The adventurous multi-modal label/blog/broadcast program Discrepant feeds us with another outsider gem. An introduction to the great work of Cedric “Acid Kirk” Stevens, member of 5-piece psychedelic noise ensemble South Of No North.
A 2×12″ LP impetuously named The Syncopated Elevators Legacy has just been released, and it’s time for you to start assembling the clues that will lead you to Stevens’ majestic territories.
Cedric Stevens – Glicerine Militante (right click + save as) – Juno 106, Analogue Modular System recorded in The Hermetic Garage in 2004 – (…a discrepant & subliminal toy crash collision)
“The elevators were born from an urgent need to distance oneself from the techno pigeon hole and the already established Acid Kirk moniker. It was a turning point for me in the techno movement; I could feel it falling apart under the media hype and my instinct, as a composer was to detach myself from that scene.
1997 was the year I decided to start afresh with a strong intention of developing a different sound with more ambitious structures. It was to my great surprise however, that my simplest attempt, “Vanda”, became the definite turning point of my new musical career. The “Apostasy EP” was conceived to be the departure point from a convoluted, hyperactive style that was very much in vogue with the then burgeoning IDM scene. In fact, “Vanda”, because of its innocent nature and the equipment used (pure electric wave generators: VCO’s, LFO, ADSR), its simplicity in shape and intuitive creation (it was made in a few hours) made this track all the more authentic and personal. This undeniable fact made me realize that I had unconsciously laid down the foundations of my very own musical expression and that the emotions in that sound reflected my very own self-being with a melancholic nature that was (and stays) the essence of my personality.
It was a revelation, and the intensive use of home made analogue modular systems during my techno years gave me the experimental foundations that cemented all of the forthcoming SEL work. This same awakening pushed me to become less indulgent as a musician and the elevators story became the story of my very own development as an artist finding his own voice.
The next chapter on the SEL history was exclusively based on the auto feeding results of electric currents, serpent patching or infinity looping if you like. Because of the never ending patching possibilities modular systems can offer, I threw myself into an electrical current looping frenzy- the results, way mellower than you’d imagine, were released on “The Siamese Level”. First conceived as an LP, I constantly questioned the quality of some of the compositions and took almost three years before being completely satisfied of the result. I wanted the record to be so perfect that it eventually became an EP sacrificing more than 20 compositions in the process, settling finally for 3 main tracks and 3 interludes – the result was more than satisfactory.
After the release of “The Siamese Level” my life became somehow chaotic and the following record clearly carries the stigmas of certain wounds. In “Still Between the Battle & the Sheet“ my aim was to incorporate more concrete elements into my electrics mixture. I organized several recording sessions with musician friends, both professionals and amateurs, so I could reach this more ‘musique concrete’ result. One of the sessions perfectly transmitted the sentimental anarchic state I was in; broken china, Tibetan gongs, fragmented toy sounds, a very wrecked and destructive approach. In addition I also wanted to transmit a more eventful side to my music, in contradiction with the more pastoral drones of “The Siamese Level”. The evolution of recording techniques through the use of computers also highly influenced my working habits and one can tell by listening to these recordings. The mixture of chaos with the constant desire to innovate perpetually connected with SEL, gave birth to this 3rd record. I was aware of the flaws at this stage, being more conflicted interiorly it transpired into the tracks and the mix had trouble finding a coherent whole. The title of the EP reflects this; it’s clearly a record “between heaven and earth.
The use of guitars and Larsen phenomena gave a new lease of life to the SEL dynamic whilst allowing me to pursue my fascination with electric circuits in conjunction with a more straightforward human intervention. This new path allowed me to create with more precision and serenity the mix between concrete and machine; “Siam Electric Skyline” is, in my opinion, the perfect example of this fusion.
The constant evolution of my experimentations with SEL soon pushed me to create a real live band and it was natural for SEL to fade away as my need to melt into an ensemble and interact with other musicians became paramount.
It’s only since 2008 that the need to return to a solitary form of expression returned. The musical baggage accumulated with South Of No North radically changed my approach to composition and particularly its interpretation, pushing me from now on to use my birth name when working solo. Truth be said, the sonic excursions of SEL will always remain the foundations of my musical language, making this anthology a perfect introduction to my work.”
Cedric Stevens, Barcelona 2012
Unpublished text that should have been originally used as sleevenotes for the The Syncopated Elevators Legacy LP
Discrepant and Stevens also just put up for free download a magnificent EP called The Politics Of Weakness (right click + save as), showing the same taste for electronic mastery and complex sonic topographies. You have no excuse for not getting it right now, seriously.
…a Discrepant & Subliminal Toy Crash collision
released 31 May 2012
all tracks written & produced by Cedric Stevens
Artwork by Vassilis Economidis
Cedric Stevens - The Politics Of Weakness 01 – Dead Man (right click + save as) – Prepared guitar and analog modular system. Recorded to DAT in 2006, edited on computer in 2011
Cedric Stevens – The Politics Of Weakness 02 - Abstract, As My Failure Does (right click + save as) – Analog Modular System, Flute & TR808. Original material recorded on DAT in 2002 during the “Still Between & The Sheet” sessions. Edited on computer in 2009.
Cedric Stevens – The Politics Of Weakness 03 – L’Ombilique Des Limbes (right click + save as) – Clarinet, Analogue Modular System, Digital Treatments, Contrabass played by Squeaky Lobster recorded in 2002