This album was recorded monophonically and stereophonically directly to two-track and full-track master tapes on Ampex 300’s using the following microphones: Neumann U–47; EV 667; RCA 44BX. The Master Lacquers were cut directly from the original master tapes on a Neumann lathe using a Westrex 2B cutter for mono and a Westrex 3C for stereo. The frequency response of both systems is flat plus or minus 1/2 dB from 30 cycles to 15000 cycles. This recording is patterned to the RIAA curve and will give true frequency response if playback equipment is set for the RIAA playback characteristic – Original release sleeve notes of the album Straight Ahead by Abbey Lincoln (Candid Productions Ltd-New York, 1961)
When you've got a Miles Davis fan who starts programming lo-fi trance loops, you know shit’s gonna get real weird real quick – Ignace De Bruyn
Listen – Miles Davis
As the renewal of interest in 1980s cassette culture slowly but surely enters into its second decade[note 1] and the map closes in on actual territory, there are fewer and fewer patches of unexplored space in the archipelago of the 1980s cassette experimentalism – pockets that have evaded representation. Naturally, since this is an endeavour that can be never quite finished, small-time productions, various one-off releases as well as projects where music production is a secondary or lateral activity will pop up into view every now and then. It is increasingly difficult to imagine uncovering a production that is a potential centrepiece of a particular scene (Yugoslavian 1980s cassette experimentalist scene in this case) and even more so to discover an entire DIY micro-history that stretches to this very day.
One such example of an acutely under-historized musician is Giorgio Dmtri[note 2], the hometaping wizz from Požarevac, a town in East-Central Serbia. With thirty-eight years of relentless, almost uninterrupted musical engagement and over one hundred-twenty albums made under numerous guises, Giorgio Dmtri is a stalwart presence in the landscape of contemporary Serbian independent music as well as one of one of the oldest and continuously active musicians that originated in the Yugoslavian 1980s cassette experimentalist scene, yet somehow amazingly unknown outside of the narrow circles of local underground enthusiasts. To put things into perspective – Giorgio Dmtri started out in 1983, just a year or two after Laibach and Autopsia, the Yugo old school industrial heavyweights, and one year before the late Mario Marzidovšek, the great infrastructuralist of the Yugoslavian cassette experimentalism, and – unlike Mario, who burnt out in mere four, but tumultuous, years – embarked on a long, versatile and prolific anti-career. Today, in 2021, Giorgio Dmtri is, besides Ferenc Teglaš (of Pagan Gadget, Vivisect and Skattor Minox fame) and Goran Lišnjić (Metropolie Trans / Nowy Lef), one of the very few surviving dinosaurs of Yugoslavian 1980s cassette experimentalism that are still fully active within the paradigm of DIY experimental music.
This essay hopes to provide a first structured attempt of contextualizing Giorgio Dmtri’s immense body of work and it focuses on his main music outlet in the new millennia – Weapon God (2007-2017), which at the time the preliminary research for this essay was conducted in November 2017 was not yet terminated[note 3]. In contrast to A hogon’s industrial guide’s established practice of focusing on the 1980s DIY experimental music practices, the introduction to Giorgio Dmtri’s vast body of work starts with Weapon God, his contemporary project spanning a considerable chunk of the 2000s and 2010s and probably the least known of his productions. The choice of a contemporary project as the point of introduction to Dmtri’s oeuvre was not a conscious editorial decision of the A hogon’s industrial guide as it wasn’t a planned text for the blog but rather a haphazard result of the guide’s abject failure to comport itself in accordance with the editorial guidelines and practices of the Easterndaze magazine and write a cursory introduction article on the subject matter; instead the essay presented here has grown out of its originally intended size severalfold and eventually metastasized into its current shape and form in March 2021. As Giorgio Dmtri’s work is still ongoing and his style is developing further in new and unexpected directions – nowadays with a brand new project, Alhad Lamad (2017-) – it is precisely his 2010s production that can open up the perspective for his ongoing projects.
Dmtri’s work with Weapon God shows what different lines of evolution can 1980s hometapers embark upon in the new millennia as well as the other way around: it offers a unique take on what means to be DIY in 2010s. Weapon God represents a distilled essence of the 1980s cassette experimentalist ethos transposed onto a contemporary digital audio workstation project in a sense that it manages to retain all of the key hallmarks of the 1980s hometaping ventures that made them such an alluring artistic practice to engage with – radical autodidacticism in its approach to technology as well as total autonomy of artistic-conceptual vision – without regressing into senseless nostalgia or fetishization. Furthermore, there is a sense of mysticism to Giorgio Dmtri’s musical path of the last thirty years that stretches considerably and interrogates even the most wildly imaginative notions of music underground, a sense of almost hermitic devotion by which he carried out whole decades’ worth of work in complete isolation, with no distribution and no presence on the internet whatsoever (no website, no social network profiles and not even a single Discogs entry until 2017). It was in 1993 when Dmtri last released an album on a label other than his own Key–A–No Records label and at least good twenty years since his label stopped making automatic copies of new releases. Since then, Dmtri has been pretty much out there in the wilderness.
The nature of Giorgio Dmtri’s clandestine opus raises some interesting issues about the social dimension of music (and art in general) such as the following: where does one draw the line between private and marginally social (underground) music making ? Can one temporarily withhold or permanently suspend the acquisition of social meaning of his or her work by denying it social context of exhibition and distribution or does the work nonetheless has an inherent social value by the virtue of the artist’s previous portfolio ? If the global information superhighway obliterates meaning and is especially destructive to the social meaning of culture, is this social meaning of culture in fact preserved as a potentiality by this act of social context denial ?
As usual with A hogon’s industrial guide texts, the units of the essay are further subdivided into smaller units for purposes of clarity and cross-linked through a table of contents to ease navigation. Enormous gratitude for making this essay possible is due to Giorgio Dmtri for his patience, Aleksandra Sekulić for the emotional support and suggestions, Nikola Vitković for the analytical insights as well as Stevan Lenhart for his archival work and the documentation provided.
The only significant point of departure from the established A hogon’s industrial guide practice is that, unfortunately, there will be no downloadable music content accompanying this essay.
Table of contents:
I – Some contextual obligations and occasional praise of chronic laryngitis
For anyone vaguely acquainted with the political, economic and cultural situation in Serbia since the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the magical word is continuity since this is precisely what the country lacks the most. Whether we consider individual initiatives, collective endeavours or institutional durability, from the macro to the micro level – all things seem to exist in a permanent state of flux.
Giorgio Dmtri is one of the rare good things that last in a country that underwent three different wars, a bombardment, a hyperinflation, four years of UN embargo that pauperized the populace and then a transition to democracy which did away with whatever was left from a shattered economy. What makes his perseverance even more fascinating is the context in which he managed to accomplish this run – his marginal structural position within the Serbian socio-economic demographic (Dmtri was born into a lower middle class family in a provincial town and received secondary education as an electrician), the political circumstances in the country at the time he came of age (Dmtri’s generation bore the brunt of the 1990s wars and UN sanctions – although Serbia was officially not in the war, men of his age were regularly forcibly drafted into the military, emigrated in order to avoid the service or simply lived in fear of being drafted) as well as the precariousness of the micro local context (Dmtri endured the 1990s in Požarevac, the hometown of then-president Slobodan Milošević and his stronghold during his reign, a tightly controlled city where he exerted tremendous power and used a testing ground for power moves planned across the country).
However, this amazing self-preservation of Dmtri’s came with a specific price: Dmtri lived in a self-imposed isolation most of his anti-career, an interior exile of sorts, aided with a lot of drug use[note 4]. Apart from a brief period in the mid-1980s, Dmtri was never an organizer, a rallying factor around which the scene gathered and evolved, but always occupied an outsider position as a one-man scene of sorts from his unlikely base in Požarevac.
More than any other city in SR Serbia, Požarevac itself and its wider region became a migration hub in the 1960s with a percentage of the population significantly larger than the Serbian average earning their living as Gastarbeiters (German for “Guest workers”) primarily in Austria and, to a lesser extent, Germany. Over time, the financial power and the sheer number of Gasterbaiters – largely alienated individuals that work on low-paying jobs abroad and return to their hometowns yearning to pick up where they left off – in many ways doomed the city to the status of a cultural preserve. Fast forward to the early 1980s and the situation in terms of cultural content is same, Požarevac is a non-place. Unlike neighbouring cities in East Serbia of comparable size, like Smederevo or Jagodina, there wasn’t even a punk scene in Požarevac – as a basic prerequisite of the modern urban culture. But Dmtri’s appearance in such a surrounding isn’t surprising in the context of the 1980s cassette experimentalist scene as the most of important networkers originated from such or at least comparable non-places: Mario Marzidovšek was from a sleepy town of Slovenska Bistrica in Styria (north-eastern SR Slovenia), Autopsia came from Ruma, a predominantly agricultural community in the Syrmia region (SAP Vojvodina[note 5]), while Laibach famously hailed from a small mining town of Trbovlje (central SR Slovenia). The relative dispersal of cassette networkers across the geographic range was more a rule than an exception because the access to music information in 1980s ushered a new era of decentralization.
