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Ekoclef – Tapeswap

Magic and Dreams

In China Mieville’s wondrous The City And The City, the city of Beszel exists in more or less the same space as the city of Ul Qoma. The cities interweave, crosshatch; citizens unsee their counterparts in the other city, buildings themselves merge but don’t merge. Neighbours live next to each other but dutifully don’t notice their proximity, in fact are forbidden from doing so by the mysterious Breach, which is both an action and a powerful agent of order. To see what is there is to breach. To breach is to invoke Breach.

The cities are post USSR, post-world. They share many of the same characteristics but remain absolutely, qualitatively different. They are separated by language, by intention, by Kant’s categories. It vaguely reminds me of that Wittgenstein quote about how, if a lion could speak our language, we still wouldn’t be able to understand it.

Disclaimer: I’m only half way through this book, it just turned out that I’ve been reading it now with the soundtrack (accidentally analogous) of the Bass Clef + Ekoplekz release.

Ekoplekz + Bass Clef doesn’t sound like either artist; there are glimpses, unheard snips and wanes, but mostly the tape-swapping has birthed a new monster, one I think neither would have settled on independently. The protagonist of The City And The City, Inspector Borlu, is vaguely dogged, vaguely determined but resolute in the laws of these non-twin cities; this is not (so far) about an unveiling of the truth behind these mysterious, space-rimmed cities… he doesn’t intend to unpick the crosshatch to see the real cities; the hatching is as much a part of his reality, the psychic borders as real as empty spaces, as unmentionable…

And so with Ekoclef – you can listen to this and try to spot the joins. You can but you might miss the (twin) points. The crosshatch is the release, the medium is the massage… when it works it really works and you unhear the joins. Nick and Ralph speak different languages and when the two voices come together they form a supremely odd chorus. The effect is affecting.

Tape spools, unwind, pop and crackle.

Oh, I dunno. Less driven than Some Truths, less slurring than Ekoplekz. “I was a tree in the forest; they cut me down” has sounds that neither would use in their other guises: triballed yelps, flutes, singing… it could be a Vitamin K-spoked Shpongle, shorn of its usual gentle mushroom gauze… It doesn’t all work; sometimes the joins are too obvious, too difficult to unhear, sometimes the crosshatching just muddies both city states, causes traffic chaos as they fail to swerve around each other and end up on top, like a pair of almost-merged naked wrestlers in a Francis Bacon painting…

But mostly this is dogged and delirious and, er, fun and you’ll be wanting one.


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