Yet more work from the staggeringly prolific Jon Brooks. This time on the rather lovely Canadian label More Than Human Records. Jon Brooks is in calm and reflective frame of mind, with elegant icy electronics on this limited edition of 250 LPs.
'The history in Computer Chess, however strange and fictional, is presented as a forgotten moment in time, now rediscovered and shown, glitches and error-lines included, as a historical touchstone for our contemporary digital time. It employs, and at the same time moves beyond, postmodern aestheticization and presentist history, into a surreal, almost myth-like, retelling of the origins of our contemporary society. It is that which makes Computer Chess feel substantial and truthful.' - Ruud Klomp
From 2009 - 'What's going on here is what academics describe as "slippage of the auratic". Walter Benjamin theorised about the "aura" possessed by the singular artwork, the painting or sculpture, in the age of mechanical reproduction. Yet as digital culture takes over, "aura" is being conferred on things that not long ago would once have been considered mass produced and characterless. In the age of the webzine and MP3, it is solid-form cultural artifacts – vinyl records, vintage DJ mixtapes, yellowing magazines – that become attractive in the face of the infinite dissemination and seeming ephemerality of web culture. In this respect, fanzines have a significant edge over even a golden-era copy of NME or Rolling Stone, in so far as they're limited-run and thus closer to being a one-off. Fanzines are dripping with "aura". They're special too because they're typically the singular expression of an individual, who often appears to be deranged with enthusiasm or frustration. And in addition to evoking the fanatical intensity of particular moments in music history, they tend to contain amateur photography of bands or gigs: images that haven't been widely disseminated or officially approved. So it makes total sense that collectors are hunting rare zines down.' - Simon Reynolds
'Imagine: an endless plaza filled with towering pillars of light. A vast, gridded expanse of escalators criss-cross the atmosphere, ascending ever upward into a vaporous haze of glowing advertisements and shimmering glass. An infinity sponsored by multi-billion-dollar corporations and dripping with the stimulating lubricant of commerce, this monument to capitalism as artificially engineered heaven is the eerie endpoint at which our world becomes comprehensively commercialized.
That's our best guess for the future, a utopian dystopia that wants for nothing, and where the human spirit goes to die. This is where a genre called vaporwave draws its inspiration, and in North Texas Michael Cole Young is perhaps its lone practitioner.
Vaporwave acts as a critique of the aforementioned capitalist nightmare. Sampling, repurposing and then looping the banal sounds of bygone commercial stock music (elevators, infomercials -- all iterations of listen-while-you-wait ambient fodder), vaporwave tracks consist almost entirely of these slowed-down, or otherwise heavily warped, fragments ...
... From dance patterns and hauntological textures to pristine, future-seeking art-pop and ethereal beat instrumentals (even metal and acoustic singer-songwriter under his own name), Young's music speaks to an artful command of mood and concept. Whether it's for satire or genuine expression, it affords him the capacity to comment sharply on contemporary issues without needing to utter a word. His aspirations and motivations have always been, and remain, simple and admirable: "To connect with people and to change the way they think.' - Jonathan Patrick
'Asked to sum up the Ghost Box label’s output, co-founder Jim Jupp explains, “The music is largely, although not entirely, electronic, and mainly instrumental (though increasingly less so). Its artists share influences in library music, TV soundtracks, vintage electronics, folk music, weird fiction and forgotten films and TV shows. We think of it as a kind of world where pop culture from the mid sixties up to the early eighties is happening all at once, in a kind of parallel world. Not historically accurate, but naggingly familiar.”
Those musical moments from horror movies that ensure you jump in the right place. The background music to old public information films. Children’s TV themes and old radio sound effects. Back in 2004, when Jupp – who records as Belbury Poly – and partner Julian House (aka the Focus Group) launched the label, this was largely untapped territory; the likes of Current 93 and Broadcast were moving in that direction, and probably remain the grandparents of it all. But “Hauntology,” as the labelers labeled the emergent sound, had still a long way to go before even tapping its full potential, and Ghost Box has remained at the forefront, both in the UK (where its primary sources and influences certainly lie) and elsewhere.' - Dave Thompson
'For those of us interested in ideas like hauntology, it’s not simply an exercise in identifying an aesthetic movement, but a way into the historical moment we’re living through. Very loosely speaking, it posits that as a result of living in a post-industrial, post-ideological society, people will turn increasingly to the past for authentic experience and that this disjuncture between now and then, coupled with the spooky moans of the unquiet spectres of inequality and exploitation, things we’ve never truly been able to put to rest, will result in the idea of revolution re-emerging again. Hauntology, however, isn’t an explicitly Marxist ideology, with its united worker’s front and overthrowing of the capitalist hegemony as inevitable byproducts of the historical process, in fact strictly speaking hauntology isn’t an ideology at all, but instead describes a world disrupted by incursions from beyond, by things both there and not there simultaneously. The crowded out Marxist readings of consensus reality, for instance, clanking the chains of the proletariat in the margins. Much has been said about hauntology in other media, but little has been said about hauntology in comics, including the one comic that directly concerns itself with the spirit of revolution. For shame.' - Amy Poodle
'"moDernisT" was created by salvaging the sounds and images lost to compression via the MP3 and MP4 codecs. The audio is comprised of lost mp3 compression material from the song "Tom's Diner" famously used as one of the main controls in the listening tests to develop the MP3 encoding algorithm. Here we find the form of the song intact, but the details are just remnants of the original. The video is the MP4 ghost of a corresponding video created in collaboration with Takahiro Suzuki. Thus, both audio and video are the "ghosts" of their respective compression codecs' - Ryan Maguire
'The 78 Project is a documentary and recording journey inspired by Alan Lomax and his quest to capture music where it lived throughout the early 20th century. Our project brings the spirit of his work into the present as we pair breakthrough musicians with the songs and the fascinating recording technology of the past. With just one microphone, one authentic 1930′s Presto direct-to-acetate disk recorder, and one blank lacquer disc, musicians are given one take to cut a record anywhere they choose. What we have found is that the film, music and feelings that result defy space and time, living music inspired by ghosts.'
