Inklingroom & Cyclothymia by Jeph Vanger: Deep, dark, anonymous side of London brimming with fearless art

”I wont give up

…loving”

Jeph Vanger, Give up

”Hear about London right now, and it probably sounds a bit bleak; the mass closure of much-loved venues, house prices that only the rich can afford, rising racial tensions and increasingly no help for the down-trodden. However, scratch away its surface, and the deep, dark, anonymous city remains brimming with fearless art, just as it always has done – a testament to what can bleed from a gaping wound.” GAIKA

Jeph Vanger: Cyclothymia (2021). EP, Vinyl. Inklingroom.

Inklingroom, Label launch event. Featuring GAIKA (DJ set), Silvia Kastel, Wild Adoration among choreographed performances by Hollie Miller, Keity Pook, Jem Beltham, Anna Dunlop and a fashion by Jakub Iwan, 17th DEC 2021, Space 289, LONDON E2 9HA //POSTPONED due to COVID-19 related circumstances

Text by Heini Heikkilä

A dark, sinister night. Woods standing still, bright unnaturally yellow light. An apocalyptic, science fiction -type sensation of fear and treath, night and unknown, and a naked man inside a huge piece of transparent fabric, expressing suffocation and death as well as struggle trough amniotic sac in the birth. Heavy heartbeat.

The area of extreme emotions is obviously present. Pain, night. Darkness, something very intimate and exposed, uncovered, vulnerable. Enormous loneliness within oneself, fear of death, emotion of being lost and fierce dance trough it, trough the night, trough landscapes, sea, earth, seasons, trough, until daylight, until sleep.

Jeph Vanger’s Cyclothymia EP begins with fatale. Fatale is a combination of different rhythms, heavily distorted bass and abrasive hi-hats, raw and noisy. The tradition of UK club music and it’s sounds are present – the video, and the whole Cyclomania EP is relesead by inklingroom, a London based multidisciplinary art platform and event series that aims to straddle the divide between experimental, club music and contemporary dance. By Jeph Vanger’s EP Inklingroom launches a new label that ”will provide a platform for some of the most forward-thinking and genre-defying contemporary producers and dance artists to put their creations onto vinyl and produce dance films.”, as their presentation text describes.

Jeph Vanger is Athens/London based award-winning sound designer, artist and electronic composer, who works in the fields of contemporary dance, theatre, film and art installations. Cyclothymia is his first release. Trough fatale and the tracks to follow, their rough and refined, emotional but intelligent sound design and emotional dramaturgy, is easy to hear his years of experience in the field of composition for dance theatres, galleries and music for moving images – but in a good, breathing and living manner, combined with a deep influence from UK dub and its contemporary mutations.

Some sort of brokeness and imperfection really seems to be the secret ingredient and at the heart of this release. Position outside ”normal” is it’s source for strong emotions and dark tones, fear and anxiety, but also its strenght: exceptional, new-creating and difference-making treasure. As fatale’s visual narrative says: birth.

The visual and emotional contents troughout Cyclothymia vary or remind a lot of tropes of symbolism and decadence at the end of 19th century. There are questions of bourgeois and alternative, fine arts and club music, symbols, metaphores, personality, emotions, self, suffering, euphoria, death, psychology. In fact, the whole concept of ”cyclothymia” dates back to 1883, when doctor Karl Ludwig Kahlbaum identified a disorder characterized by recurring mood cycles. The disorder he found contained both mild melancholic and manic episodes. The condition was coined ”cyclothymia” by Kahlbaum.

Most of modern psychiatry, e.g. Kahlbaum’s work, base on theories and thoughts developed in the spirits of Fin de siècle, the end of the 19th century. It was widely thought to be a period of social degeneracy, but at the same time a period of hope for a new beginning. Fin de siècle often refers also to the cultural hallmarks that were recognized as prominent in the 1880s and 1890s, including ennui, cynicism, pessimism, and ”…a widespread belief that civilization leads to decadence.” The major political theme of the era was that of revolt against materialism, rationalism, positivism, bourgeois society, and liberal democracy. ”The fin-de-siècle generation supported emotionalism, irrationalism, subjectivism, and vitalism, while the mindset of the age saw civilization as being in a crisis that required a massive and total solution”. WW1 began on July, 1914.

”I wont give up …loving” confirms and repeats, nevertheless, Jeph Vanger’s next track, Give up. The video is set on a tunnel, underground. It’s industrial and mirthless. A melancholic figure stands, dances in the tunnel, runs over and over again towards light and luxuriant wild summer landscape, again setting metaphores playing both with social structures, power and underground and inner sensations of despair, feeling trapped, criticizing or observing narrow-mindnessness and ”tunnel vision” and above all emphating art, music and dance, and their direct connection to universal love, freedom, and euphoria. The track is creating a cinematic atmosphere with auto-tuned vocals, a repetitive, hypnotic tone, and progressing basslines.

It highlights the whole EP.

Fin de siecle resembles present in many ways. For example, back then there was ”semiotic arousal”; everything, it seemed, was a sign. Some of us still remeber Y2K problem, Millennium bug or Y2K error, referring to potential computer errors related to the formatting and storage of calendar data for dates in and after the year 2000. Y2K bug -episode is a good example of fears of ”civilizations decadence” on a small scale, and it tells us about actual new share of power and dependence-relations of our times, already back then. Electronic music has short history and it has had it’s own path to daylight. Partially it still struggles to be considered ”music” or ”real music” at all – even though digitalization, internet, and the meaning of signs and numbers for some have effected (the metaverse-creating) present enormously. Cyclothymia’s beautiful and weird CA Study is a gentle drone piece based on improvisation but above all it is, in fact, a result of AI experiments, almost ”as the nurture of code made by Cellular Automata that tries to forge a connection with the outside world”.

The mix of cycles and moods, underground and daylight, eternal and modern, futuristic and down-to-earth, contemporary art and club music reaches perfection in Xtasis, where murky basslines slice through the clear, pearl-light tension creating an absolute sense of energy. In its rework version, Yraki brings laser-sharp sound design along with bent highly melodic synths to create an ultra-modern, dancefloor slow-burner. Yraki ”manipulates his micro-sounds, creating an abstract world of melodies along with a unique blend of synthetic and organic sounds which successfully encapsulates the style and his vision of contemporary club music.” That is, acceptive, care-centered, immersive, microbe-level widened. Something, that is ready and willing to ask new questions, to try unknown paths, has courage to honesty and to exposure itself to change and chaos …And wont give up.

The closing piece is called Requiem for Clouds. Acoustic strings and cello merge with ambient soundscapes, rise towards skies under ground and beoynd, as an ode to life and death, to art, to honesty, and your soul, pure and perfect, just the way it is.

Do you have courage to scratch away the surface and see what’s bleeding out? Who is normal? What is a threath?

What are you really scared of?

Jeph Vagner’s Cyclothymia and all the videos are here: https://jephvanger.bandcamp.com/releases

Cyclothymia brings temperament, no-style attachment, but a mix but forward-thinking controlled distortions geared towards intrusive post-dubstep, avant-garde bass sounds, combined by subtle electronics, ambient, drone and AI experiments. It’s a complex exercise in electroacoustic composition and a direct vision of a dystopian version of the dancefloor which itself sculpts into the artist’s personal statement: “I would like to think of myself as a dance performer… interpreting different roles for each show… I intended to convey it with my worlds of sounds.”, Jeph Vagner says.

For the launch of new label, Cyclothymia and perhaps new era inklingroom has been working on a label launch event, that is spotlighting young female choreographers who have made work especially for the event: inklingroom w/ GAIKA, Silvia Kastel, Wild Adoration, Hollie Miller. The event is postponed due to COVID-19 situation, but will be held 2022.

As both a vocalist and producer, GAIKA is as uncompromising in his politics as his sonics, intent on expanding and exploding the ideas of what contemporary black British music is. From his debut mixtape Machine in 2015 to his debut LP on Warp Records, Basic Volume, GAIKA is channelling the unique synthesis of the UK’s musical make-up, firmly at the forefront of a new London.

Silvia Kastel started performing live in 2008, focusing on experimental electronic music and extended vocal techniques and having released music on established, forward-thinking labels such as Blackest Ever Black and Hyperdub. She evolved into DJing in 2014, first on radio and then in clubs, and now based in London with a monthly residency on NTS, her sets fuse unashamedly pop melodies with the bass-heavy polyrhythms of regional club sounds from Latin America, the Caribbean, the US and the UK (dembow, dancehall, grime, jungle, techno, footwork).

London via Bristol and Poznan (PL), Wash Electra co-founded inklingroom – a multidisciplinary art platform for contemporary dance, experimental club music, and visual arts. He hosts two monthly residencies on Noods and Netil radio, promoting local and global talent from the underground club circuit. His sets are fused around fast tempo hybrids of afro rave, contemporary experimental club, and destructed high energy techno.

Stiletto Silhouette (2021) is a durational performance by Hollie Miller with a live electronic sound score by Craig Scott. This surrealist performance and immersive soundscape explore absurdist bodily transformation to a hyperreal ASMR soundtrack. Hollie Miller is a performance artist with an interdisciplinary practice and background in contemporary dance. She has performed internationally in the UK, Europe, Finland, Switzerland, Argentina and Japan in modern art galleries, museums, land art and performance art festivals. She holds an MA from Royal College of Art (2016) and a BPA from Northern School of Contemporary Dance (2010).

Jakub Iwan presents Lost Connections which is a story about the physical effects of changes in our brains, told through clothes. “With the help of clothes, I wanted to give physical shape to non-physical personality transformations. The reason why I chose to base my first creations on mental illness is because many people around the world struggle with them and I believe they should not be ridiculed or taboo.” Jakub Iwan

Totuus | Truth. The Contemporary Art & Music Magazine of Finland.

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