88 tapes

88 tapes
88 tapes

The first of two releases we’ve recently been fortunate enough to nab from the Cambridge based Kesh imprint. Kesh for those previously unaware – as was I until stumbling across this brace of outings – is a newly formed label overseen by Simon Scott – one time member of shoe gaze / dream pop darlings Slowdive and latterly of Televise and Seavault (with a certain Anthony Ryan of Isan fame). To date the label has released three full lengths (all we hasten to add sadly missed by us) from (the aforementioned) Televise, Mole Harness (known to his parents as James Brewster whose work you can hear via http://www.myspace.com/moleharness – and we feel you should) and Saito Koji (a fukushima based artist whose work can be sampled via http://www.myspace.com/saitokoji).

Essentially a collaborative project, the idea for ’88 tapes’ was hatched when Mr Scott discovered a pile of old cassettes containing recordings, sound samples and melodic sketches that he’d made way back in ’88. Transferring said tapes to a digital medium he was quietly surprised at what he’d found and set about contacting various musicians with a view to handing out said tracks in order for them to work, explore, develop and re-engineer if they so desired or as the press release notes ‘some added field recordings, programmed rhythms, added vocal tracks and others added nothing‘.

The end result ‘88 tapes’ comprises of 14 of those aural ideas shared out to thirteen artists across the globe (Scott works one of the tracks ‘20’ under his own name and applies the sparsely parched atmospheric accoutrements at his disposal into an textured collage of abstract manipulations that to these ears sounds not unlike a magnified recording of a feeding moth built around an edgily brooding backdrop of Hitchcock-ian invention) and a strange though richly rewarding affair it is, the tracks recalibrated into an array of lunatic ambient landscapes (the celestial arcs of Dale Lloyd‘s leviathan like ‘solar mirage’ or the tensely chilled skin prickling bleak overtures of Akira Kosemura‘s ‘old tapes‘), pulsating drone montages (as on Sawako’s re-drill of ‘long long time ago’ – the looping drone swathes transmitting their alien mayday distress call to the cosmic voids whilst sounding not so far removed from early career Vernon Arts Lab as it would have you first believe or the abstract tonalities ominously hollowed and honed by Lawrence English within the mind erasing mesmerics of ‘a spectre of lost time‘ – very Windy and Carl) and out there noise manipulations (as on the glacially framed binary dub white noise showers that shimmer throughout ‘Christopher Bissonnette‘s re-reading of ‘measuring flutter‘ – very EAR if you ask me). If there’s any complaint to be made its just that Scott hasn’t made available the original sources for comparable account.

Last venturing in these pages courtesy of their stunning face off with the Manhattan Love Suicides, Random Number continue their impeccably faultless foray into the realms of the remix world while simultaneously engaging in their unique brand of out there bliss groove obviously keen disciples of Sonic Boom as ’cassette 8’ admirably reveals.

From the Flying Saucer Attack like snow stormed cavernous delicacies applied by Aus to ’esnow’ with its flurries of idling flotillas of lunatic pastoral twinkles scratched and scarred by sheens of cosmic interference to Greg Davis’ re-upholstering of ‘three treasures’ into some darkly woven hypnotically hulking Alphane Moon styled crafting of head frying Kranky-esque psyche mantras, ‘88 tapes‘ provides an illuminating peek into the twilight species and realms of some of the lesser known talents operating within the parameters of the hidden worlds of noise / aural sculpturing.

In the hands of Mark Templeton ’felt’ is richly coaxed with a hitherto sombrely detached almost industrial hollowness, disembodied fragments of sound motifs flicker and disappear endowing a strange early career Pimmon-esque chamber like fluidity to the process. Similarly trained with the air of unease is Ateleia’s encoding of ‘along-a-space-diagonal’ as it pumps from its futuristic mechanoid furnace the emotionless and deeply penetrative detached chill of ominously oppressive opines.

Upon an underpinning landscape of swirling hypnotic tides fourcolor’s ’remix’ playfully dapples its environs with lazily woven pulsing chord plucked figurines whose initially pensive almost somnambulant charm soon begins to slowly thaw and dot the frosty stillness with a shy eyed warmth. ‘XIME’ by Moskitoo or Sanae Yamasaki as she’s better known to kith and kin is a beautifully dreamy cortege of delicately fluffy and willowy sleepy headed spring hued orbital rustic inclines that slyly catches you off guard with its sultry beguile, longingly threaded with twittering binary communications and an utterly endearing faraway beauty teased with such a lazy eyed resonance it could easily pass for Heather Duby or Smile Down Upon Us. The bowed chimes of the mysteriously and eerie though strangely mesmerising ‘33 fainting spells’ by Orla Wren indeed provides a strangely unsettling meditative calm, its tranquil though ostensibly reverent allure ominously manifesting into what can only be described as an enchanting centuries old Tibetan incantation.

The compilation comes available as a download and in limited release quantities – 500 CD’s and a specially commissioned 88 copies only C-88 cassette edition.


Key tracks –
Mosquito ‘XIME’
Orla Wren ‘33 fainting spells’
Random number ‘cassette 8’

First published – September 2008

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