Shodan artwork. Image courtesy of Crypt Thing
Supercomputers, cyberpunk, and Norwegian television—all these and more inform electronic musician and artist Crypt Thing's debut four-track EP Shodan, released today on South East London label squareglass. The EP is a concept album which, along with the complementary visuals, draws heavily from science fiction, especially the neo-noir cyberpunk strain. The music itself journeys through an electronic terrain full of uncanny unease, soothing tribal chimes, and sci-fi restlessness.
"The four pieces revolve around a central theme of time and space in all their various forms," Crypt Thing explains to The Creators Project. "To me that may mean the concept of silence within music, the distance between notes, the linear way one experiences sound, as well as the wider ideas of our own spatial and temporal location within the universe or the way in which a computer functions."
Each song on the album is named after a fictitous supercomputer. The title track, "Shodan," is a nod to 1994 video game System Shock; "Nomad," the next, is taken from manga Galaxy Angel; "Euclid" takes its name from the supercomputer in Darren Aronofsky's film debut Pi; and the last song, "Solace," is an AI from the stories of sci-fi author Spider Robinson. "I like the idea of existing in a constant state of flux always on the verge of some ‘next future.'" the musician notes. The EP also draws influence from Warp Record's seminal 1992 compilation, Artificial Intelligence, particularly the term it coined (and sub-heading of the album) "eletronic listening music."
Screengrab from the video for track "Euclid"
They're concepts that can be felt both in the journeying, jittering soundscapes on the EP, and in the methodical, accompanying visuals. Each song has its own self-generating 3D video piece, created by Crypt Thing, that simulates the movements of planets centered around a mini-universe. When you start watching them, you'll be forgiven for thinking that they're just abstract still images—they're just moving at a glacial rate. But their meditative pace is a calculated response to the fast tempo and quick editing often found in today's music videos. The musician also cites the Norwegian concept of ‘slow television’ as an influence. It's a genre which broadcasts events like seven-hour train journeys in their entirety, or a 12-hour canal trip, or eight hours of live TV featuring a burning fireplace.
"The visuals are written in code using Processing and are inspired, once again, by concepts of time and space," says Crypt Thing. "They take an initial still image and translate it into a 3D space by arranging the pixels in order of brightness. They then spin on an axis and each pixel draws a line in its wake, thus generating a new image as they travel through the virtual space. On top of this, random fragments of color circle the central image reminiscent of moons orbiting a planet. Much like how the rules of each track govern their individual styles and sounds, the way in which the code is written allows for an autonomous system to exist in which the visuals grow organically."
We're premiering all four videos today, you can check them out below.