subota, 8. rujna 2012.

Tabor Robak + Gatekeeper - Exo (2012): album i komp-igra

Tabor Robak, tvorac kompjutorskih igara i bend Gatekeeper udruženo su napravili novo dvoglavo mitološko biće - glazbeni album koji prati vizualno-meditativna igra u stilu filma Samsara i IMAX-ovih dokumentaraca.
Bilo je neumitno da će doći i do toga.
Hoće li uskoro svaki album umjesto video-spota pratiti cjelovečernji 3-D film?

Igra je ovdje
Tabor Robak

Artwork by Tabor Robak.

Pineal activation. IMAX phantasy. Drippy acid ecosystems. HD….everything. All contribute to the sentient environment that is Exo, Gatekeeper’s debut LP dropping on LA-based label Hippos In Tanks this summer. Demented and celebratory, sinister but pure-hearted, Exo is a cerebral spectacle, a gapless playback rush of digitally-enhanced stimulation.
Gatekeeper’s 2010 EP Giza demonstrated the duo’s acumen for pop horror, contouring both the sinister and camp of bygone synthesizer-driven soundtracks. The EP was accompanied by a video for each of the six tracks on the album, rendered in brilliant 3D by their visual comrades-in-arms Thunderhorse Video. Brought together by a common passion for underbelly culture, Gatekeeper linked with Hippos In Tanks later that year to release the Giza videos on VHS. Both the album and videos received critical support for their intelligent and humorous take on the bizarre pairing of John Carpenter myopia with industrial discotheque.
Exo takes the exotic, outlandish after-hours of Giza to an entirely higher setting. The lust and rust of Giza have evaporated in the blinding light of universal mind, leaving behind the silvery, glowing ecosystem of Exo in its wake. Here Hollywood FX meld with twisting 303 basslines, angelic choirs with metallic synths, cut-up chants with cryptic chords — all fused together by a tight blend of IDM, acid and big-beat inspired techno rhythms. The album is meant to be listened to as a whole – the tracks blend seamlessly to create a continuous environment with a consistent, deep-breathing feel. Imagine angelic dewdrops in a deep forest clearing; diving off a cascading, crystalline waterfall to an instant river.
Staying true to their EBM roots, Exo is also an expert surgery: in which Gatekeeper has taken a scalpel to big-American-dance inundation, and revealed a throbbing and insistent heart with HD exotica at its core. This is not a surprise to those who have witnessed Aaron David Ross as producer and performer in contemporary boy-band HDBoyz, whose debut performance at MoMA PS1 in 2011 featured stunningly rendered visuals, choreographed dance moves and generously-sized illegal fireworks courtesy of Thunderhorse. Or further to that, Matthew Arkell’s highly imaginative production style and work as a gallerist and curator in New York City, specializing in contemporary, experimental, often internet-oriented artwork. Both Aaron and Matthew are pre-occupied with what it means to engage in a high-definition society.
Sharing an apartment in New York, Aaron and Matthew approach Gatekeeper not as a band or a production duo, but as an immersive audiovisual experience. To that end, Exo will be complemented by a first-person gaming environment designed by Tabor Robak, in which one explores various worlds inspired by the tracks on the album. To exist in an immersive interactive simulation is truly befitting of the album’s simultaneously organic and synthetic nature. - Norman Clay

Interview: Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper Press Shot

Last week Hippos in Tanks released Brooklyn-via-Chicago duo Gatekeeper’s insane debut LP, Exo, a sharp and immersive album that the music equivalent of electrified blood and Ridley Scott’s view of the early 22nd century, if the world makes it that far. Gatekeeper’s album release party is this Friday, July 27th at Public Assembly in Brooklyn, with supporting sets by Total Freedom, James Ferraro, Yen Tech and Arca, plus venue-covering visuals by Thunder Horse FX and an 80-inch plasma screen play-through of the first-person video game Tabor Robak created for the album. Visionary on all fronts. Stream Exo here, and buy it here; below download two brand new remixes by Total Freedom and Gobby, and under those, read an interview with Gatekeeper’s Aaron David Ross and Matthew Arkell on future-futurism, Android cell phone commercials and astrology.

