Somehow I wound up on the radar of some leading ambient and experimental music labels and I’m not sure what to do about that. You feel at some point that you have to comment, you are not being sent this stuff out of charity but to offer up a marketable response that could be used in sales blurbs and perhaps even memorialized in an artist’s bio and saying “Hey that’s some deep shit right there” doesn’t satisfy anyone.
I hold to the idea that electronic music is essentially utilitarian – and should be proud that it has a built-in purpose. Few works of art are created intentionally, with a meaning and purposeful existence already set out for them. It’s true of very few people and things, when you think about it, and it’s not shameful or something to run away from.
So according to iTunes, I’ve listened to Brian Eno’s Thursday Afternoon (61 Minute Version) 124 times and I might be the only person alive that prefers Dan Hartman‘s New Green/Clear Blue more than Instant Replay. I might have more trippy shit minted in San Francisco circa 1993 than anyone who wasn’t there, and I love most of it in a way that feels a little shameful sometimes. These are my bona fides. But I just can’t listen to another fucking 75 minute album that sounds like a moment-by-moment reproduction of a dead rat being sucked up the hose of a vacuum cleaner, accompanied by “profound texts” and artwork that boasts of how long and how many strokes it took to complete (this is from a real and recent example). What’s the point of this information? Does it improve the experience of the music? We’re all sitting in the dark these days, in the cone of solitude created by earbuds and headphones, and the music touches us or it doesn’t, we’re teased, lulled or provoked or we’re not, we flip over our phone and ask what the hell is that or how do I make it stop.
Fears To Be Slain is a record that made me wonder just what the hell is that. The EP dropped on Marshall Applewhite’s Junted, and I had no idea where it came from. I’d just deleted four industrial ambient albums that didn’t do a thing for me and stumbled across “AmexPaypalVenmo,” a Dretraxx track named after the holy trinity of gig economy goddesses of plenty. It starts out with ominous atmospherics and FX punched up by really stomping techno. This is the sort of thing I could add to that collection of trippy shit minted in San Francisco circa 1993 and few people would notice it didn’t belong at some proximity to my Freaky Chakra and Tranquility Bass records. Amphibian sounds and DX7-style icy synth waves are the palette for the beatless “N. Manitou Island (Chorus of Frogs and Ancestors).” And then we’re back in the Bay Area dialing up BBS services to download MS-DOS porno games on “The End,” which sounds like a drum circle got their qi spiked, brought in some hi-hats and played tolerable beats for once.
I don’t know what I’m listening to – ambient frog breakbeat? hypno-Egyptian drum’n’bass? Beats me, but this music amazes more than it stupefies. But it does stupefy. That is, I am cautiously optimistic, the point, or at least part of it.
Dretraxx: Fears To Be Slain / Junted
1. Dretraxx: AmexPaypalVenmo (06:24)
2. Dretraxx: N. Manitou Island (Chorus of Frogs and Ancestors) (05:53)
3. Dretraxx: The End (04:40)