as tweeted by nasa: tuluum shimmering, daniel thomas, kevin sanders and plurals on sheepscar light industrial

June 1, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Tuluum Shimmering – Inside the Mountain (3″ CD-r, edition of 50, or download, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.016)

Daniel Thomas & Kevin Sanders – Transit Timing Variations (3″ CD-r, edition of 50, or download, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.017)

Plurals – Gland Extraction (3″ CD-r, edition of 50, or download, Sheepscar Light Industrial, SLI.018)

tuluum shimmering sli 016dan and kev sli 017plurals sli 018soundsfromdistantworlds

The more science-literate amongst you will be familiar both with the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler (if not, may I recommend The Sleepwalkers by Arthur Koestler, an enthralling history of cosmology) and are likely to be aware that NASA are currently using a spacecraft named for him to search for planets orbiting other stars.  It is fascinating, mind-blowing work and I recommend you check out the mission team’s website for news of their discoveries.  Just recently there was heart-in-mouth excitement as the mechanism that keeps it pointing in the right direction broke and had to be fixed from the ground using other systems aboard the craft – an amazing achievement.

Last year Daniel Thomas (of Hagman and Sheepscar Light Industrial) and Kevin Sanders (of Petals and hairdryer excommunication) titled their collaborative album Transit timing observations from Kepler, partly in homage to this scientific marvel and partly as a nod to their history as near-neighbours in the ‘Keplers’, a series of terraced streets to be found in salubrious, downtown Sheepscar.  A short, glowing review of this cardamom-scented loveliness can be found here.

Around the time the Kepler team were planning the rescue of their stricken equipment Dan released another twenty minutes of his work with Kev as one of the three new SLI discs pictured above.  He took to twitter to congratulate them on their success, mentioning Transit Timing Variations in passing, and to his amused delight found himself retweeted by NASA!  Nerdgasm!  See screenshot!  This is possibly the coolest claim to fame I have heard since my old mate Graham declared that his great-aunt invented Soreen malt loaf.

So what of the track?  The first half of ‘Architectures of Multiple Planet Systems (Parts One & Two)’ feels like the grinding gears of a monstrous, gymnasium-sized orrery, illustrating the motions of an alien solar system, powered by the sweaty exertions of three creatures strapped into more-or-less human-sized hamster wheels.  Amidst the whirling bodies a robed professor directs his students’ attention to a terracotta globe.  For the second half we cut to the real surface of the planet represented and follow a probe as it funnels dust with its proboscis.  Alighting on a rocky outcrop, the snout is replaced with a diamond tipped drill and the low throb and swarming buzz of the tool blots out the ambient soundscape.  Soon it reaches a conclusion satisfactory to its programme and in a spacecraft orbiting above sleeping miners are roused from suspended animation…

Inside the Mountain by Tuluum Shimmering is a far more bucolic affair.  Picture the village the day after the Sultan’s visit.  It would usually be far too small a place to warrant royal patronage but the Sultan has warm memories of childhood vacations nearby and surprised his entourage by insisting it be placed on the schedule.  Anyway, the visit was a great success.  All were charmed by the generosity of the villagers and informality of the setting.  The performance given by the local gamelan orchestra had been faultless, the extra musicians roped in from around the area were just as accomplished and the wayang kulit theatre was exquisite.  Now the dalang dozes under a tree as children play irreverently with his shadow puppets.  The musicians gather to congratulate each other and laugh at the memory of hitting on high borne women at the fringes of the party.  Someone sits at an instrument and starts up a gentle rhythm, others join in with whatever kit is to hand.  Soon a sunny, slightly hung-over groove settles in and the villagers smile and nod their heads to it as they tidy up and return to normality.  Lovely.

Finally, we come to Gland Extraction by Plurals.  I consider securing this release to be something of a coup for SLI because, in my mind at least, these guys (a quartet I think) are superstars.  Their work – an evolving, mutating, (semi-)improvised, multi-sourced noise – is impressively difficult to write whimsical stories about because it already contains a very strong narrative drive.  It is like being told a tale in a foreign language and trying to figure it out from the tone of voice and body language of the storyteller.  Fascinating, inscrutable.  Oh, what the hell, I’ll give it a go.  How about this: a team of scientists are developing a new weapon designed to terrorize the battlefield: sentient barbed wire.  Scary thought, eh?  The first part of the track documents the gradual awakening of this biomechanical creature.  Finding itself in a sealed, thick walled concrete room, it maps out its environment with sinuous, whipping lengths of razorwire, sliding hooked feelers into the corners.  With mounting claustrophobia it works itself into a frenzy, a billowing cloud of angry sharps.  At this point (around the 13 minute mark) the scientists open a previously hidden hatch and the thing squeezes itself through like an octopus.  Now outside its AI circuits are flooded with information and the scientists monitoring its response soon realise their mistake – they’ve given it too much.  This giant silver tumbleweed races through consciousness and its implications and, over a five minute crescendo which is possibly the most invigorating passage of music I’ve heard all year, pushes out the other side into nirvana.  Genius.

At the time of writing, the physical object versions of these releases are more or less sold out but downloads can be had on a pay-what-you-like basis from the Sheepscar Light Industrial Bandcamp site.

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