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Musik und Tanz, Wahrheit und Prophezeiung

It’s the end of July, and with summer solstice, new music introduces sense and perspective into the shoddy status quo. Darkside’s double LP is titled Spiral, and it offers an adequate kind of hermeneutic concentration emerging from one of the more sensible alternative universes. It is one of Darkside’s making: thick, slow and sludgy, swaying at its own pace, like foliage by some green lagoon. It is filled with wonder, and its deliberate pace belies the rapid sucession of ideas, diversity and freedom it offers.

This universe, I would like to inhabit. I have been trying to make Spiral drench and overwhelm me completely. I listen to it on all channels and many devices, analogue and digital, hi-fi and lo-fi. I listen to it as the sun paints graphic shapes across my linoleum desktop, I listen to it from the nighttime vantage point of a red London bus. I listen to it as atlantic waves crash into volcanic rock. I listen to it writing code, and I listen to it making my way home in the nights of Westberlin.

Simply said, this is eternal pop music, pop from a different continuum of pop, a different timeline: Music that seems familiar, but is unheard. Both the record as a whole and its nine individual tracks vibe restrained and easy at once, as if enormous energy was contained and held by an intricate weave of arcane forces.

Consider Liberty Bell, the LP’s apparent hit: It fades in fully formed, like a mysteriously upbeat freight train. Upon closer inspection, it evaporates into delicate weightlessness. All this seems to emerge from a single riff progression? There is one verse and one hook before everything disperses into the bridge, and further into nothing? Free and easy and gone, like a moment’s sun ray you noticed and enjoyed.

Consider Lawmaker, which feels like a spiritual from a different 1974. Like a radio reportage, the track takes us towards its moment of revelation. It arrives, and we stare into an imagined sun – but the feeling of elation is real. We are mere observers to the charlatan’s ploy, yet we find ourselves under his spell. It lets us believe that, for a brief moment, the summer could be real.

Compared to Darside’s first record1, the increased presence of David Harrinton’s steely guitar is a welcome source of organic diffusion and complexity, a mycelium growing in the rich soil of the Darkside groove. It is also responsible for the record’s most beautiful, life-giving moment: Only Young, a ballad, a veritable crooner hymn in full recognition of the fact that, sometimes, it’s all-important to say the words in the right way. Here is a triumph of presence and depth, green-eyed Soul Music, if such a thing exists in any imaginable allegorical universe.

Apollo says return to the sun
Apologies you’re on your own

  1. Psychic ist ein Album voller programmierter Grooves, so langsam und nachdrücklich als bewege sich Leviathan in karibischem Wasser um die eigene Achse – seven years between 2014 and 2021 somehow is the same span of time as between 1974 and 1981, which seems irresponsible. ↩︎

„Who are the men?“ they ask, hawkishly.

„It’s okay – they’re reliable,“ Furiosa assures them. What a wonderful choice for a word: reliable. No finer point of praise under these circunstances and many others. I am a fan of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Bitch Planet comic book series, and have been happy and inspired to see many female fans of that series getting that story’s symbol for „non-compliant“ – a woman who does not agreeably fit the requirements of docility and femininity ascribed to her by the patriarchy – tatooed on their arms. In like kind, I hope to live long and well enough to deserve getting „reliable“ tatooed on mine.

— Matt Brown, All we have are our Bodies on Fury Road, 29

The Liminal Pool

Viewed from the coast, the atlantic ocean is a singularity. It has no end and no dimension.

Alvaro Siza carved a pool into the void – human ambition inserted into the unending sea. Ultimately, Piscina das Marés is a vantage point: A place to observe, and a place to dip into a singularity on a hot day.

The basins and all infrastructure are built using concrete that has been made from rocks of the coast, ground down to silicate sand. The structure may be the only one on the planet that is literally spliced into itself.

Only part of the main pool is built. Rather, it is grafted onto a natural fundament. Its built components remain gestures that add edges and plinths to rocks and sand. Their expression is structural, visual appeal emerging from precise emptiness. As structural interventions, they appear as sculpture without gestalt. They are closer to land art than architecture.

As all swimming pools, Piscinas das Marés is fundamentally about the body, and about the beach as environment for the relationship of bodies. A stage for the bared human form, observed between rocks, from platforms and planes. The body is put to use, to measure the basin, to define its blurry dimensions by traversing it, to draw dotted lines between the realm of modernity and the vast entropy that expands at its edge.

Swimming is measuring: by using the pool, by crossing the water and by walking its perimeter, measurements are taken unconsciously. Using Piscinas das Marés defines its blurry dimensions, draws dotted lines between the realm of anthropocentric modernity and the silent entropy beginning at its edges.

The basin’s water is clear and salty – sourced from the atlantic ocean, filtered and cleaned. It is an odd sensation to swim in this type of water – an unnaturally clear simulacrum of sea water contained in a basin within itself. It feels oddly artificial, a simulated liquid lapping the granite rocks that form part of the main pool. Every dive, its saltiness is a new surprise. This water brings to mind memories of the pure, clean and deadly desert, rather of other oceans.

The atlantic ocean was still during my most recent visit. Piscinas das Marés by Alvaro Siza is, of course, the most beautiful swimming pool ever built.

Memory Machine

Der Stromkasten, auf dem ich saß, steht an der selben Stelle. Er war noch unbemalt, zu dieser Zeit, ein gelbgraues Objekt, einen Meter zurückversetzt vom Weg, zwischen den Bäumen am Rand der großen Straße. Die asphaltierten Fahrradwege gab es noch nicht, und die Spuren auf der Kreuzung waren unmarkiert. Es war ein warmer Tag, alle Arbeit war getan und es gab nichts als auf dich zu warten. Ich blickte den gepflasterten Weg hinab und in die Sonne, ich faltete mein Sakko neben mir. Vermutlich hörte ich etwas Untriviales ohne Gewicht auf Dial oder einen der Tracks von der Angst and the Money, die wahr waren, zu dieser Zeit.

Ich wusste immer, aus welcher Richtung du kommen würdest. Ich wusste wie du aufblicken würdest zu mir und meinem Kasten, wie du da stehen und was du tragen würdest. Du würdest einen deiner Sätze sagen und ich würde in einem meiner Tonfälle antworten. Einen Plan gab es nie, nur vollkommenes Verständnis das nie von Dauer war, und wir folgten diesen Abenden in ihre Nächte.

Wir füllten die Gegenwart und unser Leben füllte die Zukunft. Ich erinnere mich kaum noch an dich, aber ich weiß, wer ich war, wenn du da warst, zumindest zu Beginn.

Ja, der Riss der Welt geht auch durch mich. Sie endete am Hafen, weil alles immer am Hafen endet. Aber ich weiß, wo sie begann, wo der Stromkasten steht. Der Mangel ist unsere glänzendste Eigenschaft. Wir werden nichts erklären, nichts begründen, wir haben nichts verloren als unser Interesse.

Night air, softly moving
inside and outside
your room after dawn
night air, softly moving
Kyoto wherever you are

Listening to Lawrence’s Birds on the Playground at night, on my bed in Rua da Miraflor. Roof window open, mind/world at ease.

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