on life, music etc beyond mainstream


2016 27 Jul

Seven of cups reversed

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Silence, and symphony.

2016 11 Jul

Seven of Cups

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Generally speaking, strange chalices of vision, cups all up in a cloud, possibly reflecting transience or the overimagination or confusion of whoever makes them appear. Accordingly, they have been associated with wishful thinking.

There is some dispute as to what the 7 symbols in the cups mean, but Tarotologists have some suggestions as to the meanings. Know though that the exact elements within the vision may be less important than the very act of conjuring them.

Seven of Cups arguably represents temptation, choice, self-delusion.
The cups offer the following possible representations:
A human head – companionship, love

A shrouded, glowing entity – the burning need for the conjurer’s self-illumination

A snake – passion and desire, resultant powerful transformative knowledge

A castle or tower – power, stability, place of birth

A treasure hoard – wealth, not necessarily material or monetary

A laurel wreath – victory, honour, status. The skull inscription on the cup itself may be a reminder against triumphalism

A dragon – so many levels to this one. Partly it’s a signal that you need to visit Wales. No psychogeographer can visit Wales and leave unaffected by its magic. Dragons are also memetical – a myth that – until the dinosaurs‘ existence was proven by archaeologists in the 19th Century – was just a myth.
Paraphrased / reworked from Wikipedia

Did you ever dream actual music? Muted harmonic simplicities gently rocking back and forth. It could be the sound of the space between buildings in an industrial estate in the blue-grey half light of morning, where only seagulls walk. There are only empty Coca-Cola and Fanta cans, and crisp packets blowing in the wind. It’s nothing. Much.

Glial cells in the brain shrink during sleep increasing interstitial space in brain tissue, allowing an increase of fluid to wash toxins away: reality’s maker remade in the dream-space, just as real and true as the empty crisp bags and rusty cans, foxes, phantoms, yesterday’s dead half-lit in the pale half-light of blue-grey morning. The music is in there, actuated by what? What immortal ear or eye could rock this harmonic symmetry?

And, and, and … and if we think more closely about our ordinary/mundane concept of reality, maybe we don’t consider real the whatever-the-fuck that actually happens. Instead, we consider real a type/manner of happening that is familiar to us to be it, to be reality. Not tonight, said the cymbal, my head hurts.
Based on 10 listens to Arvo Pärt’s „Summa“ (Estonian National Symphony Orchestra)
+ Cheetah
CHEETAHT2 [Ld spectrum] nice closing moments, clean/uneasy CHEETAHT7b hip hop handclaps weird phantom wash CHEETA1b ms800 genuinely amazing wtf moment, it’s like „
The hideous operating and programming system (2 digit LED) may drive you crazy but there’s nothing else quite like it for low-fi digital weirdness on the ultra cheap. Sum up:One for the adventurous/experimental/patient/mad“ retro in a way but something forward in the production that lifts it out of the retro toybox. „CHEETA2 ms800“ „CIRKLON3 [Колхозная mix]“ 8:13 6. „CIRKLON 1“ 7:17 7. „2X202-ST5“ This stuff is so fucking great, it makes my heart burst
Stolen lines: Russell Hoban, William Blake, Philip Larkin, BBC News, Roddy Doyle, New York Times

And the seven of cups is reversed. In an orchard drenched in blue light.

Ian’s account (July 2016)


If you think back way back into the haar of time to a time before driverless automobiles, self-baking cakes, octa-core processors, and so on, right back to 1986/1987 the only sound around was The Sound, whose world-beating LP „Thunder Up“ was everywhere from the television music shows to the radio to the turntables of teenagers across England, through Europe and all the way to America, as well as plenty of places in between. Adrian Borland (God rest his soul) was a poet, a visionary, and The Sound deserved every piece of praise they got. Of which there was tons – with entire 6 page pull-out sections in the NME, Sounds, Record Mirror (although for some reason Melody Maker didn’t join in the fun – presumably as a cynical market differentiation ploy). If you put The Sound on the cover of your weekly music paper or Sunday supplement, your periodical’s circulation would surge. Show me someone who can’t sing the chorus from Thunder Up’s opening song Acceleration Group and I’ll show you someone who lived on Mars in eightysix/seven.

But you know all that. In fact the last time you were in WH Smiths at the railway station there was probably a hacked-together The Sound tribute mag on the shelf for £7.99. What you may not know is that in eightyix/seven there was other music out there. And if you digged deep enough, you might even have chanced upon The Joshua Tree by U2. I wasn’t aware of its existence until much later – only finding it by chance on a streaming playlist. U2 were apparently a peripheral band on the Blackwell roster. Kind of (maybe) a bit like Simple Minds or The Waterboys, but then again not. They had this mad guitar player who’s sound is a mystery – it’s not really lead guitar, it’s not really rhythm section, it’s out there, at the edge.

