Tuesday, 6 September 2011


As a corrective to the disarmingly soothing tones of Kyle Bobby Dunn I felt the need to point to a gutsier example of contemporary electronic music that has recently impressed, baffled, and frightened, but mostly baffled.

Florian Hecker's Speculative Solution sonically explores ideas expressed in current philosophical 'movement' speculative realism. I'm not sure how well the keening shards and pointillist scatter of Hecker's crisp computer noise is intended to demonstrate speculative realism's theories, whether its a hoax, whether a hoax IS an expression of speculative realism, or some combination of the above. The concepts underlying speculative realism are summarised by Mark Fisher as a reaction against the 'naïve realism' dominating current continental philosophical thought, 'the view that the world is just as it appears to us'. Fisher goes further here for Frieze, discussing some of speculative realism's major strands in a report from the 2009 ‘Speculative Realism and Speculative Materialism’ conference in Bristol.

Instead, the speculative realists each opened up a weird world, foreign to human experience and commonsense. Returning to Descartes, Meillassoux maintained that the real is what can be rendered as mathematical symbols. Harman’s ‘object-oriented metaphysics’... argued that the world is made up of ‘entities with specific qualities, autonomous from us and from each other’; Grant’s ‘nature philosophy’... sees nature as a ceaselessly productive machine, throwing out particular bodies only as the visible side effect of a perpetual, invisible mutation; while Brassier’s pulverising equivalence of scientific naturalism with nihilism was made in Nihil Unbound(2007)

Whether you examine the music in relation to these ideas or otherwise (which chimes with aspects of speculative realism's cold indifference), there's plenty here to intrigue, and it's a welcome alternative to all that youthful impulsive synth jizz flooding the ether. For the most part this is cold, dissonant, rapidly fluctuating sheets / pricks / blocks of sound, united by an unfeeling and chaotically-controlled hand. What initially surprises is the clearly ordered repetition that springs up, most notably in 'Octave Chronics', perhaps explained by the following in the notes:

With ‘Speculative Solution’ Hecker proposes that the concepts of absolute contingency and hyperchaos offer a rigorous new alternative to the employment of chance and randomness in avant-garde composition.

Sample: Octave Chronics

This is a powerful piece, and its luminous immediacy offers a welcome hook after the preceding apparent disorder. Here Hecker sounds like Mark Fell's Multistability, which further makes it possible to hear Hecker alongside contemporary electronic noisemakers like Keith Fullterton Whitman or even Surgeon. Here how it fits within this context on snd's mix for FACT.

Good review of Speculative Solution for Braiwashed here and check out samples below, and scour the internet for more on the thoughts behind it.

Sample: Speculative Solution 1 (excerpt 1)

Sample: Speculative Solution 1 (excerpt 2)

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