Morning all y’alls!
One of the interesting things about summertime for me now I’m at uni is that I get this weird feeling of space. most of my semester time is mostly undertaken in a default setting of mild chaos and stress. It’s a constant conveyor belt of lectures, essay readings and writings and spending most of the time leaning across to my classmates and saying “um… what did he just say again?” All in all a constant stream of low-level anxiety.
But now that summer is here and the classes finished last month, it’s like I’ve been unshackled and unhooded, the door to my cell has been opened and I’ve been pushed out into the glaring sun, with a deep voice going “now fuck off till September” before the door closes behind me. As i blink and rub my eyes and stretch me legs, I simple ask myself, “What now?”
Of course I now have other worries and anxieties to think about – finding and getting work, getting enough hours, paying the bills (or which there are many). It’s the first time in a many year when my working life has been filled with a precariousness where I constantly wonder if I can afford to pay my way on a lot of things.
But this Summer is also the first in a while since I’ve been able to think. To think about a lot of things, and allow my mind to drift and wander. not so much as a daydream, but simply taking the time to ponder and read whatever I have that comes to hand. IT’s also the first time in a while when I’m starting to think a little differently about the music I’m hearing on my social feed and what I receive from people, as well as it’s place zones of experience and chaotic thought processing.
One such record I received recently was Asterism, the latest release from ISOBEL CCIRCLE~, the continuing collaborative project between Arpil Larsson and Matt Bower. Between the two of them they’ve been producing a fairly hefty body of musical works – April has been releasing under her own name for a while now (She’s also the proud owner of Dorian, the most beautiful wide-eyed cat in the world (I want to make a noise rock band named Dorian Flump), While Matt has been particularly busy, releasing numerous albums and collabs as WIZARDS TELL LIES and THE REVENANT SEA. They both specialise in that interstitial mode of drone/ambient/noise creation, with Matt taking things to a different route via kosmiche and krautrock inflected jams. But the two together make some incredibly stark, brooding soundscapes. I was first made aware of Isobel Ccircle when they released fluttercage on Jonny Mugwump’s Exotik Pylon label a couple of years back. since then they’ve fone on to make a few more releases for the likes of Auditory Field Theory label and Matt’s own Chapelyard Records.
Now they have Asterism out on Soft Bodies Records. What I rather enjoy when listening to Isobel Ccircle’s music is the rather inhuman nature of it all, encompassing unnatural hauntings and sounds that provoke strange feelings of a decidedly Lovecraftian otherness. The fact that their soundcloud page starts off with the phrase “Transmissions From Elsewhere” only emphasizes this point. But isn’t that the whole point of ambient music in the first place? It’s attempting to make music of a certain locale that articulates the atmosphere and worldview of the world from the point of view of the locale itself. Humans are meant to be secondary (at best) participants/agents in these pieces.
And that world-in-itself feeling comes across nicely in Asterism. The blurb states that “These audio files appear to contain subsonic elements that alter the chemical compositions and geological structures of the surrounding area.” The sounds that they detect, warp and treat with human hands come across as a mix of inhuman drones and noises that drift and mush together. the heavy rumble of the world-in-itself makes its presence several times during the record, like a geological mother calling for its children. The haunting aspect in Asterism comes from the human elements that continually threaten to break the dimensional barrier and infect the world-in-itself with its filth and malfeasance. A slight waft of piano here, a distant voice there. This is a world where rocks and crystals have feelings and emotions and able to talk and communicate with each other, but not on any level that the human sphere would understand. it is a soundworld that’s inexplicable yet strangely familiar; probably because we live just of each other perceptions.
But have a listen for yourselves. I’m off out to have some lunch!