in the Javanese gamelan, which led to him founding the Vancouver Community Gamelan in On his travels to Indonesia he made hours of field recordings, many of which are accompanied by vivid narrations on the rituals and ceremonies he was documenting. Perhaps it is because it remained largely inside the academy. Perhaps his commitment to live performance and community activity means it was more transient than the work of others.
Perhaps his openness about his sexuality played a part in his music not receiving much recognition — one can only speculate. Bartlett died young, of AIDS-related causes, in , but his music remains a rich source of inspiration, and is characterised by an irresistible and unselfconscious charm that renders his sound unique. Swiss prodigy and head of Ozelot Records - Manuel Fischer - finally presents his long-awaited debut album.
A cauldron of breakbeat, bleep and sci-fi influences all distilled down into an track trip through an interstellar imagination. Proto-modular sound design ropes sit alongside the ghost of early 90's UK rave. Early ideas of techno filtered through a purple haze of slo-beats and stripped back electro. Real traxx for the home listening pod with a handful smackin' for the club. The endless bath of synthesised sound. Has there ever been a better time to fuck off to the stars? Crisis carve some wound-space to let the dreams back in.
In nights we turn to fire, in flight we burst into stone, where are the exits in this theatre of the damned? Strict luggage allocations — guitar D. Knight , saxophone S. Thrower — and all the electronics your thoughts can carry. Headspin echoes, round and around, tilt wind-sails at a dark horizon, cut a stutter through the distance barrier. In to be out through the structure of the eye, encrusted with rotor-slime, pushing on through border erosions as everything melts into smoke, burning objects may be closer than they appear. Nebulae dazzle the shadows, tunnel through memories and the pulp-mass of neurons, forwards heading backwards, end of tether snapped, slide into the earth like ancient worms and breathe.
Their singular take on music encompasses wit, strange melodic construction and an off kilter sensibility which successfully rendered them engaging for each emerging generation. The Residents are obvious spiritual heirs. Songs For Swinging Larvae is a classic collection of confounding songs which lead the listener into a surreal world of twisted tunes and perverted pop.
The results leave one laughing through a thick veil of unease. The Hydrophile [ ] Ldi — 5 [zd] D5. Listeners will step away from this record as from a Coal show, cleansed, purged and altered. Emotional Rescue announces the second EP of music from one of the label's favourites as part of a non-defined series where two of their un classic songs are remastered, reappraised and reinterpreted with new versions by a contemporary artist for reinterpretation today. Thomas Leer is a respected and revered musician in both experimental and electronic circles.
Having moved from Scotland to London in the late 70s, he moved away from playing in punk based bands, to debut his self-financed 'Private Planes' 7" in , before releasing the cult-album 'The Bridge', with Robert Rental, the following year. Signing to Cherry Red, he released the heralded '4 Movements' in and followed with 'All About You' in , and it is from these 2 EPs that this release is sourced.
The release starts with Saving Grace from the latter, a long famous "Cosmic classic"; it's mid-tempo, spacey, lifting repetition is the perfect soundtrack for those Baldelli trips straight to the stars. This is backed with Tight As A Drum, a quintessential Leer production, where Teutonic drums is overlaid with sequencers and synth tones to elevate the song to some kind of disorientating outer-dimensional dub, while his lucid, spoken word vocals instill degradation and reinvention. Asking Bullion to offer his own take on these two songs was the perfect pairing.
A revered artist in his own time, the warmth and depth of his versions takes the originals to his own inner world; sampling, rewiring, reprogramming, resigning and replaying. An EP for the floor, the head and the heart. The project was brought to life through Baker exploring textural rhythms created by sampling small, sharp and abrupt sounds on the electric guitar and then sequencing them in a drum machine to form the bedrock of the tracks.
Mueller then added his particular, signature brand of intricate, hypnotic percussion to the mix and the compositions began to grow and take shape. The pair agreed that the pieces needed a more human touch and Coloccia was invited onboard, contributing processed vocals via looping, tape manipulation and microphone feedback. The result is an other-worldly record that seamlessly flows from beginning to end, immersing the listener in waves of ambient movements and soporific beats.
There is a trance-inducing aspect to this work, deserving to be consumed in one sitting and allowed to manifest itself for the duration. The trio have crafted a piece of work that stands up to the quality and integrity of their combined back catalogues and indeed adds something completely new for fans to discover and devour.
Long time kept in the pipelines, we are proud to welcome the discreet, although agitated newcomer Legion conveying his debut vinyl release on the label. Composed while stuck in some kind of hallucinated trance, his mind and body cemented behind the four walls of his Parisian apartment, the Frenchman ultimately unleashes a scathing first entry into his discography. Taking the shape of a vicious six track mini-album, long brewed with ruthless humor, oozing fever and nervous breakdowns, 'Tombouctou Crisis' feels as vigorous as a slap in the face.
Making up for some of the best industrial bedroom music we've heard as of late, he always manages to find his way back to the surface throughout the many layers of bizarre grooves and caustic humor, zealous snare attacks and strange nursery rhymes. Only to uncover a depressurized atmosphere of sorts; from which a strong smell of burned asphalt never gets off your clothes. Things stop very abruptly with a crash the shakes my eyes in their very sockets, rattling reverberation pushing painfully through my skull.
One thousand days in space feels like nothing and everything all at once. Children grow, faces fill with wrinkles and I stay still. Until my eyes begin to shake and everything turns to television static flashing somewhere inches behind vision. Is someone stepping on my throat? Is that electricity I see, clinging to my hands? I spring across an earth or planet or meteorite that crumbles beneath my boots and sways in the air moving so swiftly about my body, dust flying up into the visor of the helmet that saves me, threatening cracks, ruckus.
I can hear my heartbeat in here. I wonder if this is what it sounds like in the womb. The rope connecting me to the ship is something like an umbilical cord. Is it not? Formic Syntax is the newest LP created by Ebauche, aka Alex Leonard, which veers halfway between ambient and densely intricate beats. Having recently relocated to Berlin, this album draws on the myriad of artistic and musical inspiration overflowing in this city. Originally released in mid as a limited edition cassette on Cosmic Winnetou, the album is now being given a full release on vinyl, CD and digital distribution by Supple 9.
