The title of the mix is a play on Derrida’s critique of the metaphysics of presence – his idea that there is no moment when things fully disclose themselves. Phonography has always undone the metaphysics of presence. What you hear in a recording is not there. It is a spectre. You always hear more and less than was ‘there’ at the time and place of the recording. With vinyl records, the more that you often hear is crackle, the sound of the material surface of the playback medium. When vinyl was ostensibly superseded by digital playback systems – which seem to be sonically ’invisible’ – many producers were drawn towards crackle, the material signature of that supposedly obsolete technology. Crackle disrupts presence in multiple ways: first by reminding us of the material processes of recording and playback, second by connoting a broken sense of time, and third by veiling the official ‘signal’ of the record in noise. For crackle is of course a noise in its right, a ground become a figure. Listen to it for a while and you start to hear patterns; you become susceptible to audio hallucinations.
The mix is best listened to loud, and after dark. For the most part, you will have to lean in to pick out the fragile melodies, but some songs – parched gnostic blues, painfully sad Edward Lear-like nonsense ballads and hobo-hazy recollections of long-lost sunny afternoons – intermittently loom out of the audio fog.
Mark Fisher (K-Punk)