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
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.
(in order of appearance) a siren
a dog / a cop leaf blowers trucks
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
United States of America
(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