Thursday, February 11, 2010

Betrayed in the Octagon,
My Heart Wanted to Die

This is the first real post in a series going through the component albums of recent 2009 multi-CD collections by Oneohtrix Point Never (Rifts, synth) and Leyland Kirby (Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was, ambient). Song name links are to non-embedded video clips.

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Betrayed in the Octagon
Oneohtrix Point Never - Betrayed In The Octagon (2007 cassette, 2009)

For this one, I'm going through the songs in the order of the 2xCD comp. But I'm including the order (Side A/B, track#) from the original cassette release, which is slightly different and makes less sense to me. Updated tracking works better, with one exception. It's pretty much all synthesizer, all the time. But even this section explores a lot of moods and approaches.

A2-3 "Behind The Bank," "Eyeballs"
Mellower, interwoven, coalescing. These two ease you into the experience, but avoid the amorphous sprawl of the 'side' ending two-part megalith of ambient drift.

A4 "Betrayed In The Octagon"
Space-pace-ace-ce... Title track for a reason, it floats and arcs cosmonautically. Good soundtrack for old-school Russian sci-fi, or so it would seem.

A1 "Woe Is The Transgression I"
The original lead track, and it's all stretching out formless, low-key ambient style. I kind of tend to drift away during this one, which tells me it's working. Fits much better as a middle section, especially with the second part coming up later (at the end of this section of the disc).

B2 "Parallel Minds"
Pulses like the mellower flavors of Jonas Reinhardt. Arpeggios bubble over one another, but not rudely. More of a relaxing clamor.

B3 "Laser To Laser" [linked]
Stepped up a bit, but still with a slight meander. More full-bodied, tastes good. YouTube commenters reference "Broads of Canada." They probably mean Boards, but who am I to say?

B1 "Woe Is The Transgression II"
The epic unfolds and ends, much as it began. Spacey and refracted. And even longer: 11 minutes to Part 1's nine.

((B4 "Weird Times Docking This Orb"))
This track is completely left off of Rifts. Not sure if it was for length (only 5 minutes), but there's plenty of non-album tracks appended. Maybe just because the two-parter wrapped it up better. Maybe it sucks. I'd like to hear a tune with that name, though. Intriguing...

When We Parted, My Heart Wanted to Die
Leyland Kirby - When We Parted, My Heart Wanted To Die (2009)

I've covered some of the work by James Leyland Kirby, as The Caretaker (#1, Ambient 2005). With the last (maybe ever) Caretaker album, Persistent Repetition of Phrases (2008), Kirby moved towards a new approach. Still dream-like, there was less of the drowned-down ballroom ghosts, and more soft piano loop spirits. These were his first releases under the Leyland Kirby tag, and I think the 100-year-old ballroom 78s are completely gone.

A1 "When We Parted, My Heart Wanted To Die (Friedrichshain Memory)" [YouTube edit]
I guess the video is for the "radio cut." Or Mtv... The full version comprises 15 minutes of meandering pianoscape, with synthesizer accents. As with everything here, subtlety is paramount. Long bouts of repetition, with stops and starts, and very slight variations and very gradual transitions. Bears close and repeated listening, but it is kind of stand-out track.

B1 "The Sound Of Music Vanishing"
Ghost train rumbles through abandoned tunnels, you are the only passenger. Next stop: 11 minutes. The ectoplasm hangs thick in the air, the rails are hollow glass tubes containing pure ether. It might be nice to lie down.

B2 "The Beauty Of The Impending Tragedy Of My Existence"
Drifting synthscape from a subterranean world underneath the metal-shearing factory at shift-change.

C1 "And As I Sat Beside You I Felt The Great Sadness That Day"
The fullness of confusion, the push-and-pullness of emotion. Swells only to be chopped, and again. Distortion flutters across the surface, decay erodes the edges of sound. Eventually, their significance seems more important than the actual music. Hints of the old Caretaker ballroom maneuvers towards the ending.

C2 "Tonight Is The Last Night Of The World"
Melancholy ambient slow-jam. But maybe that doesn't explain much in these parts. But tell me I'm wrong!

D1 "To The Place Between The Twilight And The Dawn"
20 minutes of reverbed piano exploration. Much more sub-bass and subtle synth washes than immediately apparent, including one middle section where the piano temporarily dies out. Coming at the end of the album, it's a bit much to maintain focus.

But so far, it seems the whole project (6xLP/3xCD) might be an exercise in balancing, or alternating, focus and release. After 3 vinyl sides of medium-length (long), quiet tunes with some variety - a side-length (longer), even quieter tune with less variation... would appear designed to wear down your conscious thought by over-engagement, then to provide an insurmountable hurdle to your attention. If so, it works.

When We Parted (back)

Kirby's blog mentioned a free Flingco Sound System label compilation dowload (.mp3 or .wav format), so click here for more info/links. [Direct link to d/l comp!] Sounds like a newish label run by a former Kranky Records honcho. Nice .pdf with almost Tarot-like cards for each artist/song, looks interesting! Title's They Don’t Know Unless You Tell Them (2010). Exclusive Leyland Kirby track is the 13-minute "Black Holes Are Not Completely Black." Label site streams songs from their roster of acts.

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Betrayed cassette

1 comment:

Bruce said...

Appreciate that you mentioned "They Don't Know..." Direct link to the comp: