Podcast 631: Ondness
A meditation on troubled times.
Podcast 631: Ondness
A meditation on troubled times.
Bruno Silva became Ondness in 2009 with Em Afogando, one of several CDR and tape self-releases shared under a slew of different monikers, among them Iguana Feedback or Navalha Mystic, depending on the vague concept or premise surrounding the music. The two-track EP, touching on noise, experimental, and psychedelic rock, was later reissued with a different cover on Celas Death Squad, a short-lived label Silva once had with a friend.
From here, Silva sprinkled several extremely limited edition cassettes on various labels he respected, exploring the depths of ambient and drone, before switching to vinyl for Meio Que Sumiu, released on Souk Records last year. Across 10 tracks, Silva alluded to the disappearance of outdoor communities, releasing an album less about himself and his inspirations and more about his aspirations about how dance music could be in an era of interactivity and information.
By this point, Silva had also begun to release music as Serpente, a channel for his ideas on rhythm. Whereas Ondness deals more personally with Silva’s obsessions, anxieties, and hauntings at a given moment, “finding some internal cohesion for me in some hallucinatory space,” Silva explains, Serpente is more “strict,” focused on percussion. Serpente’s debut album, Parada, an exploration of abstract and experimental jungle, is available now alongside two EPs on São Paulo, Brazil-based Tormenta Electrica.
Silva began as a guitarist, and the guitar remains an important part of his life: he plays in a jazz trio with mythical trumpet player Sei Miguel, among other projects. But beyond this, he began morphing his guitar sounds using various techniques and this awakened his first electronic impulses. He developed these primitive ideas through software, giving birth to his first electronic outings, but he now relies on these techniques to make sense of oblique perspectives on music, architecture, and life.
Earlier this year, Silva donned his Serpente hat to contribute a track to XLR8R+ alongside tracks from DJ Nigga Fox, BLEID, and RS Produções, and he’s marking the release with an XLR8R podcast. Titled “Echolocation Through Troubled Times” and recorded at home in two recording sessions of free-association, it’s a trippy and hypnotic listen aiming to reflect today’s turbulent times, and influenced by Silva’s favorites Mark Fisher and dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson.
What have you been up to recently?
Trying to accommodate to 2020 now that the haze of the transitional period has dissipated. Still, I managed to close these forthcoming releases after a long period of mixing and self-doubt.
How do you spend your time outside of music?
Shuffling between family harmony, my “other” work—writing and production—readings, speculations on conspiracy, esoterica and liminal spaces—which tend to be quite interlinked—and long periods of silence.
Which labels or artists are impressing you right now?
To be honest, in the last couple of years I haven’t been listening to as much new music as I used to, so I’m quite out of the loop, and so I mostly try to keep up with all the amazing work done by loved ones and acquaintances— from Broshuda to Gabriel Ferrandini, Maria Reis to Kepla, too many to mention, forgive me—and the stream of releases put out by labels I’m connected with. That being said, I try to keep an eye on whatever 20 Buck Spin or Dark Descent are releasing.
Where and when did you record this podcast?
At home in my battered laptop. First half during the wee hours of the night and the rest the following morning.
How did you choose the tracks and the samples that you included?
By free-flowing association mostly. This loose network of connections came into existence without a proper plan—one particular track reminded me of another and so forth without trying to conceptualize it too much, but I kept a certain frame in mind to help me focus. As a gateway. Consciously or not, this was influenced by recent readings like “Surveillance Capitalism,” all-time favorites like Mark Fisher—dearly missed—or Linton Kwesi Johnson, the sprawling “Southland Tales,” or the hauntological spaces within those old VHS logos—a perennial obsession of mine—so it made sense to drop them amidst the flux. Pointers maybe?
What’s the deal with the title, “Echolocation Through Troubled Times?”
Not to take it too seriously, but keeping in mind my previous reply, a title, or vague concept, allows me to find some internal logic and channel the different movements into some sort of framing. It’s not like a manual, a doctrine, or some sort of overarching narrative, more like glimmers of possibility both literal—as in the spoken passages, etc—or more figuratively through the sounds themselves. I guess and hope they might reflect certain aspects of what’s happening now, even if in a skewed or farfetched way, flowing from darker undercurrents, through turmoil and into beacons of hope by the end. And these are indeed troubled times.
Where do you envisage the mix being listened to?
On your way back home after whatever it is you were doing. Or just leave it in the background while doing something else, as if the TV was on.
What’s on the horizon for 2020?
New albums from Ondness and Serpente. And a couple of shows in the U.K. in March. Not that much happening at the moment, but there was never a plan, so it’s all good.
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to download the podcast you will need to subscribe to our Select channel. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
01. Reel sound
02. Southland Tales excerpt
03. Writers Workshop: Places and Things introduction
04. Shoshana Zuboff on Surveillance Capitalism
05. ICQ Sounds
06. Mount Vernon Arts Lab “The Submariner’s Song” (Ghost Box)
07. Simitar VHS logo
08. HTRK “Mentions” (Ghostly International)
09. DJ Olive “Sleep” (room40)
10. Field Recordings from a Non Place
11. Linton Kwesi Johnson “Tings an Times acapella” (LKJ Recordings)
12. Akira Rabelais “1390 Gower Conf. II. 20 I Can Noght Thanne Unethes Spelle That I Wende Altherbest Have Rad.” (Samadhisound)
13. Philip Jeck “Pax” (Touch)
14. Andrew Cyrille, Jeanne Lee & Jimmy Lions “Nuba 1” (Black Saint)
15. George Russell “Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature Part 2” (Event VIII) (Flying Dutchman)
16. Boredoms “7777777” (WEA Japan)
17. Ghédalia Tazartès “Un” (Hinterzimmer)
18. DJ Monita & Steve C “Full Cry” (Skeleton Recordings)
19. Mark Fisher on Why Modern Life Causes Depression
20. Johnny Jungle “Johnny 94” (Origin Unknown Mix) (Suburban Base)
21.. Stellar Om Source “Rites of Fusion” (Olde English Spelling Bee)
22. Gyptian “Serious Times” (acapella)
23. Eric Copeland “Blazin” (DFA)
24. Parliament “Motor Booty Affair” (Casablanca)
25. Start VHS logo