Cover images link to mp3 downloads on archive.org where available.
In Den Einkaufswagen, Oida (2017)
In the trashed former ÖAMTC offices out near Wetzeldorf, earlier this year, the classic line-up of the Entropy Circus reunited to bring back the old magic. We weren’t entirely sure what the old magic might be said to consist of, so we asked them about this during the mixing sessions at Soleri Mansions later in the day:
KIRCHNER: It’s hard to put your finger on it, isn’t it?
KRISHNA: Yeah, it’s not easy to define.
KIRCHNER: It’s not even like it’s in the machines. Sure, a lot of what we do is in our relationship to the machines but this isn’t like Jean Michel Jarre re-recording Oxygene, is it?
KITCHENER: Well, for one thing, none of our equipment is anywhere near as desirable as the stuff Jarre used.
Segways Drurgs & Fucked MIDI (2017)
The Entropy Circus ended in 1995, and then again in 2000 and 2014. The end of the project was marked in 2014 by a track entitled The Entropy Circus which was intended as the apotheosis of everything that the title had represented.
To a disinterested observer the distinction between the Vitreous Enamel Development Corp, The Benelux, The Benelux Circus, Royal Free Electric and Zali Krishna were Rizla-thin. To the disinterested observer they were little more than Krishna’s sense of history and discontinuity played out over almost thirty years. But from the perspective of my colleague, Solomon Kirchner, and I there was a longer political game afoot.
As a child, like most other children, I would go out the port with playmates and look at the freighters and yachts: some poised with their noses pointed towards the stars; others held in suspension fields and swarmed upon by maintenance automata.
Other boys would whisper the well-rehearsed specifications of renowned vessels: The Skybreak Splatterlight, The Nord Modular, The Levi 501. Like all boys the recitation of large numbers would fill us with a sense of security. I gave lip-service to this litany myself but somewhere beneath I preferred to see the starships as functionless; I preferred to look at them on the basis of purely sculptural values.
Finchley in the Rain (2015)
So here at last is Solomon Kirchner’s debut release “Finchley in the Rain”. Solomon has been my long time sideman on over two decades of Entropy Circus projects as well as being half of Europe’s favourite sitar’n'synth duo, Raagnagrok.
And it’s a strange choice for a debut, being a cover version of a lost 1974 recording by Bromwich Ham (not to be mistaken with the near contemporary German fusion act Brummagem). Bromwich Ham were a progressive three piece put together by the notorious kaballist Rayne Keller as a “ritual instrument” for political, spiritual and harmonic revolution. Keller designed their costumes, their stage sets and wrote their lyrics, but preferred to remain behind the scenes pulling the strings.
Brand Ambassador (2015)
Following his victory in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, Krishna found himself in a changed world. Within twenty-four hours both the stylist and hairdresser had left the team. “They were awful careerists,” Krishna told us, “both of them left for Japan. A band called Vow Wow had poached them from under my nose.”
This betrayal gave Krishna cause to re-evaluate his life.
“The spirit works in strange ways. There was something out of balance inside of me; at a fundamental level. I toured the cloud reefs in a Cessna Sky Yacht reading CS Lewis. I was looking for new insights and ways of seeing through nature, through art.”
Pesi Lao (2014)
Lao had been considering this problem for some weeks in the only way she knew. She walked the alleyways of her side of Nova Grendoza, keeping a careful account of the discarded empty beer cans, and bottles but mostly cans, that she found either crumpled amongst the leaf litter or hung in carrier bags, blue of black in colour, from railings and broken tree branches.
She sounded the subways for evidence: the tags on the damp walls, a big metal door halfway down the subway unlocked and waiting for the unwary, the ubiquitous fisheye mirrors at each entrance.
You might know Zali Krishna for his schlager crossover hit Windmills of Amsterdam, or perhaps for his acclaimed soundtrack to Miyazaki High School, but here are a few things that you might not know about Zali Krishna:
* For many years Krishna was a professional golf coach to the likes of David Niven and Jack Palance.
