Sunday, November 01, 2015

Ice Yacht - Pole of Cold

Ice Yacht - Pole of Cold
Fragment Factory. FRAG34. C40

The recent resurgence in all things analogue synth has led to a small flood of Klaus Schultze wannabes. Which is good news to ears like mine brought up on Jean Michel Jarre and Tomita but not all of its good news. Because for every Emeralds there will be a Onehotrix Point Never and no matter how much audio mulch electronic labels churn out I'll still be far happier getting my hands dirty in the obscure back catalogs of DIY labels from the late 70’s early 80's.
Like Ice Yacht. Originally appearing in 1981 on the Storm Bugs own Snatch Tapes label it has since languished in obscurity only for it to be given a new lease via Fragment Factory and for that we can all be grateful.

This is the story; a release inspired by the 19th century Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and that a copy of this very tape was discovered and brought back from the frozen north before being defrosted, baked and sprinkled with wuffle dust which thus restored it to its now playable status. Which is complete bollocks of course. Phillip Sanderson is the producer here and since he’s one half of Storm Bugs, that late 70’s early 80’s, since reformed in the 2000’s DIY experimental outfit of some renown, then I would hazard a guess that this is indeed the man himself. But this is mere sideshow.

My knowledge of Storm Bugs is hazy. I have a couple of releases here, reissues of their early stuff which was for the most part was lost in that stampede of creative late 70’s post punk experimentalism years. I once saw them play The Rammel club in Nottingham a couple of years back, synths and gadgets and things and all good and Ice Yacht isn’t too much of a departure from that vein. Not that I’m an expert or anything.

Its touted on the Fragment Factory website as an ‘austere piece of drum loop and drone music’ which isn’t far from the mark but I’d add that some tracks remind me of early Schultze and Froese with those forever driving pulsing overlapping synth rhythms that kept Tangerine Dream fans nodding away for hours on end ['Pole of Cold' and 'Racing in the Arctic Shadow'] except that with this being England [or the North Pole] in the early 80’s this has a far more urban feel to it.  Not exactly Chris Carter but definitely more Deptford than Berlin, while ‘Summer With Snow and Bees’ moves in distinctly Aphex Twin ‘Selected Ambient’ territory. ‘Vostock Station Hallucinations’ is Martin Denny meets the shimmering, going in reverse piano plonk of Keith Jarrett and if you think that sounds weird thats because it is.

When I originally played this all those months ago [apologies to all involved] I found a couple of tracks veered into Industrial plod territory, something which I felt gave this release a lopsided feel. I can forgive this explorer these minor indiscretions tho, this was after all 1981 and whats good for synth lovers then is good for synth lovers now.


Fragment Factory


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