Ienki Ienki Michlin Arctic Blue Foil Jacket was released in an edition of 30 on appropriately icy blue tapes in a snow-like white-backed case. The lay-out for the cover-art was done by Zachary Ledsinger. This tape is the second Ienki Ienki-focused release from Opaque, the first having been the digital-only, self-released Ienki Ienki Michlin Supreme Rose. Ienki Ienki is a great Ukrainian high-fashion brand whose wonderful Michlin jacket is an absolutely classic puffy design.
On June 2nd 2021, a new Opaque tape was released through the excellent Veil Tapes, Pink Duvetica Diadema Nylon Down Jacket. It is the latest instalment in Duvetica-centred releases and features beautiful artwork courtesy of Veil’s own Eric Benson (of Twin Aperture). This C45 tape contains two 22:30 minute recordings, both exploring the more minimal, unconvential side of Opaque. The recordings are not currently available online.
Over the centuries, the legend has become deeply engraved in the minds of the people that live on the Zephyr Plains. The imperious Calanthia Temple, built thousands of years ago as tribute to the now nameless creatures that returned the sun, is off limits to people – but one day, driven by a curiosity the legend has firmly instilled in them, Ceri and Owain, two teenagers from Agana Village, sneak off and enter the deserted building. What they find is anything but a hallowed shrine to legendary benevolent creatures: Calanthia Temple is a haunted place, and the tranquility and light of Zephyr Plains appears to be the result of perpetual suffering and sacrifice.
Amidst the books and paintings they find in a mysterious hidden room, they uncover clues to the true identity of the creatures, the history behind the legend – and a task they know they must commit themselves to. Their intrusion is soon noticed by the souls that still dwell in the temple, and Ceri and Owain narrowly manage to escape the emissaries of the secret Order Of Calanthia. Soon, clouds gather, darkening the skies, blanketing the plains in darkness once more. The duo resolves to seek out the truth, step by step, retracing the legend and reconstructing its history, to release Zephyr Plains of its burden and restore its light – this time, for good and forever.
Catalog No: AENW-21006~8 Product type: CD Number of Discs: 3 Release Price: ¥3,500+tax
DISC 1: 始まり 1. Premonition 2. Ereganzia ~ On The Wings Of The Wind 3. Confrontation 4. Battle! 5. Battle! (Bonus Stage) 6. Healed 7. Agana Village ~ Day 8. Agana Village ~ Night 9. Zephyr Plains (Overworld ~ Day) 10. Calanthia Temple (Entrance) 11. Calanthia Temple (Hidden Room) 12. The Order Of Calanthia 13. Narrow Escape 14. Descent 15. Under Cloud Cover 16. Misty Swamp 17. Lightning Girl 18. An Unexpected Visitor 19. Crisis! Flood 20. Saviours 21. Flight Into The Trees 22. Haunted Forest ~ Day 23. Haunted Forest ~ Night 24. Ruins Of Lamia 25. Crisis! Fire 26. Rest
DISC 2: 検索 1. Lakeside Tower 2. Lost Memories 3. Mt. Graveyard 4. The Climb 5. Moments Of Reflection 6. Boss Fight: Aguares 7. Return To Agana (Fly) 8. Return To Agana (Sail) 9. Devastated By The Light 10. Betrayal 11. Search For A Sunken City 12. Amdusa 13. Amdusa ~ Submerged 14. Light Relic 15. Cloud City 16. Gone 17. Boss Fight: Behemoth 18. Resolution 19. Mirror Lake 20. A Hidden Path 21. Dark Zephyr Plains (Overworld ~ Night) 22. Zephyr Plains At Dusk (Overworld ~ Twilight) 23. Afterglow
DISC 3: 免除された 1. Serpent Island 2. Crisis! ~ Shock 3. Sacred Sword 4. Another Legend 5. Orobas Town ~ Day 6. Orobas Town ~ Twilight 7. Secret Hideout 8. A Tale Of Bright Skies 9. Ereganzia ~ At The End Of The World 10. Boss Fight: Astaroth 11. Earthquake 12. Rapid Ascent 13. Maze 14. Night Palace 15. Final Confrontation 16. Boss Fight: Leviathan 17. Resolution 18. Forever Light 19. Stardust ~ The Voice Of Ereganzia
In my 2020 interview with Böse Mann for his webzine Creeping Concrete, I briefly spoke about Santuario De Sangre, its concept and inception. This YouTube-only label was created based upon a public question put forward by Paul Dever (of, among other projects, the excellent GRIZ+ZLOR) about whether there were any (HNW) projects or labels that existed only on social media. I ultimately took this as the inspiration to start Santuario De Sangre – with due deference to the originator of the idea, as it was certainly not mine – a, thus, YouTube-only label that is in some ways similar to Absent Erratum – it also features only releases by one-off projects – but that thematically instead focuses on “occultism, dark religion, ritualism”. (As a side-note, I’ve since also started an Instagram-only label, Minute Walls, for which I will write a post at some point, too.)
