The Elevator Paradox

Excellent and innovative set of avant-experimental songs from The Slowest Lift on their LP Plutonic Shine (FEEDING TUBE RECORDS FTR499). This is a UK duo new to me in this present incarnation, though the male half of the act is Julian Bradley, he of Vibracathedral Orchestra fame, and he who made a number of team-up records with Neil Campbell (wish I had more of ’em, but the one I have from 1997 on American Tapes suits me fine). Sophie Cooper is unknown to me; I see she’s made a number of records with Delphine Dora, one of them for this same label, and has also appeared with Caravan Comedown and Tor Invocation Band.

I’m assuming Sophie does the vocals on this album (originally issued as a cassette in 2019), but this shouldn’t imply that Bradley does everything else; the result is a tightly-knit set of well-constructed and thought-through pieces, making bold use of studio methods and effects (distortion, loops, backwards tapes…), to produce remarkable experiments in song-form. They can be as wistful and mysterious as Cocteau Twins (see ‘Guided By Photographs’), and also as coldly alienating as Dome or any other of those Bruce Gilbert / Graham Lewis efforts…the latter mode is something The Slowest Lift seem particularly adept at, and somehow the song ‘Brother’ is one here that creeps under your psyche in a somewhat disturbing manner; there seems to be a rather harrowing message at the core of it, even if one can’t make out the lyrics. It may seem at times that Cooper and Bradley are hiding in the shadows of a grainy monochrome photograph, relying on ambiguity and suggestion to convey their sentiments, but this is a form of ellipsis that works well in their favour.

Minimalist, disconnected, truly inventive; this is the kind of record one would like to retrospectively inscribe into the history of post-punk of the late 1970s and early 1980s. From 1st April 2020.