The tracks on Formic Syntax have a distinctly harder edge than recent releases by Ebauche and much of the album is pulsating with angular sonics and crisp, sharp polyrhythms. As always, Ebauche has found ways to densely layer the audio spectrum with constantly varying electronics, whilst maintaining clarity and purpose. Behind Closed Eyes aptly opens the album with subtle melodic pads, underlying bass drones, fractured field recordings topped off with alien distorted crackles.
A Bipolar Retraction draws you out of ambience and into utterly hypnotic chaos. Unmeshing Cinematic Realism fragments things even more, just held together by driving beat, and Alcovic Arch reins you back in with a more palatable yet beat driven structure. The album then eases back and into two slow and languid pieces which hark back to Ebauche's earlier ambient releases whilst maintaining a beautiful attention to detail and sculpting of sound. The nine minute closing piece is effervescent, washing over the listener with waves of shimmering serenity.
The whole package is complemented by stunning cover art, itself a remix of a unique painting created specially for the release by Polish artist Adrianna Snochowska. The original is a 70 x 60 cm oil painting on canvas, and a print of the artwork is included with each vinyl copy. Currently based in Berlin, Germany, Alex Leonard's last release as Ebauche was in , titled Mutable, was honoured by Headphone Commute in his end of year lists and chosen as 10 Album of the year by A Closer Listen: "The gradual shifts in the compositions have a transforming effect on the listener: you start off in one place and end up somewhere else altogether.
Then you go back to experience Mutable all over again. Moving beyond the pure club focus of his singles and EPs, the Genie has seized this opportunity to present a widescreen panorama of his sound, leading in with the subliminal ambience of "You" as a springboard to explore breaks, electro, techno, and especially IDM.
There are so many ideas swirling round Anthropomorphic Sympathy, it's hard to know where to begin describing it. A true headphone commute for the deep listener to burrow into. Songs build upon unexpected repetition, wielding normally aggressive sounds into meditative loops with subtle textural evolutions.
Bursts of tape saturation, controlled waves of feedback, and linear drum beats shift and weave together through rhythmic delays. Affected vocals speak low as if coaxing the listener further out into the nether regions of the mind. The strange cumulative mood of the record is difficult to describe: A transcendental state or a foul parallel from which the listener arises stronger or does not arise at all.
It's changing, the worker searched for post-leftist solutions and got lost. Nine circles applauded the proletariat and imagined how a community could be congregated, while screams of violence would be filtered by boiling blood. Exploiters of labor either find themselves rotting away in a never ending icy rain or are dragging their selfish accumulations on their chests for eternity - while the worker slowly identifies himself as a counter-commodity.
KAT Records, the label specializing in electronic and experimental music based in Montreal publishes the 72nd reference of its catalogue. Yes, boat horns are annoying, sometimes disturbing and even absurdly disrupting if you live in a port city or one that is blessed with the arrival of cruises. We all know that.
And he has done it again. The A side reveals a long track recorded during a fog horn concert whilst side B features three 'remixes' of the same recordings, paying respect to what Ingram Marshall did in 'Fog Tropes' in three different 'movements'. In a way, B side sounds like the perfect soundtrack for the recent remake of 'Suspiria'.
But Thom Yorke got in the way. Jokes aside, there's something magical about these horns. The horns dominate but sounds of the surroundings create a perfect balance to the drone hysteria. The surrounding sounds are the heartbeat of this track. The horns are the metal section of an orchestra, while the rest works like the strings. Hidden melodies are revealed when you listen to this with your full attention, and the more you do it, the horns become less present, vivid. If those eighteen minutes sound tremendously real, the three tracks on the other side feel like a horror film.
The warmth disappears to become cold ambiance, beautifully textured and enigmatic sounds take over. Horns are still heard, but they're a different kind of horns. A honk will never be the same again. Between pure noise and electronic beats, 'Viral Shedding' is creating a twisted and percussive rhythmic urge, a funky disco sound permeated by digital industrial beats. Nigel Ayers and Caroline K take their inaccessible best and thrown it into the melting pot with a set of pumping rhythms. As Nigel Ayers recalls, "Popular music picked up on what we were doing , which helps explain why records such as -Viral Shedding- sound clubbier today than they did at the time, but the technology of music making locked in a seat of aesthetics in those days that shaped pop as a whole more than industrial music itself did.
Whether by synthesizer manufacturers' musical design or through engineering limitations, the more automated a band allowed their music to become, the dancer it was likely to be. JAB says the record was gestated for nearly a decade while he worked out how to fully express his own sound and ideas. Through this unique mixture JAB creates a record which moves outside the conventional. Primarily recorded at The Schoolhouse, the Brooklyn loft where he lives and works that will also serve as the site of a launch event for the album this spring , Erg Herbe taps into the rich history of New York loft music, recalling downtown artists like La Monte Young, Phill Niblock and Laurie Spiegel.
And those personalities are relaxed, inquisitive, friendly and unique — how I strive to be. His various projects with filmmakers and installation artists like Peter Burr also add to this vivid impression of a New York artist out and about, working on many levels at once. The sound of Erg Herbe reflects this cross fertilization of artistic activity. A fitting title for an album that combines worlds: minimal and lush, serious and playful, real and imagined.
Initially birthed as a joint, improvised performance between Amnesia Scanner and Kouligas at the ICA, London in , it was later recreated and extended with visual artist van den Dorpel into a minute online-only audiovisual work — known simply as Lexachast. Now to be released on PAN, is a new document of Lexachast in its current, full-grown form. This in turn is simultaneously mirrored by the perturbing visuals, created by a unique algorithm that sources and blends various filtered imagery from DeviantArt and Flickr in real time — with a bias towards the NSFW, extreme banality, and ornamental melancholia.
The results were a perfect fit for the deliberate intention of non-intent, an anti-video of sorts, which ended up as a defining element for the project. His debut is a dusty midnight ride through black hills. Barren times on the highway, through darkening deserts. Special Record Store Day release! LP version includes free download! With Heavyweight Bruce and Siren affiliate JAY delivering two late night rollers, this A side is set to transform dance floors far and wide.
