Canva6 – Ten Minutes to Midnight (Presto!? Records, 2022)

An outstanding debut from a new name, the abstract electronic album Ten Minutes to Midnight is billed in its brief press release as “a masterwork of subtraction.” There wasn’t much else context for this description, so I tried to go straight to the source.

The cover of Ten Minutes to Midnight. (Source: Presto!? Records)

You won’t find much information about who Canva6 is through a Google search; I had to email the label, Presto!? Records, who patched me through to the man himself. It turns out Canva6 is the sound project of Marco Farina, a 27-year-old from Rome who moved to Milan to study sound engineering but stayed after becoming enamoured with the city’s cultural scene. Music production is a priority for him. “When I don’t make music I try to find some ‘fast-jobs,’” he explains. “It’s not something stable, but it’s enough to pay bills, take bae out for dinner, and buy instruments. There are some people who say that I should get a normal, stabler job, but this modality is the only one that can make the creation of music possible. Making music can be a slow process sometimes, I need a lot of time.”

Farina recalls being nine or ten years old when he discovered his friend’s brother’s copy of FL Studio, a computer program used to produce electronic music. He and his friend used this software to create his first-ever “techno track” at which point he became hooked. It was in his early twenties that he discovered experimental music, which was liberating; he was no longer restricted to the conventions of dance music. “When you do experimental music, you are free, there are no rules, it’s just to create something that sounds good to my ears,” he tells me.

He explains that his record is billed as a “masterwork of subtraction” because it is the product of a process of decluttering his music. (Though I get the sense this turn of phrase was the work of his label, not him.) “I started to feel this need for precision in my work when I started to subtract elements,” he explains. “Before this practice, the message that I wanted was not clear… It was messy, it wasn’t clear where the tracks were going, so I said ‘OK, let’s stop going around it, let’s get to the point.’”

Conceptually, Ten Minutes is one of a growing line of pandemic records, what Farina calls “something a bit tragic.” He recounts crafting this album in the early days of lockdown while Italy was getting hit exceptionally hard. At the time, he travelled to his girlfriend’s place with just a laptop and keyboard. While stuck indoors, he developed a strict routine: he would go to bed early, wake up at 6 am, then sit down to produce tracks on his computer and take piano lessons online until roughly noon. (His girlfriend, a night owl, would join him later in the day.) After the first lockdown wound down, he took the resulting tracks back to his home studio to test them on a proper sound system but found the work “really bad” when subject to scrutiny. He diagnosed the problem as the fact that the record was produced using computer software alone; after saving up some cash, he was eventually able to purchase some used audio equipment, then used this to produce a superior product. What brought Ten Minutes to its final synthesis was Lorenzo Senni, the founder of Presto!? Records and an electronic producer who Farina considers an inspiration. Farina had been accepted to the label after submitting a demo, with the proviso that it required a lot of work – with Senni’s guidance, the final Canva6 record emerged, and was came out on the label.

Farina’s workstation at his girlfriend’s apartment, where he developed much of Ten Minutes to Midnight during the early pandemic lockdown. (Source: Marco Farina)

A record forged during the early days of the pandemic, Ten Minutes is, according to Farina, a combination of memory and futility. “I rewound a lot of my life and my experiences. This caused an intense need to escape… but where? I didn’t know what was outside those days!” Take, for example, “Still Cry at High Speed,” a track which is built upon a massive chord progression played using the “chorus” feature on a Roland Juno 60, an analog synthesizer produced between 1982 to 1984. (Farina explains that this synth produces “a huge spreading sound like a hug from your father when you’re a very tiny child,” before apologizing for the simile.) This sound was augmented by superimposed sounds concocted experimentally in a computer program called Massive, reflecting Ten Minutes’ amalgam of analog and digital methodology.

