Tagged: dark

Head Tones

EPJUL610

Once again the team of François Heyer, Alexandre Kittel, Claude Spenlehauer and Sébastien Borgo – known collectively as Micro_Penis – comes forth to darken our sunny daydreams with nightmares of noise, ugliness, and all that’s grotesque, absurdist, and unsettling. Der Trompeten Sauber (CHOCOLATE MONK CHOC 268) occupies slightly over one half-hour across its two extended tracks, but contains enough toxic insanity to last you a lifetime. Their previous monstrosity from 2011 called Tolvek has been the subject of much international uproar, is in direct violation of obscenity laws across most of mainland Europe, and Interpol have put their best detectives in charge of tracking down the infamous Ogrob, leader of these despicable infamies. While Tolvek was an unwelcome exploration of the darker side of the human sexual psyche, Der Trompeten Sauber is pretty much a musical and aural hymn to the joys of fellatio…the subtitle conceals it using the German word schwanzlutschen, but the rest of the record makes no bones (and I use the word advisedly) about making plain its preoccupation with “smoking the skin cigar”.

As they did with Tolvek, Micro_Penis work very hard to portray sex as a joyless, unpleasant, visceral and even life-threatening experience, and the horrifying sound-music melange that emerges is full of screams, painful eructations, whistles, gulps, barks, and the sense everywhere of writhing bodies going through the motions as if possessed by the Devil. The lubricious “slurping” noises on track 1 are just plain nauseating. The occasional triumphant trumpet fanfares are completely parodic in this context, openly mocking the notion of “sexual prowess”, and can be read as a rude salute to the man who fails to get an erection. We get the same queasy feelings from the deliciously ironic “easy-listening” musical passages that are used to frame these sleazy episodes. You couldn’t wish for a more extreme take on La Comedie Humaine, and one that’s underwritten with oodles of jet-black humour and lashings of l’esprit Gauloise. What the Red Noise Sarcelles – Lochères LP did for toilet humour, this LP does for the blowjob…finally to top it off, we have the cover photograph by Pierre Chinellato which depicts the band in the midst of some surreal musical theatre which, you have the distinct certainty, will turn into a prime piece of 1970s Swedish porn any second. A repellent, but powerful, record. From 14th October 2014.

Stone Cutter

EPJUL608

Barbarous Tongues (GRAVITY SWARM RECORDINGS UT-43) is a solo record by Nick Hoffman, the perplexing American fellow who’s been responsible a good deal of head-scratching at TSP over the years, mainly due to his refusal to sit neatly inside any known musical genre or category thanks to his obstinate insistence on the right to play heavy metal garage music as well as perform minimal improvisation in the art mode. He’s also stayed pretty much mute as to his themes, subtexts, meanings and intentions, leaving the published statement to say everything (whether it be in sound, images, titles, or all of the above). Personally I’m totally bewitched by Barbarous Tongues, which is one of his more solemn and portentous offerings, but I will remark that it feels like something of a break from his previous cryptical utterances. To begin with, there’s less of that annoying silence, and far less of that sense that pieces are left on tape unedited, unspooling in the raw as they happened, to fend for themselves in a cruel world. Instead, we’ve got quite a variety of sonic experimentation, pieces that start and end in a coherent fashion, and even something that feels like a succession of ideas and thoughts.

For the most part, Barbarous Tongues feels like Hoffman’s personal take on the death-ambient genre and its many variants, such as Cold Black Metal, Darkwave, or Industrial Drone…of course he does it enriched with a lot more intelligence and imagination, instead of trying to bamboozle the listener with cowls, masks, pseudo-ceremonial bullshit and spray-on atmospheres, tricks that seem to have worked across the world for others over the last twenty years and produced no end of worthless solemn drone CDs that are only fit for crappy horror movie soundtracks. Barbarous Tongues pares down the sound, refusing that simplistic “iron coffin doors clanging in Hell” vibe, and yet still manages to emanate deathly tones that are genuinely unsettling and menacing. The occasional mutant hissing that plagues some tracks is like the whispered threat of a sleeping assassin, waiting for you in the darkness. Chilling.

Among the general lugubriousness, two tracks that depart from the formula are ‘Lapis’, which could almost be a field recording of an entire army of crabs scuttling across a granite road, and ‘Stone Fountain’, with its shocking blast of table noise offset by a mysterious fire-alarm ringing in the classroom two blocks away, and a clock ticking away the final minutes we have left to live. With their “acoustic” feel, these two puzzlers escape the self-made trap of the rest of the album, which strives to create a hermetic environment of inescapable, smothering oppression. With their absurdist non-event narratives, they also create the uncanny sensations of a baffling dream.

