Watch: c / a – “The Primer”

I am only now catching up with the deep and dumbfounding discography of London audiovisual duo c / a, but when an email lands promising “medieval speedcore, esoteric grime, horse riding ambient [and] bubblegum acid techno” then, I mean, how the fuck do you not dive into that? A catalogue containing titles such as ✰ ฿ Ł Ξ Ξ Ɖ ℑ ₦ Ǥ ⚔ Ξ Ɖ Ǥ Ξ ✰ and releases available on pink floppy disks adds to the intrigue exponentially, and that’s before you even click play on a track. Because where do you start with options like “SΞVΞRTǾMǾRRǾW vs.” and “¸​,​ø¤º°​`​°º¤ø​,​¸ 山𝒶ιťιήꮆ𝒇o𝓡мץ​/​𝓲ᶰŝ𝓉я𝓊ⓒ𝕥ỗ𝐑​/​𝕒𝕥​/​𝐭н𝒆​/​ŧ𝒆r𝓶ιภa𝓵 ¸​,​ø¤º°​`​°º¤ø​,​¸” at your disposal? 

A great place, it transpires, is with 𝒫𝓇𝒾𝓋𝒶𝓉𝑒 𝒫𝒾𝒶𝓃𝑜 𝐿𝑒𝓈𝓈𝑜𝓃𝓈, their 2019 paean to Rachmaninoff for which c / a fed snippets of the composer’s work into machines which then “learnt” to perform the music back. The results range from haunting Caretaker-esque drones to halting, childlike tinkles and drukqs era Aphex naivete, and all are conceptually fascinating if not, perhaps, sonically representative of the c / a oeuvre as a whole. But once you’ve let 𝒫𝓇𝒾𝓋𝒶𝓉𝑒 𝒫𝒾𝒶𝓃𝑜 𝐿𝑒𝓈𝓈𝑜𝓃𝓈 ease you in…

Completed last year, THE ONLY WAY WE KNOW TO HAVE FUN is c / a’s first LP, due to be released in hugely confusing collaboration with ENGLAND’S COUNCIL OF LEGISLATION AND GOVERNING BODY OF HYPER REAL SIMULATIONS AND CONSTRUCTS, which (I think?) is the name c / a themselves will use when they take this show on the road. The album has been teased for a while, and many of the tracks are already available in one form or another if you flick through the back catalogue, but it is only recently that videos have started to appear, such as the absolutely barmy clip for the album’s opening track “Docile Goetica“.  Now we welcome “THE PRIMER” to the site, with it’s relatively short run time and oddly disquieting Australian narrative. It does, in fact, work quite well as an actual primer to the artists’ work, containing as it does their trademark stylistic freneticism, disconnected vocal samples, an ongoing obsession with the concept of creation and a hefty dose of complex technological input. In their own words, “THE PRIMER” actually refers to the initial input to a trained AI such as TensorFlow, whose neural network is used here to “conjure simple melodies” as part of a “conceptual study of ‘intuition’ as it relates to algorithmic musical creation, posing a duality between the artist as chaos magician and the machine as oraculous tool.” So there you go.

Intricacies aside, THE ONLY WAY WE KNOW TO HAVE FUN presents c / a at their banging best. With meltpop elements akin to Wieman/Zèbra smashed right up inside the kind of thumping glitch-rave freakery that’d make itself well at home on Hausu Mountain, it’s certainly a heady (and occasionally overwhelming) blend, but if it doesn’t send you down the rabbit hole after me then, well, what the hell are you even doing here?

THE ONLY WAY WE KNOW TO HAVE FUN is available on beautiful green vinyl right now, and you can check the video for “THE PRIMER” below.