The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Gig #128: Of late 37: Ammar 808, Max Eilbacher, Body / Head, E-Saggila, Nadine Byrne, Shygirl, The New Blockaders, Michael Beharie / Teddy Rankin-Parker, Yves Tumor, Container, Cruel Diagonals, Amnesia Scanner, Alex Zhang Hungtai


Ammar 808
Max Eilbacher
Nadine Byrne
The New Blockaders
Michael Beharie / Teddy Rankin-Parker
Yves Tumor
Cruel Diagonals
Amnesia Scanner
Alex Zhang Hungtai


Ammar 808 Degdega
‘Ben Youssef uses a TR-808 to reimagine the many traditional rhythms and instruments of the Maghreb—an area that spans most of Northern Africa, from Mauritania to Libya—through a sci-fi lens in order to warn the region’s dwellers about an impending bleak future, and to spur them into action. By putting instruments like the gasba flute, the zokra bagpipe, and the guembri guitar through the filters of the iconic 808 and bending these sounds into surprising and often unrecognizable forms, Ben Youssef joins the ranks of artists shedding a light on North African futurism by taking a critical and nuanced look at past traditions and remaking them into something that can serve as a window to the region’s unique heritage for the citizens of a distant future.’ — band camp daily


Max Eilbacher Unnamed (For Guitar and Tape)
‘Max Eilbacher is an intermedia artist who works primarily with sound, video, and performance. His sound practice draws upon traditions of electroacoustic, musique concréte composition and process intensive computer music.’ — bandcamp


Body/Head  You Don’t Need
‘It feels odd to talk about control when discussing Body/Head. Kim Gordon and Bill Nace’s grinding guitar duets seem primed for letting go, with both members surrendering their musical egos to the flow of their noises and textures. They get out of their own way, carving out ample time for each piece to gestate, grow, and ripen. Dig deeper into their songs, though, and the discipline in Gordon and Nace’s approach emerges. No matter how far they stretch, their tones and rhythms always cohere, making their music as mesmerizing as a hypnotist’s swinging clock.’ — Marc Masters


E-Saggila Through Concrete
‘Whether be industrial noise, blistering rave breakbeats or dark techno atmospherics—they’re all effortlessly joined and projected in impressive live immersion by Toronto-based musician Rita Mikhael, known in her solo efforts as E-Saggila.’ — noberg


Nadine Byrne Dreaming Remembering
‘One of three Stockholm-based Byrne sisters along with Tanya, her partner in Ectoplasm Girls, and Ambra, who has recently provided EG’s live visuals, Nadine operates at the intersection of intuitive sonic and visual arts. Where Ectoplasm Girls tend to a bewitched sort of industrial experimentation, Nadine’s personal work is defined in terms of its relative, mutable electronic sleight of hand, with vocals handled by the mysterious Sarah Kim. As the title connotes, Dreaming Remembering is about intimate reflection and the space between awareness and uncertainty of recollection. In that noumenal gooch, Nadine works an incredible freeform, uncluttered sound best resembling the illusive nature of dreams and their elusive memory. In her mind and out of her machines, they feel out a spectrum ranging from mirage-like vignettes like Atlas thru to curdled proto-techno buzzes and grubby drone intonations with wickedly possessed vocals.’ — boomkat


Shygirl Gush
‘South East London singer and DJ Blane Muise recently explained that her Shygirl moniker had nothing to do with timidity. The alter ego Muise inhabits on her debut solo EP, Cruel Practice, isn’t afraid to approach others—she’s simply “not down for small talk.” In Shygirl’s world, “time is precious.” She hates when people waste hers, and it shows in a dark, seething persona that combines venomous lyricism with tar-boiling industrial beats.’ — Margaret Farrell


The New Blockaders & GX Jupitter-Larsen Live at Extreme Rituals
‘The New Blockaders scrambled so many circuits that its influence is inestimable. It is both ultra-sophisticated and jaw-droppingly crude, a freely improvised electro-acoustic session that utilizes the sound of wheelchair runners, broken glass and bowed metal in order to access a zone of complete brain-stilling gridlock. One of the first post-Throbbing Gristle recordings to run an umbilical to the classical noise of the 20th century.’ — David Keenan


