Thursday, January 22, 2015

Phil Julian - Trace

Phil Julian - Trace
Harbinger Sound LP. Harbinger 80.

Courtesy of the Sleaford Mods sightings of the words ‘Harbinger Sound’ are now common place within certain sections of the mainstream media. Whodathunk that one? This leads us to the sight of the Guardian's Alex Petridish pointing out that the Sleaford Mods also share a label with the likes of Olympic Shit Man and Cremation Lily. That’s a short lived noise band and a Power Electronics act that once upon a time wouldn’t have got a mention in anything more exalted than a messy copy and paste zine now on show in the Guardian’s Friday culture section. The times they are a-changing.

As far as I'm aware Phil Julian has yet to grace the pages of this nations daily press, but he does share a label with Olympic Shit Man, Cremation Lily and now the Sleaford Mods. He’s shared it since his days as Cheapmachines. Cheapmachines being, from what I’ve heard, work that troubles the noisier end of the spectrum.

Under his own name on ‘Trace’ he creates held in check high frequency feedback, tortured drones and rummaging sounds that could only be contact mics attached to stubborn cutlery drawers. There’s three compositions with ‘Arrival’, the track that takes up the biggest chunk of side two, being a drone capable of causing a vacuum. Its the standout track. Heres where the tension thats apparent on the entirety of this release reaches its peak as two straining analogue fog horns, a tone apart, become ever more complex as the thing evolves into its final exhaled breath.

The side long opener ‘Open Form’ although not as immediate is equally as intense seeing analogue effervescent insect chatter giving way to ghostly whines and those clattering spoons. The five minute ‘Corona’ is tempered synth buzz and an oscillating drone that spirals out of natural hearing range.

Recorded at EMS Elektromusikstudio, Stockholm during 2013 we can only wonder if something Scandinavian rubbed off on Julian such is the sparse nature of his work here. Chuck in the equally matching Eddie Nutall cover art and you have a quality release. Just don’t expect a review in the Guardian any time soon.

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