Around mid-1983, the fifteen-year old Dmtri made his first forays into the realm of DIY experimentalism by cajoling a bunch of neighbourhood kids into making pots and pans type of racket under his tutelage. These recordings, released under the Novi Hanc moniker, proved, however, to be an unsatisfactory for Dmtri and later that year he started Larynx (or LX), a more structured effort of doing improvised lo-fi noise. By the mid-1980s, his makeshift home music studio-turned-provisional record label (LX Music LTD) became a hyperproductive hometaping hub that consisted of him, his sister Jmaa, Aleksandar ‘Alex’ Andrejić and a few other like-minded individuals. Besides Larynx, which functioned as the glue that held the hub together, a host of other acts started sprouting up: Lovci Na Tune, Hell Hell Hell and Other Love Songs, HM Žene, Avyakta Sabd and others. The hub wasn’t only relevant in the context of Požarevac, but also on a regional level through its cooperation with other hometapers in Central Serbia such as Fast Deadboy from Kragujevac (whose 1980s work was briefly mentioned on A hogon’s industrial guide here) and Pandora’s Shitbox from Smederevo, as well as on a wider, federal level through its networking connections to Mario Marzidovšek[note 6] from Slovenska Bistrica (SR Slovenia), Čovek Zec from Novi Sad (SAP Vojvodina), Sumanuti Jebači from Petrinja (SR Croatia), Step Dancer from Banja Luka (SR Bosnia and Herzegowina) and others[note 7]. Significant cooperation was also established with all the relevant DIY cassette labels of the time such as MML (Slovenska Bistrica), Nikad Robom (Belgrade) and Red Phoenix/Crvene Kasete (Belgrade).
In the context of the Yugoslavian 1980s tape experimentalist network, LX Music LTD’s sheer volume of sixty-something cassettes produced between 1983 and 1991 is rivalled only by Marzidovšek’s Marzidovšekminimallaboratorium output of eighty-something releases[note 8].
Larynx had a more or less typical 1980s tape experimentalist modus operandi – he’d record his sessions to his dad’s reel-to-reel tape recorder[note 9], pick through the recording to locate the most usable material which he would then proceed to record onto a cassette, usually overdubbing it with additional live noise and the end result would be the first and final mix. Larynx was all about the first take and if the recordings would be deemed unsatisfactory, they’d be overwritten as tapes were a precious commodity, but if not then they’d be published with practically no further editing and production. One of the people who helped Dmtri hone his production skills and the presentability of his works as well as one of his earliest collaborators was Božidar ‘Boža’ Kecman, a hometaper from Novi Sad that went by the name Čovek-zec (or Man-rabbit)[note 10]. Larynx’s early exposure to Čovek-zec’s irony-tinged pop sensibility helped him define himself in opposition to Čovek-zec as someone who primarily didn’t want to make music. In this sense, Larynx was much closer to Predrag 'Phantom' Petrović (Fast Deadboy), although the former came from a jazz/RIO background whereas the latter came from a punk paradigm and made music that was indebted to Fluxus and sound poetry. The two ran a fanzine called Larynx of the Fast Deadboy and, in general, comprised the main creative axis of the outsider hometaping scene of Central Serbia in the 1980s.
In the late 1980s Dmtri also developed an interest in different strands of hermeticism, in particular Thelema, Alchemy and Kabbalah, however these wouldn’t be explicitly present in his music until the 1990s. This was also a period in which Dmtri started spening a considerable amount of time in Belgrade, although he never fully moved there.
In March 1991, Dmtri – who was twenty-three at the time and working under the King Nothing moniker (previously featured on A hogon’s industrial guide here) – founded Demencija Prekoks in Požarevac together with his friend Zoran K. (alias Negativ Nein). Dmtri settled on a drums-guitar-voice formula following a turbulent 1989-1991 period during which he had created and broken up some seven or eight different bands (four or five of which were, in fact, early Demencija Prekoks prototypes) with at least ten different musicians. The rock band format was a completely different avenue for the enfant-terrible of YU tape experimentalism who up to that point rarely performed live but nonetheless a logical next step as it enabled him to seize a wider audience. In Demencija Prekoks’s autopoetic manifesto reprinted in Uroš Smiljanić’s War Pigs fanzine, Dmtri associated the looming 1990s in war-torn Yugoslavia – in all of its ethical dimensions – with the Alchemical Nigredo or putrefaction, the first step on path towards the Philosopher Stone; and against this backdrop, Dmtri suggested that the supposed magickal role of Demencija Prekoks and other like-minded forces would be to respond to the surrounding chaos with even more chaos, to be this accelerationist factor that drives the progress to the next phase of the Alchemic cycle – the Albedo (or Whiteness), a clear essence washed of all impurities[note 11]. In this sense, Dmtri often called the music he made with early Demencija Prekoks and King Nothing white music.
Thriving on anti-entropic devices and with a reputation for putting on shambolic performances under the credo of “Thelema, drugs and rock’n’roll”, Demencija Prekoks was in many ways the soundtrack of the societal collapse brought about by Yugoslav wars, international sanctions and hyperinflation that ravaged the country’s economy. With its decrepit garden shed production that was worthy of any Norwegian old school black metal band and penchant for strange harmonies, Demencija Prekoks was the ultimate “other” band of the Yugoslavian 1990s and enjoyed a cult following among alternative music aficionados in Belgrade. In its most turbulent 1991-1995 phase, Demencija Prekoks released two albums for Take It Or Leave It Records – a professional indie label with excellent distribution and connections in the media – played several live shows in Belgrade and Požarevac, made two music videos and had a couple of live television appearances on 3K (or Treći kanal RTS-a; Serbian for “Third channel of Radio Television of Serbia”, the Serbian national broadcast network) and TV Politika. In the following 1995-1998 period, as the political situation normalized in the country, the band also toned down its activities a notch, playing no more live gigs but nonetheless self-releasing three more albums. After 1998, Demencija Prekoks had a prolonged half-life of five more years during which it existed only nominally until 2003, when the last performance was made at the KOMAR festival in Kovačica.
In the 2000s, King Nothing succeeded Demencija Prekoks as Dmtri’s primary creative outlet but, as mentioned earlier, King Nothing wasn’t a new project of his but rather a secondary one. King Nothing had an unnaturally protracted lifetime of seventeen years in two distinct phases. In its first phase – marked by Dmtri’s occasional bouts in Belgrade from 1990 to 2001 – King Nothing was essentially a Demencija Prekoks side-gig, an extemporaneous and highly irregular enterprise that straddled sonic grounds between noise rock and a more broader conception of noise music, much like Dmtri’s primary group at the time[note 12]. However, in its second phase – which started in 2002 (one year after Dmtri’s definite return to Požarevac) and ended in 2007 – King Nothing became Dmtri’s main project and took a conceptual turn towards composition. Since up to that point in his “career” Dmtri was a performer rather than a composer, the second phase of King Nothing was characterized by his coming to grips with the basic ABCs of studio musicianship (sound processing, production, post-production, etc). In the beginning of the King Nothing’s second phase, the music consisted of basically anything possible to produce in a DI box (with an electric guitar being the only device connected to it), while towards the mid-2000s the music gradually dissolved into skeletal structures, into cascades of minimal, repetitive, yet eerily hypnotic digital glitch; the late King Nothing sound is best described as a “zoom” to microscopic levels, as an amplifier of odd cellular activities[note 13]. In total Dmtri produced nineteen full length albums in the second phase of King Nothing.
The second phase King Nothing was a notoriously hermetic affair but it was an important watershed for Dmtri – it meant starting off from scratch with completely new technology; ever since Dmtri started doing music in the early 1980s, he was using the guitar as his main instrument and this changed sometime in the early 2000s with King Nothing as Dmtri became more and more a PC studio musician and his guitar became just another source for extracting sounds. This performer-to-composer paradigm shift and the learning process it presupposed eventually laid the necessary groundwork for Weapon God to become possible as a project where Dmtri features as a full-time digital audio workstation composer.
Weapon God eventually emerged as a separate sonic entity from King Nothing in July 2007 and, in a way, signalled an end of his experimental period in favour of a more approachable and, later, even upbeat sound.
Weapon God is a sonic vehicle for exploring the tri-area of altered states of consciousness, somatics and the numinous. Its creator and custodian is Giorgio Dmtri aka 161. With influences like Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson and William Burroughs, Weapon God is a late offspring of the 1990s cyberculture and like most of the luminaries of the period, Dmtri also maintained some interest in the so-called postmodern magick traditions while remaining what he had been since the mid-1980s – a steadfast Thelemite. In the same time, Weapon God is also a product of concrete circumstances of post-socialist Yugoslavia where the fragile social networks that sustained these communities of enthusiasm were first ravaged by wars and later by atomisation and desertification of the social sphere that occurred in the period of the so called transition. It was in these conditions of early-to-mid 2000s that Dmtri developed a disposition of radical self-sufficiency that subjectivized his own music making practice as a distinctly personal, almost private sort of activity, thereby negating – at least seemingly – any of the social functions his music might have had. As a result, Weapon God was established in total isolation and was at its inception point alienated from its native community – now either dispersed variously across the globe or under the ground – and for the entirety of its existence functioned as a one-man-capsule for a one-man-trip[note 14].
