David Psutka shares the 10 things that inspired the glacial, real life sound of his debut album as Ceramic TL.
David Psutka: "Donald Antrim is one of my favourite authors. His third novel The Verificationist follows Tom - an immature psychoanalytical therapist - who at a pancake dinner of colleagues, starts a food fight then suddenly lapses into a locked, dissociative state. Tom has a series of revelations about his practise as a therapist, his childhood, marriage, sexuality etc while frozen in a temporal and spatial dimension. Eventually he’s joined by a hot waitress, drunk colleague and a horny graduate student, all floating and catatonic.
Is he choking/dying, hallucinating? Is there a valid explanation? Who cares really - it’s a funny, subversive book. I like how Antrim treats reality as a fluid device to frame his characters and narrative."
David Psutka: "I’m into the @cussthis Instagram account as it uses proximity to abstract, which I think is a cool idea. Attitude is elaborated from very deliberate micro sampling or aesthetic splinters, which is an idea or general process that I like to play around with during writing."
David Psutka: "Resonant Architecture is a sound-installation series by French collective Art of Failure that uses powerful, ultra low-frequency bass to flood strange, brutalist buildings with vibration to create brilliant structural resonance. The project looks, sounds and feels great.
I’ve played around with non-centrality in performance for a while with some other projects but have more fully embraced it with the recent Ceramic TL x Open Fortress performances, which are deliberately non-focal and kinda make a point of rejecting the politics of the stage. Resonant Architecture achieves non-centrality in a really remarkable way by kinda turning these old buildings into instruments."
David Psutka: "I’ve been a Yusef Lateef fan for a while and recently got a little deeper into his output and process. Lateef’s central guiding message of autophysiopsychic music - that musical ability is universal and lives within all of our physical, mental and spiritual selves - is a luminous thing.
After a lifetime of music scholarship and world travel, Lateef wrote a series of commissioned records including Little Symphony - an incredible synth record that ended up winning a Grammy for best new age recording, despite Lateef having no real connection to the genre.
The sound design, forms, atmosphere, phrasing etc is insane on this record - it’s a personal favourite."
David Psutka: "Double Indemnity is a film by Buddy Wilder and Raymond Chandler and considered a jewel of the early noir movement. If you allow the (pretty problematic) signifiers of film noir - face slaps, non-stop misogyny, smoking, men in suits, long shadows - then it’s a decent movie. The plot is relatively straightforward; a provocative housewife convinces an insurance salesmen to kill her rich husband and receive his life insurance payout.
I’m mostly interested in this film because it feels like a point at which the noir genre became obviously self-referential. Its aesthetic devices - paranoia, anxiety, sexual repression, anguish, sexual submission - advance to the point of folding their own reality. This understanding that aesthetic excess can create a really novel cohesion - in movies, records, books whatever - is a good lesson for artists and something I keep in mind when doing an album."
David Psutka: "Cassandra Witteman aka Chrysanthemum White Alder is a writer and visual/performance artist from Toronto. Her movement pieces are some of the most vital things happening in the city and I make a point not to miss them. Her conflicted, raw energy and ability to express complex ideas with blunt, and sometimes brutal, tools is something I’ve tried to emulate but probably with much less success."
David Psutka: "The Indonesian fires of 2015 were one of the worst manmade environmental disasters ever. Massive illegal clearcut fires (intended to clear brush for palm oil production) injured hundreds of thousands, caused $47 billion USD worth of damage, displaced tens of thousands and destroyed massive sections of fragile rainforest. At their peak, the fires were producing more carbon dioxide than the US economy and over three weeks released more CO2 into the atmosphere than Germany does in a year, and yet western corporate media mostly ignored the story.
Full respect to the Guardian - specifically George Monbiot - for being the only major media outlet to cover the fires with a whiff of urgency and for rightfully calling out the weak coverage from others."
David Psutka: "I don’t read much poetry but I’ve liked James Tate. He is a master of duality and low-key magical realism. Meghan O’Rourke put it perfectly; “Tate was the rare American poet who managed to make poems that were at once fanciful and grave, mundane and transcendent:” Dome of the Hidden Pavillion is the last collection published before he died last year and, If you’re new to his writing, a decent point of entry.
A dark star passes through
you on your way home from
the grocery: never again are you
the same — an experience which is
impossible to forget, impossible
to share. The longing to be pure
is over. You are the stranger
who gets stranger by the hour."
David Psutka: "I first heard author Dr. Christina Sharpe speak at a symposium at the Women and Gender Studies Institute at University of Toronto. My good friend Casey Mecija invited me to her talk called The Ship which addressed the pseudo-industrial shipment or “containerization” of Syrian refugees and drew a pretty provocative parallel between the dehumanization of resettlement and the slave trade.
Dr Sharpe is an excellent lecturer and writer and I was really impressed by her ability to get at an issue with narrow and gross impressions. On the Ceramic TL record I tried to work with a similar range of focus; essentially zooming in and out to find relationships between micro and macro."
David Psutka: "Open Fortress is a Toronto/Montreal-based movement collective (including Anna Mayberry from ANAMAI) which has been performing with Ceramic TL for a series of installation-style performances which have been great. Open Fortress has a real, vital spirit of improvisation, which demands a trust and energy between the performers. They’re brilliant."
Click any image above to launch the gallery.
David Psutka, also commonly known as Egyptrixx, has been active under his Ceramic TL guise for a few years now, but this year seemed the right time for his debut full-length, 'Sign Of The Cross Every Mile To The Border'. Somewhat of a mouthful, it's an album name you have stop and think about, described by Psutka as "material sound and emotion." Written and recorded with modesty at Halocline Trance studios, Toronto during the summer and fall of 2015, it offers seven aural meditations awash with tranquil and concussive electronics.
The album opens with the echoing endlessness of I Attached To And Pored Over Photos Of Places I Loved That Were Reduced To Ash - a track which gives the feeling of an consistent and comfortable machine filled, meditative void. The track names all carry the same notion of deep thought and faint fragility, and even the more basic title of Life On Earth seems somewhat hypothetical: accompanied by whirring, crackling, and whistling industrial sonics up against automobiles and the humdrum of modernity.
A similar sonic thread runs throughout the release - a glacial, real life sound that is at times abrasively soothing, or "brittle and incomplete." Described in release notes as both "euphoric and dismal" and "low-key grandeur", Ceramic TL captures this mood and sentiment perfectly - we're here, but sometimes we're a bit confused as to why.
Ahead of release on Halocline Trace on March 15th, Psutka shares some of the inspirations on his thoroughly considered release, ranging from Toronto and Montreal based movement Open Fortress to the master of duality and low-key magical realism, James Tate.
Read the inspirations in the gallery below and submerge yourself in the sounds of 'Sign Of The Cross Every Mile To The Border' by listening to the title-track below.
‘Sign of the Cross Every Mile to the Border’ is out March 15th on Halocline Trance.