* In his spare time he buys up patents for some of the key inventions of the twentieth century. Amongst his collection are the Corby Trouser Press and the IBM 3340, better known as The Winchester hard disk unit.
* His first job in the music industry was as a page turner to the legendary Acker Bilk. Bilk described Krishna as “indispensible” and “a good lad”.
Skyship Abalone (2013)
Recorded in Hoxton 2013. Skyship Abalone was mostly instrumental, featuring a bevy of new and old techniques including a lot of Suzuki Q Chord. The exception to the instrumental rule, Str8 to Video, is a power ballad transcribed directly from a dream featuring what appears to be a libertarian, Heinleinesque alter ego. I shit you not.
Five kilometers out of Sommerwind the topography of the land is pulled into a series of ogive canyons, exagerrated into chevrons as they reach the escarpment of the Great Western Fault. On a sunny day, if you follow the ridge as far as Alium, a chain of inland lakes is visible opening and closing across the purple plains like a set of callipers or helices.
Over longer periods of tectonic time, over aeons wider than those described by civilisations or cultures, the pressures that wrench this land into plump blisters and gaudy crystalline fissures flickering with the kinetoscope of extended solar seasons, make the musculature of the continent elastic and contingent.
Recorded from March to July 2012, Kingfisher Blue is not a concept album.
Recorded in Hoxton London, Kingfisher Blue is not a psychogeographical artifact.
Kingfisher Blue consists of twelve tracks and runs for a little over thirty-five minutes. This much should be easy to say about its extension on the time axis. However, it is arguable that several of the tracks consist of more than one musical or conceptual object bolted together, and for all of their apparent unity when projected from two speakers (two tracks or one, a single entity or a siamese twin?) they were usually recorded at different times separated by months or days or hours or minutes…
By the end of 2011 Zali Krishna was musically bankrupt. The last twenty odd years that had seen dabblings with electronica, post-pub-rock, proggazing, modal skiffle and the like had left his paltry offerings badly bent out of shape. The more pretentious observers would throw around hybridity, melange, pastiche and other apologia in his defence, but even they were having to admit that none of these critical Band Aids would prevent the balloon from imminent deflation…
“Mr Elson?” I opened the front door to a crumpled man in an old overcoat.
“Peter Elson,” he corrected me with an emphasis on the first name, as if to draw attention to some significance that I didn’t recognise, “I’ve brought the merchandise,” he indicated the Waitrose bag-for-life.
“Come in, come in!” I led him into the living room.
“Nice view,” he said taking in a sweep of East London new builds and unfinished high rises out of the patio doors, “how do you think they get the cranes onto the tops of the blocks?”
“I’ve no idea,” I confessed.
The room is cool, panelled in dark wood with an odor of polish disguising a mustiness of age. It is a hot day outside. Morning, and the city is already busy about its quotidien rounds in the dazzling sun.
Perhaps you woke early with no real sense of dislocation to find your way to the breakfast room on the second floor. A selection of items from the buffet, indifferent coffee and juice, accompanied by a muted babble of polyglot conversation. It is still some hours until lunchtime and already you have crossed the broad brown river on one of the great stone bridges that carry tourists and their dollars across to the heights of the castle.
In 1919 Herbert Matthews, the company architect for aviation pioneer Claude Grahame-White, built a quadrangle of neo-Georgian houses in Colindale near Hendon, North London, to provide accommodation for his employees.
The estate was called Aeroville.
This is not their story.
In the art of St Ives, as in its landscape, we experience continuities between internal and external; air, sea and land. Divisions are soft or absent. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that they are lines of movement rather than borderlines. We see this in the continuum of Patrick Heron’s Harbour Window with Two Figures, the hollows of Barbara Hepworth’s fugues, or in the found cardboard canvases of Alfred Wallis. But we also see it where the weather station appears unexpectedly at the end of a street or above a restaurant. Where through a hole or nook we spy the ocean, and there again behind us, as if we were on an island.
Krishna looks up from a small madiera with an expression of punchable unflappability, “what can I tell you about the new album? Well, I don’t know. It’s about fifty one minutes long,” he chuckles, “my little joke!”
