machine soul: namke and tungsten grasshopper

June 4, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Posted in fencing flatworm, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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ff020 available from namke communications

  1. polaxemer
  2. seen from beneath the waves
  3. foursquare (and that’s just fine)
  4. not all there
  5. radiophobic

ff011 tungsten grasshopper – pyrrhic victories

  1. brittle
  2. dog
  3. everyone i knew is dead
  4. one for cats
  5. plastic dinosaur
  6. starry wisdom
  7. surface noise
  8. urticaria
  9. urticaria 2
  10. narwhal
  11. urticaria 3
  12. it was sunny the day she died

The best thing about shepherding this blog for the last six months has been rekindling contact with a bunch of people that I had drifted away from whilst sat on my ice floe.  Two of these are Graham Williams, a.k.a. tungsten grasshopper, and John Tuffen, a.k.a. namke.  Both have kindly agreed to me posting their FFR releases and I thought it might be instructive to compare the two. 

At first hearing they are radically different; in fact it could be argued that they illustrate opposite ends of the spectrum labelled ‘electronica’ back in the day.  Namke have an analogue simplicity, a fuzzy charm and an ego-dissolving groove that borrows a little from both the robots-and-spaceships futurism of early 90s IDM and from the echo chamber of dub techno, which was super-fashionable at the time.

Tungsten grasshopper is a less comfortable proposition.  Shorter tracks, an emptier vibe and an occasionally grating sound palette make this a more difficult listen.  However, your effort is rewarded ten-fold as these imperfect crystals yield to your contemplation and give up their secrets.  Where namke is analog and groove, tg is laptop and glitch.

That said, they also have plenty in common.  Both albums can draw you in until the thud of your book dropping to the floor reminds you that you haven’t read a word in twenty minutes.  Instead the ‘background’ music you put on has overwhelmed the foreground.  This quality is something I always wanted in FFR releases.  Most importantly though, and not unconnected to their attention-grabbing powers, both have an unmistakable human content.  That is: both connect with, and draw on, some deep emotional associations buried underneath the numskulls operating the frontal lobes.  This music has, for want of a better expression, soul.

EDIT: John Tuffen tells me he is grooving on the idea of producing more music but recently his creative endeavours have been of a photographic bent.  Check out his flickr photostream.  The namke website is also due a tidy up but is worth a quick visit for audio-visual goodies and some flatwormesque grumpiness.

More from the FFR heritage archive (including posset, Neil Campbell and the second tungsten grasshopper album) to come soon…

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