Leaving the B side for two, new South London producers, both delivering uncategorisable half time spectacles. Rude 66 celebrates the 10th anniversary of The Year Storm. A pinnacle piece that defined the typical Westcoast Sound Of Holland. This special edition contains a never released DJ Cut version with a shortened break, the acappella and on the flip three takes from the 'From Reason To Ritual' live ambient sessions in Comes on limited edition transparant vinyl with insert in silkscreened transparant sleeve.
IVVVO mounts an ambitious debut album for Rabit's Halcyon Veil with 'doG', a 2LP of synth-driven panoramas painted in neon, riddled with rave tropes and rendered in hyperrealist, cinematic sound design The follow-up to 'Good, Bad, Baby, Horny'  sees him unpackage and build upon that EP in all directions at once in a viscerally corporeal and sorely emotional salvo intended to be taken as his definitive opus to date. Across its 15 songs the London-based, Portuguese producer spells out a narrative as vividly hypermodern as a Nicolas Winding Refn flick but set in the fashionista underbelly of London, with crucial assistance on two of the album's highlights coming from soundtrack composer and 'Hollywood Medieval' producer Maxwell Sterling.
The results are skizzy, veering from anxious to ecstatic and often in the space of one song. Kicking off with convulsive samples of Korn's Jonathan Davis wedged into the nerve- jangling opener 'This is Dog', the LP bleeds with emotion at each step, from the heart- bursting Lorenzo Senni-esque style of 'Life' to the clenched and knotted grunge reflux of 'Forever Your Mouth' to the visceral, Arca-like incision of 'Blade', while two pieces with Maxwell Sterling, the Coil-like arabesque 'Untitled' and the vertiginous flight of 'Last Days', seal the deal with decadent flourishes.
Techno mutant Oliver Ho invokes divine noise via distorted guitars, synths and drums with hypnotic industrial psych-drone project Slow White Fall for Regis' Downwards label. The 30 minute 'Total' EP is a naturally extension of Ho's increasingly noisy forays into industrial musick found in his Broken English Club and Zov Zov outings of recent years.
Gnashing right at the biting point, the EP's five tracks are variously soused in distortion to degrees recalling The VU, Swans, and Bourbonese Qualk, bringing Ho as far as he's travelled from techno proper and closest to his formative industrial and rock influences. He fully commits to this sound with opener 'A Blinding Light', toiling booming drums and slavish hi-hats with electric blue raga drones in a way that resonates with everything from Tony Conrad to Clay Rendering, before 'Releasing Together' locks into a tantric vortex sounding like a duel between TG and John Carpenter.
This is Ho at his most stare-down intense and timelessly, narcotically effective. The former was recorded live in Romain's Azzaro apartment, while Chiweshe's performance was captured in front of an enraptured crowd at Berlin's iconic Funkhaus venue. The 5th entry on the DDQ series continues to rake the kerbside muck of 'club music', presenting 2 disparate visions from 2 label heads.
KUMP's mastermind Gil. Artwork by Thibaut de Wolf. The Caretaker despatches the final scene of a 20 year-long act that has uncannily lurked in the shadows of so many of our listening lives. Clad for the last time in Ivan Seal's specially comissioned artwork, this final stage sees The Caretaker mirroring the ultimate descent into dementia and oblivion, again using a patented prism of sound to connote a final, irreversible transition into the haunted ballroom of the mind that he first stepped into in The project really took on new dimensions in with the track, 6CD boxset 'Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia', which was accompanied by an insightful unpackaging of its ideas by cultural critic Mark Fisher aka K-Punk; a stalwart of the project who identified it alongside music from Burial and Broadcast among the most vital, emergent works of Hauntological art - a form of music often preoccupied with ideas about memory and nostalgia but one distinct from pastiche , and the way that they possibly overwhelm, occlude, or even define our sense of being.
The project crystallised as a real gesamtkunstwerk for these times, and one arguably defined by a stubborn and intractably chronic drive against the grain of modern popular culture, or even a refusal of it. And so to the project's final goodbye. With the outside world muted, and only the timbral residue remaining like smoke, everything moves as slow as a Lynchian dream sequence, until a conclusion so ineffably sublime occurs that we can't mention it for fear of waking up.
With his departure, we'll just take respite in the fact that The Caretaker was always there, inverting our world and supplying space and time and theory for thought, prompting us to dwell on the realest and darkest matters via the prism of the surreal and the unreal in a way that, in the long-run, can prove to be more effective at grasping the immediate state of cultural amnesia and the world's increasingly tight feedback loops, and arguably bring us to the realisation that it's all a hyper-complex mess beyond anyone's conception, but we must at least attempt to try and understand, no matter how futile it seems.
The ability to recall singular memories gives way to confusions and horror. It's the beginning of an eventual process where all memories begin to become more fluid through entanglements, repetition and rupture. Though the metaphoric device of worn-down ballroom 78s and Jack Nicholson's descent into madness in The Shining, The Caretaker connotes the transitory cognitive breakdown of moderate into severe late stage dementia.
Memories of the good times are recollected in glitching picnoleptic flashes as the music struggles to follow consistent lines of thought, instead fluctuating between a fractured mosaic of ideas and elusive emotive gestures, but still occasionally able to gather coherent thoughts. In aesthetic, the sieve-like mindstate of stage 4 vacillates a serene sort of psychedelia with utterly paranoid and petrifying mental subsidence. Smudged traces of sublimated musical hall memories give way to shocking tracts of atonality and discord with runaway rhythmic logic, perpetually tumbling farther into states of mind perhaps best compared with K-Hole-like dimensions or the babble of after-hours psychonautic journeys.
The concision of previous stages is here replaced with wandering, side-long tracts. Three of those are titled Post Awareness Confusions and correspondingly explore and reflect agitated, irritable mindsets as they navigate an ephemeral, confusing complexity of structures. The other piece is called Temporary Bliss State and starkly contrasts the other parts in a coherently lush traverse of ambient crackle and glittering melody As we near the end, 'Stage 5' sees our protagonist enter a near-permanent state of confusion and horror.
Mirroring the endemic deterioration of dementia's latter phases, were pulled through the most extreme entanglements in the series so far; repetition and ruptures, barely maintaining a connection to waking life and a sense of self. In the most classic sense, we become witness to an abandonment and dissolution of ego, as the mulch of bygone '78s totally loses itself in a way that connotes misfiring synapses failing to properly relay information at advanced levels of the disease.