Michael Beharie / Teddy Rankin-Parker Gully
‘The names of multi-instrumentalist Michael Beharie and cellist Teddy Rankin-Parker probably won’t ring bells for many people, but their list of accomplishments is long: Their genre-spanning CVs would make for a pretty unusual playlist, with credits ranging from Primus to Iron & Wine, Au Revoir Simone to Laurel Halo, Pauline Oliveros to Father John Misty. They finally came together for their first record as a duo, A Heart From Your Shadow, spending time at Beharie’s living-room studio in Bed-Stuy and at a proper studio in Greenpoint; Jim O’Rourke handled mixing duties. Across 10 fractured pieces, Beharie and Rankin-Parker flit through a number of modes: gorgeous strings, drone blasts, polyrhythmic din, spoken-word études, electronic spasms, and more, never feeling the need to settle on any one for long. Like being elbowed on a crowded subway by a good-looking stranger, you come away feeling at once jostled and besotted by the results.’ — Andy Beta


Yves Tumor Noid
‘On first blush, “Noid” could sit comfortably among the past decade’s neo-disco, with its canned strings that whir cheerily over a chunky dance beat and a buoyant bassline. While the lyrics hint at a certain darkness—“Sister, mother, brother, father/Have you looked outside?/I’m scared for my life,” Tumor sings with a rasp, obliquely echoing Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”—the instrumentation’s upbeat pulse seems to bury the anxiety. Then, about halfway through, “Noid” starts to come apart: The beat grows more complex, the bass starts falling out of key, and the strings give way to faraway shrieks and low electronic groans. Tumor repeats the lyrics of the first verse, but the rest of the song has transformed into a jagged, toothy snarl.’ — Sasha Geffen


Container Eject
‘For all the noise, chaos, and dysfunction flowing through Ren Schofield’s work as Container, the Nashville techno producer never aims for less than total euphoria. That trancelike drive—as indebted to minimal techno greats like Daniel Bell and Robert Hood as it is Schofield’s early days in the Providence, Rhode Island noise scene—allows his music to sound perpetually on the verge of rattling apart. Even when spiraling into ear-searing psychedelia, Container is sturdily reinforced by a core of pure joy, an impish glee fueling its destructive drive. On his fourth album, LP, Schofield pushes his ramshackle rave music to its breaking point—and yet he’s never made an album that holds together quite as well as this.’ — Miles Bowe


Cruel Diagonals Itinerant Solitude
Disambiguation, Megan Mitchell’s debut album as Cruel Diagonals (premiering below), is a captivatingly eerie wash of experimental electronic music. Each of its radon-heavy songs grew out of field recordings that Mitchell captured in the Pacific Northwest, usually by “activating the space,” banging on a rusting sheet or swiping at a metal plate. The sounds that thrum through the tracks were recorded in abandoned environments—partly because they provide her with more interesting acoustics, partly because she got used to them growing up near a naval base in Alameda, California. On Disambiguation, noises either crawl into the mix and leave before the listener has a chance to guess at their origins, or they mingle to the point that focusing on anything else is impossible.’ — Alex Robert Ross, Noisey


Amnesia Scanner AS A.W.O.L
‘Ville Haimala and Martti Kalliala’s music is more than a swirl of reference points, and “AS A.W.O.L.” — from the group’s forthcoming debut LP Another Life — works as both a high-minded critique of technology and a concentrated dose of nightmarish pop. The song’s intro is spare and metallic before dropping the listener into a stew of anxious percussion and molasses-thick bass synths. The core of the track is a single towering hook, with inhuman vocals that move from slow-motion lows to piercing highs: “You try to set me up/You try to shut me down,” sings the spectral protagonist. Later, pitched-up and chopped-up: “I’m going A.W.O.L.” Amnesia Scanner credits the vocalist as “a disembodied voice called Oracle, which represents the sentience that has emerged from Amnesia Scanner.”— Nathan Reese


Alex Zhang Hungtai Pierrot
‘As he himself says, Alex Zhang Hungtai composed Divine Weight, the first album under his own name, out of scraps — discarded saxophone recordings that hadn’t materialized into anything concrete. Laying there, unused, they had to be radically changed, pushed to their limits. Cut up, looped, resynthesized again and again until they became the building blocks of a spectral cathedral of the unknown. The resulting compositions sound like church music of a nomad seeing ghosts of different times in different places, some long forgotten and some barely known. The music of Divine Weight is endlessly shifting and mutating, both crushingly heavy and weightless, ensuring that the album’s divinity does not lend itself to easy comprehension or one-dimensional understanding. Its ethereal presence is not given; it seeps in through the cracks, distant yet nearby, embracing yet cold, unforgiving. A prayer spoken from another world; the image of luminous specks of life seen in the neon lights of Hong Kong, of a god formed in cracked concrete.’ — ACEDIA




