Posts Tagged ‘space electronica’

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

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Verlag System – VS011 – 29th April 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

As the title reasonably implies, this is a soundtrack to a bleak landscape. The expansive instrumentals may hint at the potential for travel and movement, but they’re pinned to insistent motoric rhythms. The effect is at once spacious and claustrophobic. The stark synths call to mind New Order’s Movement, but they’re balanced by warmer, fuzzy-edged analogue sounds, which creates a different kind of feel, less morosely bereft and more abstract than figurative in form. Building some dense thrumming throbs and deep grooves, it’s eminently danceable for the most part. That said, there are some deep, sombre pieces which are less percussive: instead, the rhythms emerge from the regular pulsations which form a nebulous sonic body.

Single ‘The Possibility of an Island’, here remixed by GMR and Montxo Burgess is a sedate and rather grand piece, with hints of Visage’s ‘Fade to Grey’. Built around a simple chord sequence and heartbeat bass rhythm, it carries intimations both of 80s vintage and a certain sense futurism. Taking its title (presumably) from Michel Houellebecq’s 2005 science-fiction novel set in a dystopian future bereft of emotion and human contact, it echoes with isolation.

‘Ziggurat’ creates a vast, rippling desert of sound that undulates and pulses toward the whooshing gusts of air that encircle ‘Saturn Radio Waves,’ with fragmentary sounds of human voices drifting in and out.

Thrumming, looping motifs evoke a robotic, dehumanised world of synthesis and desolation. And yet through it all shine bright shafts of light, brave and optimistic, like the rising of a sun over a newly discovered world.

Dystopia