Thursday 23 May 2024

Imaginary Time

Nocturnal Emissions - Imaginary Time (including Gesloten Cirkel remix)

Imaginary time is a representation of time that appears in some approaches
to quantum mechanics; mathematically speaking, it simply is a line perpendicular to the time axis.
Inspired by this concept and by the possibility of transcending the normal restrictions of time and space through the power of imagination, Industrial / DIY music cult act Nocturnal Emissions released a first raw and irregular version of Imaginary Time in 1996, followed three years later by a new more rave inspired mix, this time reflecting a political urge of that particular moment in time when the squatting scene, free parties, and noncommercial raves - all existing tied up with campaigns of anti-capitalist protests going on in the late 90s - were upsetting the powers of the ruling class and the authoritarian government in the UK. Sunny Crypt is beyond happy to bring back to life all the past forms of Imaginary Time in another particular moment on this timeline as its sixth release with a fully remastered vinyl reissue, with a brand new powerhouse 4/4 remix by all things Techno / Electro / Jacking wizard Gesloten Cirkel and a renewed graphic outfit. There’s another kind of time!

Nigel from NE was super kind to answer some questions and give us an extended background on the inception of this record as you can read below.

Vinyl + Digital preorder now available on Bandcamp. Out on June 10th!


Please order via this link (in Italy), thanks


What inspired the creation of Imaginary Time?

What were your main cultural references at that time?


The voice you hear is the computer-generated American voice that Stephen Hawking used.


In quantum mechanics, imaginary time is a way of calculating time where imaginary numbers are used. But even though the numbers are imaginary, they do have observable effects in the real world.



Now, it could be said that quantum mechanics happen at scales that do not affect our experience of  everyday life but the  idea of this record to me is about transcending the normal  restrictions of time and space, through the power of the imagination.


But I’m not a quantum physicist and for me this is more to do with the human experience of time, and how our memories and imagination structure and formulate that experience as we travel through our lives and communicate and share that experience with others The idea of there being another sort of time, which is imaginary time, even if it's at right angles to real time, seems like a geometrical formulation of time, a sculptural formulation of time. Which appeals to me, because it's like time might be happening, but also memory is happening. We experience time as memory and anticipation.


The experience of capitalism is the control of time by the buying and selling of time and what we as people can do with that time within our lives.


Through music, we're always structuring time, as it’s a time-based art form.


What inspired the creation of Imaginary Time?

What were your main cultural references at that time?


There was an earlier version of Imaginary Time, a vinyl LP, which came out on Solielmoon in the USA,1996, that was an irregular beat music. It sounded very raw.


And then later, I cranked up Imaginary Time and gave it a tighter repetitive beat for the German release in 1999.


So obviously, the main cultural influence at the time was rave music. In the UK, there was a there was a free party scene, and there were sort of alternative lifestyles going on, which upset the powers that be and a moral panic ensued. A specific law went onto the statute books forbidding music with a repetitive beat.


There was a whole traveller scene, a whole squatting scene,  free party scene, free festivals, and a non-commercial rave scene, all sorts of anti-capitalist campaigns. These were all intrinsically connected and very often hinted a different view of time to what Mark Fisher  called “capitalist realism”.



At the time that I made that record, the late 90s, this was really getting stamped upon by increasingly authoritarian UK governments, which led to them actually put the bans specifically on repetitive beat music, as well as various forms of gatherings for demonstrations. So this cultural suppression went hand in glove with the suppression of the unions, the rights to protest, and the destruction of the welfare state that was underway at that time.


This was a climate of great change and conflict, really. There was this conflict coming from authoritarian governments that were stamping out different approaches to life.

But music can be a great unifier.


Those were the references at the time. Very political.




Where were you based at the time? What was the cultural context of the city you were living in at the time? How was its art scene?


At the time I was living in a small town in Cornwall, I was working as an autonomous artist, but reclusively, not as part of any local art or music scene.


I had one or two friends who worked in electronic music, but there was no particular big scene about it at the time. I wasn't actually working or performing within the context of Cornwall.

I was performing a lot, but I wasn't performing locally at all in that period. In fact, I was pretty much anonymous locally and prior to widespread internet use, not many people were aware of what I was doing.


It took me about ten years to get myself more connected locally, when I was helping out with a local arts website, etc.


There are people who are artists, but there wasn't really an art scene I was a part of or was involved in at that time. I guessed that there must have been some sort of an art scene in Cornwall anyway, sort of a tourist industry and tourist art, but I’ve never had anything to do with that. But there are a lot of artists and musicians living around in this area, the famous name being Aphex Twin. He’s a lot younger than me and lives the other end of Cornwall, if he does have a local scene, it's not one I know a lot about.