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Ha ha, you know your stuff, sir. ** Tosh Berman, I had this suspicion or at least hope that you might cotton to that particular post. Thanks, T. ** Jamie, Hi, man. I did? Cool. Yeah, it kind of worked, right? It was all about the camera angles, or largely, I think. I love and miss 45s too. And, yeah, cut out magic cardboard discs. I even love flexi-discs, and they were basically useless apart from their endearing flimsiness. But I digress. My Thursday had a great blissed overlayer or underlayer or something because it was so cool outside that I even got to wear a coat. Man oh man. Otherwise, it was work on the usual things that need not even be identified. But it was good. And a bit of this and that. And I managed to buy some cheddar cheese, which not easy to find here in France, and I took it home and melted it on things, and, man oh man, had I missed cheddar cheese. Hooray to say the least about you’re feeling so good! And I can totally see how watching Artistic Gymnastics would be fascinating. That sports/art cusp can really work sometimes. I mean … synchronised swimming, what more need I say? Friday … more usual work. Hopefully finish and send off the ARTE proposal to our producer. Get close to finishing the new film treatment. Hopefully get a yes or no on the London PGL screening. Eat more cheddar cheese. Stuff like that. And you and yours? How’s that play going? I hope your Friday gives you writerly talent that Beckett would crawl across the Sahara to have had. Released from prison love, Dennis. ** Steve Erickson, Oh, nice about the Smithsonian share. I’ll delve. Curious to read your take on the Travis Scott. And on the film too. Everyone, Do you want to know what Steve thinks about the new Travis Scott album? Find out. Do you want to know what he thinks about Tim Wardle’s documentary THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS? Find out. The CD fetish is arriving just about right on schedule. I’m down. I don’t know about the RaMell Ross documentary, but now I’m peeled. Thanks. I did not know that about an Allen Ravenstine album. Now that’s potentially interesting. ** Bill, Hey. Cool. Oh, no, about the access issue. God, I hope it was a blip. Do give that sketch some serious love. I’m talking LTR, 24/7, sugardaddy love. ** JM, Hi. Thank you. That was my aim, in fact. And theirs too, no doubt, had they been sentient. I’m a bit of a prose nazi. Has its ups and downs. Your vinyl shop is a fucking fascist! No, I’m kidding. My day is destined to be very much about the getting there, albeit with the fidgeting, glaring product off there in the near distance. Yours too! ** _Black_Acrylic, We speak the same language! Well, I guess we always have. But maybe the post helped us cut through the clutter of our respective regional accents, if we have them. I’ve never heard of that Mort Garson album. Youtube, here I come. Thank you, bud. ** Misanthrope, Yeah? Well, but then my wrong could be your right, and vice versa. So anything’s possible. I have a ton of colored vinyl back in my LA pad. And a slew of picture discs that look so cool but sound so crap. Main thing is to find out what’s fucking with you, and I’m glad you’re game for being searched and solved. Today’s your birthday? Holy moly, happy happy happy! Everyone, I never know if anyone actually reads these italicised interruptions, but, if you are, it’s Misanthrope’s birthday today, so do something wack or wish him a happy one or something. 47’s nothing. You’ve got ages to go before you’re a barely walking, talking sag fest. Enjoy! What kind of cake? ** H, Hi there, h! Great to see you! I’m good, in fact, thank you. Oh, wow, fantastic that your piece is out in the world! And desistfilm is an awesome site. So congrats to them and to you! I can’t wait to read it. Everyone, the mighty writer and thinker and being h has just had a piece on the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Pixelvision series published on the fine site desistfilm. So, a fascinating topic and, obviously, a fascinating writer, and you are most very highly encouraged if need be to go here and read ‘PIXELVISION: THE AFFINITIES WITH THE LOW-RES MATERIALITY OF THE WORLD’, as it’s called. That’s so great! The Lincoln Center event goes great, as far as I can tell. I think they’ll announce it any second. Take care. ** Corey Heiferman, You know me, I love them GIFs. That’s interesting. About your issue with digitised analogue. I think I’m interested in the translation. But I grew up reading 99% fiction translated from other languages. It does sound like your move has been a resounding success. And hopefully that will make whatever phantoms you run into over there no heavier than a bunch of Casper the Magic Ghosts. I like going over there. To LA especially since I actually live there part-time technically even though I’m hardly there these days. I like being over there while not being freighted with it. When I was living in Amsterdam I absolutely adored going to the States because my life in Amsterdam was an isolated, lonely, crazy thing. Seeing friends, eating in fave restaurants, the unbeatable quality of light in LA, driving. Yeah, I don’t have a problem being there. It either feels totally comfortable or it feels profoundly strange. Both are good. ** Okay. I made this month’s gig for you and am posting it today for no particular reason. I hope you’ll test the vids and find out if you like anything. See you tomorrow.