Dmtri – who by the time went under the alias of 161 – acquired the name for the new project by applying do easy (or DE), the magickal technique developed by William S. Burroughs for enhancing mindfulness and mental-spatial organization, and soon produced the Weapon God lamen. The figure of central significance for Weapon God as a creative entity is Terence McKenna as well as the phenomena and figures and he’s popularly associated with such as the exploration of DMT and other psychedelics, the prehistoric civilizations of Fertile Crescent, the densely labyrinthine psychedelic visions of Pablo Amaringo and others[note 15]. Although Weapon God’s music has a certain investigative-psychonautical creed to it, its relationship to the psychedelic trip as such and its representation in its releases is much more ambiguous as it tends to be everywhere on the scale from generative and interpretative to purely mimetic and synesthetic. If psychedelics are not a metaphor for transdimensional travel but the thing itself as per Terence McKenna, in that case Weapon God’s music constitutes of actual gateways and wormholes as much as travelogues and trip reports. In keeping with the overall mckennan spirit of Weapon God, 161 referred to the music he produced with the project as contemporary archaic music[note 16] on his defunct website.
The presence of an overarching magickal-symbolical framework (that draws from different systems such as Thelema, Kabbalah, numerology, etc) in regard to how Weapon God is set up as a conceptual entity is fairly apparent as its numerous refractions are present throughout the WG media spectrum – from incantations that crop up in WG’s music and the way all Key–A–No releases follow the same strict numerical syntax (in terms of track number and track duration on Weapon God’s albums but also other elements) to WG’s visual identity that includes a heptagram-based lamen as well as a specially constructed pseudo-Semitic idioglossia most prominently used for compounding album titles (from the Atod release onwards). However, this is a delicate matter to address since this symbolical framework permeates Weapon God in two distinct ways – both as a particual feature of Weapon God (that is as a conscious, artistic super-imposition of 161) as well as an extension of 161‘s personal belief system[note 17].
Like the second phase King Nothing – Weapon God was a studio affair, meaning not that it was initiated with a pre-determined idea to not perform live but rather that in practice it never did so[note 18]. Thus, throughout its active life of almost nine years (between July 2007, when the first Weapon God album was produced, and April 2016, when the last album was made), Weapon God remained restricted to the confines of 161’s Key–A–No III studio in Požarevac. Along the same lines, all Weapon God albums were self-released on 161’s own Key–A–No Records, a provisional record label with an increasingly virtualizing scope of label functions. With Key–A–No Records, 161 strived to do a bare minimum of label matters – and through time he kept discovering what that minimum could constitute of – so that he could let himself be entirely consumed with music-making. Although 161 did think about the presentability of Weapon God releases and did envision them ideally as a complete media product (a physical release with artwork) in practice these simply never materialized as such.
Weapon God established a highly idiosyncratic music style from the get go which then further evolved through the years in evermore meandering and convoluted directions. The foremost agent driving these changes was the acquisition of new studio technologies at disposal of 161’s fingertips but there were also factors that were intrinsic to his creative process as well as the life cycle of Weapon God as a living and pulsating entity – its development from the idea stage, through its maturescence and senescence, to its eventual apoplectic climax: while the works of the early (or formative period 2007-2009) and middle periods (or the classic period 2009-2012) of Weapon God’s opus tend to be relatively straightforward musically and to retain their structural stability – the works of the later period (or the meta-period 2012-2017) are more densely convoluted, more harmonically complex and progressively get ever more deconstructive the further down the line they happen to be.
Weapon God seemingly ended as a project sometime in 2017. After the series of new albums in Spring of 2016, there was long break until June 2017 when KAN 139 release – Hllw Gyt – came out. Although it was clear from the start that Hllw Gyt was not going to be a Weapon God release, what wasn’t immediately clear was that it was a beginning of a whole new musical direction for 161. Hllw Gyt signalled Dmtri’s return to guitar-work and improvisation after a fifteen year long hiatus, now aided with the help of studio technology he in the meantime mastered, but officially, Weapon God’s status was (and has until today remained) “indefinite hiatus” rather than “mission terminated”[note 19]. Alhad Lamad, the new project that was brought to the fore with the Hllw Gyt album was a result of 161’s fascination with fusion jazz and post-bop in particular and was his way of squaring the circle and producing a synthesis of the two paradigms of musicianship he had been operating from up to that point in his creative life: that of a performer (Larynx, Demencija Prekoks and the first phase King Nothing) and of a composer (second phase King Nothing and Weapon God).
Upon immersing oneself in Weapon God sound universe it becomes immediately apparent the extent to which it is a self-contained, closed reference system in a sense that apart from the very wide of umbrella DIY electronic music it is almost impossible to contextualize it within any existing electronic music canon. In terms of Weapon God’s aesthetics, this is due to the fact that 161 is an electronic music producer who himself isn’t invested with electronic music in any way be it retro or contemporary and even more so – he doesn’t listen to it and doesn’t possess any vantage point in relation to it[note 20]. In terms of the creative logic that undergirds Weapon God, this impossibility is accounted by the techno-ethical paradigm that 161 operates from, in regard to which the electronic music culture still has not fully stratified as a socio-cultural praxis that is separate from the common horizon of creative DIY practices that Craig Baldwin calls electronic folk culture[note 21]. Furthermore, since this trait arises from a particular spatiotemporal context of popular culture the late 1970s it is also a reliable marker of 161’s age – his radiocarbon dating as an experimental musician.
This is only to emphasize that, although 161 in essence produces a type of music that can be accurately classified as “bassline driven electronic music”, that such description in the same time can be highly misleading; it is the same technology but it is operated through a different cultural software. By the same token, trance – as the notion of trance does seem to be fairly important if not a central concept for Weapon God – is also an equally misleading term because it bears proximity to the 1990s electronic genre of trance music (an associative string that is further reinforced with its own, parallel Terence McKenna link through rave culture) and Weapon God can’t be realistically considered trance in this narrow EDM sense. So it’s probably the safest to describe Weapon God’s as an isolated cluster of exotic inter-converging genres which sometimes appears to coalesce with fringes of the known electronic music horizon (in nexuses like trance, dub or techno) but most of the time veers off the charted space completely. However, whatever particular micro-genre is taken into consideration there are some common underlying characteristics that come into focus. On the official Weapon God bandcamp page, 161 tagged his releases with the following keywords: experimental / fourth world music / gnostic / soul / trance.
By and large, Weapon God makes an oddly corporeal yet seemingly nonphysical form of bass-driven music which – to repurpose an old Rephlex Records signifier from the 1990s in the absence of a more adequate terminology – could be best defined as braindance[note 22] in regard to its corporeal affect. Abstracted from its original context and reused as an interpretative tool rather than a stylistic designation, the term braindance helps illuminate two important mechanisms at play in Weapon God’s music. First and foremost, since Weapon God’s song architecture usually relies on an array of intricate percussive sounds – such as miniscule rattling and chattering noises whose punctuations are rather soft and clockworklike – its music doesn’t possess the physicality as well as the sensual grip that is commonly associated with dance music (its basslines are out of focus or just not shrill enough to move bodies). The second mechanism is made visible by a semantic ambiguity inherent to the very term braindance and its idiomatic proximity to the psychedelic experience by which the hitherto described regime of Weapon God’s reduced physicality occasionally recalibrates into this creeping pulsating psychedelia – as braindance slowly assumes a meaning of brainwave entertainment[note 23] and by this inwards retraction becomes a “dance” for the cerebral cortex – only to eventually roll back into the mode of reduced physicality. For most of its timeline, Weapon God is a sort of music that teeters on the verge of danceability and it’s only in the classic phase as well as towards the very end of the meta-period that it manages to fully cross that threshold.
In terms of their production, Weapon God’s meditational exercises often have a distinctively no age feel to them because the border between artificial (i.e. digital electronic sound) and natural sound (i.e. percussions, voice) is deliberately blurred. The fluidity with which 161 manages to move from one sound register to the other is something that he attributes to the influence of Jon Hassell[note 24].
Although Dmtri’s structural role in the music-making process changed from being a performer to a (digital audio workstation) composer his approach nonetheless remained steadily do-it-yourself – that is autodidactic and idiosyncratic in use of technology – albeit with a little twist: from 2001 to the present date his DIY-ism operated principally within the software paradigm. Since his compositional turn in the late 1990s, Dmtri was largely “behind-the-curve” technologically and this is clearly reflected in the austere lo-fi works of the Weapon God early period (July 2007-January 2009), however the acquisition of the Soundcraft Compact 4 four-channel audio mixer turned things around significantly for Dmtri in terms of modernizing his setup. Although a closer examination of music technology Dmtri had at his disposal can approximate the conditions in which Weapon God works were made and highlight some of the innovative solutions applied on individual recordings, it won’t get us far in understanding his relation towards technology.
