‘Niobium Resonators’ sounds machine like, there is an engine or motor driving this thing along from the start in the deep, dense and static filled swath of sound which hits you continually throughout. The sound is clipped though, coming at you in stages before going back to the start. At a still substantial 14 minutes 25 seconds this track is much harder going for the listener than the opener. There really is no melody here present, just a collection of high pitched and continually changing noises laid on top of the already described dense bed of movement.
’t begin very promisingly if your still looking for something more accessible but once you get past its opening 'beyond minimal' minute and a half there is a pleasant enough passage of blips and bleeps which are soon joined by long arcs of tone. After awhile these arcs are left behind and replaced by a distorted and somehow majestic, even triumphant sounding synth
line, if that is what it is, it could be generated by anything really. Loads more weird and higher pitched sounds dot the remainder of the tune, because it does now possess one, in the same fashion as the previous tracks last section, to fade.
-Neutrino’ is amazing, especially considering what has just gone before. It was this track that Hell and Miss Kittin
were so floored by on their commentary on the Gigolo movie. The production is quite simple, nice melodic bass line, and ghostly melody line played at higher register. Really just two main elements here, classic, could have been done anytime in the history of electronic music and should sound just as fresh well into the future, well up there with his best work for me anyway, full of emotion. No surprise to find that at 5 minutes 14 seconds it’s also the shortest track on the album. It was no wonder that Gigolo picked this to be on the 12” to promote the album. There is a real melancholy here, I like to think it may be a requiem for a departed friend. The most prominent sound on ‘Z-Boson’ is very much like Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells which is ok
I guess as it does soon fill up with a bass line and a few sparse touches that gives it its own thing. It doesn
’t really develop within its 8 and a half minutes though and while it’s the second most accessible track on the album, also included on the 2 track 12”, it’s kind of disappointing, it just goes on too long stuck in its groove in my opinion. I used it in a DJ set I played at an art gallery once and should have mixed out of it earlier than I did for this reason. By the way the 12” sampler which contained the last two tracks has another nice picture of Donald and To Nhan
in the same laboratory and the demarcations given to each side of the vinyl is e+ and e- which are the standard symbols for positron / electron. Drexciya
of course have a track, 'Positron Island', so this does have some added significance here
. I'm guessing that the artwork of formulas printed on the CD are all to do with the same subject as the album, not my field, but they look cool. Another beauty comes to end and redeem the album in the shape of ‘Higgs
-Mechanism’. Long textured keyboard lines stretch out across its length joined by fiddly melodic computer patterns. It’s another weird one in many ways, sounding a bit incomplete but that kind of gives it a charm and identity of its own. It ebbs and flows just about comfortably over its almost 8 minute length and doesn
’t seem to run over long within its limited variation.
So what to make of that? Did I like it, I remember being more intrigued than disappointed when I first heard it but I suppose I like most people expected something similar, just a little updated than before. Now it's an album I genuinely like but can see of course how it’s really one for the fans. This is music which you have to go to, you have to make an effort with it, but it is not impossible to like it, find ways for it to enter your life. I for example am listening to it again, for the second time today just for pleasure, as I rewrite these paragraphs. The time is 7.20pm, a cat is asleep on a chair, I'm at my kitchen table with my laptop underneath a fluorescent tube. The music is certainly not blending in as background and is keeping my attention (track 2 on now which is not my favourite) but my point is that right now the music is a part of my environment and like anything else in this room right now it is filling my consciousness. Would anything about me change if I changed the music or switched it off altogether? Perhaps, but only my
environment would have changed. I have actually heard this album played publicly, at what turned out to be the final live appearance by Coil in Dublin, during it’s DEAF festival in 2004. This was a fantastically unusual event itself, held in the grand entrance to Dublin’s City Hall, the only time a gig has ever held there. It was actually a friend of mine, Paul, a physicist, I kid you not, who brought it along to provide something to play as the doors opened. Paul also provided me with some of the technical information for the track titles I’ve
used for this article. A circle closes! But I’m basically just asking, how weird is this, not very, we are so adaptable as human beings that with only a little effort we can accommodate anything new. Maybe that is something which Donald had to consider himself when he realised how his music was developing, would there even be a market for this stuff? It’s still not a record you should ever play at a house party or with your girlfriend/boyfriend but it’s also not for nerds only, it does exist somewhere between but as I said, you need to come to it, it’s for anyone who is willing to do that. But it will be a solitary listen nonetheless which I'm sure mirrors how it was made. There is a palpable feeling of sadness, a certain desolateness at the core of this experience.
There might also be a consensus amongst people who stopped buying his stuff after this that all of his music since sounds the same but that would be way off the mark and I am keen to get to those albums soon for that very reason because on the surface yes they do appear to continue with similar subject matter and the music does has the same synergy with the theme but they are full of much shorter and accessible tracks. Some of course, like the last Arpanet
album, 'Inertial Frame', even show signs of a return of a sense of humour and his next port of call after this very album would not even mention physics, particle or otherwise. Not to mention the variety of the work he is involved with as Black Replica and Zwischenwelt
. Basically I think Donald has perfected this synergy since this album, but you know, I'm sure he wouldn't see it that way, these tracks are probably exactly as he wanted them, whether people like me find them accessible or not is probably not a concern of his.
So what does it all mean. Well, I can tell you what it’s about anyway for a start. It is about high-energy physics, the area of physics dealing with subatomic particles moving at velocities close to the speed of light. The subject of the album is DESY
Hamburg, Germany, where this examination of the stuff of matter goes on. It was established in 1959 and is one of the leading particle accelerator centres in the world. DESY
is a national research centre supported by public funds and has locations in Hamburg and Zeuthen
(Brandenburg). The album linear notes give both DESY
location websites, one of which, at Zeuthen
, does indeed have a ‘Photo Injector’ test facility which produced it‘s first photoelectrons
in 2002 which might have been cause for Gerald Donald to celebrate and include a reference to it here. I'll get to it in more detail later but it's worth keeping in mind while taking in the following track title breakdown that the ultimate aim of these places is to understand gravity and if one of these places ever finds a graviton it will be headline news.
also, of course, has a ‘Linear Accelerator’ which is a device for the acceleration of subatomic particles at velocities close to the speed of light. One of the many things you can find in one of these accelerators is a ‘Z-Boson’. A Z-Boson is one of the fundamental forces of nature, the "weak force", is the one responsible for some forms of nuclear radiation. (For example, it is due the weak force that uranium is radioactive.) There must be gauge bosons which explain any fundamental force: in the case of the weak force, there are three, two "W bosons" and one "Z boson". So I guess one of the reasons Donald picked it is because it’s the most obvious/stronger of the two boson types. How thoughtful of him to make it so simple for us! One of the aspects of the Z-Boson is that it makes the otherwise unobservable neutrino visible when it interacts or moves, seemingly of its own accord. It is the presence of a neutrino that scientists believe is causing this reaction in the Z-Boson. It was thought in the '20s that when neutrons decay, the only remnants were a proton and an electron. However, experiments indicated that there also had to be a charge-less and nearly mass-less particle produced as well in order to ensure that there was no energy or momentum loss. This particle was called the "neutrino" (Italian for "little neutral one"). Subsequent experiments have indicated that there are three different types, the "electron neutrino", the "muon neutrino" and the "tau neutrino". Paul assures me that Myon is spelt wrong on the album titles and it should read muon. I found a reference to a muon in relation the Z-Boson in that the Z-Boson itself is produced by the quark-antiquark annihilation and decay of an electron positron pair of opposite charged muons. This is fairly confusing I know but if you read it back it does make readable sense. Surprisingly the Z-Boson or just the Boson appears to be the key to this album as it turns out that the two bosons yet to be discovered are the Higgs boson and the Graviton. So what is a graviton, well, current theories of physics say that all of the fundamental forces we see in nature can be explained by assuming that they are caused by emission and absorption of special particles called "gauge bosons". The graviton is the gauge boson that is exchanged whenever two masses interact via gravity. But look and this is all you really need to know about the Graviton. The main purpose of particle accelerators, like the one at DESY, is to find a graviton and if and when they do it will be one big step closer to a universal theory of gravity which in turn leads us to the possibility of the theory of everything, the holy grail of this field. When collusions occur in particle accelerators at close to the speed of light and if gravitons are being produced it is theorised that they may be existing in another dimension. Which is of interest to us in our study.