  1. Wow, Dennis, as usual I’ve heard of almost none of these groups, save for the New Blockaders. I will say that Yves Tumor is a great band name.

    Some stuff I’ve been listening to recently include Blondie (got a bunch of their old albums recently: I especially liked the song “The Attack of the Giant Ants” off their self-titled album), various classical albums (Bach being a big one), the TWIN PEAKS soundtrack (I’m currently watching the second season of TWIN PEAKS)… yesterday I re-listened to ELP’s “Tarkus” on the way to work… right now as I type this, in a no doubt feeble effort to stay relevant, I’m listening to Cardi B, which a friend recommended to me… but I don’t think I’m the target audience! I’m looking forward to the new Troye Sivan and Nicki Minaj albums due out this month… and will probably get the Cher ABBA cover one next month. Don’t throw anything at me, ha ha.

    Got the PDF of the HARLEM SMOKE interior from Snuggly today. It’s just shy of 400 pages, ha ha (in Word Documnet format it was around 330 pages). I’ll have to read through that soon and look out for any last-minute typos. By this point I’m sick of reading this damn book, but at least I can console myself knowing that, after this re-read, I’ll only have to read it one more time in the immediate future: that is, when it’s published (which will probably be in January of next year, though I might get my author copies in December).

  2. I really like that E Saggila track and am now on alert for when her forthcoming Dedicated To Sublimity LP is released, which should be soon hopefully.

  3. Good day, Dennis!
    What a great selection of music you’ve posted today! I was instantly suckered by that description of Ammar 808 and the track didn’t let it down. Sounds kind of Neubauten? Max Eilbacher, Nadine Byrne, Shygirl and Cruel Diagonals – all great too. I thought Yves Tumor seemed quite interesting, but that track sounds a little ‘baggy’. I’ll investigate further. The Container track’s my pick of the post though. I had such a big smile on my face by the end of it. Thank you for the music, indeed. Oh yeah, and I’m now in Google-hole attempting to glean what I can about the New Blockaders!
    How are you? I love that you love cheddar cheese so much! Hope you squeeze maximum enjoyment out of that block you scored.
    Did you get the ARTE propsosal sent off? How are you feeling about the whole thing?
    My play ended up being a lot of fun to write, so I’m intrigued to see what Hannah and Kate make of it. Old Jose Mourinho’s coming across as quite a tragic character irl atm, so he was interesting to write. It’s only a short thing, but I felt like I could have gone on for way longer. But let’s see what those harsh WG critics say first.
    Are you into Beckett? I’ve always been fascinated, but found him hard to get into. I saw an evening of five of his plays a couple of months ago, which was amazing and made me feel like I’d ‘got’ him, but I decided to try and read Molloy last weekend (inspired by BA’s excellent Drunken Bakers post on here) and I just couldn’t go on after about three pages.
    What was Friday like for you? I’ve been cleaning, mostly, and tonight we’re going to some dance/art performance that I suspect/hope is going to be brilliant. I’ll let you know.
    Weekend plans?
    Hope it’s as interesting as the article I read earlier about Ice Poseidon, the live streamer. That stuff’s nuts.
    Juicy Fruit love,

  4. Hi!!

    How are you, Dennis? How was your week? Are you surviving the heat or is it a little better by now over there? (We’re still melting! Not a single day of respite!) How are the ARTE things going…? And the proposals for your new film?

    Thank you for the shoutout about my blog!!!
    Really? Do you still have any of your Polaroid pictures? I really adore them and yes, I get exactly what you mean! I have a digital camera and it’s awesome and has a billion different functions and I hardly ever use it. Poor him. I’m hyped about the Polaroid thing, though.
    My week is consumed by this very high-energy, inspired mood which is about to give birth to something but I’m still not sure to what exactly. Do you like the work of Robert Mapplethorpe? I watched a documentary about him a few days ago and read Patti Smith’s ‘Just Kids’ which turned out to be one of those books that just hit me at the perfect moment from the perfect angle. I adore Patti’s poetry and this book, combined with my newfound fascination with Robert’s work and the way he worked in general, gave me so extremely much. I’m really trying to push myself to actually buckle down and make something of this inspired feeling – not to just float in it as I usually do. I feel like I’m on the verge of some kind of drastic breakthrough (I feel like the oldest teenager in the world). I really need it now.