Farina’s home studio, where Ten Minutes to Midnight was finished. (Source: Marco Farina)

“Still Cry at High Speed,” like many of the tracks on this record, is both pretty and momentous, yet interestingly Farina describes it as the product of a sense of restlessness. Reflecting on the lockdown period in which this track was composed, he explains the track’s inspiration: “In a static time, I want to run, I want to drive fast, I want to be on a rollercoaster, I want to feel the fear when it’s taking me up, but when it’s taking me down I would cry for that feeling of speed, I still cry with that. It’s what I needed at the time… and of course every day of my life.”

Ten Minutes’ artwork is a photograph taken by Lorenzo Senni, the Presto!? Records owner. It is a photograph of a popular Milan palace in San Bibila; pictured is a clock at, you guessed it, ten minutes to midnight. Though it’s nighttime, there is a brightly lit banner depicting a sunset above an ocean, part of an advertisement out front of the palace. Farina was drawn to the juxtaposition between the dimly lit city and the bright sunset, comparing it to Blade Runner. “When I saw it I just said, ‘OK, let’s use this please. I don’t want to see the others.’ I think it was identical to my feelings in those days stuck at home.”

The locale pictured in the Ten Minutes to Midnight cover, seen at daytime. (Source: Marco Farina)

Unsolved Mysteries: Peristalsis Intestines – Hurt digital album

Lurking in the depths of streaming music services is this strange record, named Hurt, by the oddly named Peristalsis Intestines. (Grammatically speaking, it’s also an odd one — “Intestinal Peristalsis” would have had made more sense.)

It’s a low-key and not unpleasant album’s worth of brief, electronic instruments set to a hip-hop beat. Each track is around two minutes in length, and most combine a stereotyped beat to a restricted set of synthesizer timbres.

The entire record can be found on most streaming sites, including Soundcloud:

There is no information about the origin of this album online. The only webpages associated with it are places to buy or stream it (e.g. Spotify, Amazon Unlimited, KKBOX). The artwork appears to be a from-above photograph of a woman digitally modified to look like a painting:

I was wondering if this was a stock image; a Google image search reveals no such leads, as the only instances of this image appearing online are linked to Peristalsis Intestines. It is possible that it is a stock image that has been modified in Photoshop to take on its current, painting-esque form.

The song titles, like the artist name, seem to be the product of a random word generator: “Blaxploitation,” “Confesses Criticize Adopt,” “Varsity Service Break,” “Myself Advancement,” “Inlcusive.” With that said, certain titles give off a vague Aphex Twin vibe: “Brush Wash-off Eddies,” “Acotyledon Ironworks.”

It is possible this is streaming music spam — an album created and given an unusual name to attract errant streams, and therefore accumulate gradual royalty payments. But the fact that it has only accumulated one monthly visitor on Spotify suggests that, if so, this strategy isn’t working too well. I do wonder if this album exists, in identical form, with different artist, album, and song titles. (There have been instances of other Spotify spammers who submit identical records under multiple different names as a way of slowly absorbing royalties from curious streamers searching random keywords).

Interestingly, when this album concludes in Spotify, the next track the algorithm queues up for me is from another bizarre, faceless album, COHANDE by SUNCOTK:

I have sent a message to the Peristalsis Intestines Soundcloud account, but have not yet heard back. I will update this if I do.

Do you know anything about this strange record? Are you Peristalsis Intestines? Are you a better internet sleuther than I am? If so, please get in touch so we can solve this mystery!

Jung/Frye – Phantom Acid digital (2022, Superpang)

Source: Superpang Bandcamp page

Superpang, a record label named after an obscure Super Nintendo game, is all about exploring strange musical concepts. Famous for their distinctive, text-only covers, this Rome-based netlabel has produced a sprawling discography since their 2020 debut, Guy Birkin’s Liminal Kicks. That unique record was a collection of algorithmically produced club tracks driven by supraphysiological tempos that shifted in exponents according to the Golden ratio, reaching a ceiling of 300,000 beats per minute!

