Saturday, April 21, 2007

Drexciyan Flood

“...there’s going to have to be a great flood again and destroy everything and restart. Somebody has to hit the restart button because, right now, I don’t think so. Somebody’s opened up Pandora s Box and all hell is breaking loose. That's why I’m pushing the gas and I’m putting out more stuff. The kind of images with Drexciya and stuff, I’m taking people away from here. I feel like Noah’s Ark, I’m loading up the Drexciyan-Ark and taking your mind on a trip away from here for a little while.”

The above quote was sparked by a question by Derek Beere in 2002 regarding whether James Stinson thought we could ever replicate the underwater world of Drexciya in today's society. Its since struck me that his reference to Noah's Ark matches up very much with the imagery of the opening storm of the series, 'Harnessed The Storm'. Linking up with that albums darkly foreboding opener ‘Under Sea Disturbances’ (you can of course listen to the storm literally blowing at the start of this track), to the unequivocal in meaning ‘Aquatic Cataclysm’ and ‘Digital Tsunami’, even the closer ‘Birth of New Life’ could stand as the hope of a new beginning as the saved inhabitants of the ark emerge. Read on and you'll see I even managed to find a place for ‘Dr. Blowfins Black Stabilizing Spheres’ in this scenario! I was just going to write this connection up as a paragraph to be added to the original article on 'Harnessed' but as I did my research I saw there is more to this link in its own right.

To re-cap, the opening storm in the series is in my opinion the scene setter, where Drexciya get kicked out of paradise for taking life for granted and forgetting the meaning of life, which to some point is very much in keeping with the sentiments of the biblical flood story. However if they had used the Garden of Eden tale I will admit that it would tie in better to my view but the flood works as well. I'll also admit that how a flood could really affect an underwater society is questionable, although undersea disturbances and the enormous movement of a tsunami could, but the point is moot as we are of course dealing with flood as metaphor. I’m just saying they may have taken some inspiration from it as a mechanism to set up the background to the proceeding transformational and evolutionary steps of storms #2 - #6 which if followed allow us not only re-entry to paradise but further access towards regions we have heretofore never been. This being the Drexciya Home Universe and the infinities which it potentially contains. Storm #7 is of course another bookend to the story, it being a physical journey through space which on closer inspection might even turn out to contain references to another account of an historic journey, in fact try it yourself, Homer’s Odyssey or The Golden Fleece story most naturally spring to my mind to be worthy of investigation, although judging by it’s title I would expect it to be from the perspective of someone’s memoirs, but this is an article for another day. Back tracking to the potential infinities of the Drexciya Home Universe I mentioned, I continue to wonder if Gerald Donald understands this and is even part way there himself? Ever the scientist, it could be argued that with some of his releases since Drexciya he is endeavouring to guide our understanding through the universal language of mathematics towards this same metaphoric location. A location which he had previously with James Stinson brought us but via a more inward and spiritual route.
If I'm correct that they did take a little inspiration from the biblical flood story then Stinson/Drexciya may have taken some of their own advice and went a little deeper with the story of Noah’s Ark. I’m sure if they did start to scratch the surface of the history of this story they would have soon realised that there are well over 500 such tales from different cultures and times around the world, many far older than the biblical one we know so well. One such account and from what I can make out as a layman must be the oldest and therefore root story, or one of them, is found in the famous epic saga of Gilgamesh dating from at least 3000 BC and said to record events which were then already ancient. This account differs from the biblical 40 days and 40 nights of rain and has just 7 days which begins with a storm. It does contain plenty of aquatic references, as you would expect a flood account to, but if you study you’ll see it contains more than a few crossovers with the storm series. The version I am about to quote from comes from the very widely available and much read ‘Fingerprints of the Gods’ by Graham Hancock, first published 1995, so it’s not as obscure a reference as it first appears, there’s no reason why they might not have read this book at some point or found the Gilgamesh account mentioned in some other book of this type.
The first striking thing about this account which would appeal to anyone with an aquatic interest is the benevolent actions towards mankind of Ea the water God. By the way, they surely wouldn’t have called an album ‘Neptune’s Lair’ without knowing something of the history of ancient Gods!

