Sunday, January 31, 2010


Eurorack modular used in Phoenecia's latest release, Echelon Mall. "Although Phoenecia's Echelon Mall is the culmination of 4 years of exhibitions and film work, the project did not begin with their first commission, rather the moment the first revision was requested. Realizing that useful limbs were bound to be severed, and conversely, THAT MUSIC FOR FILM NEEDS TO UNDERGO ADDITIONAL SURGERY TO BECOME GOOD lisTENING MUSIC, the artists tucked the idea of Echelon Mall away for safekeeping, adding bits and pieces as time passed. The sources could hardly be more diverse, one is a soundtrack for the opening ceremony for a fantasy play-land for children created by a group of toy makers, one is a film about Hispanic low-rider bicycle gang members battling one another with witchcraft, another is a starkly futuristic 5.1 installation with visuals interactively generated by the soundtrack itself, and then there's a 2 hour performance where the artists remixed, at random, sounds from 2,500 Christmas records. The result is a surprisingly fluid piece of work that plays like a contiguous, mood-driven soundtrack. Some tracks sit at the near end of biological chaos, some closer to clean & structural reason, nevertheless, each song seems to narrate a different chapter from the same story, never straying too far from the central theme. Echelon Mall is for the most part beat-less, but by no means is it ambient, it nimbly traverses the gaps between electro-acoustic, musique concrète, industrial and noise, all the while rarely reminding the listener that they are listening to electronic music. All of this makes it difficult to categorize, but not difficult to listen to, and though it seems well aware of it's influences, it's just too akward a child to sit comfortably beside any well established genre, camp, or collective. So if we must, we'll just call what it is, an album of visual accompaniments translated into song form: cinema for the ears

Appropriating their name from the first culture of the old world to explore the new, Phoenecia, aka Joshua Kay and Romulo Del Castillo, was inaugurated in Miami in 1997. The pair previously recorded under the Soul Oddity moniker, releasing an album and a series of 12-inch singles for the US major label Astralwerks. In late 1996 they founded Schematic Music Company which would carve a distinct niche in the landscape of modern music by introducing the likes of Scott Herren (Prefuse73, Savath & Savalas), Otto Von Schirach, Richard Devine, Dino Felipe, Push Button Objects, Nick Forte, and Hearts Of Darknesses (amongst others) to the world. In 2001 they released a full-length album entitled Brownout, which in the words of the late Tim Haslett was "Phoenecia's magnum opus, the place where the ideas found in the preceding records are allowed to come to full fruition". It was also remarked that the album was "cinematic, but primarily in the respect that the tracks are heavily influenced by the sound design of film, as opposed to the score". This marked a decisive break from their past and set the trajectory for the sound they would continue to develop over the next 7 years, which consisted mainly of exhibitions, film soundtracks, remixes, compilation tracks, and the work comprised in their latest albums Echelon Mall and Lewd Archives."


  1. So I wonder where they got the inspiration for the cover art?

  2. Ummm, no. The idea was based on an old Armenian book of glyphs and letters. Close though, but just a coincidence. Sonically, how do they compare?


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