Here in his headquarters in Golders Green, ornamented richly with rarest jades and marbles, the man who likes to call himself Krishna cuts a paltry figure: five-eight, barely eight stone, unshaven for a month, sporting an Imperial shooting jacket and silk burgundy longyi, he pulls thoughtfully at a Gitane and defers to his accomplice, servant and familiar, Solomon Kirchner. “What do you reckon, Slomo? What’s it all about, eh?”
Following on from 2003′s Royal Free Electric EP, the sequel returns from the deep space motorisms of its predecessor to the tangled jungle of the archetype. From the lofty arbours of the opening tripartite opus that is Notre Dame des Anges, through the feral darkness of Anthropologie Domine, and the modal upanishad of Krishnamurthi in Excelsis, the music breaks cover for the crowds and gaudy neon buzz of Wenceslas Square Non-Stop.
The purple shadows are full of ancestral fetishes: Jarre, Jung, Faure, Levi Strauss, Vangelis, Gurdjieff, Stockhausen, Druillet, Vander. In the eerie starlight they contort and transform into something other, other, other…
The most recent episode of the Entropy Circus saga. Three years in the making this album was informed by extensive gigging solo, as the Entropy Circus live band, as Raagnagrok, Oort and the Stellamarisdroneorchestra.
Track 10 features Richard Guest on fretless guitar and Track 14 features Mark Pilkington on electronics.
While the Stellas was an exciting project, I often had misgivings about the musical results of the experiment and I lacked the experience, and perhaps the charisma, to fully communicate how I would like the band to develop. So, once again, the Skillzy album, or to give it its full name, Skillzy Krishna & The Vorticist Bar Combo Featuring The Original Entropy Circus All Stars, became a vent for this frustration. Indeed one of the key tracks on the album, Raga Jalfrezi, would become the blueprint for my first solo gigs later in the year.
But there’s lots of new material too: Lord of the Air – an unlikely graft of Sabbath and Can, Raga Jalfrezi – which resembles my current solo set in some manner and appeared on a Guinea Pig compilation in early 2004, and many many more…
After the first Stella Maris Drone Orchestra gig in September it was almost five months before we regrouped for another gig. Becoming impatient I decided to record another EP, or mini-album. Royal Free Electric, like Stella Maris before it, was not explicitly an Entropy Circus project. I had seen the three words adjacently to each other on my desk. They reminded me of the title of Gila’s first album, Free Electric Sound. Royal Free Electric was intended as a love letter to 1971: pushing the krautrock envelope, but not necessarily in the fashionable beat driven sense of the Kosmische Club.
Before the Stella Maris Drone Orchestra was formed another set of recordings was completed. The Stella Maris LP, The Entropy Circus Present Stella Maris, brings the new recording techniques using Cool Edit to a more typical Entropy Circus album. The gliding dronescapes of the Stella Maris EP only really recur in the first section of the fifteen minute closing track Headkickers Revival Church, which is more notable for complex jump-cut edits in the middle section which brings in a fully motorik groove, which in spite of its Mixolydian major tonality employs significant chromaticism.
Even though Stella Maris was only two tracks, it was a crucial moment. Using Cool Edit Pro on the new laptop, I moved away from quarter inch tape recording.
Quite apart from the convenience of hard disk recording, tape was relatively expensive and not widely available. Cool Edit would allow me to manipulate loops with far greater sophistication than ever before.
p00 isn’t an altogether successful album. There are many new techniques on there, and there are individual tracks that I like; the blowsy melodic shoegaze pop of The Trees feels very much in the spirit of a David Lloyd painting. But maybe the album is uneven because I wasn’t quite comfortable with the new technology and its implications at the time. The album was mixed down in early 2002 and a few months later we were forced to move flat when the landlord decided to sell. We found another Warner flat, nearer to Blackhorse Road, but it wasn’t until 2003 that I managed to complete any satisfactory new material.
