star of the west, andy cowling | Mille Plateaux | digital Release  | 14.04.22 

What is the source of this grimly grinning satiety we feel? 


'star of the west' follows 'July 4, 2020' and 'November 2, 2020', two releases in which Andy Cowling musically interprets current socio-political developments in the United States of America. In contrast to this interventionist approach, the present album refers to events from the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic to the storming of the Capitol in January 2021. Viewed from a temporal distance, 'star of the west' reveals itself to be a fully weaponised show. 

A time-stretched panorama of antagonisms. 

Slow developments in music are often in the service of a gentle and reformist deceleration. But what is the purpose of this prominent technique of time-stretching in 'star of the west'? It is clearly to another effect. Pop, political chatter, weapons of war, mass hysteria, varied forms of entertainment - spectacles par excellence are stretched out until their soundscape condenses into noise. A procedure which reminds us of those methods of torture, which by prolonging the pleasurable turn it into unbearable torment. Through elongation, the spectacles reveal themselves as always the same and become insufferable. 

What could be the meaning of noise? 

Unbearability. Sonically as well as in relation to those political events which the music embeds in its narrative. By sonically reliving them, they simultaneously turn out to have really happened and on the other hand to be irrelevant cover stories, false political propositions, hopes and fears. 

Noise. 

In slow motion, Cowling arranges the events in a chronological-commentary order: Provided that the decoding succeeds, the social and political sequences become more comprehensible. 


“ 
[02:47, 29/12/2021] Andy Cowling: So for this text - the album is largely centered on the spectacle. Starting with the flyover and the national anthem reminiscent of football games. Overlaid with the spectacle that is the Covid pandemic. Moving towards an election that will result in essentially no change. The entire world is watching - also referring to the outsized weight this event has when it is all theater. Ending with scenes of a failing war. Just wanting to get some action and to prove the empire still has power. Moving towards then the failed rocket launch that was still heralded as a success by Elon fanbois. Overlaid with the naive expectations of the Hilary Dems of 2016. Launching into another rendition of of a declaration of being ready to fight but having this super petty chant of na na na hey hey goodbye from a football game. Then we go into election fraud claims from trump and the again petty redaction from newsmax overplayed on top of the melody of America the beautiful. Then we have a long and anticlimactic celebration of the Biden victory. Hollow ideology and promises again culminating with the statement that it was like when the eagles won the Super Bowl. End of track 2 is the explosion from the failed launch with the song you are gonna reap what you sow. Next stage the Jan 6 insurrection. Again comically petty and naive. Moving into the hollowness of hyperpop and ultra naive idea that Biden has solved all problems as a coup attempt unfolds in real time. Ending again with this track refuting all claims of evidence - ending with the idea that really the problem was just simping for trump. Overall the album is super ambivalent to these overt political things. Critical of not just trump but also the idea that an “opposition” via Biden actually changes anything whatsoever. 
” 


THE SPECTACLE CHARACTER (if such a specification was still possible) additionally stems from material derived solely from “the” media. It is made from and for YouTube (content): mobile phone videos, news reports, live streamed events. Cowling creates a sample collage while acknowledging the domination of the spectacle, and brings it to its logical sonic conclusion. At the same time, however, he attempts an intensifying of political hopelessness in order to mobilise the listener. Confronted with the course of events, the listener enters into an anticipatory tension between a desire to destroy and the passivity of listening itself. Music is no longer sufficient, not even self-sufficient. 

In relation to politics, music takes on a multifaceted role in 'star of the west'. In addition to a rendition of the US national anthem, a Democratic campaign song, stadium chants, folk music and Yo-Yo Ma’s Amazing Grace/Star Trek medley for Biden's election victory, find their way into the commentary section. A punkish encore completes the Negative Americana. An Americana devoid of expanse and nostalgia, but also devoid of the typical consumer-cultural critique. 

Instead, as a pure downfall scenario: 

The USA finds itself at the endpoint. 

Its societal division is easy to lament. 

The state of pop weighs much more heavily. 

It is a clearer symptom of the problem. 

It expresses the whole hopelessness of the situation, because it serves as the soundtrack of “both sides”, or is superimposed to “heal the divide”. 

It makes the downfall’s eventuality apparent to our ears. 

In 'the entire world is watching', the national anthem becomes pop. Pop has been declared the common denominator of a society. In this light, pop appears with great clarity as the cultural spearhead of a global hegemony, as a phenomenon to be historically classified. The current diversification of pop only means that it has already infiltrated all areas sufficiently to now normalise and universalise itself. Finally, it is pulverising its own roots to become unassailable. Pop was militarily trained to promote an all-encompassing naivety that perceives the existing as without alternative – the true message of healing the divide. 

Pop politics is the condition that Populism serves to conceal. 
After over a year all this has been normalised. The gaps seem at least somewhat covered but the edifice of power will not be stable for all times. The album’s ambivalent last minutes will continue to remind us of this simple fact: Do not allow its wounds to heal.  

released April 14, 2022 

- Text: John-Robin Bold 
- Cover art: Merve Cowling 
- Mastering: Dino Spiluttini 
- Music: Andy Cowling

we may be on the way, BOLD/COWLING | Glenn Dancer Records | digital / tape Release  | 19.02.21

BOLD/COWLING’s debut album we may be on the way is an audio-visual journey through the ruins and dreams of our past, present and future.Combining vintage soundtracks, speech, guitar and samples from video footage into a variety of atmospheres, noises, melodies and rhythms, they merge analogue and digital, lo-fi and hi-fi, old and new into a unique sound aesthetic. 