I would advise you to read the following quote closely if your confused as to why exactly people might upset the Gods and get kicked out of paradise, assuming this ever happened of course! Also from our perspective take note of its mention of ‘life’.

Utnapishman speaking, ‘In those days the world teemed, the people multiplied, the world bellowed like a wild bull, and the great god was aroused by the clamour. Enlil heard the clamour and he said to the gods in council, “The uproar of mankind is intolerable and sleep is no longer possible by reason of the babel”. So the gods agreed to exterminate mankind.’

Ea takes pity on the man Utnapishtim and says to him,
“Tear down your house and build a boat, abandon your possessions and look for life, despise worldly goods and save your soul...Tear down your house I say and build a boat with her dimensions in proportion - her width and length in harmony. Put aboard the seed of all living things into the boat.

Utnapishtim speaking, “I put on board all my kith and kin, put on cattle, wild beasts from open country, all kinds of craftsmen...The time was fulfilled. When the first light of dawn approached a black cloud came up from the base of the sky; (‘Dr. Blowfins Black Stabilizing Spheres’) it thundered within where Adad, lord of the storm, was riding...A stupor of despair went up to heaven when the god of the storm turned daylight to darkness, when he smashed the land like a cup...On the first day the tempest blew swiftly and brought flood...No man could see his fellow. Nor could then people be distinguished from the sky. Even the gods were afraid of the flood. They withdrew; they went up to the heaven of Anu and crouched in the outskirts. The gods cowered like curs while Ishtar (goddess of war and sexual love) cried, shrieking aloud, ‘Have I given birth unto these mine own people only to glut with their bodies the sea as though they were fish?’ For six days and nights the wind blew, torrent and tempest and flood overwhelmed the world, tempest and flood raged together like warring hosts. When the seventh day dawned the storm from the south subsided, the sea grew calm, the flood was stilled. I looked at the face of the world and there was silence. The surface of the sea stretched as flat as a rooftop. All mankind had returned to clay.”

The boat ends up grounded on a mountain top and from that point begins life's second chance.
But don’t forget, every great story, in fact, every story, is essentially about moving from the darkness into the light. Perhaps all this is just happening on a subconscious level for them, eg. by the time Stinson spoke of it he could then see the connection with the flood story and so mentioned it. If you want to go along with all this the Storm Series could now be seen as a conceptual ark which can be boarded whenever discovered by the individual and if understood fully could be their saviour and provide passage to a new way of life. I shouldn't need to say it at this stage, we know how deep this goes, but respect is eternally due. Long live Drexciya.

‘...abandon your possessions and look for life, despise worldly goods and save your soul...’

‘Somebody’s opened up Pandora’s Box and all hell is breaking loose...I’m loading up the Drexciyan-Ark and taking your mind on a trip away from here for a little while.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Heinrich Mueller Lecture Series

Since the 23rd of January 2007 there have been some lectures available to download which are related to Arpanet. One of my readers had kindly pointed this out to me sometime back but I had wanted to listen to them myself so to give you a bit more information on them but since I am still between internet service providers and with no immediate resolution pending I'll just give you the facts.

You will first have to become a member of and then you can hear the two lectures, on Time Shifting and Relativity once you search for the term Arpanet. For good measure they are both available in English and German with the lecture on relativity inexplicably being also available in French. I'm told that there is a good possibility that this is Heinrich Mueller himself speaking so give me your opinion on his accent etc. Beyond the barest of facts relating to the aforementioned languages there is only a link to Record Makers, the French label which released the current Arpanet album. We're used to there being no typical promotional activity from Mr Mueller by now, but delivering scientific lectures is surely a first!

