Electronic Sound: Reviews (Issue 89)

Reviews originally published in Issue 89 of Electronic Sound magazine, May 2022:

GHOST POWER
Ghost Power
(Duophonic Super 45s)

Stand by for action! If the opening clatter of this gloriously daffy album doesn’t make you think of some long-lost Thunderbirds spin-off, with jerky puppets of Tim Gane and Jeremy Novak awaiting lift-off to the pop stratosphere in a rocket made from 1960s Cornflakes packets, then you’re clearly in the pay of The Hood. Or whichever dastardly arch-villain is attempting to stamp out such life-affirming musical missions from their secret base inside a dormant volcano.

Imagine Barry Gray joining the Radiophonic Workshop in 1965 and asking Dick Mills to beef up his barking, brassy theme tunes with backwards tape loops of bubbles being blown through glasses of Corona Cream Soda. Yep, it’s that good. 2020 single and album opener ‘Asteroid Witch’ is the call to arms here, its Joe 90 bassline punching through waves of twangy guitars, fearless paradiddles and the strident parping of some ancient studio organ. Was there ever a Thunderbirds hero called “Vox Continental”? There should have been.

From thereon, it’s spy movie madness galore. Gane and Novak, of course, both have previous form in boldly battling the forces of dullness. Gane with Sterolab and, latterly, Cavern Of Anti-Matter – whose 2018 soundtrack to Peter Strickland’s In Fabric now feels like Ghost Power’s moodier older brother. Novak, meanwhile, was one-half of 1990s US retro-futurists Dymaxion. They claim to have largely worked remotely, in Berlin and New York respectively, but it’s hard to hear heroic anthems like ‘Lithic Fragment’ and ‘Panic In The Isles Of Splendor’ without imagining the pair of them kicking back in adjacent egg chairs, sipping daytime Martinis in close proximity to a wide selection of black polo necks.

The fun literally never stops. ‘Zome Primer’ boasts seductive harpsichords. Is there any other kind of harpischord? ‘Vertical Section’ is a riot of sexy, squelchy synths. And the 15-minute finale, ‘Astral Melancholy Suite’, soundtracks an epic journey through deep space to Planet Cornflake itself, via Joe Meek’s I Hear A New World and a blanket of vintage bleeps and swirls that gently fade into cosmic oblivion. It’s a curiously touching conclusion to an album of unalloyed delights. Ghost Power are GO!

Album available here:
https://ghost-power.bandcamp.com/

ANDY FOSBERRY
Celebrate The Life
(3rd and Debut Records)

“I wanted to make something positive,” claims Hampshire beats maestro Fosberry. “Music that looked forward to summer, or had nostalgia for warmer days”. But while it may have a lighter touch than some of his more intense horror soundtracks, Celebrate The Life isn’t quite the full S Club 7. Opener ‘Your Tapestry’ combines skittish beats with sinister ambient swirls, and even the hallucinogenic bleeps of ‘The Sun Outside’ suggest something nasty lurking in the trees behind the picnic site.

You know those broken afternoon naps with the telly burbling away? It’s a bit like those. ‘It’s All Only A Dream, Get Up’ has layers of manipulated harmonies, descending softly into rhythmic, half-conscious breathing. ‘Intentions’ is the theme tune of the dedicated daytime dozer, a delightful jumble of playful rhythms and whispered synth lines. And ‘A Way Home’ even adds gloriously incongruous guitar lines and a murmured vocal: “Is that how it is? It’s kind of rough / The deep stuff will find its own way home…” A splendidly warm-hearted album that gently stretches towards tantalising sunshine.

Album available here:
https://andyfosberry.bandcamp.com/album/celebrate-the-life

OKSANA LINDE
Aquatic And Other Worlds
(Buh Records)

The Venezuelan Delia Derbyshire, anyone? That’s the buzz, but this collection of joyous 1980s recordings has more in common with the work of melodic Moog-ticklers like Wendy Carlos or Isao Tomita. Born in Caracas to a Ukrainian family, Linde gave up the day job in 1981 and devoted herself to electronic composition with a borrowed Polymoog and a reel-to-reel recorder. And blimey, she made some great stuff. ‘Viaje Hacia La Luz’ is a monolithic slab of anthemic devotions, ‘Playa Caribe’ a lesson in gentle grooviness, a carefree evocation of this sun-baked island paradise.

Only one track here has enjoyed any kind of previous release. ‘Mariposas Acuáticas’, a playful homage to Latin butterflies, appeared on a long-lost 1985 French compilation that even Linde herself professes not to own. This is the first-ever commercial collection of her recordings, and – at the age of 74 – she deserves heartfelt appreciation for music that positively teems with exuberant ebullience. Pour a glass of pop, skip straight to ‘Psicocatálisis’, and crack a bloody smile. It’s nearly summer.