On 6 April 2021, the fourth sacrifice – as the releases on Santuario De Sangre are all referred to – was released to YouTube, the hour-long Through The Halls Of Eternity by Demon Cabal.
2021 has started off as a productive year for Opaque, with a number of prospective tape releases in the near future on various labels and a handful of self-released bizcard CDrs just released. The bizcard CDrs were made available in two batches. The first was released on 18 March and featured four bizcards with a 5-minute track on each: Vanessa Hong In Black Moncler; Black Duvetica Diadema; Duvetica Heze Yellow Hooded Puffer Jacket and Moncler Daos Iridescent Hooded Quilted Shell Down Jacket. Continuing much in the vein of other recent releases, the emphasis is dived evenly between Moncler and Duvetica. The walls presented here range from sparse crackles to full-on wall blasts, as inspired by the materials that provided their themes and which was then further reflected in the visual design: ambient crackling and pink hues for the gently iridescent Moncler Daos, rapid and harsh blasting for Vanessa Hong In Black Moncler – taking inspiration from the shiny, belted, mega-puffy jacket, vinyl pants and heels, and further reflected in the bold type and aggressive orange of the visual design.
The second batch of bizcards was released on 26 March and also featured four bizcard with a 5-minute track on each: Moncler Armoise I, II, III and IV. Evidently, this whole batch was inspired by the magnificent Moncler Armoise model – so further delving into the Moncler obsession professed in series both dedicated to the brand as a whole (the previously concluded Moncler Series trilogy and the ongoing Moncler Worship series) as well as the microfocus on specific models (the various iterations of Total Alpin Worship spread across various releases and formats, all dedicated to the Moncler Alpin). The visual side of the Moncler Armoise series is defined by a singular format (distinguished only by the colour schemes and, of course, the pictures), of which the microfocal particularity also extends into the naming conventions, using the same titles for each of the tracks, which detail the exact make and composition of the jacket. There is certain potential for extending the series with further volumes. The CDrs of this second batch were hand-stamped with an Opaque stamp.
The first batch of bizcards is sold out. Some copies of the second batch of bizcards are still available through the Opaque Bandcamp. Of course, all releases can also be streamed there.
𝘸𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘱𝘵.𝘸𝘢𝘷 ⚱️ i’m not alive, i’m an echo is the 43rd release on Absent Erratum. This submission features one track at a total of 28 minutes and 46 seconds. It was released on April 29, 2021.
Absent Erratum projects her song into the empty sky above the sea, where it soon comes to rest on fragments of light, then sinks down and blankets the sand, hushed and swept under. Aeons pass as all that lives wilts, as all that is solid crumbles, as all that is known is forgotten; finally, when she finds herself alone amidst flat fields and still waters, in view of the final shore, her lost song trembles its way back into her memory as it is lifted from the dusty floor. In that last, halcyon moment, its melody of ashes invokes a ready reflection: “i’m not alive, i’m an echo”.
