Reviews originally published in Issue 76 of Electronic Sound magazine, April 2021:
THE HOME CURRENT
CAMP OF WOLVES
The Lost Island
Holed up in a shady nook of South Yorkshire, Mat Handley compounds his reputation as the cassette world’s own John Peel, his Woodford Halse label defined by a laudable eclecticism. This brace of releases couldn’t be more contrasting: Endless Exile is Luxembourg-based Martin Jensen’s heartfelt tribute to the late Andrew Weatherall, and is suitably beat-driven. ‘Off The Grid’ is a blissfully upbeat Sabres of Paradise homage, and the nine-minute ‘Bless And Release’ is deliciously filthy, bass-fuelled funk.
Camp Of Wolves, meanwhile, offer more pastoral delights. Toronto’s David Salisbury, inspired by “the rich tapestry of pre-European folklore in the Pacific North West, where supernatural beasts walked amongst men”, has conjured a beguiling collection of somnambulant instrumentals. Opener ‘Girls With The Eyes Of April, The Hearts Of June’ is New Age on a Casio, both soothing and sinister. And the shadows linger: the piano-led ‘Wrapped In The Snows’ is deceptively alluring, and you certainly wouldn’t want to meet ‘Where The Seaweed Stirs’ on a dark night.
Albums available here:
(Castles In Space)
Even in the sleepiest corners of Chris Sharp’s native Essex, the battle between Betamax and VHS must surely now have been settled. But the follow-up to 2020’s Dick and Stewart is an homage to the outmoded TV and video formats of his youth, introducing a fuzzy warmth to Sharp’s trademark dystopian synthscapes. In ‘Luma’, the relentless ticks of a front parlour clock are quickly subsumed by radiophonic sweeps, and ‘Red, Green, Blue’ has plummy samples from some Precambrian BBC training tape. The perfect musical evocation of the vertical hold going haywire once again.
Teliffusion is released on 21st May.
LETTERS FROM MOUSE
“This album is meant to be listened to while staring out of your window…” So says Steven “Letters From Mouse” Anderson of this adorable collection of modular instrumentals, inspired by the impressive selection of wildlife seemingly teeming from the local woods into his Edinburgh back garden. So ‘Christian Died With His Boots On’ is a heartrending Gaelic lament to a deceased squirrel, and ‘Gerald’ a delightfully wonky homage to a visiting field mouse. It would charm the birds right out of the trees, if they hadn’t come down for bread crusts already.
Album available here:
IVAN THE TOLERABLE
(Library Of The Occult)
Middlesbrough polymath Oli Heffernan takes the X10 bus to the farthest reaches of the solar system. Certainly there are hints of Sun Ra’s cosmic jazz in this psychedelic maelstrom, although he claims more grounded inspiration: the “footage of white people crying over statues of racists” that helped define the uniquely depressing shitstorm of 2020. From the drifting sax, wah-wah synths and edgy grooves of eight-minute opener ‘Gold Hat’ onwards, it’s the sound of a man finding mental escape from lockdown – bombarded by rolling news, but seeking salvation among the stars.
Album available here:
Music For Machines
County Durham’s Liam White – formerly Sick Robot – has dabbled with chiptune in the past, but this new incarnation feels like a farewell to his fascination with obsolete technology. So the rasp of a dial-up internet modem punctuates the crisp beats of opener ‘Call Back’, and the anthemic 80s synth stylings of ‘Voyager’ are crying out for a languid Grace Jones vocal. But the head-pounding title track and the swirling assault of the closing ‘UFONAUT’ feel more slickly contemporary: as the latter’s robotic narrator starkly insists, “the future is now”.