An instaneous response and review of TELEPLASMISTE’S new album
FREQUENCY IS THE NEW ECSTACY
(HOUSE OF MYTHOLOGY, 2017)
The ecstatic returns from a host of lost forces; the past, stars and stories and the majesties of the sky. In this new release we glimpse a sense of renewal, in which the darkness of the day is re-ordered by a fresh understanding of light.
Released on April 7th, by Teleplasmiste, the duo of Mark O. Pilkington of Strange Attractor Press and Urthona and Michael J. York of Coil and the equally crucial The Stargazer’s Assistant, Frequency is the new Ecstasy showcases as House of Mythology’s Press release states, ‘the shared journey through nature and electricity, via a combination of vintage and contemporary synthesisers and acoustic pipes, creating a sound that furthers the continuum of minimalistic and Kosmiche musics..’
Listening to the sound file ahead of physical release date has been a privilege that I would like to share with you in as impressionistic a way a possible. What follows is my response to the six compositions and explorations that make up the CD and download versions of the album (there are five on the vinyl), written as I listened, felt and thought about them. My soul was stirred and has led to a number of compound terms, through which I try to capture the effect this beautiful and challenging music had and continues to have on me. It was as revelatory an experience as it was an enjoyable one and it literally coloured my day, moving from one sense of what is possible to another.
Reality and the inherent and supposed satisfactions that define and occur to us are all based on an agreed level, or frequency of perception. What if, by re-tuning there were other ways to be free?
From the earth splitting drone to the reach for transcendence Teleplasmiste’s new release squeezes hard on the heart. That the soul is invoked as you listen to this emergence is testament to the power that has been considered, composed and released. Here is electronic music made to tectonically shift you. As the ground beneath is re-ordered you are constantly changed in your place.
Opening track, A Gift of Unknown Things hammers into your listening, teaching you how to experience this music and perhaps fuse with it. As the searing drone crests the steel like striking continues as synthetic pulses carry you towards calm. If blood were flame, coursing through the vein, making dragons, this piece would soundtrack that evolution, that air. The gift is the art of the drone, flexing its sound tail to sting you, and by that sting to inform you with a succulent strength that takes hold.
Gravity is the enemy clears the stage with a bucolicism that is quickly shattered as what sounds like an ancient pipe and flute fushion is battered by electric drum burst and flare. The effect is of the air blackening and then quickly transforming, moving in fact through all colours as the assault rages on. But this is an attack that’s controlled by exceptional forces, as the mix of woods, winds and (what sound like) muezzin’s signal appropriate calls for the day. The music twists through the air as I write, an LSD type aural-vision, in which rather than seeing, I am listening into new worlds. Here is where the strange creatures move, Thomas Newton like, sex clouds sperming as around me now is a burning of the reality I believed. An eerie saxophone wails as the ghost of Albert Ayler now shatters, before the clouds shimmer, dissolving away to cool foam. A sampled voice then intones a prayer to this movement; ‘music is becoming light..’ And I see it, as a second primal force makes its claim.
Astodaan rides the drone that births pulsation, with insistence over rhythm affecting another eloquent state. A sound storm arrives, like mutating birds grown together, a tapestry of dark wings synthesising as the tone orchestra soars. The effect, listening is of an entirely new weather, stalking the land with dark colours as if maturing fresh buds and new leaves. Rain falls in swords, piercing the earth as clouds bristle, while below blackened grasses are needling the sound of the wind. Great swoops of sound that make the title an action or a state of place or of being that are only arrived at after this profound sense of change. There is an alien air as well as of something forgotten, along with a far distant future in which numerous ruined and featureless lands seek re-growth.
In this way these sounds and these compositions become political warnings joining the expressive arts with the known. Can a pop song do this? Perhaps if the lyric’s explicit. But it seems to me that experimental or Avant-Garde composition can literally unearth language from the places beyond standard voice. One senses the need for some reformation as one is stunned by the power that lurks close to dischord. And yet there is harmony here, even if at first, it seems ugly, as if the disfigurement is related to all that we find beautiful. I am being moved as I write towards joining an almost celestial choir, where the animal angels are screaming an alien song to strange gods. I know at once there is wrong and that the silvered clouds have a sharpness. This music has taught me we have to move fast and dig deep.
Mind at Large pulses in, with an attendant pitch which can frighten. In the stilled hall of mirrors, the reflections are now rippling. The sound-wasp leaves a trail across the glittering facades, fronts and faces, but it is a singular line of transgression that is coarsening everything. Ambient, electronic music does more than almost any other, as it has no standard form. It moves with us as we adapt, hearing it. Under these sheets of sound-ice there is life quickly forming as indeed the wasp image shimmers in repeating patterns beneath. A real buzz is heard and one begins as you listen. It is enchanting and immersive too. The sound stuns. I love music like this as it bridges the forms. It is painting. And yet also drama and there is something at play, going on. The mind is at large and expands as you listen. The possibilities are transgressive, causing the listener to react. And interact too. Here is a true conversation is which sound and image are shared as you listen and try to understand what’s been made. As the journey reaches end, there are high tones and a flourish as if the quest captured had been handed over for your developing perceptions to explore.
Fall of the Yak Man begins with a series of stumbling notes and tones, as if the protagonist were returning now through a landscape that is at once shaped and resistant to his very path through the snow. Bass notes warm the air as the sounds of the man form around us, as the near tune recomposes a dignified synthline grows. A man is a mix of constantly moving forces, from blood to emotion to the waters of eyes, taste and fear. An inescapable synth figure forms, before it is subdued by sound-weather, as the clouds of white move around him, stretching the air, blurring sight. An aural foreboding begins, summoning itself from this essence with repeats of synth patterns that suddenly change in the ear. The Yak man is invoked, not through fruit or flesh but through music; as generative sounding as Eno, and yet as celebratory as Neu! I am struck by the search as I type now and listen to these spells of renewal and these summonings of the soul. We become him as we listen to this spectacular sound-portrait, as much a compound perhaps as the phrases I have chosen to people this text. It is a beautiful piece as it moves through the patterns; a song version of Borges’ ‘The Other’ in which a dreaming man dreams a man.
Radioclast, the epic album closer, moves from pure silence into peaceful spells of rebirth. An emotional chord, cast by angelic echoes, powers the sound through the landscape, as if it were fronting it with a shield. We are slid through this sound as if it were those very angels who pushed us, keen to retrieve us from the drudgery of day, into faith. The drones shatter the frame in which they take place as I listen, whether on laptop or ear-piece, I am instantly place where they are.
Isn’t this the true point of any art in its essence? To, like the Pied Piper, steal us and for us, like those children, to never return or stay changed?
Rhapsodic synth calls spear on, adding both force and persuasion. Instrumental instruction from the radio frame, to the mind. An undeniable sense of summoning as it happens. A capturing of the ritual, whether in a field at dawn, in Crowley’s room, or Stonehenge. Over twenty minutes this piece provides its own manifesto. It is a sky itself and a climate. It is a way to be and to think. It is a trance state of sorts, unrelated to dance but a neighbour. The ecstasy of the title is gradually built. It consumes. It is a beautiful sound that lifts my day as I listen. When twelve minutes in, a dip happens I am wrenched through a hall in the sound. But then I am quickly transformed. I am remade. I am offered. And I understand something for which no word exists. I am held. We are the music we seek. That is why it speaks to us. Radioclast re-imagines the frequencies we’d all share.
That we do not makes this album essential. Play it to those you hate or to strangers in a proper attempt to find peace.
This album transforms. I bid you all to fall subject. There are Kings in ascendance and they are waiting for us to return.
David Erdos 20th February 2017