Zone Music

I went to see Martin Clark yesterday. He produces and DJs on Rinse FM under the name Blackdown and also runs Keysound Recordings. I was talking to him for a radio documentary I’m making about influential club nights and got a good hour of insight and stories from his years spent watching over dancefloors from Metalheadz to the recent Butterz Records party at Cable. Afterwards, he drove me back to the station with the Vex’d album on the stereo. I hadn’t heard it, but listening, it occurred to me that it was what you might call ‘zone music’; sounds that allow you to build you own imaginary external space and lets you live in it a while. If pop songs build you a castle with defined walls and furnishing, zone music lets you build you own.

I think most of the music I really love is zone music. I like songs although I have to admit I mostly hear vocals like another instrument. Unless it’s a really powerful performer, I tend to hear sounds and emotion, not words, which is odd given that I’ve spent a vast portion of my working life dealing with words. You’d think I’d be a lyric freak but to be honest I hardly ever hear them, which might explain the fact that I only know the words to about three records. It’s frankly embarrassing at times.

But back to the zone. Music must have developed as a way of communicating information (drums as ISDN lines) and as a way of allowing people to experience altered states. Anyone who’s ever sung with other people on terraces or in church, or got lost on a dancefloor, or disappeared into a mosh pit must know that. If you’re reading this and you’ve never experienced the loss of ego psychologists call flow then you need to close the blinds, crank up some suitable music and let it invade and transport. I’ve never actually done this but I think it might give you the idea.

Zone music can come from any time, and from across musical worlds. I know very little about Early Music apart from the fact I really like Catherine Bott’s Early Music Show on R3 and I can see myself getting heavily into music from a thousand years ago. Like this piece written by a French dude at the end of the 12th Century. He knew about the zone.

Perotin ‘Viderent Omnes’

Leaping forwards a millennia, this is music that takes you away from yourself, into another space.

Mala ‘Lean Forward’

I could go on, including things like Armando’s Land Of Confusion, or Dillinja’s darkside transporter The Angels Fell, but instead I’ll finish on this as I’ve started to appreciate a new type of zone. I got into this band through discovering Mark McGuire whilst testing out various clips on Boomkat and I really like them. So much, I’m going to see them with Fennesz at The Union Chapel in a few weeks as part of the Barbican’s Transcender festival.

Emeralds ‘Candy Shoppe’

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