A concept album based on Hans Cousto’s “Cosmic Octave”. Hmmm all very po-faced. Not sure we need to know that, or if it’s just irrelevant intellectual ingenuity. Plenty of different shades of grey over the the 1:34 play length for sure, some dark some light, but sorry, it doesn’t “create a profound effect on the consciousness of the listener.” Not on this one anyway. No more than any other technically accomplished ambient outing. (Compare and contrast for example, to the equally cosmic newly released 1999 recording ‘Kshatrya (The Eye of the Bird)’ from the avant-garde composer Igor Wakhevitch on Transversales Disques).
We’re all too tainted as cultural consumers in the cinematic sweep of common or vulgar film scores, the failed attempts at sublimity (pathos). It gets way more interesting when harnessed to a pulse, a beat and ultra low tectonic sub bass.
And when you’ve finished blasting away the cobwebs with Sawf (see previous post) sometimes you just need a bit of the flip side in your life too…lush, warm and simple, melodic IDM/Electro to soothe the soul and lift the spirit. As comfy and reliable as a favourite armchair.
Techno tempos but hewn with an industrial hammer and chisel with no thought for fussy detail or finesse. “Wild and harsh like the White Mountains of Crete” they say. Yep, sometimes that’s just what you need – the no pretence of a course grappa, something monolithic and stripped down; brutish repetition and rhythmic noise basslines.
Dense, murked out slices of almost old schoolish ’94 hardnoize 4/4; tidal waves of rumbling noise and booming impact but with a kind of suppressed headroom/digital grot? (as opposed to any gleeful up front, run-it-red mixing desk overdrive of analogue years gone by). Check the 2 minute breakdown and hissing-foam-on-the-rocks swell build in ’Science Gardens’ at around 4:00 mark.
Slowed down Grime vibes. The Don Dada of polished chrome construction and bada bing beats and bass. Sound system cool and deadly for sure.
Almost movie soundtrack clean and borderline pretentiously sweeping. Middle eastern voices take you out to the desert – it’s a night time ops thing and there’s a bit of cold industrial gnarl alright but it’s deeply bedded in, somewhere out of reach. ‘Telane’ gears up promisingly to a moody, heads down, off kilter, post-industrial, robotic 129bpm funk but those fuckin’ Vangelis sweeping cinema pads kick in again and put the dampers on it just as it’s starting to crank.
There always seems to be more bass coming outta Bristol. Can’t fault these for the slamage damage and precision separation of the frequencies; it’s OCD, Groundhog Day, caustic loop hell all the way (triggering possible flashbacks to the mid-90s analogue hardnoize days?)
Which is the fly in the ointment really, with all this contemporary industrial techno innit (and my pet topic to moan about) – it’s SO fuckin’ clinical and pernickety it almost feels sinister, like a spotless plastic surgery clinic, the producers now all well trained technicians, nipping and tucking your MDMA rush with the (albeit very) skillful tricks of their trade, but with a kind of detached boredom? “Scalpel….suction….swab….forceps.”
On his own User Experience label he ran a remix competition (Britain’s Got Talent?) for his track ‘Don’t Be Afraid’… there were 146 submissions! (and only 4 made the record). That’s A LOT of man hours for a fairly slim to none return no!?! Make of that what you will, but it says quite a lot about the times we live in. Zero Hours contract techno anyone?