Sunday, 28 July 2013

Pattern Recognition: The Fantasy Behind Veiled Musicians

My Pattern Recognition column for Electronic Beats reaches its third volume, with a piece on the aesthetics of anonymous or reclusive - 'veiled' - musicians (click here to read it) - kicking off with the Burial is Four Tet farce, then going on to look at Jandek and a mysterious and amazing Soundcloud account, that of Pepsi 7up.

There has long been something attractive, tantalising and romantic about an anonymous artist, especially one who chooses to be... Take away the name, the face and the life story, and a big, mysterious hole appears, an empty space that people can fill up with their fantasies.

The most telling aspects of Jandek’s initial reception, however, were the assumptions that were made about what sort of a person he was and how and why the music was made... The suggestion that the emotion in Jandek’s music was merely performed or inferred rather than ‘real’ was barely made.
It’s worth noting that if Jandek really is Sterling Smith, he was born in 1944, making him part of the same pioneering generation as Frank Zappa, Jerry Garcia, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Charlemagne Palestine, David Lynch, Lou Reed, John Cale, Neil Young, Jefferson Airplane, The Residents and The Beatles.

It’s very difficult to describe just how surprising and captivating Pepsi 7up’s “Over The Rainbow” is. A choir of synthesized voices, a voice probably designed to be female leading with the fragmentary melody and lyrics, accompanied by a number of male voices, the glockenspiel and another synthesiser. The voices are so startling familiar in some ways and so estranged in others—you can almost feel mouths pronouncing consonants, but the beginning and endings of the sounds and the ways they change over time are not human... It’s like that hit of happiness you get from recognizing a loved one occurring even though—or maybe because—their skin is shimmering aquamarine and the lower half of their face is barely recognizable. It’s like figuring out you have a crush on a being from another dimension.


  1. Thanks for a very interesting discovery (for me). I'd like to add the dimension of how fun conspiracy theories can be, not to mention the avoidance of contract obligations (for some).

  2. Could you upload those Pepsi 7up tracks, if you don't mind?

  3. I did, I uploaded the extra ones to YouTube: