My youth was, I now realise, haunted by Dune. My mother, sensing a Star Wars-led interest in science fiction films, bought my an empty Panini sticker album that was issued to go along with David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s celebrated novel. No one else at my primary school was collecting the stickers, and with no one to swap the endless, frustrating supply of duplicate stickers I invariably ended up with, it languished, unfinished until it found itself in the bin. Later still, I ended up receiving a copy of the 1992 Amiga computer game from a friend and, like a lot of games, I was utterly hopeless at it and I guess I either offloaded it back to that friend or it went off to some floppy disc recycling place upon the occasion of one of my successive house moves.
So to say I have mixed feelings about Dune is an understatement. Those youthful experiences have meant I never bothered to read the book, and I’d rather watch Eraserhead or The Elephant Man over Lynch’s take on Dune. I know – sacrilege, right?
But maybe there’s hope for me yet in the form of Rupert Lally’s brilliant new soundtrack to Herbert’s book, released as part of the Bibliotapes series. Lally is no stranger to this endeavour, releasing a coveted score to another sci-fi novel, John Wyndham’s The Day Of The Triffids, via the label earlier this year. Herbert’s book was originally presented in the science fiction periodical Analog, and, perhaps with intentional reverence, Lally enriches these 26 evocative cues with a beautifully-rendered analogue synth spice (pun intended).
Pieces like ‘Giedi Prime’, ‘Remember The Tooth!’ and ‘Leave No Trace’ proceed on prowling, throbbing bass tones full of both threat and mystery, representing a recognisable stylistic motif that runs through the whole of Lally’s vivid score. There are moments, such as on ‘A Deal With Kynes’, where those tones eddy upward with aggressive and intensifying malice, signalling danger, while elsewhere they ebb away into distant, mollified texture.
And yet nestled within these bleak wastelands of atmospheric sound, we find the spiralling melodies, intensifying arpeggios and pulsing beats of the singular ‘Wormsign’, representing a seamless entanglement of Seventies space disco, progressive house and Eat Static-y galactic psychedelia.
The fifty copies of the cassette edition of Lally’s Dune justifiably sold out in record time. Fortunately, these absorbing, pulse-sharpening tracks are all available at Rupert’s Bandcamp page, a link to which can be found below. I’m now finally going to go and track down a copy of Herbert’s book. It’s about time…
Dune by Rupert Lally was released September 13 2019 by Bibliotapes.
Radiance, the latest release from the formidably active Polypores (Stephen James Buckley), was released in a tiny cassette edition of just thirty copies and sold out before most people even registered that it was even being issued. Containing four tracks of live modular synthesizer music, the pieces here are far from aimless meanderings; instead, they represent carefully-constructed moments that could well be the quintessence of what experimental electronic music always promised.
Each piece here is distinct, each carrying its own palette of tonalities and following a path unto itself, oftentimes feeling like Buckley is directing pure, unadulterated electrical current into his music. Two long tracks – ‘Mass’ and ‘Suns’ – dominate the cassette. The former features glacially-paced melodies over a turbulent, restless bed of drones and tightly-packed layers taking in everything from paranoia to dread to a sort of oblique optimism. That elegiac quality is more acutely felt on ‘Suns’, being full of sustained tones rising into a heart-stopping crescendo of skyward-facing hope and beauty. Its reassuring palette of tones and the insistent rush of fluttering, dramatic arpeggios that conclude the piece seem to be saying, “It may feel like chaos, but trust me – everything is going to be okay.”
Elsewhere, on the two shorter tracks that open each side of the tape, Buckley plays with panic-inducing siren sounds offset by pretty, delicate plucked-guitar-esque melodies on the otherwise serene ‘Escapism’, and offers an evocative, nagging melodic creep on the sinister-edged ‘In Marbles’.
Radiance by Polypores was released on September 10 2019.
