Review: The music of Chel White is celebrated in Automaton, a collection of mostly unreleased recordings from 1985 to 1991, by this innovative animator, film maker and visual artist.
Having studied music theory in grade school, White taught himself drumming and played in a new wave band until, in 1981, together with Dan Gediman, they formed the minimal wave duo Process Blue (Alternative Funk, 1985 / Dark Entries, 2018). Here their experimentation went way beyond playing drums.
His interest in industrial music, fostered in the late '70s and early '80s while working in factories as a way to put himself through college, informed his use of electronic instruments, tape manipulation, noise and unconventional percussion.
By 1985, as a now solo artist buoyed by newly affordable audio sampling technology, White tapped into his earlier teenage fascination with the art and films of both the Surrealist and Dada movements - in particular their disparate and fragmented imagery and sound - as a means to create striking new sonic palettes.
Science & Industry - a track largely influenced by Balinese monkey chanting and the consumer excess of American in the 1980's - is a clear example of "music collage". Photocopy Cha Cha, made for the short animation film Choreography for Copy Machine (Berlin International Film Festival, 1992 / Sundance Film Festival, 2001) moved his music into the realm of early multi-media.
Experimenting further, tracks like Liquid Shadows and Pensive provide minimalist moments, before the drone-like Dream #630 and Forest Song point to a future that included music video works (David Lynch/Thom Yorke).
Review: Philip Lauer's long-running relationship with Permanent Vacation continues with a release that deftly mines 80s influences. The title track sees the storied producer marry cascading Chicago drums and a pulsating bassline with synth pop melodies that come together to create an infectious dance floor track. On "You Know", a similar approach is audible, this time with epic melodies accompanying soaring vocals. In contrast, "Body Chck" is a low-slung electro roller, featuring high pitched vocal samples. But it's only a temporary divergence and on "Ctron E", he moves back towards the dance floor with uplifting melodies and a high-tempo electronic disco groove.
Helsinki (I'll Never Forgive Myself) - (3:59) 118 BPM
November - (3:03) 90 BPM
Meg - (3:53) 86 BPM
Penetration - (2:08) 91 BPM
Lapse Wine - (1:44) 154 BPM
Friends - (2:42) 142 BPM
Review: Thirteen recordings of musics entirely produced upon 4-track portastudio for your pleasure and discourse - the sole work of Mr Robert Grant of this parish.
So states the photocopy insert from the 1985 November LP on Cordelia Records. Home to R. Stevie Moore, Rimarimba recently reissued by Freedom To Spend - and label owner Alan Jenkin's The Deep Freeze Mice, Cordelia was home to a menagerie of sound collage plucked from the ether.
Included is the only release from Concept City, spreading across 13 instrumental tracks of samples and noise. The Welsh choir and robovox meets hypnotic bass of Open The Network glides to the acoustics of Jayne Andrews and Filament, before Steam amasses TV ad cassette archives. As Etruria and Lapse Wine's Durutti meets reel-to-reel to the cold wave of War, Children and wasp synth of Helsinki, Grant slowly unfolds a masterpiece.
Looped drum samples, multiple layered to tape, sped up and slowed down for phasing, the title track is a pinnacle of 80s DiY genius. 'Crossroads' multi-sampling Meg leads to the exotica 'muzak' closings of Penetration and Friends. With just 5 albums over 40 years the music of Mr Concept can be a discovery and cherished.