J. G. Biberkopf
Ecologies II: Ecosystems of Excess
Cat #: KNV003
Format: LP + Book
Artwork & Texts: Maximage, Deforrest Brown Jr.
‘Ecologies II’ is dense, flowing with ideas and sonic undercurrents, made for deep listening. The album itself is an assemblage of field recordings that are manipulated and fused with digital programming, melody and design to startling effect, resonating with power. The album is like a supple, accelerated take on musique concrète and its techniques, subsumed into the digital realm, to the point where it’s hard at times to work out where the digital and the real start and end, but at others, the contrast is violent and raw.
There’s drama and melody in the music; there’s implied narrative. The album is of course indebted to some of the familiar tropes of club music but only in the sense that its forms are a starting point. The familiar use of melodies and the driving energy are forced to breaking point and intensified, escaping easy categorisation or perfunctory uses. But that’s not all. Tracks such as the melodic ‘Dust’ stop and start with trapped sampled voices underpinning the lush strings, ‘Preacher’ throws the pleading of a minister into a tense mesh of flickering voice and pumping heartbeat-like kick drum. Other parts are more or less ambient, such as ‘Irreversible. Black Atlantic.’ where underwater recordings exhibit creaking depth, against a swelling horn part. Other tracks seem to be ecosystems of their own. It’s a complex album rewarding repeated listening.
The narrative of the LP is extended further via a book housed in the record’s packaging. The book includes an essay based on the concepts behind the LP, by New York based writer DeForrest Brown Jr. (NPR, Rhizome, Tiny Mix Tapes). The sleeve and book are designed and illustrated by cult design studio Maximage, who have won numerous awards and residencies based on their exploration of colour, typography and psychedelic forms of publication design.
View a video for ‘Dust’ here. Click the screen to toggle Deforrest Brown Jr.’s essay to and from viewing mode.