by Blond Adonis
Label: Stunned Records
01 Dusk Latitude (High Aura’d)
02 Untitled – (Andre Foisy)
The new “thing” coming from indie bands based mostly in the east of Europe consists of a lot of stark, droning, iciness. On this particular cassette, Andre Foisy, of Chicago’s Locrian, an edgier, more noize-rock outfit and ‘High Aura’d’ (aka John Kolodij) teamed up together and released this split cassette. A lot of splits usually revolve around seven-inch records-maybe two punk bands teaming up to promote each other or whatnot, but on this self-titled cassette, each artist contributes only one song, but each one is around 22 minutes. High Aura’d’s cut is 22:45 and Andre Foisy’s cut is 21:44.
The two pieces Very laid-back and mesmerizing. Something with which meditation would not be out of place. The first cut on the album is High Aura‘d‘s “Dusk Latitude”, which is an apt title for this track. There is plenty of latitude for their musical explorations, adventures into dark crevices, spelunking into the subconscious of minds that may show up on an MRI with an abundance of redness, indicating some kind of “abnormality” – but, that’s their definition of what’s normal or not. Who is some AMA-doctor, a whore of big pharma to say that this person is “mentally challenged(?)” or that they have found some conclusive “proof” that the person in question is not all together “there”? HA!
It’s been said over and over again that there is a very thin line that separates genius from madness and that sometimes that line gets blurred or altogether erased and if that’s you, then the trouble is just beginning for you – you’re going to be “strongly persuaded” to dope yourself up with a variety of imagination-killing psychotropic drugs that kill the spirit, interrupt musings and of course, stop the “voices in one’s head” – is that a bad thing or a good thing- to have an internal entity speaking to you that no one else is aware of? It all depends on your viewpoint -and, of course, how deeply you are in the pockets of companies like Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Abbot, Astra-Zeneca, Merck & Co, etc.
Secondly there is the untitled cut by Andre Foisy, a 21:50 continuously winding drone package that, like all of the drone genre’s music is unique because of its lack of a “beginning, middle or end” – the way stories are supposed to be. Even though it’s music we’re talking about here, there is still the absence of your average “verse/chorus/verse” rock ‘n’ roll. Just an endless stream of consciousness or should I say “sub consciousness”?
On the outside level, one can appreciate it well enough, given the right mood, enough time to get through it, etc., but it’s when it penetrates to the deeper part of the mind, into the subconscious and even down further into unconsciousness that it has its most profound effects. Then, when you think you’ve settled into a trance you are suddenly stunned back into emotion by the moans and groans in the background, planted just right and not ear-splitting screams, but a sort of far-off sounding cry of despair that reverberates for some time, but all the while the drifting, droning ambience keeps flowing, a perfect fluidity that doesn’t bore or disappoint.
II – History Lesson
Of course, one would be very hard-pressed to find anything to compare it to in the annals of “rock” past, and that includes the godfather of ambient, Brian Eno, whose Music For Airports, Music For Films, etc and his numerous collaborations with another far-seeing maestro, Robert Fripp (King Crimson, etc). But one thing that I couldn’t help but think of when taking this all in was the very underrated but nonetheless classic LP that Fripp and Eno put out in 1973, No Pussyfooting, which was an LP that had two long-form tracks of its own: “The Heavenly Music Corporation” and “The Swastika Girls”. Of course, the medium of the vinyl record prohibited the long form compositions they would’ve used to take No Pussyfooting to a longer, deeper level. Eno had developed a tape system using two tape recorders set up so when a sound was played, it would be heard at a lower volume level seconds later, and seconds later again at an even lower level. With this method, new sounds could be laid upon each other without overwriting them. Fripp played further material over the top with Eno selectively enabling or disabling the recording. This allowed Eno to remove portions of the loop, or add further new layers on top of the existing material. The result is a dense, multi-layered piece of ambient music. This technique later came to be known as ‘Frippertronics’. This was the beginning of ambient music and the intricate means to achieve the very intense sounds and techniques. What is ironic is that when the album was released in ‘73, the record company for whom they recorded it, Island, didn’t like it at all and was actually opposed to it.
Many others weren’t that thrilled with it either. Brian Eno had just left Roxy Music to go on to make records that would prove to be magnitudes better than anything Roxy ever did again (after Eno left, Roxy Music just turned into this lush, lounge-y, hot air band with nothing really imaginative ever to come out of them again. In fact, their final album, Avalon is really awful, something that gets played on easy listening and smooth jazz radio stations (“More than This” especially). But Eno recorded a whole assortment of great solo albums and that’s one thing that caused some confusion when No Pussyfooting came out. It was released just before Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets was released and so in Britain it was actually sold for a pittance compared to other King Crimson albums and Eno albums. The irony is these days, with the acceptance of ambient music as a real genre, No Pussyfooting is looked back on as a classic, a forward-looking album that, sadly, was way ahead of its time. You’ll have to recall that this was in the mid-70s when “cock rock” was becoming the big thing – stadium filling bands such as Led Zeppelin and The Who, Deep Purple, etc were what was in demand, so experimental stuff such as Fripp & Eno collaborated on between their two other demands (King Crimson and Eno’s more “mainstream” stuff (Taking Tiger Mountain, Before and After Science, Another Green World and so on). But Eno finally braved it all when he, in the latter part of the 70s and the early 80s teamed up with Moebius and Rodelius to record some quite ambient/experimental albums, not to mention Eno’s unforgettable Music For Airports, Music For Films, etc ambient collection, which he seems to be more known for as far as the starting point for drone/ambient music.
But, back to the release at hand…getting into this is like entering a new dimension, one where you are the controller of things or conversely, the music controls you. Either way, it is a brave new fantasy world to enter and before Foisy gets back in gear with Locrian, I’d recommend picking this release up. If you’re into mind-blowing experimental trance-core, then this is what you’ve been waiting almost 40 years for.
Also, check out some of the two artists’ other groups, the aforementioned Locrian, out of Chicago, that Foisy is in and the many faces of John Kolodij, the very talented, nocturnal animal that includes Reverb Worship and his enigmatic forays into serpentine-like guitar experiments and solo works that have a sound structure to them. Last year he accompanied Barn Owl on their tour, which, I’m sure was a successful venture and brought throngs of people along that might not have heard his name otherwise.
But after hearing this mad-masterpiece I’d say: watch out, keep an eye open for either of these maestros to follow-up with something that I’m sure they wouldn’t put out until it at least surpasses Dusk Latitudes. Because what’s the point in following up something great with a dud? That’ll just embolden your enemies.