It feels as though our skull is being scraped out, uncovering hellish layers of accreted sensation and mulched imagery, occasionally recognising calmer patterns, only for them to fray into the ether before it's possible to parse and dwell on them. At this point it's also perhaps worth pointing out the uncannily profound synchronicity between the timelines of 'Everywhere At The End of Time' and Brexit, which both started in and are due to wrap up in spring While this is his debut EP under this moniker, he has recorded under various other aliases, one favourite being Holdie Gawn on Sylphe Records.
This release slows things down a notch from Mark's other output. It is cerebral and cohesive, made to be consumed as a sum of its parts: found sounds and urban field recordings, hushed Hammond grooves and modulated keys, muffled beats and unsyncopated rhythms, flickering electronics and hovering pianos. Artist John Tsombikos has been commissioned to provide one-off artwork for the limited edition physical product, to be released in mid March. Hand painted, signed and numbered, limited edition of From the nightmare grinds of Dagger Complex and Rift to the sinister rhythm of Repudiation and the conjuring ambience that emanates from Arch of Hysteria, the Rift EP offers an intimidating assemblage of doom laden sonics.
The limited vinyl edition of this release is a 10" cut onto a 12" plate. Le produit est en rupture de stock. Vous pouvez commander le produit maintenant. Commandez maintenant et nous commanderons l'article pour vous chez notre fournisseur. Order now. Collecting orders for repress. Pataphysical add artist to watchlist Periphera. Beats Electro Experimental. Kevin Richard Martin add artist to watchlist Sirens. Beats Experimental Ambient. NJ Nose Job. Hip-Hop Downbeat Beats Experimental.
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Beats Electro Experimental Industrial. Raymonde add artist to watchlist Ce qui est en bas, est comme ce qui est en haut : ce qui est In her quiet, rather prim way she showed more sympathy for Alison than I was expecting; Maggie was evidently and aggressively blind to her brother's faults. For days, afraid of Maggie, who for some reason stood in her mind as a hated but still potent monolith of solid Australian virtue on the blasted moor of English decadence, Alison did not go out except at night.
I went and bought food, and we talked and slept and made love and danced and cooked meals at all hours, sous les toits , as remote from ordinary time as we were from the dull London world outside the window. Alison was always female; she never, like so many English girls, betrayed her gender. She wasn't beautiful, she very often wasn't even pretty.
But she had a fashionably thin boyish figure, she had a contemporary dress sense, she had a conscious way of walking, and her sum was extraordinarily more than her parts. I would sit in the car and watch her walking down the street towards me, pause, cross the road; and she looked wonderful. But then when she was close, beside me, there so often seemed to be something rather shallow, something spoilt-child, in her prettiness.
Even close to her, I was always being wrong-footed. She would be ugly one moment, and then some movement, look, angle of her face, made ugliness impossible. When she went out she used to wear a lot of eye shadow, which married with the sulky way she sometimes held her mouth to give her a characteristic bruised look; a look that subtly made one want to bruise her more. Men were always aware of her, in the street, in restaurants, in pubs; and she knew it. I used to watch them sliding their eyes at her as she passed. She was one of those rare, even among already pretty, women that are born with a natural aura of sexuality: always in their lives it will be the relationships with men, it will be how men react, that matters.
And even the tamest sense it. There was a simpler Alison, when the mascara was off; she had not been typical of herself, that first evening; but still always a little unpredictable, ambiguous. One never knew when the more sophisticated, bruised-hard persona would reappear. She would give herself violently; then yawn at the wrongest moment. She liked doing things, and only then finding a reason for doing them. One day she came back with an expensive fountain pen. I stole it.
Didn't you realize? Only the big stores. They ask for it. Don't look so shocked. I stood holding the pen gingerly. She grinned. I hate big stores. And not just capitalists. Pommy capitalists. Two birds with one steal. Oh, come on, sport, smile. Now you're a cassowary after the crime. I looked at her. She nodded. She stood beside me as I poured. Because you take yourself too seriously.
And I knew that in some obscure way I had offended her; and myself. One night I heard her say a name in her sleep. It's Mum and Dad living out their battles again every time I open my mouth. I suppose it's why I hate Australia and I love Australia and I couldn't ever be happy there and yet I'm always feeling homesick.
Does that make sense? Mum's brother. Enough to make the wallabies weep. Partly it was because I was "cultured," a word she often used. Pete had always "honked" at her if she went to galleries or concerts. She mimicked him: "What's wrong with the boozer, girl? Besides being a bastard. I always know what he wants, I always know what he thinks, and what he means when he says anything.
And you, I don't know anything. I offend you and I don't know why. I please you and I don't know why. It's because you're English. You couldn't ever understand that. But then she had met Pete, and it "got complicated. I wasn't sure. And if it wasn't his he wouldn't have it. It would have got in the way. We sat in silence, close and warm, both aware that we were close and aware that we were embarrassed by the implications of this talk about children.
In our age it is not sex that raises its ugly head, but love. One evening we went to see Carne's old film Quai des Brumes. She was crying when we came out and she began to cry again when we were in bed. She sensed my disapproval. You can't feel like I feel. You just choose not to feel or something, and everything's fine. It's just not so bad. There isn't any meaning. You try and try to be happy and then something chance happens and it's all gone.
It's because we don't believe in a life after death. I think about dying every day. Every time I have you, I think this is one in the eye for death. You know, you've got a lot of money and the shops are going to shut in an hour. It's sick, but you've got to spend. The bomb. It's us. She thought it must be nice to be totally alone in the world, to have no family ties. Marry me. I kept my eyes on the road.
We talked about a future, about living in a cottage, where I should write, about buying a jeep and crossing Australia. One day drifted and melted into another. I knew the affaire was like no other I had been through. Apart from anything else it was so much happier physically. Out of bed I felt I was teaching her, anglicizing her accent, polishing off her roughnesses, her provincialisms; in bed she did the teaching. We knew this reciprocity without being able, perhaps because we were both single children, to analyze it.