    I hope you’ll have a fantastic weekend and I can’t wait to hear all about it on Monday!!

  5. A heads up for anyone who might be around Northern England: recent DC’s star and longtime fave artist of mine Sophie Lisa Beresford has a new and essential-looking rave-inspired exhibition North East Style opening tonight at the Abject Gallery in Newcastle.

  6. Dennis, And that’s where it gets a bit hairy, no? The your right versus my wrong thing. That’s why I think it’s a very rare circumstance where two wrongs make a right work. Everyone would have to be way simpatico, which is so hard to do.

    Oh, yeah, I look forward the gastro doc if it comes to that. I want to know what’s what. Of course, it they go, “You got cancer” or some shit, eh, I might not be so happy about that, hahaha. I doubt it’s anything dire. But if I could somehow get this daily stomach pain since the mesh surgery solved, I’d be okay with that.

    Thank you very much for the birthday wishes. If anyone else wished me such, thank you too. (I can’t see the comments today.)

    Ah, just a traditional vanilla cake (almost no one in the house likes chocolate and even I’ve turned against it somewhat over the years) with vanilla buttercream icing. It was pretty fucking ace.

  7. I mentioned a gqom track called “Cruel Banger” here about a month ago. That title is a great description of the Shygirl and E-Saggila songs you chose. I knew who Yves Tumor was before you mentioned “Noid” here, but you alerted me to that song, which I think is one of the year’s best singles. (If SOPHIE’s “Immaterial” can get to #2 in Stereogum’s “Song of the Summer” poll, sandwiched between Kacey Musgraves and the current projected winner Cardi B, can we get “Noid” onto dance floors across North America & Europe?) Amman 808 were also interesting; I want to stream their album on Bandcamp.

    The Imperial Triumphant album is amazing. Their mixture of metal, jazz, prog, noise and weirder elements like touches of opera and Ennio Morricone soundtracks has a real force and originality, despite the fact that I’m amazed they’ve yet to collaborate with John Zorn or sign to his Tzadik label. There’s an implicit politics behind their music – and videos and image – around New York’s gentrification and status as a playground for the rich that avoids the self-righteousness often plaguing the protest song tradition. (The Coup’s music is awesome, but I often get the impression Boots Riley is an activist first and rapper second.) They also come off really sinister and kvlt without the “Satan! Satan! Satan!” chanting and cheap slasher movie imagery of so much death and black metal. I want to keep writing reviews of music that really interests me, even if I’m not getting paid for it (as long as I have time to do so), and I plan to work on that next week.

    I’m glad to hear the full details of your Lincoln Center appearance with Zac. Great choice of films!

  8. Dennis!!! Thanks for sharing. You’re so sweet as usual. I’m so flattered. Will speak with you soon about your event. Can’t wait…

  9. Corey Heiferman

    August 11, 2018 at 9:32 am

    I always enjoy these posts, thank you. I have very addictive habits as a music listener, so for example when this post came up I enjoyed listening to something other than Hila Ruach for a little while. There are always a few tracks that resonate with me and it’s interesting to ask myself why others don’t, or in what context they might. AMMAR 808 plays well in the heat here. I really enjoyed the qin zither kind of sound that Max Eilbacher arrived at with guitar and tape. I’ll try Container as productivity music since it combines a repetitive beat with an edge, like it’s both an encouragement and a challenge to stay in the zone and get shit done. “Itinerant Solitude” is just begging to be movie theme music, maybe sci-fi?

    An add along similar lines to what you’ve posted:


    Analog/digital and translation, interesting. I think pressing digitally-produced music on vinyl is inherently decadent, and projecting celluloid-produced cinema digitally is inherently cheap. Also, having it both ways is much more of an option with records (old and new) that are for sale online and at the remaining record shops than it is for celluloid, which can be found only in the increasingly tight fists of a handful of archives or in the hands of a patchwork of collectors.

    I’m getting extremely interested in translating into and out of Hebrew. It feels like a good kind of homework to give myself that combines language study with my literary side. Plus there could be gigs there down the road. I think I’ll use this space to post some poetry translations now and then.

    Thank you for your good wishes for my trip. I return them to you.

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