Album available here:
https://buhrecords.bandcamp.com/album/aquatic-and-other-worlds

IN THE NURSERY
Humberstone
(ITN Corporation)


Some families keep their entire histories in a single battered photo album, so kudos to Arthur Humberstone, a prolific home movie-maker whose 1960s and ‘70s films of twin sons Nigel and Klive form the bedrock of this affecting record. Over four decades, the Sheffield-based brothers have produced prodigious quantities of music, but perhaps none quite so personal as this.

No time for introspection, though. It’s a big sound. Epic. Brassy horns, orchestral swells, pounding drums. Opener ‘Émigré (The Dressmaker)’ is a rousing homage to the 19th century Humberstones who lost their lives sailing to a new life in New Zealand, ‘Suvla Bay (The Cavalry Man)’ a cello lament for a great uncle who served at Gallipoli. ‘Mallards (The Storyteller)’ combines lilting piano with hissy recordings of their late mother’s bedtime stories, and ‘Ektachrome (The Animator)’ is a Floyd-esque love letter to Arthur, whose accompanying video – comprising those glorious 8mm home movies – will melt the flintiest of hearts. Bold and beautiful, it’s a family album of impressive ambition. 

Album available here:
https://inthenursery.bandcamp.com/album/humberstone

OCH
Pö Om Pö
(Rocket Recordings)


Those susceptible to hypnagogic hallucinations will be familiar with the headspace of this darkly psychedelic album. Thankfully it doesn’t come with free giant spiders for your headboard, but apparitions of Cluster clearly haunt the bedroom ceiling of this enigmatic Swedish combo. The drums of opener ‘Bolid’ kick us straight into dream territory with a hypnotic, drone-fuelled groove, while ‘Silverstjärnan’ adds church organs and armies of wah-wah. And ‘Bråviken’ is perhaps the most terrifying wig-out ever to be named after a small bay on the Baltic Sea. Glorious, but leave a night light on.

Album available here:
https://o-c-h.bandcamp.com/album/p-om-p

AUDIO OBSCURA VS BLACK SONAR
A Scream From Outer Space
(Subexotic Records)


“Hello from the children of planet Earth…” Inspired by the 1977 launch of the Voyager space probes, Neil Stringfellow (Audio Obscura) joins Alfonso Montagnese and Michael Facchini (Black Sonar) on a joint mission to evoke the loneliness of interstellar travel. ‘Swimming In The Dust’ combines soothing drones with samples from the probes’ famous ‘Golden Record’, before gentle beats guide us further into the blackness. ‘Asteroid Belt’ boasts gloriously discordant piano, and the unearthly swooshes of ‘Dark Was The Night’ are the distant rattle of analogue technology, lost in the void.

Album available here:
https://subexoticrecords.bandcamp.com/album/a-scream-from-outer-space

ELIN
Secret Work
(Bandcamp)


Once the shy guitarist with Teesside alt-folkers Dressed Like Wolves and post-rock dreamers Hold Music, Maelin Brown has vanished inside a battered laptop, sending only this charming missive to an unfeeling world. Hisses, clicks and fizzles abound… ‘if.ke’ is the sound of a pulsing electronic heartbeat; ‘kocyu’ the patter of Radiophonic rain on a misted-up window. Two tracks are named after keyboard symbols, with ‘~’ the fizzling highlight. Short, fragile and oddly moving, it’s an album of tiny delights drenched in lonely melancholy. Music for long sighs, cold tea and half-eaten pikelets.

Album available here:
https://elin.bandcamp.com/album/secret-work

MYTHS AND MONSTERS
Cecaelia
(Bandcamp)


It’s like a mermaid, but with tentacles. We’re unsure whether Lancashire’s Steve Whiley has actually seen a Cecaelia on his walks around the Pendle countryside, but these rural rambles and a love of mythology inspired this bombastic second album. He’s in thrall to 1980s B-movies – ‘Out Of Time’ is surely the soundtrack to Kurt Russell blowing up a giant octopus – but there’s playfulness, too. ‘Porcelain Dolls’ is Toytown horror, the sinister pattering of tiny feet across bedroom floors, and ‘Siren’ boasts the ethereal vocals of enigmatic local folkie, Amber. Stridently good fun. 

Album available here:
https://mythsandmonsters.bandcamp.com/album/cecaelia


Electronic Sound – “the house magazine for plugged in people everywhere” – is published monthly, and available here:
https://electronicsound.co.uk/

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