It’s no coincidence that the first track on the debut album by Brighton’s BUNKR is titled ‘East Of Eden’, for its creator is named James Dean. Drifting forward on a serene topography of heat-haze, gauzy pads and gently-accelerating synth sprinkles, ‘East Of Eden’ is a delicate, purposeful move that ushers in a brilliantly diverse collection of nine finely-crafted electronic opuses.
From the processed vocal melodies of the spacey ‘Docking Procedure’ onwards, this is a record that neatly fuses together Dean’s interest in vintage kit with the gridded framework of techno. 4/4 beats are omnipresent throughout the album, but the resourceful Dean finds ample space within those rhythmic strictures to play with convention. The standout ‘Solar Wings’ is case in point, offering a beatific melodic poignancy over shuddering percussion that nods to the epochal ‘Spastik’ before emotive bass patterns carry the piece off into evocative, widescreen territory. Dean does something similar with the haunting closing track, ‘Rheasilvian Lakes’, delivering an atmospheric, many-layered piece that concludes with the eerie sound of distant rainfall.
Perhaps the biggest surprise here is the beatless ‘Solar Drift’, whose shimmering, tentative astral melodic counterpoints evoke sepia-tinged recollections of early electronic classical LPs, while the gently-evolving, evocative title track is nothing short of a mesmeric, understated wonder to behold.
The Initiation Well by BUNKR was released September 6 2019 by VLSI Records.
Brighton quartet Fujiya & Miyagi’s latest album, Flashback, was released in May. Containing some of the group’s finest electro- and funk-inflected songs, Flashback covered everything from a political character assassination, self-importance and reflections on our collective (and absurd) paranoia that we might miss out. Further. spoke to the band’s guitarist and vocalist David Best about the tracks on Flashback and the often serious personal concerns and reminiscences that lie behind his deftly humorous lyrics.
Today we’re also premiering the latest two remixes of tracks from Flashback. Following on from Vince Clarke’s mix of ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ and W. H. Lung’s new version of the title track, the new latest mixes come from Shakedown and BUNKR. Shakedown’s robust re-rendering of album highlight ‘For Promotional Use Only’ gives the track an urgent insistency while BUNKR tap into acid house nostalgia on their new version of ‘Personal Space’. Listen to both mixes below.
Part of getting older is spending more time remembering when you were younger. Both myself and Steve Lewis from Fujiya & Miyagi are similar ages so we both grew up in the early 80s where our childhoods were soundtracked by electro. It was all over the top 40. I think subconsciously the music that you hear in your youth becomes important later on in life, although it’s natural to initially turn away from it.
I was jealous of my neighbour’s Nike windcheater. I used offcuts of kitchen linoleum to spin on my back poorly. I briefly spray painted really bad graffiti on portacabins. I pretended I was from somewhere that I wasn’t.
‘Flashback’ is a nostalgic look to a less complicated time with no responsibilities. It’s also about the odd fragments of memories that stay with you. Often these appear inconsequential but are impossible to shift and frequently come back to me in times of stress or anxiety.
This takes the underlying anxiety of ‘Flashback’ and adds a layer of claustrophobia on top. Inspired by James Brown’s 70s one-chord vamps, updated to incorporate aspects of electro and finished off by a middle-aged man struggling with being bombarded with technology and other people sitting too close to him in enclosed spaces in Taiwan.
For Promotional Use Only
‘For Promotional Use Only’ is about trying to do the most with the least possible. This is possibly my favourite song on the album. My friend described it as a song to listen to while rollerskating at a disco, which is a nice image.
Fear Of Missing Out
This has a 70s West African feel to it, hinting at William Onyeabor. It then morphs into a paranoid disco outro. Lyrically it has parallels to the end section of ‘Personal Space’. By always wanting your life to be better it’s easy to forget what you have that’s worth having. I was unsure whether to use such a relatively new and ubiquitous phrase but I wanted to cement the album in the present while being informed by the past.