We both had something to give and to gain She was teaching me other things, besides the art of love; but that is how I thought of it at the time. I remember one day when we were standing in one of the rooms at the Tate. Alison was leaning slightly against me, holding my hand, looking in her childish sweet-sucking way at a Renoir. I suddenly had a feeling that we were one body, one person, even there; that if she had disappeared it would have been as if I had lost half of myself.
A terrible deathlike feeling, which anyone less cerebral and self-absorbed than I was then would have realized was simply love. I thought it was desire. I drove her straight home and tore her clothes off. We went off to an oyster bar; he'd just heard the first Colchesters of the season were in. Alison said very little, but I was embarrassed by her, by her accent, by the difference between her and one or two debs who were sitting near us. She left us for a moment when Billy poured the last of the Muscadet. Alison was very silent after we left him.
We were driving up to Hampstead to see a film. I glanced at her sullen face. I'm middle-class. Not to me. You haven't got to make up your mind. Just to know I'm accepted. But I didn't. Then, the very next day, I too had a letter about an interview. Three days later she got a letter saying that she had been accepted for training, to start in October.
I had my interview, with a board of urbane culture-organizers. She met me outside and we went and had an awkward meal, like two strangers, in an Italian restaurant. She had a gray, tired face, and her cheeks looked baggy. I asked her what she'd been doing while I was away. I knew what she wanted me to say, but I couldn't say it.
I felt as a sleepwalker must feel when he wakes up at the end of the roof parapet. I wasn't ready for marriage, for settling down. I wasn't psychologically close enough to her; something I couldn't define, obscure, monstrous, lay between us, and this obscure monstrous thing emanated from her, not from me. If you're in Greece we can meet. Maybe you'll be in London. But I did. A letter came, saying my name had been selected to be forwarded to the School Board in Athens. This was "virtually a formality. I showed Alison the letter as soon as I had climbed the stairs back to the flat, and watched her read it.
I was looking for regret, but I couldn't see it. She kissed me. Let's go out in the country. She wouldn't take it seriously, and I was too much of a coward to stop and think why I was secretly hurt by her refusing to take it seriously. So we went out into the country, and when we came back we went to see a film and later went dancing in Soho; and still she wouldn't take it seriously.
But then, late, after love, we couldn't sleep, and we had to take it seriously. Somewhere down below little leaves in front of a lamppost cast nervous shadows across our ceiling. I reached out and touched her bare stomach. She pushed my hand away, but held it. It's what we feel. What you feel is what I feel. I'm a woman. Or wanted me. She beat my hand on the bed between us. There was a long silence. He knows. I'm going to be an air hostess, and you're going to Greece. You're free.
The bedroom air seemed full of unspoken words, unformulated guilts, a vicious silence, like the moments before a bridge collapses. We lay side by side, untouching, effigies on a bed turned tomb; sickeningly afraid to say what we really thought. In the end she spoke, in a voice that tried to be normal, but sounded harsh.
And I don't want you to hurt me and the more you don't want me the more you will. When she came back she said, "We've decided? Soon, too soon, I thought, she went to sleep. In the morning she was determinedly gay. I telephoned the Council. The woman was Greece. Even if I had failed the board I should have gone there.
I never studied Greek at school, and my knowledge of modern Greece began and ended with Byron's death at Missolonghi. Yet it needed only the seed of the idea of Greece, that morning in the British Council. It was as if someone had hit on a brilliant solution when all seemed lost. It sounded so good: " I'm going to Greece.
I got hold of all the books I could find on the country. It astounded me how little I knew about it. I read and read; and I was like a medieval king, I had fallen in love with the picture long before I saw the reality. It seemed almost a secondary thing, by the time I left, that I wanted to escape from England.
I thought of Alison only in terms of my going to Greece. When I loved her, I thought of being there with her; when I didn't, then I was there without her. She had no chance. I received a cable from the School Board confirming my appointment, and then by post a contract to sign and a courteous letter in atrocious English from my new headmaster. Miss Spencer-Haigh produced the name and address in Northumberland of a man who had been at the school the year before. He hadn't been appointed by the British Council, so she could tell me nothing about him.
I wrote a letter, but that was unanswered. Ten days remained before I was due to go. Things became very difficult with Alison. I had to give up the flat in Russell Square and we spent three frustrating days looking for somewhere for her to live. Eventually we found a large studio-room off Baker Street. The move, packing things, upset us both. I didn't have to go until October 8th, but Alison started work on the 1st, and the need to get up early, to introduce order into our life, was too much for us.
We had two dreadful rows. The first one she started, and stoked, and built up to a whitehot outpouring of contempt for men, and me in particular. I waited an hour, then I went home. She wasn't there, either. I telephoned: no air-hostess trainees had been kept late. I waited, getting angrier and angrier, until eleven o'clock, and then she came in. She went to the bathroom, took her coat off, put on the milk she always had before bed, and said not a word. She had insisted on a cheap room. I loathed the cooking-sleeping-everything in one room; the shared bathroom; the having to hiss and whisper.
I've been with Pete. I dragged up everything I could remember that might hurt her. She didn't say anything, but undressed and got into bed, and lay with her face turned to the wall. In the silence I kept remembering, with intense relief, that I should soon be free of all this. It was not that I believed my own vicious accusations; but I still hated her for having made me make them. In the end I sat beside her and watched the tears trickle out of her swollen eyes. I haven't seen Pete. As if I'd do that.
If I'd had the courage. I'd have thrown myself under the train. I stood there and thought of doing it.
The whisky was beginning to work. Love a la mode. Five weeks later. I kissed her wrist, and went and got the bottle. You'd be able to go round saying, she killed herself because of me. I think that would always keep me from suicide. Not letting some lousy slit like you get the credit. The shorthand pad. I spend most of my life not wanting to live.
Australian Book Review, June-July , issue no. by Australian Book Review - Issuu
The only place I am happy is here where we're being taught, and I have to think of something else, or reading books, or in the cinema. Or in bed. I'm only happy when I forget I exist. When just my eyes or my ears or my skin exist. I can't remember having been happy for two or three years. Since the abortion. All I can remember is forcing myself sometimes to look happy so if I catch sight of my face in the mirror I might kid myself for a moment I really am happy. There were two more sentences heavily crossed out. I looked up into her gray eyes, still watching me.
