The Unquiet Void



It is difficult to really comprehend our thought – or perhaps it isn’t – by approaching it directly, but it may be that it can only be approached again and again through analogy. For instance, when going on a walk through a town or city, the first instinct one has is to look in, even though one has just spent the rest of the day just there, in. One escapes only to look back in at our past selves, or perhaps who we might become when we get inside once again. The light on in a room of a house or building is archetypal of all this. And perhaps with this website we are mere beggars permanently excluded from the warmth of interiority, and simply looking for signs of life – as in observing an apartment block and noting which lights are on, as where potentiality lay. On this walk, this journey, we can never penetrate inside; we always return back to our own place, what is learnt is nothing new in itself but only new inasmuch as we remind ourselves of the potential of newness itself. Therefore what do our “features” represent but so many tableaux, so many set-pieces delimited by window frames, so much a “looking in”? What are they but an askance look at the world of an other who always remains other? We are past as soon as we apprehend the scene, the content soon a distant memory, as when we see some image and then close our eyes and see it imprinted there, in the darkness. But, perhaps, the other becomes an other at least filled in with some fantasmic content, a content of a surreal poetic speculation on their art – a speculation which far surpasses the sheer empirical explanation of it. Perhaps, then, what we are truly afraid of is you becoming more than just an other, – of you inviting us inside – of you subjecting us to your internal world with all its idiosyncrasies, a world in which our poetic words can only come across as vain posturing not fit for the sublimity of the experience. And yet, despite the fundamental impasse of our externality, what is gained in this experience is perhaps not just a brief look into a domain which, other than this encounter, eludes us,  but a real experience of the essence of your being. What seemed to be just an “appearance” must be taken in all naivety as representing the truth. What appeared as just a game – you show us your art, we put it in a form, we let you speak about it, we perhaps give words to it… suddenly becomes real, suddenly becomes what we were afraid of confronting, the joke becomes serious.  Something changes.

Imagine, on this point, walking down a street at night. A figure in the distance is walking, but because of the dimness of light, you can’t perceive in which direction – are they walking toward you or away from you? – in the same direction as you, or in the opposite? We don’t stop walking simply to ascertain this, but instead keep walking, always trying to determine the fact. What else but horror strikes us when we realise that they are in fact walking toward us? When only just a moment before we had felt annoyed we would miss out on an encounter with another person when we believed they had been walking away from us, in the same direction. Our curiosity turns to horror in one reversal of perspective. Therefore we seek and we seek, but when we find that the object of our search “wants something from us after all”, we’re quickly struck by anxiety. And what could be more horrifying (yet enchanting to imagine) than the idea that, at the moment you are to pass each other on the pavement, they stop and arrest you for a second, ask something of you. Surely we couldn’t look this person in the eye. Yet this is just the task we demand of ourselves. So it’s a perverse or masochistic task, which perhaps has none of the pleasure that the fantasy provides of itself. Because although in our fantasy, it is us who demands something of the stranger, what could we in actuality demand? Our only utterance would be some humiliating stutter – more likely is that the stranger would ask something of us, something we could not achieve, some question which we know not the answer. This is the status of you, the imagined (and real) reader.

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I’ve known Karl since the beginning of high school. He’s always been pretty passionate about music. He doesn’t really deal much in the way of profundity in everyday conversation (though shockingly we continue to hang out with him), so this article about his musical project Phantomb that he’s written has really blown us all away. The song which is contained within the article is entitled Where’s The Flashlight? I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did, and please do check the rest of Karl’s work out at his Soundcloud page.  Strewn about the place as if hurled there by a tornado are photographs of Karl a.k.a Phantomb.

Phantomb is my dark secret and my best friend. Many people I know wouldn’t understand it if they listened to it, even though it is a honest copy of myself, and so truly don’t understand me. The people who do listen, and do understand are few and far between but this has not stopped me from trying to reach out to others who may be like me, stuck in a place where ‘normal’ and ‘nice’ are words that are sat upon like fat kings of old, and are trying to save themselves from the most likely of fates: a mediocre life. What does this have to do with my music? Everything and nothing. At the same time it’s my honest interpretation of what’s inside me; fear, love, random dub-step wobble riffs, my predictions for the future and attempts at recreating the sounds of my favourite artists. On the flip side it’s just mostly some drum patterns with sounds (more like noises) and failed realisations of what’s in my head. This doesn’t mean I don’t love doing it, and I enjoy the thought of many more years of people adding me on Sound Cloud and then un-adding me once they finally listen to my music!

Onto the song: Where’s the Flashlight? is one of my favourite songs that I’ve created since embarking on this quest to create music. The lonely piano, the grainy strings, that bass that I love so much, it encapsulates so much of what is in my mind, and yet reveals a lot that I don’t truly understand myself. For creating art (and yes, I’ll stand by that!) is one of the only true ways to explore what lurks about in that misty swamp you call your being.

