Music Reviews

cover
Artist: Amp Studio
Title: Uncertainty Principles
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Ampbase (@)
Rated: *****
It seems that the artwork for this new output by Amp Studio, the solo project by Richard 'AMP' Walker, the leading mind behind the space-rock/electronic rock project AMP - I wouldn't believe if someone will profess a devotional fan of contemporary shoegazing/psychedelic rock stuff like that coming out by bands like Spiritualized, Seefeel, Flying Saucer Attack or even Spaceman 3 without knowing AMP's sound -, got created by processes aimed to produce random images. In reality, it vaguely reminded me the cover artwork of 'Astral Moon Beam Projections', AMP's second album (featuring the hypnotical singing by Karine Charff and the drumming by Gareth Mitchell), a fantastic set of sort of space rock ballad, which was heavily influenced by Texan post-ambient, some codeine-like sounding psychedelic rock and some well-known reveries by My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins. I am not so sure if such similarity was intentional or not, but many moments of this output by Richard reminded that feeling of confused bliss, inspired by or inspiring the above-mentioned album. The title 'Uncertainty Principles' is a dedication to that kind of unexpected beauty, coming from casual or complex processes that musicians can find out during long studio sessions - something similar to those scientific or medical breakthrough that happened and keep on happening by accident! -. The idea of assembling this album came after an unexpected request for a copy of "Tiller" - lovely ambient track that sounds one of the best choices to stare at northern lights -, a track included as a tail of the first lp/cd in 'Uncertainty Principles', and the subsequent research of the master where it was stored. Richard himself thought that some of the findings in that archive - including the chillingly borderline ambient of "Slip", the enchanting balance of "Misstype Dolittle" (a track whose sound vaguely reminds some moments of the above-mentioned 'Astral Moon Beam Projections') and the evocative "Sleep City Drone", one of that kind of tune fitting a nocturnal riding over the desert streets of a metropolis in wintertime - deserved a new life. So that he partially reworked and revamped them by adding some interesting new sonic spices, such as the use of an effected typewriter as a percussion in "Misstype Dolittle", the inclusion of noises from urban environments in "Sleep City Drone" or the dilatation of the blissful emotions inspired by "Slip" into different moments ("Sliptwo" and "Photon Sphere"). The randomised sequence of computational bleeps, splashes and electronic gurgling over the nine minutes of "Mort Irritées", an homage to 'musique concrete' and the amazing work by Pierre Henry, who can be considered the firestarter of that branch of electroacoustic music, is considerably different from other tracks of "Uncertainty Principles". "Uncertainly Alive" - the transcript version of a live performance that Richard made in Bethnal Green, East London under invitation -, the track that takes most of the second part of the album (it lasts more than half an hour), is one of the more exciting moments of the whole album: the first part reminds me something in between one of the earlier lucid raving by Edward Ka-Spel, an elemental evocation (as well as some of the highest lyrical peaks) by the well-known stalker (both in Tarkovskij's movie and Strugackij bros' novel) and a whispered prophecy in the middle of more or less ethereal sonic streams and icy blows, before it turns into a sort of self-exorcism or forced catharsis following the transmutation fo this sonic set into something closer to the mechanical cycles of a washing machine. The piano-driven final track "Flashbacks" got matched to a possible landfall following a situationist "derive".



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