Phantom Acid is yet another experiment from the Superpang clan. Twenty-four tracks, each one precisely 90 seconds in length, make up this unusual disc – which is described, in its press release, as post-human. In truth, this is the work of two producers, each with their own aesthetic, and each armed with their own digital tools.

Eric Frye is known for his audio experiments with the human voice. For example: Obfuscation Morphologies, an album in which he used software to alter recordings of speech, stripping them of their actual words. Deprived of verbal content, the voices became vague and unnerving utterances divorced of identity and context. In an interview with The Wire, he described this as a comment on privacy in the digital age. He sees his musical use of the voice-stripping software as a way of subverting the typical use case for these computer programs, which he believes are destined to be co-opted by big companies to nefarious ends. “I feel like I’ll find something like this voice obscuring process and I’ll be so happy to use it to see what it does,” he explained then. “These processes have a lot of power, and they should actively be shared with artists and musicians, people who are a wider audience in general. It shouldn’t just be relegated to a corporate structure, that’s going to take this and implement it into a smartphone or something, and have back doors to it or whatever.” In their corresponding notes, Frye’s productions will credit the programmers responsible for creating this software, and reference articles from linguistics journals – clearly, his sonic output goes hand in hand with the highly technical process he makes use of.

On Phantom Acid, Frye’s voice manipulations are fifty percent of the equation. The other half is the work of Jung An Tagen (born Stefan Juster), who turns the deconstructed phonemes into loops and converts them into strange approximations of rave music. Tagen, a veteran producer who has explored many different avenues of sound, lately has been focused on computer music – borrowing processes from ‘academic’ music and using them produce strange deconstructions of electronic dance music.

The ideas behind Phantom Acid make reference to other sound work. Psychologist Diana Deutsch used to run experiments where she would play looped recordings of single words to study participants, offsetting the left and right speaker channels. Eventually, the subjects would hear “phantom words” in the din: new words, made up words, words in foreign accents, etc. The same effect is embedded in Phantom Acid, both the work and title. But Phantom Acid’s most proximal connection is to their labelmates, EVOL, a hyperproductive duo who have concocted a whole host of sonic experiments and who claim to create “computer music for hooligans.” One of EVOL’s recurrent projects has been their spoofs on rave music, dubbed “rave synthesis,” in which they use computers to take sonic signatures of dance music and turn them on their head. To wit: their 100 Variations For Solo Hoover, which took a synthesized sound that was a mainstay of 90s rave music (the custom synth tone known as the “Hoover sound,” in reference to its auditory resemblance to a vacuum) and dissected it stochastically into one hundred separate compositions. (It was released in an edition of 100 CD-Rs, each copy containing one of the different variations such that no two were identical). You can imagine what their 2009 cassette, Fart Synthesis, was all about.

Listening to Phantom Acid is a jarring experience – the fragmentary tracks are punctuated by blebs of white noise, resisting the tendency toward passive engagement that often occurs with electronic music. Even the simplest tracks – e.g. a simple phoneme, looped – are undeniably rhythmic. Jung/Frye’s experiments reach their most sublime when the complexity is upscaled, quasi-melodies and basslines appearing amid the bedlam. Whether it is something to enjoy on a primal level, or merely to be appreciated on an intellectual one, is up for debate.

The unusual Alarming Echo Beats label

First of all, I want to apologize for how quiet Anomaly Index has been over the past while. I have been hard at work on an upcoming very big project: a book, about extreme and obscure music, which will be due out in November of this year. I will post more about that later.

Today I focus on an obscure CD-R label that ran from 2000 to 2008, responsible for some truly strange relics in the noise and dark ambient space. That label was Alarming Echo Beats:

Banner from the now-defunct Alarming Echo Beats website.

The origins of AEB are a little opaque, but information can be gleaned from the archive of its website on, which includes a link to a brief interview with the founder, who is known as The Rev, which is short for the Reverend Samekh Anubis Amoun-Ra.

Prior to running AEB, The Rev was a teenager fascinated with the noisecore / shitcore / shitnoise scene: a grindcore-adjacent scene devoted to ultra-short blasts of noise. Canonical bands in these scene include Anal Cunt, Deche-Charge, and Seven Minutes of Nausea, the latter known for releases like a seven-inch record with 293 tracks on one side.

The Rev started putting out tapes under the name Fecel-Cide, a “semi-political noise band” whose primary orientation appears to have been anti-authority. Very little Fecel-Cide content remains easily available today, but here’s a brief track from the Audio Terrorism tape compilation:

In 1991 The Rev started his first label, Fecal-Matter Discorporated, an imprint and distro dedicated to unleashing tapes and CD-Rs by Fecel-Cide and other artists who fit under the rubric of “harsh sick sexual deviant style noise.” His first tape was a split cassette between the band Flush (a one-off Rev project) and Palagi (another one-off of unclear provenance), its cover a crass and grainy Xerox job like many of the era:

Flush / Palagi split cassette, catalogue number: Feces 00. Source: Discogs

This first incarnation of Fecal-Matter Discorporated lasted until 1994, releasing 21 cassettes including two compilations named Bored-Core which remain incredibly obscure at this point:

Fecal-Matter Discorporated then lay dormant for six years, re-emerging in 2001 with more colourful imagery, striking out with the album Suitcase Of Mutilated Entrapment by the Japanese grindcore band Basket of Death. It is at this point that the aesthetic becomes less crass and more graphic. The label’s website, which has been preserved in archive form, is lacquered with images of extreme porn, mainly of the coprophagic variety, and there are very few releases whose cover art I could reproduce here without violating my agreement with my hosting service. The front page of the label’s website lists two slogans: “Cum see the shit we have for you!!” and “Where we force the shit in your face,” which should give you a flavour for the aesthetic. Bands with names like Complete Rectal Shutdown, Imbibing Bile, and Anal Gorecum Pissflap Slap are featured. Here is the charming cover to one of the label’s compilations, Now That’s What I Call Shit!:

Source: Discogs

Alarming Echo Beats, the much less puerile sister label to Fecal-Matter Discorporated, was started in 2000 to release music under The Rev’s new project, Absynth (To His Macabre Angel), a more subdued approach inspired by the occultist Aleister Crowley. His first release was the album Twilight Mind, by The DSA Working, the side project of prog-rock band Yeti’s bassist, Tommy Atkins.

The Alarming Echo Beats focus was on “occult and magick type genres of musick,” and the discography is a bizarre one. An especially peculiar release is the 2003 compilation He Came to Set the Captives Free, a concept release based around a controversial 1986 Christian book of the same name. That book was published by Dr. Rebecca Brown, and was billed as an exposé of an underground Satanic cult network. In it, Dr. Brown tells the story of her roommate, Elaine, who was recruited as a child to a Satanic cult called “The Brotherhood,” only to eventually ascend to the rank of high priestess. Dr. Brown, while starting her career as a doctor, rescues Elaine and sets up an “underground railroad” for escapees from the cult. According to reporting, in reality, Dr. Brown — whose real name was Dr. Ruth Bailey — had lost her license for misdiagnosing patients with actual diseases as having demonic possession and treating her patient, Edna Elaine Moses (the “Elaine” from her book), with massive quantities of opioids and sedatives, such that she had to undergo inpatient detoxification for withdrawal. She had also been self-administering opioids to herself regularly. From an Indianapolis News article:

“Testimony for 19 witnesses revealed that Dr. Bailey, a former registered nurse, began an impressive medical career in 1979 after excelling in medical school. Over the last three years she deteriorated into a woman plagued by drug addiction, religious extremism and a belief that patients and colleagues were possessed by devils, witnesses said. Several witnesses declined to reveal their current addresses saying they feared retaliation from Dr. Bailey. The physician carries a handgun and has threatened to harm people she claims are possessed, they said. ‘Her diagnosis was that I was possessed by many demons, including one like an octopus with long tentacles…’”

Despite this, Dr. Brown’s book has found a niche in the evangelical Christian universe. Alarming Echo Beats’ compilation includes music by several experimental artists, most notably plunderphonics act The Bran Flakes and DJ Spooky collaborator Totemplow, overlaid with excerpts of an audiotape version of the controversial Christian book.