I could give you loads of future references that these terms touch on in upcoming albums but I’ll take it record by record. Incidentally his next album, 'Biometry' by Der Zyklus, doesn't even touch on this subject. I will give you a past reference I believe I missed from Dexciya’s Grava 4
though. That albums vexing unlisted track called ‘Gravity Waves’ might be a reference to a graviton or more specifically the cohesive state of many gravitons together, manifested as a gravitational wave. Which is a fluctuation in the curvature of spacetime which propagates as a wave, travelling outward from a moving object or system of objects. Examples of systems which emit gravitational waves are binary star systems, where the two stars in the binary are a ‘White Dwarf’ (track title on Shifted Phases), a neutron star or in a black hole. I’ll get to this key black hole business presently. I wonder if there could theoretically be a dimensional aspect to these gravity waves as well? I’m sure I’ve said it before but you can take DRL as a work in progress, possibly to be completed by others unknown but I feel that at least the ground work is done. You will be finding new meanings in this stuff forever and that is why their music will stand the test of time, if not musically, then certainly conceptually. There is a quote which seems appropriate to this from Heinrich Mann when he wrote of Neitzsche, "One cannot be considered present merely because one's works are still read and historically assimilated. The number of a man's adherents and imitators proves nothing for his work or its fruitfulness. What is the test? The work of a man who has passed on grows and changes; he is still finishing it from beyond. It has long since moved from the point where we once found it...".
Moving onto that other theorised but yet to be discovered Boson, the Higgs Boson. In order to be complete and satisfying, physics must have an explanation as to why particles have the masses that we measure. The leading candidate for this explanation involves particles called "Higgs bosons", and the manner in which these particles interact with others and generate their masses is called the "Higgs mechanism". This machine, also known as the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism, Higgs-Kibble mechanism or Anderson-Higgs mechanism, was originally proposed in 1964. Peter Higgs is the UK physicist who first proposed this idea. The Higgs mechanism itself is a form of superconductivity in a vacuum. It considers all of space filled with a relativistically invariant quantum fluid called the Higgs field, whose motion prevents certain forces from propagating over long distances. Part of the Higgs field mixes with the force-carrying gauge field to produce massive gauge bosons, while the rest of the Higgs field describes a new particle, called the Higgs Boson. The Higgs mechanism is the only way an elementary vector particle, like the W or the Z can have a mass. Although the evidence for the Higgs boson is overwhelming, accelerators have yet to produce one. So it is not clear if the Higgs is an elementary or a composite particle. Mind you, that hasn’t stopped Hollywood making one work. Check out the Stephen Soderbergh’s version of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris.
That brings us to ‘Niobium-Resonator’. Well, a resonator is a device for storing electromagnetic radiation, and niobium is a rare metal commonly used in building such devices. Resonator are vital component parts of the photoinjectors. As far as particle physicists are concerned, it might as well be gold. I found some statistics on how important this substance is for the future International Linear Collider (ILC). It will use over 500 tons of pure niobium to build 20,000 superconducting radio-frequency (rf) cavities, devices that accelerate electrons and their antimatter twins, positrons, along microwaves to near-light speeds. That means metal-refining factories would have to work at full capacity for three to four years solely to create highly-refined niobium for the ILC. Currently at three hundred dollars a pound, the niobium alone would cost the ILC upwards of three hundred million dollars. It will collide electrons with positrons. It will be between 30 km and 40 km long, more than 10 times as long as the 50 GeV Stanford Linear Accelerator, the longest existing linear particle accelerator in the world. .The country in which this monster will be located hasn’t yet been decided, it will probably be in operation by 2010 where ever it is, I wonder if Gerald Donald might do an album all about it someday? This brings me to the question, why DESY, why not CERN as he would a few years later with the next Dopplereffekt album, Calabi Yau Spaces. Maybe it’s not so much about DESY, although you could say it’s all about it, maybe it’s just a particle physics thing and the images just came from DESY this time, it could just as easily have been CERN, they do almost the same things there after all. But I am personally inclined to go with DESY this time. The picture of Gerald Donald and To Nhan Le Thi looks like their standing at the famous TESLA linear collider which was from late 2001 and early 2002 doing some of its most breakthrough work. Gerald Donald is certainly up to date with this stuff and maybe he felt that at this time DESY were the world leaders and he wanted to do a tribute or whatever to them. For example in September 2001, an international team of scientists succeeded in obtaining the maximum light amplification for ultraviolet radiation from the free-electron laser at the TESLA Test Facility. The electron laser reaches a light amplification of 10 million. This corresponds to the theoretically expected peak performance for such a device and presents a new world record. Then in March 2002, for the first time an accelerating field of 35 megavolts per meter (MV/m) is reached in a superconducting nine-cell TESLA cavity. It might not seen that interesting to the layman but it’s important stuff if your into it. CERN would make it’s own breakthroughs, not that it hadn’t already but this is down to the subjective mind of Gerald Donald and what he thinks is significant or just what had come to his attention at this time. In fact the Large Hadronic Collider (LHC), which is to be the world's highest energy particle accelerator, is currently being constructed at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland and this baby might even be able to make black holes, small ones and if it doesn't they at least hope to finally locate the illustrious Higgs Boson and graviton with it. Donald is definitely concerning himself with the frontiers of particle physics and this is where I believe his present mind is never far from. If you understand this you can understand him.
He doesn’t seem to take a position on the rights and wrongs of this research as he did when looking at NTT DoCoMo on the debut Arpanet album and I think that he is here going back to his original Dopplereffekt stance of accepting the good and the bad aspects of new technology, science etc. Which was, in a nutshell, the double standards of former Nazi rocket scientists bringing us to the moon. Particle physics isn’t all good either, far from it, nuclear bombs and power stations, radioactive waste, maybe even a future global catastrophe awaits us in one of these accelerators, who knows, where is it really bring us? That might be a question we should be asking ourselves. Whether Donald decides to tackles these questions himself or not will be interesting to see. Right now however on this album, he does appear to be making more of a pro-statement but he might be trying to catch us out, previously on the surface he also appeared to be taking a pro-Nazi stance but on closer inspection it wasn’t quite as straight forward as that.
