16 March 2011

'We entered the forest, followed its winding paths, and emerged blind.'

The Blackest Ever Black label have a new mixset available, via the recent guest podcast over at Pontone. As with past editions, it's a mix tracks of both bygone and recent vintage, all of it geared toward a particular sort of mood(iness) that the fledgling label embodies. Early '80s proto-goth, industrial and cold electro, to more current artists who work in a comparable vein, and even a brief something from the Ghost Box catalog. Most surprising inclusion for me is to see a track from the 1980s Spanish outfit Mecanica Popular, whose track "Daguerrotipo" sounds like 23 Skidoo in neo-tribal/urban gamelan mode remixed over a lopsided Burial-style beat.

I'd missed the label's previous mixtape, The Scold's Bridle; but it's still available from the label's blog, here. Comparable to the above item, and it includes a couple of curious overlaps to a mix I posted here some months ago.

Related, BEB flagship artist Raime also have a new mixset that's streaming at Sónar. And extended version of the set will supposedly be available for download and lmt-ed release later in the year sometime.

Those guys versus Dem guys

Thought I'd read somewhere that Raime were aiming to release a debut full-length sometime in the coming year, but now I'm thinking that may be incorrect. Not sure. At any rate, there's the matter of Demdike Stare, whose releases made it onto a number of people's Best of 2010 year-end lists -- even on those by some critics who previously hadn't seemed all that enthusiastic about the duo's EPs. So I was amused when Loki at Idiot's Guide to Dreaming recently popped up with his assessment, if only because it more or less echoed what I'd been wondering for months. That being: what's with all the excitement? Judging from the responses, seems I was hardly alone. And Simon also jumped in and concurred. (I'm not sure, however, if I follow Simon's verdict of DS doing hauntology-by-the-numbers, if only because I think Simon's take on the whole hauntological aesthetic might be somewhat broader and inclusive than my own. Not sure.)

At any rate, my previous conjecture on the matter was that Demdike Stare (et al.) must be bringing something to the table for certain listeners, providing something that's been overwhelmingly absent from the musical palette in recent years -- hence the reason some people are getting so worked up about them, greeting their output so eagerly. As for myself, it's not that I dislike DS. For all intents and purposes, their work falls very squarely in an area -- in a particular niche or type of sound -- that I've long gravitated toward, Still, I've found much of their output rather wanting in many respects. Firstly, there's the fact that I find them covering territory that was already pretty thoroughly explored by experimental electronic artists not too many years ago (say 10-15). That being the case, I hear very little to suggest that DS have decided to re-engage that marginal 'nuum and push it forward or in a new direction, to pick up where it left off before the audience for such "dark" fare dwindled. Rather, it just seems like someone's just reusing the same old shopworn boilerplate. One part 'isolationist ambient' to one part Muslimgauze's Hamas Arc.* (Or, to make a more contempo comparison, it's like a dark, droning, cavernous inversion of Pantha du Prince's tinkly, en plein air pastoralisms.)**

Add to the above that it seems that most everything I've heard by the outfit sounds like it could've used a little more time up on the blocks. Underconceived and underdeveloped, sometimes falling a little short of seamlessness in its execution, often failing to build on its base elements or iddeas. Not sure if this impression of patchiness and slightness is an intentional aesthetic move on their part, or could just be attributed to them being a work in progress and farting out too much product a little too quickly. Either way, it ends up coming a little too close to being audio wallpaper.

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* As I believe one commenter at Idiot's Guide may have pointed out, Shackleton's been covering very similar ground recently, and achieving far more engaging results.
** Which in itself could, in turn, be described as not much more than Wolfgang Voigt with a set of windchimes.

Post title taken from this. Thanks to wood s lot.

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