The same way the early Weapon God “behind-the-curve” setup didn’t stem from Dmtri’s fetishizing retro-mania nor a DIY-diehardist urge to create a sonic galaxy by solely utilizing a hammer and a chisel – the slow but steady studio revamp that began in the middle WG period and continued over the next few years didn’t emerge from Dmtri’s desire to modernize his tech setup but rather from the blunt ready-availability – and moreover affordability – of the newly incorporated technology. For Dmtri, the production circumstances are ultimately of secondary significance to the creative process, the process is by all means the product and, consequently, no piece of music technology is vested with a special status in regard to the creative process or given extra deliberation. Thus, in regard to music technology, Weapon God is unapologetically digital because this reflects Dmtri’s spontaneous relationship with his immediate technological environment, that is, a relationship with technology deprived of any excessive scrutiny. If there is a single term that accurately summarizes 161’s relationship to technology that would most likely be availabilism.
Relying entirely on a 16-bit Creative SB Live sound card (with a KX Asio driver), a Direct Input box and an Elite hollow body electric guitar (used for sound extraction) in terms of hardware as well as Making Waves[note 25], 5.5.1 version of Logic Platinum and a little while later, Reason 1.0 version (introduced on Pang Out release in September 2008) running on then-old, now legacy Windows XP in terms of software, the early Weapon God is an epitome of turn-of-the-millennium digital culture in the sense that it was made with the most widely accessible means in circulation at the time and with the most proletarian of setup’s. Over the years, Dmtri has introduced some more hardware into his Key–A–No III studio setup (as it’s called)[note 26] such as a M-Audio Audiophile 192 – a 24-bit audio card, Soundcraft Compact 4 four-channel audio mixer (introduced on Elusive Entries release in January 2009), an SM58 microphone – used primarily for voice extraction (introduced on Ewige Blumenkraft in December 2009), but these pretty much exhaust the list. Towards the end of 2010, Dmtri introduced a broadband internet connection to his flat so he was able to upgrade to Reason 5.0 (which he utilized for composing basslines). Upon introducing high speed internet connection Dmtri also made a good use of online sample libraries like Logic Pro 9’s own EXS24 Instruments and Kontakt for harvesting sounds[note 27].
As of March 2021, the Key–A–No III studio PC is still running on the same legacy OS (XP Pro) which this year marked its eighth anniversary of ceased extended customer support by Microsoft and its ninth anniversary of ceased mainstream support.
The total Weapon God discography features thirty-five releases across the span of almost nine years of its active lifetime. Albums of 40-minutes runtime were the overwhelmingly dominant format 161 utilized for Weapon God releases. In terms of the overall style and substance, there are three more or less clear-cut periods that can be observed within Weapon God’s body of work: the formative period (July 2007-September 2008, from KAN 083-Weapon God to KAN 098-Pang Out), the classical period (September 2008-November 2011, from KAN 099-Elusive Entries to KAN-108 With) and the meta-period (November 2011-April 2016, from KAN 112-Night Fiend to KAN 138 Abah).
In the Key–A–No Records catalogue, all releases were featured as a part of a single series and, thus, had the same catalogue matrix (e.g. KAN 00x) in which each new release was attributed with an ascending catalogue number indicating its place in the chronological order. Although this numerical value is always linear (it ascends with new additions) it’s not continuous since many catalogue numbers are omitted because of their inappropriate numerological connotations (or have been simply left on stand-by according to 161).
KAN 083 – Weapon God (July 2007)
KAN 084 – Qatal Huyuk (September 2007)
KAN 085 – Hyperspace Mist (November 2007)
KAN 086 – Hymist Remix (November 2007)
KAN 087 – High Time (December 2007)
KAN 088 – Heedey Obectdee (March 2008)
KAN 090 – Hey Terence... (April 2008)
KAN 096 – The Pentultimate Synchrosubstance (May 2008)
KAN 097 – Immerse in Immense Trance (July 2008)
KAN 098 – Pang Out (September 2008)
KAN 099 – Elusive Entries (January 2009)
KAN 100 – Three Eyes (March 2009)
KAN 101 – Entrance (May 2009)
KAN 102 – Ewige Blumenkraft (December 2009)
KAN 103 – Spaced Out (May 2010)
KAN 104 – Contact High (August 2010)
KAN 105 – Trov (December 2010)
KAN 106 – Atod (March 2011)
KAN 107 – Ka Ann (April 2011)
KAN 108 – With (June 2011)
KAN 112 – Night Fiend (April 2012)
KAN 120 – Hdamtoowotahh (August 2012)
KAN 121 – Ahgdtowth (December 2012)
KAN 122 – Ahgdtowth (January 2013)
KAN 123 – Agdw Hmlkh (March 2013)
KAN 124 – Hwlyytoowkaawlhh (July 2013)
KAN 125 – Hwllhwothh (January 2014)
KAN 128 – Hwlhh Athad (March 2014)
KAN 130 – Ahgd Ka Hwllh (August 2014)
KAN 131 – Hadvth Ymh Khaib (January 2015)
KAN 132 – Hll Rha (March 2015)
KAN 134 – Hllt Shhws (July 2015)
KAN 136 – Araaht Hllst (October 2015)
KAN 137 – Ahhapwn Ahgd (January 2016)
KAN 138 – Abah (April 2016)
The formative period is probably the most conceptually heterogeneous and aesthetically varied period as a particular style employed on any given release wouldn’t be pursued on more than two releases. The music is repetitive and low on details, the overall structure is austere while the sounds are distinctively inorganic. It is also 161’s most productive period with as much as ten published releases in a timespan of mere fourteen months (from July 2007 to September 2008) as well as a time when he defined the key structural hallmark for nearly all future Weapon God releases – namely that each album consists of exactly forty minutes of music playing time divided into four tracks of ten minutes duration[note 28].
Within his formative period, the two introductory releases – namely, Weapon God and Qatal Huyuk – represent a stylistic adjunct to the cellular hypno-minimalism of King Nothing’s second phase. The following two albums, Hyperspace Mist and its remix album Hymist Remix, are low-fi techno works where WG conjures primitive hauntological spectrograms that vaguely resemble Clock DVA’s Digital Soundtracks era technoccult primers. However, in the context of WG chronology, these two releases are, in a way, an evolutionary dead-end since this style has no further elaboration except for odd bits and pieces here and there. Next in the timeline, High Time takes the low-fi techno ambiance of the previous works and sets it against a highly formal superstructure – a trait that will prominently feature in the classic WG period – and yet it is the subsequent album, Hedeey Obectdee which actually represents a classic WG era production in embryonic form with its aforementioned rigid superstructure, strong emphasis on bass, signature breaks as well as the emblematic voice of Terence McKenna. The following release Hey Terence... is partly just another one-off experiment – a spoken word album based on an old deoxy.org fan compiled audio interview with Terence McKenna – and partly it serves as a dress rehearsal for the pivotal work of WG’s formative period – The Pentultimate Synchrosubstance[note 29].
The Pentultimate Synchrosubstance is a DMT-themed album – the first of three in Weapon God’s oeuvre – that is organized around a particular trope[note 30] for the aforementioned psychedelic compound whose utterance echoes throughout the work akin to an incantation driving the bassline into a sparse cellular trance that is, once again, juxtaposed against a highly formal superstructure. The Pentultimate Synchrosubstance release is an important benchmark in the WG’s creative development as it formulates its braindance mechanism that alternates between the minimally physical to wholly cerebral modes of danceability; this is Weapon God in its pure form and it serves as a blueprint for subsequent releases in the classic period. Finally, the last two releases within the formative period – Immerse in Immense Trance and Pang Out – represent formal exercises more than coherent album wholes. Immerse in Immense Trance continues, in a way, where The Pentultimate Synchrosubstance has left off while Pang Out, the first release where 161 used Reason software, is a one-off probe into high BPM acid techno territories.
The classical Weapon God period is where 161’s creative vision is the clearest, any formal experimentation reduced to a minimum and the style is most genric – an organic continuum of maiming, torporous dub and ecstatic, bass driven trance moulded into highly formal, almost gridlike sonic structures. With a modest injection of additional hardware into his setup occurring on the very beginning of the period, Weapon God’s psychonautic voyages take a technological leap from zoetrope to full Technicolor. This is Weapon God at its harmonic zenith, where the mckennan machine elves under the aegis of Ra-Hoor-Khuit joyfully drum the fourth world conga along the walls of the starlit hive. The classical Weapon God period spans ten releases in 2,7 years time (from late September 2008 to June 2011), with the last three releases comprising a somewhat distinct microphase within the period.
The first release in the WG classic timeline – Elusive Entries – sets the scene for what this period will be all about: sequenced programming and the omnipresent grey electronic bass vibrating throughout. Nonetheless, the album retains some of the creative features characteristic of the formative phase such as the austere composition structure, sparse detailing as well as the music’s overall oblique, yet meditative feel. The subsequent WG releases – starting with Three Eyes, the first which truly breaks the mould and instils a slight sense of creative discontinuity and production innovation – are much more physical in nature, even on the very edge of danceability. In contrast to Elusive Entries, Three Eyes is a splendour of rich sonic miniatures, layered textures and uplifting melodies, an eclectic work which glimpses at the horizon of possibilities arising with the utilization of newly incorporated technology. Entrance is 161’s second homage to DMT, an album entirely consisting of assorted Terence McKenna samples about his experiences with the spirit molecule[note 31]. As its name suggests, Entrance is an entrancing, stylistically reduced recording that draws heavily upon the specific properties of McKenna’s voice, particularly his drawl-laden pronunciation, and the psychedelic imagery he invokes in his talks to develop its atmosphere.
