If you’ve tuned into our previous NTS shows you’ve almost certainly got bits and pieces from Dane Law’s various projects, whether it be a hectic trance experiment or glitched out hardcore released through the Quantum Natives platform. We were lucky to grab a guest session from the British producer for our latest show and his ‘Digital Paganism’ mix has not disappointed, joining elegiac ambient forms with Wicker Man samples and a perfect blend of mania and serenity. The guest mix starts around 35 minutes in and runs for 35 minutes. As usual, the Astral Plane DJ Team handles the rest of the show, which features a few tracks from SHALT’s upcoming return to APR and LOFT’s debut 12″, also out via our in house label.
Renick Bell often performs his compositions at what are called algoraves, a collision of live coding and rave music in physical space, and has also performed at a Linux Audiio conference and a host of technology, cognition and art events. To date, the music he has released has largely been comprised of the Fractal Beats series, a series of beats composed algorithmically that often resemble footwork, hardcore and the prickliest of Detroit techno. Despite the somewhat didactic underpinnings of Renick’s work, the Tokyo-based producer/coder’s sonic output does have an immediately gratifying edge to it, hence the rave component of the algorave setting. In his mix compositions, both for live settings and art-technology hubs like aqnb and JG Biberkopf’s Unthinkable series on NTS and the O FLUXO mix series, tracks from artists like Toxe, DJ Nervoso, Sentinel and x/o, along with a host of artists from the Quantum Natives camp, repeatedly show up in track lists and instead of being awkwardly shoehorned in with Bell’s own idiosyncratic creations, they are actually situated comfortable among his own coded works.
While the credentials set out above might make one think that Renick’s Fractal Beats might be more fit for coding conferences than any sort of more linear dance/electronic music event, his forthcoming releases might make one think differently. Along with an album for Quantum Natives, Bell will be releasing on Lee Gamble’s UIQ, Rabit’s Halcyon Veil and London’s Beatgatherers set in the near future, a departure from the more than slightly indecipherable (from our position at least) world of live coding, algoraves and academic papers on live coding and pragmatic aesthetic theory. In the context of those release, the inclusion of the aforementioned artists becomes clearer and with tracks from T-EA, Ling, City and Zuli in his Astral Plane mix, it’s clear that his output, while not for everyone, can and should be contextualized in a wider field of electronic and club music artists. And from the position of a technology/coding layman, Bell’s music has an immediacy that extends beyond its compositional inception, a basis in rave culture that, despite how broken the Fractal Beats series may come off, manifests itself in subtly undeniable grooves that are weaved throughout his tracks and mix work.
Entering the world of Quantum Natives is often disorienting, challenging the unassuming listener/viewer/adventurer to disentangle their expectations from their reality almost immediately. Born out through their immersive website and a series of jagged, non-linear releases, Quantum Natives is a record label as much as it is a creative fiction exercise, demanding their subjects to accept them on their terms or not accept them at all. Co-run by Brood Ma and Ornine, Quantum Natives has hosted releases from Goch, Sifaka Kong, Yearning Kru, DJWWW & N. BRENNAN with each release riffing on a dense matrix of noise, rave music and a collection of hi-tech tropes. The releases trend towards the dystopic, but that’s an unfair simplification and the music is often more visceral than it is didactic, especially when paired with the geographies and pick-your-path games of the QN website.
Ornine’s work in particular is startlingly referential, drawing bits and pieces of footwork and hardcore into his glitchy productions. It’s hardly sound system and like much of the label’s output it hardly follows any sort of grid, but songs like “Worker Purr” and his remix of Brood Ma’s “ESTEEM” do more to elucidate the intense spacialities and alternate realities of digital life that are so often referenced in electronic music and so rarely realized. For Astral Plane Mix 110, Ornine runs us through the gamut of forthcoming Quantum Natives material, including forthcoming tracks from recsund, d0us, Renick Bell, swivelized sounds, 0800221363 and crown shyness, as well as a collection of songs from his own forthcoming album on the label (due late this year). There’s often an inclination for shallow escapism in futuristic or technology-focused music, but Ornine’s body of work and Quantum Natives’ presentation in general never seems to fall into those traps and while their world might be hard to define it’s as captivating of a digital art space as you’ll find anywhere.