Stereoscopic play is a common trope in computer music and, more broadly, electronic music. The power to move sound right and left — and to a somewhat lesser extent forward and back — in the spatial stereo spectrum is an enticing one. It’s the DJ’s equivalent of all the stop-motion, physics-freezing hyperrealism that made those Matrix scenes so fresh.
To control sound on the dance floor, or on the home stereo, is to exert dominion — a la the opening credits to the old sci-fi TV show The Outer Limits: “There is nothing wrong with your television. Do not adjust the picture. We are now controlling the transmission. We control the horizontal, and the vertical.” To play with the stereo space is about control, about sonic elements as a kind of fetish — perhaps in both senses, not just as a enticing object of fascination, but as a metaphysical totem.
And isn’t that what psychedelic music is all about? Cinchel (aka Chicago-based Jason Shanley) recently posted just such a stereo-spanning bit of computer-music psychedelia, titled “20100721,” the date it was posted (and, presumably, given the casual nature of the Cinchel blog, and the way the track ends somewhat suddenly, the day of its making: MP3).
For about four and a half minutes, it’s all flanging wonderment. At first it has the gummed up density one experiences when one leaves one’s tickets to the rave at home, and is left to experience it from outside. But then, bright sharp sounds appear, little elements, spritely ones, that at first blip with a coy, semi-sentience, before becoming part of the rhythmic content — for this is nothing if not a beautiful pulsing series of intersecting patterns. Sounds occur in Cinchel’s music that cause you to look left or right, or to pay attention as they zip across the room. You respond physically, especially when listening on speakers, in contrast with headphones. That said, this is firmly in what radio DJs, long before the rise of the rave, called “headphones-only” music.
Cinchel doesn’t say much about the track in his post at his site, cinchel.com (which is named “When the Sky is Full of 0”²s and 1”²s …..”). He just says, “i am going to keep making … this stuff until someone tells me to stop.” I’m certainly going to do no such thing.