The 4am: 8

The 4am is a mixtape file containing nothing but music donated directly by new and/or unsigned acts. The 4am is of no set length and is released on no set schedule. The 4am is mixed down to 128kbps. The 4am will live forever. But The 4am is so cold and it does not know why.

The 4am needs music: If you want your music to be played on The 4am, email your 128kbps-plus mp3 files directly to

8: Staging For Tomorrow

Be warned, there’s some long ones in here again.

Hate In The Box stick a used needle in that metallic vein of electro/goth/industrial/IDM that I think Deathboy once tagged as “futurepunk.” I like sawing guitars, hails of tinny breaks and girls singing about bad things. And I like opening up with something with a bit of pace.

Otto DeFaye’s “Murder One” has been hypnotising me for days. The bass thumps and the fog of guitars interact in bizarre ways, and do strange things to my chest. It fascinates me, and I find myself kind of wandering around inside of it. A great squalling beauty.

“Death Machine” is in demo state — thanks, Holoscene, because I love it. I’ve liked stuff by Holoscene before, but I find the raw condition of this distant, melancholy postrock study gives it a vital human skin and pulse. Holoscene say: “If you can think of a genre for it we would be most grateful. Using the term ‘chamber music for the end of civilisation’ is both a mouthful and pretty crap!”

I always liked the term “Transcendental Etudes” — an etude, or study, being a piece of music designed to hone and express virtuosity, and the Transcendental Etudes being twelve compositions by Liszt so ferociously, brain-incineratingly difficult to perform that, it was once said, probably only a dozen people alive on the planet at any one time are qualified to even attempt to play them. Which does Holoscene no good at all, but the datum amuses me, and we’re full-service entertainment here at Where was I?

NAVEL4EVE provides “The End Of A Planet” from her last EP, a collection of crookedly pretty, sinister and timecrossed antipop songs. The strange girl in the back of the club whom you know you really shouldn’t talk to, but that voice…

Got an email from Cory Brown from Absolutely Kosher Records, saying: “We just released the debut record by a trio from San Francisco called 60 Watt Kid (the record is self-titled). I attached an MP3 of “Ocsicnarf Nas” off the record because I thought you might like it. There’s also a video here.” And then he went on to discuss the peculiarities of his balls, concluding with: “When I started writing this, I never intended to discuss my balls. Sigh. It always comes back to my balls.” Therefore I had to play this rather wonderful piece of ten-dimensional rock-n’-roll broadcast from the same kind of ether inhabited by (for example) latterday Animal Collective. I mean, I would have played it anyway. But I’m worried that if I didn’t, I’d get treated to another treatise on the supernatural aspects of Cory’s scrote.

It’s New Year in a couple of days (as I write this), so ending with a drinking song fits. I have a terrible weakness for The Poxy Boggards. I know it’s wrong, I know I shouldn’t, but… I have to. I also put this at the end because some of you may listen to this at work, or at home with aged and infirm relatives in earshot, and not everyone will be enthralled by the choral bridge. But fuck it, make them listen anyway, because, in its wrong, awful and deeply uncool way, it is absolutely fucking glorious. Happy New Year.

— W


Hate in the Box – “eLECTRIC dOLLS” (3:05)

Otto DeFaye – “Murder One” (5:53)

Holoscene – “Death Machine” (4:04)

NAVEL4EVE – “The End Of A Planet” (3:45)

60 Watt Kid – “Ocsicnarf Nas” (8:25)

The Poxy Boggards – “Drink Til I Die” (3:40)

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Electronic Battle Weapons

(Originally written in Bad Signal, 15 October 2007)

The Chemical Brothers do this thing that fascinates me, and so I’m going to bore you with it too.

When they start developing the sound for a new album, they release these things called Electronic Battle Weapons. These are 12-inches that they circulate to DJs containing experimental or work-in-progress pieces; the idea being that the sound can be tested on audiences and DJs both, to sonically prepare the way for the new album.

This fascinates me. The idea of freely distributing experimental pieces just to prime an audience for what may be coming next.

In a way, I suppose I might have done some of that, with the experimental short fiction I used to put on Livejournal, that was eventually folded into DOKTOR SLEEPLESS — much of that stuff, I saw as I was doing it, was starting to lock into each other and becoming the suggestion of a whole.

But it’s interesting to me to imagine doing that in a more structured way. All the Electronic Battle Weapons are numbered. (Which may play into a previously-mentioned half-drunk notion to start giving everything I do Factory-style catalogue numbers, for no other reason than that I found the idea amusing.)

Because theatre is only ever pointless when there’s only five people in the room. And Tony Wilson would rise from the grave to argue with me about that, even — his formative cultural influence being that Manchester Sex Pistols gig where there were only forty people or something in the room (though if you asked around in the 80s, you could find five thousand people who’d swear on a stack of Bibles and porn that they’d been there for it).

(Or the other old saw — only 500 people heard the first Velvet Underground album, but every single one of them went out and formed bands afterwards.)

(Wilson: “Archimedes was on his own in the bath.”)

Wow. That went off the rails fast, didn’t it?

(Additional, 29 December 2007: Tony Wilson, of course, died in poverty. Also, as a tangent of interest, comics artist P Craig Russell has been giving his work “Opus” numbers since, I think, the late 70s. The Chemicals are up to EBW 9, I believe. Tony Wilson’s excellent book 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE: WHAT THE SLEEVE NOTES NEVER TELL YOU is FAC 424. His coffin is FAC 501. Theatre, see?)

(It occurs to me, too, that Bill Gibson releasing snippets of SPOOK COUNTRY in his blog had a similar effect. Priming the audience for The New Sound.)