EPJUL609

That’s what I found with my two ears (and my warped brain), but a lot of the above is also probably triggered by visual associations and Hoffman’s carefully laid-out artwork inserts; for this release, he makes use of the grid design to locate his images in with surgical precision, almost as if preparing a musical score. A story is told as you unfold the package, in images of increasing size. The mysterious stone obelisk is one central motif, repeated thrice as a gigantic poster image when the artwork is unfolded. There’s also a vicious-looking rat, a typical Hoffman demon who is also an anthropophage, a black triangle Monad or Rune, dolls hung from a studio wall like trophies, and the Sutton Hoo burial helmet printed in lurid green…it has never looked so menacing, an implacable force of war and aggression from the past come back for vengeance. With assistance by Guilty Connector on one track, whose label also released this. From 15 October 2014.

Dedicated to Times Passed

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OZmotic / Fennesz
AirEffect
GERMANY S OBJECT SO001CD / FOLK WISDOM FW003CD (2015)

The shortcomings of humankind run astray have prompted this soul-searching, sci-fi collaboration between Italian soundscapers OZmotic and some chap called Christian Fennesz; their ideas transmitted in Oblique Strategy-like snippets such as ‘the discovery of a ‘black box’ lost in the Anthropocene era brings back to life extinct sounds…’ as if designed to denude post-atomic man before the fallacy of his technology-driven ‘progress’ and his inadvertent separation from himself and mother-earth. It’s a mission that unfortunately falls short of its ambitions.

That this self-destructive development can only be held in check, by an admission of ‘primordial instincts and feelings’ – less a return of and more of a cathartic return to the primal – translates into a rather tepid approximation of John Hassell’s Fourth World Music (and not without traces of Eno’s subsequent My Life in the Bush of Ghosts), fusing jazz with vague atmospherics, samples of foreign speech, bestial noises, and ‘ancient rhythmic traditions’ – much like what Future Sound of London made their thing throughout the 1990s, but with all components cancelling each other out. There’s a dubious vintage to the antiquity too: rhythms date back no further than trip-hop: SmZ’s stoned, down-tempo beats overlaid with ethnic samples, providing a narrow definition of ‘future primitive’.

Still, where there’s tension there can be smoke and it rises from Fennesz’s bursts of guitar shredding, his snarls amid the vocalese hubbub on album high-point – ‘Run to Ruin’ – offering a reliable counterpoint to saxophonist Stanislao Lesnoj’s smouldering if inscrutable lines that bob like croutons in a thick, illbient soup. The vocal sections on the other hand – which include the clean-voiced, news soundbites on ‘LiquidMrkt’ (seemingly supressing yet another blur of agitated voices) and the lonely female answerphone ‘epilogue’ declaring that beneath all our social and emotional contrivances lies a wealth of real feeling – convey rather heavy-handedly the prevalent truism that the spiritually barren Western Culture is the agent of the world’s ills.

rec phonophon

Various
[rec.phonophon] 5 Year Archive
GERMANY PHONOPHON NO NUMBER 2 x CD (2014)

Difficult to get a handle on the sprawling expanses of this celebratory double disc compendium from German label/promoter Phonophon: consisting of forty tracks that cover the usual gamut of noise-based electro, ambient, dark wave, free jazz and so on, it is less a release per se than an invitation to the many performances they have organised over the past five years. Tracks have been carefully selected for their compatible degrees of in/directness that treat the listener to a distracting audio wallpaper: less a showcase for individual artists than an approximation of the experience of attending a low-lit live show. And while it pains the hipster in me to admit that beyond Sudden Infant’s distinctively Schimpfluch-ian turn on ‘Basma Cairo Walk’ there’s nary a familiar name in sight, on the strength of pretty much everything here (and the compilation’s eclecticism is its bulwark against boredom) I’d be quite willing to keep an eye out for any one of the artists if they turned up in my town. As for the ‘Archive’ itself: several visits now have yielded me hours of intrigue.

Ghost Flute & Dice

Ghost Flute & Dice
Melody Is God
DENMARK MASTERMIND RECORDS MRCD21 (2015)

A sometimes-awkward mash; our entry into Melody is God omits the flutes but admits a defeated and scratchy violin, a glitch-stepping music-box piano and an ethereal wall of passing cars. Lurching erratically like a broken automaton, it’s an uncaptivating, frozen entrée to what’s to follow: Danish composer Mikkel Almholt’s manipulated piano-driven pieces gradually thawing out to concede a distant longing, theatrically threatened by ‘ghostly’ backdrops of passing cars, wind tunnels and ‘Phrygian’s more malevolent curls of cold static hum. Sparingly added to this dehumanised fusion of acoustic and electronic are Danielle Dahl’s wandering saxophone trails and Trine Odsgaard Nielsen’s lonely Japanese schoolgirl singing, which in their sadness might well be mourning the absence of feeling within the walls of this vast, shadowy house of spirits. Almholt has purposefully refrained from curtailing the whimsies of his guiding ‘melodies’, the emotional result being one of unyielding ambivalence and uncertainty.

The Cosmic Trance into the Void: where spiritual enlightenment takes a wrong turn into delirious darkness

Hic Iacet, The Cosmic Trance into the Void

Hic Iacet, The Cosmic Trance into the Void, Iron Bonehead Productions, 12″ vinyl (2015)

The artwork for this album clearly indicates a meditation session gone mind-blowingly … hmm, dreadfully wrong, at least where human beings seeking enlightenment of a sort that they would be happy with might be concerned … but then, the recording is called “The Cosmic Trance into the Void” so it is intended to lull the listener into a frame of mind where consciousness slips away and the soul is transported, temporarily anyway, into the Black Infinite. Do not be surprised then if the album is more slow than fast and is sometimes repetitive and monotonous. Occasionally there is New Age Eastern-style exoticism in the form of acoustic percussion clash’n’burn with background drone and the use of chimes and deep sonorous chant.

The title track sets up our meditation activity with a crawling, grinding bass-heavy texture alternating with spasms of colossal riff chunks bashing into cymbals and stuttering snares while swamp-monster vocals snarl over the music. The band’s sound is the main highlight though plenty of goodies abound: it’s super-heavy, knuckle-dragging stoner death doom abrasion for the most part. Those Hic Iacet hombres can be fast if the situation demands. Though the music might be slow, pop-friendly melodies and riffs appear at a speed fast enough to be distinctive and easy to remember.

Our amigos serve up a mix of long and short tracks and generally the shorter pieces are medium-fast to fast and more focused than the long meandering tracks which sometimes lose their way. Obviously the short tracks are more death metal than stoner swamp doom and are easier to assimilate. The short tracks pull the album away from sounding too self-indulgent with the more trance-oriented pieces. Until Hic Iacet figure out how to maintain listener attention on the longer pieces, perhaps they should stick to offering a mix of more commercial song-oriented work and longer, more experimentally inclined music even at the cost of having a musically defined image and approach. It must be said the long tracks aren’t without their attractions: “Into the Bowels of the Absolute” features slab-loads of fearsome monster riffing, lots of blast-beat percussion (a bit skinny and skimpy for my liking, given that the band’s sound is so ferocious), some great guitar feedback improvisation and moments of sinister mysticism.

Track titles trace the journey made during this particular meditation session in which the soul traverses ever lower and deeper through levels of consciousness and existence. Is it possible to descend lower than Hell itself, to go deeper where even Satan and his demon battalions fear to go? Armed with their battery of stringed and percussive weapons, and maybe a few Hail Marys and swigs of sangre de toro, Hic Iacet fearlessly lead the way into blacker, more despairing territory. You can almost feel yourself transforming into an uber-demon … or maybe unter-demon … such are the horrors revealed by the rolling storms of deep guitar grind, stuttery drums and that mud-encrusted voice in tracks like “Maharkala” and the massive mammoth monster that is “The Catacombs of the Mandala” which all but churns and crushes any souls that follow it into pitch-black non-existence.

By the time you are finished, on the assumption that you have actually survived being crushed over and over again, you’ll be so far into the dark cosmos that Hic Iacet have led you into that Hell will look like the heavens above.

Appropriately enough the album was released on Iron Bonehead Productions since you really need the strength of an iron bonehead to last the distance … of just under 40 minutes!

Four Phantoms: sludge as trudge in four parts

bell_witch+brn

Bell Witch, Four PhantomsProfound Lore Records, PFL140, CD digipak (2015)

The four phantoms referenced by US funereal death doom band Bell Witch on their second album are the elements of Earth, Fire, Water and Air in that order, those substances once believed by mediaeval alchemists to constitute the building blocks of the universe and hence of all life on our planet. Except that on this album, these elements are heralds and instruments of death and gateways to everlasting emptiness.

Earth leads off in “1. Suffocation, a burial /I. Awoken (Breathing Teeth)” and appropriately for the most dense and physical of the elements the track is very glacial in pace and very repetitive for the most part. The music is distinguished by its restraint with depressive and melancholy lead guitar solos, emphatic and thick riffs, and continuous grinding bass. The vocals are either subdued death metal growls or distant clean voice swathed in echo. The sombre mood is the most important part of the long track though listeners may well wish the music could have been cut in parts as there is so much monotony. The next track “2. Judgement in Fire / I. Garden (of Blooming Ash)” promises more … well, fire as this is the piece that focuses on Fire … with awakened guttural roar and a more malevolent brooding mood. Clean-toned singing is clearer and less shrouded in reverb and the instrumentation is more melodic and clean in texture. Apart from these differences the music turns out to include far less fire and more of the earlier lumbering solemnity that defines the band’s style. While this is not a bad piece, it sounds rather like a cleaner continuation of the first track: not exactly what I expected of an album with the themes it has.

“1. Suffocation, a drowning / II. Somniloquy (The Distance of Forever)” invokes Water as the agent of death but again aside from the lyrics there isn’t a great deal to distinguish the track from the others. The singing provides a clean contrast with the booming guitar drone and the melody is quite pleasant in parts in spite of the gloomy subject matter. Much of the track though is tortured drone guitar booms and watery clean-voiced singing both solo and chorus.

By this time, suffocating under the weight of unrelenting doom drone monotony, listeners feel the need for air and Air it is in the last track … air of eternal cold howling winds as the lyrics state … but which is not reflected in the music which is as groaningly heavy and sluggish as in the previous tracks. There is an interesting melody about halfway through which unfortunately the band doesn’t carry for long, else it could have defined the music and provided the album’s saving grace.

After over an hour of solemn trudge and not much else, I don’t feel particularly enlightened by this quartet of songs meditating on death and what may or may not lie beyond. Listeners might be forgiven for thinking that an album based on the concept of Earth, Fire, Water and Air as messengers of death should have more variety of style, pace, emotion and atmosphere than what appears here.

The Long Dark

sigtryggur-berg-sigmarsson-so-long

Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson
So Long
USA HELEN SCARSDALE AGENCY HMS 027 CD (2015)

‘Revealing the future through a block of ice’ reads the poem, which might as well be a statement of purpose for the music it accompanies. Calmly traversing the scale from static to epic is one of the latest from this notable Icelander; an adept of the cryogenic drone and part of the experimental duo Stilluppsteypa. Sporting a moniker that could as easily refer to Sigmarsson’s prolific discography or track times, So Long utters weary phrases such as ‘Eight Hour Delay’ and ‘Late Night Arrival’; suggesting a reluctant immunity to the ennui of long waits – especially those associated with distances.

Well, Sigmarsson’s on a mission to prove that patience is a virtue, having assembled these three, weighty tranches over five long years, during which time one senses he’s repeatedly returned to refashion the clay with a refreshed mind. The first piece accomplishes much in twenty-five minutes: drones developing, receding and rising anew into ever more commanding frequencies, injected into which are an array of sound effects naturalistic and uneasy, climaxing with a stretch of room-filling rumble. ‘The Trip’ infuses this impersonality with a colder malevolence, interspersed with slow swells of guitar and organ and occasional, disquieting cut-outs: overall, a more physical experience. The final piece revisits the ice-blown expanses of earlier releases, such as the 2012 BJ Nilsen collaboration, Góða Nótt, dropping hints of back-masking deep in the mix and a hopeful glimmer of thaw to keep things comfortably unsettling. On the whole, it’s a satisfying journey though well-trodden territory, even if the future it claims to reveal is one we might be unwilling to confront.

Baron Oufo

Baron Oufo
Dar Al-Hikma
CANADA QUADRILAB QUAD003 CD (2014)

Agreeable, no-frills drone/rock from France-via-Baghdad here; the second recording from Eddie Ladoire and Jerome Alban’s Baron Oufo, with their many synths, samplers, FX, field recordings, guitars and little helpers. Fittingly wrapped in bleached images of clouds and desert, much of the running time is spent slowly breezing through such expanses in their subtly shifting forms (‘Blessing and Worship to the Prophet of the Lovely Star’), though there’s a genuine taste for volume and bombast that befits the pair’s quasi-religious turns of phrase (‘Depth of the Prophecy’ / ‘Is a God to Live in a Dog?’), which supposedly pay homage to Dar al-Hikma, the Baghdad-based ‘House of Wisdom’ of the Middle Ages. If, like me, you feel disinclined to pay much heed then just turn it up: it plays well at volume and packs enough oomph to keep listeners on board. I am unsure though as to why the tracks are separated when a more seamless cohesion would have done no harm.

Necro Deathmort

Necro Deathmort
EP2
UK DISTRACTION RECORDS DIST30 12” (2014)

Were I to enter a venue to the sound of any of the tracks on Necro Deathmort’s EP2 I might feel equal measures of reassurance and apprehension – it would probably by some sort of goth hotspot after all, but one could be assured of some decent listening. The Newcastle duo’s vascular doom-metal-prog-techno playground is appealing in a Godflesh remix kind of way, especially once you’re past the group’s adolescent BM-style moniker. Similar remarks have been made in these pages about that name and as with the previous EP I concur that some tracks work better than others. The brief opener ‘Sundive’ is a sure-footed tension builder: murky, Sandwell-style techno rhythms that lead us into the striding riffage of ‘Mirus’, but by the time we get to the power chord workout of ‘Bleeding’, energy is waning a bit and by end of play we’ve got a plodding cosmic rock soundtrack on our hands. Admittedly, I’ve not listened to the vinyl version, which I imagine adds a healthy amount of psi to the listening experience. Released in an edition of 333 copies, it may even prove capable of summoning a lurker to your threshold.

Sounds From There: electroacoustic multi-percussion recording needs more bang

sr351-site

Israël Quellet, Sounds From There, Sub Rosa, CD SR351 (2014)

For this album, his fourth, Swiss multi-instrumentalist Israël Quellet sets up shop in a church (well, figuratively perhaps: the album does include “church ambience”) along with various tools of his trade which include timpani drums, an organ, a Tibetan horn, tubular bells, church bells and a metal tank. I presume he also ensured that there was enough space for sounds and their echoes to float through the air to give the recording that slightly dark cavernous ambience. Together with another musician, Quellet then proceeds to drum up sonic sculptures of vaguely sinister tones and sinuous textures. The soundscapes seem very huge and ominous, and quite remote as well, so they appear even greater in the shadows than they would be in the light. The volume level is very even which might be something of a disadvantage here; this is all instrumental electro-acoustic improv, hard to connect with and remember, and some variation in volume level might have been welcome to set one track off another. For this reason among others, the album comes over as more of a travelogue through distant exotic lands than as a natural progression through an introduction and four movements.

The recording proceeds very smoothly without much abrupt surprise, and a listener could be lulled to sleep by some tracks – especially the last one where for a large part of it some curvy smooth stone bowls roll and grind around with no destination in close sight. There are occasions where the music seems to have a mechanical quality that I think is unintended.

While the album is technically very good, I feel it could have been much better if Quellet had played the music live in a cathedral setting rather than in the studio: his own emotions at playing in a particular space would have informed his performance, and listeners would feel some of that awe and respect.

Score: clean jazzy soundscapes with plenty of surprises

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Village of Savoonga, Score, The Communion Label / Hausmusik / Kollaps, CD comm48 (1998)

Yes, I’ve been a bit slow chasing work by the German post-rock band Village of Savoonga who released three albums in the 1990s and then closed shop some time afterwards, due to the various members’ preoccupation with other music projects. This smartly presented work, the third and last album, still holds up well after nearly 20 years: how’s that for longevity? (And I did a bit better than Rip van Winkle who slept over a score : 20 years, that is – ha-ha, I managed to get in a little pun). VoS trade in quite dark and sometimes foreboding jazzy soundscapes with little structure but plenty of blues-tinged melody and atmosphere. Listening to this, I think of bands like Italy’s 3/4 Had Been Eliminated and the American group Tortoise: the Villagers’ sound is clean and confident, in a near-minimal way, and their music has plenty of unexpected surprises. Stripped-down guitar, concentrating over easy-to-listen tunes, might suddenly give way to cloudy or spaced-out trippy ambience, factory machine chug-along or field recordings of an astronaut reporting back to Houston while out of the spacecraft repairing a loose panel.

The album is not very long and the music is quite liable to dawdle on its own path, the musicians giving it a very long lead, so listeners really should hear out the whole work in full and let it take them where it will. Guitars, organ, keyboard effects and percussion work together in parallel on separate musical pathways, and there’s plenty of dark and moody space among the sparsely presented melodies.

