ELECTROWEEN 2017: Of Darkness And Nightmares

In Art, Music

Short on time? Head on over to our ELECTROWEEN Mixes page where we have created an archive for all of our ELECTROWEEN productions. There you will find our latest 2017 mixes to stream and download. We will be adding additional mixes from other projects in the future, so please subscribe to GAIA BROS to receive forthcoming news and announcements.


Prologue: Alone In A Basement (An Origins Story)

In October 1994, somewhere in a small suburb of Detroit, I was playing by myself in my Ghostbusters tent in the drafty unfinished basement of my parents’ house. All of the lights were off, with the exception being the ceiling light near the stairs heading up to the main floor. It was almost Halloween, and my curiosity was unquenchable.

I had inside the tent with me a single battery powered cassette player and a tape that I had smuggled from my parents without raising suspicion. Being young and foolish, my inquiring mind drove me to ask but one innocent little question:

“What else is there?”

With the help of the internet, I tracked down the memory of a tent that had almost been consumed by time. What is shown below closely depicts the visual atmosphere of this personal memoire I wish to share. This I remember vividly.

Encounter With The Tape

I had managed to load my cassette player with the blood red Halloween tape my Mom used for luring brave trick or treaters to our doorsteps. This particular tape included all sorts of haunted sounds, noises and things within the realm of the supernatural. Ghosts shrieking. People screaming. Chains dragging on cement. Zombies moaning. It was truly horrifying for a seven year old boy; my brain was actively blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. I dared myself to listen as long as my bravery lasted, which was no longer than five minutes. Spooked by my imagination recreating all of the surreal scenes around me, I ran upstairs as fast as possible, never stopping to look back at what was coming after me… leaving that tape to play on into the night, claimed by empty darkness, cold concrete and dusty air.

A Tale From A Dark Place, Carried

Undoubtably, this was one of the scariest experiences of my entire life. I distinctly remember the feeling of being chased by the void and my heart racing at insane speeds. The influence of that vivid moment in my early childhood left a permanent scar on my subconscious mind. Looking back, I can say that it planted an endless curiosity of the unknown — and an eagerness to come to terms with it.

“No End Darkness” — my latest mix released for ELECTROWEEN 2017 — is the most recent and honest attempt I’ve made at revisiting that frigid, dreadful basement and remembering what it was like…

Sensing the coldness of the air…

Grasping the presence of absence….

Witnessing the canvas of the void…..

Feeling hopelessly vulnerable and alone.

Twenty three years later, that tape still plays its haunted cacophony into the atmosphere within the depths of my soul.

Reconciliation

This is my personal encounter that I’ve chosen to share with the world, and by doing so, have come to confront my fears and the wholeness of life once again.

Knowing the darkness is a personal experience we must all wrestle with in some aspect of our mortal existence. However, it is through the honesty of our shared vulnerability that we discover the most promising truth of human existence:

That each of us is not alone.

“No End Darkness” Mix Liner Notes

ELECTROWEEN 2017 - No End Darkness Mix Artwork

From Scott: These are the sounds of a past golden age, paired with the technology of the present. Some of these tracks have echoed in my mind for the past 20 years and never left me. They are the video games and stories I grew up with, forever entwined in the fibers of the visionary synthwave works and gaming titles of today. This is the present in full reconciliation with the past. Everything is relevant, and nothing is forgotten.

These artists and their counterparts communicate the importance of narrative, of colossal struggle and the great lengths protagonists go to fulfill their missions. They tell of creative diligence, uninhibited imagination, and a reconnection to the core essence of humanity; that is, the capacity to endure life’s most difficult trials in dark times.

Key influences for this mix include Castlevania (The new Netflix Original series released in July, created by American film producer Adi Shankar), Stranger Things Season 1 (in anticipation of Season 2 releasing October 27th!), Game of Thrones (HBO’s masterpiece, particularly season 7 here), and all of the timeless 80s/90s NES masterpieces (in particular: Ninja Gaiden, Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda, and Mega Man series). While I know these creations are not for everyone, I could not hold them in higher regards nor offer more significant recommendations for those adventurous in spirit, mind, and heart.

I should note that No End Darkness is just as much of a political statement as it is a memoir. Perhaps some of the included pieces speak to your own experiences this year; maybe none of them will. It is crucial for me to note that my objective is not to seek agreement nor acceptance from its creation. This project came out of a need to express myself and challenge the forces dictating this very moment. Now that it has been released into the wild, it may very well speak for others too, but not intentionally.

This work is dedicated to my loving parents and brother; for introducing me to the darkness at an early age, and giving me the strength to learn from it and fight it, no matter the cost. Thanks for all of your support along the way. I love you guys.

