The Zone I Dredge Cass.
Altered States Tapes
'dance to the machine'. Sure we can dance. This is club-dub-minimal techno the way i like it. Deep and smokey. Heavily drenched in Basic Channel/Chain Reaction (especially Porter Ricks comes to mind) this is blasting speakers.
This is the debut release for young, Newcastle, Australia-based producer Oscar Parkes. I was alerted to Oscar’s interest in electronic music and critical theory by my partner, who was one of his teachers at Newcastle Conservatorium, before he ditched the degree to pursue misanthropy more seriously. I had email contact with Parkes for over a year before finally getting to arrange a sit-down with him, where he brought along Dredge.
I was basically unrelenting in hounding Parkes for a tape of material. Despite the legacy of the iconic Bloody Fist label in the 90's, there is a single current artist making electronic music in Newcastle, Collector. Aside from the occasional punk band or its few remaining noise projects, the 'city' is essentially a void for anything outside of tepid party rock bands. So, to be aware that there was someone in Newcastle who was intellectually switched-on, schooled in various strains of electronic music and making their own material, but didn’t have an avenue to do so or anyone to really bounce ideas off, wouldn't allow me to let him off the hook.
From briefly speaking to Parkes, it is obvious that he is aware of the importance of imbuing sound with concept and that he has formed his own strong opinions around theory, often bringing up Mark Fisher’s name and consistently rejecting the systems of capital that we, and culture broadly, currently suffer under (whether directly or not). Here, The Zone refers to the liminal space of Tarkovsky’s Stalker, Parkes connecting it's psychically-charged out-of-bounds to his own reading of the “theory fiction” of Reza Negarestani. In Dredge, he offers an astutely formed magical realist construct, wherein Newcastle’s flagship coal port (to which Parkes grew up adjacent) is a heaving, inter-connected organism representing capitalism’s complex omnipresence. The detritus on the ocean bed left from decades of industry and nautical transport having a life of their own, out of sight and potentially dangerous. Not unlike the mode of salvage from a corrupted hard-drive Parkes had to undertake to bring these tracks to surface.
The music itself is a refined distillation of the dense atmospherics found in the Basic Channel and Chain Reaction labels, Parkes expressing a specific appreciation for Porter Ricks’ Biokinetics when we spoke. The submerged, minimal and tastefully dub'd techno sounds employed offering a fitting audial cue for the re-interpretation of surrounds Parkes has conjured.