Psychosis

Irreverence Group Music presents: Psychosis, the third solo album of composer Julián De La Chica. Inspired by his last trip to Berlin, Krakow and Warsaw, De la chica immerses in electronic experimentation and influences ranging from ambient and post-minimal, to genres such as acid, industrial and minimal electronic. An album composed and produced by De La Chica in his home studio in Brooklyn, NY, whose music explores the virtual Psychosis of our times.

 
 
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Album Notes

What is the sound of the mind?

With enough intellectual and spiritual effort, I imagine I could delve deeply enough into my mind to hear it's sound—that is, not the sounds my mind imagines but the sound of my mind imagining. But I could not, ever, hear the sound of your mind. We may be insightful enough to know ourselves completely and honestly, but we will never completely know any other person.

I ask this impossible question to get at the sound of Julián De La Chica's Psychosis. De La Chica grounds this conceptual album in the basic idea of the psychological affliction, the difficulty, or inability, to separate reality from fantasy.

Psychosis is not the sound of De La Chica's mind, but it is what he imagines such a mind would sound like, a mind that mixes together reality and...let's call it non-reality. Unreality. Surreality. Fantasy is not the right word for the current moment in which the fantasies of those in power become something that must be fought in reality, precisely to prevent them from ever becoming reality.  Our social and political climate is not fantastic, it is painfully real, and it is a reality being slashed, bent, and broken by political, economic, and media forces that seek to enrich themselves and secure their futures.

And so De La Chica has made this recording, an album in the old fashioned sense of a collection of tracks in which the sequence is deliberate and important—they are all meant to go together and work together in that specific order for full listening effect.

In our contemporary listening space, mediated by discrete, digitized units, meant to be separable from their context—a world of streaming music that by nature has no context—the idea that a recording is such an integration of individual parts may seem utterly alien. It may seem obsessive, monomaniacal, psychological elements that open the path to psychosis.

One man’s Psychosis is another’s fascination. For De La Chica, musical psychosis comes in the form of order, exactitude, measured structures and forms. His aesthetic palette is clean, rounded, precise, every color and tone is discrete, outlined with clear, black borders.

What provides that is the space in between the notes. There is nearly as much space as there is music on this album, space to fill with your thoughts and questions, to contemplate what the sounds are saying about the mind they come from, about the mental state they are mapping.

The geography of the music both expands downward and inward—the track titles imply an experience that goes through the night and ends with the dawn. Is this the sound of the ruminative mind, locked in an Escher-like loop, one that seems to travel far but keeps circling back to the same place, the same idea, the same feeling? Is this the mind that only sees unreality and builds unreal things? Is “Insanity” the sound that insanity makes inside one’s head?

Perhaps, but it doesn’t have to be. Psychosis is the sound of obsession, of an obsession with one’s own thoughts that separates the self from reality. It is the sound of immersion, of the allure of altered mental states, of anything that takes one out of the stress and preoccupations of the day and into a still and timeless internal place.

This is immensely seductive—we all want to go there. Does that mean we’re psychotic, or does it mean that a touch of psychosis does a person good now and then? De Le Chica doesn’t argue for either idea here, he just presents the seductive and threatening beauty of that experience, the concentrated calm, the substantial mass that yet is not heavy under this psychic gravity, even the thrill and energy of insight and flashes of intuition.

De La Chica’s clinical approach—objective as in an experimenter poking and prodding a subject, running it through various tests and simulations—makes something for us to contemplate and understand. The test results say the music is rational, logical, architecturally pleasing, alluring. But once removed from reality, logic can be made to prove anything. By all means, appreciate the exterior, but be careful when you step inside.

The bonus track, “Nitke,” is a door through which to find your way out. The Satie-like character is entirely different from everything else on Psychosis. “Over the summer,” De La Chica explains, “I visited Auschwitz for the first time. I do not think there are words to describe what I felt.”

At one display, the composer saw photographs of two prisoners, a man and a woman, which struck him so deeply that he penned “Nitke” on his way back from Auschwitz to Krakow (the title comes from the last name of Heinz Nitke, one of the subjects of the photographs). After the tight focus of the preceding music, the fugue-state-like experience of the music spinning out its stark, riveting inner world, “Nitke” comes as a beneficial shock, light in a pitch black room, the warmth of the sun for the prisoners in Fidelio who are released, briefly, from the dungeons.

George Grella
Music critic

 
 
 

Tracks

Psychosis

01. Prelude
02. Insanity
03. Kreuzberg
04. Delirium (feat. Benjamin Larsen)
05. Night 1
06. Night 2
07. Melancholy
08. Psychosis (Night)
09. Psychosis (Dawn)

Bonus Track

10. Nitke