ID Music 20220923 – Pure Flow
North America's Gnarliest Mix of Pure Motorik Flow
start listening here, or scroll down for download links, mixcloud streams, and setlists
I prefer talking about music with people who enjoy music, but aren’t experts on whatever we’re listening to. My partner Rachel is often one of those people, because we listen to music together a lot. Our taste sometimes overlaps, and it’s almost always at least compatible, but we each go deep into our own zones. She teaches me about ‘90s R&B and hip-hop when she’s pulling selections from her wall of vinyl in the living room. And I like to quiz her about the weird mix of sounds on Inter-Dimensional Music.
Whenever I do this I am absolutely not looking for a correct answer or positive song or musician identification. I would much rather that she find the Prince guitar parts in a late ‘70s Dead show than be able to tell me the song title or venue. I delight when her reaction to the drums on a Malignant Altar song is to reference a classic Def Leppard riddim. Mistaking a Roxy Music song for a Can song was the organizing incident for this installment in our "more dharma rock, less dharma talk" PURE FLOW series.
After returning from our recent trip to New Mexico we drove to Chicago to catch Roxy Music’s 50th anniversary tour. They’re the band that she says she’s listened to the most consistently over the years, even more than Prince, Sade, The Roots, or Eric B. and Rakim. The night before the show we were holed up in a friend’s tiny apartment on the 33rd floor of a downtown high-rise, digesting an incredible dinner from one of Chicago’s many extraordinary Mexican1 restaurants, and taking in the view while savoring a very agave-forward, mineral-rich, tahona-crushed tequila2 blanco.
I like talking about tequila even less than I like talking about music. But I like talking about tequila with her because she knows a lot about perfume, and not much about tequila. Tequila bros are constrained by the same five or 10 adjectives – I like unaged blanco or plata tequilas, “the clearest expression of the agave.” Keywords “earth,” “minerals,” “vegetal,” “brine,” and “pepper” are what I’m looking for. But she brings a new vocabulary to the conversation, with specific botanical references picked up from a lifetime fascination with scent. Raise your hand if you’re getting Turkish Rose Essence aromas, the flavor or Jasmine Sambac, or a hint of Green Musk Molecule on the finish.
So I was quite happy when she couldn’t identify the first song on the Roxy Music retrospective mix that was our soundtrack to monitoring the rooftop party happening 10 stories below us. “Is this Can or some ‘70s Eno thing?” she asked as an alternate version of the title track from their non-Eno 1979 album Manifesto emanated from a tiny travel speaker. As soon as Ferry’s voice came in the game was up, but that was enough of a cue for this week’s episode of Inter-Dimensional Music.
The concert the next night was fantastic, and there were enough masks in the laid-back crowd of 40-50-60-somethings that I didn’t feel too paranoid. It was also the first time that I realized the Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera is such a guitar hero, with surprisingly tangled, droning solos that had me thinking less of Eno and more of Robert Fripp. Their skill with reeds was highlighted by the super fan next to whom we were seated, who sang along quietly with all of Andy MacKaye and Jorja Chalmers’ saxophone and oboe parts. What a strange band, moving so easily between louche pop, melancholy earworm disco, and the psychedelic paranoia of Ballardian drone-rock.
Thus on this week’s program we have Roxy Music in good company with the untitled Can jam from a 1975 bootleg that starts and ends our session. From there, two more shades of motorik: First up, a relatively chill groove from the new Oneida, followed by Finnish black metal seekers Oranssi Pazuzu in one of their most truly “heavy mellow” moments. Then soon coming Tangerine Dreamy-zones from friend of the show The Modern Folk, and another composition from my dear friend and Marfa Sangha organizer Nick Terry, this time collaborating with Phil Boyd as Air Field.
We’ll also hear new Crooked Light music from Andy Curtis-Brignell, the artist also known as Caïna. In the latter guise he’s released a sprawling discography – 19 albums and EPs currently listed on his Bandcamp page – that move from harsh noise to shimmering post-metal to something like Cure-adjacent black metal. I only know Curtis-Brignell from online, but he speaks openly and thoughtfully about his creative practice in a way that has inspired me from afar on more than one occasion.
“It's probably no surprise to anyone that I'm currently planning on wrapping up Caïna in 2024, which will mark 20 years of the project,” he wrote back in August of this year. “Caïna releases take months (at least) to put together and since at least 2016 I've found it increasingly difficult to reach an audience. I can't justify the time taken away from family life for it.”
He continues: “I've come to terms emotionally with the fact that only a very small number of people care about anything I do but I can't justify the huge inverse dynamic of what I put into the project vs what I get out of it. Not even monetarily, but mentally.”
I often feel the same way about Inter-Dimensional Music, although I’m certain that my hour-long weekly community radio art project takes considerably less time to put together. The difficult part for me isn’t the time, but the idea that this project is important to me, but “only a very small number of people care about anything I do.”
For me this has less to do with a thirst for fame or mainstream success: Much of this music – Curtis-Brignell’s original work and my broadcast revisioning – has intentionally high barriers to entry. For me it’s more about a lack of validation. In the age of analytics, digital sales, and social media currencies, it’s easy to feel like I’m excited to be hosting a party, and not only has nobody3 showed up, but the attendance number is on display for the world to see.
