Monday, January 16, 2006

Review- Hauntology 1, a k-punk compilation

There’s a fairly obvious clue as to who made this one in the title- made for me by one of only two people in the cassette swap that I actually know outside of Dissensus, so I imagine he had to pull his finger out somewhat…Though I haven’t specifically written about it before, this mixtape partly inspired the starting of this thread and the writing of this post , so that should give some indication of the general Zone in which it exists- tracks seem to have been chosen specifically for their ghostly effects, and mount up like a pile of detritus, with little markers of possible futures and failed pasts- and surprisingly enough, it includes some things by John Foxx.

‘I turn towards Big Ben. But there is no time. The face across the street is blank.’

The tape is bookended by two Foxx/Harold Budd pieces, ‘Momentary Architecture’ and ‘Missing Person’, suggesting as much with their titles as by their limpid piano chords the shadows and displacements that echo throughout. The tape then moves through the icy tundra and mammalian murmurings of The Residents and into some reconstructed gamelan by 23 Skidoo, before making a detour into the grand guignol in Penderecki’s fairly horrifying ‘The Dream of Jacob’, as (if I’m not wrong) previously used to soundtrack Jack Nicholson’s ferocious mugging in The Shining. A This Heat track then continues the tape’s more quietly unnerving bent, which is then mechanised by the inhuman whispers of Tuxedomoon’s ‘A Mystic Death’ and Plastikman’s ‘Car Ten’. The first time I think I came across the Derridean neologism ‘Hauntology’ was in an Ian Penman review of Rhythm & Sound, so fittingly there’s some Berlin Dub here in the form of Pole’s ‘Huckenpack’, evoking in its cracks and folds that most palimpsetic of cities, as does the disconcolate clanging of Einsturzende Neubauten’s ‘U-Haft Muzak’. Its insistent metallic klang then carries on into (a surprisingly Ure-era) Ultravox’s ‘Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again)’, an elegaic piece of blank-eyed post-punk psychedelia. End of Side 1.

‘I think we should put some mountains here. Otherwise what are the characters going to fall off on?’

Cabaret Voltaire’s ‘Fuse Mountain’ implies in its vaguely bucolic refrain played on (what sounds distinctly like) a recorder a kind of depressive version of the music to Kes, the archetypal primary school instrument sounding eerie rather than cute. Well, still a little cute. The subsequent Coil instrumental features gongs and what sounds a little like someone submerging themselves in water until at the point of drowning and then gasping before plunging down again, as well as some remarkably bleak strafes of darkcore synth. Near the end of this is a spoken female sample of unknown provenance (I’m guessing Sapphire & Steel), the patrician tones of which continue into The Advisory Circle, where they are echoed and filtered as if to make uncertain their comforting effect. The cuckoos are then continued by the title track from Laurie Anderson’s ‘Big Science’, which gives an itemised list of outer-suburban non-places: car parks, malls and so forth, with a refrain of ‘every man for himself’ suggesting an unexpected depiction of consumerist anomie. Another short Tuxedomoon piece and then Belbury Poly’s quite lovely ‘The Willows’, which takes the industrial moorlands of the Cabaret Voltaire track and moves them to a sun-smeared South Downs. Then the chattering voices and tannoys end this excursion as the listener is confronted with the none-more urban tones of Phil Oakey, here with (proto-Human League) The Future. There’s a minatory BBC Radiophonic Workshop track, here sounding a great deal like the minature council estate electronica of the Human League’s Dignity of Labour EP- while curiously the CV piece it mixes into sounds exactly like the Radiophonic Workshop (supporting the idea that in Sheffield Delia Derbyshire was always more important than The Beatles)- the concrete walkways are than traversed by Robert Rental and Thomas Leer, until interrupted by an atypically optimistic Ariel Pink track, its indistinct, smudged surfaces strikingly unlike the grey geometries that precede it. It suggests Joe Meek in 1962, or Bowie in 1976, or some unnamed AM soft rock masterpiece, while not exactly evoking any of them, talking of incessant waitings and longings with no interest in release. And then there’s another Foxx/Budd piece, and a minute or two of hiss.


Side 1
John Foxx & Harold Budd- Momentary Architecture
The Residents- The Walrus Hunt
23 Skidoo- G-2 Contemplation
Penderecki- The Dream of Jacob
This Heat- Diet of Worms
Tuxedomoon- A Mystic Death
Plastikman- Car Ten
Pole- Huckenpack
Einsturzende Neubauten- U-Haft Muzak
Ultravox- Your Name (Has Slipped my Mind Again)

Side 2
Cabaret Voltaire- Fuse Mountain
Coil- Enochian Calling
The Advisory Circle- And The Cuckoo Comes
Laurie Anderson- Big Science
Tuxedomoon- A Drowning
Belbury Poly- The Willows
The Future- Blank Clocks
BBC Radiophonic Workshop- The Master
Cabaret Voltaire- Sad Synth
Robert Rental & Thomas Leer- Day Breaks, Night Heals
Ariel Pink- For Kate I Wait
John Foxx & Harold Budd- Missing Person

1 comment:

mark k-punk said...

Sapphire and Steel... funny that... because that Advisory Circle reminded me so much of S and S, particularly the first Adventure, which heavily features nursery rhymes...i thought abt sampling it for the tape but never got round to it... actually the vocals on the Coil track are Judi Dench reading Shakespeare's Sonnet XC...