"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Barbaric bombast

Two valuable voices of resistance performing powerful alchemy on the basest sources - each constructed directly from ultra-right material, Marc Kate's bittersweet, stately Deface (Falling Forms) & TVO's mesmerising Hell is Empty (V I S) point to an engaged experimental ambient beyond the genre's typical apolitical stance. 

Kate "steals the music of the ultra-right [especially 'National Socialist Black Metal'], & converts anthems of hate into shimmering spells of beauty...plunderphonic compositions apply all manner of filtration & effects to render the music as barbless, extracting the harmonic material as spectral emanations from their misanthropic origins."

All the same, he combats the risk of "amusing novelty": Deface "is dolorous. It mourns. Kate’s reaction to this deeply troubling political moment resonates with a sense of loss, and reflects on the work that lies ahead if the culture is to move through and forward."  

Similarly, Ruaridh Law (TVO)'s piece - which began life as an installation on the theme of alchemy at the FIBER festival in Amsterdam - seeks to "alchemically take the basest raw material possible and turn it into something beautiful or at least worthwhile, whilst also making a comment on how easily the raw material falls apart" [quote from this recent interview]. 

Hell is Empty is generated entirely from "alt-right shithouse" Breitbart - code line by code line: "The php code of the site is the rather 'data-sounding' noise that travels through the whole piece, grabbed & converted on the fly to raw audio then stretched & pulled, & the majority of the rhythms (short of an 808 kick) are all generated by grabbing code live from the site & clipping it to short lengths. There's MIDI data & sequence data that are generated by pulling numbers out of the php code, & the drones underpinning the start & end take their pitch, resonance & harmonics from light-sensing cameras taking data from the visual part of the installation, which is a gradual breaking down of the Breitbart site into granular pixels."

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