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The making of an album using Algo Incantations, a project by Shardcore

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I’m a big fan of the work of Shardcore and I’m very grateful to him for allowing me to use his work in this way. I first heard about him through Radio Eris, an algorithmic radio station based on the excellent book ‘KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money by John Higgs. Which by the way is a highly recommended book and at the time of writing is available from Amazon UK for Kindle for £1.99.

I’d seen Shardcore’s Algo Incantations and what caught my eye was the principle of using an algorithm to produce an incantation. Equally fascinating was the use of the Necronomicon by Simon. I’m a big fan of H P Lovecraft and his writing is a big influence on many of my releases so I found this intriguing.

That’s because the Necronomicon isn’t a real document as such, rather it exists in tantalising glimpses through Lovecraft stories and is a mythos that dates back to pre-human history.

What’s really intriguing is how this has become ‘real’ over time through the belief and practices of those who support and read his work and how much momentum it has gained in popular culture almost a hundred years after he wrote his stories. So on the one hand it ‘exists’ but only in the ether and there isn’t an actual official version.

So for a book that does not exist in the traditional sense, there have been a number of hoaxes and fakes and an awful lot written about it over time. The most widely known version is indeed the one by Simon, purportedly a pseudonym of Peter Levenda. However, it quickly gets very confusing because he remains somewhat enigmatic about this and maintains that he did not know anything about H P Lovecraft in the 1970s.

The Simon Necronomicon isn’t really the Necronomicon that Lovecraft wrote about. It’s actually a heady mix of a bit of Lovecraft, a bit of Crowley and a lot of Sumerian mythology / demonology. If Peter Levenda is the author ‘Simon’ then he clearly knew about Lovecraft because the Simon version links Lovecraft and Aleister Crowley – a number of sources suggest that Lovecraft would likely have been aware of Crowley but there’s not much evidence to suggest a stronger link than this. Equally it would seem that the link between Lovecraft and Sumerian mythology is also tenuous as far as I can tell, for instance Cthulhu does not seem to appear in Sumerian mythology.

When it was published in the 1970s there’s a suggestion it tapped into popular occult themes of the time and so is not complete nor accurate. There’s also suggestions that the sigils are somewhat arbitrary and on this basis some advise that it is not wise to use it for practical purposes because some people have apparently had very bad experiences for doing so.

That said, chaos magic isn’t particularly concerned with the subject matter, more about the processes and outcomes.

So we have a machine randomly generating incantations from a book that appears to be inherently chaotic, seemingly tapping into the popular culture of the time and making links that don’t really exist rather than being a complete system. I consider that the book itself is definitely real and not a hoax although the content is somewhat questionable. Maybe it is a trickster in our cosmology. So I thought it would be a good idea to immortalise some of these algo incantations in music.  And create my own sigils.

I’ve tried to make sure the pronunciation is as accurate as possible but as synthesised voices are used there may be some inaccuracies.

I’ve also avoided some of the more apocalyptic incantations where the dead rise and eat the living. Just in case.

In Gordon White’s book ‘Pieces of Eight: Chaos Magic Essays and Enchantments’ he describes a clay tablet in the British Museum upon which is inscribed in large script a Babylonian spell for banishing domestic ghosts:

I thought I’d mention that here, again, just in case.

In keeping with the idea of the true will of the machine, I’ve used random presets for the synths and effects as much as possible and also used a number of random midi pattern generators and/or arbitrary midi patterns too. The incantations are voiced by either the Ivona Android voice or various voices from Alter/Ego, a singing synth by Plogue.


I’ve used a variety of synths and effects to produce the songs:
Dust (Soundmorph)
Polygon; Convex (Glitchmachines)
Deelay (Hornet)
Teulfelsberg reverb (Balance Mastering)
Carbon Electra (Plugin Boutique)
Alter/Ego (Plogue)
DDLY Dynamic Delay (iZotope)
Ambience (Smartelectronik)
Homing Pad; Groove Steps (Hollyhock II)
Incipit (Inear Display)
Vortex Soundwaves (Sample Science)
Frostbite; Space Strip (Audiothing)
Tremolator (Sound Toys)
Enzyme CM (Humanoid Soundsystem)
Noisetar (Nusofting)


This is the workspace for ‘receive the sun’.  I’ve used Dust and Polygon which are triggered by somewhat arbitrarily created midi patterns.  These are both excellent sample based instruments which I’ve previously reviewed on my blog.



For rhythmic parts, I’ve used Groove Steps and Homing Pad which are both part of Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock II.  Groove steps has lots of options and randomisation settings so you can quickly create some interesting rhythms, especially when feeding it to a dub-style delay in Incipit.


Similarly Homing Pad allows you to draw a pattern which is traced to trigger drum or percussion sounds and the picture below shows the random pattern which I drew.  With a bit of practice you get a feel for different rhythms whether you draw lines, circles, squares etc.


The songs were recorded as one take live recordings in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock II and subsequently mastered in MuLab 7.2 using Neutron by iZotope. The songs were recorded and mastered by Andrulian.