The Black Hole has since this album become a big theme for Gerald Donald, from the cover of the Arpanet ‘Inertial Frame’ album, it’s a light cone aka a black hole, to the Zwischenwelt track ‘Black Hole’ to name just two examples or I’ll be here forever. He had of course shown an interest in infinity before and black-holes themselves were mentioned on the Der Zkylus II 12”, one of the questions, which are all certainly from the mind of Gerald Donald, posed on the Abstract Thought album is also about a black-hole. But here on the back of this album is a computer generated model of the top cone of just such a phenomenon. I think this is one of the things which he is now choosing to explore more thoroughly than before, what it is, what would happen if you went into one, what possibilities might it lead to, those type of questions, are some of his major concerns from this point on. What this fascination with black holes might be telling us metaphorically is another thing. Does Gerald Donald see us as being stuck in a black hole, asleep, not fully conscious of what lies just outside, another reality. Donald may be yearning for something deeper, some break-through in our knowledge of atoms, of what us and the universe are made of, which will answer everything and may give us once and for all a meaning to life. Now, I don't know about this either but you have to wonder where this research into particle physics is leading for the consciousness of Man? T
he question, "Who will benefit and who will suffer?", from the just previous to this Arpanet album comes to mind. Donald said when speaking of his interests in the constant advancements in mobile technology, "Evolution is their most interesting feature." I think in this way he is equally interested in what our progress and interest in particle physics and quantum mechanics says about where we are as a species than what it actually finds out about our universe. Essentially, I think in evolutionary terms he is trying to awaken a sense of awe in us. This same sense of awe which he so obviously feels about particle physics. The human psyche can be broken into two main drives, pleasure/love, which is outward and expansive, evolutionary and anxiety/fear which is inward and non-adaptive, de-evolutionary. Depending on the person then this type of awe could go either way, the pleasure of discovery or the fear of the unknown. Donald of course would want us to use it to our advantage, we just need first to get over our fear, stop ‘Running From Love’ (track from The Other People Place album), 'Don't be Afraid of Evolution' etc and then we can continue to evolve. As an artist he has certainly found a fertile ground to spark off idea's, imagery and concepts.
The liner notes are pretty scant but an email address is given to get in touch with Donald via dataphysix at scientist.com. This was also the case for the Arpanet album which was just previous to this. So as I stated then he has decided to continue to make himself contactable by fans or for more professional reasons like remixes, bookings etc. Two websites for DESY are also listed. The images are credited as Images: Photoinjektor des Deutschen Elektronen Synchrotrons Desy Zeuthen. Which makes me think that the photo’s are mocked up as surely a photographer would have to be credited. Mind you, they do look genuine, I would love to know if they were granted access. Again, it this vein it would be interesting to know if NTT DoCoMo were made aware of the previous Arpanet album. No artwork credits are given.
I have written elsewhere how you can break James Stinson/Drexciya into an inner personal evolution on both the early material compiled for The Quest and of course the Storm Series and that Gerald Donald’s projects can be seen as more of an impersonal, observation of evolution, concerning itself with the journey into the heart of matter, time and space, in both directions, micro (atomic level) and macro (outer space), but of course the more you go into those two extremes the more they seem the same. Although Drexciya did move into this terrain on the final Storm, Shifted Phases and their first and critical post storm album 'Grava 4. Which makes me think they were both on the same wavelength by the end, or more probably, on multiple levels of understanding at the same time. There are traces of this interest in physics dotted throughout the Drexciyan catalogue as well but it is not the driving force, more evidence of their thinking on multiple levels. I would like to think that with Donald’s move into the realm of ESP and the more esoteric avenues of Black Replica and Zwischenwelt, he is taking a step into an area that starts to possibly make a certain amount of sense at the frontiers of micro and macro knowledge. But it is a tentative step to date in some ways as he is doing it through collaboration and leaving it largely in cyber space. There’s a sort of admission on his part in this that he knows it is only a detour from his main concept, for now? But this approach might yet yield results for him, the most famous of these more head-scratching experiments, known as the double slit experiment, was done way back in 1801 by Thomas Young when he was sending photons of light through two slits and at first got a pattern of interference on a photographic plate where the light fell, but when reduced to one photon at a time it did not arrive. The question being then, how could it interfere with itself, how did it 'know' that the other slit was open and where has it disappeared to anyway? Into another dimension with the graviton? As if you now close the other slit the photon finally arrives but close it again and it disappears, this change is almost instantaneous and in space-time it actually has to be happening faster than light for it to happen because it is affecting light. What is going on? There are other experiments too where the observer affects the outcome of the experiment. Does the particle/universe know it’s being watched? Other titles on forthcoming releases will be 'EPR Effect' and 'Twin Paradox' and if you look into what they refer to then it looks more likely that the nature of these types of experiments are on Gerald Donald's mind. What things like this soon lead you to is, as I said, the possibility of there being ‘extra-dimensions’ (a phrase projected when Dopplereffekt played live last in 2007), black-holes, worm-holes and extra sensory perception to name but a few. But that all comes later, right now on this album he is still searching for a rational explanation, not that quantum mechanics is always rational!
This almost 7000 word article, by far my longest, is testament to the old adage that the less information you have the more you have to use your imagination. Which I’m sure Donald understands very well. In this case my over zealous research and speculation has no doubt blurred the meaning of the album for you. But basically if you remember nothing else you can break it down thus. Musically it gets progressively more accessible and is the first of his albums to fully synergise subject and music; the theme is high energy physics, in particular the on-going search for the elusive graviton. There now, I should have done that in the first place!
There is a feeling that Donald picked up the pace after this album, I don't think he was ever particularly slow but from now up to 2007 he would release an album each year which is good going by anyone’s standards. My next port of call when considering Donald again will be the debut Der Zyklus album 'Biometry' which turns out to be another side step conceptually which should serve as a warning (to me) not to think you ever have Gerald Donald totally figured out.
Der Zyklus 'Biometry' came out on the Clone offshoot DUB label in 2004. This release is the first outing for Heinrich Mueller under that name since 2000 and the first as an album. Like the previous Dopplereffekt album, 'Linear Accelerator', it certainly doesn't sound like the previous releases under that name either. I also have to revert to Heinrich Mueller as this is indeed the name credited here. Not that he has ever used the name Gerald Donald on any of his releases but I will refer to him as Heinrich Mueller for this article.
When this album first came out I was impatient to hear it and bought it on record. Maybe the CD version came out a while later as sometimes happens. While it is a very attractive artefact on double white vinyl it has always been an album I have seldom had the time needed to put into listening to it and rarely all the way through, more on this later, but I‘ll just say I would recommend having it on CD.
When I started this process of going through all the Heinrich Mueller releases in order I knew that from 'Linear Accelerator' on that I would really be pushed to describe them musically and conceptually. I feel like I succeeded with 'LA' but it took me almost 7000 words to get there. Considering it seemed such an impenetrable piece of work, particularly on the music front, to find the thread of the concept within it and how the music fitted together was a pleasant surprise. On the surface here the concept is fairly straight forward. We even are lucky enough to have a single interview done to promote it with the Polish writer Pawel Gzyl which I will quote
from extensively. On the musical side however we are still in deep waters. The synergy I spoke about last time which he has developed between the music and concept is still evident here but is developing. The music is nowhere near as challenging as some of the longer tracks on 'LA' but the tracks are still not exactly easy listening either. Not that he would want it to be accessible, the whole point, to me, appears that we have to make an effort with this music, to listen more closely, to live with it for a lifetime if necessary (it's not tied to style) and ultimately to question it. In answer to just this; if we decide to ask the most obvious question of it, is this really music, he said, "There are rhythms throughout this work, everyone has a different perspective of what rhythm is. Percussion is not the only source of rhythm, waveforms are also rhythms. Patterns that repeat themselves is rhythm. No certain sound or percussive element is exclusively a rhythm, every element produces its own rhythm." He also said on this subject, “There is no single method for music development everything is considered. Whatever instigates the musical idea will be considered its stimulant. There is no formula or restrictions on methodology. Musical creation should always be free of constraints." Just to get all of this music commentary out in the open for your consideration at the beginning to he also finally said, “...the environment is the fundamental inspiration for a musical work and this embraces everything, sound, science, social structure etcetera. Inspiration has no boundaries." The way I am looking at it, with this music we are receiving an objective viewpoint of what music can be. Which is anything. It's very exciting when you think about it, music is still wide open to expand in so many different directions. It is only human beings that put restrictions and definitions on it which limit it's evolution. Rhythm is enough.
