Halocyan Records 'Universal Quantifier'
Do you like forward thinking music? Do you like being inspired? Do you love techno? Halocyan Records has delivered a brilliant complication that dives deep into an interesting philosophical pursuit. Universal Quantifier is not simply a compilation of well curated music, it’s an exploration of the greater contribution this very music has, and to see how far the power of this music can go.
Dimitri Fergadis, the label head of Halocyan Records, presents a compilation of music specifically to embody the future of techno. It is chock full of talent, with major notable artists such as Paul Woolford, Dosem, and Minilogue to only name a few. There are 24 tracks that encapsulate the label’s mission: a focus on pure ‘techne’ or human-made craft that makes techno unique from other genres. Not only is it beautiful in concept, but the packaging in of itself is something special. If you’re already excited and looking to buy it, well, do that here!
Not only did we listen and love the compilation and write about it recommend it to you today, but we were able to put some questions to Dimitri Fergadis about the compilation, and this deep thinker had a lot of great insights to share. I am keeping it simple here because there is so much complex and deep thinking to be done in the interview, you should just dive into it right away! It’s mysterious, it’s wonderful, it’s all brilliant techno!
And because we love you so, here is an exclusive Halocyan Records track for you listening pleasure!
Dntel - Lindsey (Sei A RMX)
What are your favorite tracks on the collection and why?
The Legowelt remix of Chrissy Murderbot's "Friendship," because of the intricacy and complication of its instrumentation. If it were an hour long, it would be the proper updating of "Music for 18 Musicians" by Steve Reich. Legowelt has brought a respectability and seriousness to the notion of a dance track. This piece exposes elegant and previously hidden dimensions of techne within techno music.
Also, I like Joey Beltram's remix of Dosem's "Atica." Here, what immediately strikes me is the blatantly exposed authority and force of computational logic. Journalistic reviews of this track consistently marveled at the almost militaristic high-tech power that Beltram somehow harnesses.
To me, this track is arche-techno par excellence, and it was I think what caused the term "arche-techno" to jump to my mind in the first place. This track is the absolute exposure of and confrontation with the presence of computational logic. One can hardly forget its presence here. And this is what I am trying to get across, that in other music, even as generally as in traditional classical or acoustic folk music, where the scale has been organized into precise mathematical relations, we are able to forget that this organizing gesture too is the techno-computerization of existence. The mind judges to put these mathematical relations there, and then behaves as though it merely reveals the relations already present in nature.
In the arche-computerization of everything, a transition is made from the mathematical ideality "within nature," an "outside" simply "reflected" by the mind or the computer, to the written physical archive of the computerized machine. Whereas mathematical existence in its "classical" or "natural" conception seems "beautiful" or "elegant," suddenly now this classical naturalism will be revealed as the all pervasive unity of a digital machine, albeit a machine whose existence is caused by the historical phenomenon of human writing, or human techne-graphic existence. Mathematical ideality becomes written as a material archive.
Suddenly, and only perhaps "inevitably," this computerization of existence too, will be called "nature." And that is the truly strange thing, that existence might be construed as a digital computer, and that this would just be nature itself. It would no longer have any techne left in itself. It would merely be the episteme of natural existence and "reality." This is why techne, anti-realism, and originary technicity are such crucial notions for our transitional times.
Do you hope others take this lofty and ambitious philosophical musical selection technique and apply it to other collections and compilation?
There have been related moments of this, but we at Halocyan have taken the "concept compilation" to a pretty extreme elaboration. Ideology and theory create the salient features of cultural objects and phenomena. It could be that I am just more direct about saying so than other artists and producers. But, for example, if you scrutinize Kraftwerk, then the Drexciyanization of Kraftwerk, and then the Rephlexianization of Drexciya, what one notices is permutations of ideology and theory, no matter how implicit, understated, or latent. We can now realize that the "techno" music of the past is the popular music of today. We are experiencing a shift into a commonplace attitude where it is taken for granted that most music production depends on the sound of digital mathematical computation. Computers have replaced traditional instrumentation, and therefore our attitude seems to tacitly accept that music will therefore have a "technological" sound. This attitude is what I object to.
No matter how "technological" popular music is destined to become, there will, in addition, be the techne in music, which is its ineradicable and essential dimension. Today, the top 40 radio rotation plays Martin Garrix and Hardwell, and this is just popular music. It's not techno itself. But 15 years ago these tracks would have been seen as or related to some form of Dutch gabber techno. So today, since these tracks are pop music, we need to respect a very high standard for what can still be properly called "techno." I am using the new term "arche-techno" to indicate this high standard and this important difference. I believe that it is artists such as DJ Pierre, Joey Beltram, Mark Gage, and Marc Dosem who are equipped and positioned to exemplify these values going forward. The techno music of the past has evolved into something astonishingly popular and has been complicated by its recent authoritative ubiquity and holding-sway. The days of easy answers and taking-sides in the "commercial vs. underground" dialectic are gone.
There is no more simple disjunction of commercial vs. underground in techno music. This dialectic has been replaced by the dialectic of episteme vs. techne in music. And I want to draw attention to an unfortunate conflation of the notions of the underground and that which is forward-thinking. My claim is that what's most forward-thinking has boldly gotten rid of a hindrance, which is the notion of "the underground" lazily used as a sort of crutch.
What do you hope the average listener takes away from this project?
