DJ set recorded at Sonar by Day by ICat.cat 12.6.2014.
The tracks range from the satellite bleep and lonely synthmelody of ‘Theme From Wrangler’ to the alien carnival rhythms of ‘Modern World’ and the ambient ‘Peace And Love’ (originally recorded for Tate Modern’s Summer 2012 programme ‘Tweet-Me-Up’). In between there’s ‘Lava Land’ – all masked, half-gargoyle vocals and primitive drum machines; the gliding, noir and neon of the title-track ‘La Spark’ and urgent, pulsing floor-filler of ‘Harder’.There are ghosts and echoes of Mallinder’s previous work in Cabaret Voltaire in these songs, especially in the vocals and lyrics, which run like his own internal movie. But the Cabs era it recalls is the unfairly neglected 1983 – 1985, when they released the likes of The Crackdown and Micro-Phonies. Oddly enough this period has been getting re-discovered and re-evaluated via a recent Mute box set, just as Wrangler started mixing this new EP for release in early 2014. Sometimes the landscape changes and you can find yourself in the right place at the right time through a mixture of luck and instinct . . .
Wrangler consists of Stephen Mallinder, best known for his pioneering work with Cabaret Voltaire, Phil Winter of Tunng and Lone Taxidermist, plus the founder of Memetune studios and synth obsessive Benge (John Foxx And The Maths). His studio’s synth-rammed walls have created an environment where sounds are ripped from a golden era of analogue electronic music to create forward-looking, new music.Wrangler formed in the wires of Memetune – a post-LCD, Factory Floor-ed electronic funk machine with VHS tape distortion in its eyes but also capable of sleekness and beauty in the stripped back beats.
In the 1970s — the decade during which he’d produced groundbreaking debut records by Suicide, the Ramones, Richard Hell, and Blondie — Craig Leon went to see an exhibit of ancient art made by a tribe from Mali, the Dogon. Although their people have lived in relative seclusion for centuries, their ancestors developed an impressively complex system of astronomy. The Dogon worship amphibious, extraterrestrial creatures called Nommos, who are believed to have travelled to earth from the distant star Sirius B. All of which might sound a little out there—until you learn that in the 20th century, modern astronomers were astonished to find how accurate the Dogon’s ancient calculations were; somehow, centuries before telescopes, their ancestors had identified stars that were invisible to the naked eye. Leon was as taken with this mystery as he was with his growing collection of synthesizers. He decided to make an album of what he imagined would be playing “on the Nommos’s Walkman” (“They would have had to listen to something on an interplanetary flight… otherwise it would have been very boring”) and, in a cosmic nod to Harry Smith, give it the playful title Anthology of Interplanetary Folk. The resulting collection is a masterpiece of early electronic music—a precursor to later explorations in industrial music, new age, and ambient techno—but up until now, it’s never been heard exactly how Leon intended. Leon composed the Anthology as two “mirror image” parts: The driving and metallic Nommos came out on John Fahey’s Takoma label as a standalone LP in 1981, and its sequel, the softer and more subdued Visiting came out a year later. In the decades it’s been out of print, Nommos in particular has been bootlegged repeatedly, and late last year the California label Superior Viaduct put out a reissue of Nommos against Leon’s wishes. “I had always envisioned a different version of the album being the definitive version,” Leon said, and so the 2013 release spurred him into taking control of the record’s legacy. This new authorized reissue, put out with care by the Brooklyn label RVNG, finally presents Leon’s otherworldly achievement exactly as he wanted it to be heard, with Nommos and Visiting side by side for the first time. [Source]
During one of our visits to New York…we visited the opium dens – foul, ill-smelling places …Upstairs was a much sadder sight for here young girls and women were being initiated into the mysteries of the drug habit. “No,” I said, “I’m not here to preach to you…” …I talked on, longing to help, not knowing what to say. I had at last to come out of that room and close the door on that piteous wreck…”
After his diverse yet cohesive 2013 album The Waiting Room, Jeff McIlwain, better known as Lusine, is back with a more tightly focused EP. McIwain’s discography is intimidating, and over the course of the last few decades, he’s been known for exceeding in a wide array of electronic styles, a rarity among artists of his kind.
The release of Arterial, his fourth EP for Ghostly, marks another successful foray into a niche that most artists would spend their careers immersed in. A calmly effortless work, Arterial is economical in everything it does, creating its own tiny universe to house expertly crafted productions. On the title track, crackling samples simmer like heated atoms narrowly missing each other, suspending us as we wait for release. “Eyes Give In” encapsulates the EP’s feel, taut, with no sound out of place, and yet over the course of its five minutes warming into something undeniably human, even comforting. “Quiet Day,” the most accessible track here, demonstrates McIlwain’s gift for merging heady electronic music with the visceral appeal of pop, as his gorgeous synth melodies compliment submerged vocals.
At 20 minutes, the EP is exactly as long as it needs to be, showcasing yet again the multiplicity that exists within Lusine’s work through songs that form a compact whole. As McIlwain told Giant Step in a recent interview, his goal is to find “beauty in strange places” and “warmth under the surface” through all his music, and on Arterial he fulfills this wonderfully. [Source]