I might as well deal with the concept first. So what exactly is biometry? Well, my favourite resource, Wikipedia, tells us that ‘Biostatistics (biological statistics) or biometry is the application of statistics to a wide range of topics in biology. It has particular applications to medicine and to agriculture. But this term has now been largely usurped by the information technology industry.’ It is this latter usurped definition which Mueller is obviously concerned with. This is all about real time personal identification by a computer data base. Either by iris scanning, facial recognition, hand geometry, fingerprint correlation etc etc. The German company, Biometric, is cited with a web site address in the artwork and there you will find the following text on their home page.'Every human being is unique. So is his iris.
We have learned to read the iris and made it into an ID. Tamper-proof and impossible to lose.
This ID frees you from codes, cards, and keys. Just look into a special camera. Security - provided by nature. Feeling free, being secure, finding yourself. Every human being should have this opportunity. Because every human being is unique.'
You should also check out their promo video found there as well and once you get past the ‘for your convenience and keeping you safe’ crap you start to see how this technology has the potential to control your life for good or ill. What if you choose to opt out of the data base how will this affect your multiple access? When speaking previously with John Osselaer, Mueller was asked if he had any concerns about the control of people through technology. He said, “Well the concerns are that we will eventually loose our liberty because tracking and data chips will eventually sooner or later be installed in all unborn generations via world governments. I will refer these yet to be born as the GPS-generation for they will be tracked anywhere on the planet
by our big brothers via satellite.” I might have called this quote slightly paranoid previously but take a look at this site and maybe its not so far away. I’ve also included here some of the, frankly laughable, images they have on their site. The other of the ‘datalinks’ found in the artwork is for another of these companies, IBG, ‘one of the biometric industry's leading consulting and technology services firm. Since 1996, IBG has provided technology-neutral, vendor-independent biometrics services, strategy, and solutions to government agencies, systems integrators, high-technology firms, and financial services organizations. IBG leverages real-world, hands-on experience with multiple biometrics - including fingerprint, face, and iris systems - to design, integrate, and deploy custom ID systems, access control, IT security, smart card, and transportation solutions.' Again, if your interested to do some research yourself the link to both these sites are at the end of article. If you do go to their site you’ll soon find them proudly proclaiming a contract with Homeland Security. Enough said! Some of you might be wondering what my problem is with this stuff, certainly representatives of those companies would. I firmly believe I should not have to rely on technology to make me feel safe and certainly not free. Of course I already trust technology not to reveal my passwords, bank details etc but I just feel that trusting these type of companies is a step too far. As I will show later, Mueller himself will expand on just this point. But while there is nothing wrong with the actual technology itself, it is rather the end motives of the people that control it that are suspect. You might say that government and state legislation already protects us from the worse aspects of them to some degree, in certain countries, but even this can change. In fact this kind of technology creates its own legislation, which is very dangerous.
Even though I might not have listened to the album as consistently as others, I did keep coming back to it, the puzzle of it kept drawing me in. I did know it had a few ok tracks but remembering which ones they were and having to keep changing records to find them didn’t always seen worth it. To understand a little more about the synergy thing he has going on now, Mueller himself explained the music and its relation to the science of biometry thus, “The Biometric theme required a different technical perspective and the science of biometry stimulated the musical electronics. The music reflects concept of biometry. “ It’s still hard to know how exactly he squares the sounds we find on ‘Biometry’ with the subject matter of the album but we have to trust him as the artist that this is how he hears this subject in his head.
As I said, musically this album does take some measure of concentration no matter the format, which is a compliment really but the listener won't always have the time. At least ‘Linear Accelerator’ is on CD only and that made it a lot easier to make the commitment necessary to get into it. Anyway, some people might be of the opinion, especially if they haven't heard it, that this album sounds a lot like ‘LA’ but on closer comparison there is very little which is sonically similar. It does certainly have the same synergy between concept and music but the music is quite distinct, a different sonic palette is being used.
The opener is suitably enough 'Biometery' which is very soundtrackish, think 2001: A Space Odyssey. Which is such a lazy comparison I know but it actually would fit there very well. While on
this subject I see that the music here is published by Universal Music. I actually did some research into this and on their website it mysteriously doesn't list any Der Zyklus or Heinrich Mueller projects but presuming there are now people trying to place some of his music into a wider context it would appear that on a surface level a science fiction theme might suit him best. However, a director with a truly penetrating vision would I hope see its potential for a far broader interpretation. Getting back to the track ‘Biometry’ itself, it does indeed set the tone very well for the rest of the album but in some ways almost any of these tracks could have done that job just as well. Perhaps significantly or not lower case is used for all text including the track titles. So that should read ‘biometry’ really.
‘Polar Coordinates’ starts off promisingly enough with a lovely repeating melody, soon joined by a more ominous texture, but it just as soon morphs into one of the more challenging tracks of the album. By the end of its almost 4 minutes it shows no signs of its original form. Again it could be from a soundtrack. It is obvious that Mueller is continuing to create new musical forms and I and anyone else that try’s to put them into an already existing context are wasting our time. This is music of the future or outside of time altogether, which has yet to be defined into a definitive genre or even find a use as of yet.
‘Eigenface (facial asymetry)’ is a lot more spirited in tempo and consistent in form. I can’t imagine hearing this in a club but it is the first track so far that you might risk trying to move a crowd with. It is bare though. It has a march of the robots type feel but with some funk to it, there is a definite groove to be found in these patterns. It comes as no surprise that ‘Biometric ID’ was picked to be on the 12” released to promote the album. It creeps along in a majestically tasteful manner and could, I think, sound as good in 50 years or more. Mueller does have this ability to regularly come up with these type of timeless sounding tracks and here he has pulled off another. The lyrics are, “My personal identification number is obsolete, the biometric identification is now complete, encoded inside a microchip are the patterns of my fingertip, I use my biometric smart-card for multiple access’. This sounds like a consumer of the future! He doesn’t sound very happy though, more detached and indifferent. Next track, ‘Biometric Systems’ was also included on the 12” and is as would be expected fairly accessible. In this case it might well be my favourite. It really builds up into something approaching epic in the middle section and returns to its solid shuffle beat with sound effects. It ends with a lengthy female vocal sample which repeats itself and goes along the predictable lines of “I will place my hand on the scanner and it will compare its shape with the shape recorded in the data base, the geometry of my hand can be utilised for the purpose of identification, a tool will now -
penetrate the iris of my eye for the purpose of biometric identification.
