This week though, I wanted to do something just a little different. I wanted to share with you an album that (IMO) has gone very unheard, and not talked about. Ironically, the album is titled Nothing and was put out in 1996 by System Error.
Bobby Bird had already gained quite a bit of a fan base with several releases under the Higher Intelligence Agency moniker (including an appearance on the seminal Warp Records compilation Artificial Intelligence II in 1994) and 1996 was to be a stellar year for releases. Not only was it the first of two collaborations with Biosphere's Geir Jenssen but a record created literally from nothing would fuel my musical imagination for years to come.
Something from nothing. But what was the nothing? According to these notes on the album "..the album is called 'nothing', because that's essentially what it was derived from. We wanted to reveal the hidden voice of sampling technology and play the samplers rather than the samples. Using no input signals at all, we just sampled nothing and looked really closely at it. We used every glitch and software fault and tried to listen to what the machines had to say."
What does nothing sound like? Not as cold and digital as one would think. There is a real human feeling to the compositions.(despite the tracks coming from such an unfeeling source) A warmth within the machine hums.
This was from a time when dance music really was intelligent, and not just the noodlings of a kid and his MacBook. Meticulously programmed beats intersperse with delicate melodies that reside within subtle textures. It's relaxing and challenging, and is best suited in a room lit only by a single computer monitor while reading something like E.M. Forester's The Machine Stops as the music could easily be a future artifact from that time period.
The album is thankfully still available on the web. I would suggest hopping over to Headphone and picking up a copy.
Fans of the early days of Warp will not be disappointed.
Look for an interview with Bobby Bird later this week.
For now have a great weekend.
download Enough Already