Black to Comm : Earth
De Stijl Records (2012)
What planet is Black to Comm from? How can this be the first Black to Comm record I’ve heard?
Lately I’ve been bored with experimental/noise based music, but I picked this up on a whim because I’ve seen the Black to Comm name floating around in lots of different places over the years. I hadn’t realised just what an effect Earth has had on me until I noticed in iTunes that I’ve listened to this record nearly 35 times since I got it a few weeks back.
The solo brainchild of Mark Richter, owner of the De Stijl Record label, Black to Comm is based on a fascination with super old records. Like Philip Jeck, Richter samples and manipulates obscure recordings, twisting them into abstract patterns and shapes. He embellishes found sound with odd acoustic instruments and electronic disarray. Disembodied voices lurk in the background wispy and faint like ghosts, the needle crackles away comfortingly on vinyl and melodies shimmer in endless loops while odd noises haunt the darkest corners of each and every track. The result is spectral, somewhat melodramatic and entirely ‘what the fuck’. It has the grandiosity of Godspeed you! Black Emperor! with a far more whimsical attitude.
On Earth, composed as the soundtrack to a silent film by a Singaporean artist, the glue that binds these montages are the vocals provided by Vindicatrix; a rich and monotonous series of incantations which could easily become grating, but in this context they take charge as a Medium contacting the spirits responsible for this music from the other side.
The critic Simon Reynolds has written quite a bit about Hauntology (see his latest release Retromania), a phrase he applies to a group of artists on the Ghost Box label who mine old BBC recordings to create ‘spooky’ music that lies in the realm of Camp. Reynolds loves these artists and the way they embody a history that’s supposedly haunting us in the present. I think Earth is a much better representation of this idea and Richter’s incantations are startlingly original by comparison. This is music that requires patience and dedication, the patterns are detailed and intricate. Listen at night, with headphones.