Friday, 4 October 2019

Abstract Vectoral Landscapes

Deep dreaming landscapes abstracted through song vectors. Animal, vegetable, and mineral. Above, on, and below the ground. In the past, present, and future. All at once in and out of place.

When Andy Wood from TQ zine tweeted a call asking whether anyone would be interested in releasing a CD/download on TQN-aut, I responded almost immediately. I had been an avid reader of the zine from the first issue, and had recorded a track for the Tone Quanta compilation album, so the idea was instantly appealing. At that time I was about to continue work on the larger project of which Bastard Island is the first manifestation, but this would entail embarking on a fairly lengthy reading, writing, recording process. As I knew that this was going to take a long time to come to any kind of fruition, I decided to postpone and work on something that could be quickly realised for TQN-aut and began to try out a few ideas. 

I started by constructing fairly rhythmic sequences in Ableton Live, with which I would then improvise along to with guitar and voice, record live to hard drive, build further layers of voice, guitar and drone tracks, until things started to take some kind of shape. Many of these tracks wouldn’t make it to the final mix, which means that there are orphaned vocal melodies, improvised lyrics, and guitar lines buried somewhere on the hard drive, and while they have been rejected, they still played a crucial role in forming the shape of the songs.

When it came to the point of working on lyrics, I returned to some notes I’d been making around imaginative figurations of landscape, following a trip that I had made to Australia earlier in the year. These responded to time spent in Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, and my encounters with what is, in spite of the injustices of colonialism that both haunt the place historically and continue to be enacted, a profoundly present indigenous culture. More than many other places in Australia this place is managed partly in accordance with the traditional owners’ practices, and the presence of Aboriginal culture, both in contemporary forms and dating back hundreds of thousands of years, the latter particularly in the form of rock art, is everywhere evident; here the local Aboriginal communities maintain a strong connection to their country. So I was interested to try to evoke and meditate around some of the philosophical principles of that, influenced by and working through conceptual notions of the human as being as much an integral part of the landscape, part of the place, as any other flora or fauna, coming out of it, going back into it, in particular with the songs Grounded and Abstracted Vectoral Landscape. This was also worked through in the cover image, which came out of experimenting with applying ‘deep dream’ image processing to photographs taken in Kakadu, which seemed to me to suggest that every form in the landscape becomes mutable, animal forms emerge from flora, vegetation acquires animal or mineral properties, and so on. It is as though the entire landscape is under the influence of a powerful hallucinogenic which utterly reconfigures it as an assemblage, not simply as an image of a place, but also in how every part of that place might see every part of itself, become a vector for itself. Perhaps as a result the song recordings start to get a little psychedelic, maybe also reflecting the spatio-temporal dislocation of jet lag.

Sickness Country takes a more measured minimal musical approach, consisting entirely of guitar loops and voice. The title is the term used by the indigenous locals for the land that was mined for uranium, it is not only the effect of uranium poisoning on the human population that is described, it is also that the very country itself suffers illness. A great injustice is being done to country that is mined for such a toxic substance for profit.

The album starts on a long-haul airplane flight as Suspension speculates about where one might be in temporal and spatial relationship with the ground, while Polylingual is something of an Arthur Russell inspired jam with layered voices formed from pre-lingual utterances.

The album was made over two months, June and July 2019, from the first recording to the final mastering.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Sickness Country

Recorded at Strange Umbrellas, Café Oto, 18 August 2019. A live version of a song from the album 'Abstract Vectoral Landscapes', forthcoming on TQN-aut.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019


Recorded at Strange Umbrellas, Café Oto, 18 August 2019. A live version of a song from the album 'Abstract Vectoral Landscapes', forthcoming on TQN-aut.