If I'd known how to quietly kill myself in the canteen I'd have done it. You wrote it for me to see. She kept her eyes shut. I tried to reason with her. In the morning I persuaded her to ring up and say that she wasn't well, and we spent the day out in the country. The next morning, my last but two, came a postcard with a Northumberland postmark.
It was from Mitford, the man who had been on Phraxos, to say that he would be in London for a few days, if I wanted to meet him. I rang him up on the Wednesday at the Army and Navy Club and asked him out to lunch. He was two or three years older than myself, tanned, with blue staring eyes in a narrow head. He had a dark young-officer moustache, which he kept on touching, and he wore a dark-blue blazer, with a regimental tie. He reeked mufti; and almost at once we started a guerrilla war of prestige and anti-prestige.
He had been parachuted into Greece during the German Occupation, and he was very glib with his Xan's and his Paddy's and the Christian names of all the other well-known condottieri of the time. He was dogmatic, unbrooking, lost off the battlefield. I managed to keep my end up, over pink gins; I told him my war had consisted of two years' ardent longing for demobilization. It was absurd. I wanted information from him, not antipathy; so in the end I made an effort, confessed I was a Regular Army officer's son and asked him what the island looked like.
He nodded at the food-stand on the bar. Shape, old boy. Central ridge. Here's your school and your village in this corner. All the rest of this north side and the entire south side deserted. That's the lie of the land. I asked him about life outside the school. Island's damn beautiful, if you like that sort of thing.
Birds and the bees, all that caper. Masters' wives. Half a dozen officials. Odd pater and mater on a visit. It was a tic; made him feel authoritative. But they're all boarded up for ten months of the year. Let's face it, bloody remote. And you'd find the people in the villas pretty damn dull, I can tell you.
There's one that you might say isn't, but I don't suppose you'll meet him. That was really at the root of it. There's the Greek chap who teaches English with you. Cocky little bastard. Gave him a black eye one day. Wonderful chaps. Believe me. I know. He became incoherent. Wartime experiences and all that.
See my publisher. He went hurriedly on. It'll be worse for you. With no Greek. And you'll drink. Everyone does. You have to. Unless you want the pox. Women are about the ugliest in the Aegean. Makes that caper highly dangerous. Shouldn't advise it. Discovered that somewhere else once. Lawrence run totally to seed.
I drove him back towards his club. It was a bronchial midafternoon, already darkening, the people, the traffic, everything fish-gray. I asked him why he hadn't stayed in the Army. We came to where he wanted to be dropped off. It's the only way. Never let 'em get you down. They did the chap before me, you know.
Never met him, but apparently he went bonkers. Couldn't control the boys. I opened it quickly and leaned out to call after him. The Trafalgar Square crowd swallowed him up. I couldn't get the smile on his face out of my mind. It secreted an omission; something he'd saved up, a mysterious last word. Waiting room, waiting room, waiting room; it went round in my head all that evening. I'd offered it to her some time before, but she had refused. And I couldn't stand anyone else sitting where you are. It won't be much. I could leave a check with Towards a scooter on a card, and I thought she would take that, when I had gone.
It was curious how quiet that last evening was; as if I had already left, and we were two ghosts talking to each other. We arranged what we should do in the morning. She didn't want to come and see me off at Victoria; we would have breakfast as usual, she would go, it was cleanest and simplest that way. We arranged our future. As soon as she could she would try to get herself to Athens.
If that was impossible, I might fly back to England at Christmas. In the night we lay awake, knowing each other awake, yet afraid to talk. I felt her hand feel out for mine. We lay for a while without talking. Then she spoke. That's what I mean. All the time you'll be waiting, waiting. It's like putting a girl in a convent till you're ready to marry her.
And then deciding you don't want to marry her. We have to be free. We haven't got a choice. Please don't get upset. Every day. We'll see how mucil we miss each other. It's agony for a week, then painful for a week, then you begin to forget, and then it seems as if it never happened, it happened to someone else, and you start shrugging. You say, dingo it's life, that's the way things are. Stupid things like that. As if you haven't really lost something forever. I shan't ever forget. And I will. However sad it is. I had deliberately set the alarm late, to make a rush, not to leave time for tears.
Alison ate her breakfast standing up. We talked about absurd things: cutting the milk order, where I would be at lunchtime, where a library ticket I had lost might be. And then she put down her coffeecup and we were standing at the door. I saw her face, as if it was still not too late, all a bad dream, her gray eyes searching mine, her small puffy cheeks. There were tears forming in her eyes, and she opened her mouth to say something. But then she leant forward, desperately, clumsily, kissed me so swiftly that I hardly felt her mouth, and was gone.
Her camel-hair coat disappeared down the stairs. She didn't look back. I went to the window, and saw her walking fast across the street, the pale coat, the straw-colored hair almost the same color as the coat, a movement of her hand to her handbag, her blowing her nose; not once did she look back.
She broke into a sort of run. I opened the window and leant out and watched until she disappeared around the corner at the end of the street into Marylebone Road. And not even then, at the very end, did she look back. I turned to the room, washed up the breakfast things, made the bed; then I sat at the table and wrote out a check for fifty pounds, and a little note. Alison darling, please believe that if it was to be anyone, it would have been you; that I've really been far sadder than I could show, if we were not both to go mad.
Please wear the earrings. Please look after yourself. Oh God, if only I was worth waiting for Nicholas It was supposed to sound spontaneous, but I had been composing it on and off for days. I put the check and the note in an envelope, and set it on the mantelpiece with the little box containing the pair of jet earrings we had seen in a closed antique-shop one day.
Then I shaved, and went out to get a taxi. The thing I felt most clearly, when the first corner was turned, was that I had escaped. Obscurer, but no less strong, was the feeling that she loved me more than I loved her, and that consequently I had in some indefinable way won. So on top of the excitement of the voyage into the unknown, the taking wing again, I had an agreeable feeling of emotional triumph.
A dry feeling; but I liked things dry. I went towards Victoria as a hungry man goes towards a good dinner after a couple of glasses of Manzanilla. I began to sing, and it was not a brave attempt to hide my grief but a revoltingly unclouded desire to sing. South stretched the pure blue late-summer sea, pale pumice-colored islands, and beyond them the serene mountains of the Peloponnesus stood away over the horizon in a magnificent arrested flow of land and water.
