This post has been on the back-burner for awhile now. I originally planned to write this up more than a month ago, but when I dove back into it, certain links and references I was planning to use seemed to have just… disappeared.
I was first clued in to the existence of AIDS-3D via Wikipedia’s “Witch House” page. On returning (Wire ref, yo), I found the skeletal remains of Wiki’s take on witch house and any references to AIDS-3D and their connection to the scene excised. That’s the first oddity.
So, veering away from that dead end, I decided to revisit their official website, aids-3d.com, where I had previously downloaded several of their freely distributed tracks. But that trail has gone cold as well. At some point during the last couple of months, the site went dead, leaving me with the dozen or so tracks I had helped myself to months ago, but not much else in the way useful information.
What remains on the web deals almost exclusively with their physical art projects. There is little to no information on their music.
Here’s what we do know: AIDS-3D is a two-man art collective composed of Americans Daniel Keller and Nik Kosmas, both of whom now reside in Germany. In addition to the OMG Obelisk featured above, AIDS-3D has also done several other art installations, including one in which they re-purposed sneeze guards.
There’s also this video, which features a alightly different mix of Spreading Love All Over the World (found below) as interpreted by a dancer. (The video itself is part of a Vimeo group called “NOS: Naked on Stage,” so keep that in mind if clicking thru at work.)
We also have a little information about the group’s charming name itself: AIDS-3D. Definitely a provocative combination, but charmingly enough, the algorithmic output generated by a piece of software used by brand consultants to develop brand names — in this case, the brand consultant was… Daniel Keller’s mom.
Dan’s mom, is a well-known brand consultant, and she helped develop the AIDS-3D trademark for us. She uses a fairly complicated computer program to develop ‘brand-idents’ for her clients. This program (I can’t remember the name of it), simulates suggestibility/response levels in various microdemographics using a huge amalgamation of data like google searches, brainwave scanning, credit reports, numerology, psychoanalytic statistics, etc. The program suggested AIDS-3D as a perfect fusion of our mutual interests in contemporary art, social activism and state-of-the-art technology.
Now, there seems to be no direct link between the pitch manipulations of AIDS-3D’s remix work and the DJ Screw emulations of several members of the witch house genre. The most probable explanation is that AIDS-3D performed these deconstructions on their own and witch housers found something they liked — a kindred set of tempo-fuckers and welcomed them unofficially into the fold, as a sort of after-the-fact association. The dates listed on their former mp3 page (page is dead, but oddly enough, hosting still seems to alive [or archive.org does a much more thorough job than I thought] — most of the tracks are still downloadable) range from 2007-2009, putting them very slightly ahead of the witch house curve.
AIDS-3D still maintains an active Soundcloud page but the tracks featured there include none of the work that was archived at their now-dead website. One of their uploads is the improbably titled North Face® Winter 2012 Mens SmartPhone Demo, which is, in fact, none of the things listed in the name. It’s a mixtape that flows like a DJ set played on the world’s shittiest set of belt drive turntables. The tempo shifts up and down, going from “walking underwater” speed to post-happy-hardcore 200 BPM freeform techno.
No attempt is made to “normalize” any of this set (bpm, vox, etc.), because, honestly, when you’re already this far beyond the “DJ set pale,” why even bother. It’s an experience that many would dismiss with the left-handed compliment “interesting,” if not bypassing niceties completely and dismissing it as “fucking annoying.” It is (“interesting”) and it isn’t (annoying). And it is definitely worth a listen. (It runs at 666.0 BPM, apparently):
Now that we’ve explored this dead end, let’s move on to the music I (apparently) salvaged from the defunct aids-3d.com, most of which was filed under the heading “11 Songs I Like More When I Slow Them Down.”
Skyscrapers and ultraviolence, cruising at warp speed in a faux NYC, driving a faux sports car, looking for faux trouble, Radio Flashback cranked All The Way Up. “Rush rush get the yayo.” Cocaine makes the world go ’round.
AIDS-3D takes one of my favorite tracks from the Grand Theft Auto III soundtrack and sedates the hell out of it. Throwing the brakes on Blondie’s ode to the Drug of the Eighties, AIDS-3D turns Rush Rush into the zombified shuffle of a burnout. It still retains some of its reckless cheerfulness, but the pitch-shifting turns the vocals into the time-stands-still molasses drip of forced withdrawal (and takes them right up to the edge of farcical “Techno Vocals.”)
There’s a bit of a nerdy joke contained within this track. Familiarity with the law itself is a bonus as it explains AIDS-3D’s insistence on spinning the dials to infinity, taking the bpm from “casual stroll” to “Six Million Dollar Man.” Not completely unprecedented (see also: Moby’s Thousand) but still enjoyable.
Much like blogging, fucking with electronics to build yourself an in-joke is its own reward: the joy of expression that is (mostly) undeterred by a lack of attention. “If nothing else, I’m amusing myself.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
AIDS-3D takes on Suicide’s Girl because musical antagonists make the best music, especially when combined. Confrontational minimalists Suicide get confronted by transplanted Germans with a knack for running the pitch well below zero. Alan Vega’s gasps, moans and half-croon/half-choke vocals take on even more weight as they’re dialed back into hellish invocation territory. At 11 minutes, this one might run a bit long, but that’s the way AIDS-3D rolls, but rest assured, it doesn’t seem anywhere near that long, perhaps do to the fact that the audio drops completely out around the 6-minute mark.
If several minutes of a remixed Suicide threnody is too much for you, why not unwind with whoever the fuck this is being unwound even further by AIDS-3D? Nothing fancy going on here. Just a screwed loop repeating over some beats that make click tracks look positively ostentatious. Again, not for everyone, but it does hold a bit of brutalist allure. Turn it up loud enough and you’ll hear some unexpected guitar strumming kick in about halfway through.
We’ll leave on a relatively high note. AIDS-3D takes on Zombie Nation’s colossal club hit Kernkraft 400. Oddly enough, the beat seems to pick up exactly where I Just Wanna Fuck left off, leading me to speculate that some of these tracks may have been part of a larger mix at one point.
Like every other track here, it’s nothing as simple as simply turning the dials to the left. Most of AIDS-3D’s reworks sound as if they’ve actually done their own drum programming, rather than just rely on the pitched-down tempo to do all the heavy rhythmic lifting. If you’re interested in more, well… I’m not sure what to tell you. Normally, I’d say something like “go to AIDS-3D’s site to pick up more” but all that would get you is your favorite browser’s impersonation of an Alzheimer’s patient. (Save yourself and your browser the embarrassment and sneak up on it via archive.org.)
If nothing else, AIDS-3D will continue on as an artistic entity, while their musical efforts will apparently be largely secondary. Travelling slightly ahead of witch house makes for some entertaining theories but beyond that all we’ve got is a chunk of speculation and a dead website. THESE THINGS HAPPEN. I’m going to keep poking around. If I find anything, I’ll be dropping it off here.