I read that on your last EP, Giza, you had a technique of testing your music by playing it to movies on mute. Did you do that for Exo? ARKELL: When you’re staring at Logic, watching [the program] happen like a little roller coaster, it gets sort of boring. There are a few videos that we watched this time, but we had more of a mood board. ROSS: We had these huge folders of images, and we made double-monitor screen savers of Ken Burns effects for all of them. ARKELL: There was a pretty mutual feeling of mood or feeling. Sort of like the duality of organic material, like super HD biomechanical chrome, smoothed HD structures and other generic science fiction materials. ROSS: Also 3-D wallpaper art. A lot of the designs are deviantART style and wallpaper images. We actually made an initial collection of images at first and then Tabor showed us the mood boards for his game that he was generating and then we were like, Oh my god we have to use these instead. ARKELL: When we finished the album we did test it with Chronos, though, which was sort of funny and triumphant. We turned off all the lights in our apartment—we didn’t turn on the fog machine.
Does living together ever work against you, in terms of making music? ARKELL: We’re definitely like a married couple in some senses. We bicker a lot and we’ll fight a lot, but we’re always fighting in the session and in the studio. It’s always about trying to reach this better state with the material. ROSS: Having the studio at home means that studio time is equal to any other time and compounds everything into this kind of droning infinity. We got to a point where we didn’t actually have to communicate about it. We knew that we were just going to work every night.
What’s up with the video game? ARKELL: Video games seem like natural territory to move into or explore, especially now that it’s so easy to create environments like that. The music video is slightly exhausted. As a form it’s sort of just made the rounds. ROSS: The environment Tabor made is super vivid, super live. You don’t really have any control, and you’re just being washed around in it. We started talking about the concept before we started recording, and then Tabor was drawing maps and putting together collections of JPEGs that he found online that he liked and that were inspiring. He did work like that for months and we would send him everything. Once we got the lock on the final album, we started building and coding the actual thing, but a lot of work had already been done on it. ARKELL: He didn’t need much guiding; he understood the concept pretty well and sort of just did his own thing. We’ve only seen brief shots and play-throughs. Tabor is one of those people that will work on something right up until the last minute, which is a little bit stressful. But at the same time, he is a pretty amazing artist, so if his name is attached to something…
I feel like there was retro futurism on Giza and almost a future futurism on Exo. ARKELL: With Giza, it was very much like we were looking backwards, and then we got a little bit tired of that, so for Exo we were still looking backwards but then trying to slightly orient it in an unforeseen futuristic way. A lot of the sound design and samples on Exo were very 2000-sy. Droid commercials were an inspiration to us. We would both love to score a Droid commercial –just going to throw that out there. ROSS: Our fascination has always been with making time-portal music, something that would totally transport you out of where you currently are. With our first two EPs, they were portals into different recent genres, using tropes from ’80s and ’90s horror, sci-fi and fantasy. Whereas with this album there was not a specific place we were trying to travel to. The place grew out of us working on it.
Are you obsessed with the future outside of music? ARKELL: It’s kind of fun to apply these slightly over-the-top conspiracy science fiction-infused ideas to the music, like what if global warming is just World War 4 being fought. We both read Discovery News and Wired and we have these fascinations with this HD culture and the progression of technology. ROSS: Constantly installing updates as soon as they’re available. ARKELL: I feel like the tone will always be the same because we are in the future now. We’re both a little bit into astrology and its nice to think about what if… ROSS: But it’s the candy kind. Its fun and tasty but its not a real approach.
What are your signs? ROSS: I’m an Aries, rising Gemini. ARKELL: I’m a Virgo and rising Aries. ROSS: We released our record during a Mercury retrograde cycle. ARKELL: That would explain some things.

Još od Robaka:


Premiere: Gatekeeper - Imperatrix

Gatekeeper , Young Chronos (2013)

It's been a minute since the last chrome-encased dispatch from New York duo Gatekeeper,  2012's 'EXO', which was released alongside an immersive, interactive video game designed by Tabor Robak. (Not that they haven't been busy, as Adam Harper's recent essay on Gatekeeper's ADR and contemporary pastiche pays testament to.) Their new release, the 'Young Chronos' EP out on 11th November, finds the pair once again playing with format: you'll be able to download it via an official Piratebay torrent or, should you be a stickler for physical, purchase the record on a specially designed USB token from Italian music/art label Presto?!. The first glimpse of 'Young Chronos' is Imperatrix, which Dummy is excited to premiere today. Opening with an operatic aria that brings to mind The Fifth Element , it lurches into multi-platform techno action: harsh and swift yet beautiful in its terrifyingly focused intent. The opera singer returns and there's something at once classical and futuristic about the dueling duet that chimes with the artwork [pictured] by Polish surrealist painter Jaroslaw Kukowski. -