To wrap up the year, some lists on the things I did and enjoyed this year.
Plenty of excellent music was released, and I also discovered plenty of amazing music from years prior. I keep track of all the stuff I discover during the year and don’t at all distinguish whether or not it was released in that year as it is absolutely irrelevant, imo. At the risk of forgetting a slew of amazing things (there were so many), here’s 15 songs I first heard this year and blew me away, and that you should totally check out (and, of course, that already leaves out so many… Mariposa, Gameboy, Riot…).
Like every year, I also kept track of everything I read and attempt to average out to a book a week (I managed in 2019, but fell slightly short in the years prior). This year I read 55 in total – a diverse bunch, ranging from contemporary children’s literature and travel journals through classic Japanese literature to various works about gender and feminism and a French journalist’s detailed analysis of the political and social contexts of the conflicts in the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi in the 1990s. Not everything was brilliant, needless to say – though I don’t force myself to finish for the sake of finishing, and there wasn’t anything I couldn’t finish – but there were some absolute gems in here that stood out head and shoulders. These were Helen Winternitz’ East Along The Equator, Ryszarr Kapuściński’s Another Day Of Life, Caroline Criado Perez’ Invisible Women, Susan Schaller’s A Man Without Words, Lieve Joris’ Dans Van De Luipaard and Junichiro Tanizaki’s Stille Sneeuwval (translated into English as The Makioka Sisters).
Lieve Joris – Mali Blues
Susan Schaller – A Man Without Words
Tom Nancollas – Seashaken Houses
Paul Auster – Oracle Night
Kōji Suzuki – Spiraal
Lucy Crehan – Cleverlands
Lieve Joris – Dans Van De Luipaard
Phil Harwood – Canoeing The Congo
Helen Winternitz – East Along The Equator
Adam Weymouth – Kings Of The Yukon
Jennifer Bakody – Radio Okapi Kindu
Chuck Palahniuk – Choke
Adam Mars-Jones – Monopolies Of Loss
Hideo Yokoyama – Six Four
Kathy Acker – Blood And Guts In High School
Mark Fillet – Zaïre
Ryu Murakami – Audition
Thomas Pynchon – Inherent Vice
Ryu Murakami – Piercing
Barbara Greene – Too Late To Turn Back
Ryu Murakami – In the Miso Soup
Hideo Furakawa – Horses, Horses, In The End The Light Remains Pure
Ross Welford – The Dog Who Saved The World
David Kerekes & David Slater – Killing For Culture
Ross Welford – The Kid Who Came From Space
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Tales Of Terror & Mystery
Yoko Ogawa – The Memory Police
Bill Bryson – The Body: A Guide For Occupants
Robert Graysmith – Zodiac
Leslie Jamison – The Empathy Exams
Makoto Shinkai – Weathering With You
Italo Calvino – If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller
Michael Crichton – Sphere
Safiya Umoja Noble – Algorithms Of Oppression
Jaron Lanier – Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now
Daphna Joel & Luba Vikhanski – Gender Mosaic
Ryszarr Kapuściński – Another Day Of Life
Charlie English – The Book Smugglers Of Timbuktu
Jaron Lanier – You Are Not A Gadget
Kato David Hopkins – Rumors Of Noizu: Hijokaidan And The Road To 2nd Damascus
Chuck Palahniuk – Pygmy
Bill Bryson – Made In America
Lieve Joris – Zangeres Op Zanzibar
Kenzaburo Oë – Schreeuwen In De Nacht
Paulo Freire – Pedagogy Of The Oppressed
Caroline Criado Perez – Invisible Women
Laura Bates – Everyday Sexism
Kenzaburo Oë – De Knoppen Breken
Audre Lorde – Sister Outsider
Yukio Mishima – Het Gouden Paviljoen
Yukio Mishima – Een Zeeman Door De Zee Verstoten
Cordelia Fine – Testosterone Rex
Yasunari Kawabata – De Schone Slaapsters
Junichiro Tanizako – Stille Sneeuwval
Colette Braeckman – De Wortels Van Het Geweld
