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Mist – House

Spectrum Spools

I saw someone head-butted over an album like this. Well, I say headbutt but I’m guessing it was more an headglance, a floppy-haired headslash, a vaguely embittered coming together between two Kosmische fans with half an eye on the past and a bellyful of animal tranquilisers. I’m paraphrasing, but it seemed as if Kosmische Fan 1 (you know what he looked like) was angry at Kosmische Fan 2 (he looked the same, if you could ignore the lazy eye) for suggesting that the likes of [post=”oneohtrix-point-returnal” text=”Oneohtrix Point Never“], Emeralds, Arp et al were an improvement on the original synthesiser legends; that they’d distilled the essence of the original, removed the troublesome prog associations and come up with something altogether more transcendent.

John Eliot (Emeralds) and Sam Goldberg’s (Radio People) latest double-album sized dunking into their synth buckets is going to cause some similar debates. This time they’ve come out fighting; the opener “Twin Lanes” tumbles over itself to get to a conclusion, like a post=”zombie-zombie-play-john-carpenter” text=”John Carpenter“] synthesiser stabbing, an off-cut from a chase scene in The Thing. Things calm down a little; long passages might be Klaus Schulze pilferings or little slices from Edgar Froese’s late 70s Virgin albums (I’m thinking Stuntman) but they’ve largely dispensed with the meandering meme, attempting instead to morph their way towards a series of odd little climaxes; tiny, jagged, petit-morts of synthesised emotion. The individual tracks have their own ebb and flow but they work best as a suite, which makes me think that in this CD form they may work better than in the double-album version (the pink vinyl is already sold out though, unpop pickers).

House is reverential to the old masters of this genre but it’s also a resolutely modern take on things, using the same boxes of tricks and coming at them with fresh (boss) eyes. They’ve hardly skimped on the arpeggios but it’s the lines between the sparkles that give this album its heroic, stately feel. The drones keep the pace, shifting and sliding over each other but keeping a steady anti-rhythm, a pulse that elevates this above all the countless spools of ltd edition cosmic tape gore (cf. a lot of the earlier material from Emeralds) that fills discussion boards and then ends up snaring baby rabbits at motorway junctions. Mist have spent some time thinking about how these tracks might be listened to and there’s definitely a clear sequencing here, a sense of progression, as if the album was themed on entropy and needs to pull you along (and then apart). Over three sides, the elements merge and coalesce and try to find common ground only for the last, longest, track, “PM,” to start dissembling all over again into free forms, echoic vocals and lost time signatures.

Buy this, play it to your Kraut-obsessed friends and then suggest it’s waaaay better than Moondawn or Timewind. Let the butting frenzies begin…

-Loki-

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