Fritware Painted With Lustre was born at the Victoria & Albert Museum. I had taken Tim Orff, a long time member of Platform Five(5), to the V&A for his birthday, and while we were looking at the ceramics of the Muslim world, he drew my attention to a particular item. “No, not the pot, look at the label: fritware painted with lustre!” The race was on to use this title for a project first.
This title wasn’t the only influence that Tim had upon this album. Earlier in the year I had borrowed a big VHS video camera from work and had lugged the device around the Tottenham Marshes in search of the genius loci. While playing back the footage, we found a shot where a fly had landed on the lens; the bright summer sun catching its wings; Tim christened it “rocket assed fly”, and the name was duly used for a joyful, chiming tune on this album.
“Do you remember a bloke called Derek?” is the question that opens this album. Derek was real. I had met Derek in a pub in Minster on the isle of Sheppey. He had asked me whether I followed the football.
When I said I didn’t, he decided to launch into a digressive monologue about the current developments in the game, which inevitably moved into the territory of “some of my best friends are black but…” I finished my pint, made my excuses and left.
Hoog, or Go Hoog, was never intended as a coherent album. By the time I had enough material to go onto the CD, I had acquired a Fostex A8, an eight-track reel-to-reel machine, which would revolutionise my recording processes, and rather than mix the old four track cassette material with the new sound, I decided to clear the decks for a new project.
Having said this, the tracks on Hoog are at least as solid as those on Paddington Hardstare, and perhaps its lack of intentionality is part of its charm.
In some ways Paddington Hardstare might claim to be a concept album. It is bookended by two tracks which suggest that it chronicles the rise and fall of the Blackhorse Lane flat and the cyclical nature of nomadic metropolitanism. The first track, Reconstructing Home, opens with the line “it seems this town is not built on solid ground/ I know a place where we can go”; the final track, Piece o Shit, was recording while I was packing to move out of the flat, and in response to the disarray of boxes around me I wrote “there’s a piece o shit and it’s on the floor and I really don’t think I give a toss anymore about that.”
And so I had to unpack the Tascam and record the song before it was lost.
There are at least eight actual songs on The Goats & The Peacock and the words are far better than my teenaged efforts. Naturally there are some break up lyrics in there but not to any maudlin degree, and in the song Papal Bull the emo quality of “burnt your letters in the yard/and some old stupid birthday cards” is tempered by tangential references to California Dreaming and the absurdist “the pope and Vatican decree/that you must stay away from me”. If it’s a little too knowing, it’s certainly far more playful than many other songs of love and loss.
My mixing of the vocals on this album have often been criticised for being too quiet. This was partly an aesthetic decision to make the vocals an integral part of the music; embedded within it rather than apart from it, but it was also partly just fashionable. The most extreme case of it is on The Great Masturbator, a song which references the Dali painting of the the same name as well as Hitler’s invasion of Poland while explicitly reimagining He’s Got The Whole World In His Hand as an onanistic anthem. The heavy shoegazing style of this number is also quite a departure; borrowing dirty fuzz bass textures and a swarm of delays from Flying Saucer Attack and Yo La Tengo.
The daily commute into London, the monotony of the nine to five, the noise of the traffic outside; all of these lurk beneath the surface of this album. I wanted to discover another city immanent within the quotidian; a more fundamentally real city. It could be glimpsed tangentially in the liminal states. Falling out of sleep, a dream voice metamorphoses into the snarl of a car accelerating up Green Lanes.
My time was more precious and at the time it felt that becoming part of the workaday city was hardening and brutalising my playing. There are fewer conceptual jokes on Embroiderystitchaircraftwing. Things drift and merge but are more clearly conceived: many of the conventionally musical pieces are tightly structured and composed. There are also several tracks that are almost songs.
Monorail is a set of games played with mixing. At its most extreme, the conceptual joke Meditation On Arrangment features a close-miked clock ticking on one side of the stereo, while a toilet flushes on the other side. The message is that music is shit that happens over time. In other places the tracks are more conventionally musical: Boccioni Parkway is a dry thrash of triumphant major key riffing which abrades sparks off scuzzy dissonances. The transforming chords at the heart of this track are intuitions into ideas that I would much later formalise as a fully modal approach to guitar, but not for about another twelve years.
