Isturitz, the first single from Professor Chill’s album Dub Archaeology, exists “halfway between Leftism and the Dark Side of the Moon”, taking us deep into the ancient world of prehistoric caves and underground cultures of club chill out music. The Isturitz cave in Southern France, near Biarritz, was the home of one of the oldest human musical cultures we know about. Archaeologists have found 22 vulture bone flutes in this cave, made over a period of 15,000 years, between 20000 and 35000 years ago. Professor Chill managed to get hold of aaccurate reconstruction of an Isturitz flute, and put it in the hands of Egyptian Oud and Nay maestrao Mina Salama. Nay and Isturitz flute are similar designs, both simple hollow tunes with fingerholes, so although the Isturitz is incredibly hard for most people to play, Mina immediately struck up a tune. Mina and the Professor went to film in a prehistoric cave for the BBC/PBS TV programme Civilisations, and while there recorded some flute playing which features on the track.
Music and sound in prehistoric caves were linked to the paintings we associate with these eerie spaces. Cave art is what’s left of ancient rituals, journeys into the dark, travel through time and space into the underground womb of the earth, to consult with the ancestors, to take a shamanic trip into the void as an animal spirit. Professor Chill’s research told him the acoustic sound of these caves, and the music made in there, were part of the toolkit of our prehistoric predecessors, to allow them to drift away from the uncertainties of everyday life into the stillness of the darkness.
He was lucky enough to visit some of these caves. Left alone for a while in the darkness, surrounded by the spirits of ancient people, he was inspired by the near anechoic silence, the stillness of his heart and soul. He could see parallels here with what he saw in the club chill out rooms and festival stages where he has performed and DJed for many years, and was inspired to write this track. It mixes dub echoes, reverberation captured in the caves, and chilled beats. It explores a sense of internal travel, deep down into dim fields of consciousness, connecting us to an ancestral sense of wonder, and the spirits of the past.
You can see some digital modelling of some ancient caves and other sites below.