Curtis-Brignell continued to write about creative anxiety and imposter syndrome over the course of the month in a similar way that Pharoah Sanders talked about it in an interview that was circulating among the online eulogies4 that followed the jazz visionary’s passing in September.
"I know when I listen to other musicians, they sound beautiful to me,” Sanders says, responding to the question of whether or not he’s ever been happy with his sound. “When I hear myself playing, I sound like… They sound beautiful. I just wonder, what are they all using?"
Curtis-Brignell’s post is an uncanny echo: “For me [imposter syndrome is] this persistent, gnawing anxiety that Great Art has some intangible quality everyone else can see but you can’t, and that you are incapable of reproducing in your own work, that everyone will laugh and sneer at you for not having. This never goes away.”
There is validation in hearing others speak of a sympathetic struggle, perhaps longer-lasting that the addictive and uncertain dopamine fluctuations essential to doing numbers on social media. Or as Zen teacher Lewis Richmond, who I’ll never tire of quoting, says, “The fact that we all suffer means we are all in the same boat, and that’s what allows us to feel compassion.”
Which is a very long way of coming around to saying that Curtis-Brignell’s new project, Crooked Light, is absolutely fantastic, available as name-your-own-price, and featured on this week’s broadcast. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m not always a fan of self-described “
dork dark ambient,” but Crooked Light’s Kiln of Nature is something entirely different than I was expecting: a deeply organic “jazz-infused ambient” blend of keys, looping guitars and synthesizers closer to Carlos Niño or vintage ECM than the dungeon synth of actual IRL troll Mortiis. Crooked Light delivers on the description that I’ve repurposed here into the beloved online weightlifter meme:
This week’s show also features one of my favorite moments from a growing collection of unofficial Cure live recordings. Listening to Live Cure is different than Live Dead, but the extended 10+ minute versions of “A Forest” that they’ve been playing since the early ‘80s are one of the things that keeps me coming back for more. There’s also a similar vibe between Robert Smith and the people in the audience: It sounds like everyone’s thrilled to be there among the crowd of dervishes whirling in a slightly more dour shade of skirts, all cheering ecstatically the second the band teases an upcoming jam.
This version of “Plainsong” is why I love bootlegs. It’s a soundboard recording from the September 15, 1996 show at Meadows Music Theater in Hartford, CT. As the archivist explains, “There are some fluctuations in volume and there was a dropout during Plainsong were the jack came out. This was only the second Plainsong since 1989, and their sound engineer did not understand he was supposed to fade out the bells when the song starts so that tape continues well into the song which sounds quite strange."
The extended wind chimes that echo well into the first verses are clearly a mistake, a sublime flub thankfully preserved for posterity. Gratitude to this sound engineer who was clearly having a bit of a night for giving us this gem of imperfection.
blessing up and blessing down,
If you know anyone who might find value or otherwise enjoy some aspect of Void Contemplation Tactics, please pass it along. Thank you for lurking, sharing, subscribing for free, and/or subscribing for money. It means a lot to me!
My reach is limited on social media, which I’m increasingly convinced is a good thing. As Dōgen's teacher told him, “You don't have to collect many people like clouds. Having many fake practitioners is inferior to having a few genuine practitioners. Choose a small number of true persons of the way and become friends with them.” Or as we used to say at Arthur, “smiles and whispers between those who know.”
ID Music 20220923 – Pure Flow
artist - work
Can - Untitled (Saarbrücken, Germany 19751024) (edit)
Roxy Music - Manifesto
Oneida - Low Tide
Oranssi Pazuzu - Värähtelijä
the modern folk - pop song
Air Field - Lost Batteries
Crooked Light - Kiln of Nature II
The Cure - Plainsong (Meadows Music Theater, Hartford, CT 19960915)
Carlos Ferreira - Take Care
Can - Untitled (Saarbrücken, Germany 19751024) (edit)
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The more I think about my years living in the Borderlands and the shittier that Texas politics become, the more I realize that lots of things that I thought I liked about Texas are actually things that I like about Mexico.
I don’t usually like talking about tequila. As with most people I know, my relationship with alcohol has not always been great. I’ve never considered myself an alcoholic, partly because when I start to ask that question I usually lay off the booze for anywhere from a week or two to six months or longer. I quit drinking intermittently to prove to myself and Rachel and the people who care about me that I can handle the responsibility of occasionally drinking. I respect and am inspired by my friends in recovery. Also, people who are really into booze culture are also often really boring or they want to talk about cigars, mustache wax, or “axe-throwing bars” too. Sorry and please enjoy your pleasure where you find it but yech for me.
This is obviously not true, and I am as forever grateful to the people that I’ve met through correspondence that started out when they found my weird art project the day the bluetooth in their car was busted so and they happened to catch the FM signal in Indianapolis, Far West Texas, or Los Angeles. The point of this project is connection.
Stay tuned for the archived version of Inter-Dimensional Music 20220930, our tribute to Sanders featuring some unreleased live stuff that we’ve been enjoying.