Format: LP 2×12” / CD / Digital Download
Cat. #: UNDLP01 / UNDCD01 / UND01
Release Date: June 8th, 2015
A1 / 1 Eudaemonia
A2 / 2 Daimon Anthem
A3 / 3 The Irony Of Karma (Part. 1)
B1 / 4 Violence
B2 / 5 Exploitation
B3 / 6 The Paradox Of Authority
C1 / 7 Disambient
C2 / 8 Praxis
C3 / 9 The Irony Of Karma (Part. 2)
D1 / 10 Exertion
D2 / 11 Inner8 + T.C.O. – Ataraxia D3 / 12 Moto Asintotico
Philosophical and thematic ambition is on the increase in 21st century techno and electronic music, but this on its own isn’t a guarantor of strong results: it still takes careful craftsmanship and deep personal commitment in order to bind these things to music which does not simply sound like ‘hard work,’ or like intellectual exhibitionism for its own sake. Daniele Antezza, with his past work in Dadub, is one artist who holds out promise to counteract this trend: he has already shown an ability to be rigorous in technique while still creating sonic results that entice with their ambiguity. His newest project, Inner8, also relies on such a paradoxical approach to sound, and in fact uses certain philosophical and existential paradoxes as the prima materia of the project. For example, Antezza reminds us with the album’s track sequencing – beginning with “Eudaemonia” and following with “Daimon Anthem” – of the shared etymology that makes the classical state of collective virtue also a “demonic” one. The project name itself, as per Antezza, has much to do with exploring the concept of eternal recurrence (note the kinship of the “8” to an infinity symbol). It therefore calls upon from all the different modes of human inquiry – from the spiritual to the mathematical – that have investigated this concept.
From the outset, Inner8 provides a heady mix of both contemplation and action, of esoteric and exoteric elements. Eastern devotional chant, processed drones, palpably phasing electronics and other indistinct ephemera from the undulating background against which seriously dense mid- tempo rhythms – not beholden to any specific ‘dance’ genre – work their magic. Tracks such as “Eudaemonia” and “The Irony of Karma” are cinematic in their spatiality and highly concentrated in their mood, aiming to go beyond language in the insight that they provide on these philosophical and metaphysical phenomena. A suite of songs in the middle of the album – i.e. “Violence,” “Exploitation,” and “The Paradox of Authority” – are focused meditations dealing with present-day manifestations of the obsession with power. Such themes could easily be treated with paint-by-numbers industrial music cliches, though Inner8 avoids the temptation of that low- hanging fruit and instead relies on pleasant, mildly queasy sound washes, stealthy ‘depth charge’ bass hits and lengthy (but not necessarily didactic) reports from the frontiers of theory. As to the latter, a sampled monologue on “Violence” (from an immediately recognizable public intellectual) schools listeners on the inseparability between ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ violence, and their complicity in maintaing the societal status quo. Taken as a whole, these tracks offer a reminder that pervasive negative forces exist in the realm of antiseptic digital / virtual convenience as well as in the factory and the slaughterhouse.
However, the album is not content simply to shine a harsh light upon certain social dynamics – it also focuses sufficiently on the need for private inquiry and the voyage of the ‘psychonaut’ into inner space. The overall strength of Inner8’s approach can be attributed to this attempted reconciliation of individual and social action, and to the additional realization that personal quests do not have to be tantamount to a resigned quietism. Even as it gives the listener a sense of calm detachment or amniotic warmth, a track title like ‘Disambient’ hints at the fact that such inner voyages hold out the possibility of confrontation while en route to enlightenment, and suggest that ultimate Truth is a chimera that will elude those most eager to find it (this theme of approaching but never quite achieving is returned to in the aptly named closer “Moto Asintotico [Asymptotic Movement],” a kind of semi-reprise of “Disambient.”) In the same way, the track titled “Ataraxia” (also a sort of revisitation of “Eudaemonia”‘s leitmotif) does not feature the kind of soundmarks that one might expect in such a state, but is instead propelled by restless stuttering rhythms with a coarse sandpaper grit around the edges.
At its core, Inner8 is a much-needed project in the contemporary art / media lanscape. Its distrust of simple “givens” in everything from politics to aesthetics, and its ability to find beauty even in those areas where truth cannot be attained, provide an excellent schematic for a debut album and for many interesting discussions to follow.