Artist: The Kendal Mintcake
Title: (always in a straight line, from centre to edge)
Label: Big Sleep records
Keywords: cd experimental bitrot chance indeterminancy mintcake noise process sampling United States WITCHFORK
I have been a fan of The Kendal Mintcake & his ‘Insignificant Digits’ for quite a while now. Obviously, his most significant digits are his two middle fingers and perhaps his thumbs? As for the digits relegated to insignificant, maybe his pinky fingers and littlest toes? Regardless, this man is a lover of the minutiae of process, he enjoys bringing into the light the overlooked parts, amplifying the pauses, the things we might have missed. His latest album is a trip through his cd collection in the summer of 2014: 10 tracks each made up of 10 samples selected by a Random Number Generator, which are then played with by TKM. The tracks are numbered from I – X but mixed as a continuous piece, the finished product captures a moment in time. Each track is 4:08 long, which is a nice rounded number but very close to 4:20 so the anticipation is tangy in our mouths and ears.
Let’s listen to the music now, for as our Minty pal says: “Many of the CDs you have purchased will rot and be rendered unlistenable during your lifetime. Don’t worry about it. Have a sandwich and hang out with people you like. If you follow these suggestions, the Compact Disc will provide a lifetime of pure listening enjoyment.”
It starts with a twang and a swirl and a shed-load of joyous building looped sounds, like we are in the middle of a car yard full of cyber trucks with their alarms all going off simultaneously! This is a true surround-sound experience, headlights flashing on and off as their eyelids wink at us, doors being opened and closed, boots (trunks) slammed shut and then popped again… we are enraptured by the whirring chaos as TKM drops by to lead us out of the car yard and into a pond chock-full of digital frogs. They croak and ribbit and their tongues flick out to grab miniature brundleflys out of the glimmering air.
We are knee-deep in black water that reflects the light of a thousand dying stars, the deeper we peer down the higher our eyes can see. TKM tells us that we should dive into the abyss, we won’t regret it! Quick, take a big breath and let’s go! Tiny fishtophers nip at our bodies, cleaning away dead skin cells and purifying us for the journey ahead. Iridescent jellyfish pulse around us, we hear their movements muffled by the pressure on our eardrums – we have reached the depths, our lungs are burning, we must surface soon or we will die.
Just in time TKM points at a gleam of light in the distance, quick! kick as hard as you can, using the speedy pulsing sounds to propel you, just like people in rows on machines at the gym. Yes! We burst through with a great splash, our trip is at the halfway point, which is a great factory full of sonic mini-jackhammers pounding on copper sheets. This is not just senseless manufacturing for capital gain, no, they are creating one-of-a-kind artworks that will be put up in public places for all to enjoy. Sound polishers circle around, buffing everything to a pinkish shine, then the artworks are carried outside and given away to waiting crowds.
We watch (and listen) in awe, the music of the factory, made up of layers and rhythms that weave in and out and keep us on our toes. TKM is back and gesturing for us to step out the back door, and into the street. It’s just as manic out here, glowing cars zip by at breakneck speeds, surely we aren’t standing at the side of the autobahn?!? Our Mintcake mate assures us that it’s totally safe and in fact there’s a footbridge where we can go and observe the cars below us. Sure enough, we follow him to some stairs and now we are on top of the world, watching streaks of light and hearing the kosmiche sounds that come after. The bridge shakes a little so we hold on tight and let the music wash over us.
Time to go! TKM leads us off the bridge and into a tunnel of flashing lights and strobing sounds, it’s just like that time we were tripping at the fun fair (and all splendid just as long as we don’t go hang upside down on the Super Loop!). It’s very echoey in here, so many samples bouncing off the surfaces in a blissful build up of chaos, just in time we reach some chrome bullet-shaped vessels that we can sit in and whoosh! we’re off! We speed so fast that the lights turn into stripes and then fade away all at once only to start again, which is when we realise they are shooting stars in reverse. Amazing. TKM has the skill to flip everything on it’s head, it’s tail, and it’s belly. This really takes the cake!
The trip is over, and there’s nothing insignificant about what we just experienced. It’s true, we were going “always in a straight line, from centre to edge” but what an edge it has been. Jagged, serrated, sharp, so irresistible that Dracula would surely lick this blade, and we have thoroughly enjoyed “crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight… razor… and surviving.”
Please follow this link lifetime of pure listening enjoyment: