Saturday, September 19, 2020
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Artist: Pye Corner Audio (@)
Title: Sleep Games
Format: CD
Label: Ghost Box Records (@)
Rated: *****
As we approach Kurzweil's singularity, epochs and eras are running together in a permanent ontological NOW. The future is unfathomable, so we strive to master history, perhaps in an attempt to better understand the times we are living in. We are attempting to eradicate the grievous crimes against taste found in any era, and reinvent ourselves in the process. Ghost Box, the label run by Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly) and Julian House (The Advisory Circle) have been ahead of the curve since the label's inception in 2004, materializing an alternate history located somewhere between the years of our lord 1954 and 1978. With 'Sleep Games,' the most recent and most realized work by The Head Technician, the force behind Pye Corner Audio, they have expanded their template by about 7 years, and allowed in cosmic disco forces into Belbury's town square, lit the pastoral avenues with phosphorescent lights and polished chrome.

The Head Technician, aka Martin Jenkins, is a self-proclaimed John Carpenter devotee, and the predominant mood of 'Sleep Games' is akin to escaping from New York in The Fog, while someThing follows ominously, just beyond the halo of yr taillights. But Jenkins is also obsessed with early Detroit Techno: Carl Craig, Juan Atkins, Drexciya, Underground Resistance. He adorns the '80s plasticine sheen of horror movie synth explorations with a pillowy thump and colorful sequencer arpeggios, making a cyberpunk superbeast of atmospherics and danceability. Its a way forward for Ghost Box, who could flounder under their own archaic electronica, if they weren't careful.

'Sleep Games' is an exciting listen; its supposed to sound like movie music. It seems as if something is going on. With track names like 'The Mirror Ball Cracked,' 'A Door In The Dry Ice,' and 'Underneath The Dancefloor' 'Sleep Games' conjures mysterious visions of night drives and haunted discotheques. Some have referred to PCA's sound as 'Spectral Electronics'. It sounds like someone driving a speeding Delorean to catch the library before it closes, with churning fog obscuring the fields and barns of sleeping Belbury, in an attempt to subdue the sleeping demon beneath the haunted dancefloor, so that the good townspeople may dance and take pills and make merry in safety and splendour.

All of the drum machines and synths are lovingly sources from analogue, giving an old school crunch and warmth to the proceedings. As the Earth is riddled with neat, meticulous ADD-addled bedroom producers, rough hewn homemade electronica seems to be coming back in fashion, things which are personal and irreproducible, that seem like they COME from somewhere. The soul of the circuitboards, and the chi of the vacuum tubes are captured and transmitted in the stygian troughs of the spinning vinyl, an ineffable specter that is increasingly mandatory, in the dense oversaturated music industry. Martin Jenkins gives a loving touch to everything he produces, and has found a spiritual home in the town of Belbury, as part of the Ghost Box coven. Mark Fisher, aka K-punk, one of the patron saints of Hauntology, has even given his blackened benediction to 'Sleep Games', acting as a creative consultant for the haunted tenement cover art, lovingly created by labelhead Jim Jupp. Every mark of excellence is present and accounted for, proving Pye Corner Audio and Ghost Box to be at the peak of their powers, taking risks and creating worlds. It is exciting to watch their world grow and shift, and it is a magickal world to lose one's self in. With '80s movie scores gaining visibility and respectability, starting with 2010's Unsound Festival in Cracow, Poland, which focused on horror-themed music, to seeing classic scores lavishly re-issued on vinyl by the likes of Death Waltz Recording Company, perhaps people are finally ready to hear Pye Corner Audio's mouldering electronica. Its his best work yet, and a triumph and a new direction for Ghost Box, which continues to set the standard for Victorian Techno.


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