Jack Dangers, “Bathyscaphe Trieste”

prima007Jack Dangers has been recording, performing, and releasing music for nearly three decades in Meat Beat Manifesto, Tino Corp, and Perennial Divide. Dangers’ resume as a producer and remixer includes David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, Coil, Merzbow, Twilight Circus, Public Enemy, Cranes, David Byrne and many, many more. Apart from the noise, beat, and dub driven Meat Beat Manifesto, Dangers has released numerous solo recordings probing the depths of sound of analogue synths and tape manipulation on labels such as Important Records, Shadow Records, Bella Union, Brainwashed, and his own Tapelab and Flexidisc imprints.  Bathyscaphe Trieste is more in line with his critically acclaimed releases such as the Forbidden Planet Explored, Music for Planetarium, and Electronic Music from Tapelab.

Release Date: September 17, 2013

In 1960, a two-person bathyscaphe (“deep boat”) named Trieste reached a record maximum depth in the deepest known part of the Earth’s oceans, the Challenger Deep, in the Mariana Trench near Guam. The five hour descent was made possible by the earth’s gravitational pull on nine tons of lead shot, while the three hour ascent was aided by a balloon filled with gasoline.  Only James Cameron has returned to the Challenger Deep, and is allegedly in production of a film of the journey. Dangers’ composition honoring this journey is the product of years of work, featuring super slowed down tape manipulations of anlog sythesizers (often 30x as slow), bounced from machine to machine to achieve the appropriate soundtrack for a vessel on an exploratory journey into uncharted depths under massive amounts of physical pressure.  Jack’s intention was to create music from a mysterious world which mixed at the bottom of the Mariana trench at the Challenger Deep Bedroom Quilt Studio. The disc comes with CD-ROM content of 35 minutes of video footage edited and set to music by Jack Dangers.

tracklist:

  1. Blast Off
  2. Epipelagic Zone
  3. Mesopelagic Zone – [SOUNDCLOUD STREAM]
  4. Bathypelagic Zone
  5. Abyssopelagic Zone
  6. Hadalpelagic Zone
  7. Resurfce

press:

Watery crescents delight with the soul of an analogue-based futuristic technology, leaving the audience with a wide span of trans-space that competes with the vortex of the unknown. – Igloo

Jack has the world’s only functioning EMS Synthi 100, and, damn it, he’s gonna use it. – XLR8R

discography:

  • “Sounds of the 20th Century,” Flexidisc, 2000
  • “Tape Music,” Flexidisc, 2001
  • “Variaciones Espectrales,” Bella Union, 2002
  • “Forbidden Planet Explored,” Important Records, 2004
  • “Loudness Clarifies/Electronic Music from Tapelab,” Important Records, 2004
  • “Music for Planetarium,” Brainwashed Handmade, 2008
  • “Test Signals,” Tummy Touch, 2012

“This sounds like a headline from a 90s fanzine!” — said, enthusiastically, someone I told about the fact that Jack Dangers has released a new dark ambient album. It’s a symptomatic thing: Dangers’ original project, Meat Beat Manifesto, summarized the highs and lows of semi-mainstream electronic music from said decade (initially classified as an “alternative dance” group, they went on to embrace jungle, dub, and jazz elements in their output), whereas his dissimilar solo works remain lesser known. Unaccompanied, Dangers reveals himself as a vintage experimental sound aficionado. One of the few owners of a rare EMS Synthi 100 synthesizer, he has created a significant body of musique concrète and electro-acoustic recordings, whose subject matter revolves around the scientific pursuits and bold exploratory dreams of bygone eras. In the 1950s and 60s, sonic discoveries driven by the use of magnetic tape existed in a particular synergy with the mindset of space conquest, architectural idealism, and technological progress; hence, it comes as no surprise that avant-garde art and radiophonic experimental studios, thriving on both sides of the Iron Curtain, often touched on these topics (perhaps best embodied by the visionary audio-kinetic works of the Soviet Prometheus Research Institute). Dangers’ work invokes these aesthetics in a discreet, implicit way, without recourse to a neo-vintage costume, positioning him as part of a continuum rather than a self-conscious pastiche artist. His previous release was the space-oriented Forbidden Planet Explored — half soundtrack to the 1950s classic, half curious analogue effects resembling the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s output. The new one, Bathyscaphe Trieste, is a visit to the oceanic depths. The titular vehicle actually existed: in 1960, the submersible and its passengers (Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh) reached the deepest known point on Earth’s hydrosphere — Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. This recording is an imagined recreation of the craft’s journey, sequentially following the stages from submergence to resurfacing. The marine disposition of Bathyscaphe Trieste initially brings to mind the halcyon Science of the Sea by Jürgen Müller, an enigmatic (and, as it transpired, fictitious) researcher and musician who was “rediscovered” in 2010 — but from a purely sonic point of view, the album floats much closer to Lustmord’s abyssal excursions. It’s dark, cold, and somewhat claustrophobic here. To recreate an atmosphere of overwhelming, pitch-black breathlessness and the incredible pressure withstood by a vessel crushed beneath the enormity of the ocean, Dangers uses analogue synthesizer recordings, considerably down-pitched, mirroring gravity and descent. The “deeper” we go, the denser and more disquieting the sound becomes. “Bathypelagic Zone” is filled with a low, menacing murmur; in the “Abyssopelagic” and “Hadalpelagic” zones, higher tones build up slowly, layer upon layer, like long, ghastly shadows. Dangers’ use of analogue hardware is not simply driven by nostalgia: he matches equipment and sound to temporal context, thereby invoking ghosts from the technological past. It’s not only the subject and sonic content that contribute to the uneasy listening experience, but also the awareness that outmoded devices can still achieve incredible ends. As proven here, old musical technology can be a powerful artifact that possesses a high haunting factor.  P.S. For those in need of cathartic decompression, Bathyscaphe Trieste is best followed by an earlier work inspired by the same intrepid journey: The Chocolate Watchband’s Voyage of The Trieste, whose mild, jazz-tinged psychedelia will provide suitable post-expedition relief. – Tiny Mix Tapes

 I absolutely love the mysteries of this record! When I first held the CD in my hand, the cover art of an X-rayed shell conveyed the inner riddles of nature with its golden ratio spirals. The back of the album features a photograph of a massive submarine in dark green waters of ocean, where light barely seeps. And then the name of the composer, Jack Dangers… now where have I heard that name before? It can’t be the same person behind the Meat Beat Manifesto project which I’ve known since the 90s, now can it? Why, yes indeed, it is the same ‘ol Dangers, who has been reserving the releases under his real name for deeper explorations in sound, featuring analog synths and tape manipulations, with records such as Forbidden Planet Explored (Important, 2004) and Music For Planetarium (Brainwashed, 2008). Ok, but I didn’t know that Dangers was also into deep-sea journeys, capturing the low rumbling howls of barely audible sounds in an isothermal environment. And here comes the last surprise of Bathyscaphe Trieste, named after a 1960 two-person free-diving self-propelled deep-sea submersible, which reached a record depth in the deepest known point of Earth’s seabed hydrosphere, called The Challenger Deep. The seven pieces on the record are not some captures via hydrophone at all! “Dangers’ composition honoring this journey is the product of years of work, featuring super slowed down tape manipulations of analog synthesizers (often 30x as slow), bounced from machine to machine to achieve the appropriate soundtrack for a vessel on an exploratory journey into uncharted depths under massive amounts of physical pressure.” Dangers successfully recreated the sounds at the bottom of our world, and while he certainly fooled me, he also delighted in the process! – Headphone Commute

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