Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Velo di Maya

“Never try to convey your idea to the audience – it is a thankless and senseless task. Show them life, and they’ll find within themselves the means to assess and appreciate it.” - Andrei Tarkovsky

The Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky wasn't a man in a rush to say what he wanted to say. Known for a spiritual approach to long takes in film, he played with the audience's patience to produce challenging works of fucking immense beauty. There's a scene in his late film Nostalghia where a 9 minute single take follows the protagonist as he repeatedly walks from one side of an abandoned pool to the other while trying to keep a candle still lit. It's a moment on character redemption, a pilgrimage of sorts. The camera follows him without any breaks and as a viewer watching this it gives of the feeling of stasis. If you hold your concentration on this scene, it seems to transcend time and hold you in a fixed point through repetition and gradual changes in the shot. My ability to critically access film is limited to drunken meanderings about the humanization of HAL in 2001, but I think this scene is a brilliant visual reference as to how the music of Italian maestros Voices from the Lake works.

Their third EP and fourth release overall has come out on the New York based in house party label The Bunker. Culled from the live set that appropriately fucked with everyone's mind, body and soul, it's a three track ep of psychedelic, voodoo techno. This is music that makes time stand still. The progressions on these songs are so gradual and carefully composed that it feels like these tunes are static, locked in a certain point in time. There is no intro or outro, beginning or ending. They fade in and out like you're only listening to a tiny part of a much greater whole. Voices from the Lake have become known for their infamous extended live sets, some lasting up to 5 hours. These cuts sound like they were exquisitely curated from a section of time in one of these extended jams.  Listening to these in a pitch black room can give the feeling of floating and sensory disengagement.

There are certain words I told myself not to use in this article. Trance, headfuck, Labyrinth. They've become synonymous for what these Italians do. But the actual music is so much more than those signifiers. Yes, it has certain sensibilities with the early 90s trance scene. Yes is does fuck with your head. And yes Dozzy is the famous resident of the Japanese festival Labyrinth. All those things that are superficial writing toppings don't grasp just exactly what this music can do. It seems to come from the air to cut through time and release hedonistic moments of liminality. This is ritualistic music. The clue is in the release title Velo di Maya that translates as the Veil of Maya. This is techno music that references ancient civilizations, providing clues about where this music comes from and how to approach it. Think about the artist name as well, 'Voices from the Lake'. Plenty of artists have names that reference the natural world, but not many seem so apt at describing the music underneath. This is music that manages to sound simultaneously ancient and contemporary. I previously wrote about Kobosil's excellent start to the year and when you look at both of these artists, it's silly how far ahead they are from anyone else making techno at the moment (bar people like Marco Shuttle and PVH). There's a great deal of good, adequate beats being made but very few sound as fresh and shockingly new as what these talented producers are doing.


  1. Interesting that you mention Tarkovsky, I actually tweeted Dozzy about Plays Bee Mask to say he sounded like an influence, especially due to all of the water samples.

    Great post.