The song was my attempt at creating, of all things, something that sounded like Burzum’s ambient work. People unfamiliar with him and the two albums; Dauði Baldrs and Hliðskjálf, need only know that his minimalistic and hypnotic ambient folk music is something completely different to this song. I grew bored with the repeating patterns I created and decided instead to keep the piano and strings but try to merge my love of dubstep/DnB with these musical ideas I currently had. The end product? What sounds like a piano player and his string backing band playing next door to a Bristol Night Club. My last thing I say to you about my music is simply this: It’s me. I haven’t composed this for some ludicrous shot at becoming some famous electronica artist, or to be the next Aphex Twin. I made it because if I don’t then I’m going to kick myself pretty fucking hard in twenty years down the line when I realised that there was nothing stopping me from doing what I want to do. Fuck everyone else. Fuck critics and fuck people who don’t want to understand. But don’t fuck it for yourself.

Out of here.

Words by Karl Thayer and Ryan Boyd

Photographs by Daniel Grant

Any other musicians wishing to feature on The Unquiet Void should view our  Submissions page and follow the instructions therein.

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The beholding of a waterfall can be seen as an innocent act of appreciating nature in its beauty, or rather a traumatic experience of being incredibly close to the sublime. In this experience of the sublime, you’re at the same time afraid – awestruck even-  and yet beguiled by the raw power, the promise of being overwhelmed totally. The waterfall is a screen or curtain of the sublime. Behind the waterfall, there is always some safe chamber – a place of desire. It is as if you have to take the risk, bet everything that you will somehow be impervious to the crashing down of thousands of gallons of water in order to attain your fantasy. It is here, therefore, that the subject is affected. The kernel of a seed within starts to germ, an awakening of a desire – the beginning to hear of a question which will torment.

This photo (above) is a good example of a concept I have been thinking about a while, which is summed up by the phrase “the day in [the] night”. I.e. that of the day which leaks into the night:


AS IF the day is too strong to just hold,

To just check itself – its force –

To accost itself on the border, on the badlands,

Near that dotted line of Night’s House and Land;

And since this AS IF is SO, it is also AS IF the Day’s

Wounds dye the Night an all-over-different hue;

And it is also AS IF at first you see only dark and you flee,

But the Night’s dark proffers you its Day Light,

And you,

You sit surprised at the reversal, at this flip-entangling.

It’s only through straining,

Only through an askance look,

A misjudged gaze that it shows at all  —

Otherwise it’s all abyss.

And in that murky town,

Wherein you held all to be obscurity and shame,

you all-at-once realise,

all is Day dislocated.

There is no harmony here since the day leaks into the night, there is no escape from desiring.  Any comfort night held is removed, there is no time for let up. The struggle of the day is brought forth into the night. The colour, sound and pure life of day time which can be reassuring to us after, for instance, a nightmare, is a fake. Its real character is in the abyss of the night, this is where any sort of unity between day and night is found. So what is left of this insight of the day in the night?


Nothing but the

flashing, passing, the

glimpse, the skewed look

down a forgotten road, the

streetlight blasting you down.

The one constant prevails:

loitering with an

unease which unites them both,

only to repel them ever further away,

leaving only the defile called No Man’s Land

in which there is neither White nor Black – but Red.

This redness is obvious in the photo. It seems as if, in this photograph, the dawn will not be white or yellow, but red. A red dawn where the realisation of the end of the easy dichotomy between day and night is at an end. There is no respite. Indeed, if one looks hard enough, there is a small figure between the trees, a figure kneeling down in agony. Perhaps, this agony is caused by this very  realisation that not only is he a creature of desire, but that this desire will never be sated, nor will there ever be a break from desiring.  And this idea is only ever pushed to its limits by this photograph.

This hellish red tangle of trees, with a light source shining through is a complete abandonment into desire. The light source beyond the trees beckons us on, it is a light which we seek because its whiteness and nullity offer a hope that perhaps if one gets through all this and reaches the light, there will be a Paradise, not of pleasure, but of a cessation of pleasure, of a passive moderation.

It is the home of desire, so that there, we can know our desires without interruption. However, when faced with a return back to civilisation, to exteriority, we are confronted with the fact that our subjectivity is at odds with “reality”. We try to repeat our thoughts from last night, and they don’t quite ring true in the morning. They have a touch of farce about them, and they soon, like the photograph below, seem to dissipate all too quickly, you forget or else they lose their correct form and with it their exact heart-rending meaning. Thus our perdition arises out of our failure to bring forth what we learnt in this red, purely subjective realm into our everyday reality. Our perdition is never saying quite what we mean. Speaking aloud what is written in our hearts is difficult to voice; to verbalise what you’re thinking at any given moment is bizarre and awkward, even when alone. Sometimes the words get stuck in one’s throat; we are taken aback by the mundane practicality of speech after so much insularity of mind.

What can the next two photographs have to do with any redemption?

The woods here are uncannily dissimilar to the woods in the other photographs. They are colourless and hint at a complete apathy and numbness. Even the fog can only remind us of how – in these times of apathy – useless and hollow our minds can feel. There is nothing inside but a  dead wood, promising much but delivering little.

So what is left?

The last photograph is definitely the most mysterious and brilliant. It is completely otherworldly and even anachronistic. The figure looks as if she is dressed in a Victorian night gown. The pose is utterly obvious in its meaning; a careful trepidation, yet with an intent to go on. And that is what is necessary; to, when all is gloom and murky, to stand out as a solid figure of apprehension and push on, to make things happen, to create, to dare…


Words by Ryan Boyd

Photography by Daniel Grant

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