These two albums, at least in name & presentation, are very loosely continuing the ‘Music For….‘ series begun in 2019, but not really adhering to the parameters I set for myself back then (eg . 20 – 30 min long, continuous edits that organically evolved into new shapes as each new musical idea emerged, but were stylistically consistent). By contrast these two new albums consist of several shorter pieces that are quite separate and distinct from each other.
In creating the first three albums, I amused myself by using them to parody the plethora of ‘meditational’ music out there claiming to enhance specific states of consciousness such as relaxation, attention, ‘healing’ etc. I’m not saying these ‘musical aids’ don’t work for some people, clearly they do, and I spent some time exploring them myself when I was younger; but the iconoclast in me (my cartoonist mind? my autistic mind? my skeptic mind?) often likes to question any ‘claims of certitude’.
In my early experiences during the ‘New Age 90s’, use of such musics was common – even expected – in all kinds of therapeutic (and social) settings. Some of it I found genuinely relaxing, but ultimately the wash of ‘celestial’ sounds and syrupy melodies became so generic & saccharine that it actually created agitation in my body, so was counter-productive to the therapy. (One divergence from this trend was my experience of receiving deep bodywork while listening to NASA’s famous recordings from deep space, eg the electromagnetic frequencies of Saturn’s rings. The sounds contained movement and pulsation but no musical reference points, more akin to contemporary ambient drone ‘music’. The shapeless subtleties of the sound enabled me to focus even more deeply on my body’s experience, without the distraction of musical form.)
In those ‘New Age’ settings, I noticed I had more obvious shifts in consciousness when the music contained some kind of pulse, whether subtle or overt, and so began my continuing interest in musics from shamanic and mystic traditions. In these ancient forms, repetition & pulsation were proven over thousands of years to induce altered states of consciousness – including, but certainly not limited to, states of relaxation – ie trance states. This is why I enjoy creating long, repetitive music, for its trance-like effect. But I digress….or continue toward…..
Music For Deep Relapsation (2022)
Not at all ambient, these pieces were mostly devised using the Surge virtual synth plug-in, along with a sprinkle of sampled instruments from the Decent Sampler collection. I was bored & frustrated with the limitations of my damaged hand, angry at life and sick of myself in general. As usual, the creative process helped distract / refocus my mind momentarily, but my disgruntlement comes through in some the more chaotic or abrasive sounds. I have no idea how it sounds to anyone else, but I think of this album as kind of grumpy electronica.
Opening track, The Articulon, is essentially a kind of phasing experiment using samples of two drum patterns (a djembe & an Indian rahmani drum), and different combinations of delay set at slightly different rates, creating polyrhythmic variation.
I often enjoy playing with double-meanings in choosing titles for my music, and often the title has little or no relationship to the music itself. The title of Something I Said (Disagrees With Me) is playing with the dynamic (familiar to many fellow Aspergans, I’m sure) of speaking truthfully and then having to experience the intense physical discomfort of another person’s emotional reaction when they misinterpret my intention – like eating something that disagrees with you (although in this case it’s something eating at me…mixing my metaphors?). Meanwhile, I chose The Telepathist‘s title because it’s textured pulsations had me imagining thought tendrils, focused mind signals rippling outward and across space, searching for receptors….
Technically, for much of this album, I was continuing my previous experiments in double-tracking, ie creating a pattern as a MIDI file (an organ melody, for instance), copying it as multiple new tracks, each with a different synth effect assigned to it. Combining multiple tracks in this way adds new complexity of sound & texture to the source track, and a more sculptural sound (more obvious through headphones). I made use of this on the two aforementioned tracks, and took it to an extreme on Baroque Music Of The Third Entropalypse, which consists only of an original organ track, duplicated five times and mangled through five different effects. The result, as the title suggests, is a deliciously bent-out-of-shape splodge of sounds, a derailed baroque organ recital from a disintegrating Kubrick future.
I had a lot of grumpy amusement creating Dis For Ya, with its dinky 80s drum machine beat, a fat cranky bass and some serrated synth riffs. One might easily imagine some kind of old skool righteous rap spraying bullets over the top of it all. Really I was just enjoying the sounds that emerged, but its disgruntled tone was also a response to the angry abrasions of my partner’s Premenstrual Dysphoria at the time – hence the play of words in the title’s dedication. Whatever gets us through…
The final track, Thoughtsub Vs Giant Squib, was a bit of fun with a drumkit sample I cannibalised from an earlier recording and messed with electronically, resulting in kind of squelchy glitch effect – the sound of the Giant Squib. Then, slowly emerging from the watery darkness of Deep Mind, the mechanical throb of the Thoughtsub as it looms impassively like a passing leviathan, to dissolve back into the Void…
Music For Mindless Unwhereness (2022)
The three pieces on this album were actually developed before those on …Deep Relapsation, but because I was happier with this album, I wanted it to be the most recently published. Usually I’m quite ‘autistically pedantic’ about releasing my albums in their true chronological order, to remain authentic to the sequence of my creative process; it’s an odd compulsion, a sense of right order, journalistic and cataloguistic. But occasionally I have to wrestle this pedantry to the ground and go against my own grain.
A friend had pointed me toward the music of Terry Riley, renowned as one of the pioneers of the musical minimalism of the 60s, and yet another composer I’d known by name for years but had never listened to – so finally I did. I dipped into several of his recordings, but I found the opening track on his 1972 Happy Ending album immediately inspiring – to the extent that ten minutes into the track (the improvised organ piece titled Journey From The Death Of A Friend), I began constructing what became The Spatial Tectonics Of Formative Interaction. I was especially happy with how it turned out, and the title is by way of thank you to the friend who pointed me there, quoting his description of the delicate process of social engagement (in the context of anxiety and autism).
Aardvark is a far more abstract journey, grunting & snuffling around, with its random scuttlings of itchy percussion punctuating open spaces of drifting piano and other momentary melodic elements. In these sounds I imagine an aardvark’s consciousness, as it snouts around in the dark, a kind of psychedelic brainspace attuned to invisible signals within the earth.
The final piece, Cole Portal Presents, was an experiment using sampled chunks from an old cassette of jazz tunes from (I’m guessing) the 1920s or 30s. The cassette was originally recorded off some old radio show or other, so there was no track listing or artist information. I cut out snippets, reversed, looped and generally messed with them, and added some ‘vibes’-like keyboards. I like its spectral atmosphere, like fragmented transmissions of a haunted jazz orchestra, sending messages through time via some kind of spiritualist radio frequency, ghosts trapped in another dimension…And no, there’s no Cole Porter there, I was just enjoying the wordplay in the title…