After Entrance comes the tour de force of WG’s classic period and probably one of standout releases of his entire catalogue – Ewige Blumenkraft. In terms of its influences and overall style, Ewige Blumenkraft is WG in a nutshell – a miniature replica of everything that constitutes WG as a musical entity: spaced out bass driven beats, electronic music that makes resourceful use of voice modulation interspersed with an array of quotes, audio interview fragments and references to Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary and Terence McKenna[note 32]. Next, Spaced Out is somewhat of a peculiarity in the WG chronology both in its format – as it is the only release that features a five track format – and its content – as the music presented within comprises a collection of diverse formal exercises rather than an album with its own internal consistency. What follows Spaced Out is a yet another highly emblematic WG release – Contact High[note 33]. Contact High isn’t as solar and stylistically exuberant as some other works of the classic period are, on the contrary – it is wholly cerebral in terms of its corporeality and oblique in its sensibility: distal synthetic voices and dim rhythms echo through the cavernous interior providing a torpor-inducing inner cinema of flickering spectres. Contact High’s antithesis and perhaps the most electrifying album of the classic period is Trov. With its assortment of sublime basses, vibrating synthetic organs, gleaming crystalline resonances and simple yet euphoric harmonies Trov sounds very elemental – like a water park ride or at times as a movement through air. It is one of the most jubilant recordings of the WG discography and probably the closest 161 comes not to a proper commercial release, but the more general commercial ballpark.
From the standpoint of Trov, the simple and uplifting harmonies start to wane, the music gets increasingly darker and more complex, odd time signatures begin to crop up and album titles are presented in pseudo-Semitic lexemes. The vocals appear shattered and reduced to unintelligible gasps, hums and whispers as well as occasional elegaic glossolalia. The sounds are more opulent and elaborate than ever, but the song structure gets too stretched or too compressed, creating a sense of anxiety and restlessness about the music. These are all hallmarks of the meta-period, Weapon God’s last and most decadent stage of development, wherein the tryptamine dome begins to crumble under Apep’s thunderous howls and the machine elves start to jolt and bump along as clumps of TAAR1 agonist gas begin to accumulate through the dome’s cracks. Rather than just descending into a state of increased entropy head on, Weapon God’s transformation from classic period’s simple time signatures to meta-period’s harmonic curvatures occurs over a period of time, through several cycles of different intermediary styles. The meta-period consists of fifteen releases recorded within a time span of four and a half years from (November 2011 to April 2016) and it is the longest and least productive period in Weapon God’s chronology.
However, before the meta-period is officially inaugurated, a small microphase ensues as exemplified by the three gateway albums that bridge the WG classic period proper with the meta-period. The first of these is Atod, a recording that pioneers a new type of sound aesthetic that will prominently feature in the last phase: contorted beats, slithery glossolalia instead of proper vocals and a set of haunted house bleeps that sound as if they were processed through a Super Nintendo soundboard. The latter two elements are, furthermore, employed – in combination or individually – throughout the meta-period to create surrealistic, eerie motifs that appear as sonic gargoyles – or at times, hologrammatic spectral entities of sorts – silently lurking in tracks’ break or bridge sequences. On Atod, 161 samples the voice of the Celtic traditional music vocalist Barbary Grant and treats it assiduously into sounding like a more or less usual part of the WG sound set. Next in line comes Kaa Ann, an album that structurally deviates from the standard WG format of four tracks of ten minutes duration each and features two tracks of twenty minutes duration each, one winding dub juxtaposed over a latin rhythm and the other an urgent, dense patchwork of rhythms. The third gateway album of the series, the final album of the classic period and the third hommage to DMT is With, a work that embodies the bipolarity of a threshold release in the literal sense – the four of its tracks being divided into groups of two between classic period’s and meta-period’s divergent creative vectors.
After a ten month pause, Night Fiend finally comes out and it’s immediately clear that the solar ardour of classic period is gone for good. Night Fiend channels very different energies and, as its title suggests, it is a dark, creepy-crawly and slightly off kilter sort of an album in which fusion basslines wander aimlessly through a landscape of haunting spectral harmonies. The next release – Hdamtoowotahh – is a landmark album of the meta-period as well as the album where WG acquires a stable music identity. With its lush arrangements combining sultry, r’n’b-like vocal modulations, sacral organ-like synths as well as traditional chordophone instrumentation with a tinge of Middle Eastern feel to them, Hdamtoowotahh is an opulent cinematic release that could be well described as high fantasy Esoterica, a series of evocative tableaus depicting contact of advanced extra-terrestrials civilizations with the ancient populations of the Fertile Crescent. Forming part of an aesthetic and conceptual micro-continuum with Hdamtoowotahh, Ahgdtowth retains its sacral atmosphere and the general theme of Arabian hyperspace[note 34] but Ahgdtowth itself is of a more restricted and lamentative character. Ahgdtowth is the only release in WG catalogue with the distinction that it appears in two versions – as KAN 121 and KAN 122 – with the former being the original version and the latter being a slightly reworked mix.
Agdw Hmlkh is a meta-period classic and one of WG’s most iconic works. If the concept of a trip is central to WG, then perhaps there’s no album where the trip veers more into transdimensional space than Agdw Hmlkh: a sound collage of murmurs and alien lexemes set in crystalline hallway in outer Time, Agdw Hmlkh is a darkly yet playful take on the transcendental gnosis of the psychedelic trip. In WG’s meta-period the compositions are often saturated of their own aesthetic to the point of paroxysm and this is especially reflected in the song structure. The tendency to contort and de-structure the song structure begins with Night Fiend, continues with Agdw Hmlkh and reaches a climax with the subsequent release – Hwlyytoowkaawlhh. The harmonies in Hwlyytoowkaawlhh are considerably stretched in comparison to the previous WG releases and don’t resolve nearly as easily. An intensely chaotic and anxious enterprise, Hwlyytoowkaawlhh at times sounds as if desperately trying to wiggle out of its own skin with its long, devious passages of seamlessly meandering chorales of haunting voices and composite rhythm patterns. The following release, Hwllhwothh, provides a counterpoint to Hwlyytoowkaawlhh as it uses some of the same stylemes as its precedent but rather than to exacerbate their disorderly potential Hwllhwothh instead sublimates them and the end-result is a sparse, meditative and even devotional work.
Although WG’s meta-period is a continuous (d)evolution towards more and more abstract musical conceptions, for the most part it has a stable music identity of its own and represents an aesthetic-conceptual continuum that begins in 2012 with Night Fiend album and ends in 2015 with the last in the trio of albums Hwlhh Athad, Ahgd Ka Hwllh and Hadvth Ymh Khaib. Hwlhh Athad presents a return to the Weapon God basics – maiming bass-lines at the crux of composition structure (made of the most dense matte grey bass 161 has ever employed); druggy, organ-like synths that coalesce and converge with an array of modulated disembodied voices in a way that its impossible to discern where does the former end and the latter begin as well as a bonanza of tiny chattering rhythms. Ahgd Ka Hwllh is a unique album within the meta-period despite featuring the standard set of WG procedures and stylistic devices, the end result is a strangely melancholic work mainly due to the dreary nature of voice-spectres appearing on it. Finally, Hadvth Ymh Khaib presents us with a slow, turgid dark ride through the surreal ecosystem of effervescent swamps and crepuscular biota. As it is the case with amusement rides, the tense, intermittent flow of Hadvth Ymh Khaib is employed to amplify the user experience.
Further descent into organizational chaos of WG’s late meta-period brings us to a type of sound that can’t fit the description of continuum of bass-driven dub and trance – the basic criterion set up to describe Weapon God’s musical identity. Although the bassline-centred sound organization in distinguishable stanzas that prevailed in 161’s music ever since early 2008’s Hedeey Obectdee album is still in place, Hll Rha and Hllt Shhws are the last works that could be labelled as dub or trance by any stretch of the imagination and serve as gateway albums for a small micro-phase that evolves in July 2015-April 2016 period. However, Hll Rha and Hllt Shhws nonetheless offer some discontinuity themselves. Compared to the prevailing organic tones of the meta-period Hll Rha brings a new sound set with its planar sonics and ethereal ambiances (perhaps the only time anything similar was attested by 161 was on Trov release). Furthermore, the thoroughly angular rhythm configurations that Hll Rha features seemingly lean towards a kind of a breakbeat aesthetic and in this way offer a glimpse into undiscovered, possible music worlds that lay ahead. On the other hand, Hllt Shhws brought some unheralded physicality into WG’s music that did away with its’ provisionally understood braindance frame and edged it closer to more dance oriented forms of electronic music. Whereas Hll Rha mostly has a chill ambient or downtempo vibe to it, Hllt Shhws is an immensely chaotic and heterogeneous work for which any semblance of stylistic or conceptual unity is reduced to pure intuition.
