The Depths

pattycakes_

Well-known member
'Deep' means different things to different people. Let's have a thread where we post a piece of deep music and talk a bit about what makes it deep to you and why you like it.

I'll start with one of my favourite recordings of all time

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esuia43tJUI

Found this on a La Monte Young themed post back in the glory days of music blogs. It's the 2nd disc of a 2 cd set. Recorded in August '76 by La Monte and his wife Marian. The sound quality is definitely not high, but it's totally raw and intimate which only adds to the sense of depth imo. The resonant saw waves from the tamburas played by La Monte and Marian lightly buzz and flange across the surface of my brain. The minimal tabla playing acting like off kilter punctuation. Texture more than rhythm. The rich and ancient voice of Pran Nath, a practicioner of the Kirana gharana singing style. Just totally focused and in the zone of raga Malkauns. They say it's one of the oldest ragas. Usually played late at night, and has dark connotations related to spirits and evil. I've read some people say it's for expelling bad spirits and others say it attracts them. Either way it's a heady ass brew. Something about the physicality of the recording makes this one special for me. The old 'you feel like you're in the room' thing applies. You can hear the frailty of his aged body combined with the sheer force of nature coming from his lungs being pushed up through his throat. Something you only earn with a lifetime of dedication to your craft.

Extra points for the included cough.

Edit: So aside from the above, which are mostly aesthetic points, I can say that this is one of the few recordings that has ever sent me into an altered state without any additional factors. So many recordings claim to do this. So few of them actually do. I've searched high and low for this effect in recorded music. Most of the time it either takes a live performance or a very loud soundsystem. In those situations it's obviously much easier to get carried away with whatevers going on. But much more rare for me is to find a recorded piece that manages to give the same effect. And ofc there's plenty of psychedelic music out there. Let's say, Spacemen 3 who spun those wonderful sheets of tripping electrical power, which I've drifted off to plenty of times. Repetition/droning often a common factor in deep music. But I don't know if I ever felt like I entered an altered state from SM3. Or Can, or Yahowa or whoever else in that higher plane of psyched out music. Those musics all imply the state, were clearly inspired by the state, and with the help of substances can certainly enhance and guide the state. But to take you there sober? Idk. It's rare.

I played the Pran Nath to this poet from Japan once. (not to brag that I have that kind of lifestyle.) She had this set of tuning forks hand-carved out of a specific metal only obtainable in one mountain in Japan, and she would play one of the forks and then recite her poetry to me in Japanese. One time she asked me to play the drums for her. Just a freestyle improv. At the end of it she said 'very good. now for the next week, only play snare'. The way she said it. Totally unpretentious, unjaded. She just knew that's what was needed to be done to progress. Not being precious or trying to be profound. Just an approach to music, performance and art in general that I feel we could do with a little bit more of. Kind of wish I'd kept in touch with her. Anyway, when I played the Nath to her I never saw anyone sit for a full hour with their eyes closed listening so intently to a piece of music from beginning to end like that. She had a spiritual moment with it. There's no other way to describe it. She wanted to listen to it again straight away when it had finished. I'm starting to be of the belief that you're either in tune with this shit or you're not. It either does this to you or it doesn't. I don't know what it takes to get there. But I think I'm a full blown season ticket holder when it comes to chasing moments of transcendence through various means and methods. Music is my favourite of all. Deep music. Deep for me is speaking to and from the human soul. It's about truth, knowledge and love. (yeah) Somehow Pandit Pran Nath's voice in combination with those shimmering drones from La Monte and Marian embody those three pillars of consciousness for me in a way that supercedes the kaleidoscope theatrics of substances. It's an earth sound. Pandit Pran Nath used to sit on a little island in the middle of a river practising his singing for days at a time. For years and years. Seeking within himself. Trying to master his instrument. I didn't know any of this before I listened to it, but when I started to research it I realized that it only made sense that this would have taken that kind of dedication to get to that point in your abilities. He went deep.
 
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Corpsey

call me big papa
I like your description of this but I don't know that it explains why it's 'deep.

