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Long Division With Remainders – Collision/Detection

Front & Follow

Long Division With Remainders - Collision DetectionThere’s buckets of finely congealed empathy here, beautifully presented. Front And Follow is an unusual, old-fashioned label, not quite made for these times. And thank God for that.

This box set is a collection of nie EPs from a host of incredible artists, all working within the confines of some strange call & response routine which sees invited artists submit audio clips into a central pot, which is then distributed around the group for them to do with as they see fit. At least, that’s what this box set is supposed to be. In another reality this is Front and Follow’s collective phantasy, an arc of triumph. This is the illusion of a series of collected EPs, an illusion so pervasive/persuasive that even the artists and the label think that it’s true.

But this is a collaboration in more ways than one. This is a packaged ideal, a little bit of ideology. These artists don’t sound particularly similar and most of them don’t know each other but they are kin and this box set is a series of statements around a common belief in music per se.

I’m listening to this on shuffle, which isn’t really the right way – I think there’s an awful lot more thought put into the sequencing than I’m allowing – but it has elicited a theme that might be hidden if these songs are taken as they were intended. Listened to in this way, there are some ugly transitions where The Lord keeps head-butting in, reminding me of the effect that Foetus had on Industrial compilations from the ’80s, but even that seems somehow part of the kinship. They are friendly non-familiars. They are rubbing against each other to create sparks.

This set ought to lie alongside ‘mythical’ (for many of the pre-CD reissue years) compilations like the Elephant Table album. It is era-defining, even at a time when we’re beset with endless micro-genres and expected to simply accept that post-modernism has won and the grand narrative drives of music are gone, or have been subverted, or popularised. Well, bollocks. This shows that there is something bigger than the artists; there is still a functioning system of reason out there, people do still care about being in opposition.

Some of these artists dabble with song-forms (Kemper Norton pulls apart folk music, The Doomed Bird Of Providence tries to soundtrack a dying soldier’s lament for the Balkans), some of them drift beautifully, like :Zoviet*France: or something (Isnaj Dui, Psychological Strategy Board), some of them even spin off into almost ‘Big’ Beat(s) (West Norwood Cassette Library stomps all over the place in exactly the right way) but really this album is a collective, a kind of multi-voiced howl of despair against stagnation. Even the methodology behind the choice of sounds is communist and utopian. The label sets their stall perfectly; I’ve got a bunch of MP3s and PDFs but I think I need the artefact as much as anything. So do you. This is exactly what we need right now: attention to detail, to For. Beauty regarded as a value. This shows real solidity in amongst the ruins of the (so-called) www-crushed music industry.

Front and Follow need to be here. These artists are necessary and more or less sufficient. This album will be one that people will talk about. At the very least the cynical among you have an opportunity to buy your future bragging rights now, before they are gone forever.


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