Source: Discogs

Even more bizarre is the album Necro Audio Forensics: 13 Stairs Palo, Iowa, which bills itself as a series of recordings of EVP, or the electronic voice phenomenon: a belief that disembodied voices can be heard amid the buzz and hum of electrical interference. (There is a key compilation on the Touch label, named The Ghost Orchid, which collects EVP recordings).

According to the label copy, Necro Audio Forensics was created from tapes that were recorded at the supposedly haunted Pleasant Ridge cemetery just north of Palo, Iowa, which is nicknamed “13 Stairs” due to the distinctive staircase leading up to its hilltop locale. According to local lore, this cemetery is a prime location for supernatural phenomena: it is supposedly a hotbed of ghoulish EVP voices, and is also home to a red-eyed ghost dog that materializes occasionally.

The Necro Audio Forensics CD-R is attributed to Ichabod Crane, the alter ego of Kristian Day, who now is a successful film and TV producer who has also composed scores for horror films. The CD-R features recordings made at the cemetery, purportedly of EVP, augmented with samplers and sequencers to create the creepy final product.

Source: Discogs

Day, who corresponded with me briefly via email, explains that he was sixteen when he created Necro Audio Forensics. He is now 35. “Palo is probably the first haunted space I have encountered,” he tells me. “I remember taking the tape recorder out there and it kept stopping. When I finally got it home the sounds were not super audible but there was definitely something there.”

The rest of Alarming Echo Beats’ respectably sprawling discography spans drone, extreme metal, and power electronics. There is a split release (Cththonic Cat Cult, AEB-022) dedicated to an H.P. Lovecraft short story in which a cat killer is eaten by a swarm of felines. By 2007, the label’s discography becomes even more fringe: Qlippothic Kommandos was a bizarre compilation dedicated to the theme of “Satanic psyops,” featuring a number of controversial contributors.

Source: Discogs

The exact origins of the person behind Alarming Echo Beats — The Rev, as it were — are quite obscure, seemingly deliberately so. I found numerous email addresses associated with The Rev and his various projects, but multiple queries sent to all of them yielded no response. Based on some sleuthing involving caches of the websites for Alarming Echo Beats and the Absynth music project, I suspect that the person responsible is from Texas and is named Sean; at one point he appears to have been an avid collector of Godzilla memorabilia. (The power of the internet, right?) Digging deep online, there is also a possible association with a briefly-existent racist CD-R label, which I will not name here, but I cannot confirm overlap in the absence of concrete evidence. I will also note that the He Came To Set The Captives Free compilation and one other AEB release also seem to have been reissued by another label (not the racist one named above), which also released two albums by groups associated with racist themes.

At any rate, around 2008 the trail goes dead. Copies of AEB releases appear to be exquisitely scant, with only a small handful available on the secondary marketplace, and digital uploads also seem to be absent. One wonders how many of each release were produced, and whether a full archive exists somewhere.

As a whole, Alarming Echo Beats is emblematic of the many productive but briefly active experimental music CD-R labels that existed in the 2000s. By and large, this body of music remains under-documented and under-collected, with incomplete Discogs listings representing the best quality information about many of these small labels. Many mysteries remain, but as time passes, the details fade further and further into obscurity…

Do you know more about the Alarming Echo Beats story? If so, please leave a comment or get in touch! I’d love to fill out this story.