The press release is a blast of fresh air, too:
"Time-engineering blasphemies and neo-sapient hominid scenarios including but not limited to: jump platforms in Gothic arcologies. Profound regolith/crust excavation and mantle extraction. Neogene biomes in low-g terraria. Endo-Templar counterpoint on cycloid viols and paleo-psaltery. Tertiary-stage flarefusion-equipped Habsburg hunting parties engaging titanichthys super-shoals. Orpheid Witness fleets in godlike hypo-cacolayer suspension. Quantum-solid martyrdom for St. Eligius and trimillennial chorus. Lycanthrope combat on the plains of Northern Europe. Narcomorph collective events on Phobos forgoing corpoferric insulation. Polymeliac Elizabethan exoscouts encountering depth charges in asteroid fields. Zen-grunt gnosis performed in hyper-iterative Hadean habitats. Dirac wave-converters outside of Roanoke. Teutonic-Wallachian ground forces supplied with pulse rifles. Thracian quasar-injection in Jovian atmospheres causing the Sienna effect. Thermographically-enhanced heat-seeking archers in dawn mists. Steampunk-m arias in entropy-null silicate mausolea. Please be advised: permanent unlimited respawning." 

“…neo-sapient hominid scenarios…”
An issue that has tested both Gatekeeper and their listeners is how to best deal with their dominating conceptual concern of pastiche. The duo, consisting of Aaron David Ross and Matthew Arkell, has experimented with a variety of means for exploring this overarching idea, with varying degrees of (apparent) success. Ross’ work with EDM pastiche artist Yen Tech and his solo venture as ADR showed an ability to create fascinating music that was enjoyable beyond its conceptual hi-/lo-art dichotomy and (possibly) blatant satire, something that Gatekeeper’s Exo and Ross’ other side-project HDBoyz, unfortunately, struggled to overcome.
“…Endo-Templar counterpoint on cycloid viols and paleo-psaltery…”
When the duo made the decision to abandon the iconic Carpenter-esque, horror-infused techno jams of its first EP Giza — a sound also tinged with a hint of 90s industrial rave that reared its head on every subsequent release — for the harsher, more intense, but ultimately less rewarding EBM of Exo, much of the charm of Giza was lost in the process. Essentially, what dominated the album was a feeling that the “post-ironic” style that Gatekeeper had tapped into came at a cost to the musical interest.
“… Zen-grunt gnosis performed in hyper-iterative Hadean habitats…”
With that in mind, what defines Young Chronos, Gatekeeper’s latest release, is not so much its examination of their very tangible conceptual concerns — simulacrum and detritus, parody and pastiche — which are of course, front and center in the EP’s music. For while Ross and Arkell have proven themselves at deconstructing cultural idioms of the past and present and reproducing them in intriguing musical pursuits, instead what may define this release is whether the musical content is, in some way or another, redeemable.
“…quasar-injection in Jovian atmospheres causing the Sienna effect…”
“Inspired by a true story.” So begins the cinematic opener “Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven.” Gothic choirs, orchestral strings, and cymbals meet head-on with all manner of heavy, metallic industrial sounds in an evocative melee miles ahead of the stale chaos of their last effort. It’s an intimidating start, a grandiose and finely detailed world opening up, that doesn’t offer any respite from its sonic extremity, just stacks sections of enormous two-chord doom-prophecies one after the other.
“…Narcomorph collective events on Phobos forgoing corpoferric insulation…”
It is kitsch delirium at its most extreme without descending into the compelling absurdity of James Ferraro’s various monikers, a bolder step beyond the more measured and (strangely) introspective works of Fatima Al Qadiri. The other tracks of the album progress in a similar direction, trading the complexity of multiple chords for the ridiculous richness of the drums, synthesizers, and other EBM embellishments that do battle with the absurd baroque-meets-romantic orchestral sounds of the modern cinematic soundtracking era.
“…Thermographically-enhanced heat-seeking archers in dawn mists…”
“Imperatrix” perhaps best embodies the musical content of the EP, its electronic elements drawn from Hi-NRG, techno, and trance violently intersecting with a gorgeous operatic vocal centerpiece and its backing of morphing strings and choirs. The entire beast is over-saturated and hyperactive, but Gatekeeper seem to have focused on bringing melodic ideas to the fore, lending the music a memorable quality. The venerable assault of material doesn’t overwhelm, as it very much has the potential to, while still leaving an impression of Ross and Arkell’s constructed domain.
“…Please be advised: permanent unlimited respawning…”
Young Chronos succeeds in establishing a mesmeric alternate dimension, a simulated experience of cinematic proportions without drifting into pastiche for pastiche’s sake — it’s enjoyable on its own merits, without superimposing the ideas and cultural subversions of its creators onto the maelstrom — but the more complex hints at satire that Gatekeeper employ do lend the music a quality reminiscent of White Car or even Ford & Lopatin. And while it’s an artistic language easy to dismiss, Young Chronos hints at creators who have realized a potential to present their tongue-in-cheek dystopia without slipping into a pit of empty gestures, all the while maintaining the evocative, maniacal, and unapologetically garish sound Gatekeeper have honed to a fine art.
“…To Be Continued…” - Nico Callaghan 

