808 & Heads Break

Another post from the grave. I'm forced to wait for various things for various reasons and the effect this has had on a permanent sort of itching in me is the fueling of a desire to commence work on the 6th Twankle mixtape. Long slated to focus on women rappers from Memphis, I've shifted laterally and maxed the zoom (after various spread out dead end hunts for sources and sequences). The new binding theme for the new mix is the use of 808 cowbell tones in the 90s Memphis tape underground. I chose the instrumental doodle Carmike cut above as an example work for making its 808 CB melody so plain to the ear, but it's actually one of the more melodically / rhythmically tame lines from my current mix pool. Suggest cowbell cuts as comments if you know such cuts.

I can't help but compare the 808 as an instrument to the Indonesian Gamelan. The pure round boom of the 808 sub seems so much like the logical/technological purification of the gong, as if you could take raw wild gong and boil it and strain it and find that pure blue boom that's heard more in the chest cavity than the ears and meanwhile the alien overtones of the cowbell matching the feel of the saron, which when you play it you actually create a sort of analog mute group as one hand chases the other around to kill the linger of the ring. It's such a curious sound, the 808 cowbell, full of harmonics and sounding (and for the most part, functioning) nothing like its real world counterpart. The melodic lines on these Memphis cuts have clear hypnotic intent and I think that's something that emerges on account of that, that the fundamental pitch is to some extent implied, and the overtone power so huge. If you wanted to design an IRL instrument that sounded like a tuned set of 808 cowbells what would that look like? I imagine a xylophone you play from a very high chair and ornately shaped reverberant pipes that dangle below each wooden bar key.

The feeling of these tracks is ceremonial. Dark ceremonies. Murder, weedsmoke. I hate the genre name "Horrorcore", partly because who the fuck really calls it that anyways, but partly because it fails to, as a name, address the psychotropic effects of this music. It suggests that it is more relevant that the music is violent (which is easy to achieve) than it is that it's functionally psychedelic (which is special). A horror film can be thrilling because it actually scares you, but the appeal of violent music is in the atmosphere of detachment. In an early Juicy J track a melodic slice of a horror film's OST is captured, duplicated, reconfigured in suspension, folding and repeating but not resolving, situated instead in a bed of energy (percussion). A tension that is static, floating, not likely to resolve, is an alienation.