new from empire ashnav: human combustion engine vi

March 28, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Human Combustion Engine VI: Games Without (CDr, Ilse, Ilse 34)

human combustion engine games without cover

When asked ‘Rob, what is your favourite band?’ I am happy to reply with frank conviction ‘Ashtray Navigations.’  I admit to being distracted occasionally by acts new to me – witness my fawning adulation of, say, Aqua Dentata or Helicopter Quartet or Spoils & Relics – but it is to Phil and Mel I always return.  Even the seemingly irresistible embrace of Culver can be shrugged off in their presence (aside: my devotion is just one of the many traits I apparently share with punk legend Henry Rollins, a fellow Todd collector).

So what a heady delight to be treated in quick succession to three new products from the extended AshNav Empire.  The compilation Knurr & Spell and the Ashtray Navigations / Pelktopia split vinyl LP – both excellent – will be dealt with in due course, as fatherhood allows.  For now we concern ourselves with a brief account of the release above.

Games Without is the sixth volume in the continuing saga of Human Combustion Engine, Mel and Phil’s krautrock/prog synth incarnation.  The package is entirely standard: pro-copied CD-r in jewel case with colour insert.  The content is one 45 minute track constructed from subtle tweaking and restrained knob twiddling.  The effect is to induce a maximal reverie just as involving as any of the preceding episodes.

I imagine it as a conversation between enormously powerful artificial intelligences.  The background buzz and throb being the sound of their daily planet-running business, the pulses being the information-rich exchanges between them.  Perhaps they are discussing the relative merits of the civilisations that created them, like demigods comparing worshippers.  The banter remains civil until at one point something offensive is said (“those Alpha Centauri twats smell of cabbage,” perhaps) and before tempers can be cooled a giant space rock is thrown at the Urals.  The subject is quickly changed and we finish more or less where we started.  Lovely.

Buy here.

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