‘Facial Vectors’ is one of the more ‘challenging’ tracks to be found here. It appears to be of simple enough construction but doesn’t really go anywhere. It‘s nice, but more of a feeling than a complete thought, which does of course give it its place in the context of an album. ‘Hand Geometry’ comes as a real shock at this stage mid point of the album. The opening sounds literally jarring you to attention. It does contain an element from ‘Linear Accelerator’ towards the end to my ears. It sounds almost like the disintegration of a track with a suitably sudden ending. ‘Recognition Time’ is rather harsh sounding as well, another track which has been brutalised, although in this case atomised seems the right term. It changes, not once but twice into other tracks altogether with completely new sets of sounds. Something which Mueller has been increasingly doing up to today since ‘LA’. The third and final part of the track has for me the most to recommend it. Very micro, without the house. Interestingly on the record these last three tracks all occupy the same side (C) and they do seem to fit together in their own disjointed fashion. Some insight to his approach to these tracks in particular can be gleamed from this quote, “Electronic music is based on science and the scientific method is utilized in its creation. Theories and hypothesis are put forth and if they are practical and plausible they will be tested to verify them. Some theories work and some don't, but no theory is considered too abstract. All is considered. The more radical the better.” This is some radical shit alright!
‘Iris/Retinal Scanning’ has a very difficult beat which forces your body and mind to conform to new steps. Predictably I think it’s worth the effort though with some lovely atmospheric textures emerging after awhile even though the difficult beat doesn’t let up. ‘Optical Fingerprint Correlation’ is yet another track which takes on a different form within its time frame. The latter section however is amazing all on its own. It’s very reverby with a wide variety of sounds but is over all too quickly in my opinion. ‘4000 Irises (2000) Persons Max)’ has a nagging rhythm which oddly sticks in your head. Some disturbing sound frequencies move in and out of the mix of which everyone will have their own interpretation but mine is disembodied dead digital souls! It is a scary way to bring the album to a close. Maybe, if he’s saying anything at all with this final track, is that not all is not well with this technology.
A bit of minutiae to deal with next. Alden Tyrell is credited for his masterful mastering services. I mention it only as I think it’s the first time this information has been noted. Alden is a well respected Dutch artist and DJ himself with releases on Clone and Viewluxx to his credit. Also in sleeve notes we find that the project was ‘developed 2003/2004‘. On the subject of timeframes he said, “There was no time frame in which work had to be completed, when the concept is comprehensive then it is considered complete. Time tables are not a part of our working ethos."
Also a 12" came out to promote the album which was quite bare in the additional artwork department and simply reproduces two of the tracks found here and like a sucker I bought it a month or so before the album came out!
The artwork is really well done, some of the images are credited with coming courtesy of one of the companies already mentioned, the German
one, Byometric Systems. On the record label the reproduction is very dark and most of the detail is lost. On the CD however you can see the full images and they are very effective. The cover itself is really good, a green lighted head shot of a female going presumably through her facial recognition test. Lines marked X and Y separating the 4 quadrants of her face and lines A, B and C measuring distance between her irises and the tip of her nose. It is a very ghostly image it has to be said. She looks to me like To Nhan Le Thi from ‘Gesamtkunswerk’ era Dopplereffekt and more recently from live appearances as Der Zyklus and Dopplereffekt. The other picture with a person where we only see the back of a males head and part of his face is not Mueller but some guy from Biometrics archive. It is a negative image, touched up with more green, as is the text, and it looks similar to promo stuff the company currently have on their site so maybe as I said it’s one of the pictures they got from them and was adapted to fit the artwork. The other two images probably do come from the company. The one with the eye close-up has a design superimposed with mathematical symbols surrounding it which look pretty cool. All of the timings for each tracks are given in seconds which ties in very well with the precise nature of the subject.
For sure with this album he is continuing to mine a very productive interface between science/technology and music. He has found the perfect muse for himself. He said of this source of inspiration in relation to creating art, “To a certain extend you could say this. It takes skill and improvisation to unlock the hidden secrets of the natural world. Science has a beauty all its own. Science and art always interface to create something new and innovative. Take electronic music for instance, this is the perfect example of the science and art interface. The term art has many connotations.” As I said, this is the third release attributed to Der Zyklus, after a fairly substantial 4 year gap from the previous 12” on Gigolo. Not that timeframes as we know have ever been a major concern of Mueller. Speaking to Pawel Gzyl he said of this album, “This is the latest theme within this conceptual template.” So in the mind of Heinrich Mueller there is definitely a common conceptual template between all the Der Zyklus releases to date. I would personally plumb for this theme to be simply the progress of science/technology. Der Zyklus means the circle/cycle and perhaps in this context could mean the cycle of life which really brings us back to evolution but then most things ultimately do. I just mean Mans evolving knowledge of science and technology. I think that Mueller is conscious of the fact that we should remember that as we progress in matters of the head, technically and scientifically, we should be mindful of regressing in the sphere of the heart, emotionally and spiritually. He said on this subject, “Science and technology are not perilous at all, its the people that control it that are dangerous. Atomic energy does not threaten our very existence it’s the powers that be and other subversive elements that make it threatening. We are our own worst enemy, not science and technology. People always finger-point inventions when their masters should be the ones that are singled out. Machines don't make decisions (at least not now) human beings do.” But this is of course a cycle itself which is leading us we know not where. Biometry is viewed by its proponents as a means to a utopia of safeness and perversely, freedom. Again we will all have our own opinions on this but where is this particular evolutionary cycle of science and technology leading us? I feel sure that Heinrich Mueller is asking a very subtle variation on this same question.
I’ve also said this before that Mueller is playing a dangerous game by not explaining his motives more widely. By seemingly on the surface flirting with Nazi imagery in the past and now glorifying the tools of control he appears on the surface, which is about as far as most people will delve, to actually be to some degree condoning these things as they currently exist. While he is in fact glorifying the technology he is paradoxically making a statement about the uses it is put to. You only have to read his own words for this to be soon self-evident and I hope I have succeeded
in showing this. It is hard therefore to understand why he only spoke with one obscure Polish webmag on this subject. He may have faith that someone like me and others will pick up on it but while my own readership is wider than I ever thought possible it would soon be dwarfed if he started speaking more widely to print magazines and the like. Presuming they would be interested to talk with him, maybe I have too much faith also? He obviously has a strong opinion and while he’s under no obligation to express it far and wide if he does ever choose to go down that road it would spark more debate on this subject than his music has to date. But who’s to say, his more subtle approach might pay off in the longer term, it will just take a long time to get his point across to people. Drexciya obviously understood that the revelation of the Storm Series was more powerful if you discovered it for yourself, also leaving it open to be interpreted in different ways, but this particular point of Mueller’s is much more specific and could be expanded upon by him without ruining any mystery.
There is also another theme or pattern continued with this album also. Which is the referencing of a specific commercial or otherwise company as part subject matter. Namely; mobile communications (NTT DoCoMo), high energy physics (DESY) and now biometry (Biometric Group). There has also been a descending order of how to the fore these companies are featured as well with the latter reduced to some images and datalinks. But it is a new element that is present that was not before. This introduction of a real world element to music which is usually a medium of escapist subjectivism is interesting, but not original. It may reveal how Mueller would like to have his music viewed, not as frivolous but important, vital even. In that it's about real things, a kind of commentary on how we are evolving. Maybe it means nothing more than what it is, on the surface, but it does make it somehow more legitimate. But that is the great thing about art, we will all find different things. But we must remember that what we do find is there, whether Mueller in this case put it there intentionally or not but the level of importance which we give those things will always be total speculation on our parts.
