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Dionysian Industrial Complex

CPLX 15 : Ghales / K-Torrent / euFraktus X – Enantiodromia

In late 2019, a group of Brasiliense musicians – including members of the Brasilia Laptop Orchestra (BSBLOrk) and Nomade Lab – were invited by the Alfinete Gallery to improvise a dialogue with an installation by Milton Marques.

The work consisted of a motorized disk, coated with loose plaster powder. As the disk rotated, it was ploughed and furrowed by a fixed metal hook pressed into its surface. At the opposite side of the disk, the broken surface was smoothed again by a heavy pad pressing on it; weighed down with bullets.

Hence the disk was a microcosm of an eternal cycle of disrupted and re-established order. Of creation and destruction. Of “enantiodromia”, things turning into their opposites.

As the disk rotated, the side of the disk undergoing destruction was closely filmed, with the image projected to fill one of the gallery walls. And so the microcosm of ongoing destruction was amplified to an apparently tectonic scale, becoming a vision of never-ending earthquakes or glacial collapse.

While this was largely an improvised piece, to structure the performance, two of the musicians were invited to “compose” two main halves or movements, by defining some specific instructions and material for the rest of the musicians to work with.

These two main movements or “balancing forces” were composed by Ghales (Torque) and euFraktus X (KronUs). With sound-artist K-Torrent invited to add new sounds from an affected and distorted violin, over the transition between the two.

Finally, the musicians were encouraged to return from the second movement to elements of the first in the final “coda” (here labelled Momentum), in which the piece “wraps around” to the beginning again.

The result, captured and lightly edited and remixed is, in many ways “epic”. Although it is also a confusion. A hotch-potch of ideas and styles in which we do, indeed, hear a world in constant motion and undergoing creative destruction. A juxtaposition of human and abstract. The organic and electronic. Political and geological. Melodic fragments and noise.

Ghales starts Torque with the introduction of Leandro Columbi reading found texts through his home-made effects rig, transforming the human through a catastrophe of stuttering, phasing, ring-mod and pitch-bend. Leandro’s vocal improvisations are sometimes intelligible, sometimes gibberish, and sometimes they turn into birdlike-whistling, or swoop down to low groans and bored muttering.

Meanwhile Ghales and djalgoritmo start to bring in LiveCoded percussion. A sequence of hollow synthetic clay pots which seem to be continually tripping over themselves ineptly, and thus fail to establish any kind of pulse.

Jackson Marinho enters with his custom made interfaces : modified meat-grinder and kalimba.

And gradually Ghales and djalgoritmo manage to bring the chaos into some kind of order by stacking up further percussive lines, introducing echoey bell-like riffs. And hosing them in a slurry of kicks and splashing cymbals. Until a rapid rumbling bass begins to dominate under jagged slashes of noise, and the world becomes a mutant honky-tonk and a stairway of rising brightly stabbing digital chords.

The other musicians are still playing as K-Torrent’s broken and effected violin enters. Signalling a transition between the movements.

From some indeterminate location, the voice of a Brasilian television presenter intrudes, calmly reporting on political turmoils and upheavals. And yet, as Leandro’s voice takes up the chant of “Irresponsibility” with a voice full of ennui, a background of drones and high-pitched whistles, gives the political coup against the presidency of Dilma Rousseff a hypnogogic, hallucinatory quality. As though it might all be just a bad dream.

In the aftermath of the transition, eufraktus X’s KronUs slides in with a poignant drone. Sucking, scribbling, rounded hushing torrents of melt-water. Leandro’s bird-whistles flit over a landscape of geological cracks and fractures, a dissolving glacier. A hiss of noise. Squeels and synth-tones rise and fall. But the cracks and pops become clearer as the sound of gunshots. Is this a war-zone? A nightly shoot-out in the favela? In Marques’s spinning discworld, the pad which smooths the disrupted surface is weighted with bullets. Does violence bring order then?

If Marques wants to imply this, the musicians seem to be disagreeing. As the notional calm starts to break up with the gunfire … the sounds become agitated. The bird-whistle becomes more frantic. Jets of doppler velocity fly overhead. Bombs go off. Lasers. The meat-grinder is in action. Leandro moans like a zombie horde. And we realize that this is hell. One of the danker circles of Dante’s inferno. Where a decrepit bell is clanking.

Time is inexorably winding down in a funereal dirge. And the glacial ice is melting. Entropy takes effect, sound is turning into white noise.

On the projected screen, the powdered earth continues its eternal crumbling collapse.

You can never step in the same earthquake twice.

And yet … euFraktus X’s score asks the other players to improvise around the cyclic nature of history. The pendulum will swing back from the dark period we are in. The political shadows will be dispelled by the light.[1]

euFraktus calls in a child, five year old Myrrha Morcelli, to interact with the cameras that control his musical software, bringing a playful energy of to the cacophany. The sounds of hell rearrange into a lighter, burbling dance. Is that a clarinet practising its scales? Are the gunshots really revolutionary fireworks?

Now Leandro’s incantations pick up pace. New rivulets of fresh warp-sound are finding their way out from the cracks. Leandro is stuttered and looped. And this builds energy. Even the clinking bells pick up speed. Riverrun. We are heading back to the beginning.

[1] This recording was made in the political despair of late 2019, before the great nightmare of COVID19 had exploded into the world. But we may choose to take a similar message of hope from KronUs. The disease year may be harsh, but we will eventually come through it.