I don’t keep particularly meticulous track of the movies I watch (and always chide myself for it in the end), so I have no complete record of my viewing this year. Nonetheless, I saw some excellent things. I attended the International Film Festival Rotterdam and saw three films: Takashi Miike’s new First Love, Ann Hui’s 1999 Ordinary Heroes and Kim Yong-hoon’s Beasts Clawing At Straws (this final film was introduced by its director). Due to Covid, of course, I wasn’t able to visit the cinema much for the rest of year, but just prior to our first lockdown I saw the B&W version of Bong Joon-ho’s brilliant Parasite, and for my one other visit to the cinema, when they were open, I saw Masayuki Suo’s (extremely mediocre) Katsuben! (known here as Talking The Pictures). The rest of my viewing was done exclusively on DVD. Since I don’t keep track of my viewing, there are some movies I am not 100% sure I watched at the beginning of this year or at the end of last year but that deserve mentioning nonetheless: Shinji Aoyama’s excellent Eureka (which I had owned on DVD for about 15 years and had never seen), Thierry Michel’s Katanga Business and Takashi Miike’s Gozu (easily his best for me). Outside of that I was utterly in love with two long-form works: Hu Bo’s An Elephant Sitting Still and Wang Bing’s Tie Xi Qu (how is it that so much of this man’s work is available on the French-language market and so little on the English-language one?). I also began to delve into Jia Zhang Ke’s oeuvre (Ash Is Purest White, Still Life, Mountains May Depart and A Touch Of Sin, the first two being my favourites), saw three of Diao Yinan’s films (toss-up between Black Coal, Thin Ice and The Wild Goose Lake, both excellent) and saw Tsai Ming-Liang’s Stray Dogs and Journey To The West, which fascinated me so much that I began tracking down a bunch more (which isn’t easy, but I have some on order now).
Below is an overview of the things I released this year. I will update this list with links where possible over the next few days.
A r g o n U l t r a A p h e l i o n – R a d i a n t Q u a d r a n t T e t r a l o g y (digital, Absent Erratum)
Arturo Ferreira Mendoza – 외로운 여행자 ~ Traveling North Hwanghae And Pyongyan (video, Minute Walls)
Atlantis Princess – Live At Aquaria Towers (Wild Lights Volume 1) (digital, Absent Erratum)
Congo Upheaval – The Congo Free State Was A Farce, A Brutal Regime Ruthlessly Exploited And Massacred Native Bantu Peoples (video, Minute Walls)
Death Press III – Death Press III (re-issue, C60, Unbelievable Black Magic)
Death Press IV – Death Press IV (re-issue, C60, Unbelievable Black Magic)
Eisheth Zenunim – Angel Of Prostitution, Emissary Of The Hell King (video, Santuario De Sangre)
Little Fictions – Territory Of Light (C30, Small Worm)
屋上のスキマ 白いソラ – Theoretical Frameworks Of Microharmony And Inharmonicity: The Effect Of Counterstructural Stereo Distribution And Perceptual Dissonance In The Context Of A Static Timbre Paradigm Superset (video, Minute Walls)
屋上のスキマ 白いソラ – A Sonographic Model Of Coordinated (Non-)Harmonious (Non-)Harmonic Stasis: A Systemic Aural Inquiry Into Permutational Paradoxes (digital, self-released)
屋上のスキマ 白いソラ- Indirect And Direct Auricular Effects Of Alternating Interval-Panned Sound Signals At Low Respontial Frequency Ratios (digital, self-released)
Opaque – Black Moncler Badyfur (digital, self-released)
Opaque – Total Alpin Worship III (video, Minute Walls)
P R E D A T O R 3 D – S U D D E N L I G H T S U D D E N D E A T H (digital, Absent Erratum)
Rites Of Death – This Is The Last Time I Shall See Your Body (video, Minute Walls)
Sven Kay – Post-Perreo 2 (digital, self-released)
Sven Kay – Post-Perreo 3 (digital, self-released)
Sven Kay – Post-Perreo 4 (digital, self-released)
死の商業化 – デスファイル Ｂｌａｃｋ (re-issue, C60, Unbelievable Black Magic)
Xruelty And The Xeast – L E G I O N (digital, Absent Erratum)
All Koni Demiko releases – for which the Bandcamp was somehow deleted without notice – were also re-uploaded to its new Bandcamp page with all new artwork.