The Joshua Tree is a very well assembled work, some of its sonic textures are Turner Prize-winning art. There’s an odd metallicism in it, and a searing Camusian heat. Hot knives, sun’s out guns out. I don’t know if Meursault’s infinitely reverberating sentence “ Et c’était comme quatre coups brefs que je frappais sur la porte du malheur“ is a reference point for this record, but it feels like it is – blood and burning sand. I dont pretend to ‚get‘ all of this record – it’s too avant-garde, but it does have good tunes, and I like the way the first three songs are anthemic and address eternal human points. It’s mad that they did this – put the best three songs at the start and let the rest of the record go off on some very uncommercial tangents. Maybe this is why nobody bought the record at the time and only a hardcore of about 1- 3,000 people actually own it on CD. I doubt anyone truly grudges The Sound for their success, but it is fascinating to me that U2 are – for the most part – a footnote to the 1980s.

The best records always leave a question mark. And the question The Joshua Tree leaves is … how do people go into a room and write this stuff? Impossible to imagine the guitar guy going into the studio going „check out this new riff I’ve made up“ because the guitar seems to emerge out of the songs rather than be any basis for them.


DJ Mireia Moreorless’s account (December 2190)


… found a new 20th century work … not crasy [sic] abt the 1st 3 songs (the singer, is he a phantom on these? haha) … heart the beat on >>Red Hill Mining town<< just yes. did anybody here [sic] this record? burning sand or tears in rain? … death hangs over thee / whilst yet thou livest / whilst thou mayest / be good



2016 2 Jul


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Is it far away in the glitter-frieze,
Or in our eyes every time they meet?

It’s by the light of the plasma screens
We keep switched on all through the night while we sleep

It’s broken
Our love


It’s broken
Our love


It’s broken
Our love


It’s broken
Our love


Harold Budd’s „Bandits of Stature“ isn’t the most immediate of listens. Not because it’s like not any good, obvz. No, more because it is so advanced that listening to it involves a degree of neuroplasticity. Your brain has to form new neural networks in response to it. It is, literally, a mind-expanding work.

I have a problem with neoclassicism – mainly because the term itself is an oxymoron. So any work that’s comprised largely of compositions for string quartets is going to have to make a formal leap way beyond the strictures of genre, lest it becomes cod-classical or sub-soundtrack fluff. Bandits of Stature makes this formal leap, and – perhaps even more incredibly – uses concrete psychoacoustics to lift it out of the composition box. It’s not simply a compositional exercise – everything from the placing of the microphones to the air pressure in the room and the phase of the moon are central to this work.

Is music pre- or post- or super- or meta- or ultra- or sub-linguistic? Does it project senses onto the listener or do we project senses into the music? Does it tell a story? I don’t know, and I don’t much fucking care. What I get from this is what I get from it. And what I get is a sense of noir placed in blinding light, aridity and blazing heat. Of mystery hiding in plain sight. Of wide streets at the edge of the desert. Of illumination so intense that the inner self diving further ever further downward to escape the glare, only to resurface in the time of gloaming.

One of my favourite novelists is Lawrence Block. It’s probably a disservice to call Block a novelist. The dude is much more than what that slightly stupid word is supposed to mean and/or connote. Block is a magician. One of very few writers of stories who fully knows not so much that fiction is fiction but the how of fiction being fiction, and it’s only when a writer of stories has this in their writing that fiction can be more than the communication of the writer’s values or imagination. It’s uncanny and mediumistic, and if you try and work out how some writers can do this, you can’t. Some writers conjure a universe in miniature that you can hold in the palm of your hand. They give you worlds to play with. And none of this is done via ambition or an attempt at immortality. Neoclassicise your writing and it will be dead before you pick up your fucking typewriter.

And Bandits of Stature reminds me, in a way, of Block, for the reasons stated above. And Rothko too, to an extent. And Hopper. All stand at just the right angle from their subject matter, letting the infinite in.

Oh, and this:

Totul este rupt, totul este reparabilă. Ceașcă rupt. Solidaritate, amiciţie, dragoste, pace -intact.

