Front & Follow – 14th April 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

These are shit times to be alive in Shit Britain, UK Grim: having taken back our borders, this green and pleasant isle is floating in a sea of shit – literal shit – that we’ve pumped out onto our beaches for our domestic holidaymakers to swim in, and we have 16-hour quest to leave the country to go on holiday for those who want to escape for a bit – damn those French bastards for checking the passports off non-EU visitors. But hey, at least we got rid of all of those foreigners working on coffee shops and bars for minimum wage and those doctors from overseas, right?

And yet, while the cost of living is spiralling, major corporations – and not just energy providers – continue to push up prices, not to cover the cost of paying their workers, but to preserve profit margins. It’s not that they can’t afford to increase wages, they simply won’t because capitalism is built on maximising profit. Fuck the staff, look after the shareholders. And of course, rent continues to rocket: landlords, too, need to protect their rental yields

An investigation undertaken in behalf of The Guardian late in 2022 found that ‘asking rents on new listings are up by almost a third since 2019, and some people are facing increases of up to 60%. Prices in 48 council areas are now classed by the Office for National Statistics as unaffordable when compared with average wages’.

The trouble is, capitalism is based on exploitation, and invariably, the wealthy become wealthy and grow their wealth through the exploitation of the less wealthy.

There is an irony here: in nature, the most successful parasites achieve a symbiotic relationship with their host. Under capitalism, the parasites seem determined to kill the host (the poor) on the premise that there will always be more. But then, the same is true of the human relationship with the planet: only, the resources are finite and there isn’t another planet, so we’re fucked.

The accompanying text pulls no punches in explaining the context:

“As we travel further into the year of our overlord 2023, the cold snap that had enveloped the country no longer seems to mock us as we struggle to complete the simplest of daily tasks. With public services at a standstill as the people actually doing the jobs fight tooth and nail for honest payment and work prospects, the rest of us eke out a little more of the heat reserve to keep us going as the ice finally begins to thaw. But the Rental Yields do not stop. The opportunity to make hay while the sun refuses to shine carries on as if no one was suffering. The money continues to be made and the towers in space continue to be built. Dark shadows now dominate the skyline of a city that has been forgotten to the wishes and demands of the few. Some will say this is the progress promised by those in charge of levelling up. But many others will suffer as the bankrolls of the rental yielders grow ever fatter. Still, the spring brings promises of its own.”

What makes life in this endless torrent of shit in which we’re all sinking is that there are some people who aren’t cunts, and who go out of their way to make the quality of life better for others, as well as themselves. The guys who run Front & Follow are among them, as are the many, many artists who have contributed to the Rental Yields compilation series, of which this is the fourth, showcasing tracks by myriad underground acts, remixed by myriads more in an exercise in infinite cross-pollination.

Featuring 26 new tracks and 52 artists, all money raised from this release will go to SPIN (Supporting People in Need), whose purpose is to feed, shelter, clothe and generally support the homeless and people in need of Greater Manchester.

As with the previous instalments, Volume 4, is very much geared towards ambient and more sedate electronica. With so many tracks and such an epic duration, and given the nature of the material, Volume 4 is a wonderfully immersive experience.

The overall quality is, again, excellent – meaning it’s consistently great across the duration and there’s nothing that makes you feel inclined to hit skip. There are, as always some names that leap out for a range of reasons: Kemper Norton. Yol, Omnibadger, The Incidental Crack, Field Lines Cartographer, Sone Institute – but the main point of this is not the names, but the merits of collaboration and collectivism.

Some tracks do stand out, notably ‘Acid Bath’ by BMH vs Lenina for it’s pumping beat, and CuSi Sound vs Robbie Elizee’s ‘I’m Not A Tourist, I Live Here’ for its overt wibbly synth weirdness, for starters. ‘The Enamel Hamper’ by Cahn Ingold Prelog vs The Ephemeral Man is a nine-and-a-half-minute dark psychological drift, while Omnibadger vs Grey Frequency’s ‘Speeding Ground (Part iii)’ is a glitchy, collaged morass of disorientation, with layers of noise, tribal drumming, and disembodied vocals, and ‘Home on the Whalley Range’ by Opium Harlots vs Yellow6 combines dark ambient, murky noise, and a hint of The Cure’s ‘Pornography’ to forge something intensely claustrophobic.

Solo1 vs yol’s ‘Black Spoons And Crosses’ is a collision of ambience and noise that will twist your brain, and the sonorous drones of Laica vs Learn to Swim’s ‘High Yields, Low Prospects’ is a doomy post-punk affair with an agitated drum machine hammering away amidst a sea of murk, and both the title and sound encapsulate the sentiment and the message of the album as a whole.

It is, once again, a triumph, not only artistically, but socially: the Rental Yields series is the epitome of community. And while our government speaks of community while acting in every way to destroy it, promoting division by every means, and social media has become a warzone whereby the goal is achieved, musicians are showing the way. This, this is how we will survive the shit and create a better future.



  1. […] of glitching distortion and the latter – these buggers get everywhere, having featured on the Rental Yields compilation I covered only last week – mixing up a collage of hums, thunderous drones, and a cut-up melange of feedback and […]

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