I also released the first issue of A Wall Of Text, a paper magazine dedicated entirely to HNW. I was very happy with how it came out and the reactions I received from others. I am currently (slowly) working on a second issue. I have a few copies left of the first issue (less than 10); get in touch if you’re interested.
Finally, a word of thanks to the people who have in some or other way helped me, inspired me, supported me in all my creative endeavours: among, certainly others, these include James, Paul, Damien, Byron, Julien, Thomas, Petar, everyone who collaborated with me, contributed to A Wall Of Text, to Absent Erratum or to Minute Walls, everyone who bought anything off me, be it a tape or a digital release – I deeply appreciate all of it. Thank you.
My first release in 2021 (today) was a new Post-Perreo mix, the fifth instalment in the series. Like all the other entries in the series (save for the (flawed) first) it is available on my Soundcloud page. It features some more popular cuts by artists such as Tomasa Del Real and Isabella Lovestory, but also offers some deeper cuts by, among others, Ink Midget and Jags. All in all, I think it came out well and continues the vibe that the fourth entry had started to dig into.
On November 23, a new Little Fictions tape called Territory Of Lightwas released as a C30 through Small Worm, James Shearman‘s wonderful imprint for “experiments, mishaps, rummaging, field recording, grievous chaotic din, rabble-rousing, wall noise, Styx ferryman whistling tunes, children’s rhymes in dead languages, animal mating calls, number station remixes and anything else”. James had asked me to contribute a while back to his label to become part of the inaugural batch. Finding the right form and shape for what ultimately became a new Little Fictions release was a lengthy process that went through many different shapes and forms before settling into what it currently is.
James’ explicit invitation to join the Small Worm ranks was an implicit invitation to myself to once more immerse myself in the experiments I had once undertaken under the WOW WAR TECHNO and Super Mario Bros. monikers. I have been active recordings for these on and off through the years, initially motivated by a desire to feel less confined by the boundaries of the sounds I had found myself somewhat entrenched in (Opaque was another such venture, started for much of the same reasons). This initially resulted in a flurry of digital and physical releases (the anniversary of my 100th release was celebrated in part by the physical release of 5 WOW WAR TECHNO releases on tape), though I eventually found myself once more chasing much the same types of sound and delving less into the types of sound rummaging that Small Worm encourages.
Territory Of Light, thus, was prefaced by finding form, again – which was an interesting exercise in and of itself, as it pushed me in directions newly unfamiliar and newly familiar. The process took me through a variety of forms and sounds, in which I revisited designs, themes and approaches which I had previously attempted and abandoned. As such, this then-unnamed project took on a host of possible names, shapes, identities: it was the ambient of Ambient 5: Music For Killing Fields; it was the decayed electronics of Sneeuwval; it was the fuzzy hiss of Korean Cosmetics. These unidentified forms were plagued by a restlessness; the wealth of possibility the project offered became almost intimidating, allowing for such infinite possibility that I had trouble establishing what exactly I wanted it to be.