Serene, superb, majestic: I tried for adjectives less used, but anything else seemed slick and underweight. I could see for eighty miles, and all pure, all noble, luminous, immense, all as it always had been. It was like a journey into space. I was standing on Mars, knee-deep in thyme, under a sky that seemed never to have known dust or cloud. I looked down at my pale London hands. Even they seemed changed, nauseatingly alien, things I should long ago have disowned.
When that ultimate Mediterranean light fell on the world around me, I could see it was supremely beautiful; but when it touched me, I felt it was hostile. It seemed to corrode, not cleanse. It was like being at the beginning of an interrogation under arc lights; already I could see the table with straps through the open doorway, already my old self began to know that it wouldn't be able to hold out.
It was partly the terror, the stripping-to-essentials, of love; because I fell head over heels, totally and forever in love with the Greek landscape from the moment I arrived. But with the love came a contradictory, almost irritating, feeling of impotence and inferiority, as if Greece were a woman so sensually provocative that I must fall physically and desperately in love with her, and at the same time so calmly aristocratic that I should never be able to approach her. None of the books I had read explained this sinister-fascinating, this Circe-like quality of Greece; the quality that makes it unique.
In England we live in a very muted, calm, domesticated relationship with what remains of our natural landscape and its soft northern light; in Greece landscape and light are so beautiful, so all-present, so intense, so wild, that the relationship is immediately love-hatred, one of passion. It took me many months to understand this, and many years to accept it. Later that day I was standing at the window of a room in the luxury hotel to which the bored young man who received me at the British Council had directed me.
I had just written a letter to Alison, but already she seemed far away, not in distance, not in time, but in some dimension for which there is no name. Reality, perhaps. I looked down over Constitution Square, the central meeting-place of Athens, over knots of strolling people, white shirts, dark glasses, bare brown arms. It was as hot as a hot English July day, and the sky was still perfectly clear. By craning out and looking east I could see Hymettus, where I had stood that morning, its whole sunset-facing slope an intense soft violet-pink, like a cyclamen.
In the other direction, over the clutter of roofs, lay the massive black silhouette of the Acropolis. It was too real, too exactly as imagined, to be true. But I felt as gladly and expectantly disorientated, as happily and alertly alone, as Alice in Wonderland. Phraxos lay eight dazzling hours in a small steamer south of Athens, about six miles off the mainland of the Peloponnesus and in the center of a landscape as memorable as itself: to the north and west, a great flexed arm of mountains, in whose crook the island stood; to the east a distant gently peaked archipelago; to the south the soft blue desert of the Aegean stretching away to Crete.
Phraxos was beautiful. It took my breath away when I first saw it, floating under Venus like a majestic black whale in an amethyst evening sea, and it still takes my breath away when I shut my eyes now and remember it. Its beauty was rare even in the Aegean, because its hills were covered with pine trees, Mediterranean pines as light as greenfinch feathers.
Nine-tenths of the island was uninhabited and uncultivated: nothing but pines, coves, Silence, sea. Herded into one corner, the northwest, lay a spectacular agglomeration of snow-white houses around a couple of small harbors. But there were two eyesores, visible long before we landed. One was an obese Greek-Edwardian hotel near the larger of the two harbors, as at home on Phraxos as a hansom cab in a Doric temple. But the Lord Byron School, the Hotel Philadelphia and the village apart, the body of the island, all thirty square miles of it, was virgin.
There were some silvery olive orchards and a few patches of terrace cultivation on the steep slopes of the north coast, but the rest was primeval pine forest. There were no antiquities. The ancient Greeks never much liked the taste of cistern water. This lack of open water meant also that there were no wild animals and few birds on the island.
Its distinguishing characteristic, away from the village, was silence. Out on the hills one might pass a goatherd and his winter in summer there was no grazing flock of bronzebelled goats, or a bowed peasant woman carrying a huge faggot, or a resin-gatherer; but one very rarely did. It was the world before the machine, almost before man, and what small events happened, the passage of a shrike, the discovery of a new path, a glimpse of a distant caique far below, took on an unaccountable significance, as if they were isolated, framed, magnified by solitude.
It was the least eerie, the most un-Nordic solitude in the world. Fear had never touched the island. If it was haunted, it was by nymphs, not monsters. I was forced to go frequently for walks to escape the claustrophobic ambience of the Lord Byron School. To begin with, there was something pleasantly absurd about teaching in a boarding school run on supposedly Eton-Harrow lines only a look north from where Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon. Certainly the masters, victims of a country with only two universities, were academically of a far higher standard than Mitford had suggested, and in themselves the boys were no better and no worse than boys the world over.
But they were ruthlessly pragmatic about English. They cared nothing for literature, and everything for science. If I tried to do their eponym's poetry with them, they yawned; if I did the English names for the parts of a car, I had trouble getting them out of the class at lesson's end; and often they would bring me American scientific textbooks full of terms that were just as much Greek to me as the expectant faces waiting for a simple paraphrase.
Both boys and masters loathed the island, and regarded it as a sort of self-imposed penal settlement where one came to work, work, work. I had imagined something far sleepier than an English school, and instead it was far tougher. The crowning irony of all was that this obsessive industry, this molelike blindness to their natural environment, was what was considered to be so typically English about the school. One or two of the masters spoke some English, and several French, but I found little in common with them.
The only one I could tolerate was Demetriades, the other teacher of English, and that was solely because he spoke and understood the language so much better than anyone else. With him I could rise out of Basic. He took me round the village kapheneia and tavernas, and I got a taste for Greek food and Greek folk music. But there was always something mournful about the place in daylight. There were so many villas boarded up; there were so few people in the alley streets; one had always to go to the same two better-class tavernas for a meal, and one met the same old faces, a stale Levantine provincial society that belonged more to the world of the Ottoman Empire, Balzac in a fez, than to the 's.
I had to agree with Mitford. It was desperately dull. I tried one or two of the fishermen's wineshops. They were jollier, but I felt they felt I was slumming; and my Greek never began to cope with the island dialect they spoke. I made inquiries about the man Mitford had had a row with, but no one seemed to have heard of either him or it; or, for that matter, of the "waiting room.
