Front & Follow – 25th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Longtime Aural Aggro faves Front & Follow have delivered the third in their series of truly immense Rental Yields compilations, with another twenty-five tracks of remixed works which showcase the community spirit they espouse as a label and among those in its orbit.

They describe it as ‘a multi-release collaboration project raising money to tackle homelessness in Manchester… Inspired (if that’s the right word – perhaps ‘motivated’…) by our current housing system, the project encourages artists to steal (or borrow, nicely) from another artist to create their own new track – in the process producing HIGH RENTAL YIELDS. Over 100 artists are now involved (the spreadsheet is fun), each one tasked with creating a new track from the sounds created by someone else – we are then collating the tracks and releasing them over the course of the next year.’

Some would describe the project as ambitious, others as simply crackers, and it’s likely both in equal measure, but this is why we love F&F. That, and the fact that they seem of have a knack for attracting and releasing interesting artists who exist far beyond the peripheries of any kid of commercial radar (or even most alternative radars).

This compilation really does make the most of the medium: unrestrained by the limits of vinyl, cassette or CD, and has a playing time of about a week. Yes, I exaggerate, but the point is, each contribution is the length it needs to be, or the artist feels it ought to be, rather than cut or constrained, meaning that while a fair few pieces sit around the five minute mark, the Decommissioned Forests vs Pulselovers rendition of ‘Rental Yields’ runs for nine minutes and forty-four seconds, ahead of the ten-minute workout that is IVY NOSTRUM vs The Snaps Jar’s ‘AND MONEY LESS’ and a few other six- and seven-minute monsters.

But what is time, anyway, and what’s it for? As much as it’s a measure of time, it’s a tool by which lives are ordered, limited, constrained, controlled. The vast majority are paid work by the hour, not by output, and time on the clock is not your time, but your employer’s. You don’t own your time, and you don’t own your space, and you give your time to some company who profit from your time and output in order to pay for a roof over your head, a space to eat and sleep, for the profit of a landlord or a bank you owe tens, even hundreds of thousands.

How often do you hear people shrug about their shit jobs saying ‘well, it pays the rent’. Imagine lying on your deathbed, reflecting on a lifetime of drudgery to say ‘I paid the rent’, while your landlord’s spent their life living it up in restaurants and on overseas holidays and celebrating their success because you’ve paid their rent too.

Audio Obscura VS Secret Nuclear’s ‘Vacant Period’ opens the album with an apposite sample from a TV show discussing gross and net yield before embarking on a glitchy, flickering journey of droning industrial Krautrock, and paves the way for an extensive and magnificent-curated collection of variant forms of ambience. Pettaluck Vs Giant Head’s ‘Dot to Dot’ is disorientation yet soothing and hypnotic – and fucking strange. But we like strange, and Front & Follow provide plenty.

If it’s a long, long listening journey of crackling stating, looming darkness, bleeps, bloops, and extraneous noise intercut with snippets of radio, film, and TV, and ultimately forges an immense intertext of sources.

Sometimes it’s swampy, eerie, tense, others it’s quite mellow and finds a subtle groove, but Rental Yields is unyieldingly brilliant, both in terms of range and quality. And you really can’t go wrong for a fiver – the worthy cause is simply a bonus.

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