Finally, in the very last stage of meta-period’s devolution, the “Triple A” trilogy of Araaht Hllst, Ahhapwn Ahgd and Abah, stands apart as a lone sonic constellation in WG chronology in several different aspects. The most glaring of these aspects is production – which is unusually robust and muscular compared to the rest of the catalogue – as well as the varied sound inventory that‘s probably the closest 161 has crept to contemporary electronic dance music standards: this is WG firing on all cylinders in all directions. Another significant aspect of distinction are the tremendous stylistic incongruities in Araaht Hllst, Ahhapwn Ahgd and Abah which they exhibit not only in relation to prior WG albums but among themselves as well. The first of the three – Araaht Hllst – combines the planar, metaphysical quality of spectral synths and knotty, melismatic ululations that echo throughout the recording with the organic quality of percussive rhythms in a way that beckons the term “space folk”. The second album in the trilogy – Ahhapwn Ahgd – essentially condenses the meta-period experience into a single hypertrophied release by taking all of its recognizable individual tropes like driving basslines, grainy percussion, vaguely Middle-Eastern chordophones and druggie r’n’b vocal modulations, and splashing them all together in a spectacular vein. The end result is not a representative cross section of the WG meta-period sound but more of a carnivalesque defile. The third and last WG album – Abah – is a retro 1990s acid techno transposed onto 161’s typical percussive set-up[note 35].
All Weapon God releases – as well as King Nothing and Alhad Lamad releases and various one-off projects (such as The Holy Dreams) that precede it – are issued on Key–A–No Records[note 36], a provisional label operated by Dmtri from his home. The label was formally established in 1994 as a self-releasing vehicle, after its predecessor – LX Music LTD gradually lost its relevance in the early 1990s[note 37]. In the beginning Key–A–No Records was considerably less prolific than its precursor – issuing only a handful of releases until a 2002/03 wave of LX Music LTD back catalogue reissues[note 38] and new King Nothing works roused it from dormancy – it was Dmtri’s first successful effort of systematizing his ongoing music activities as well as organizing a catalogue of his previous work. However, apart from these very few initial releases, Key–A–No Records still lacked a key characteristic of DIY record labels (or even some private labels for that matter) – an automatic print run. Instead, upon finishing an album only a handful of copies – if any at all – are produced (mainly for friends and colleagues) and occasionally some on-demand copies would be made for other interested parties. By the time Weapon God came into existence, Dmtri had begun to focus solely on perfecting his music making and production skills, and had largely given up on promotion. As a consequence, Key–A–No Records’ importance idly waned and the label embarked upon a process of gradual virtualization through the loss of label functions that continued throughout the 2010s into the present day.
Key–A–No Records adopted a temporary but indefinite practice of prefabricating all of its new releases. This meant that a Key–A–No album would be considered published even without a prototype release produced on any media but simply by assigning the finished recording a pertaining label catalogue number and saving the master recordings, as well as all other audio and non-audio data related to a specific album, onto an external HDD and DVDr. Although the psychical aspects of Key–A–No releases like artwork and liner notes were still being envisaged to some extent, the releases nevertheless continued to exist within a media limbo of sorts, as temporary digital prefabrications, since they never acquired their final and intended form. The divorce of the sound carrier from the media information meant that in practice a Key–A–No Records release would be accompanied by two Word documents, one a digital sleeve note – containing all the necessary album information a regular sleeve note has – and the other being an autopoetic work diary with occasional annotations of esoteric significance relevant to the working process written in a fairly cryptic style. While the work diary was just an auxiliary document that was preserved for keepsake purposes (so Dmtri could backtrack on what he was doing), it did feature an image – usually a 200px x 300px JPEG picture – in the upper left corner of the document that was eventually supposed to take up the function of cover art in the final media product.
Rather than producing his own graphic solutions, Dmtri usually utilized found visual material for the purposes of Key–A–No Records album art. He pursued a distinctively anti-visual approach in doing so: analogue to its music functioning as sort of a microscopic zoom to the cellular level, the Weapon God artworks would consist of “found zooms”, new and rediscovered values of zoomed digital images (scooped from equalizer graphs of sound programs, software utility interfaces or simply images found online, etc). The end result would normally be a sort of a hauntological digital trace in the form of a hyper-pixelized detail or just a generic blurry ambiance, not unlike Unfavourable Semicircle sort of aesthetics[note 39]. A casual glance at the collection of Weapon God’s album art on his artist page on Discogs betrays a sense of incommunicativeness and tautological redundancy of these images; any thought of representationalism, the idea that Weapon God’s album art somehow forms a part of an artistic whole with the music, is out of the window here; even more so – the artworks themselves do not seem to have an inner logic as a collection of visuals as there are several sets of them that seem to be derived from the same image cropped slightly differently each time. In contrast with the Weapon God lamens, the artworks are an interpretative dead end: the same way Unfavourable Semicircle seems to be about just about anything except what we can see, this inward retraction in Weapon God album art is itself a signpost that points to nowhere – effectively taking us back to the music.
For Dmtri, any work undertaken in the Key–A–No Records release process apart from music making itself – be it producing album art, promotion, networking, distribution or other label work – is snidely referred to by him as ”marketing”. This kind of attitude not only emphasizes the centrality of music making in relation to other extra-musical activities, but gives a valuable hint at the mechanism at play that rendered him invisible over the years and enabled him to essentially “hide” his immense work: the same traits that provided Dmtri with immunization against the different fetishizing vectors (of technology, media, etc) and designer culture that permeates much of today’s experimental music scene are the same vectors that keep him from cutting through the noise of the supposedly democratic access to digital self-promotion. At the same time, the conspicuous absence of a marketing strategy is not a strategy unto itself for Dmtri as he had several efforts to make his works more visible: he made a Key–A–No Records official web-page in the late 2000s – which never got launched in the end because he couldn’t manage to find a free hosting provider – and more recently two other pages in the late 2010s: a Youtube page in November 2016 as well as an official Weapon God bandcamp page in February 2017. He even produced a Wikipedia entry on Demencija Prekoks around the same period which has got deleted since[note 40]. In Giorgio Dmtri’s own words:
I have no energy (and I’ve never had) for dealing with the label stuff, although I’d wish to have had; maybe now when/if I retire completely from music making, I will try to make something out of it, and by "making" I’m thinking about spending money on a few releases which, in all likelihood, two persons would be actually willing to pay for...
Key–A–No Records started as a clean slate for Dmtri’s self-releasing enterprises in the mid-1990s and even though it suffered much of the same fate of its predecessor LX Music LTD by the late 2010s, it did achieve a systematization of his ongoing and 1980s archival releases and provided a solid basis for future prospective efforts to fully materialize these works in the originally intended form of regular physical releases.
Publisher’s note: Since Dmtri is an individual who has been very particular with almost everything he is engaged with creatively, he has circulated a word document to A hogon’s industrial guide editorial board concerning the proper usage of his various names, monikers and music projects. The word document is here reproduced inline in its entirety:
On Names, Non–Entities, Entities, etc.
It seems that a non–entity in a human nama–rupa (name–and–shape) was born on 31 January Anno LXIII (id est, 1968 era vulgaris.). Its sociobiological name was Giorgio Dmtri, or something similar. Eventually, it has started the beginning of an entity of some sort or another from the age of 27.
Names and Years
(Note: the names in the square brackets had been “transitional names” & no music works had been published under these names.)
LX –– September 1983 – Summer 1988
Whore –– Late 1988 – March 1990
King Nothing –– April 1990 – April 2005/July 2007
[King Alone (a brief period of the absence of King Nothing) December 1997 – January 1998]
[John Doe – Summer 2005 – January 2006; John Doe 156 – February–November 2006; John Doe 161 – November 2006 – July 2007]
161 –– July 16, 2007
(founded 1994 by KN, on /T\ mark, etc.)
[note 1] - ^ We can say that the eruption of the blogosphere in mid-to-late 2000s was the exact moment it really kickstarted globally, but the early-to-mid 2000s Soulseek scene would be a more precise answer.
[note 2] - ^ This is a pseudonym Dmtri used for most of the 2010s and at the time this article was written. Another pseudonym used in the essay to refer to Dmtri particularly in the Weapon God era is 161 (it was used somewhat concomitantly with Giorgio Dmtri). Towards the end of 2019 Dmtri began using Gewrgios Zabgiakas, a pseudonym based on his paternal grandfather’s name (an Epirote Greek from the village of Aristi in Zagorochoria who settled in Požarevac in 1916). There is a complete index of project names, pseudonyms and numbers Dmtri utilized over the years provided in the Appendixes section of the essay.
[note 3] - ^ In this intermediary period, Giorgio Dmtri’s Key–A–No Records released Hllw Gyt (catalogue number KAN 139) – the first release of the nascent Alhad Lamad project – in June 2017 and although it was clear that Hllw Gyt isn’t going to form a part of Weapon God discography, the status of Weapon God as an active project wasn’t yet immediately clear.
[note 4] - ^ The term Giorgio Dmtri prefers is libation because of its ritualistic and religious connotations; unlike doing drugs, libation is goal-oriented and includes a statement of will, for instance.
[note 5] - ^ Technically the Socijalistička Autonomna Pokrajina Vojvodina or SAP Vojvodina (Serbo-Croatian for “Socialist Autonomous Province of Vojvodina”).