Soon I took to the hills. None of the other masters ever stirred an inch farther than they needed to, and the boys were not allowed beyond the chevaux de frise of the high-walled school grounds except on Sundays, and then only for the half-mile along the coast road to the village. The hills were always intoxicatingly clean and light and remote. With no company but my own boredom, I began for the first time in my life to look at nature, and to regret that I knew its Ianguage as little as I knew Greek.
I began to get some sort of harmony between body and mind; or so it seemed. It was an illusion. There had been a letter from Alison waiting for me when I arrived at the school. It was very brief. She must have written it at work the day I left London. I love you, you can't understand what that means because you've never loved anyone yourself.
It's what I've been trying to make you see this last week. All I want to say is that one day, when you do fall in love, remember today. Remember I kissed you and walked out of the room. Remember I walked all the way down the street and never once looked back. I knew you were watching. Remember I did all this and I love you. If you forget everything else about me, please remember this. I walked down that street and I never looked back and I love you. I love you. I love you so much that I shall hate you forever for today.
Another letter came from her the next day. It contained nothing but my check torn in two and a scribble on the back of one half: No thanks.
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And two days later there was a third letter, full of enthusiasm for some film she had been to see, almost a chatty letter. But at the end she wrote: Forget the first letter I sent you. I was so upset. It's all over now. I won't be old-fashioned again. Of course I wrote back, if not every day, two or three times a week; long letters full of self-excuse and self-justification until one day she wrote Please don't go on so about you and me.
Tell me about things, about the island, the school. I know what you are. So be what you are. When you write about things I can think I'm with you, seeing them with you. And don't be offended. Forgiving's forgetting. Imperceptibly information took the place of emotion in our letters. She wrote to me about her work, a girl she had become friendly with, about minor domestic things, films, books. I wrote about the school and the island, as she asked. One day there was a photo of her in her uniform.
She'd had her hair cut short and it was tucked back under her fore-and-aft cap. She was smiling, but the uniform and the smile combined gave her an insincere, professional look; she had become, the photo sharply warned me, a stranger, someone not the someone I liked to remember; the private, the uniquely my, Alison.
And then the letters became once-weekly. The physical ache I had felt for her during the first weeks seemed to disappear; there were still times when I knew I wanted her very much, and would have given anything to have her in bed beside me. But they were moments of sexual frustration, not regretted love. One day I thought: if I wasn't on this island I should be dropping this girl. At half-term I went with Demetriades to Athens. He wanted to take me to his favorite brothel, in a suburb. He assured me the girls were clean. When we came out of it, it was raining, and the shadowing wet leaves on the lower branches of a eucalyptus, caught under a light in the entrance, made me remember our bedroom in Russell Square.
But Alison and London were gone, dead, exorcized; I had cut them away from my life. I decided I would write a letter to Alison that night, to say that I didn't want to hear from her again. I was too drunk by the time we got back to the hotel, and I don't know what I would have said. As it was, I sent her a postcard telling her nothing; and on the last day I went back to the brothel alone. But the Lebanese nymphet I coveted was taken and I didn't fancy the others. December came, and we were still writing letters. I knew she was hiding things from me.
Her life, as she described it, was too simple and manless to be true. When the final letter came, I was not surprised. What I hadn't expected was how bitter I should feel, and how betrayed. It was less a sexual jealousy of the man than an envy of Alison; moments of tenderness and togetherness, moments when the otherness of the other disappeared flooded back through my mind for days afterwards, like sequences from some cheap romantic film that I certainly didn't want to remember, but did; and there was the read and reread letter; and that such things could be ended so, by two hundred stale, worn words.
I'm so terribly terribly sorry if this hurts you. Please believe that I'm sorry, please don't be angry with me for knowing you will be hurt. I can see you saying, I'm not hurt. I got so terribly lonely and depressed. I haven't told you how much, I can't tell you how much. Those first days I kept up such a brave front at work, and then at home I collapsed. I'm sleeping with Pete again when he's in London.
It started two weeks ago. Please please believe me that I wouldn't be if I thought I know you know. I don't feel about him as I used to do, and don't begin to feel about him as I felt about you, you can't be jealous. It's just that he's so uncomplicated, he stops me thinking, he stops me being lonely, I've sunk back into all the old Australians-in-London thing again. We may marry. I don't know. It's terrible. I still want to write to you, and you to me. I keep on remembering. That very first letter I wrote the day you left. If you could only understand.
I wrote a letter in reply to say that I had been expecting her letter, that she was perfectly free. But I tore it up. I realized that if anything might hurt her, silence would. I wanted to hurt her. I began to loathe the school irrationally; the way it worked and the way it was planted, blind and prisonlike, in the heart of the divine landscape.
When Alison's letters stopped, I was also increasingly isolated in a more conventional way. The outer world, England, London, became absurdly and sometimes terrifyingly unreal. The two or three Oxford friends I had kept up a spasmodic correspondence with sank beneath the horizon. I used to hear the B. Overseas Service from time to time, but the news broadcasts seemed to come from the moon, and concerned situations and a society I no longer belonged to, while the newspapers from England became more and more like their own One hundred years ago today features.
The whole island seemed to feel this exile from contemporary reality.
The harbor quays were always crowded for hours before the daily boat from Athens appeared on the northeastern horizon; even though people knew that it would stop for only a few minutes, that probably not five passengers would get off, or five get on, they had to watch. It was as if we were all convicts still hoping faintly for a reprieve.
Yet the island was so beautiful. Near Christmas the weather became wild and cold. Enormous seas of pounding Antwerp blue roared on the shingle of the school beaches. The mountains on the mainland took snow, and magnificent white shoulders out of Hokusai stood west and north across the angry water. The hills became even barer, even more silent.
I often started off on a walk out of sheer boredom, but there were always new solitudes, new places. Yet in the end this unflawed natural world became intimidating. I seemed to have no place in it, I could not use it and I was not made for it. I was a townsman; and I was rootless. I rejected my own age, yet could not sink back into an older. So I ended like Sciron, a mid-air man. The Christmas holidays came. I went off to travel around the Peloponnesus.
I had to be alone, to give myself a snatch of life away from the school.
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