This is a reworking of our song ‘Subliminal Cuts’. It was inspired by a Columbo episode ‘Double Exposure’ from 1973. We reversed our old song ‘In One Ear’, cut it up, and wrote a new one on top. It’s an idea stolen from David Bowie’s Lodger album.
Dying Swan Act
‘Dying Swan Act’ refers to a phrase my parents would say whenever myself or my sister were being a bit pathetic. This song was initially inspired by the origins of disco rap, hence its simplicity both lyrically and musically. It has a dissonant guitar line that also links it too ‘Fear Of Missing Out’.
It’s hard to ignore the split in opinion in the UK so I thought we should address it. I know nobody would listen to Fujiya & Miyagi for our political insight but morally I felt I wanted it to be known where I stood. It’s easy to oversimplify the reasons why people want to leave the EU. Being a racist is definitely one of them, though. I also wanted to poke fun at the other side of the argument. It’s easy to take the moral high ground without seeing the reasons for why we got to this point.
Interview: Mat Smith
Flashback by Fujiya & Miyagi is out now on Impossible Objects Of Desire. Read the Further. review here.
“The synthesizer has changed everything whether purist musicians like it or not,” wrote Miles Davis in his 1990 autobiography. “It’s here to stay and you can either be in it or out of it. I choose to be in it because the world has always been about change. People who don’t change will find themselves like folk musicians, playing in museums and local as a motherfucker.”
Throughout his fifty-odd year career, trumpeter and jazz pioneer Davis was forever searching, always looking for new ways to develop the vernacular of jazz. Whether with the smooth, tender balladry that coloured Birth Of The Cool or the adventurous fusion with rock music on Bitches Brew, Miles’s sharp ear, his ability to improvise freely around any combination of musicians and a singular musical vision marked him out as a formidable bandleader.
In 1975, a year after the incendiary Dark Magus was recorded in front of a slack-jawed Carnegie Hall audience, Davis was strung out. In pain from recurrent hip issues, Miles was addicted to cocaine and spending most of his days locked in his Manhattan brownstone; he never picked up his trumpet, and aside from a slew of compiled archive recordings that inevitably emerged during his withdrawal from the world, Davis was exhibiting all the signs of creative burn-out. While languishing in a drugged-up state at a precarious rock bottom, the gentle insistence of his doting nephew, Vincent Wilburn Jr. – an accomplished drummer – nudged Miles out of retirement in 1979.
“I would tell him, ‘Uncle Miles, you sound great!’ and when I told him he didn’t sound great he would say, ‘Fuck you, nephew!’” recalls Wilburn Jr. with a laugh. “I would always encourage him. I’d say, ‘Unc, I love you – people love you.’ I was starstruck around my uncle from the time I was a kid, right from when I was four or five years old. He was always like a superhero to me. He was missed, you know, and so when he was completely ready, he came back. He quoted it in his book as like ‘learning to ride a bike again’.”
Davis emerged into a music scene that was markedly changed, and one where he could have struggled to fit in if it wasn’t for his unerring ability to rapidly assimilate what was going on, and find a way to stay relevant. He scoured the scene for new talent, alighting upon saxophonist Bill Evans, bassists Marcus Miller and Darryl Jones and guitarist John Scofield, and he repaid the debt to his nephew by bringing him into his group. His initial 1980s recordings were focussed squarely on a heady mix of funk and rock, but by 1985’s You’re Under Arrest, Davis’s group was dominated by a period electronic sheen.
Ostensibly a political album, You’re Under Arrest found the trumpeter tackling pop standards like Michael Jackson’s ‘Human Nature’ and Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’. With the benefit of hindsight, You’re Under Arrest was an album perfectly suited to the 80s zeitgeist, but one which did more than most jazz records of the time to enforce a flimsy, ersatz, elevator music naffness. With each album of the early 80s, Miles’s playing once again became stronger and more fluid, fending off critics who suggested he was a long way past his creative nadir.
