One hundred and twenty eight releases in under two years, each one under 30 seconds long. Such are the boggling statistics of the Archiseztsfew-koū Thirty Records label, whose discography is, to put it mildly, a confounding browse. Releases include:
MOURNHOLD by LIL QWERTZASDF (AkūTr007, 2019)
A Red Score In Tile (William Basinski Cover) by flac.aeyt3eaywsyh4ey (AkūTr015, 2019)
I Had Hella Titles Stashed In Some TXT File But Most Of Them I Think Were Too Offensive For This Label, And I Also Dunno Where That TXT Is Cuz Im Also Hella Awful (Had Some Covers Too, RIP) (19/2/20) by mhzesent (AkūTr117, 2020)
There is even a series of split releases, the Archiseztsfew-koū Thirty Records Three Way Split Series, which each cram three artists together in under thirty seconds total.
This madness is marshaled by an artist named Jacob Levesque, who lives in Auckland, New Zealand. He tells me he currently works part-time “not doing anything interesting,” but spends his free time creating music and art. Since 2015, he has run an experimental music net label called The Dark Thursday, where he has established an irreverent and perplexing collision of post-internet age avant-audio, eye-splitting visuals, and linguistic chaos.
Via email, Levesque introduces me to the concept of “low effort music,” which he says governs the Archiseztsfew-koū aesethetic. “I have always doubted my ability to make ‘serious’ or ‘good’ music because, in a solo capacity, I really only worked on experimental things,” he tells me. “I didn’t know at the time how to apply my sound collage-y skill set to things more people would like or take seriously. So my answer to that, I think, was to double down on experimental and low effort work.”
Levesque tells me that this tendency has its basis in chronic depression, linked to a feeling of low self-esteem in regard to his artistic abilities. Paradoxically, these psychological traits have helped give rise to an enormous body of work. As the label head behind Archiseztsfew-koū Thirty, he has published his own work and attracted the attention of several other artists, many of whom have repeatedly tapped on Levesque’s shoulder to release music.
One such producer is the eclectic Polish producer mhzesent, who has put out (or appeared on) 23 releases. mhzesent’s own discography extends far beyond Levesque’s label, with droves of releases on experimental net labels with colourful names like Genetic Trance, Monolithic Disclipline Recordings, and Centipede Farm. “I haven’t spoken to them in some months, but they would send many releases to me for both of my labels,” Levesque says. “The very interesting thing to me about their work is the variation and how personal it can be.”
Archiseztsfew-koū Thirty’s name is characteristic of the semantic absurdity Levesque embraces. “It just sounded cool,” he says. “It is vaguely inspired by New Zealand’s native language, Maori. It’s a language that I have been around culturally for my whole life, and I like how it sounds and reads as a language. It’s the koū part at the end.”
When he started Archiseztsfew-koū Thirty, Levesque had already become internet friends with several artists through his main label, and this allowed him to rapidly build up a discography for his new project. “I was already running my main label, The Dark Thursday and had run compilations with length restrictions. It was inspired by those and very short form genres like gorenoise and grindcore.”
The goal was to have fun and to establish “a platform for super niche and strange things.” That has involved a number of strange concepts:
Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit - FVEY (Pronounced Five Eyes) Is The Ninth Studio Album By New Zealand Alternative Rock Band Shihad, Released On 8 August 2014.
This release is 28 seconds of an unchanging tone, with a haunting vocal drone over top. It is, peculiarly, punctuated by short spells of silence.
Levesque explains: “The audio is just sine waves, me throat singing a bit (I’m not good), and sampling a very old track of mine from like 2015 (the glassy sounding stuff). It does contain a picture from the wiki, plus some stuff in reference to the band Shihad’s album FVEY. The title came off a bit cringey to me so I just wanted to take a bit from the wikipedia page.”
phonecallsforbedtime – Moing Moing Popular Songs Moing Bmoigf
Sixteen seconds of spooky, industrial-tinged sound collage.
Levesque: “The audio is some weird mouth sounds and some of my old tracks smashed together and chopped up, then coated in reverb. I keep a list of albums i’ve listened to since 2014, so there is a screen cap of that. Then I wrote sleep over the top because I needed to do so. The rest is pretty looking fluff.”
MyrT8. – Su558555551
Twelve seconds of incidental audio and dinky keys.
Levesque says: “I don’t recall where the weird key tones are from, but they are over the top of me crushing something onto my phone, some kind of plastic I think? The photo is of the Wellington Metservice building that I took from the Wellington Botanic Gardens rose beds from when I was visiting Wellington last year. It’s like a 1 hour, 15 minute flight from Auckland and is half way down the country.”
كوم الحصن – Miso Paste Type Beat
This is an unchanging, tinny drone that lasts exactly 30 seconds.
As Levesque explains, this record “was made solely because of the cover. I saw a miso paste packet and thought adding the word beat and a heart emoji over the top was mildly amusing. A lot of my stuff came about in this sort of low effort fashion. “
W I D E D R O N E – W I D E D R O N E
Despite its hypnotic cover, this is simple an unwavering and unchanging tone that lasts for 30 seconds.
Levesque puts it bluntly, summing up the “low effort” aesthetic: “Nothing more than tone generation in Audacity.”
Levesque is philosophical about what Archiseztsfew-koū Thirty represents — and more than a bit nihilistic. “I guess almost a fundamental rejection that music had to meet certain objective qualities to be called music, that anything can be music. I don’t hold too strongly to that though, part of the point also is that I don’t hold strongly to anything in particular.”
This year, Levesque shut down both The Dark Thursday and this eccentric sublabel. One wonders if the label helped serve as a catalyst for Levesque’s efforts to grow emotionally. As he helps put to words the concept of “low effort music,” he explains that this aesthetic can function as a crutch. “The mental health issues make it difficult to care about things at all,” he reflects. “I don’t usually have the emotional capacity nor did I used to see a point in extending any empathy or sympathy outside of myself and a few people that I’m around. As time has gone on, I’ve realized in working to become a healthier person, empathy and sympathy towards others is important for me personally, so I can start feeling more like a normal human being.
“Despite that I still consider myself a work in progress so to speak. Trying to attach myself to things is still something I struggle with.”