Available on: Spectrum Spools LP

It’s been a good start for Spectrum Spools, the spinoff label from Austrian experimental powerhouse Editions Mego that’s helmed by John Elliot from psych-rock trailblazers Emeralds. Over the first seven or so releases, their investigations of the US “synthesiser underground” – mostly acid-fried excursions into arpeggiated dreamlands, with the same pastoral feel that make Emeralds so compelling – have brought the idyllic, hyper-kinetic sounds of obscure private-press cassettes to an audience suddenly hungry for just this sort of hypnotic, baked sound post Ferraro/Oneohtrix.

Things became significantly more interesting with the label’s eighth release though – the lo-fi drum machine jams of Container sounding like some weird Schnitzler-esque proto techno – and this release too, from Hive Mind, is a further broadening of the palette that the label draws on. Whereas before the earlier Spectrum Spools records had a giddy, uplifting air to their tripped-out rotations, both Container and this release show a a definite and very sharp turn downwards into the outer reaches.

Hive Mind has released a huge number of material under this and other aliases across a range of labels, not least his own Chondritic Tapes, but this is shamefully my first experience of his work. Apparently the product of extended modular synth jams, ‘Elemental Disgrace’ unfolds slowly over two long tracks, which although showing changes of mood and tone all appear to be one giant unified piece, with the track divider only serving as the marker for switching the vinyl over.

It’s dense stuff; breathtakingly thick, enveloping sound. It’s hard to make the case for an album of what is essentially variations on roaring, growling noise to those who aren’t already sold by that description alone – but this really is gripping. No “wall noise” or one dimensional static blast here; there is a huge amount going on, each small part making up the whole. Whether it be the digital cicada sounds that chirp through the latter part of side one, the doomy roaring hat underpin the album’s second half, or the various fizzing, buzzing and whining metallic insects that swarm in various permutations throughout, there are always at least half a dozen disparate elements to latch onto. And in it’s way, that’s what makes this a logical addition to the Spectrum Spools roster – leaving the tonality behind entirely, but still maintaining the restless movement and dynamism of previous entries. This truly immersive, expansive record is without a doubt one of the best noise albums of the year, and is a must for anyone of a curious, abstract inclination.

Ruaridh Law



Share Tweet