After thirty years at Columbia, Davis signed to Warner Bros. in 1985 and was itching to take his music forward. He was handed a generous deal from label VP Tommy LiPuma that supposedly allowed him the freedom to go wherever he wanted, working with whomever he chose. In his head was a raw, funky, modern and irrepressible synth-heavy LP. His chosen producer was Randy Hall, who had co-written his 1981 hit ‘The Man With The Horn’, and who was then working on his second solo album with the likes of Wilburn Jr, a friend since kindergarten.
“I found out officially that I was going be the producer of this new record at his New Year’s Day dinner at his place in Malibu,” remembers Hall. “There were some celebrities there – people like Sammy Davis Jr. and Bill Cosby. We were eating dinner and Miles stood up, tapped his glass to make an announcement, and he said, ‘I want to introduce you to the producer of my new album – Randy Hall.’ I was like, ‘Woah,’ I mean, I thought we was just going to work on a song together, but he said I was gonna be the producer on a new album, and I was like, ‘Man, that’s fantastic!’ ‘The Man With The Horn’ was the first time that Miles had a song that got played on black radio stations in the US. I remember when the record went number one on the Billboard Jazz chart he had called me to thank me, and so I guessed he wanted to get back on black radio again.”
In 1985, Hall was ensconced at Ray Parker Jr.’s Ameraycan Studios in North Hollywood with a young guitarist and producer, Zane Giles, with whom Hall started working on the new Miles project. From the outset it was clear to the pair that Davis wanted to do something different. “He specifically said ‘I don’t want to do no jazz – I’m sick of that,’” recalls Giles. Prince was a huge influence on Davis at that time, and often he could be found talking through a slew of ideas with Paisley Park HQ on the phone during the sessions. “Uncle Miles was also really into Tears For Fears and Missing Persons,” remembers Wilburn Jr. “He really loved Scritti Politti. We used to do ‘Perfect Way’ on stage when I was in his band. He dug Mr. Mister. We also used to do a song of theirs called ‘Broken Wings’ – we recorded it but we just never released it.”
There was also the small matter of ‘Rockit’, the phenomenally successful crossover 7-inch by Miles’s old keyboard player Herbie Hancock, released two years before the team entered Ameraycan. Whether it was intentional or not, Hall and Giles set about recording a track – ‘Rubberband’ – that would offer a blistering riposte to ‘Rockit’. “We put together a kind of groove that was something like what we thought Prince would do,” says Hall. “We were taking a really raw approach – it was just raw and funky and hard. Miles wanted one of those instrumentals that had handclaps on it, with people in the background going ‘Let’s party with Miles!’ He wanted you to put it on and then everybody would dance – a party record. That’s basically what ‘Rubberband’ is. I don’t think we ever put the handclaps on. We hadn’t got to that point because we didn’t get to finish any of the songs we worked on with him.”
“He was so excited when we came up with the groove for ‘Rubberband’,” recalls Zane Giles. “Man, it was amazing. I didn’t know much about him other than the fact that my dad, who was also a musician, loved Miles, and I used to see his records at the house. All of a sudden here I am, working, talking with this guy on the phone, and every time we’d have an idea, we would call him and he would green light it, then we’d go into the studio.”
Giles threw as much electronic kit as he could at the ‘Rubberband’ track to realise Miles’s vision. “I used a Linn sequencer, two Akai MD280s, a Mini-Moog and a DMX drum machine,” he remembers. “Randy and I came up with the groove, and then I played it for Miles over the phone. That was embarrassing – I rubbed my foot on the carpet and it created a shock which caused the sequencer to lock up. He’s like, ‘What’s goin’ on?’. And I’m like, ‘I’m sorry, give me another two hours so I can reprogram this thing.’” Most of the electronic equipment used in the Rubberband sessions came from Goodman Music, just a few blocks down from Ameraycan. Goodman’s Adam Holzman, who had worked on Randy Hall’s solo LP, supplied most of the kit, winding up working on the sessions as a programmer.
