Soundtracking the emergency: Is there space for climate change in dance music?
The Phantom is the brainchild of Polish producer Bartosz Kruczynski. He released his debut album 'LP 1' via Belgium's Silverback Recordings last year, a record which saw him mix up grime, club music, rap instrumentals, and minimalist aesthetics.
His new album (fittingly titled 'LP 2', and given away as a free download in January) sees The Phantom rebuild grime as seen through his own eyes. Given his geographical distance from grime's point of origin, Kruczynski takes an outsider's perspective to the genre – some of the more deconstructed tracks having more in common with new age music and pioneering electronics of Ryuichi Sakamoto and groups like The Art of Noise than anything else.
There's a definite undercurrent of oblivion in Kruczynski's music, too: a track like Earth Beat, for example, shakes concrete and shatters glass. It's electronic music reclaimed by something more earthly, and it turns out this apocalyptic undertone might not have been accidental.
"It wasn't supposed to be obvious, despite subtle hints in the names of the tracks, but 'LP 2' was largely influenced by an impression of dichotomy in our current lives: a clash of futuristic technologies and untamed nature," Kruczynski says over email, "I'm talking about moments like this, when a tourist posts an apocalyptic photo of volcanic ash covered people to his Twitter account, ironically featuring a backdrop of tropical heaven. Every couple of days the Internet bombs you with news on drones owned either by military forces or by Amazon, cyber attacks, or Google investing in robots. Yet, for good measure, you also learn of the Eyjafjallajökull grounding all European travellers, or the Chelyabinsk meteor. There's much more all over the world. Nature still overshadows us in a very powerful way."
Here, The Phantom looks at some of the extreme weather conditions that inspired 'LP 2', as captured by regular people on their smartphone cameras and uploaded to YouTube. It's a strange, fascinating journey: file it next to M.E.S.H.'s bizarre guide to found sound.
01. Extreme Soil Liquefaction
The Phantom: "The process happens due to applied stress, as in an earthquake, to saturated soil. The name of the track Earth Beat was inspired by this phenomenon."
02. Sun Dog in Moscow
The Phantom: "Conspiracy theorists sometimes link these to HAARP, which is rumoured to be seen or heard in Poland, too, from time to time."
03. 15 meters snow in Japan!
The Phantom: "When you're from Poland, you're quite used to harsh winters. It sometimes makes the clubbing experience quite surreal (and quite risky, from the promoter's point of view). Imagine clubbing in -20 °C, which often happens at some point during winter. Luckily, it's been much warmer lately."
04. Massive dust devil forms during prescribed burn
The Phantom: "This is the most apocalyptic video of all 10. Although probably still less intense than a fire tornado."
05. A sudden hail storm in Russia (Novosibirsk) 12.07.2014
The Phantom: "A perfect sunny day disrupted by a hail storm. I have some memories of events like this."
06. Giant Hole in the ground – Yamal (Russia)
The Phantom: "From the perspective of a Pole, it's probably quite natural to fantasize about Russia, which overshadowed the country for a couple of decades. Russia's vastness of mysteries intimidates, with its frozen or closed cities, nuclear test sites, or large meteors falling from the sky."
07. Volcano Eruption in Papua New Guinea
The Phantom: "Another area of the world that feels very complex, culture-wise, from a European perspective, e.g. there are over 800 languages spoken in Papua New Guinea. It's beyond my comprehension."
08. Ontake Eruption
The Phantom: "A video of Mount Ontake mentioned earlier."
09. Amazing biggest whirlpool
The Phantom: "I started reading more about whirlpools after the tragic 2011 tsunami, which caused a large one."
10. Sweet Lightning Storm from airplane
The Phantom: "So far I haven't seen a storm from an airplane. I'm not sure how I would react being that close to it."
Silverback Records released 'LP 2' on January 26th 2015 (download).