From tribal rituals of possession, dance ceremonies and spirits music, to gabber raves, drum sounds have been playing an essential role in inducing trance like states, where progressive acceleration of tempos and crescendos would then trigger violent and convulsive dance in participants.
In Madagascar, ndop ceremonies are described as follows: “the tempo increases, while at the same time interjections ring out: ‘your hands!’, ‘louder,’ ‘clap all of you’, ‘it’s getting hot now, sister!’. The beat of the drums speeds up, then a little later, as they announce at the same time cause the possessee’s collapse, the movements and the drum become very fast” (Rouget, Gilbert, Music and Trance, p.83).
The above description of the traditional ritual trance process is uncannily familiar to every raver. In hardcore techno (gabber) the climax is always a focal point, where the speed of distorted kicks can accelerate up to two hundred bpm. This stimulates a violent convulsive dance in a trance-like state, where, similarly to shamanic rituals, one could observe “rapid extension and bending of the arms, in an oblique line to the axis of the body, and a violent swinging of the head up and down” (Ibid, p.86).
Kick Studies is a celebration of kick drums, distorted, ravy, gabbery, 808-y, morphing, as if hammers were stretched to the point of being no longer recognisable.
Written in SuperCollider - a programming language for sound synthesis, many thanks to those who offered advice in the SC forum and to Roc Jimenez de Cisneros.
It is an audio synthesiser, which is using pre-transistor, optoelectronic technology from the early twentieth century. It contains neon lamps which act as logic gates - the fundamental binary operators in computing. It is a fourteen step sequencer with fourteen oscillators (each step triggers a sawtooth oscillator, of which pitch can be modulated) built entirely using bulbs. The more steps, the more random the sequence becomes, this applies also to the voltage (it runs on 180VDC).
The operation behind the neon bulbs logic lies in the gas that is being charged and discharged, depending on the current. Due to hysteresis neon bulbs can be used as on/off switches. That gives a possibility of creating not only oscillators, but also a more complex sequential logic.
There are three outputs of the synth: firstly, the sound, then the mini CRT oscilloscope, where the audio signal is displayed, and the nixie numerical tubes, of which cathodes are triggered with each sequential pulse.
Ewa Justka is a polish electronic noise artist, self-taught instruments builder and electronics teacher based in London.
Ewa’s main field of research is based on exploration of materiality of objects, vibrant, ontological systems (human bodies, plant bodies, electronic circuits: varied range of micro and macro environments and relations between them) and an investigation of modes of quasi-direct perception through noise performance actions, interactive installation, DIY electronics, hardware hacking, plant-molesting, breaking, deconstructing and collaborating. In her artistic work Ewa attempts to explore the concept of materiality of the hidden.
Ewa has performed and led workshops at festivals and venues in Europe and in UK like: Loop Festival (DE), Sonic Acts (NL), Supernormal Festival (UK), Club Transmediale (DE), STEIM (NL), Incubate Festival (NL), Colour out of Space (UK), Beam Festival (UK), Cafe Oto (UK), Goldsmiths University (UK), Unsound Festival (PL), Norberg Festival (SE) and more.