This final Mueller quote about science sums up pretty well why this subject is so close to his heart and why he is still pursuing it to this day, “Well science is a body of knowledge that mankind has accumulated over the ages about the natural world, the greater universe. We use this knowledge to gain command over nature for the progress and benefit of the human race. Science is imperative for our survival and progress, so I would not say its fascinating but more essential.” His next essential release will needless to say be my next port of call.
Arpanet - Quantum Transposition
"Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it."
Arpanet released their second album, 'Quantum Transposition', in 2005 on the Rephlex label. For me, getting to the stage of reviewing this album in particular is a bit of a landmark as it was the first new release by Gerald Donald after I began doing DRL. It has therefore taken me just over three years to catch up to where he was exactly the same length of time ago! But I did have roughly 15 years of releases to get through, not to mention miscellaneous articles. I'm quite happy never to catch up with him entirely though, this is music, particularly an album like this, that you shouldn’t rush into assessing. He still has something of a head start anyway with quite a few releases and MySpace projects for me to consider so I would still be doing well to reach him even now. The text information on the sleeve and labels is pretty scant this time, without any name credited with writing or production. I will have to revert to calling him Gerald Donald for this article then.
Again I went for the vinyl option when getting this album (will I ever learn!) and with two records to get through it is not surprising for someone like myself who has obviously gotten out of the habit of playing vinyl that it has been an album that I only listened to rarely after I first got it. Although one of the more positive things about having an album on vinyl is that it can be more of an occasion when you do put it on, plus you will more than likely be hearing it on a reasonable home sound system at your ease and not just on the portable machine in the kitchen when your making dinner! This is music which does deserve attention anyway as if you don’t know already, it follows on in the ‘Linear Accelerator’ template. I suppose at the time yeah it was still a surprise to see that another of his previously more accessible projects had also now gone down the same path as Dopplereffekt and Der Zyklus. Interestingly the previous Arpanet album, 2002’s ’Wireless Internet’, was the final album he did with his earlier more accessible style. Updating this project as well, after he had updated the Dopplereffekt and Der Zyklus templates, also marked once and for all his commitment and fulltime move into making these brave new sounds. The choice of label was also a bit of a surprise at the time but shouldn‘t have been. Even though the last Arpanet album had been on the French label Record Makers, who he would incidentally return to for the release of the next Arpanet album, he was obviously under no contract or obligation to them and ended up with the UK label founded by Aphex Twin and Grant Wilson-Claridge. Rephlex had previously released the Drexciya 3 12” and also the final Transllusion album and 12”from the Storm Series. This is a relationship which continues to this day with Dopplereffekt’s 2007 ‘Calabi Yau Space’ album and Heinrich Mueller remixes for their label. It would be interesting to know how lucrative it is for a label to have one of his releases on their catalogue these days but kudos wise it is no doubt desirable. The people behind Rephlex are definitely fans of his music as well though so it is probably a bit of an honour for them as well. Although I have a feeling that there wouldn’t be too many established labels chasing his output he appears to have a small core of European labels he continues to work with which I hope will continue to be receptive to him when it comes to finding a home for his latest releases.
Thematically this album is more of a follow up to ‘Linear Accelerator’, it’s back to cutting edge science after the previous detour of real time identity matching on the Der Zyklus ‘Biometry’ album. But musically it progressives on from both those albums very smoothly indeed.
The first four tracks on the album are all short pieces which are tracks yes but not as you would normally know them. 'Innershell Shielding' begins the album with a slow tempo procession of weird but complimentary sounds. It has an inhuman quality somehow too, of course it is electronic music but it lacks the human touch somehow. It is certainly one of the darker tracks on the album as well which could be a statement in itself. 'Planck Factor' is much different template-wise featuring a swirling mass of high pitched electronics. I would hesitate to call it a track, again, more of a mood than a whole piece. It comes in at 1 min 36. Next comes 'Entangled Photons' which does quicken the pace but is basically a nice sounding loop coming in at just the 1 min 25 sec mark. 'Heisenberg Compensation' follows and while I said that the opener was dark, well this one would give even it a run for its money. It almost reaches the 2 minute mark at 1 min 50 sec. We are actually getting into Black Replica/Zwischenwelt territory here to my ears, which might make more sense later in the article. This first group of tracks definitely belong together, united on the surface level by their short length and sequence, but also by the unsettling mood they collectively inspire. This will turn out to be a spooky enough sounding album anyway, so this opening suite kind of lets us know that in advance. It is also a completely instrumental album unlike the previous Arpanet album and its follow up.
The first full length track is 5, 'Ionic Crystals'. This goes back and forth between melody and abrasion with a layer of what will have to pass for a beat on top. A few other textures of synth do emerge as the track progressives. Without these extra touches it would have been sort of throw away which is telling you we are dealing with some pretty minimal production, it just about works.
'Entrophic Decay' in contrast has huge reverb soaked beats topped off with more outer space textures slowly emerging from the ether. We can imagine being sucked into a black-hole. This is again unsettling, interesting as well but the mood is definitely one of unease. In my notes for this article I wrote down 'classic' after 'Probability Densities' and yeah it is one of my personal favourites on the album. Whether it is one of Gerald Donald’s best though, probably not. Again the tempo is slow but that beat is still somehow the driving force. There are loads of different touches exhibited here as the track progresses. Towards the end almost everything falls away to be rejoined by the driving beat and it is a wonderful moment. It is kind of delicate and you have to almost will it along, like at the point I just described but it rewards that effort on your part.
'Orbital Wavelengths' is has to be said is also amazing. The beat is again the most important aspect, it has an incredible rhythm, almost so different as to justify the formation of its own new dark electronic genre. The other sounds on it are sparse for sure but somehow it is just enough to hold it together and work. The end is unusual, suddenly slowing right down for a few more bars to an echo. This has to be my other favourite on the album.
'Information Quanta' also has tempo changes but this time it is one of the main elements used throughout the track. The beats are fully present and correct on this one as well, but they drop out a lot in-between the large variety of sounds which play the melody. It is a bit all over the place but not in that morphing into completely other sounding tracks that was evident on the previous two albums, ‘LA’ and ‘Biometry‘. Interestingly that never happens on this album, which shows that he is approaching it in a different and distinct way to the others. He will in the future go back to this morphing thing but for now he is taking a break from it and the tracks remain consistent in content.
'EPR Effect' is tightly wound and uncurls right out of the gate only to retract again as the tempo slows up. The tempo changes a lot on this one as well. With all this tempo changing going on in
these tracks Gerald Donald is obviously trying to make a point. I will speculate on this later but it is one of the things which gives this album it’s own distinct feel. I get a clockwork/time vibe from how it sounds as well. This might tie in with the title which again I’ll get to later. If 'Quantum State Recombination' had some vocals it could almost be from the early Dopplereffekt era. It definitely has elements of that more accessible period but for all of that it is sort of disappointing. It’s kind of stuck somehow and doesn’t really go anywhere interesting for me. It rattles along and sustains interest but is ultimately a bit empty.
'Wave Function' is another one of those original sounding tracks that might in a parallel dimension have its own underground musical genre. Its melody gets into your head but it’s also of another delicate and slight construction. It’s rare that you can say that Gerald Donald’s music reminds you of something you’ve heard before but on this track and one of the earlier ones I got a Polygon Window feel (one of the more ambient PW tracks). It is strongest on this track for sure, just one of the layers of sound here is doing it to me. I’m talking about a project by Richard D James aka Aphex Twin (him again), an album he did called ‘Surfing on Sine Waves’ in 1992 on Warp as part of their ground-breaking ‘Artificial Intelligence’ series. This album would still be in my ‘top ten favourite albums of all time’ if I was a true Nick Hornby type. You kind of wonder if Donald listens to anyone else’s music at all or does he still, like James Stinson said in his interviews, shut down from outside influences when doing music. It would be interesting to know what he listens to himself when not in the studio but unless and until he chooses to share this information with the public we won’t know.
