In the overabundant parade of mixes, you might easily grow weary of the sound-alike monotony of predictably-popular hits inserted back to back in a party-friendly groove.
This is not that.
The latest from Shapednoise is a mix for FACT that follows in a mold only in that it’s as violently depressing as you’d expect if you’d been following this artist. You know, depressing in a … stimulating way.
Shapednoise begins by dropping you out an airlock for a zero-gravity dance of archaic tribal rituals. And from there, things more or less descend into an angry, room-clearing procession of reverbs and distortion. This is the sound of alien machinery screaming a siren song as it dies, then finally entering a dizzying forward rhythm.
Now’s a reasonable time to be talking about Shapednoise, as the artist is starting 2015 on a roll. There was last year’s beautiful, terrifying record on Opal Tapes. CTM Festival has been championing his work in bookings outside of Berlin, and collaboration – with Mumdance and Logos, soon to be redubbed The Sprawl – was a real highlight for me. And on top of it, there’s his work on the label Repitch.
The next stop is Sonic Acts, in Amsterdam. The embarrassment of riches in Europe now – austerity be damned – is such that this isn’t even the only festival in Holland to watch. But nonetheless, you get yet another out-there gathering of sound and visuals from Emptyset to Shackleton to Florian Hecker, this time at Paradiso and the bathtub-of-art Stedelijk Museum. And I expect the Shapednoise collaboration with visualist sYn could be a highlight.
The reason I make the mix the centerpiece is here is, this is the critical mass of stuff that has formed the planetoid of this music, and this mix is a pretty good guide, especially once you start Googling around the alien noises you’re hearing if you haven’t already discovered some of them.
Neel - Phobos (Spectrum Spools)
Squarepusher vs Keith Fullerton Whitman Interview
The Stranger - Kirkbymoorside (History Always Favours the Winners)
TCF - F8 5E BB 63 94 B5 17 BA 74 AC 11 EE 33 86 B2 7E 93 E0 E4 AA B4 CF 1F 64 (Liberation Technologies)
Logos - Glass (Shapednoise Remix) (Different Circles)
Gondwana - Binaural Beats (Forthcoming on Opal Tapes)
Elizabethan Collar – 04 (Aught)
Oake – Vorwort: Umiha Sien (Downwards)
Imaginary Forces - Council Flat (Beduin Records)
The Body - Hail To Thee, Everlasting Pain (Rvng Intl.)
Samuel Kerridge - Paint It Black Reprise (Blueprint)
Skam – Sandy (Avian)
Damian Dubrovnik - Blue Mussels (Alter)
Akkord - HTH020 (The Haxan Cloak’s Cloud of Witness Remix)
AnD - Relic Radiation (Electric Deluxe)
Grischa Lichtenberger - 1011_27_#5b (Raster Noton)
James Hoff - Erblast (PAN)
Chris Petit - Museum Of Loneliness / Flickers (Test Centre)
Lakker - Untitled (Unreleased)
Hecker – Chimärisation (Editions Mego)
Shit and Shine – Who’s Your Waitress (Diagonal)
I thoroughly enjoy, though, the way he’s picked the dirtiest and scariest of these and managed to grind them into something yet more distorted, taking a bloodied knife and then stomping on it until it shatters into bits.
I’ll point out a few names. Grischa Lichtenberger is a molten young contributor to Raster Noton, taking them beyond the sounds most associated with that label. Lakker are techno veterans from Ireland who have turned to the dark side, sonically, in a lovely way. Samuel Kerridge has been making his Contort parties a shrine to this sort of sound, apart from his own unique offerings to the dark lords of electronic composition. And these labels (from Electric Deluxe to Editions Mego to PAN to Rvng) have clustered together, young and old, into a galaxy of outlets for adventurous sound; they’ve made this a movement.
The fact that these sounds have entered something approaching the mainstream demonstrates just how immune to weird sounds we’ve become. Hipsters can now comment knowingly on the subtleties of different dark reverb tails and pedal-driven destruction, because there’s no doubt this is music.
This stuff used to scare people. Now, it’s a party. Oddly, some people are complaining about that. I think it’s bloody brilliant.
Because maybe from there, we’re really liberated to use a full spectrum of sounds – even the ones that come from broken gear. (Yes, fine, I’ll say it – that was Aphex Twin just winning a Grammy. I don’t care if you hate Syro; it’s still a sign of the times.)
But I’ll be listening to this one. You know, when I want some cheery happy music…
Full disclosure: I’ll be playing on a bill with Shapednoise on the first of March, as a duo with Lower Order Ethics (Szilvia Lednitsky) which we’re calling Alchemic Harm. (That is one of those infamous Contort parties, presented with Tresor/Ohm and Atonal Festival.) It’s just sort of nice convenience when artists I want to cover (aforementioned Lakker, Grischa) just show up on the handful of gigs I play. It’s a pleasure to get to make some noises alongside these boys and girls and contribute to the general mayhem.
Here are some other Shapednoise tracks I think are worth lending your ears (you, erm, may not get them back, though):