“The Nightmare Begins” Mix Liner Notes

ELECTROWEEN 2017 - The Nightmare Begins Mix Artwork

The Nightmare Begins came into being after one of the best gaming experiences I have had. Early this year The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild released with the Nintendo Switch. Then the idea was fully formed with my viewing of American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare. From those inspirations came a steadier mix filled with atmosphere instead of the bombastic electro that came in years prior.

Zelda BoTW is a video game all about exploration. Within the land of Hyrule, there are no waypoints or map markers telling the player where to go. Every destination you must set on your own by climbing up a high area to see interesting points in the distance. Complete directionlessness is given to you, but the developers trusted they built an interesting enough world that you’d want to explore anyways. In addition, I decided to play with the pro-HUD on, which takes away the minimap and forces you to remember your surroundings and paths. Just getting lost in the world was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had in a video game. Combined with themes of loss and Zelda’s timeless charm this is a perfect combination for ELECTROWEEN.

Getting LOST was what I took away from this game. The point was to go for a jaunt in the woods and get sidetracked. Find something that sparked your interest? That something could turn out to be a cute Korok (a type of woodland spirit) or a dangerous Guardian that could down you in one hit. Whatever the consequences it was always compelling and fun. Link, the character you play as, wakes up at the beginning of the game to find his own nightmare come to fruition. As Link, you must go through this waking nightmare. I wanted to reflect this in my mix, but with a much darker and slower tone than previous years.

I first came across American Horror Story with my girlfriend, Jessica. She asked me to watch it with her, as it is one of her favorite shows, I was reluctant. Historically, I’ve not been a fan of extremely scary tv or cinema. For those not familiar, American Horror Story changes every season in what story is told and the way in which it is told. We started by watch season 5: Hotel. Other than the performance by Lady Gaga, I didn’t enjoy the show. It was watching this year, season 6: My Roanoke Nightmare that got me hooked. The first half of the season is done in the style of true stories, that is, the “real” people are recounting their horrible time at the Roanoke Manner while actors act out the scenes. The second half of the season is played out like a reality show. The entire season is thrilling, tense, and extremely graphic. The many times I wanted to cover my eyes in horror, I also wanted to dive back into the show night after night.

Yes, a theme of My Roanoke Nightmare was getting lost in the woods. Unlike Zelda, this usually played out poorly for the heroes. Both Zelda and American Horror Story were my two and only influences for this mix. Usually, I have several others, but these two pieces of media were masters of their respective areas, it only felt right to draw from them.

Inside The Nightmare Begins: Different From Years Past

The Nightmare Begins is much slower than previous ELECTROWEEN mixes. It was very difficult for me to find songs that fit into what I wanted at the beginning. I started with a list of about twenty songs I thought could work, knowing that many had to be manipulated in ways I wasn’t quite comfortable with yet. I ended up throwing about half of my original track list out and completely replacing those selections.

The first song I knew I wanted in the mix was Hot Lights by Lany. This song set the tone for what I wanted the mix to be. A plodding medley focused on the somber mood, yet something you could dance to. My usual sources of Bandcamp and Beatport were quite useless at the beginning of my search. Fortunately this year I was exposed to quite a bit of Lana Del Rey, thanks to Jessica. Three of Lana’s songs are in The Nightmare Begins since she captures such a dreamy darkness with her voice. It was a perfect match!

Most, if not all, of the song selections were slowed down between 10 to 40 bpm — even Lana Del Rey’s songs were slowed down. Two songs, Somebody Else and Starboy were fast upbeat club remixes. Both of the song tempos were reduced heavily to give the exact feeling I wanted. Personally, I thought the slowed down versions sounded amazing. Check out the originals below:

I discovered it was difficult to pick out songs because I had to listen to the songs as if they were already slowed down. I had to see if the music would sound good together in a much slower tempo. Fortunately, it worked out for the best and now you can enjoy The Nightmare Begins.

Art and Music: The Voices of The Times

One takeaway we hope our work conveys is the reminder that no art form exists within a vacuum. Every personal creation is subject to the circumstances of the time and age from which it is crafted. In this way, these mixes give voice to an era ravaged by the evil-doing of cowardly men and women, the few seeking to fulfill personal agendas at the expense of the many. Every day has felt darker since their arrival, and the nights longer…

Right now, this Halloween season, we ask Karma to return the light to these lands again soon and conquer the darkness in which we find ourselves living. The great balance will be restored. In the meantime, we suffer through the long night together. Not just as a people, or a nation, but more so as a species that has survived hundreds of thousands of years of pain, grievances and tragedies alike.

As we continue to endure the darkness and nightmares before us and within ourselves, let us never forget the pendulum swings both ways.

Yours,

SW (VII) and MK (Loveless)