Some shots from the debut Black Replica show in Madrid have appeared at

Dopplereffekt's ‘Calabi-Yau Spaces’ album has been mysteriously delayed, that or the Rephlex release date was never to be trusted. Anyone hear it yet, are there promos out there even?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Drexciya 'Rough Guide'

I felt it was about time I archived this entry for Drexciya from the long out of print 'Rough Guide to Techno' book by Tim Barr. Which even though published in 2000 was obviously written previous to or without the authors knowledge of the return of Drexciya in 1999 with 'Neptune's Lair'. Which I think makes this period piece all the more interesting as a result, illustrating how highly they were regarded at what we know consider to have been the mid-point in their career. After having released so few 12” singles and a compilation by this point and to be regarded so highly was quite an achievement. It also contains a few new quotes which are worth collecting here as well. On this point, if anyone has any more early interviews let me know. As well I like Tim’s interpretation of their underwater world as being a ‘wide open dream-terrain, free from the prejudice, preconceptions and pre-programming of modern America.’
It’s a great book by the way which also has an entry for Dopplereffekt, I’m sure you’ll be able to find it used at the usual online places.


One of the most revered and mysterious of Detroit's underground outfits, Drexciya steered a militant and uncompromising course through Techno's uncharted waters, amassing a significant cult following despite a relatively small number of releases and the veil of almost impenetrable secrecy which surrounded their activities. Between their inception in the mid 80's and their final release, The Quest (1997), they agreed to be interviewed only a handful of times - though even on those occasions the duo refused to reveal their identities, preferring to operate under cover of anonymity.

Though they didn't release a record until 1991, the pair had been together since the mid-80's, spending the years between the demise of Detroit's progressive scene and the eventual appearance of their debut single, 'Deep Sea Dweller', experimenting and perfecting their sound. "There was a long thought process behind this group, a lot of different concepts and principles,” they reported. “Before we even started putting stuff together we used to spend night after night talking about all kings of deep concepts. That’s where the energy comes from.”

Drawing on a nexus of influences that stretched from George Clinton’s P-Funk to Jimi Hendrix, Drexciya’s sound was based on a single fundamental principle: experiment at all costs. Following the hardcore electronic futurism of ‘Deep Sea Dweller’ their renegade transmissions adopted an increasing sonic urgency. The speaker shredding grooves of ‘Bubble Metropolis’ or the 'Molecular Enhancement' EP, for example, employed street-level, low frequency Techno to deliver a fast rollercoaster ride through the dancefloor's final frontiers. Instead of the spaced-out Afronaunt metaphors employed by other Detroit Techno producers, however, Drexciya's shorthand for the realm of the imagination was a post-Atlantis underwater world peopled by different races. References to Drexciyans, Lardossens and Darthhouven Fish Men flood their brief catalogue. It's in these undiscovered precincts that Drexciya - in a logical parallel to Underground Resistance's "space is the place" codes - located their counter-culture images of a wide open dream-terrain, free from prejudice, preconceptions and pre-programming of modern America.

Despite huge success in Europe, Drexciya remained consistently faithful to the sound of inner city Detroit. Their records combined the hard rush of 4am techno with deep, sub-oceanic bass and tough speed-thrill funk. But tracks like ‘Aquabahn’ (from the ‘Unknown Aquazone’ EP) or ‘The Countdown Has Begun' (from the ‘Aquatic Invasion’ EP) also flirted with the quirky crowd-pleasing shifts of classic electro. Like Underground Resistance and Aux 88, their allegiance lay with the wild fusion of these elements which provided the Motor City's main soundtrack since the days when Electrifying Mojo and The Wizard ruled the airwaves.

Periodically disappearing from view as a away of excluding the outside world and focusing on new ideas and concepts - "We don't want to pick up on anybody else's vibe so we cut off all communications" - Drexciya's career was punctuated by the kind of lengthy hiatus which, in the accelerated timeframes of dance music, has proven fatal for many artists. Yet, despite having released only a handful of heavily influential 12"s, they seemed to resurface after every self-imposed isolation re-energised and recharged. In 1996, they returned triumphantly from one such break with 'The Return of Drexciya' , a masterpiece of twisting, bumping grooves and brooding, kinetic energy before disconnecting once more.

In the Summer of 1997, however , they announced it was all over. Their swansong was The Quest, a 28 track double album which included previously unreleased cuts alongside some of their most classic moments.

Tim Barr