A bit of a surprise next in that 'Isotopic Balance' uses the same or almost the same melody from the previous track. It does have loads of those tempo changes and stops which does make it a kind of remix really. It is quite different from ‘Wave Function’ alright but the melody is actually the same. But I don’t think we should report him to the trading standards board just yet! He did do something like this once before, interestingly on the previous Arpanet album with two tracks which were only slight variations on the other, ’I-Mode’ and ’NTT Do Co Mo’. Maybe at this point with Arpanet he had a running theme going? Some people would find this a bit of a cheat really but I’ll forgive him, some people only have one track and spend their whole career rewriting it. He might also be making a point about how many directions a track or anything can evolve in and that might tie in partly with the conceptual side of the album which I’ll get to. All the variables.
'Uncertainty Principle' is the only one which you think is really about to morph in an ‘LA’ way at any moment but it just about holds its form together. It moves along at quite a click with a solid and insistent beat with lots of drop outs to just soundscape textures. The end has no beats and is all soundscape. It’s pleasant, not one of the high points but a reasonable track and quite distinct from the others in certain ways.
'Variables' is a lovely way to end the album, it has a familiarity about it somehow, like an old friend that comes to greet you after the confusing dark ride this album has been. It is still in keeping with the album however. It's a simple enough loop based track, a kind of final reprieve for us at the end. It has loads of ghostly sounds throughout but in a way is quite upbeat. Again I couldn’t think of any particular artist but it does have an element of that kind of lo-fi clockworky electronica that was popular a few years ago, just an element though. Although it is almost 4 minutes long it does kind of remind you of the first four tracks which were setting a tone or mood. It kind of wakes you up again and reassures. This goes to show how subjective this all is anyway, you might have a totally different and equally legitimate view of the album.
To sum up the musical feel of the album I would have to repeat that it is dark, foreboding and uneasy. Just listen to the end of 'Uncertainty Principle' or the eerie tones of 'EPR Effect' to pick just two random examples, but basically they all share this feeling more or less. Even someone over at Warpmart picked up on this, they describe it as a “set of gothic futurist vignettes”, which would be a pretty close description of Black Replica. I like it, it has a mood and is very listen able in the main, even accessible. I think the music ties in very well with what I think he is trying to communicate to us here. Of course you could say that all of Gerald Donald's could be interpreted as dark but I think this is by far his blackest statement to date and that he is making a point along those lines. As you have already seen the track titles look more like the glossary of a science book than anything but once you start to understand what they are referring to it begins to make sense.
The album title itself to be honest doesn’t tell us a lot at this stage. So, what is Quantum Transposition anyway? Actually it is a term that I struggled to locate but I have deduced that it is about the fact that a quantum can swap two elements of a set. Very revealing I know! If you didn’t already know, the subject here is quantum theory and if you only remember that this simply assumes that energy and radiation are in the form of packets and that quantum mechanics is the method of analysing the universe using that assumption then that is an achievement. I’m really afraid of losing people at this stage but please stick with it! Gerald Donald has really taken a leap into the unknown from this point onwards and going deeper and sharing my findings with people is what DRL is all about so joining him there is the only route to take. I agree that this is a crazy subject for music but only by normal standards, but when you understand it, it is actually a perfect match. You can still get into it of course without going to this level of analysis, just play the music.
Although this has been a very successful theory owing to the fact it has yet to be disproved and might not take that much bravery for him to get behind. But with ‘LA’ he was still dealing with emerging hard science, getting close to the fringes of the unknown yes but still working on information which was emerging from the DESY centres and others. Although the ultimate objective of ’LA’ is the elusive Higgs particle, which is itself only theorised about. This subject matter is very much a counter balance to that. Here he is diving into a whole other, purely theoretical area, no matter how long it has managed to be disproved. I wonder if Donald had any doubts himself about this? Thankfully he took that step and like Drexciya before, who when the whole underwater thing was getting predictable, for themselves as well as us, they began the Storm Series. In the same way he too has evolved his themes of science and technology to the frontiers of science and beyond. Black-holes and ESP are a long way from cellular phones and simulated sex! Although as I’ve said in the past he is well capable of working on different themes simultaneously.
One big clue which would not have made much sense at the time is printed only on the CD itself where there is an equation. He’s crafty alright, what about the poor vinyl people or is this some comment on preferring digital?! The Ψ symbol, used just a year later by Black Replica, is the first character of it. This gives us a whole new context for it, one beyond mere speculation. The symbol in the context of Black Replica certainly still represents the Greek word psi which represents the word or study of psychology as discussed before. But what it also now clearly represents is the Ψ particle. I couldn’t find if the equation on the CD represents this particle but
it led me to investigate the connection between the symbol and physics. The particle was discovered in 1974 by a group led by Burton Richter at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre, who named it the Ψ particle. Unbeknownst to then, at about the same time in November 1974, the team of Samuel Ting at the Brookhaven National Laboratory found the same signal. They had dubbed their particle, J. It is now commonly known as J/Ψ and has remained a particle which has been studied intensively ever since. So important was this discovery that they jointly received the 1976 Nobel Prize. Why did the first group call it after a Greek letter you might ask? The odd coincidence was that a computer reconstruction of the decay of a J/Ψ particle looks just like the Greek letter Ψ. Wikipedia said this about it, "The J/ψ is a subatomic particle, a flavour-neutral meson consisting of a charm quark and a charm anti-quark. Mesons formed by a bound state of a charm quark and a charm anti-quark are generally known as "charmonium". The J/ψ is the first excited state of charmonium (i.e, the form of the charmonium with the second-smallest rest mass). The J/ψ has a rest mass of 3096.9 MeV/c 2, and a mean lifetime of 7.2×10-21 s. This lifetime was about a thousand times longer than expected." I think that Gerald Donald was struck, just like the scientists were, that the decay of this particle should take such a distinct shape. That something more was going on here, something unknown. I think this is a great symbol to use then if you want to start to begin dealing with just these unknowns of physics. Like for example why the observation of certain experiments influence the outcome. Erwin Schrondinger, one of the originators of quantum mechanics said, “Subject and object are only one. The barrier between them cannot be said to have broken down as a result of recent experiments in the physical sciences, for this barrier does not exist.“ We are now in an area which ultimately leads us to the belief that we are all connected, that the Universe is all. Where heretofore unexplained things like ESP begin to make sense. This has got to be a subject he needed to explore separately but in tandem to his more straight science related theme. This album therefore is the splitting point of his thoughts on this subject. But they are related really but perhaps he felt as an artist that they needed to be treated as different things for now.
