Posts Tagged ‘Front and Follow’

Front and Follow – 2nd August 2019

Ever-evolving and always finding new angles Front and Follow’s latest release is the second in a new series celebrating the present and past of some of their favourite artists. The premise is simple, and in some respects, it’s remarkable it hasn’t been done before: ‘For each volume in the series we ask artists to create a new project of their own choosing and present it alongside a retrospective of their past output.’ Unusually for F&F, this release is available as a CD as well as cassette and download.

What this means is an album of new material, which comes with a bonus album (to download with all physical copies, and available separately to download) which for this release features tracks from Michael’s previous releases plus new remixes by Pye Corner Audio, Polypores, Kemper Norton, Psychological Strategy Board, Basic House and Elite Barbarian.

Longstanding Rothko member Donnelly has quite a career span and output to his credit, with myriad projects simmering simultaneously, and this latest offering promises ‘new worlds of beats and rhythm, sound collage, ambience and noise using random borrowed equipment, broken gear and household appliances’ – which it delivers, with gloopy synths and scratchy, insectoid microbeats paving the way for chunky disco grooves and funk-tinged minimalism.

Across the span of seven instrumental tracks, Donnelly explores a range of sonic territories, from semi-industrial gloom to stealthily-creeping dark ambient, with swathes of static and extraneous noise that shimmers, shudders, grates, grinds and crashes and bucks like tectonic plates in collision, occasionally propelled by hypnotic and unconventional rhythms.

‘Thick Skull’ closes off with a heartbeat drum and quivering, quavering stun drone with serrated edges and overloading frequencies played in 360˚ stereo.

The bonus album, Pardon Error contains eleven tracks, leading with seven remixes. The first four are various interpretations of ‘Mole Man’, which appeared on 2013’s I’ve Come to Love You Forever and also resurfaces later as both a remix and in its original form, but rather than reduce Donnelly’s extensive body of work to essentially one track, it serves to demonstrate the adaptability of his compositions. It’s hard to tell they’re the same track, and the spooky ambience of the ‘Basic House Mix’ couldn’t be further from the wheezing swirl of the Polypores interpretation, let alone the drilling drone assault of the Psychological Strategy Board Exercise of Impalement mix’, while the Elite Barbarian remix of ‘Laburnum’ goes full techno dance. ‘Behind the Laburnum’ sounds like a dub mix of Soft Cell on LSD crossed with ‘Carnage Visors’ by The Cure. It really is al going on here.

The gurgling ‘Root about the Carcass’ and minimal wooze of ‘Urge to Swarm’ again mark further departures as they bring the curtain down on the compilation. And once again, Front and Follow have given us something different – and of exceptional quality. Everything’s ‘curated’ now and 99% of it’s wank and cobbled together or otherwise simply misnamed, but F&F have developed a distinct style and now what works, and as such, they’ve established themselves as being dependable in the quality stakes. Why So Mute, Fond Lover? is no exception, and while Pardon Error may not be the expansive career summary one may have hoped for, it has a twist of innovation that makes for a listen that’s engaging and enlightening, offering a new insight into Donnelly’s work instead of cobbling together an easy best of.

AA

Michael Donnelly - Why So Mute, Fond Lover

Front & Follow – 3rd May 2019

I genuinely had no idea that this would be landing with me just days after my review of the split release on worriedaboutsatan’s This is it Forever records, featuring Gavin Miller and Polypores. Not that knowing would have altered my decision to mention the outstanding contribution to the split release format of Front and Follow vie their ‘The Blow’ series, but still. Serendipitous is most definitely the word.

The same is perhaps an apt description for this release, on which Polypores (Stephen James Buckley) and Field Lines Cartographer (Lancaster-based electronic musician Mark Burford – aka techno producer Impulse Array) contrived to create an album about ‘alternate realities and altered states of consciousness.

They write: “We’d both been reading books relating to this, and after a few weeks of book-swaps and numerous Youtube wormholes (some valid science, some pure conspiracy theory madness) we each started writing music with this in mind. The idea was to see what would happen if we both wrote from the same starting point, and came up with alternative interpretations of the same subject matter.”

According to the accompanying text, ‘specific inspirations included the life and works of Philip K Dick, MK Ultra experiments, Shamanic drumming, Migraines, the work of Anthony Peake, Neuroplasticity, Aldous Huxley, Hinduism & reincarnation, Superstring & Brane Theory, alien abductions.’

And so it is that, once again, serendipitously, I’ve spent recent weeks sifting through material relating to The MK Ultra project while researching the novel I’m working on, as well as migraines, and while not especially well-versed in the works of Philip K. Dick, I’m more than acquainted both with classic sci-fi and its particular tropes, and Huxley, and what the pair proffer here is a quintessential work of retro-futurism, espousing the spatiality of early electronica and krautrock, with the soft, supple but simple beats of Kraftwerk and the ebb-and-flow of sonic washes underlying textured layers of broad brushstrokes and noodly doodles reminiscent of Tangerine Dream.

It’s the kind of spacey trip that evokes kaleidoscopic visuals, and the rippling synth waves pull the listener into another dimension: listened to intently – and believe me, I listened intently with my newly-positioned speakers that seem to inject music directly into my brain ad in perfectly but sometimes dizzying stereo – the gauzey granularity of the tones becomes apparent.

And it’s with intent listening that Polypores and Field Lines Cartographer‘s collaboration really reveals itself and takes life. The differences which separate the two artists’ work are subtle, as they strive toward the same objective, and clearly cross-pollinate one another’s ideas. With heavy, pulsating repetitions dominating and surging and swelling throughout the duration of the album, but equally countered by sonorous drones and rippling solar winds, it’s apparent just how much attention to detail both artists pay to the construction of their music.

Ultimately, this proves to be the strength of this collaboration: while the concept remains fuzzy, the execution is superlative in its field.

AA

Blow Vol 6