Various Artists – Optimo (Espacio) presents Sleepwalk (Domino)

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optimo-sleepwalk

It is with a heavy heart that I review this Sleepwalk by Optimo. On the one hand it is an immense expression of sound artists, technology and its advanced practitioners. On the other hand a prime focusing on listening itself is the foregrounded question what is the sound of sound? Whether this is a question for the listener or the musician could be held to be moot from the “I just came here to dance’ crowd.

Sleepwalk is eclectic and expresses DJs JD Twitch and JG Wilkes great enthusiasm and prolific ear for music outside the boundaries of their hip Glasgow club Optimo (Espacio). It is definitely a listening album beyond the confines of the sense of ambient chill in the straight rave sense. It combines the poetics of Eden Ahbez “La Mer’ with the dissipation of Lee Hazelwood doing a version of “Whole lotta shakin’ going on’, Duke Ellington, Arthur Russell’ classic “This is how we walk on the moon’, Cluster, Tuxedomoon, Coil… So as you can see, if you have at all ventured into the realms of these artists’ works that there is a great variance in the tableau of sound presented by Optimo. It is not merely the mixing, but the engineering and production that Optimo bring to the collection that present it as a wildly interesting thrill for the ear.

The real reticence I have about Optimo is a question of a waking life rather than mere sleepwalking. Being of the obsessive cultural imbiber, the examination of artifacts is key to this particular illness. I have come to the conclusion that anything associated with the occult world is by nature doomed. Think “The Maltese Falcon’ or “Foucault’s Pendulum’ as signposts in my world. So now having in front of me a sonic text recorded at “The Solar Lodge’ the warning bells are going off in my head, think Manson, Solar Temple, boy in the box, think “The Family’. You have it, I would prefer you didn’, it is such an impressive collection that to tie it all together with such reference points is odd to say the least. But closer examination of some of the artists involved may have you closer to this world than wisdom would allow.

So if you find that sound encapsulates the world of the artist, that music conveys this world to the audience then you may very well question whether this mix is for you. You may very well be considerably postmodern and consider that expression is by essence all, rather than that which is expressed, that all has validity. Perhaps examination of art in terms of artistic responsibility in terms of what is expressed is merely old fashioned and questions of ethics in art are a supreme delusion. However it is not in the movement beyond good and evil, in the existential sense, or beyond the infinite, but a life truly lived well will convey through its artifacts ideas and lasting truths that have no need for the esoteric arts.

However you may very well consider these opinions to be mere interests of the reviewer, let your ear do the listening, perhaps not your eye.

Innerversitysound

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6 Comments

  1. I’m not sure where/why you are making the Optimo/occult link but what I hear and know is that Twitch and Wilkes are grade A music lovers with eclectic and deep tastes. Their club in Glasgow has celebrated 10 wonderful years and its closest Australian equivalent would be Club Kooky in Sydney.

    I’m not sure where else I would have heard Eden Ahbez if not for this compilation! And many others will be introduced to Coil, NWW, the field recordings of Chris Watson, and who would have thought that ex-Soup Dragons would turn out that wonderful track by Future Pilot AKA?

    For my money, Sleepwalk is a fantastic journey across genres and styles that should introduce people to new sound worlds and artists.

    Their other mixes are equally eclectic and their How To Kill The DJ 2 is still one of my favourite CDs of all time. The recent Rvng MX6 backed with edits from the Crass back catalogue is well worth tracking down.

  2. innerversitysound on

    Seb

    The link was there for the making. To call your recording studio the Solar Lodge is just asking for it. It could be merely that they were being playful?

    I am in total agreement with you that they are A1 music lovers and that their tastes are quite amazing. It is true that Eden Ahbez is the standout track.

    And I admit their club, activities and compilations have been incredible.

    In that music is an act of communication, the act is not alone, it has an audience. Your point that this act introduces people to new sound worlds and artists is reasonable. However it is different than saying all possible sound worlds are reasonable or indeed sound food. My point was about realms of activities and cultural signposts that lead to lost worlds rather than a question of the overall integrity of the album.

    It is still in my listening a quality album. It is just that I am turning my back on certain world views.

    Innerversitysound

  3. Ahh that wasn’t very clear in your review and you’re reading a lot into it – given the tracklisting it is more likely a hat tip to Coil than OTO.

    You might be reading too much into the naming of the studio . . . Related then the two killer promo mixes from Pilooski’s Dirty Sound System which are recorded at the White Lodge – Doudou Câlin) over at Lovefingers and the Black Lodge respectively.

  4. innerversitysound on

    True I over read.

    Can you taste the redness of a red delicious? Does the taste arrive in your mind at the mention of the words.

    Is this what it means to over read?

    You are correct, my words were not precise, I shall try to apply a more rigorous logical progression to convey precise ideas.

    The mysteries are more akin to poetry rather than science or logic.

    Farewell sea, hello semiotics.

  5. I have to admit, I was going to ask you to clarify the occult connection, but here it is in the comments. I think it is clear from the review that you appreciate the music and I concur, this is an eclectic, interesting mix (I’m listening to it for the first time, right now and loving it so far).