'As an aesthetic, hauntology is located in the notion of nostalgia as an unsettling sense of the intrusions of past imaginings of a utopian future into the present. ... I use this term to refer to the unsettling qualities faux-vintage smart phone camera apps impart to photographs and videos of contemporary life. Smartphones encourage people’s dislocation from physical surroundings. The spectral co-presence of others frequently disrupts face-to-face encounters. In turn, this fosters widespread nostalgia for a lost utopian future where there is no pressure for constant connection via networked technology.' - Marsha Berry
'Mervyn O’Gorman was an English engineer whose artistic interests turned him into one of the early pioneers of color photography. Using the Autochrome Lumière process that was launched in 1907, O’Gorman shot images that are now regularly featured in exhibitions of early color photos.
Among his best known works are a series of color photos of his daughter, Christina, taken in 1913.'
'Matthew Sweet explores the dawning of the age of Black Aquarius - the weirdly great wave of occultism that swept through British popular culture in the 1960s-70s. From journals like the Aquarian Arrow to the diabolical novels of Dennis Wheatley, lurid accounts of satanic cults in the Sunday papers and the glut of illustrated books, part-magazines, documentary film and TV drama, it was a wildly exuberant seam of British pop culture.
Flowering from the more arcane parts of the hippy movement but mutating into something quite different, why was there such a huge crossover appeal for the British public? Was this a continuation of the Sixties cultural battleground of restrictive morality being secretly titillated, or was it something else - something darker? These questions certainly puzzled factual television at the time.
The age of Black Aquarius matched the late Victorian craze for the occult in its intensity and popularity, and certainly drew from some of that era's obsessions - dark dimensions, secret rites, unearthly energy - but filtered through 'the permissive society', through a hugely eclectic counterculture, swinging sexual liberation and new kinds of consumption and lifestyle. And while dark forces were summoned in the grooviest of Chelsea flats they were being unearthed in the countryside too, a fantasy of pagan ritual and wicker men, of tight-lipped locals and blood sacrifice at harvest time.
Contributors include Mark Gatiss, Katy Manning, Caroline Munro, Kim Newman, Highgate Vampire hunter David Farrant and Piers Haggard, director of 'The Blood on Satan's Claw'.
'Writers and artists have long been fascinated by the idea of an English eerie - ‘the skull beneath the skin of the countryside’. But for a new generation this has nothing to do with hokey supernaturalism – it’s a cultural and political response to contemporary crises and fears'
'This eerie counter-culture – this occulture – is drawing in experimental film-makers, folk singers, folklorists, academics, avant-garde antiquaries, landscape historians, utopians, collectives, mainstreamers and Arch-Droods alike, in a magnificent mash-up of hauntology, geological sentience and political activism. The hedgerows, fields, ruins, hills and saltings of England have been set seething.' - Robert Macfarlane
'Whereas past generations longed to know if there is an afterlife, today we face a living hauntology in the form of our data presences. We live on not only past death, as the recent Facebook end-of-year debacles have poignantly demonstrated, but we live beyond ourselves in and through black-boxed algorithms and their architectures of capture and deployment.' - Karen Gregory
"There was thunder in the air on the night I went to the deserted mansion atop Tempest Mountain to find the lurking fear. Some said the thunder called the lurking fear out of its habitation, while others said the thunder was its voice." - Joseph Curwen
'The next two singles in our Other Voices series both feature very special guests.
Other Voices 03 introduces an exciting new ensemble,The Pattern Forms. Made up of Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle) with Ed Gibson and Ed MacFarlane (both of Friendly Fires). Expertly crafted, dreamy, electronic pop with light, airborne vocals and just a hint of dark magick.
The next in the series is by Steve Moore, well known for his retro futuristic work both as a solo artist and as bass and keyboard player with Zombi. This single for Other Voices, captures an elegant and minimalistic performance from Moore on analogue synth, Hammond organ and vintage string machine. Two perfectly balanced and paired down science fiction landscape miniatures.' - Belbury Parish Magazine
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