Music is finding new ways to simulate dream states, the latest being the twilight zone sonic reveries of Richard James, aka Aphex Twin. Words: Rob Young.
A Writer’s dream I am descending upon a distressed landscape of mud and dung. It is a muddied and muffled dream – shapes pushing up through the sodden, shapeless turf; cows’ heads, body parts, boxy shapes, sludge and slush, all brown-coloured, embedded in a slurry of shit and mud, rain bucketing down overhead; no visible sky. Very close-up vision, as if I too am being drawn down into the muck. The feeling is not desolate, but promises impending revelation.
I dreamed the above dream nearly a year ago, after a week of solid listening to David Toop & Max Eastley’s CD Buried Dreams. Being the first dream I could recall for months, it seemed more than usually significant. With hindsight, it appears to bear some relation to the particular impressionability of the best current music; both foreign and recognisable forms visibly moulding into its fabric. In the early days of recording, taped music consisted of what went on on one occasion in the single room of the studio; now a few square feet can contain all the equipment that’s needed to turn the inside of your head into a theatre of complex sonics.
This has much to do with the instruments that now let us generate music from almost any material source (footsteps, plimsolls, wind, TV, a day in the country, light). When music is built from sampled fragments of other musics, and noises bearing no relation to recognisable physical acts, recording’s previous relationship to the solid presences of notes and melodies, strings and skins, crumbles. The microphone, stylus, wireless, scanner, aerial, portable DAT: these too have become instruments, nets in the trawl. The process of making today’s electronic music mirrors the parallel lives of waking and dreaming: the conscious activity of researching and gathering sounds – the learning part – followed by the retreat into the studio to manufacture the track – the stitching together of fantasy.
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