With a title which perhaps both echoes and references The Faust Tapes, Luke Fowler‘s second edition of electronic murmurings sets out a distinct palette of scrawls synthesis which skitters and frolics with a studied playfulness. Despite the title, this is actually Fowler’s début album, edited down from many hours of recordings – and occasionally added to – by friend and collaborator Richard Youngs (see Lurists‘ Red & Blue, also released by Dekorder, for an album they worked on together). Those curious to hear Fowl Tapes I (chock full of collaborations with the likes of Aaron Moore and Daniel Padden of Volcano the Bear, Chris Hladowski and more) will be glad to hear that there are download codes included with the LP for both I and II.Using old gear and in particular a Serge modular, Fowler creates textures and wobbly loops which draw on musique concrète as much as the kosmische explorations of the Berlin School. Fowler weaves two sides of immersive electronica into an album which is at once as old as the hills of junked analogue synths which have passed on to the great circuit board scrapyard in the sky since Moogs first walked the earth and a fresh take on the process, at the same time and at various moments throughout. Radiophonic bleeps and trills crepitate and occasionally crunch, filters sweep and tweak while occasional hints of melody – harshly detuned or otherwise – emerge before fading into the mix.
There are rhythms to be found here, but often they warp queasily more than they propel the music in linear trajectories. The drum machines are fractured and often slightly deranged, with residual note fragments, unravelling pulsations and LFO tweaks rising up to take ascendance over plateaus of sub bass before devolving into a brittle tumbling scree of electronic gravel. Elsewhere, the improvisations reign supreme, machinery roiling and clashing quietly to itself before popping, blipping and thrupping into something resembling order before the controlled (perhaps herded is a better term) chaos resumes. How much of this is glorious happenstance or careful selection and placement only Youngs and Fowler know, but the point is moot – Fowl Tapes II offers up all the delightful sounds of modular synthesis a space cadet could desire to take them on an ever-engaging trip so far down the rabbit hole that the rods and cones will spark brightly synaesthetic in the psychedelic darkness.