Jim O’Rourke / Shutting Down Here / 2020

Jim O’Rourke / Shutting Down Here

The sound was fast, loud and shrill. What more could you want from a basement performance of “Living after Midnight” by four teenage boys from Detroit? Judas Priest‘s metal masterpiece is custom-made for this type of rudimentary but enthusiastic playing. And that sound certainly felt good at the time. Even defiant and rebellious. I remenber telling the guys that they sounded “fuckin’ amazing” and so they did. The atmosphere that night was close and thick with the celebration of youth and friendship.

Writer and philosopher, Christopher Hedges tells us that it is the role of art/music in the human experience to be transcendental. “It’s about dealing with what we call the non-rational forces in human life, those forces that are absolutely essential to being whole as a human being but not quantifiable“. The music reminding us “who we are, why we’re struggling and what life is about“. And let’s be clear, the “struggling” that Hedges is referring to is the rebellion of a faithful resistance. It’s the voices of the truly oppressed. Those voices that have not been silenced despite decades of manipulation, economic sanctions, and, mostly, violence. In it’s finest form, art is the language of humanity deprived of hope but without surrendering their humanity. Music is the language of a higher spritual order that will never succumb to tyranny. The “not quantifiable” factor is the the essence of this resistant and rebellious soul. And the nobility of continuing that resistance when all hope is gone and a people are truly alone.

That rebellious spirt is at the heart of Jim O’Rourke‘s compositional-album, Shutting Down Here. A fully realized revoluntionary nobility and a subversive act. Purposely rejecting the rather limited dialogue provide by the western traditions of melody, tone and harmony. For this reason, some will struggle to reach beyond their assumptions regarding music or beauty or attraction. But we must move beyond this type of thinking. To qoute Rene Guenon‘s Crisis of the Modern World, “So long as western people imagine that there is only one “civilization”…no mutal understanding is possible”.

If ever there was music that told a complex story of our past, present and future, Shutting Down Here reflects all that we struggle to subvert. Firstly, let’s understand that this isn’t a linear story. There are no trite tales of witchy “Dreams” or millionaires pleading for us to “take it easy“. O’Rourke creates an abstract collage of sounds, colors and textures from which we see our own broken yet rebellious existence. Those lost feeling of suppressed beauty and desires unfilled resurface as we carry them within. And there is the deep admission that we have not always acted bravely within those moments.

Shutting Down Here is a ghostly trip through these forgotten passageways. A late night visit from a spirt whose intentions are never really clear. The sound of piano, violin and trumpet circling around an aural enviroment that feels both strange and oddly familiar. As if a photo-negatives of the past and future were placed before us in random order. And we must choose carefully and be true to ourselves as we walk through these struggles. Each section of this amazing record can be inescapabliy personal with a devilish melancholia lingering underneath. Rarely does music or art identify so personally on this level. This is our singular journey and the rules have not been written for us. We can bid farwell without being destroyed. And the depth of all we have seen together is still there in that place. Our place and only ours.

It is worth noting that the creation of Shutting Down Here was part of a series of releases called the “Portraits of GRM” with a 30 year gap-in-time between O’Rourke’s first visit to the GRM Studios (which was called the Groupe de Recherche de Misique Concrete until 1958) and the follow-up recording. Amazingly, the composition and recording is seamless. The two periods melting together by the instrumental playing of Eivind Lonning on Trumpet, Eiko Ishibashi on piano and Atsuko Hatano on violin. The avant-acoustic playing of the musicans is liquefied together with the experimental use of silence, found-enviroment recordings and smooth electronic texturing. The harmony and chaos of sound is a true discovery that takes us on a journey through our own struggling, rebellious spirit.

Go now. You have some listening to do.

