It feels odd to write about Katie Dey’s music as I’ll never be able to think about it objectively – ‘asdfasdf’ and ‘flood network’ have essentially been wedged into my brain for the past four years and that makes me oddly sentimental about the Melbourne-based musician’s creative output. Around this time in 2016 I met an internet friend who went on to become a scarily large influence on my life and one of our first conversations revolved around Dey’s first EP – I essentially just looped the record over and over in order to have something to say to that random internet person, starting an obsession that hasn’t really ended yet. This obsession essentially just snowballed when Dey released ‘flood network’, my favorite album of all time – I remember wandering around a post-Fleadh Ennis essentially just killing time until I got a text back while blaring ‘fear o the light’ and feeling a vague dread that now seems fairly nostalgic to look back on. I’m not sure exactly why Dey’s discography resonated with me so much at the time but it captured a larger feeling that was oddly cathartic to observe – Sasha Geffen once remarked for The Fader that the album “fold[ed] somatic joy into waves of chaos and anxiety” and that’s the closest I’ve gotten to explaining the appeal of ‘Flood Network’. The record essentially channeled the same anxious energy my life was constantly defined by and turned it into a bunch of shoegazey hypnagogic pop songs, something that offered me an odd form of solace when I was probably at my most misanthropic.
I think it’s safe to say that we’re living in turbulent times – you’re probably just after bumping into your uncle shouting about vaccines outside the GPO for the third weekend in a row, the government is about to spend all its time and effort making sure a rowdy poor doesn’t dare travel to one of the numerous countries they spent the last three months ensuring we could travel to, and we’ve all collectively chosen to ignore how many homeless people seem to be dying because of how hard it must be to live as some overpaid cabinet minister dozing off in a convention center. We’re headed into one of the worst recessions of recent history, hundreds (if not thousands) will choke to death over the next few weeks so our planet can have McDelivery again, and Kanye West is probably in the middle of sabotaging his next album. The barbarism part of the old “socialism or barbarism” adage is beginning to rear its Elon Musk-backed head and we’ve finally realized that Walter Benjamin was full of shit when he implied that we’d get aesthetic pleasure out of our collective destruction. Things can only possibly get worse and Naomi Klein’s pleas about the worldwide implementation of a Green New Deal are completely foreign (and fairly funny) not even a full year on from their publication. This is somehow a problem that only you are capable of solving.
This year has been a bit of a write-off and it freaks me out that we’re over seven months into it. I think that I went into 2020 with a small amount of optimism and that screwed us all over – I was planning on spending most of this year sitting on public transport and I got to do that, it was just with the addition of an ill-fitting facemask, the joys of spending the next week being paranoid about symptoms, and some weirdo behind me blaring Justin Barrett speeches from his iPhone. This year hasn’t really started in my head, it feels like we’ve been in a weird state of limbo for the past four months and that makes looking back on things a bit strange – I actively miss an era of my life where my anxieties seemed relatively menial and I feel like that means something, even if that’s just as we’re rapidly descending into some Michael Martin-backed hellscape. One of the few perks of lockdown is that I’ve constantly been able to listen to music, I’ve nearly always got a pair of headphones on and the time I’ve spent rapidly trying to catch up on some dense text for a reading group naturally lends itself to pretentious electronic tunes. Here are seven of the most interesting tracks I’ve stumbled upon so far this year – I’ve probably put together godawful paragraphs on half of these tracks in the past but I thought it’d be fun to expand on what makes these tracks stand out, even just so some random Discord friend doesn’t have to listen to me drone on about them at half three in the morning.
Statistically speaking by the time you’re reading this I’ll finally be back on Twitter, an app that’s probably ruined me as a person in ways that I’m yet to fully accept. Nearly half of my readership arrives from Twitter and as a result I’m scarily reliant on the website to ensure that everyone around me sits through my weekly Eamon Ryan diatribes – every time I finally make the realization that I need to cut back on the time I waste on Twitter I cynically shrug said realization off by pretending that constantly posting is somehow good for my writing, coming off as a major careerist in the process. This overreliance is probably best exemplified through the content of this post – I had originally planned on writing yet another piece on Irish politics (fun!) but the realization that the two people who would somehow find that piece funny were significantly less likely to stumble upon it essentially killed any motivation I had, leading to this weird meta-commentary on an objectively stupid microblogging website that I should have quit ages ago. I’ve flirted with completely vanishing off the face of the internet a fair few times, somehow pretending that I have the self-control to actually do something productive with my life every three months or so. These attempts always end in some embarrassing form of failure – I remember completely relapsing on social media during a particularly slow day at work a few years back and scrolling through everything Felix Biederman posted that month like it was a particularly depressing morning newspaper. I felt like an utter arse for the rest of that shift, mainly just as that experience made me realise how dumb my relationship with the internet was. I think that was the moment that I realized I was wired in for life, even if I tried to pretend otherwise for ages. But for now, I’m temporarily free from the endless discourse that consumes my life, or I would be if I actually chose to write about music tonight. Has this led to me having any original or interesting thoughts about our collective relationship with the net? Not really.
This is the second part of ‘a comprehensive guide to being really annoying on the internet’, an attempt to explain how this blog works. This is mainly just a technical explanation so I’d recommend reading the first part before getting mad at how boring this is.