When one creates, I think one hopes that the work takes on its own identity, that it has the capacity to work on an audience's thoughts, that it keeps coming back to mind, and in turn that one must go back and revisit the work herself. It’s not just that good work is memorable because it’s good; I think we like things because they have somehow taken possession of themselves, they have a real identity, and they are distinctive. I believe that all creators should create with this seriousness and respect. What we've done with Universal Quantifier is special because it has a unique identity — it’s not just a random sampler of tracks or marketing tool. I believe that using Universal Quantifier as our signature will impress on audiences the message that Halocyan takes nothing for granted. Universal Quantifier sends the message that our compilations will not be an afterthought or disposable product, but can also take center stage just the same way an individual artist's new album can.
Do you think there can be a resolution of the tension between techne and episteme in electronic music? Or is it a creative conflict that will persist and inspire further artistic evolution in electronic music?
The tension present within the techne/episteme dichotomy is a fascinating subject of inquiry. Although I try to resist dialectics, the practical fact is that the resolution of tension within the techne/episteme dichotomy is easily instrumentalized and dialecticized. Something is negated, its opposite is posited, and you have thereby reintroduced another tension within a dichotomy. So the point for me is not so much to reach the non-dialectical, and to reconcile opposites or resolve tensions, but rather it is to highlight to the dance community that there is a tension there, there is a dichotomy or aporia between techne and episteme, and to ask the question: “Could it be that techno music has been proceeding according to some very conservative, classical, and traditional values of knowledge, truth, and reality?” What I have referred to as "the computerization of everything" indicates that techno likely has been proceeding as such.
In order for “everything to be computerized”, which we all know is happening, the mathematical logic necessary for computation must be granted unchecked authority. The mathematical logic must have so much authority that the very attempt to call this logic into question seems to be circular reasoning. The reasoning is circular because it would seem that this very mathematical logic is doing the talking. This is why I insist on theoretical grounding in techno, and on techne, and on what I have called arche-techno.
I am interested in keeping the mathematical logic of computation in check, and in keeping the question of episteme open. So long as techno music seems to rest on unquestionable ground, it apparently doesn't need to examine the theory essential to its foundations, and it will fade into a camouflaged background of assumptions for music. This is why I affirm that the way forward is to introduce vigilant and consciously organized questioning and theorizing into the world of big dance music. Only then will we have the possibility to genuinely advance the culture of electronica.
Will there be more Universal Quantifier collections in the future?
Halocyan will release a collection of singles and EPs in 2015 that will be called "Originary Technicity." Originary technicity is a concept that has been explored most notably by Gilbert Simondon, Jacques Derrida, and Bernard Stiegler. Typically these writers’ texts are used as founding elements of a loosely organized discourse called "media theory." But my research has uncovered no systematic project oriented around the critique of 20th Century analytical philosophy and the mathematical logic essential to the computers of today, as based on the theory of originary technicity. I believe that the Universal Quantifier / Originary Technicity aporia will be the signature theme of Halocyan in the foreseeable future. But where this logic may lead is hard to guess.
Who are your favorite philosophers that our readers should explore to better understand Universal Quantifier?
In the context of Universal Quantifier, the essential philosopher to look into is Gottlob Frege, the father of modern logic, and particularly his eminently readable Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik (The Foundations of Arithmetic). It is impossible to overestimate the degree to which Frege's philosophy has influenced our Western worldview, and yet strangely, few people have heard of him. Frege not only provides a worldview, but, more importantly, he created a way of schematizing existence in such a way as to be computable. His quantification theory is crucial to this schematization. This way, popularized by Bertrand Russell and the early Wittgenstein, looks remarkably consistent with everyday commonsensical behavior and practice. It is no wonder why the computerization of everything today looks so intuitive and commonsensical. This commonsense is due to Frege's philosophy. Frege's philosophical methods are responsible for reducing everything to a systematic, cut and dried, episteme. I claim that this reduction is the practical result of Frege's modern logic, and that its systematic critique is overdue. We need this criticism, if even for the sole reason that Frege's method has mostly determined the nature and agenda for many academic research projects, and remains an authority turned unconscious — now "hiding" in a way, almost entirely unchecked and unquestioned. The theory of mathematizable "quantifier" terms, such as the universal quantifier of mathematical logic (signified by the inverted "∀" printed on our Halocyan compilation’s cover art design), was articulated in Frege's Begriffsschrift (Concept Script), but the Grundlagen mentioned above is definitely more reader-friendly. Anyone who uses computers and social media should be familiar with Frege, and his Grundlagen, because it is his views that have determined so much of our "computable reality."
What are some parting words of wisdom to electronic musicians and electronic music lovers?
What is most authentically inside is not outside ordinary existence. Rather, that which we commonly think is outside the domain of ordinary existence (e.g. inner-truth, authenticity, self-knowledge, conceived as far away goals to attain in somewhere "outside") is already included within. I am talking about something different than contemporary platitudes of "be here now" or zen. I am saying that the structure of the purest "inner" is precisely and literally "ways out." Failure to directly recognize this keeps all the assumptions in play, fading to the background of unconsciousness and constantly controlling our lives, as these assumptions seem to point beyond ordinary existence. It is the teleology of this mechanical, natural system that I call episteme. What I call techne internalizes all these signposts toward "ways out" of the system, turning these ways out from apparent gateways and border-crossings into the ends themselves.