  • Ghales
  • Leandro
  • djalgoritmo
  • Jackson Marinho
  • K-Torrent
  • Mentufacturer
  • euFraktus X
  • Myrrha Morcelli
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CPLX 14 : Lionuki – O Único Caminho é a Frente

Maybe it was inevitable that Dionysian Industrial Complex would be offered, and enthusiastically accept, a vaporwave concept album about Posadists: the extreme Trotskyite sect turned internet meme factory, notorious for their belief in Communist UFOs, the necessity of nuclear war, weightless birth research and human-dolphin communication.

Vaporwave, and its cosy but uncanny British cousin, “hauntology” are genres that arise from a matrix of technological factors: laptops with DAWs and cheap sampling, the rich memeosphere of social media, the geological accretion of layers of recorded musical history available for plundering. And a new wave of musicians ready to engage it.

But how might this confluence of forces play out in Brazil? In 2019, “nostalgia” was perhaps a dangerous and ambiguous material to work with. The country had succumbed to the late 2010s wave of right-wing populism, social media fuelled division and historical revisionism. The government openly praises the last military dictatorship, and overtly threatens would-be opponents and protesters with a return of AI-5, the dictatorship’s decree that illegalized effective political opposition.

Lionuki‘s “O Único Caminho É A Frente” gives us a glimpse of the artistic outcome of the techno-cultural milieu grappling with the pessimism of contemporary politics. It calls up the memories of a guerilla revolutionary movement that hardly was, but which has since been reinvented as a cypher for the meme age. Posadism gives old-skool communism a cute new-agey makeover. A technicolour dream of flying saucers and dolphin comrades; a messianic leader who is half Che Guevara, half John Lilly; an ultimate rapture of ETs flying down to save us from capital.

At a time where it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, it is perhaps easier to embrace a communism of jokey memes about nuclear apocalypse than to confront the challenge of building a more serious left-wing consciousness among a fractured and casualized workforce and toxic identity politics. And this may be the greatest pessimism of all. But in an age when the alt.right march under the banner of Pepe, the Frog and embrace the flat-earth, maybe politics is doomed to become a game between story-tellers, vying to produce the most outrageously compelling fictions? To quote Robert Anton Wilson: “The border between the Real and the Unreal is not fixed, but just marks the last place where rival gangs of shamans fought each other to a standstill.”

All of which is very intellectually stimulating and entertaining to think about. But how does the music sound?

Fortunately, the most striking thing is that O Único Caminho É A Frente (“The only way is forward”) is just sonically good fun. Jolly housey beats. Lovely melodic touches. Dubbed out samples of traditional Brazilian music. Its musical touch-point is the 90s dawn of electronic dance culture. Invoking one of those early free-ranging ambient / techno DJ voyages by the likes of The Future Sound of London, The Orb or Coldcut. At times it invokes Amorphous Androgynous’s Tales of Ephidrina, FSOL’s Lifeforms or The KLF’s Chill Out. With an extra layer of vaporous reverb.

This is an album of strong nostalgia for the techno-optimism of that era, from people who were too young to be there.

But it’s also knowingly contemporary. There’s lurking tragic knowledge that the hyperactive day-glo optimism of this lost era was doomed to fade. Everything here is sunset colours. Rosy pinks, oranges and aquamarine and sapphire blues.

Everything here reminds you of something else. Everything here IS something else. There’s a nonchalantly omniverous anthropophagy, as Lionuki casually stir Brazilian folk music and Anime soundtracks into their pot. There are sinister whispers and bursts of rockier riffs and bass grooves on “dias impossiveis 余波”. The gorgeous “eeeee ee eee”, plunges us into communion with the dolphins through erotically vocoded murmurs and rubbery 303 bass which are then topped with twinkling Rhodes-like arpeggios until a sudden orgasm of synth sweep, ushers in a drum’n’bassish beat that might have starred on Plaid’s Double Figure.

“estranhos” is a come-down, cascades of downward scales, which quickly picks itself back up again on an awkward skittering railroad of FM bass. Before falling through bitcrushed and wah-wahed clouds into the intense pulse of “protetores da poeira estelar” (stardust protectors) that is quickly invaded by a disintegrating forro singer.

And we collapse into the final, grim denouement of our journey. The irony drenched “completa felicidade”, a sound track of waiting for the nuclear bombs to fall as the album collapses and this wild ride in the time-machine fuelled by regret hits its desperate end.

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CPLX 13 : Mentufacturer featuring Biophillick – Serpiente Neón

Mentufacturer describes himself as “an industrial kid who grew up to admit his love for melodic mantras”. When not working behind the scenes as one of Dionysian Industrial Complex’s founders / curators, he tries to make good on that claim with a series of quirky EPs that combine clattery and cluttered percussion with yearning melodic riffs played on cheap synth plugins.

But in this single, a collaboration with shamanic singer Biophillick, he sets his sights on the chill or glo-pop sound of the early 2010s. It’s a hazy and lazy affair in the vein of “Work Drugs” or “Neon Indian”. A sound that is sun-glare on sea and saturated beach colours.

Or at least, that’s where you feel Mentufacturer wants to take it. But strange moves keep disturbing the reverie. An aggressive pummeling battery of distorted kicks marks the end of each hyper-measure, like a beach bully kicking over the sand-castles. A sudden screeching tape-stop ruptures the vibe to announce a big echoey bass that might well have come from early 80s post-punk. The trappish snare-claps are just a bit too crisp for the impressionistic scene. Biophillick’s languidly murmuring, slightly androidified vocals, in celebration of hot light and the neon serpent of a thousand colours, help to re-establish the glo-wave feel. But it remains just slightly too robotic. The audio-equivalent of Biophillick’s visual art : an intense electric neon take on the succulent colours of nature.

See also Biophillick’s video for this track on Instagram.

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