Rupert Lally – Dune

Lally - Dune Tape

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.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

Brook – Built You For Thought

Informed by thought and feeling, rather than fashion and nostalgia, beneath a backdrop of well-thumbed science fiction paperbacks, the debut album from Brook creates a soundtrack to the loneliness of romance gone wrong, a longing for the past to be corrected by the future

The wonderfully-titled ‘Prince’ is propelled by an Escher-style arpeggio from Howard Rider, which enables vocalist Beth Brooks’ voice to swoop and spiral around it, like a sophisticated cat taking occasional swipes at a persistent wasp.

Whiplash snares, isolated pianos and synthetic music box melodies complement the emotional weight of the confessional nature of the lyrics, while also providing a safety net letting Brooks’ elegant trapeze act soar above it. The temptation may have been to match the scale of the vocals with layers and layers of sound but that would have been suffocating and overpowering. Instead, the music swells and crashes. Standout track ‘Everglades’ swaggers confidently on to the dancefloor, heartbroken but defiant.

So many musicians still feel the need to fill the kettle above the water line; it’s pleasing that Brook have adhered to the recommended level, both in content and quantity. By taking a nuanced and subtle approach, the two distinct elements of Built You For Thought combine to create a cohesive, timeless, whole.

Built You For Thought by Brook is released on September 20 2019 by VeryRecords.

Words: David Best. David Best is from Brighton’s Fujiya & Miyagi.

(c) 2019 David Best for Further.

Polypores – Radiance

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.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

BUNKR – The Initiation Well

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.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

Ohlmeier / Fischerlehner / Khroustaliov – Hypertide Over Kiribati

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.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

The Slowest Lift – Plutonic Shine

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.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

Alexander Tucker – Guild Of The Asbestos Weaver

AlexanderTucker_GuildOfTheAsbestosWeaver_artwork.jpg

The follow-up to last year’s Don’t Look Away, Alexander Tucker’s Guild Of The Asbestos Weaver was named after a resistance group appearing in Ray Bradbury’s seminal Fahrenheit 451; the reference to their intolerance-combating actions was an unintentional act on the part of Tucker, but one that feels highly relevant in the context of the rightward shift in political ideologies around the world.

Consisting of five long songs loaded with bold, dense sonic adventure, Guild Of The Asbestos Weaver takes its place alongside the sonic dexterity of the Grumbling Fur project he shares with Daniel O’Sullivan, and marks a significant departure from Don’t Look Away. Constructed from loops of synths, cello and highly-processed bass guitar, these pieces contain restless, ever-shifting, intricately-detailed beds of sound over which Tucker’s clarion, understated vocal is allowed to quietly and majestically soar.

Opener ‘Energy Alphas’ might have dirty, distorted guitar as its principal melodic signal, but it’s Tucker’s mysterious, impenetrable, impressionistic singing that gives this track a distinctive – but wonderfully unfathomable – optimism, gliding gently upward over tiny beats and swells of electronics. ‘Montag’ opens with a defiant, crisp marching glitch rhythm before opening out into affecting cello textures, gradually proceeding with a tension-filled dread, its elliptical lyrics reading like a particularly vivid and harrowing dream.

‘Precog’ is perhaps the album’s signature moment. Opening with clanking, machine-like loops that gradually increase in speed to an insistent prowl, the track rapidly transforms into brooding piece dominated by a rich, ominous and utterly absorbing stridency that one cannot help but be completely ensnared by.

Guild Of The Asbestos Weaver by Alexander Tucker is released on August 23 2019 by Thrill Jockey.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.