If VoS feel an affinity with famous German rock bands of the past, they must be closest to Faust in their approach and style. (Indeed I’ve heard that previous albums were more Faust-like but I have yet to hear them.) There is not so much humour in their music though and they seem quite apolitical compared to Faust. There were occasions when Faust revealed their sympathy and compassion for the downtrodden and the exploited but any leanings towards the political are absent in VoS’s clean and cool outing. (Although the fact that so many bands in so many genres these days strive for inner transcendence could itself be a political act, in that this phenomenon represents a turning away from the increasingly invasive systems and institutions present in contemporary Western societies today.)

Verdict: this album is one that’s mostly easy on the ear, if not always benign in mood, and a good exercise in stream-of-consciousness music-making.

Contact: Village of Savoonga (Facebook)

Fabada Asturiana

LCC

LCC
D / Evolution
AUSTRIA EDITIONS MEGO 198 LP (2014)

Oh this year we’re off to sunny Spain, with an Austrian release from an Asturian duo. LCC are Ana Quiroga and Uge Pañeda, who formerly operated as LasCasiCasiotone, just in case you thought the acronym stood for Lancashire County Council or something. Actually, there’s very little that’s sunny about this Editions Mego release, so if you’re hoping for Balearic style fun in the sun, look away now. What we have here is a deep, dark stew of crepuscular electronica and ambient sounds, and a subtly tasty dish it is too.

The track titles are all terse, cryptic, possibly mineralogical nouns – “Chróma”, “Calx”, “Graphein” – which gives you a clue to the nature of the music. “Quarz”, for instance, sounds exactly as you’d imagine a track called “Quarz” to sound, with opaque drones and facets of muted but hard-edged beats. Likewise, “Titan” sounds like an out-of-control drilling robot pursuing you along a metal corridor in an abandoned asteroid mine. This satisfying fit of track title and musical atmosphere is one of the many pleasures to be had from this record.

Quiroga and Pañeda also display an admirable restraint and a talent for keeping everything under control. “Calx”, for example, builds over a series of oscillations to a point of intensity and then hangs there, tantalisingly, until the needle runs out of the groove. There’s a sense of power being held in reserve, which, of course, is a powerful thing in itself.

If you’re wondering about that title, the press release tells us that the album “reflects on the paradigm that is Evolution, and examines the extent to which our development and technological advancement, which is inevitably bound to the extraction and processing of minerals from the earth, has broken and deformed our natural environment.” To be honest, knowing this doesn’t exactly enhance the listening experience, but then again, it probably doesn’t detract from it either.

All in all, a fine blend of quality ingredients, expertly combined. The perfect soundtrack for a voyage through the crystalline underworld, or to accompany a nice glass of dry Sidra Asturiana.

Cold War

JUNE2015590

Number Mask (LF RECORDS LF037) is the debut album by Hagman, following after a number of singles / MP3 releases released since 2012 on the Sheepscar Light Industrial label based in Leeds. The duo of David Thomas and Daniel Thomas do it by facing each other in a surly fashion over a table packed with electronic equipment, although once the confrontation gets underway, they lose eye contact with each other and focus all their attention on the effects pedals, drum machines, power generators and miniature pylons that bristle like angry chessmen on the board. Instead of an electrified power-attack however, their reconstruction of the art of war involves intense and long moments of sullen sulking and brooding, wearing down the enemy through tension and attenuation. Imagine two generals looking at each other across opposing hilltops through binoculars, each struggling to guess the next move of their enemy. Music-making rethought as a state of siege.

On this album, the two standout tracks for me are ‘The Solar Factory’ and ‘The Tower Revolving’ – in title, sound and execution, these are perfect realisations of the Hagman plan, compelling episodes full of subtle tension where the suffused sense of stress, pain and endurance never lets up for a second. They are tiny monuments of understatement and smothered emotions. Oddly enough, ‘A Sequence of a Short Dream’ is just plain ambient droning by contrast, an experiment that never quite finds it way and simply leads into a dead-end tunnel of hate. But ‘Neotenic’ is another sci-fi dystopian gem, suggestive of badly-made flying cars malfunctioning as they float sputteringly across a poisoned grey sky, and ‘Guiseppi’, while short on ideas, is a fascinating growler propelled along mostly by its deliciously abrasive textures. If some musicians would like to see themselves as architects of a grisly 25th-century city that imprisons the populace, it’s likely that Hagman will be given the job of surfacing the pavements of that city. This release indicates what a good job they would make of it. From 25th September 2014.