Most of the sampled material used on this album was found in 70s and 80s documentaries which deal with future technologies, ancient myths, the occult and aliens. BOLD/COWLING use these topics as metaphors to formulate those questions which have been raised by culture ever since: about time, immortality, the nature of man and the search for meaning. 

Their compositional practice of interweaving sound, speech, references and topics takes many forms and offers no easy solutions. From spectacular to devastating moods and from abstract to song-like structures, this album confronts these existential questions in richly 
multifaceted ways. 

Andy Cowling and John-Robin Bold, both sharing a background as classical guitarists, have been strongly influenced by their study of classical music. This understanding led them to push the boundaries of electronic music's formal and narrative possibilities further. Over the 
past few years, they have performed audio-visual concerts throughout Europe and have released individually on Mille Plateaux, Quanta Records and bitbird.

NOVEMBER 2, 2020, andy cowling | Mille Plateaux | digital Release  | 03.11.20

andycover.jpeg

ACT II 
(in order of appearance) a siren 
protests 
seven trumpets 
a dog / a cop leaf blowers trucks 
chant 
a speech 
a body cam gunshots 
a car crash 
no crickets / a siren 

“get on the ground” 
“hold the line” 
“when there’s other armed Americans with them” 
“back up before you get smashed up” 
“Today it’s time to stop singing and start swinging.” 
“cause neither of them is for you” 
“You’re voting for nobody.” 
“It’s the ballot or the bullet. It’s liberty or it’s death. It’s freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody.” 

Now that all our tears have frozen, only hail and fire mingled with blood hit the ground. In the aftermath, the siren sings in our heads, since outside it is far too late: The fatal hope of struggle has drowned in seas turned red and the last tension of dissonance has burst. 

Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet are about to sound! 

But the last woe on earth, hiding in a bathtub in the abandoned house of your mind, will be tracked down. The dog invaded the space between your ears to search for the remaining splinters of life. 

A scream or a reversed bullet inhaled at the rate of 0.25 percent. All rumors of the fight are compressed into a terrible blast of sound like a defibrillator channelling vital energy to revive a failing heart. Woe to those who discover that the rewind function failed to revive the dead. 

What if instead of fire, hail, and blood, splintered sound particles would pierce the earth? 

Apocalypse without resurrection. 

Burnt shreds of digital files fall like ashes from the sky, blocking out the sun, poisoning the air. The crickets disappear, just as the fireflies disappeared before them. The siren’s remnants wail into the night and as we sleep, the ash suffocates us all. Finally the arc of equality is inescapable for everyone and nobody. November 2, 2020 is the cosmic catastrophe that follows July 4, 2020 by Andy Cowling. 

 

- text by John-Robin Bold, November 2020  

- cover art by Merve Cowling

- sonic object by Andy Cowling

July 4, 2020, andy cowling | Mille Plateaux | digital Release  | 05.08.20

july4.jpeg

United States of America 
At night 

(in order of appearance) - crickets, a dog, a train, an amplifier, an electric guitar, a stun grenade, fireworks, a truck, a thunderstorm, protests, a click, a bug zapper 


We who aim to abolish the dog have a thousand regrets over the vision of its dead body. Our tears crystallize a twofold rebellion: against the status of this world and against our fate, the necessity to destroy it. We are sorry for everything – we apologize for nothing. 

A dog barking into the night is unaware that it forms part of the property that it protects. The dog attacks anyone who seemingly threatens its master’s property as a de facto self-defence. This relationship could never be explained to the dog. As tragic as it may seem, the dog must die if these relations are to be permanently changed. An agreement is impossible. The fight can only be won, lost, or momentarily suspended. Fiat iustitia et pereat mundus. 

The persistence of e-minor determines the guitar’s fate. “Fuck it.” A few deviant notes rise up against this fatal key. For a moment, they form a monophonic united front but fail at the sea change, the change of keys. All we seem to achieve are spectral distortions, tempestuous winds emanating from our throats. Yet the saddening tonality remains unmoved when each cycle of outrage comes to an end. After every clearing of the sky, it reaffirms the total enclosure of our sight. 

The click of repression is clocked. In musical notation, measures look like cuts in a waveform: vertical. Equality is horizontal and every revolutionary struggle is an attempt to redefine the horizontal line. If the raised voices repeatedly fail to be sustained, the hoarseness which defines the vacuum after a parole is our only possible dignity. “Hands up, don’t shoot.” Waiting as if, after the seventh blow of the trumpet, the walls of Jericho would collapse. 

However distorted through the digital conversion and the artistic formatting, the voices’ uproar can by them be amplified. As of yet, it has not been proven whether in amplification diffusion or dissemination outweigh one another. To distort a guitar sound can add a significant sustain to it. But the longer sustained, the more our perception is accustomed to the sound’s strength and its impact is lost. If there remains any hope in July 4, 2020 by Andy Cowling, it is that our ears might burst. 

- text by John-Robin Bold, July 2020  

- cover art by Merve Cowling

- sonic object by Andy Cowling
 

Preview to an authentically virtual space, BOLD/COWLING | Musik 21 Niedersachsen | Commission and Premier  | 08.09.19

Café 1930, - Astor Piazzolla| mihoko watanabe (flute) & andy cowling (guitar) | Live recording for Indiana public radio's morning musicale

Sonatina Allegretto I. Andante II. Allegro III. - Federico Moreno Torroba | andy cowling (guitar) | Live recording for Indiana public radio's morning musicale