With the basic groove laid down, and with the addition of guitars by Hall, Giles and Mike Stern and percussion by Wilburn Jr. it fell to Miles to deliver an especially lyrical trumpet line; on the track his playing is effortlessly simple, funky and uncluttered. During the track you also hear some wild synth stabs, all played by Davis on a PPG Wave that Adam Holzman had suggested for the sessions. “He really liked the sound of that keyboard,” says Hall. “The parts he played were supposed to be horns. He was hearing the music as if it was one of those New Orleans bands from way back. He didn’t sit up and figure this stuff out – he played that stuff on the fly. In between he’d whisper ‘rubberband, rubberband, rubberband’, like the chants that those marching bands used, so I sampled that and used it on the track. I knew he was a genius, but you got to remember that he also had the horn in one hand while he was doing that stuff. He played it one time, all the way through, no practice, no nothing.”
“I remember one time he laid his arms on the keys and we all stopped playing, because we thought we’d messed up,” adds Giles. “He was like, ‘What did you stop for?’ He literally just wanted to play all the black keys at once, so he put both arms on the keyboard.”
Miles had a reputation for being a tough taskmaster in the studio, but Randy Hall and Zane Giles didn’t experience that during the Rubberband sessions. “It was hilarious,” laughs Giles. “He’d pull up in his Ferrari while we were setting up, and say, ‘How much is this necklace I’m wearing?’ I was like, ‘Well that necklace looks like you got it from K-Mart,’ and then he’d hit me in the side because he loved to box. He would come into the studio and the next thing I know he’s hitting me in the shoulder or he’s got his guards up and he’d be shadow boxing. That’s just the kind of guy he was. He was real strong back then.”
As incongruous as this might sound for a player with an angry streak, the pair put it down to how much fun he was having. “He was on fire in those sessions. Sometimes we would go to the studio and Miles would be there before us,” says Hall. “That was a good thing – that let me know he was really into it. He would call me at night and say tell me what he liked about what we’d recorded, what he didn’t like, what he wanted to change.”
The studio set-up was really inspiring to Miles, recalls Hall, “He really loved Ameraycan. We had a great engineer, Reggie Dozier, the brother of Lamont Dozier from Motown. We’d play all day, then we’d send out and we’d get chicken, pizza and all that kind of stuff. Miles used to eat Goldfish Crackers all the time. He would bring those in, with some candy, every single day. Miles was so excited about this music that he was going out on tour at the same time as we were working on the album, and he started playing this music at shows immediately.”
“He really liked the direction that we were going in,” adds Giles. “I’m telling you, man – Miles was really blowing during those sessions. That dude was lightin’ it up because he was enjoying playing so much. He said to Randy and me, ‘I wanna play it on the funk,’ and that’s exactly what he did.”
Aside from ‘Rubberband’ which emerged on a rarities collection, the recordings from those sessions languished, unreleased, in the Warner Bros. archives until now. Instead, what emerged as his first Warners album was the atmospheric, synth-dominated but only occasionally funky Tutu. The blame for that lay with the individual who had brought him to the label in the first place, Tommy LiPuma.
“When Tommy signed Miles, he had a certain dream about what he wanted to do with him as an artist,” shrugs Hall. “He wanted to cut a Tommy LiPuma-influenced Miles Davis record, which was Tutu. This wasn’t that record. This was like a Miles Davis On The Corner record. There was a lot of energy in the music we were making. I remember, while we were cutting the songs and Miles was getting excited, I got a phonecall from Miles saying that Tommy didn’t like the music. That’s all there is to it. Miles isn’t an apologetic type, but I could tell that it kinda crushed him too.”
“We got caught up in politics,” sighs Zane Giles. “Tommy had signed Miles to Warner Bros. and he was determined to produce him himself. Tommy made the move and snatched everything away from us, and then Adam Holzman and Steve Reid went along too. Warner Bros. pulled on his coat and said, ‘Hey, this is what we wanna do,’ and Miles just had to go along with it. He fought it for a minute, because we ended up doing ten songs with Miles, but these were songs that we never really got a chance to finish back then.”
