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Catlogue Essay
‘Inside Neptune’s Lair’
in Bubble Chamber
Gentrified Underground, Zürich

Bubble Chamber was published on the occasion of an exhibition of the same name split across two galleries, Mikro & UP STATE, in Zürich (16 November - 23 December 2019)

The exhibition presented an interdisciplinary project focusing on the afrofuturist legacy of Drexciya, including paintings, album covers and illustrative drafts by Abdul Qadim Haqq alongside informative research on Drexciya, a screening of The Otolith Group’s Hydra Decapita, and live performance from Gerald Donald (formlery Drexciya, now Dopplereffekt).

A 2x12 vinyl compilation and publication was released for exhibition, with contributions by myself, Abdul Qadim Haqq, chukwumaa, Dominiqueh White, Gentrified Underground and Maïté Chéniere, and tracks by Xor Gate (Gerald Donald), Shawescape Renegade, DJ Dijital, Plant43, The Exaltics, Kuldaboli, Iko, Tom Ware, Luz1e and Sansibar.

First Release of 500
Produced by Nicola Kazimir
Published by Gentrified Underground
Printed and pressed in Zürich, 2020
︎︎︎ Purchase from Gentrified Underground

Extract —

    ““Could it be possible for humans to breath underwater?”—so begin the sleeve notes to Drexciya’s inaugural 1997 album The Quest. Emerging in the early 90s alongside figures such as Octave One and Underground Resistance, Drexciya was a second-wave electro duo based in the post-industrial homeland of Detroit techno. Drawing from the history of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, Drexciya augmented their visionary sound of electro-techno with a retrofuturist mythology of sunken wormholes, webbed mutants and abyssal planes. The music itself was appropriately fluid. Bass that lurched up-pitch like magma through the ocean floor, damp hi-hats and ambient fogs of austere oceanic depth.

    During their active years Drexciya released a total of three Studio Albums, nine EPs and three Singles. Since their untimely dissolution following the death of its cofounder James Stinson in 2002, Dutch record label Clone Records has released four Compilation Albums charting their full sonic journey, from the nautical jungle of Drexciya to the ‘Red Hills of Lardossa’ on Mars; even the ‘grava theory’ of their final album release, Grava 4 (2002): a “single, continuous super-field that contains and mediates all energy, mass, space and time.”3 Following from our inaugural quote, the short textual preface found in The Quest’s sleeve notes continues on to solidify the former and most essential of these speculative visions: the Drexciyan mythology of an underwater cosmos—one which had been slowly building since their first 12” EP release on UR’s label Submerge Records in 1992, Deep Sea Dweller:

    “Are Drexciyans water breathing, aquatically mutated descendants of those unfortunate victims of human greed? Have they been spared by God to teach us or terrorise us? Did they migrate from the Gulf of Mexico to the Mississippi river basin and on to the great lakes of Michigan? Do they walk among us? Are they more advanced than us and why do they make their strange music? What is their Quest?””

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