Matthew Arkell and Aaron David Ross, the New York duo who record as Gatekeeper, produce planet-sized electronic works. At present their audience is relatively small, setting up a marked contrast between where they find themselves and where they'd seemingly like to be heading. Their last LP, the Hippos in Tanks release Exo, wilted under the strain of ideas at times, ultimately forging an uncertain path between acid house-inspired club jams and a fondness for the bombast of rock. On the Young Chronos EP, a free Pirate Bay torrent that's also available for 300 USB tokens from the Italian label Presto!?, they've kept the central tenets of their sound intact while solidifying their overall vision. This material is tighter and more expansive than what came before, with the sense of absurdity deliriously heightened.
If you've ever wondered what Montserrat Caballé would sound like if she necked a fistful of pills and teamed up with A Guy Called Gerald, this is as close as you'll ever get. Operatic vocals are threaded in and out of the EP, along with enough dramatic élan for Hollywood to finally consider giving up on "The Ride of The Valkyries". Essentially this is the sound of Gatekeeper capitalizing on the closing track of Exo, "Encarta", where they blew everything wide open via imposing choirs, a healthy sense of pretense, and beats that sounded like they were storming the palace at Versailles. One of the tracks on Young Chronos, the fantastically titled "Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven", begins with the kind of vigorous chanting that Exo closed out with, setting up a neat loop between one work and the other.
Another tie that binds this with prior Gatekeeper output is the feeling of high concept pranksters at work, albeit ones with a meagre budget compared to artists they’re obviously indebted to, such as the KLF and Malcolm McLaren. McLaren even tried his hand at opera fusion on the 1984 record Fans, to uneven effect. The tracks here are anything but backward looking, instead taking elements of dance music's past (knotty twists of acid, thundering jungle-inspired drum programing) and spewing them out in an unholy mangle that's uniquely theirs. It works better as a representation of Gatekeeper's vision than Exo, partly because it's a quickie EP with half the tracks under the three-minute mark. But it's also because the pomposity is so well executed. There are grand plans here, hatched with a sense of ridiculous self importance, and humor.
The different shades of Young Chronos include patient builds ("Imperatix"), wonderfully ludicrous slow-burn tracks ("Flame of Displeasure"), and something that resembles incidental music from a lost arthouse feature ("The Soil Has Soured"). The highs and lows come rattling so fast that it's frequently disorienting, with "Harvest" and "Hanseatic" both dipping into disappointingly straight acid grooves just when they appeared to be leaning further into eccentricity. Fortunately, Arkell and Ross keep acting on extravagant ideas throughout, upping the sense of scale and ambition from Exo to a point where it's difficult to imagine how loud and wide they could go next time out. At the very least this is a strong step in the right direction. A search for the Pirate Bay torrent at the time of writing indicates Young Chronos
has 11 seeds and one leecher. Such grandiose dreams need a far bigger stage than that. -
Nick Neyland

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