dsic last arrived here with his Entropy release in 2018, a record featuring his familiar sandpaper-glitch attack in the service of some quite pessimistic themes…perhaps a soundtrack to watch the world decaying and unravelling. These themes might be continuing on Crude Computer 1-3 (LF RECORDS LF067, LF068, LF069), a series of three separate CDRs he released simultaneously, all sharing the same method – that of working with a “broken” computer, and “broken” hardware, in order to generate “broken” sounds. This is absolutely a good thing to be doing. We might want to point to that rarefied strain of avant-garde music which has been called “broken music” – of which the primo example is Czech genius Milan Knízák’s 1979 release of this name, comprising mostly very destructive and disjunctive cut-ups made from recording tape. But there was also a gallery exhibition by this same name, where I think the criteria were more tightly defined, and there was a lot of emphasis on breaking discs, defacing covers, playing objects that weren’t really records on turntables, and such like. 1 But dsic is somewhat different, his plan is to enter the innards of his own computer-based devices that he uses to generate music, and sabotage from within. One would love to hear the details of how he does this, and maybe it’s as subtle as using a soldering iron to make certain circuits malfunction, or as unsubtle as bashing in the metal case with a sledgehammer. Or maybe one simply waits for the damn thing to stop working of its own accord (we are constantly being reminded to replace old hard drives) and then trying to force whatever changes seem appropriate. Make no mistake, this is not a “recycling” action though, dsic wants to arrive at something raw and unprocessed, hence the term “crude”. To return to my original line of thought, all of this probably represents a metaphor for the general breakdown of society, politics, law and order, the infrastructure of our cities, the environment, the world…and even good manners when you get on the bus, all readable as symptoms of that “entropic” situation I mentioned earlier.
None of the Crude Computer series is especially “noisy” however. If you think the correct response to the collapse of Western civilisation is simply to set up a wall of howling feedback and twisted metal, dsic might respectfully disagree. Rather the music on offer is subtle and understated, almost forlorn in its tone. Forlorn, because for the most part we seem to be “hearing” the death of a hard drive, or other moving part of a computer that is spinning hopelessly around as it tries to complete its given task. Matter of fact, if you scale up that scenario you could imagine an entire system being fed programs and routines which it cannot possibly execute, because parts are missing or broken. At one level, I think we might be hearing the idea of “glitch” taken to a new level of disjointedness. When the Cologne techno boffins and the Mego boys used “glitch” back in those innocent days of 2001, they were applying minor malfunctions within the framework of an activity that could still be considered a form of electronic music. Now, with his crude computers, dsic is going for the jugular, not even interested in making “music” necessarily, just to show us the hard truth of what happens when computers start falling apart, and the sheer inane gibberish and inchoate masses of crunchy sound data which proceed to spill out.
However, this isn’t to say Crude Computer represents process art, that particular way of working (I have mixed feelings about its value) that often-times excuses the artist who’s doing it from making any kind of decision or taking responsibility for the action. Dsic the person is still in here editing, selecting, and cutting the spillage down into bite-size chunks. It’s worth adding that it isn’t exclusively made from digital emissions either, as there are elements involving spoken word (on volume 1, there’s the surviving fragment of a history documentary or something, which seems to have survived the end of the world) and, I think, field recordings of a very odd sort – unless I’m imagining these grey concrete drones to be something they are not. There are also many tracks which feature rhythms and pulsations, just happening in a very disordered way, which is fascinating. Musicians who fancy themselves as techno “producers” so often like to aim for clean rhythms, flawless delivery, polished beats. dsic’s crude computer has found a way to subvert all of that, and instead the rhythm patterns spit out as haphazardly as dripping fat on a blazing fire. I’m assuming it takes a very bold and adventurous mind to get good results with this kind of hacking, and on this occasion dsic hits the target every time on all of these three discs. Good hard-hitting textured noise and menacing weather-filled drones; just great! From 12th February 2019.
- Eric Lanzillotta once compiled a list of 525 examples of “broken music” on Discogs. ↩