[note 6] - ^ Mario Marzidovšek was first and foremost a promoter of his local punk scene in Styria (Northeastern Slovenia), a popularizer and interlacer of various intra-Yugoslav scenes (punk, industrial, electronic music, sound poetry, etc), a trafficker of different trends in contemporary music (krautrock, industrial, noise, concrete music, etc) for the Yugoslav public, an interlocutor of the Yugoslavian scene for his contacts abroad but the regional scene with whom Mario was most in cooperation apart from his own Styria scene was the outsider hometaping scene of Central Serbia – out of the 70 MML releases in his catalogue that can be reconstructed from the remaining fragmentary sources available we can see that as much as eight solo releases are their contributions. Dmtri’s LX Music LTD hometaping hub is featured with as much as four releases on the MML roster:
MML 34 Larynx - (1986) Sound Ambients-High Fast Dance
MML 51 Avyakta Sabd - (1987) Divyam Janma
MML 64 Various Artists - (1987) Last and First Music
MML 66 Larynx - (1987) The Golden Age of Meaning
Fast Deadboy (Kragujevac) and Pandora’s Shit Box et al. (Smederevo), the two other pillars of the outsider hometaping scene in Central Serbia have two tapes each:
MML 44 Fast Deadboy - (1987) The Same Old Idea
MML 67 Fast Deadboy & Larynx - (1987) Session-The Moon Songs
MML 74 Pandoras Shit Box - (1987) Pandoras Shit Box
MML 75 Various Artists - (1987) Smederevo Alternative Art
The affiliation between the two scenes most likely arises from the fact that both Styrian and Central Serbian scenes were comprised of people of predominantly provincial working class background (it's interesting to note in this context that there are no Belgradian or Novosadian projects or bands with solo releases in the MML catalogue, although some appear as contributing bands on Various Artists compilations).
[note 7] - ^ Giorgio Dmtri, together with Fast Deadboy, Čovek-zec, Walter Westinghouse from Sumanuti Jebači (Petrinja) and Bahadur Mušanović (Kakanj) – who ran a fanzine called Glez and later organized a Laibach fan club – was one of the instigators of NAPIEG, a shortlived informal hometaping organization, active from the end of 1983 until the first half of 1985. The unlikely group found each other through contact advertsments they published in the fanzine-catalogue of the Zagreb journalist Damir Tiljak, who ran one of the first music piracy hubs for alternative music in the former Yugoslavia, as well as through music exchange ads in Džuboks magazine. The outline of this early 1980s pre-MML hometaping scene is documented on the cassette compilation Tvoja moć (LX Music LTD-Požarevac, 1984; Serbo-Croatian for “Your power“). Tvoja moć was one of Dmtri’s most important networking ventures from the period and also one of the earliest – if not the very first – Yugoslavian 1980s tape experimentalist mail collaborations.
[note 8] - ^ However, it should be noted that while all of the LX Music LTD releases were produced by Dmtri’s hometaping hub – MML’s releases were not; the LX Music LTD’s and MML’s individual scopes and purposes differed substantially in this respect: the overwhelming majority of LX Music LTD releases were private in nature and the ones that got the greatest exposure were either releases licensed for other labels (like the licenced LX Music LTD releases that were published on MML, mentioned in the previous note) or releases specially made for other labels like Larynx’s The best of Larynx (Red Phoenix/Crvene Kasete-Belgrade, 1990). MML on the other hand, released pretty much anything.
[note 9] - ^ The reel-to-reel tape recorder in question was a Tesla Sonet B3 - ANP 212 produced by the Czechoslovakian manufacturer Supraphon; it was bought by Dmtri’s dad on a business trip in Czechoslovakia.
[note 10] - ^ Čovek-zec (Serbo-Croatian for “Man-rabbit”) was an infectious, charismatic figure who began dabbling with tape recorders in 1982 after hearing Renaldo & the Loaf’s Songs for Swinging Larvae (Ralph Records-San Francisco, 1981) and set about making music in desperate efforts to emulate their style. In the process he initiated a miniscule tape experimentalist ring in Novi Sad centred around himself and a couple of his friends and engaged in regional cooperation with other hometapers. Čovek-zec was the main creative engine behind many projects in Novi Sad such as Čovek-pauk i Čovek-zec and Agonija Proleća with Božidar Mićić (alias Čovek-pauk; Serbian for “Man-spider”), Čovek-zec i RoG with Vladimir Beljanski (alias Rose & Glycerine), Das Kapital with Boris Jočić as well as ETVIFP – which was a sort of a supergroup of this hometaping ring with aforementioned Beljanski, Jočić, Aleksandar Ristić and Branislav Bukurov. Here included is a translated quote from A hogon’s industrial guide’s correspondence with Čovek-zec about his music-making process that encapsulates the spirit of these projects:
It was almost like a sort of folk action art with Grundig mono tape recorders from Poland – you’d count ‘one, two, three’, press ‘record’ on the tape recorder and start to play ... The result would sometimes be such that you would cringe at how bad it was but in some 5% of the times you would be like “How the fuck did we manage to pull that off?”
[note 11] - ^ This accelerationist discourse was rather popular in Yugoslav art of the time; for instance Laibach’s version of this trope was … da dovedmo zlo do ludila (Serbian for “… to push the evil over the brink of insanity”).
[note 12] - ^ Although King Nothing predated Demencija Prekoks as a project by a whole year it was in practice its side project for the larger chunk of the 1990s in the sense that Demencija Prekoks had a primacy for Dmtri at the time whereas King Nothing was simply a personal moniker of his – a generic name attributed to everything he did on his own.
[note 13] - ^ Although this description coupled with the year of production might give an impression to the casual reader that King Nothing was a glitch or clicks’n’cuts-like venture that were popular at the time, nothing could be further from the truth since Dmtri didn’t knew about any of these genres then or now. Moreover, King Nothing sound of the early 2000s was distinctively low-fi and resembled these genres technologically to the extent to which a DI box resembled an iMAC.
[note 14] - ^ I cannot emphasize this enough – at the moment I first got in touch with Dmtri in 2009, he was doing music that he didn’t bother presenting to anyone.
[note 15] - ^ With Terence McKenna in mind, one can easily visualize a part of the associative process that navigated 161 with the help of Burroughs’ mindfulness method towards Weapon God as the name for the project. In his 1992 book of speculative palaeoanthropology Food of the Gods, Terence McKenna posits the “stoned ape” theory of human evolution according to which the three-fold increase in brain size from early hominds to modern homo sapiens in mere three million years is accounted by the early humans exposure to hallucinogenic plants in their surroundings. According to the “stoned ape” theory, the inclusion of these hallucinogens in the early humans’ diet enhanced our ancestors’ information processing capabilities because of the chemical factors present in thereof and they became the users of tools, fire and language. In this way, Weapon God can be interpreted as this numinous promethean force – immanentized automatically by the brains’ neurochemical response to the psychoactive stimuli – that made it possible for the early humans to use tools.
[note 16] - ^ Terence McKenna famously referred to the millennial phenomenon of renewed interest in shamanism and psychedelic drugs as the archaic revival and even published a book of the same title – The Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess, and the End of History (Harper-San Francisco, 1992).
[note 17] - ^ For instance, Dmtri’s has a complicated relationship with numbers and has associated himself with certain numbers (like 161 or 156) at various points in his life. A less personal example of this interconnection that is only tangentially related to Dmtri’s artistic practices is the date organization Dmtri employs in all official Key–A–No documents (the Key–A–No catalogue and Key–A–No release data) as well as all his private correspondences. Dmtri subscribes to an adjusted version of the Thelemic calendar which measures time from on 20.03.1904 when Aleister Crowley inaugurated the New Aeon of Horus after receiving the Liber Al Vel Legis (or The Book of The Law). So if a Key–A–No release is from, say, 2017 and the Thelemic year is written in Roman numerals as “Anno CXIII”, the formula for calculating the current year is the given Thelemic year + 1904 = current year; (for example: Anno CXIII = 113; 113 + 1904 = 2017), unless a release is made before March 20th of the ongoing year in which case then it belongs to the following year of the Gregorian calendar (to take the same example, a release Anno CXIII from January, February or March – anytime before as well as on March 19th – is not a 2017 release but a 2018 one).
[note 18] - ^ Also the way Weapon God songs are structured meant that there was a little space for live improvisation and 161 was never fully at ease with playback.
[note 19] - ^ In 2017 or 2018, Dmtri told me over a phone conversation that he had simply lost Weapon God as one loses a pair of keys. To paraphrase Dmtri from my memory:
I just lost it. It simply wasn’t there anymore, somehow I couldn’t go back into it, into this mindset I had when I made it.
[note 20] - ^ The closest thing to such a vantage point would most probably be Jon Hassell. However, 161 is first and foremost a post-bop, fusion and avant-garde jazz aficionado and if there is any extant music that he would claim to have been an influence on Weapon God that would most probably be Miles Davis and the Talking Heads.
