EP as installation, in an audiovisual project that explores the architecture of listening.
LA-based artist and producer Vinyl Williams builds A/V collages: his work for Tears For Fears, bEEdEEgEE, and Dub Thompson are songs reimagined through the hazy lens of VHS and glitch. In his own work as a musician, the collages come to life. To listen is to get lost in weird, gorgeous distortion; the audio equivalent of tripping.
Williams’ new EP, Trance Zen Dental Spa, created in collaboration with Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick, is an experiment in tactile listening. Each of the five tracks was built for, and into, an interactive world. The record unfolds as you wander, making synesthesia something like a contagious thing.
Download the Trance Zen Dental Spa Bundle to unlock the exclusive audiovisual project. And get lost in sound.
This weekend, we caught up with Williams to talk about TZDS, digital art, shamanism, and the choose-your-own adventure architecture of music.
How did the TZDS project start? What brought you guys together?
After Ian and I met Chaz in Seoul, South Korea, we kept in touch about working on an uncanny album form together. On New Year’s Day in Berkeley we met with him at his home studio, and recorded a 30 minute improvisation. We all agreed it sounded like spa music. Personally, it reminded me of the mood of South Korea when we first met Chaz, the culture shock included.
Sounds can become spaces & places: true teleportation.
I’m very interested in states of “mental luxury” and vast tranquility, yet the tone of Korea made me critical of those impulses when I noticed surgical eye-opening clinics and beauty spas everywhere. So the lyrics and interactive concept completed a transformation of my own ideology.
TZDS is as much about the visual architecture of listening, as it is about sound. Why was this important?
The whole spectrum of sensation can’t really have separate domains. Because Mind is the fastest speed in the universe, this planet “Xol” is visitable whenever you think about it. The Trance Zen Dental Spa is located on the most inner coronal hole of its mercurial sphere, the celestial source of South East Asian art & artifacts.
Did you conceive of TZDS as a game, first? How did this piece develop?
It conceived itself initially through improvisation. And then fully via the unfolding of thought.
The most conceptually-intact way for this project to exist is as a digital form. It’s about issues of simulated phenomena that ultimately end up as choose-your-own-adventure hypnotism.
I’m very interested in the etheric, invisible, and in-between. Digital is a good medium for this type of conversation about the unspeakable.
What visual or technology systems inspire you?
Painting has always inspired me in its impressions of future technologies. The Red Bookby Carl Jung depicts an impossible world of our own vanished conscious. The Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini describes a complete civilization of plants, animals, entities, and architecture of a planet outside of our experience.
The constant regeneration of net art just seems to be a game to find out how many notes one can get on a Tumblr post.
Naohisa Inoue’s paintings resonate so heavily that they are probably subject to a lot of poltergeist incidents. San Poggio’s paintings are like frozen orchestras. And Pablo Amaringo, the shamanic maverick that intuits as much complexity from the other side as humanely possible.
So much of contemporary Internet art taps into nostalgia, the gifs and games of the 90s. Is this something you’re interested in exploring? Why do you think people are looking back?
A lot of people experience the same culturally sanctioned nostalgia. The constant regeneration of this kind of net art just seems to be a game to find out how many notes one can get on a Tumblr post.
What’s after TZDS?