This post will (hopefully) be a bit shorter than usual as I’ve actually fixed my sleep schedule but I decided to listen to that 100 gecs remix album on the train last weekend and that lead to me overthinking a little. It’s been around a year since I first stumbled upon 1000 gecs and that means I’m now able to get vaguely nostalgic about it – that album essentially just melted the brains of the extremely-online people I spend a decent chunk of my time texting and there’s something about the way it spread that I found exciting. Friends would eventually give in and watch the Money Machine video after getting hounded about the record for ages, get mad at how shite the song seemed, but then within a few days they’d start talking to me about constantly looping the album and how it was their favorite release of the year – I remember joking at the time about how 100 gecs was essentially a pandemic within my friend group, a joke which doesn’t really land anymore. The reasons behind this virality are extremely simple – this album was ironic enough to the point where it could serve as an easy punchline but genuine enough to the point where you could actually listen to it more than once. Dylan Brady and Laura Les are extremely skilled producers and songwriters and they genuinely set out to make catchy music, even if they dressed it up behind countless layers of irony and tacky MIDI soundfonts. Every single pretentious Autechre fan likes to pretend that with more “out there” music you just have to listen to it a few times until it reveals itself and suddenly feels poppy – 1000 Gecs is an album that actually does reveal itself once you get over the fact it sounds like Nightcore and that’s exactly what made it so memetic this time last year.
Alex G decided to remove the (Sandy) from his name a few weeks back and now my last.fm will feel slightly more inaccurate. Around this time three years ago I was the number one (Sandy) Alex G listener on last.fm (as I tagged all his records under his new name), giving me the lamest possible bragging rights when talking to disinterested Radiohead fans on the other side of the planet. That summer was a weird era of my life in hindsight – I’d stay up all night talking about menial things with someone who would later go on to soupify my brain, walk around Laois Shopping Centre in an insomnia-ridden haze in the hopes of staying awake, and then go home a few hours later and blare the same three or four albums until I eventually passed out. I think I’ve been listening to more music under lockdown than I did that summer but it just doesn’t feel as such – the words just seemed to mean more back then, even if that was just the result of solely using them as some weird method of escapism. I don’t remember exactly what spurred me on to actually listen to Alex Giannscoli’s discography that summer but I very quickly became obsessed with it, making up for lost time by looping tracks over and over until I went mental.
The following was intended as the first half of a Thursday post in which I planned on combining a narcissistic spiel about my past experiences writing online with a little how-to guide explaining how my Neocities page worked. I nearly had said post finished to go up on time, but my Notion client decided to shit the bed – leading to me losing half of the original post, giving up on the concept, and just lazily copy/pasting an unreleased zine piece minutes before my deadline. Due to the length of this recreation I’ve been working on, I decided to split it into two posts – with this one serving as the narcissistic spiel and next week’s one serving as the actual tutorial. Apologies in advance!
A few years back I started writing a really embarrassing zine for reasons that still elude me. At the time I was obsessed with this vague idea of forming some form of community or collective, essentially treating my local arts scene like every socialist sect treats the notion of a mass party – I just assumed that by making things people would eventually follow, magically seeking me out due to how correct I was about everything. This (unsurprisingly) went nowhere and nobody ended up reading the final product, which was probably a good thing in hindsight – I feel like someone will dig it up at some stage in the future to discredit my opinions on music and that’s perfectly understandable. I’ve been thinking about that era of my life scarily frequently as of late, mainly due to the final scramble to get the thing out before the end of the year. I’d asked a friend to help me set up a small website for the collective, hoping that working together on this would lead to collaborating on some larger projects at some stage in the future. The friend said they’d put something together, did out a “framework” (read: one CSS stylesheet), and then completely forgot about it due to (understandably) having better things to be doing. This meant that the last week of December was spent frantically trying to work out how to use CSS and trying to secure cheap (if not free) hosting – those seven days were spent solely on Google and I’m oddly nostalgic for that.
I assumed that moving this week’s post back to Friday would lead to me actually discovering new music to write about but all I’ve done this week is listen to Amnesia Scanner, which makes writing this post significantly harder. I’m not particularly sure as to when (or even how) I first stumbled upon their work but I’ve been constantly looping it for the past forty-eight hours, presumably as I’m too lethargic to seek out anything else. Amnesia Scanner are a Berlin-based Finnish electronic music duo who make tracks that sound like drowning in a bathtub filled with Diet Coke – I’ve seen their work described online as being UK Bass or Deconstructed Club but neither label really seems to fit their creative output, they seem to live in their own sickly-sweet world that eludes clear description and I find it enthralling. The duo’s production is nearly solely based around their approach to vocal processing – samples are essentially tortured through post-processing, pitched up, and detuned to the point of sounding actively sinister. Amnesia Scanner essentially use the human voice in the same way that Aphex Twin modifies his drum machines – the original sound is contorted and mangled to the point where only hints of it remain, creating something uniquely tormented in the process. American jazz musician Ornette Coleman once stated that “jazz is the only music in which the same note can be played night after night, but differently each time”, utilizing cheap plastic saxophones to contribute to the harsh, wailing quality of his performances. Amnesia Scanner are great as they take this approach and apply it to the human voice, artificially channeling the same atonal intensity that made stuck-up jazz critics despise “The Shape of Jazz to Come” in a way that feels simultaneously refreshing yet languid. It sounds vaguely like a summer spent wearing face masks in the heat, but perhaps that’s just me projecting a bit.