artifacts of the no-audience underground: crimson rainbow facility

December 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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Crimson Rainbow Facility – Unknown Strains (3″ CD-r in handmade packaging, Striate Cortex, S.C.55, edition of 50)

crimson rainbow facilty frontcrimson rainbow facilty cdrcrimson rainbow facilty inserts

Back in the dark days of 2010 when Striate Cortex was a mere mewling babe-in-arms, label-founder Andy Robinson was introduced to the work of Tim Mitchell. When Tim’s CD-r, titled Ch [u47] and recorded under the name Crimson Rainbow Facility, arrived at SCHQ the hand-made packaging and tiny edition (12 copies) alerted Andy to the presence of a kindred spirit. Sure enough the music caught his ear and demanded repeat listens. Shaking himself free of his reverie he fired up Myspace (amazing to think that it was only last year that Bandcamp became truly all-conquering and Myspace was reduced to ‘decaying Victorian graveyard’ status) but Tim had already moved on and left no forwarding address. So that was that for a while.

However, in recent weeks a mutual acquaintance – James Moore of Sapir Whorf – dropped Tim’s name and Andy leapt at the chance to be reintroduced. This belated pairing of Tim’s eerie post-industrial aesthetic with Andy’s unrivalled attention to detail spawned the excellent Impurities by Thossian Process, Tim’s current musical moniker. A package well received ’round these parts.

For the final Striate Cortex release of 2012 Andy has chosen to tie up the loose end that Tim’s disappearance in 2010 left hanging. How satisfying. Unknown Strains is composed of five fragments, totalling 19 and a half minutes, taken from the same sessions that produced the long-gone Ch [u47].

The packaging is a multi-layered treat.  From the inside out: a printed 3″ CD-r in red paper windowed wallet is accompanied by three professionally printed card inserts.  One has the release details on the reverse and a photo of a buttoned down 1950s scientist type on the front – presumably Andy’s reading of Tim’s persona for these experiments – the others have unnervingly unspecific photos of (possibly) bugs, infections, soft tissue and the like.  These objects are tucked into a purple plastic slip which in turn slides into a case of handmade paper. Another clear plastic slip printed with a pattern likely to be microbes or cells or spores or spawn or something equally worrying is the final ornament and the lot is contained within a hygienic plastic wallet.

The music is compelling, eerie, spacious.  Machines emit electronic throbs and skitter.  Bubbles of sound rise and burst releasing snatches of barely audible dialogue from public information films or maybe a videoed record of laboratory life.  It feels like walking around a ruined industrial complex on a frosty morning, taking off your glove to feel the side of a giant centrifuge and, inexplicably, finding it warm to the touch, still humming.  The album and track titles suggest a science fiction tale of escaped contagion, a story compiled from the remaining fragments of the official record but told with the nihilistic, noirish efficiency of Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers.  Hypnotic, immersive, icily calm.

Buy here.

…and let me take the opportunity to congratulate Andy of Striate Cortex on another champion year of terrific releases.  His label is a model of what can be achieved with love, enthusiasm, faith in your own taste, attention to detail and stringent quality control.  All accomplished whilst having pretty much bugger all resources too – he is no trust-fund dilettante: this is all done with graft .  I know that Andy, admirably modest, will not allow artists to thank him on the packaging of his releases so I’m doing it for them here: cheers, man, Happy Christmas and here’s to 2013…

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