Monday, May 9, 2011

Nullsleep/Cuddlemagic split on Audio Ergo Sum Records

Alec from Cuddle Magic contacted me with their latest single, a split on Audio Ergo Sum Records with Nullsleep, AES looks looks to be a fairly new label in Brooklyn, I just missed an inaugural show from them a few weeks ago that included both of these bands, and they successfully funded a kickstarter project of which this single might be a part of that. I forgot to take a pic last night, one too many cocktails, hence the mockup single above, this one came in a plain paper sleeve, but the label was much nicer than mine.

The A-Side, "Dirty ROM Dance Mix" is from Nullsleep an 8-bit electronic artist (wow, I'm redundant) Jeremiah Johnson out of NYC who put together a dense what can only be described as a barrage of low res sampled beats and glitchy electronics over stomping low beats. He's also co-founded 8bitpeoples an artist collective with a love for all things early computers and video games, he also happens to be playing Saturday the 21st as part of the Blip Festival at Eyebeam.

I think the only reason I ended up caving in and buying a gameboy at some point was for that crazy camera and printer attachment, (and tetris) to blow up the images in a printmaking class, but it also had some kind of music composer program built in the camera cartridge that I used to mess with. It was so time consuming, but I was amazed at how much control you had from this ridiculous device over the sound. Then you could place the sounds in a timeline and add effects...I knew someone was probably making amazing music with this thing, someone with way more patience then me.
This single, and Nullsleep is one of those crazy conceptual projects I personally love... and Jeremiah's really taken this line of thought to it's endgame...there isn't a sound used here that came after probably 1990...some of the technology used to manipulate this stuff after the fact is probably current, so this combination of ancient bleeps gets even weirder when manipulated in ways they couldn't have been given that era's limitations.
I think sometimes about the early Moog sounds compared to the sounds that showed up in Atari and Nintendo's that was in a lot of ways such a step backwards...granted it's own important step in commercializing the tools, but still, they're so primitive. I guess that goes for any technology, you can't believe we could ever get to the iphone looking at a TRS-80, or Commodore 64. Yes I'm old. I walked barefoot to school.

I admire this kind of blinders-on approach to music, he's carved out such a niche of experimentation, I can't even objectively listen to this and place it into a category of music, let alone compare to another artist. It's art project madness that I'm so glad someone took to this extreme place. There's nothing like it....and on vinyl just is such an audio oxymoron...that he would take it this next step and get it on this format? Although if anything is going to reproduce these alien frequencies records will be the closest thing to the source.
There's so much going on here, it takes multiple listens to get a handle on deciphering the bassline and hearing melodies being deconstructed, plus it's got a Girl Talk feel of recognizing that particular resolution of synth from Tempest or Mario, you swear it's directly lifted...or this is some underground game mixed together, but then the pieces are scattered, broken up, stuttering over each other in that cut up, highly edited way, reminding me of Aphex Twin...a real commitment and hours of composition to put together four minutes on a side of a 7 inch. I wonder how much of this is produced live, out of the cheap electronics, and how much is's pretty staggering....and it sounds just as good at 45 rpm by the way.

Next up is Cuddlemagic's track, "Don't Forget", and it has a lot of those jagged electronics in common with Nullsleep combined with folk vocal harmonies and classical instrumentation appearing throughout. The electronics here are a little more camouflaged, more natural (?) sounding...although after just hearing the A-Side I guess anything is going to sound closer to a sound that exists in nature. The track opens with some of these kind of sounds, and vocals which can be described by the band name perfectly, they're Eq'd thing, lots of middle, no low end, and are joined by some lady harmonies...really another band spending endless amount of time putting these pieces together in a surprising way.
From the looks of their site, it's the work of a 10 person collective creating this minimal landscape. The thin sounding lyric stream of consciousness echoes the cut up gated electronics, like an unconscious fragment of memories over this classic groove Tortoise feel of melody. Remember when they did that album with Will Oldham? It's reminding me of that harsh mechanical sound mashed together with exotic instruments...a xylophone or a lonesome trumpet. A folk classical future sound. It's even reminding me of The Postal Service at that a terrible comparison? Is that album completely dated and overplayed?
They combine this epic composition consisting of various movements with that ultra electronic edge, also a little like Tunng, the juxtaposition of that classic smooth sound and a jarring unnatural click.
The lyric 'Dont forget to fuck / up what you have" really sticks with me and I'm glad is committed to vinyl. A nice pause in between there for effect.

They will be playing tomorrow night at The Sycamore, out there in Prospect Park South. Two insanely different ends of the spectrum bands I never heard of playing within a week of each other...Damn you NY I will never keep up!

Couldn't find a direct paypal button listed on either of their sites, so I suggest contacting Cuddlemagic directly at cuddlemagic at gmail for a copy of this, or maybe Nullsleep will have copies at Eyebeam, or try the label direct.

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