We’re now able to hear what has rightly been dubbed Miles’s ‘lost album’ thanks to the meticulous studio work of Randy Hall and Zane Giles and the support of Vincent Wilburn Jr. and the rest of Davis’s family.
Restoring the entire suite of ten ideas created for the Rubberband sessions involved revisiting studio tapes not touched for over thirty years and piecing together the jams. In some cases, the producers abandoned attempts to restore the period vibes and instead updated them, adding contemporary flourishes and soulful vocals from the likes of Ledisi and Lalah Hathaway. If it seems vaguely disrespectful to reinterpret hitherto unheard, important material that some might view as sacrosanct, recall that Davis didn’t want to make a typical jazz record with Rubberband, and one suspects his forward-thinking self might have appreciated the repositioning of his horn playing in these new settings.
When the temptation to give the tracks a complete do-over is suppressed and the original arrangements are presented, what emerges most prominently, on tracks like the irrepressibly joyous ‘Give It Up’ or the heavy synth-bass and guitar-led ‘This Is It’, is a strength and conviction of playing that reinforces how fully immersed in the sessions Miles was, and also how much confidence his playing had once again gained. You can hear the influence of the likes of Scritti Politti on his playing, the fizzing effervescence of these pieces being infused with an essence of bold, brash 80s pop arrangements that never once leave Miles sounding like he doesn’t completely belong there. Yet despite the forward-looking presentation across Rubberband, ‘Maze’s melodic trumpet lines recall some of his earliest tracks as a leader, despite being augmented by period slap bass and the kind of clean, wandering guitar riffing that his own experiments with fusion in the 70s had anticipated. It is the embodiment of Davis biographer Ian Carr’s assertion that “Miles often looked back – but he always moved forwards.” These sessions, the previously lost bridge between the lacklustre You’re Under Arrest and the richly textured strokes of Tutu, find Miles doing that over and over again.
Perhaps one of the finest moments here is ‘The Wrinkle’, a chunky funk cut dominated by wah-wah guitar, little circular recurring synth melodies and memorable trumpet lines from Miles delivered with a breezy, carefree flourish over a crisp programmed beat. We also find Davis in tender mood, riffing elegantly and romantically on the sultry ‘See I See’, an unexpected but necessary moment of reflection when heard alongside the more urgent cuts on the LP.
It is, however, the original ‘Rubberband’, placed right at the end of the album, that remains the most essential moment here. It is possible to hear a certain initial tentativeness in Davis’s playing on this track, a sense of him feeling his way before approaching the recording with a vitality and vigour, by the time of his one-handed PPG Wave solos sounding like he’s utterly absorbed in the sound proposed by Randy Hall and Zane Giles. In contrast, the other tracks on the album – despite showing that Davis was back up to full strength – seem to suffer a little from Miles having settled comfortably into a new skin, whereas ‘Rubberband’ captures that precise moment of discovery, the moment where it all clicks into place and he storms forward in a brave new direction that was ultimately to be thwarted by the whims and egos of big label capriciousness.
Despite the disappointment that these thrilling sessions were buried for the best part of forty years, Zane Giles remains sanguine about the experience. “It was like working with Beethoven or Yoda, man – like working with someone who had the mastery over the Force,” he reflects. “He’d tell me, ‘Zane, there’s no such thing as wrong music.’ Quincy Jones used to say the same thing to me – he ‘Zane, you can never conquer music as long as you live. It’s something you’ll always be chasing – it’s limitless.’
“When you work with individuals like that, it really does help make you humble,” he concludes. “You got a guy – Miles Davis – who you can read about for the next hundred years, who loved the first song I ever worked on with him. For me that’s a compliment in itself.”
Rubberband by Miles Davis is released on September 6 2019 by Rhino / Warner Records.
The original version of this feature first appeared in issue 42 of Electronic Sound and is used with the kind permission of the publishers. Buy Electronic Sound at electronicsound.co.uk. Sincere thanks to Neil Mason and a lifelong debt to Steve Smith.
