Family Battle Snake - Optimistic Suburbia
Chocolate Monk. Choc 182 CDR
Emeralds/Dilloway - Under Pressure
Hanson Records CDR
Aaron Dilloway - Chain Shot
Hanson Records CD. HN207
Aaron Dilloway - Chain Balled
Turgid Animal 7” TA396
Aaron Dilloway - Face Mask
Turgid Animal 7” TA396-1
In a recent bout of self indulgence I withdrew with ‘The Golden Hour of the Future’. A release in which the proto Human League screw around with home made synths and ‘associated peripheral devices’ producing a sound that had me going all soft in the neck, eyeballs rolling into the back of my head as if in practice for my recently injected junky scene in the latest Lynch flick. It’s the kind of music that immediately puts you in a time and place, i.e. a grotty, broken, industrial late 70’s England where Embassy Number 6 and Webster’s bitter ruled in ubiquity. Those who think the Human League were just silly haircuts and synth pop sing-a-longs will be surprised to find more similarities here with Throbbing Gristle rather than Depeche Mode. I for one delight in all manifestations of the analogue synth and ‘associated peripheral devices’. Homemade, Moog, beat up and scratchy, if it produces sounds like this then all is well.
The analogue synth has seen a resurgence of late, Emeralds being the most notable protagonists but others have been indulging too, including Berlin resident Family Battle Snake. Coupled with a reel to reel tape [and no doubt many another piece of obscure kit] FBS has here constructed two tracks of such blissful cranial drift that its been a hard choice between The Future and Optimistic Suburbia all week long.
For want of a comparison both untitled tracks fit somewhere between the spacier moments of Edgar Froese and the industrial wastelands of Steve Stapelton’s more recent spacial offerings. But thats just to give you something to work on for these are two busy tracks gently going about their business evolving whilst keeping the ears entertained, drawn in, cajoled and surprised. Its this constant development that sets Optimistic Suburbia apart from meeker, more mundane offerings. All too often you hear a release where drone merchant A settles for plan B, sets a course for C and stays there until the batteries run out. From the almost sci-fi like helicopter whoops at its start to the barely audible mutterings and monkey chatter during track two, its 40 minutes of cranial drift thats as good as anything I’ve heard so far this year and in that statement I include Emeralds ‘Solar Bridge’.
Aaron Dilloway now spends his time cajoling sounds out of eight tracks, tape loops and field sounds, so I was somewhat apprehensive as to how all that would fit in to an Emeralds release. Thier sound is so pure that you feel that any kind of dilution will lead to a weakening of it. It kind of works although the second track [all untitled] is the weakest and this is the one that seems to have the heaviest Dilloway hand with a loop of an echoing, degraded vocal running through its core. The sublime third track, which begins in such delicate fashion that it takes about two minutes for the drone to emerge, is another killer slice of Emeralds head float with long notes taking an age to mature against lake edge guitar shimmers. Dilloway is here in the shape of an approaching storm; steel sheets beaten in a distant tree, an incoming subway car. Its sublime material yet again and one I never tire of listening to.
Dilloway’s solo material is a mass of destroyed loops, crushed pigeon coops and ethnic field recordings. It’s also another fine example of taking whats now deemed obsolete hi-fi equipment [8-track] and working it into something unrecognisable. Much as I admire the tape manipulations of Howard Stelzer and Scott Konzelmann [Chop Shop] I now admire the work of Aaron Dilloway. Capstan heads are squeezed, spools slowed, contact mics chewed, tape loops spill, reinvention is the key. Chain Shot sounds like it does contain the sound of a chain being pulled, a draw bridge being drawn up, it also contains the loop of some seriously damaged lungs or it could be the wind whistling over the top of a bleak moor at 4 a.m. Both Chain Shot and the following Execution Dock are 15 minute outings suggesting that these may have once belonged on a C30 and once again we’re drawn into ancient technology - but all for the good. What’s billed as a bonus track on Chain Shot is the meat though: Medusa is 28 minutes of a deep sea divers heavy breathing, escaping air bubbles and low industrial moan. Peeling away the layers reveals running water, a looped churn and the sound of the Indian army doing 6 a.m. star jumps.