[note 21] - ^ American filmmaker Craig Baldwin uses this term to subsume all these DIY artistic practices (like zine culture, cassette experimentalism, pluderphonics, Scratch video, demoscene, etc) that were spurred by the wave of newly available technologies in the late 1970s; the democratization of access to different existing but up to that point non-commercial technologies like Xerox machines, samplers, synths, tape recorders, super 8 camera (and later VCR) and personal computers facilitated an unprecedented explosion of creativity among the middle classes and encouraged the appearance of numerous garage zine editors, home music producers and DIY labels, bedroom coding collectives, etc.
[note 22] - ^ The term braindance was first introduced by Rephlex Records in 1991 as a promotional gimmick to market their own brand of idiosyncratic high-end electronic music.
[note 23] - ^ Brainwave entertainment as well as brainwave entrainment; some form of brainwave entrainment is probably the intended effect of most trance-inducing types of music.
[note 24] - ^ It is interesting to note here that Jon Hassell’s himself followed in the footsteps of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew as he himself pointed out.
[note 25] - ^ Making Waves is a freeware program given on the companion CD of the May 2002 edition of Computer Music No.46.
[note 26] - ^ The differentiation between the various extant KAN (Key–A–No) studios was constructed retroactively by Dmtri in the early 2000s upon embarking on a process of back catalogue digitalization and organizing his archives. As a result of this reorganization, the first two studios Dmtri operated were retroactively named Key–A–No and appear to predate the Key–A–No label although this isn’t chronologically correct since the designation Key–A–No was first used in 1994 to denote the LX Music LTD’s successor label. The basic criteria of delineation was the location of each studio, but the studios also exhibit differences in production and recording technology, especially considering the enormous time span they cover (1983-2021). The first of the three – KAN studio I – was operating from 1983 to 1986 and it refers to the studio used for LX Music LTD projects in Dmtri’s previous flat in Industrijska ulica (Serbo-Croatian for “Industrial street”) in Požarevac. This is where the very first Larynx recordings were produced as well as other LX Music LTD projects like Lovci Na Tune, Psycho Dance and the Tvoja Moć cassette compilation. The second studio – KAN studio II – was operating from 1986 to 2001 and it refers to the bedroom studio in Dmtri’s new flat in Čede Vasovića street in Požarevac. With some adaptations and extra furniture thrown in to absorb the sound better, the studio was home to Larynx, King Nothing and most notably – Demencija Prekoks. The ideal position of the room within the flat meant that a lot of draught could be easily generated – and, by consequence, draught-induced noise – a recording trick that Dmtri eagerly exploited on Avyakta Sabd releases. The third studio – KAN studio III – refers to the studio in the same flat Čede Vasovića street that was moved to the former dining room, a small space adjacent to the kitchen in 2001. Since in the second phase of King Nothing the production process became entirely digital and moved to the PC, the physical space that the KAN studio II occupied all of a sudden became less of a recording currency and more of a organizational luxury, prompting Dmtri to move the studio to this small space. KAN studio III is Dmtri’s current recording studio and the place where all the second phase King Nothing, Weapon God and Alhad Lamad works were recorded.
[note 27] - ^ The samples from these sample libraries are then sculpted meticulously often to the point where the source sample is rendered non-identifiable – much like the guitar sounds and vocals 161 records on his own.
[note 28] - ^ The very idea to organize his albums in these prefabricate musical cinder blocks of 10:00, should be reliable tell-tale sign as to how much 161 is removed from any contemporary production standards.
[note 29] - ^ The exact chronology is, in fact, a bit more complicated than indicated in the abovementioned version: the work had initially begun on The Pentultimate Synchrosubstance album and was then halted midway through in favour of Hey Terence… album; it was only resumed once Hey Terence… had been finished.
[note 30] - ^ The Pentultimate Synchrosubstance is a DMT byname that Robert Hunter of The Grateful Dead casually mentions in a publicized email exchange with Terence McKenna. The misspelling of “penultimate” as “pentultimate” originated either as Hunter’s poetic licence or as deoxy.org’s webmaster’s typographical error while transcribing the exchange and has such entered into WG mythology.
[note 31] - ^ It seems fair to note that in regard to WG’s concept on Entrance, that it‘s rather concerned with the DMT in McKennaverse, rather than DMT as such.
[note 32] - ^ Ewige Blumenkraft (German for “Eternal Flowerpower”) is a phrase borrowed from Robert Shea’s and Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! Trilogy as a purported slogan of the Bavarian Illuminati.
[note 33] - ^ Contact High was named after the popular 1960s counterculture trope that refers to the supposed transference of psychoactive effects in chemically-unexposed individuals within a psychotropic using environment.
[note 34] - ^ In one of his lectures, Terence McKenna uses the metaphor of Arabian hyperspace to describe the knotty-geometric splendor of DMT hallucinations and while this term is generally more or less applicable for most albums of the meta-period it is especially applicable for Hdamtoowotahh, Ahgdtowth and Agdw Hmlkh.
[note 35] - ^ Abah is the only album in the WG discography where 161 takes cues from popular music. The last track on the album – Abah (Part 3) – even features a fully digital simulation of a gated reverb.
[note 36] - ^ The desired spelling for both Key–A–No Records and the Key–A–No studio is with an en dash, rather than a hyphen.
[note 37] - ^ Between 1988 and 1994, LX Music LTD enjoyed a prolonged half-life after it failed to achieve a proper systematization of Dmtri’s projects. Although some releases here and there did feature hints of systematization these are few and far between and thus best to be left disregarded due to the lack of an overall scheme. In its active period (1984-1988), LX Music LTD produced artworks for all releases and in the first couple of releases even featured a very limited print run. It even enjoyed some distribution in the cassette network through Bojan Đorđević and Aleksandar Konjikušić’s Nikad Robom as well as Mario Marzidovšek’s MML. However, over time it became an established practice for Larynx not to produce automatic copies at all. Rather, personalized copies of new releases would be just handed to friends and other interested parties while the LX Music LTD back catalogue would be usually duplicated on request. Around 1987-1988, LX Music LTD dropped many of its functions and became a provisionally understood label – a generic name ascribed to all Larynx's in house experimental music activities in the 1980s. Furthermore, LX Music LTD never achieved a coherent identity. At various points in time in its active period, the label was referred to differently on its releases' covers as 'LX Music LTD', 'Larynx Music' and 'Larynx Order Productions' with the first variant being the overwhelmingly attested variant present.
[note 38] - ^ A gigantic asterisk is required here because these LX Music LTD back catalogue reissues on Key–A–No Records are reissues in name only due to the specific conditions of the way Dmtri runs his labels; so when we mentioned the wave of back catalogue reissues in 2002/03 this effectively meant that during this period Dmtri picked a number of 1980s LX Music LTD tapes as representative of the period and the proceeded to digitalize, remaster and indexed them in the new Key–A–No Records catalogue as CDR releases. Furthermore, from that point on he retroactively designated LX Music LTD as a private label and Key–A–No Records as the official label in this way rendering all the remaining LX Music LTD cassettes as apocryphal, noncanonical youth works.
[note 39] - ^ Unfavorable Semicircle is an internet mystery that refers to a series of Youtube accounts posting algorithmically generated videos of abstract, pixelated images; theories abound as to what is the purpose of Unfavorable Semicircle – whether it constitutes a test channel, a numbers station, an alternative reality game or something else – with no single theory conclusively gaining the upper hand as of 2021.
[note 40] - ^ Among other promotional efforts of Dmtri from the 2010s there is an attempt of his to make a Wikipedia entry for his 1990s band Demencija Prekoks. However, it was soon deleted by the editors because of the band’s perceived lack of notability. Dmtri would later remark ironically in private conversations that it was a fair cop as the INCMD had indeed caught him red-handed (International Notability Control Music Department).
 - ^ Demencija Prekoks – godine koje su pojeli dinosaurusi iz parka Jure (in Serbian), a Giorgio Dmtri introduction text into the phenomenology of Demencija Prekoks with a reproduction of DP manifesto provided; in the beginning of the manifest the there is a line that translates like this: We will swallow whatever Nothingness has remained from the 20th century. Published in Uroš Smiljanić’s War Pigs nr.4 fanzine (self-released-Belgrade, January 1994).
 - ^ Giorgio Dmtri, personal e-mail communication, 18.11.2009.
 - ^ Giorgio Dmtri, personal e-mail communication, 29.12.2017.
 - ^ Virtual interview with Terence McKenna by deoxy.org founder dimitri novus, the interview web page was crawled on 06.07.1997 but the entry is possibly older than the internet archive.
 - ^ Predrag Petrović, personal e-mail communication, 08.05.2009.
 - ^ Božidar Kecman, personal Facebook communication, 14.02.2011.
 - ^ Beograd bez pravog totalitarizma (in Serbian), Laibach interview with Svetlana Vasović in Vreme magazine (year 8, nr. 370), pages 40-42, 22.11.1997.
 - ^ Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge – A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution by Terence McKenna, Paradise I, page 16 (Bantam-New York, 1992).
 - ^ Miles and me, Jon Hassell article in The Wire, issue 130, December 1994.
 - ^ Giorgio Dmtri, personal e-mail communication, 02.12.2018.
 - ^ Levity.com correspondence of Robert Hunter of The Greateful Dead and Terence McKenna
 - ^ Unfavourable Semicircle wiki resource which aggregates data on the phenomenon with an index of possible theories.
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