2016 26 Jun


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2016 19 Jun


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The cup is broken. Everything is broken. Everything is repairable. Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory this week detected two black holes colliding, one of whom is 30 times the size of the sun. With some work, we can translate the LIGO-detected waves to sound, allowing us to actually hear the gravity of the universe. Where are we? In an orchard, drenched in blue light. Why? Fuck knows. And these are the footsteps you follow – the tracks of impossible love. In the black sparkle of deep space, oh so lonely.


Some songs, you just can’t stop listening to them. This week I can’t stop listening to Midnight Train. And Glass in the Park. The best songs, well the best written ones anyway (as opposed to haphazard / praxis songs that do what they do) are Schneekugeln. You pick them up, there’s a world inside, and they shake the emotions inside you – you become that snowstorm, a world within a world, a universe in miniature, and moonbeams shoot out from your soul.

Midnight Train is a song about transience, about passing, about lots of things. It enacts its subject matter by passing too quickly, you just about think you’ve captured its essence, then it’s off. So you put the needle back to the start and time travel back three minutes and 49 seconds. „Midnight train / going, going, gone / The beating of my heart is like a drum / I never know the meaning of your kiss / Midnight train, must it end like this?“ It’s like there’s no value in permanance, only in fleetingness and glimpses. Presumably this is why the central character in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu is so miserable. He is potentially immortal – it’s only the garlic and the crucifix that can save him. Save him by simultaneously finishing him off for good: one eternity swapped for another. Ordinary mortals just get on with the business of life’s cosmic blink.

Glass In The Park. Great title – we’re talking second law of thermodynamics here. And vicissitudes. „There’s glass in the park / and now that I’m up off my knees / I’ve picked up the speed to jump your pallisades / Then I shoot through the night / and suddenly all those once-lost concoctions froth / and chase the day away …“ A genius lyric. The glass shards in the park are the unforeseen hurts of love. But the central character is soaring above all the sorrow below, leaving the glass fragments behind, which then magically reform as brittle sci-fi Pyrex receptacles: the unbroken cups where the „once-lost concoctions froth“, the shake of the emotions in a universe within a universe, a trillion moonbeams bouncing off everything everywhere and passing right back through the centre of the soul.

Varèse –

I LOVE Amériques. Love it. I love it the way I love On the Corner by Miles Davis. Or Neonlicht by Kraftwerk (whose only fault is that it doesn’t go on longer than it does). Amériques is mental. Mental. Mental mental, transcendental. If Steve Reich’s (infinitely listenable) Different Trains addresses the psychogeographical effect of moving like a phantom thru railway infrastructure, then Amériques does something more challenging (if less accessible). It takes on the Grid System – where anything can collide with anything at any time. Hadron Collider stylee. Slap bang wallop. Boom.

Better than that, though, is how Amériques does time travel. Few are the works that address the past and future with nonchalance. The future didn’t exist until around the time automation was invented – the mid 19th Century. And there was no real ideation of the past until dinosaurs were invented in 1822, around the same time. Amériques starts primordially. Out of the mist, a city. A city ambiented in the darkness of its own light. Every precious dream and vision underneath the stars. Pterodactyls and yellow taxis. And cold/warm lithogenesis. The rooftops are for dreamers. Varèse looks into and beyond the city. Planets collide, collide, collide.

Neonlicht, schimmerndes Neonlicht.

„I met ayont the cairney, a lass wi‘ tousie hair
Singin‘ til a bairney that was nae langer there
Wunds wi warlds tae swing dinna sing sae sweet
The licht that bends owre aa thing is less ta’en up wi it“

(I met beyond a neolothic structure, a woman with wild hair. Singing to a child who was no longer there. Winds with worlds to swing [i.e. gravity/orbits within galaxies] don’t sing so sweet. The light that covers everything is less taken up with it [i.e.gravitational deflection of light] Where’s your gravity?)



I’ll Take New York. It’s not about New York, it’s about hell. It’s disturbing and dark as fuck. You can’t help but be drawn in by the character’s weird, tacky idea that the city is the place where dreams will come true. The tacky Coney Island Farfisa is a clue to the fuckedupness of the guy’s dream, where light doesn’t look like light – his imagination can’t light up a turnip, never mind a sidewalk. But you go along with it, just to see what happens.

Waits‘ genius here is in the telling, He has to go with the character otherwise the narrative is banjaxed. So there’s no judgement or moralising or social realism. There is no gravity, no New York, just a dream dwarfed by a reality it will never meet, hubris too big a word, dream too big a word. A swerve into the unlightest bible unlight, a void.

But what I want to know is: did Tom Waits intentionally reference Varèse here? Because I’ll Take New York and Amériques both have heart and neither of them really let daylight in. You could see F. W. Murnau in the background, laughing.

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