When we think of “extreme” music we tend to focus on things that are distinctly metallic: the faster and louder and more abrasive it is, the more extreme is it. Erik Highter has for years made a habit of exploring the other, less covered sides of extreme music: whether in dialog with Craig Hayes in their sporadic but always engaging Outré Monde series, or by way of his experimental musical persona The Monophonic Shooting Spree. Often using his own body in conjunction with pedals, natural recordings, and other effects to construct layered soundscapes, a similar methodology in the use of public domain footage is employed in his first video experiment.
Check out the premier of “Launch” from Another Soylant Green World below…
There’s a Lynchian quality to the opening, an ambiguity to the image of a burst of flame lighting a metal construct that doesn’t reveal itself for a couple of minutes until additional movement is discerned. The sounds emanate from a LYRA-8 synthesizer, a beautiful piece of gear assembled by Soma Laboratories. Despite the sudden wails and alarming frequencies struggling for clarity there’s an almost hypnotic quality to the track, especially when paired against the image of what turns out to be a rocket taking off. But the time of the dissolve to a beautiful shot from a distant, the reverberations and escalating tone of the track hit an apex, only to slowly die away into a sort of fugue as we watch the burning light fade the higher it goes.
I’m always mesmerized by music that challenges you to accept it on its own terms, and the trick Monophonic Shooting Spree uses on “Launch” and the other tracks on Another Soylant Green World is to give you at least a single point of reference to anchor yourself as Highter explores a sonic space. Using video to accentuate the sound is inspired, and hopefully signals a new chapter in how the musical project moves forward. However it proceeds, I’ll continue to listen and puzzle over its mysteries, finding pieces I can grab onto as I watch for a horizon increasingly hard to fathom.
Another Soylant Green World is available on Bandcamp along with a wide assortment of sonic experiments from MSS. For more information on the project as well as podcasts, essays and other assorted ephemera check out Erik’s website The Speed of Things.