Cup – Spotted Peccary Music SPM- 4701
What goes into the mix is not a song but an event more concentrated in what is ‘essential’ to it, the making of tones in an invisible world of sound, an extraordinary gift for hitting the nail on the head, a liberating signal to the artists of this era and to all that will come after, moving art-making beyond any prior boundary, generally expanding and developing the definitions and possibilities that artists have available for the creation of new works of art. The album Cup showcases this perfectly well.
1. About the album Cup
Cups are sometimes referred to as chalices, for millennia the elements associated with a cup are blood, alcohol, and water. Goblet redirects here. Only wine, water and a portion of the Host are permitted to be placed in the chalice, and it may not be used for any profane purpose. There are over a dozen distinct styles of cups for drinking beer, depending on the precise variety of beer. Listening to the album by AeTopus that is titled Cup is like going into a room of nice, gently floating objects, the sound pertains to situations and events of an emotional nature – in contradistinction to physical, or distractive, or more some such mundane subjects.
The music of Cup suggests a fresh emphasis on spontaneous, automatic, and subconscious creation, I feel the expanding listener-dependent possibilities of aural space through these compositions which invoke well considered ideas of quantum mechanics, as well as idiosyncratic interpretations of the totemic vision and the spatial structure of Samish and Tlingit painting from British Columbia. The sound is cool and austere and prepares the ground for an emerging new spatial vision, anarchic, and highly idiosyncratic. To capture the glorious spirit of the sea one need not depict all of its tiny ripples.
2. The tracks
Many of the first tracks are processionals, mini journeys succeeding in…
…spanning difficult circumstances, an expression of ideas concerning the spiritual, the unconscious, and the mind. Water is fluid, agile and ‘in flow’ but it is also very powerful and formative. Water can be soft and gentle, like waves lapping against the sandy shore, or it can be powerful and even forceful, like a raging river. The first track of Cup, “Pure” (4:45), sounds complex, cold, melodic, with a dynamic of mixed density, some beats, some hooks, followed by a “Clean Break” (3:40) where the beat romps a bit, exchanging the tempo with the melody, embracing semi-solid forms. To my mind, I hear promises of celebration, friendship, creativity, and the anticipation of future collaborations.
Slowly things start to happen, mostly the atmosphere glows, just floating there, the clouds become established and once the music arrives it floats in cloud formations, curiously, gently, there is no form until a structure starts to take hold about halfway through the track. Then suddenly the beam turns on, the beat kicks in, and the action takes off, “Beam” (6:34). The listener becomes nervous, and the music is faster with an engaging tempo. The melody is very simple, making me think of meditation, contemplation, reevaluation, checking in for alignment, also I am reminded of the way I think that I dance.
In religion, a relic is an object or article of religious significance from the past, miracles and healing, “Relic” (5:45) brings a sacred tempo, slow and stately, the beat takes on a form once the relic object is located, dark and mysterious, yes, spooky and grim as the focus increases and becomes more cosmic, like an epic legend theme, until the holy body itself part dances to the beat, then things joyfully fall apart.
Presence. “Sygna” (5:10), here and now the next track of…
…music begins, slowly breathing in and out until there comes the electronic beat which sometimes sounds like a real hand drum, sparse and crisp. There is a ceremony at the climax and the tempo changes into a regal glow and a new regime has arrived. Imagine opportunities, choices, wishful thinking, and illusion.
Maybe now we are under deep water, slow and dark, guitars and brass scratches, “Drue” (4:25) is slow and mysterious, evoking happy memories, as well as a certain clinging to the past and how things used to be. Next find disappointment, abandonment, withdrawal, escapism, trying one more time, indecision, aimless drifting, walking away, “They Know” (4:57) surprise and calculation, the sound of assessment and eminent change, curiosity, a sense of doom while making repairs, I hear layers of melodic interplay. This is my favorite track so far.
Contentment, satisfaction, gratitude, a wish come true, “Glance” (2:06) suggests rapid little motions, some things might be backwards, atmosphere over texture, a melody takes form with interesting complex tempos, then fades. Full stop. Now imagine. Divine love, blissful relationships, harmony, alignment. “Access” (4:48) I hear short single tones like a foghorn, no, an organ sound. Now there is continuous change in the feeling of density, a new chord emerges and then a foot stomp beat. I think the beat owns this place, but change comes again and there is no beat as the organ glows, becoming long mournful drones.
Emotionally balanced, compassionate, diplomatic, “Sundial” (5:24), where…
…shadows move, these are the old traditions of keeping time. I am looking around the flickering sun dappled shadows, always changing, slowly, while moving forward, always lots of motion that soon returns into a procession, and a steady walking beat. “Advent” (4:14) has in the beginning a slow mysterious sensation, perhaps an ancient winter’s religious significance, what is this all about? I am comforted by the geometric constructions and the slow beat forming, now more complex melodics start to form, new fragments pulse through. Then it stops. There is a resumption after a pause, some changes, filtering to a fluttering beat that again changes to a sustained pause to contemplate the moment we are all in now.
Here begins a new orchestral cinematic build up, “Memento” (4:56) might be serving as a reminder or warning, the music forms like clouds of glowing colors, fragments of patterns shift and fit and fade always the direction stays slow, the motion of unfolding heraldry and things are bigger than we thought. The organ from an ancient church, I feel a holy order praising the one. At last, the night is long, the final track of Cup “Soft Green” (7:02) haunting me with feelings of slow danger, weary shadows. The suspense and tension slowly increase… very slowly. There are slow clouds lingering in the trees and a slow beat emerges, gentle, cautious, steady, light weaving together all the components, building upwards but staying cautious. Now at the end a new melodic form has taken shape. The future has promise.
AeTopus is the name chosen by Bellingham, Washington-area multimedia artist Bryan Hughes, and Cup is the first album of his on Spotted Peccary Music, he has seven prior releases on the 12Ton Productions label – 2002: Memories of the Elder, 2006: Tempula, 2012: Between Empires, 2013: Angels and Machines (EP), 2015: When, 2018: Totem Totum, 2020: Deep Variants (EP), 2020: VARIANT, and in 2022: Urbus.
“I feel like I’ve found a warm, nurturing home (with the Spotted Peccary label), and am excited to engage with such a vibrant community.”
His musical experience began with Heavy Metal and Punk Rock and has gone through many changes, influenced by his grandparent’s cassettes of Kitaro and Ray Lynch, to his current specialization in Progressive Electro-Acoustic Music. Nobody wants to be in a convenient genre box, “I create electronic music that includes acoustic percussion, field and studio recordings, and vintage synthesis. My creative approach is steeped in the traditions of Berlin School electronic music, Abstract Expressionism, modern ambient and downtempo, and the cinematic soundtracks of the twentieth century.”
4. Where to buy the album Cup?
Written by Robin James, October 26st, 2023