Electronic Sound 34

Issue 34 of Electronic Sound is now available. Focussing in on the world of soundtracks to coincide with the release of Blade Runner 2049, the latest issue includes an exclusive 7″ containing extracts from Louis and Bebe Barron’s genre-defining soundtrack to the sci-fi landmark Forbidden Planet.

My major contribution to the latest issue was an interview with Clint Mansell. Mansell was formerly a member of Pop Will Eat Itself, a band I got into in the mid-90s thanks to a friend at the after-school office jobs we both had, whereupon he plied me with each and every one of their releases up to that point. So smitten by PWEI was I that I did that very 90s thing of buying a t-shirt to show my allegiance, a lovely navy blue Designers Republic thing containing the cartoon band mascot. I was wearing that t-shirt the day I started university, which attracted the attention of another freshman who recognised the logo; we’ve been lifelong friends ever since.

This is a longwinded way of saying that Mansell’s music really matters to me, and so getting the chance to speak to him was a real privilege. Mansell’s inclusion in the Electronic Sound soundtrack issue arises because of his post-PWEI work as a composer for the films of Darren Aronofsky and Duncan Jones’s, developing scores for the harrowing Requiem For A Dream, Moon and the upcoming Mute. And speaking of Mute, which I often do of course, Mansell is pictured in a Mute ‘walking man’ logo in the photos accompanying my feature, and this issue includes a new interview with Mute founder Daniel Miller.

Elsewhere in this issue I wrote a short piece introducing the work of Lithuanian electronic producer Brokenchord, whose new album Endless Transmission is a robust, trip-hop embracing work of great weight. I also wrote short reviews of albums by livesampled piano duo Grandbrothers, the sexually-charged Blade Runner-inspired debut album from Parisian François X, a slinky 80s-inspired R&B album by Submerse, a thoughtful new LP from Aris Kindt and a grainy industrial / minimal release by Vanity Productions issued through Posh Isolation, one of my favourite small labels. To round the issue out, I reviewed the Front & Follow label’s fantastic ten year anniversary compilation Lessons, and surveyed the varied career of Auteurs founder Luke Haines through a new 4-disc box set. Having written the press release and an interview to support the release of Alka‘s The Colour Of Terrible Crystal on Vince Clarke‘s Very Records, it was pleasing to see the album get a deservedly positive review in the latest issue.

You can pick up a copy of the new issue at www.electronicsound.co.uk

(c) 2017 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence for Electronic Sound


Audio Journal 03/07/2014: Front & Follow

Audio Journal logo

Front & Follow are a Manchester-based label who I hadn’t noticed until Clash asked me to review Blind Mouths Eat by The Doomed Bird Of Providence earlier this year. That album really impressed me, even though I initially labelled it a concept album.

The Doomed Bird Of Providence are an Australian group presently based in my old residence of Colchester, and for Blind Mouths Eat the focus of their attention was on a devastating 19th century storm known as Cyclone Mahina. For me, Doomed Bird tapped into the same strand of folk and blues that bands like The Bad Seeds, The Triffids and Crime & The City Solution all made their own during their careers, and I happily gave the album 8/10. I described it as ‘a haunting exploration of hopelessness and violence’.

Blind Mouths Eat, in turn, begat To Mahina, an EP by fellow Front & Follow artist Kemper Norton. If Cyclone Mahina inspired Doomed Bird’s album, the album about the storm inspired Kemper Norton. The response is an EP that takes the mysterious fatalism of the original album and uses that feeling as the basis for a collection of electronic explorations that possess a natural dimension infused with a sort of sea shanty quality. This is all about texture, whereas Doomed Bird’s album was primarily about the narrative; To Mahina lies somewhere between a calm millpond and the terrifying stillness that returns after the devastation, making this an imaginative and captivating release.

Kemper Norton 'To Mahina' artwork

If Kemper Norton is mysterious, Pye Corner Audio are downright mythical. Their WordPress site proclaims them to have been active since the Seventies, but in what capacity it doesn’t say, raising eyebrows and leading the listener to ponder whether this isn’t some fanciful aspiration to create a history where one simply doesn’t exist.

Irrespective, Pye Corner Audio produce brilliant electronic music that has its head firmly placed in the world of analogue synthesis, back at a point where you were more likely to wear a suit and a lab coat to the studio, those early synths being akin to giant science experiments than real instruments. The new Pye Corner Audio 12″ for Front & Follow, The Black Mist EP, takes rich pulses, percussion and melodic sounds and infuses them with a chunky beat that sounds like it was borrowed from the Chemical Brothers’ early works. Towering washes of sculpted synth pads wash in like waves and buzzing drones have the distorted quality of punk guitars. Like the longform explorations of, say, Node, ‘The Black Mist’ has that mesmerising quality that I will use as evidence that electronic music has an inner human quality whenever detractors try to tell me otherwise.

Pye Corner Audio 'The Black Mist' artwork

The B-side features a remix of ‘The Black Mist’ and the detuned Plaid-esque deep ambient electro of ‘Bulk Erase’. Here is a track that could easily be a minimal, slowly-shifting exploration of rhythm and pulse, but Pye Corner Audio aren’t afraid of co-opting classical melodic sensibilities and that’s the case here with an arresting, emotive filmic passage that sounds like it’s begging for use by an independent director.

Front & Follow releases can be found here.

Thanks to Justin.

(c) 2014 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence