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Guest Playlist #03: SELVEDGE

Chance Dibben – better known round these ‘ere parts as SELVEDGE – is nothing if not organised. Mere days after I mooted the possibility of him donating a mix of formative tracks to Underscore for our fledgling series, Dibben furnished my inbox with not only a lengthy and eclectic playlist, but also an in-depth run-down of how and why his chosen tracks are important to him. 

SELVEDGE has just released FOLK PHYSICS, advertised as a sonic study of the nature of meaning but summed up by Dibben in conversation as “a batch of tracks that sorta fit together.”  The package – however you take it – is presented via seven nebulous, shoegaze-tinged stretches of occasionally unnerving ambience, and it further helps solidify SELVEDGE as one of the intriguing talents on the current scene.  With releases via Wormhole World, Vivarium Recordings and Mystic Timbre – as well as a regularly maintained schedule of self-drops – there’s a definite case to be made for Dibben having flown under the radar somewhat since he debuted the project in 2018, despite excellent reviews and comparisons to everyone from Popol Vuh to Merzbow.  I wonder whether his artistic antsiness might be partly to blame, and Dibben agrees in part:  “I do tend to chase a lot of different styles within the experimental music space,” he says. “Often a record is a reaction to the one that came before it or the one I’m working on. I’ll have a few projects spinning at any given time and I’ll start a different piece just to have something new in my ears while I’m polishing up a project.”

“Some of the new stuff I’m cooking up is becoming more subdued and gentler,” he reveals. “CIRCLE INSIDE will be coming 23 April on Wormhole World. This one is a bit dronier, but closer to earth, if that makes sense. [But] I’m not sure if I’m flying under the radar or not. I’m happy to make what I make, with the hope that there will be a few people that will get it. Obviously, as an artist, I want as many people [as possible] to check them out. And sure, I’d love to make a few bucks while doing so, but music has become an important part of my art-making that I’d do it for me…” 

SELVEDGE’s Underscore playlist spans practically his entire artistic life, taking in the earliest tentative detours from his college-era radio rock favourites – Clinic, Spacemen 3, Thee Oh Sees – and expanding out to include more obvious ambient influences such as Belong and Grouper, the latter of which Dibben says causes him to “question whatever the fuck I’m doing, artistically speaking.”  In amongst, there’s noisier stuff from the likes of Fuck Buttons, out-there rap by Shabazz Palaces, and blackened beats by Andy Stott. A heck of a bag, in other words, and one Dibben is delighted to reminisce on. “Clinic was the first non-mainstream [band] I got into,” he remembers. “Thee Oh Sees [are a] hugely important rock band for me… a lot of ideas about drone and repetition I got from Spacemen 3. I was a big shoegaze-head [and] still am.” It’s a pleasure to see these and other tracks plucked from moments in Dibben’s life, such as the twangily psychedelic “Constelación” by the Peruvian cumbia band Los Destellos, which he says accompanied him on hikes and camping trips in the early 2010s, and “Sirens” by Windy & Carl, whose music he says brings back fuzzy memories of “working 3 jobs while being a full-time student… between classes and work, half dozing.”

Grouper’s music makes me question whatever the fuck I’m doing, artistically speaking.”

Something that comes up regularly when Dibben talks about music is the almost siren-like allure he finds certain music seems to have on him. He speaks about finding “beauty in the heaviness” of Belong and dreamcrusher, while Mi Cosa de Resistance is “the ideal of subdued beauty and noise form,” and Lush made an early impression on his artistic mind with their “idea of noise in the beauty, beauty in the noise, electrified harmonics [and] blissed-out space.” Even Marc Ertel’s soaring [Overtures] – one of Dibben’s favourites from 2020 – contains “natural bite,” he says, despite the album’s “melodies and beautiful motifs.” It’s the contrast for me,” he expands. “The combination of pairs that shouldn’t work but do. The accidental (or intentional) harmonics that bubble out of decayed and reverbed noise. So for me, when I am making a track, I think about the core idea being played out and if it needs a little extra in terms of beauty or noise. Can I make a long, sustained noise track’s inherent prettiness shine up? Does this ambient track benefit from some bite?”

Dibben’s selection spans many genres, which might also explain the challenge of pinning his prolific output down. “This playlist represents songs and artists that helped to develop my sense of music and influence how I listen to and make music. I’ve also sprinkled some of my favourite tracks from last year. It is by no means comprehensive—I am constantly inspired every day.”

We hope you enjoy listening.