Mind you I am so tired it feels like I'm drunk
 

pattycakes_

Well-known member
Right you are. Updated.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MK6pVP1sEI

DJ Sprinkles is a master in the dark arts of deep. Favouring long-form expression. Whether it be long, slow, subtle tracks, or her extended blend mixing where you're never quite sure when the last track ended and the next one began. Highly psychedelic. All appears to come so effortlessly. Never trying to grab your attention. Just laying the grounds for any heads who may be in tune and willing. Willing to get sucked into the bowels of her vortex. It's seductive, dark and somehow familiar. No new ground being trodden. Just an exploration of another angle on what is already well established. Naive as it may sound, the fact that the messages underneath it all are serious expressions of a person's struggle with her reality make it all the more substantial/deep for me. Honesty is rare in uber-cool club land. Contemplating among other things; gender, what happened to dance music, the club experience as an outsider, etc etc. With that all acknowledged she sounds extra purposeful in her seemingly casual approach to desconstructing the well known tropes and sounds of 90s New York house. The way the tracks are layered. Percussion loops fading in and out. Those vocal samples you've heard before but can't remember where. The dark, brooding piano chords. And those tantalizing basslines. I could have chosen so many other tracks as an example. But this one came on shuffle while I was walking through the city center of SP today and caught me off guard. The interplay of the basses, calling and responding to each other. Only to be echoed by some arabic sounding string instrument later on. These are the delicious hooks that keep me hanging on, waiting for the next hit. And it's that particular bass sound she uses so often that does it. That hollow squared bass. Ubiquitous throughout house. Totally over used in the 'deep house' you find on beatport nowadays. In more extreme forms, it's known as the donk. This is the sound I think of when I think of Sprinkles. At once sounding like a hollowed out log being struck, and at the same time totally digital and alien. I can't find many words to explain why this sound means so much and has such a strong effect on me after all these years. But it does. Often all I need is a dreamy, cosmic pad, a dab of slinking percussion, the occasional vocal and a hollowed out log square bass to get me in the zone. Sprinkles mastered this sound, and for me is the queen of deep house in the post-apocalyptic farce we're calling club land. With Sprinkles, context is as important as content.
 
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padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
She had a spiritual moment with it. There's no other way to describe it. She wanted to listen to it again straight away when it had finished. I'm starting to be of the belief that you're either in tune with this shit or you're not. It either does this to you or it doesn't. I don't know what it takes to get there. But I think I'm a full blown season ticket holder when it comes to chasing moments of transcendence through various means and methods. Music is my favourite of all. Deep music. Deep for me is speaking to and from the human soul. It's about truth, knowledge and love. (yeah)
that is it - that whole passage is it - that is my central experiential kick in a sentence - chasing fleeting moments of transcendence

not everyone is seeking it in music, but everyone is seeking it in some way - it's another way of saying what gives life existential meaning beyond the material

pushing back against being swallowed up by the mundanities of day-to-day life

why as soon as people in culture have met their basic survival needs, they've invariably devoted some portion of their energy to cultural expression (art)

for me music, certain psychedelic drug experiences, and certain kinds of physical activity - previously martial arts, more recently weightlifting etc

when it comes to music I'm loosely looking for what you're looking for, insomuch as such a personal thing coincides

when it comes to physical activity it's more about striving for unattainable perfection of form or movement as an ideal - always competing against yourself

in all cases seeking those moments that transcend everything, including - especially - all vestiges of the self
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
I thought that anecdote about the Japanese poet was very good. very Bjork - not precious or pretentious (tho easy to surface read that way, with probably a large nod to ingrained sexist notions about artist eccentricity etc) - but that kind of intentionality. she - Bjork - has a quote that has been very meaningful to me about making art influenced by real life, and how for art to be truly great it has to transcend art to become real life. it's - I have to disagree with her in part, because some people have to hold down the genre-structures so people like her can use them as launch ramps to the outer limits - but still, that way of expressing the ultimate goal of transcendence. I don't have that inherent gift of intentionality, it's something I have to work at it. one of those things unattainable ideals to strive toward.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
(also, let's just be honest, "I played Pandit Pran Nath to this poet from Japan once" is a pretty sick lifestyle humblebrag)
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP5sMVLcpB0
right, anyway

this is in that Nath/LMY/Zazeela - Wada another of Nath's many, many NYC students - but equally in the post-Cage Fluxus tradition

so looser - in a way it feels to me like a very direct response to 4'33" - without that underlying depth of technical form mastery

but it feels to me just as deep in another way

reaching back to a tradition even more ancient than Nath's raga - a prehistoric tradition, maybe imprinted at a folk consciousness level

chthonic depths - literally as the name says the powers of the earth, of literal physical depths

as well as the rumbling depth of the sonic frequencies

the horns an even more primal - which isn't to say deeper, or better, or whatever, just more primal - mechanism of transportation than Nath's voice

to me a late night record not with connotations of evil, but to a time before the conception of good and evil

whereas raga - not keep counterposing them - is in a religious tradition of some kind, this dates back to a time before a religion

a time when there were nature gods in everything - animals, rivers, wind, etc including those chthonic deities of the earth
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
This thread is difficult for me cos I can't work out if I approve or if im horrified. The deep is not a word I particularly approve of and transcendence I tend to think of as a false ceiling,however what you are describing is important.

