Thursday 18 January 2018

Ice Daggers as Anxiety Cure

Ice Daggers as Anxiety Cure
(or “shiver me timbers it’s fucking cold out!”)

By Casey Douglass

My heart was doing the thing it does when I start to get anxious and stressed. Often, I can sit with it and mindfully watch it settle again, but yesterday it felt like it was growing into something approaching a “state”. I found myself checking something inconsequential on my phone over and over and realised I needed to break that state. Lacking the patience to sit with it, I swiftly decided to go for a short walk in the biting wind. I pondered how well to wrap up against the elements but, maverick that I am, purposefully left my gloves off. I did this even hearing dad moaning about how cold it was when he came in earlier, rubbing his hands and eager to get them around a cup of coffee. I decided that I was going to focus on the cold in my hands as a pattern breaker. I know, hardcore doesn’t come close to describing me.

The wind hit me like a punch in the face, but the sunlight kissed it better again. Leaves flew as birds hunkered down in the bushes, an ironic exchanging of position. My hands felt the paradoxically hot-feeling bite of the cold, my fingers bending slightly as if trying to curl into the digit approximation of the foetal position. I’m not sure what my balls were doing, but I’d imagine if they had been exposed, I would have needed a search party to find them again once they’d retreated. While I didn’t solely focus on my hands, there were just some parts of my body that I overlooked. Maybe next time...

I paid mindful attention to the sensation of cold, the way it throbbed and ached in my hands, shivers racking my body, my teeth chattering and my torso tingling with pins and needles. I knew that it wouldn’t take long for the carbon dioxide of muscle use to build up and heat me from the inside, but my god it felt like ages. The sunlight was a milky yellow, the orb hanging low in the sky like a pervert trying to look up a short skirt. It was warming, but there were plenty of shadows to scupper its view. I found myself anticipating each strip of glowing luke-warmth as it splayed across my path. I tried to take a more accepting stance by paying attention to my attachment to the warmth, and my aversion to the cold bleak darkness of the shadows; it was as interesting as it was painful.

It wasn’t a long walk, but by the time I had heated up a little and arrived back home, that pattern or mode switch that I was half-hoping for seemed to have happened. I was dog tired though, which brings about other problems, a higher propensity for anxiety not the least of them. Much like my occasional walk, you nearly always come back to where you started when you try to get away from things, or even change them a little. That being said, I quite enjoyed having my mind on sensations that weren’t linked to stress and anxiety for awhile, and I even managed to turn it into something to write about on a day where I am struggling again. It seems to be the walk that just keeps on giving.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Dark Music Review – The Infinity Coordinates

Dark Music Review – The Infinity Coordinates

Review Written By Casey Douglass

The Infinity Coordinates

Pavel Malyshkin ( Ugasanie ) presents us with his dark space project Silent Universe. Explore the anomalies that lurk in the infinite dark. Listen to magnetic readings of dark space as you probe the unexplored. This album brings dark rumbling sounds in the raw isolated style that is Pavel's expertise. Recommended for fans of space ambient.

There’s something seductive about the harsh, empty vastness of space. One of my favourite meditative practices is to imagine myself resting on some kind of spacecraft as it journeys from one galaxy to the next, the light of a million stars glinting on its hull. When a dark ambient album comes along that fits that theme, I take to my bed and indulge those images with eyes closed and blanket warm. The Infinity Coordinates is the latest that has accompanied me, and it did its job wonderfully.

The soundscapes created are smooth and expansive, the tempo fitting the shape of a universe in no hurry to provide entertainment for a puny human on an intergalactic jaunt. That being said, there are quirks and interesting events that you almost feel lucky to have witnessed, rather than them being orchestrated just for you. One example is opening track Spiral Space, a composition that creates a soundscape of flaring sounds; a shimmering environment in which you wouldn't be surprised to meet your own self coming towards you from the other direction. Things seem to move on later in the track, giving the listener the feeling of being left behind, much like seeing a jump-ship speed away from the vantage point of a desolate moon.

The idea of desolation brings me onto another track that I wanted to mention by name: Emptiness of Other Worlds. The deep drone and what appear to be robotic sobs meld with the other sounds to create the impression of a space traveller finding a deserted city on some backwater planet, but one that is millions of years unoccupied. The music gave me the impression of harsh shadows picking out the remains of architecture as the nearby star casts its rays over the lifeless dust. A melancholy soundscape but one well worth spending time inside.

Pulsar is another great track, one that builds into an electromagnetic soundscape that tunes the listener into the sounds of a pulsar. Other elements in this track create a pulsing momentum, and I half got the impression of the beam of the star, when it came my way, resembling a giant eye staring at me. And no, I’ve not just watched too much Lord of the Rings.

The Infinity Coordinates is a very fine album, one that leads the listener through a space that, at times, seems impartial, and at others, seems to be half aware of being visited, even if millions of years too late. If you enjoy the setting of space, The Infinity Coordinates is an album to pick up when you can.

Visit the The Infinity Coordinates page on Bandcamp here for more information, and be sure to check out Pulsar below:

I was given a free copy of this album to review.

Album Title: The Infinity Coordinates
Artists: Silent Universe
Label: Cryo Chamber
Released: Dec 26, 2017

Tuesday 2 January 2018

On American Truck Simulator & Death: Who Wants to Live Forever?

Another installment of my Connection Lost series is now up on New Normative, called: On American Truck Simulator & Death: Who Wants to Live Forever? This time, I ponder how games that don't really feature death make me feel, and how the prospect of living forever can be just as scary as dying. Click here to read the full thing.