May 1, 2003
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Soft Pink Truth
The Wind-Up Bird
April 30, 2003
Pale Horse and Rider
Stephan Mathieu and Ekkehard Ehlers
April 29, 2003
Set Fire to Flames
Sentimentality - Guitars! – Melancholy
Is it possible, that after entertaining post-digital fantasies for so long, we have finally begun to create works with maturity and content? To stray from the German uber-minimalist model? Or are we simply returning to post-rock aesthetics, circa Tortoise’s Millions Now Living Will Never Die? Or is this return—as emphasized in the enveloping and wandering distortion of the first track of Twine’s powerful journey, “None Some Silver”—a much farther prospect, a glance which, although ironized in Daft Punk’s pisstake on contemporary house by utilising the cheesiest of prog and glam rock samples in Discovery, is nonetheless exploring the best elements fringe experimentation with emotional overtones has to offer? I am remembering, now, watching Pink Floyd’s “Live in Pompeii” video with a post-rocker friend of mine—as we drifted through pre-Dark Side work including “Echoes” and “Careful With that Axe, Eugene,” my post-rocker friend turned to me and said: “You know, Tortoise and the Chicago scene have a lot to owe these guys.”
To begin then, with Twine, and within a history—a loose comparison with the best days of Pink Floyd. You may shudder; many of my friends do, and they are the same people who fail to recognise the history of much of what we listen to today. To know this history, and to listen to it, are two different things: to be able to trace the sonic paths between Twine’s new album and “Set Your Controls for the Heart of the Sun” requires an attention not only to sonic similarity—wandering landscapes, tension filled beats, moody experimentation, perhaps we should call elements of this “psychedelia”—but the emotional risks taken in such an exploration. It’s a risk whose irony is not lost on the creators. In “Fine Music,” a slow, click-ambient beat rises through slight echoes while a fine drone-wash overtakes the careful landscape, changing pitches and hinting at spaces as yet unexplored; dark chords play carefully while distorted and quiet clashes signal phase shifts that allow successive modulation of the elements. A metal delay is struck, and returns. Those unexplored spaces are now becoming-filled—a rip-sound here, a dark moan here (click_Lustmord_early Biosphere): and then:
“I think I’m going to buy myself a guitar for Christmas.” [male voice, haughty]
“Do you know how to play the guitar?” [female voice, questioning]
“Yeah, I know how to play like two songs.” [male voice, confident, slightly excited]
But the mood is still melancholic, the beat still slow: the juxtaposition is a gravitational arch, not a pastiche; it hangs upon its own weight at the apogee of experimentalism, and at this height, it gazes down upon its own distance and judges how far it must fall when David approaches with the slingshot.
As Borges says of the infinite library, it is the repetition of singularity which is beauty and is not proof of the Divine but is Divine in its beauty. And with the above samples, quiet, slightly distorted, full of interference, the stage is set—on fire; the library burns while the painter archives its states of glory, past and present.
Have we not rekindled the role of the artist? And the artist as negative theologian? And isn’t it about time?
Isn’t it, about, time?
And, about, Twine?
Time for the samples to enter and the voice to pan to my right ear, cut, pasted, and strange melodies to my left: but not for long—this is the chaotic, spatialized, and fascinating listening experience of track 4, “Player Piano,” where effects are used to, at points, reproduce a piano concert-hall. But this is no ordinary concerto: amidst the piano sounds and the fucked vocal snippets pan synths and chimes, and then complete distortion to end the reverie. We are wandering through another level of the library, up another flight?
-or, are we flipping channels?
-TV set attuned to the psyche?
Track 5 enters and it factors itself, like its namesake—“Factor”—like a mathematical equation: the slightest snippet of a vocal sample, flipped and panned left-right through a delay, while an offkey pad rises in the back. Repetition is cadenced only through the adjoining squabble-sounds which divide the equation; the division cancels out the synth wash and produces nought: an echo into space which is heard, and then felt as the entire notation draws into the background. But not for long: with the return of time, a beat—somewhat unexpected—drops the forefront of the equation into a set. The set is now repeated, and the synth wash returns: but this time, as referential notation, as the impetus of time. Falling time: the cadence: cadere: to fall: impetere: to attack: to attack the fall and to fall after the attack. The sling-shot beat knocks Goliath, the beat echoes and is lost and the synth is the shroud over David’s moving body.
Should one merely listen to this album, or hallucinate its vectors?
And are we not at the core of the tryptaminic experience?
From here, the album is all sonic exploration of spaces and gestures: throw a bone, up, high enough, and it will become an orbiting space-station; throw a metaphor far enough, a sound far enough into space, and it will (re)sound its distances, its travels, and spell out its narrative and journeys, without knowing its past or guessing its future. “Curved” drifts along, spinning mental imagery, and then pans sideways into the harmonies of “Touched,” which pays homage to Speedy J’s Public Energy No. 1, one of the most powerful experimental techno albums of the past decade, with broken beats run through tight filters. Finally, “There Is No One Else,” and the guitar returns with a vocal sample telling some strange tale; Bach organ resides in the background—or is it Ray Manzarek?
“It’s like I’m having the most beautiful dream, and the most terrible nightmare on Earth” – a female voice –
…and there is singing…
…and am I not awaking in some sweaty ambient room in 1991, after experiencing the entirety of The KLF’s Chill Out?
-and the video: 1967 colour-cloud madness: guitar wanderings, acoustic, samples in lieu of vocal presence: colour bands flashing and playing across the screen: the guitar volume is increasing and the drone decreasing: this is the way it goes: and rotates: “I don’t mean to be a bitch I really care about you, you know: end
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