Its slowing the time pulse and the rate and intensity of stimuli so the anxious surface social self is stilled and other, older selves, the selves without faces, can shuffle onto the stage.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
"They are gateways onto what heronbone used to call 'slowtime' a time of meditative detachment from the commotions of the current"

Thats my one mention in the published Mark Fisher ouevre. It's half right. Its not so much about detachment though as it is about changing the focal point of the attention. Moving it away from pachinko machines of constant distraction and dopamine hacking to access the slower, steadier pulse.

I do think this is vital even if the word 'deep' is freighted with so much bad luggage. Teenage psueds and dubstep producers.
 

pattycakes_

Well-known member
tnx 4 the contributions padraig and droid. gonna listen to the full hour of padraig's later. droid, if you can find a few words to go with your track that would be welcome. am enjoying it muchly. dunno if it's the picture or the drum programming but it has a militaristic vibe to me.. anyway, why is it deep to you?

luka, nvm the misuse of words. let go of stigmas and fkn transcend the verbal cage to play along in whatever way you see fit. dare ya. slowing down is a good shout. that's definitely a bit part of the effect i get from the PPN in the OP.

is depth (or whatever noun works for you) something you actively seek in music?
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
I can't work out
well like the man said, you're either in tune or you're not

entirely possible you're just tuned to a different wavelength, seeking your kick elsewhere

in fact after witnessing your kneejerk horror at Henry Flynt, one of the deepest cats ever to walk the earth (and another Nath student) I'm pretty much sure of it

which is fine, of course

I can't speak wholly for cakes but I'm not talking just talking about slowness or stillness, nor quietude or submersion

those are possible expressions of deepness but they don't equate to the whole deepness

there are other kinds of depth - the depth of crushing weight. the harsh depth of the abyss.

the unifying factor is transcendent change

and on transcendence - anything can be a false ceiling if you make it a false ceiling. it's just shorthand anyway.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
idc what luggage "deep" has either. deep predates styles. it predates recorded music. it predates "music".

this is a place where we talk about music so we happen to be discussing depth in music

but it's like the other threads where people get caught up in the psychedelic as a particular style, rather than a mode
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjkjF9OfMe0
continuing in the vein of the Wada piece above

similarly protean - in his original sense as the earliest god of the waters, unseeable, unknowable depths and immutability - raw unformed mater

the droning background - the earth without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep

and as the other strings come in - the spirit of god moving upon the face of the waters
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
a trve head like droid would scoff but to me that 4 minutes accomplishes what Eno spent his whole ambient career trying and failing to do

(tbf it also makes redundant people I actually rate like Riley and Glass. to be further fair, it is buried in the middle of hours of unlistenable bombast)

also relevant would be Nico's solo records, specifically the droning harmonium parts of the Marble Index-The End-Desertshore trilogy

both reaching back to harness the power of older European folk traditions

no mistake this Wagner piece comes from an opera cycle devoted to Germanic myth, the semihistorical period where myth was being captured and transmuted into history

also an object lesson of the dangers of reaching back to the protean, which can be shaped into anything

in this case obsession with purity, superiority - fetishization of a mythical prelapsarian Europe

but the weight of that and drive of those traditions also gives them immense power as art - I could listen to that Wagner piece 10,000 times in a row
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
have a few more varied examples in mind, gonna try to do one a night - harder to do more cos of the thought they require
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
I like and listen to most of these records but again, I wouldn't associate them with depth but with surface. The exact opposite of depth.
Equally I don't associate them with transcendence but with immanence. There's no striving in them.

Again I experience them as slowness and stillness which allow us to key into what is here, not what lies beyond.

I might be misunderstanding the thrust of the discussion though. Explain it to me a bit more.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
'Depth' as mental/emotional sophistication vs. 'Depth' as a sort of spatial description of sound
 
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