Locally there were techno events happening, as well as pub rock and a folk music scene, but it was kind of isolated in Cornwall.


I think the late 90s, after a break of about 4 years, I was gigging all around Europe.


I was performing mostly round squats and small venues in Germany and Holland, France, Czech Republic, and  I headlined at the Industrial Festival in Wroclaw in Poland and played things like the Wave Gothic Treffen.  But whatever I did, it was away from home.




I was living a nice natural environment, parts of Cornwall have wealthy retired people, but overall it’s a deprived area, the wages tend to be low, and it can be expensive living here.


It's actually quite difficult to do this kind of work in Cornwall, I have performed locally a few times over the years, but it has been very rare.


 I was incredibly lucky in the way things went for me, but I have also spent many years doing other work I didn’t like to support my creative endeavours. I must have been very determined to stick at it.


But there is beautiful countryside and I find I get peace of mind and inspiration here. That’s's the  reason I live here.



What were the biggest challenges you experienced in approaching new technologies for composing music that emerged in the early 2000s?


Despite really struggling financially in the late 90s, I was an early adopter of the internet and I had friends who helped me via a local cyber cafe.


I suppose technically it was finding ways of linking up computer systems with analogue hardware.

I learnt a little bit of coding around this time, actually, because I was working with an Amiga and an Atari. So it was necessary to learn some very basic coding to use the software I was making music on, on the Amiga. I was using this tracker program called Octamed.



So that was a bit of a challenge, but I worked it out.


When I first started, in the early 80s, it was difficult to access synthesizers and drum machines and things like that anywhere, even in London, it was just getting started when I first got involved. Electronic music was far more difficult than what went on in the 2000s.


So there was a change, yeah, I think that's probably reflected in the changes that happened in those two initial versions of Imaginary Time



I suppose the greatest challenge when I started off was, I didn't have a lot of equipment after the first wave of Nocturnal Emissions.


To make the record, I was using an Amiga 1200. I used an Atari to sequence things.


I was using analog synths. And I think I probably had two sound modules on there and drum machines. They were all synced together through an Atari sequencer.


So the main challenge was wiring all this lot up through MIDI and various leads.

I was using a variety of instruments. I was using analogue modules and keyboards and drum machines as well. They were all hooked up and being driven off both an Atari and an Amiga. Quite a complicated setup, really. A lot of things to plug in and turn on.

I'm not a natural computer person, my brain's not really geared up that way and I had  a lot to learn. I am an artist engaged with the modern world, and have learned enough about computer stuff over the years, so I use it when appropriate.





How was the record received at the time?


I don't know if it made a big impression at the time, really. Because there was a huge commercial wave of dance music happening at the time which drew far more attention.


So it was largely ignored, I'd say. It was a record made for another kind of time.


You’ve been a pioneer of DIY music since the late 70s. Are there any contemporary artists that you like that keep that spirit alive nowadays?


I’m happy to report that since I’ve been performing again lately there are more and more younger artists emerging  and I am very happy to meet them on my travels.

And the DIY spirit seems to shift from context to context, really. I've been at it a long time. But I find things are exciting at the moment.







Friday 3 May 2024

Nocturnal Emissions: Minimal Works 8

Saturday 27 April 2024

Nocturnal Emissions: the first two records


Nocturnal Emissions, a pioneering English industrial music group formed in the late 1970s, carved a unique niche in the experimental music landscape with their provocative sonic explorations and socio-political commentary. Their early records, "Tissue of Lies" (1980) and "Fruiting Body" (1981), serve as seminal works in the realm of industrial music, showcasing the band's penchant for blending avant-garde soundscapes with radical ideologies. 

"Tissue of Lies," the debut album released in 1980, emerged during a tumultuous period marked by social upheaval and political unrest. The album encapsulates the zeitgeist of its era, channelling the anxieties and disillusionments of a generation grappling with the aftermath of punk's decline and the rise of Thatcherism in the UK. Thematically, "Tissue of Lies" confronts issues of power, control, and manipulation, mirroring the dystopian landscape of contemporary society. 

The album's sonic palette is diverse and eclectic, drawing from a myriad of influences ranging from musique concrète to post-punk and industrial noise. Thematically, "Tissue of Lies" delves into themes of surveillance, paranoia, and social control, offering a scathing critique of authoritarianism and mass media manipulation.

The first two records by Nocturnal Emissions, "Tissue of Lies" and "Fruiting Body," stand as landmarks in the evolution of industrial music, showcasing the band's innovative spirit and uncompromising vision. Through their daring sonic experiments and radical political critiques, Nocturnal Emissions challenged listeners to confront the dark undercurrents of society and embark on a quest for transcendence amidst the chaos of the modern world.