kosmotroniks: new from michael clough and striate cortex

May 10, 2013 at 7:52 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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Ürlich Uhrlich – Kosmotron II (2 x 3″ CD-r in handmade package, Striate Cortex, S.C.58, edition of 50)

Various Artists – SCFREE (CD-r, promotional compilation, Striate Cortex, S.C.FREE 1, edition of 50)

Uhrlich frontUhrlich insideUhrlich insertUhrlich inside insertSCFREESCFREE CD-r

Great to see Andy Robinson’s mighty Striate Cortex back in the conversation.  The multi-zellaby-award-winning label has been quiet of late due to Andy having to concentrate on those tangled processes that exist outside of music (I believe they are referred to collectively as ‘life’) but the wait for his return has been worth it.

Kosmotron II by Ürlich Uhrlich is a double 3″ CD-r (truly the format of champions) housed in an example of the exquisite handmade packaging that Striate Cortex is justly famous for.  The CD-rs are ‘on body’ printed and housed in windowed paper envelopes.  These are held against the cover with sashes, behind one is a pro-printed insert containing (very minimal) release details.  The cover is a gate-fold constructed from handmade card and held shut with its own painted sash.  A remarkable object.

Ürlich Uhrlich is one of several mysterious aliases adopted by Michael Clough.  This guy’s invaluable contribution to the underground scene in Leeds, prior to his treacherous decamping to that London,  has been documented elsewhere (see herehere and here, for example).  Nowadays he will be better known to readers of this blog for recordings under his own name and as one third of synth/psyche supergroup Truant (with Phil Todd and yours truly making up the trio).

However, he also has a long history of creating pastiches, homages and oddities and making them semi-available under assumed identities, often with meticulously plausible back stories for the ‘long lost’ artist now ‘rediscovered’.  Nowt has been said (to me at least) about Ürlich Uhrlich so I’m tempted to have a go myself: I’m imagining a German Jewish refugee who fled the Nazis in the 1930s and went on to become a pioneer of electronic music, a genius sound engineer and a shadowy but influential presence both in the foundation of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop and in the New York ‘Downtown scene’ of the 1960s…

Andy reckons the music could have soundtracked Tron and, yeah, I can hear that, but I’m tempted to go much further back.  The tightly wound, relentless back-and-forth of these analogue throbs and pulses suggest a kind of teeth-grinding, cheek-chewing, speed-freak non-narrative: ‘and then, and then, and then, and then…’  Perhaps it should accompany Warhol’s Empire?  Or maybe a time-lapse film of a giant copper clad cathedral dome oxidizing and being encrusted with livid green verdigris?

We could even get a little more active.  How about multi-limbed sport-bots thwacking a dozen basketballs at once to each other across an empty floor of an underground car park?  Or, especially during the bibbling sections of the second track, angry artificial intelligences throwing packets of information around in the hope of winning a competition the rules of which our pitiful brains could not begin to grasp?  Yeah, as good as that.

Also worthy of note is the ten track various artist compilation SCFREE.  This artefact is not for sale but will be supplied free of charge alongside paying orders made to Striate Cortex until the edition of 50 is extinguished.  Andy invited submissions stipulating they be about five minutes in length and ambient(ish) in nature.  The idea being to both encourage business and to promote the work of worthy artists with a connection to his label.  Slick.  No midwich track due to, y’know, ‘life’, but there could well be something from me on volume two.

Anyway, even without me it is pretty much all good.  Everything has the chance to engage, nothing has the chance to outstay its welcome, most leaves you wishing it was twice as long.  My favourites are the four tracks that top and tail the album.  The opener, Tim Newman’s ‘Park Page is Empty’, is a lovely, guitar-led see-sawing throb.  The second track, Mark Bradley’s ‘Sacred Musics’ is a Vangelisian curve of precious metal, slightly discordant to keep its edge serrated (a prime example of what an ex-girlfriend of mine used to call ‘wob-wob’ electronica).  At the other end of the compilation, the ninth track, Daniel Thomas’s ‘Heavy Density’, is the kind of refried physics you might hear whilst lying in your garage-constructed time machine, resisting the temptation to crawl out of the box, at peace, trusting the math and waiting for the cycle to conclude.  The final track, ‘Moonship (Phase One)’ is a live piece by Small Things on Sundays which suggests a desert camp fire scene on a sandy planet.  Huge, docile pack animals purr and buzz as they sleep nearby, ornithopters flap overhead, some radio chatter is ignored as the explorers relax.  Beautiful.

Striate Cortex

2 Comments »

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  1. thank you for mark bradley mention


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