First blog post

Do you know what apocryphical means:

anisław Lem is well-regarded as a writer of this kind of deeper, thought-provoking science fiction. The novel His Master’s Voice is the inspiration behind this collaboration between Contemplatron and Shentz: a single-track disc entitled His Master’s Voice: Apocryphical Soundtrack for the Book of St. Lem. The novel centers around a signal captured by astronomers and thought to possibly come from an alien civilization. The signal is likened to the Rorschach inkblot test as it mystifies the novel’s characters, each of them having a different hypothesis about the signal’s source and meaning.

The application of dark ambient music in tribute to this novel is especially apt as the formlessness of the genre can give it the qualities of the aforementioned Rorschach inkblot—a patternless signal upon which the human mind compulsively forces meaning. Contemplatron and Shentz provide a fifty-one-minute stream of moderately paced textures, delivered with a restraint that leaves every sound audible even if it is not front-and-center in the mix. This music seems not intended to soothe, as there are plenty of nasty tones and uncomfortable high-pitched sounds. However, the gentle progression of the track does give it a relaxed feel and frames the nastiness in a way that encourages a more neutral assessment. Consequently, the music works better as a medium for contemplative immersion than it does for anti-aesthetic self-torture or pain endurance.

To say much more than that about the music is to underscore the music’s thematic idea. There is a quote from Stanisław Lem inside the disc’s digipak which says in part, “Sometimes we face phenomena the essence of which we are unable to understand.” This itself is also a hidden lesson of the Rorschach inkblot test, which augured the plunge into subjectivity that would take place in the twentieth century, showing up in abstract expressionism as well as different schools of psychology and philosophy. The lesson is, of course, that meaning is imposed by the human mind rather than discovered. It can be enlightening to ignore our relentless pattern-seeking in order to accept the world as it is, without labels or explanation.

To listen to music in this state of mind is also enlightening. With its measured advance and sensual tones, Contemplatron and Shentz’s His Master’s Voice is a splendid composition for this kind of non-interpretive listening.

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Track List:

01) Apocryphical Soundtrack for the Book of St. Lem

Written by: Matthew Carey
Label: Wrotycz Records (Poland) / WRT025 / CD
Dark Ambient