Zoivet*france / Shouting at the ground / 1990

Zoviet*france / Shouting at the Ground / 1997

Sample Revenue of Fire

“let us say it again, all art is in its origin essentially symbolical and ritual, and only through a late degeneration, indeed a very recent degeneration, has it lost its sacred character so as to become at last the purely profane ‘recreation’ to which it has been reduced among our contemporaries”

The dark drone of Zoviet*france is best soken about in a whisper. A musical collective that takes their status as obscure extremely serious. Challenging our concepts of sound, noise and music in the most fundamental ways. That is, at the core and deep. Revealing themselves only under the duress of repetitious, tribal beats.

Zoviet*france set the standard for this sound beginning in 1982 with the cassette tape release of the first two recordings, Hessian and Garista. Creating extremely dark indistrial-ambient music that is both highly complex and child-like in it’s spirit of exploration. Similar to the spirt of creativity we all had as children. Creating abstract noise that developed our adult voice. And as we more conventional interms of communication, some would mistakenly say “sophisticated”, we left behind the importance of sound and noise discovery. We not only forgot the pleasure of that expression but limited ourselves with the self-imposed rule of the modern-age; conformity.

On Shouting at the Ground, the listeneris challenged to embrace a radical, expansive lexicon. A language of sound that embraces the more primitive and outre’ aspects of the avant-garde movement. The experiments function in an atmosphere that is tense, dark and, often, disturbing one moment and pleasantly erotic only a moment later. Using electronics, tribal-drone and swiping cinematic soundscapes to create an organic and living environment.

Just this warning before you get started in exploring this rich and highly rewarding catalog; the earthly drones found within this album can be genuinely unsettling and addictive. Taking us back to a time before the compromises of modern civilization and it’s lukewarm value system. A voilitile mix of the primative and spiritual can awaken something with all of us. Forcing us to confront whatever lays beneath the thin vanier of superficiality we mask ourselves within. The result will leave full and wanting more.

Comments? Sciavatt@yahoo.com

What is the Vinyl Dreamscape?

A shamanic vision of the future where the destination is a dytopian dream zone?   
The Vinyl Dreamscape seeks to be a refuge from the algorithms, digital control and the predator-class. A place where we can think, discover and communicate. 

Shawn Ciavattone / Writer & Publisher / sciavatt@yahoo.com

On Living

Living is no laughing matter: 
you must live with great seriousness 
like a squirrel, for example– 
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living, 
I mean living must be your whole occupation. 
Living is no laughing matter: 
you must take it seriously, 
so much so and to such a degree 
that, for example, your hands tied behind your back, 
your back to the wall, 
or else in a laboratory 
in your white coat and safety glasses, 
you can die for people– 
even for people whose faces you’ve never seen, 
even though you know living 
is the most real, the most beautiful thing. 
I mean, you must take living so seriously 
that even at seventy, for example, you’ll plant olive trees– 
and not for your children, either, 
but because although you fear death you don’t believe it, 
because living, I mean, weighs heavier. 

Let’s say you’re seriously ill, need surgery– 
which is to say we might not get 
from the white table. 
Even though it’s impossible not to feel sad 
about going a little too soon, 
we’ll still laugh at the jokes being told, 
we’ll look out the window to see it’s raining, 
or still wait anxiously 
for the latest newscast … 
Let’s say we’re at the front– 
for something worth fighting for, say. 
There, in the first offensive, on that very day,
we might fall on our face, dead. 
We’ll know this with a curious anger, 
but we’ll still worry ourselves to death 
about the outcome of the war, which could last years. 
Let’s say we’re in prison 
and close to fifty, 
and we have eighteen more years, say, 
before the iron doors will open. 
We’ll still live with the outside, 
with its people and animals, struggle and wind– 
I mean with the outside beyond the walls. 
I mean, however and wherever we are, 
we must live as if we will never die. 

This earth will grow cold, 
a star among stars 
and one of the smallest, 
a gilded mote on blue velvet– 
I mean this, our great earth. 
This earth will grow cold one day, 
not like a block of ice 
or a dead cloud even 
but like an empty walnut it will roll along 
in pitch-black space … 
You must grieve for this right now 
–you have to feel this sorrow now– 
for the world must be loved this much 
if you’re going to say “I lived” … 

Nazim Hikmet