In this process of uncovering and recovering, I unearthed another project that I had once worked on but which had never taken on any definite form. In 2018, I visited Seoul with my girlfriend and my sister. It was July and the heat was incredible; pavements shimmered, dry air hung still in palace gardens, the smoke curling from grilled meats disappeared into the ambient heat of sweltering nights unnoticed. The week was like a fever dream, our trek through a relentlessly warm Namdaemun market on the first day setting the tone for the days to come, driving us to escape into airconditioned spaces when possible, the differences in temperature sometimes like being plunged into an ice bath. It was an unforgettable, amazing experience, the memories of which I cherish I perhaps more than those of any other journey I’ve been on.
It was this constant shock of temperature changes that gave my girlfriend a throat infection, after which she ended up with an actual fever that kept her in bed for our second-to-last day in the city. My sister and I took the opportunity to find refuge in the vast, spacious building of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. I recorded our journey through the building as we weaved in and out of halls and rooms, capturing the stray sounds of exhibitions, announcements and visitors that echoed around us. The recordings I intended to issue on tape through Void Worship. I had edited down the recordings, designed the art – done the work, pretty much – but soon found myself actively immersed in other projects, as a result of which the idea of the tape disappeared into the background. Only when James suggested a Small Worm contribution, it sprang back into life.
The Small Worm tape, however, as it finally took shape, did not develop into what it was from the field recordings. Instead, it was a field recording I made from the other side of the world, from the comfort of my own home, where, as I sat reading one day, a faraway storm rumbled its way towards me, rain slowly beginning to drip-drop onto the grass and balconies around me. I quickly took to recording this storm, which ultimately remained gentle – the rumbles of thunder stayed far-off, the rain fell slowly and languidly. The tail end of these showers, with some manipulation, became the third track of the A-side of the tape, Submerged. The first two tracks were designed to share the sonic character of the third track somewhat, though the process for them was different – I recorded two walls and then recorded them – field recording style, I am sitting in a room style – while moving through the space in which I played them. Together, they came to form this trilogy, of sounds summoned, sacred and submerged. In some respect, the A-side became a callback to the two Little Fictions releases I did before this one: Love & Girls was also a room recording of a previously recorded wall, River Spirita manipulated recording I made of a rain storm.
The choice to feature the field recordings I had previously made in Seoul then seemed natural. It functioned both as a complement and as counterbalance. Side A was a field-recorded approach to hiss and crackle, ambient, captured in the presence of spring rain; side B the field-recorded document of sweltering heat and refuge taken thereof, the hiss of spacious, empty hallways. There were, for me, clear ways in which there were significant similarities in approach, setting and sound as well as valuable contrasts. All that was missing, finally, was the overarching theme – the way in which it was to be expressed. Territory Of Light, in retrospect, seemed to be the only possible title. It has a wealth of references encapsulated in it – to the ambient spaces in which the recordings were made; the light bursting forth from clouds amidst spring rain; those lights covering the mountains and streets and buildings of Seoul at the various times of day and night; the making of a territory, both in the physical realm – by defining it – and the sonic realm – by capturing it. It also is a reference to the novel of the same name by Yuko Tsushima, which conveyed a familiar sort of feverish light that illuminated all its pages and words – fragile, unreal, yet corporeal.
Territory Of Light was released in an edition of 10 copies. While these are now sold out, you can freely stream the tracks on the Small Worm Bandcamp.
I was recently interviewed by Michael Tau about Absent Erratum for Anomaly Index. Anomaly Index is a great website which frequently posts interviews with people involved in fringe experimental projects (or some of their releases), among which, for instance, The Rita, Atrax Morgue and Fukte. You can read the full interview here.
And out now: Opaque – Moncler Hudson, a new digital release comprised of a single 15-minute track focused on the magnificent Moncler Hudson coat. An absolutely amazing FW 19/20 down jacket that is available in four colours – white, grey, beige and black – of which the black is easily the most magnificent (although the beige is also fantastic). The images, in that respect, may speak volumes. Hyper-focused crunch obsession.