The latest release by Lothar Ohlmeier (bass clarinet), Rudi Fischerlehner (drums) and Isambard Khroustaliov (the alias of Sam Britton on modular synth and computer) takes its inspiration from the Pacific island of Kiribati, an atoll doomed by rising sea levels which will, unless climate change can be arrested, completely disappear beneath the ocean. The trio use the four pieces here to obliquely address one of the causes – our obsession with social media inanity and the digital commodification of modern music, resulting in heat-generating, energy-consuming server farms. Their response is entirely free, buzzing with the hope and promise that the digital age promised and then mournfully reflecting upon its many disappointments and consequences.
This is a trio of musicians each well versed in using their music to express or impressionistically evoke a particular theme. One of my favourite releases of the last year was Khroustaliov’s collaboration with Frank Paul Schubert (That Would Have Been Decent), a concept album of electronic sounds proposed as the in-house astral muzak for a eatery at the outer edges of the galaxy, and Hypertide Over Kiribati shares the same sonic fabric of microtonal bleeps, drones, unpredictable fluttering sounds and all-round synth inventiveness from Sam Britton.
Those electronic interventions knit together perfectly with Ohlmeier’s clarinet and Fischerlehner’s drumming, and are best exemplified by ‘Speed-Rush Cut-Up Shamanic Meat Delerium’. Here you find a formidable interlocking of ideas, resulting in a type of improvised post-jazz bestowed with a futuristic trim. In the moments when all three musicians are playing together, the unity of purpose is frightening, the boundaries between Britton’s synths, Ohlmeier’s resonant clarinet and the especially intense quiet cymbal work almost impossible to discern, not unlike a colourblind person hopelessly trying to identify a specific colour.
These moments are offset by segments of the twenty-minute ‘A Simulation Of God As A Hypermassive Security Construct At The End Of The World’, flicking effortlessly between playful passages of hyperactivity to a closing coda filled with a clarinet-dominated funereality. ‘What have we done to that which we were given?’ the track appears to be asking, only for the trio to continue, unheeded, through an insistent slew of noisy, angular reference points – much as our globally-interconnected, digitally-drowning, gratification-hungry world has turned a blind eye to the sinister perils of this technologically-dependent age.
Hypertide Over Kiribati by Lothar Ohlmeier, Rudi Fischerlehner and Isambard Khroustaliov is released on September 6 2019 by Not Applicable.
The Slowest Lift pairs together singer / guitarist Sophie Cooper with Vibracathedral Orchestral’s likeminded sonic experimentalist Julian Bradley. Third album Plutonic Shine finds their respective inputs – mournful, questing vocals, freeform electric guitar, murky synth passages – draped in a cloying, impenetrable distortion haze.
The effect on a track like ‘The Birds Float The Slowest’ is to leave you feeling gloriously disoriented. Starting with a looped electronic pulse, layers of guitar textures and clanging, overlapping riffs are allowed to growl and feed back freely while, at the centre of everything, Cooper offers a processed vocal line that is simultaneously both mesmerising and terrifying. The effect is akin to being willingly imprisoned inside some cavern of irrepressible, joyous noise.
Elsewhere, ‘Take Off Your Badge’ proceeds on whiny low-end synth melodies and washes of grimy fuzz with a vocal that is both sensual and cryptic, while ‘Sage Reach’ offers up a gently undulating fabric of interwoven drones to reach an absorbing, intricately-developed transcendence. ‘I’m Born’ is perhaps the chilling highlight of the brilliant nine tracks, its chilling, murky tonality, stentorian vocal refrains, splinters of unpredictable sound and an insistent, submerged rhythm sounding not unlike a new and harrowing take on Sonic Youth circa ‘Halloween’.
Plutonic Shine by The Slowest Lift was released on August 2 2019. A vinyl edition will be released by Feeding Tube later in 2019.