Metrognomon claims to be the first concept album of the series, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that it claims to be the first album conceived as a single unit. The sleeve notes explain that it is “an urban song cycle and as such may complement noise found in metropolitan areas”. Furthermore, I explain that “this recording may be played at any speed in any direction whilst remaining in essence the same music” because “relative distance of oscillations is more important than accurate reproduction of original frequencies”. This extreme modal attitude is perhaps unrealistic given the technology available to most listeners at the time, but at least suggests an emerging attitude towards sound as gestalt.
v7.0 was full of innovations, as was its predecessor but here I feel that I was coming to grips with the technology more fully. The music and the conceptual conceits are more successfully integrated and the cover design is one of my favourites from this period. The dot matrix printer that I was using was still black and white but here for the first time I printed the design onto heavy tan coloured paper. I was probably inspired by the first Tortoise album cover and the result had a pleasing texture.
The Entropy Circus ended in 1994. It ended again sometime around 2000 and I ended it last year in 2014 too, but 1994 was the first time that the Entropy Circus ended. There was a specific reason for ending it: I had lost interest in playing guitar music. This malaise was probably in some way connected with the fact that I bought my first substantial synthesizer in 1994.
The new environment of Four Station Delongii had allowed me to move beyond the revelations of v3.0 and there was a sense that there were new territories out there. My studies continued at university but there are no specific references to literary or religious subjects that I was studying, which might indicate that I had successfully relaxed into London living. Perhaps it is also noteworthy that this cassette had no name other than v5.0. The Entropy Circus had perhaps become confident enough now to be about itself rather a reference to something else.
The cover of v4.0 Defenestration features a representation of the Kabbalistic tree of life as well as a curious triangular spiral glyph that would appear on telephone doodles, lecture notes and anywhere else that my unconscious might unload itself. It’s not the best designed cover and in many ways this cassette was attempting to live up to the revelations of its predecessor; a phenomenon that I have encountered several times since. When new ideas blossom and emerge as a fully formed and satisfying whole, they are often followed, like a younger sibling, by an attempt to grow out of their shadow and become something other.
Time stretches and threatens to break in v3.0: repeating echoes, ambiguous machine rhythms. A favourite technique was to play two very fast digital delays against each other to make a moiré smear out of the guitar sound. Track lengths were often extended; the third and fourth sides of Amon Duul II double albums were a precedent, as was Ligeti and Robert Hampson’s Main. v3.0 was recorded on both sides of a 100 minute cassette: these were cheaply available at Woolworths at the time, and the length was appealing in its arbitrariness.
There were properly speaking two Entropy Circus cassettes in 1992. Both featuring some combinations of the same tracks. The concept of using version numbers for projects, borrowed from programming, was initially intended in something closer to the original sense, rather than as a catalogue number. The cassette v2.0 included the 45 minutes of v1.0 on the first side with an additional 45 minutes of new material on the second side, but this kept expanding and the previous year’s recordings were jettisoned for another cassette labelled v2.1 Some Principles of Sublight Speed Astrogation.
Some time in 1991, I don’t remember specifically when, a colleague of my flatmate, who also owned an Amiga, brought me some disks containing Soundtracker, Protracker, Fasttracker and a couple of disks of samples for them. Tracker programs, which were all available in the burgeoning public domain scene, differed from Deluxe Music and Sonix in that they displayed a continuous loop of four parallel tracks into which samples could be sequenced.
Entropy Circus 1 (1989/1990)
Sometime in 1989, the exact date is lost, I borrowed Alaric Pether’s Vesta Fire MR-30 multitrack recorder. It was primitive. It has no pan pots; the first two tracks would mix out to the centre and the other two would pan out hard left and hard right. It was very hissy, and while there was Dolby noise reduction on board, this would only make your recording unlistenably muffled. In short, it was a classic piece of 80s recording equipment.