Electronic Sound: Reviews (Issue 87)

Reviews originally published in Issue 87 of Electronic Sound magazine, March 2022:

VARIOUS ARTISTS
Look To Imber
(Modern Aviation)


Look To Imber? Easier said than done. You might need to visit on a Bank Holiday, for a start. Rarely open to the public, it’s a deserted village on Salisbury Plain, requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence in 1943 and frozen in time ever since. Its buildings stand derelict, hollowed out by decades of military exercises, and the historic Church of St Giles looms like a sentinel across the spectral remains of a once-thriving community. This superlative collection of gentle electronica pays heartfelt homage to these echoes of a vanished world.

So Stellarays’ ‘Votre Passeport’ is jazz-tinged melancholia, and The Leaf Library’s ‘A Stone In Water’ adds muted trumpet to a wistful folk lament. But it’s Rebecca ‘Bredbeddle’ Lee’s 10-minute ‘Eventide’ that proves the album’s charred and battered keystone… a heart-tugging sound collage of lilting woodwind and fractured guitars that disintegrates into affecting chaos. Elsewhere, Burd Ellen’s take on the traditional ‘Bushes And Briars’ is chillingly stark, and Oliver Cherer’s ‘Saint Giles At Imber’ swells to a passionate, anthemic march. It’s a stirring conclusion to an album of touching and elegant delights.

Album available here:
https://musiqueparavion.bandcamp.com/album/look-to-imber

TONY PRICE
Mark VI
(Telephone Explosion)  

It reads like the premise of a Coen Brothers film. In 2020, with the air industry in pandemic lockdown, Toronto producer Tony Price found himself stranded in New Mexico. The solution? He bought a 1981 Lincoln Continental Mark VI from a retired DJ and drove the 1,800 miles back to Canada himself. And his journey was soundtracked by a carrier bag of cassettes discovered in the boot: crackly recordings of long-forgotten late night US radio shows, haunted by the hissy ghosts of early techno workouts and sledgehammer electro-funk.

Mark VI is his bold attempt to recreate the feel of that epic journey. Hypnotic beats provide limitless fuel as the scenery gradually changes around us. ‘Learning From Las Vegas’ adds sleazy sax solos and deliciously filthy bass, ‘Aerosol’ and ‘115 BPM’ are squelchy old school house, heightened by the howls of late night sirens and police radio chatter. Spiritually if not geographically, the clubs of Detroit and Chicago loom large. It’s a hell of a trip, and the closing ‘House Of Information’ – a discombobulating collage of ancient radio commercials, crackly timechecks and jazz-infused brass – is the perfect summation of the melancholy of journey’s end.

Album available here:
https://tonypriceto.bandcamp.com/album/mark-vi

THE NIGHT MONITOR
Their Dark Dominion
(Fonolith)

Just another day in 1970s Sussex… A Satanic cult called The Friends of Hecate have taken up residence in Clapham Woods, and are conducting appalling rituals within spitting distance of the A280. Staggeringly, these allegations were once made in earnest, and Neil Scrivin’s album is the bombastic soundtrack to an imaginary 1987 ITV documentary. Great fun it is, too… ‘Under The Greenwood Tree’ sounds like Paddy Kingsland produced by Trevor Horn, and ‘Hecate, Goddess Of The Underworld’ is the most mystical synth exploration of British woodland since Clannad first set foot in Sherwood Forest.

Album available here:
https://thenightmonitor.bandcamp.com/album/their-dark-dominion

HOUSEPLANTS
II
(Win Big)


There’s no stopping Oli “Ivan The Tolerable” Heffernan. And who’d want to? Anyone producing epic cosmic jazz in central Middlesbrough deserves to be treasured. On this, his second Houseplants album, languid funk stylings accompany the deadpan narratives of Leighton Crook, once of Edinburgh art-rockers Country Teasers. “I move around like a one-legged spider / And I cannot look at your vacant expression” shrugs Crook on the 12-minute ‘Like A Monkey Loser II’. It’s stirring stuff, an album of illuminating contradictions: half Mark E Smith, half Mighty Boosh. Beat poetry for Brexit Britain.

Album available here:
https://ivanthetolerable.bandcamp.com/album/ii-lp-dl-win-big-records-2022

Electronic Sound – “the house magazine for plugged in people everywhere” – is published monthly, and available here:

https://electronicsound.co.uk/

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