With the use of certain titles, doubt is beginning to be introduced. On the surface, titles like 'Uncertainty Principle', 'Probability Densities' and 'Variables' speak for themselves. The 'EPR Effect', better known as the EPR Paradox and also known in scientific circles as 'The Pandora's Box of Modern Physics', deals with just this uncertainty as well. This is a famous thought experiment dreamed up by Albert Einstein, Boris Podolonsky and Nathan Rosen in a 1935 paper which was originally trying to prove that quantum theory was not complete. But in fact it truly was a Pandora’s Box because when you brought their two objects going in different directions which can’t possibly affect each other, they can only be affected by local causes, down to the level of the photon for example(’Entangled Photons’), strange things start happening. They appear to
have an intelligence, appearing to have a connection to the other, if one is caused to spin so does the other, instantaneously! Now you can see why Neils Bohr felt as he did about this subject, "Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it." This flies in the face of only local causes effecting their independent movement. Similarly ‘Planck Factor’ is relating to the German physicist Max Plank who came up with the ‘Planck Constant’ or ‘Planck’s Quantum Principle‘, which I presume he must be referring to. Quantum mechanics itself developed from this theory and Heisenberg’s ‘Uncertainty Principle’. Planck’s Principle stated that light can be emitted or absorbed only in discrete quanta whose energy is proportional to their frequency.
‘Entangled Photons’ deserves its own paragraph as this is one of the specialities of Anton Zeilinger who is credited with providing the cover image. The sleeve credits him with being based at the Institute of Experimental Physics at the University of Vienna. Obviously we are meant to follow this up if we want to go deeper. I have included a link to his biog at the base of t
his article for you to do just that. Reading from it I also presume that what we are looking at on the cover is another of his fields of research, atom optics. But I may be wrong here on this. This is from his biog, “In 1990, Zeilinger became Professor of Physics at the University of Innsbruck. He took the opportunity to start two lines of research. One concerned entangled photons, the other, because of the limited possibilities with neutrons, atom optics. He developed a number of ways to coherently manipulate atomic beams, many of which, like the coherent energy shift of an atomic De Broglie wave upon diffraction at a time-modulated light wave, have become cornerstones of today’s ultracold atom experiments.” There is too much to write about him here but as far as we are concerned, Donald is well aware of his work, he has probably had some limited contact with him as well to secure the cover image. This subject also brings me to the title, ‘Probability Densities’, which provide a framework in quantum photodetection, which if the album cover is not what I said it was then more than likely this is what is going on.
Another person, non living alas, which is central to this album is Werner Heisenberg. For it is he who came up with the ‘Uncertainty Principle’ which is the statement that locating a particle in a small region of space makes the velocity of the particle uncertain; and conversely, that measuring the velocity of a particle precisely makes the position uncertain. We are back to the observer and the observed again. His ‘Heisenberg Compensation’ theory also gets a name check. This is said to
remove uncertainty from subatomic measurements. I found a reference to this in a Star Trek context by the way. It’s is said to be how their transporter works, wasn’t this called the hollo deck? This is the second time a Star Trek reference could possibly be drawn from his work. Gerald Donald may be a Trekky. The previous one was strangely in connection to the last Arpanet album as well! See that article for more on this subject.
‘Ionic Crystals’ are a crystal consisting of ions bound together by their electrostatic attraction and they are indeed used in quantum mechanics experiments. ‘Orbital Wavelengths’ brought me to consider that particles and waves are properties of the same identity. That quantum mechanics treats electrons as waves and that wave properties are more than the particle properties of electrons. At that point I said, “Deep enough”! Although they are related to ‘Wave Function’, which is a mathematical tool used in quantum mechanics to describe any physical system.
‘Innershell Shielding’ was a tough one to find a specific meaning for but I think it’s safe to just take a literal one from it for now. It’s probably part of some piece of experimental equipment. ‘Information Quanta’ is literal enough also, (quanta is plural of quantum). ’Quantum State Recombination’ is again literal enough, it’s the experimental process of putting quanta back together. ’Isotopic Balance’ in the context of quantum mechanics I’m not sure if it does fit but an isotope is a chemical element, of which there are many different types. To have a balance might be important for some experiment or other to do with this subject. Maybe someone else knows and that goes for any more details or even corrections you can make here. ‘Variables’ has got to refer to hidden variables in this context. Hidden variable theories were espoused by a minority of physicists who argued that the statistical nature of quantum mechanics indicated that it is incomplete. Einstein, the most famous proponent of hidden variables, famously insisted that, "I am convinced God does not play dice." This meant that he believed that physical theories must be deterministic to be complete.
I‘ve left this title till last as although it does have a slight quantum connection it also I believe points to what is coming next. ‘Entropic Decay’ surprisingly brings in Donald’s interest in black-holes to this subject. I found this revealing text in reference to it online, “While it is the case that entropy tends toward collapse, physicists have also shown that ultimate collapse into black holes creates its own form of entropic decay in the evaporation of the black hole. This occurs because “information” is not destroyed so much as randomised when energy is crunched into the black hole. But, since energy retains its curious quantum properties of indeterminacy, at the boundary of the black hole, the question of whether it is “within” or “without” results in a gradual “leakage” until it evaporates. Consequently, energy neither being created nor destroyed means also that the information is neither created nor destroyed.” This subject will be followed up in later releases but unless I’m wrong this is the reference he is making. It may either have an evolutionary meaning as well, which would be of the inevitable social decline and degeneration of all living mammals. But I think the former is correct. I couldn’t find any direct reference to this term in relation to quantum mechanics. This may be the link to the next album, again an Arpanet release, ‘Inertial Frame’, which we will see is very much black-hole centred, pardon the pun. Somewhere in these titles, perhaps this one, there might be a meaning as to why he made a point of having all the changes of tempo. I think it ties in alright, unpredictability, time stretching, that kind of thing.
It’s interesting and entertaining to see the actual Arpanet tracks come up now when you look for these terms on search engines. I wonder what researchers in this field make of it all! I must say that in trying to track down some of these titles they are either slightly off what they are normally known by or fairly abstractly related to the subject. I don’t know if this is to hinder the research of the layman but it does have that effect. It must be said, although I don’t for an instant believe Donald to be in the least cynical about this, but it would be possible for someone making this type of music to simply go to the glossary of a book on Quantum Mechanics or whatever subject it was supposed to be ‘about’ and simply pick the titles at random from it. Maybe this is why Donald went to so much trouble so that he couldn’t be accused of this. While there is always a danger of cynical deception when dealing with instrumental concept albums we ultimately have to trust the artist. Although I could think of a few examples of visual as well as musical artists that just tack on a load of rubbish to give their latest ‘effort’ a bit more meaning. Why I and usually everybody else notices this for the pastiche it is though is because it is blindingly obvious that the style does not match the substance. Donald on this showing certainly has the substance alright and the style also matches up.
As I said already the artwork is pretty much just a cover image, a full colour photo courtesy of Anton Zeilinger as the credits state. The subject being at my best guess atom optics or photodetection. I presume the V and H on the instruments represent vertical and horizontal. When I saw this cover fairly small online it looked like an aerial view of a live concert or something. I was surprised when I finally got to see it close up. It is a great cover though, perfectly complimenting the subject matter. On the CD and the record labels for some reason Arpanet is written in either Russian or some weird font. Prefiguring Zerkalo, who knows, I’m tired?! After all that, the sad reality is that I feel I have barely scratched the surface of this album! But that is good, it’s mysteries are safe to continue intriguing us for another day.
To sum up. Gerald Donald’s interest in the search for the Higgs particle has reached it’s logical conclusion in reaching the new frontier of quantum mechanics. You could read this as a balance between the known and the unknown aspects of science if you wish. You can also take it as the point where he splits his subject into another path of interest which will soon lead him toward Black Replica/Zwischenwelt and interests like ESP and the occult. But black-holes are also still pulling him too.