Conical Space, the first offering of Dekorder‘s brilliant Hybrid Vinyl series, finds Pye Corner Audio‘s Head Technician channelling all his loves: ’80s horror synth, Detroit Techno, kosmische and corrupted technology. These synthscapes conjure images of polished chrome skylines, with miles high neon adverts, before yr cruiser exits the stratosphere, eventually being swallowed in the event horizon of Dr. Reinhardt’s black hole.It’s always a pleasure to hear new music from Pye Corner Audio. Paying close attention to the shadowy comings-and-goings of The Head Technician gives valuable insight into the state of the hauntological, retroactive underground, as his music has progressed leagues since his initial anonymous Black Mills Tapes. Those curiosities were an attempt to replicate some moldering radiophonic classroom experiment. They were intentionally weathered, given an olive green nimbus like some Instagram plug-in. The Head Technician was remarkably good at making authentic anachronisms – he has an exquisite attention to detail, and reveals himself to be an expert forger of mid-’70s ephemera.
Like all of us with a keen interest in the past, however, Martin Jenkins (the birth name of The Head Technician) realized history was a well that would eventually run dry. His task, like any creative type living within the web of society, is how to assimilate his fascination with all that has come before, with something new and vital.In this short and sweet offering, one lengthy epic jammer, “Conical Space” with a short comedown “Dusk Veiled”, manages to quickly sum up the best parts of every PCA album that has come before. For those that have been paying attention, “Conical Space” harnesses The Ever Present Hum‘s motorik groove, and matches it with growling filter sweeps and ominous sound collage. The slow ‘n steady thumping finds the technician closer to straight-up dancefloor fare than ever before, although highly effected and stylized. It’s like listening to krautrock on a roadtrip, before being pulled into space.
After listening to Conical Space a few times, I went back to the beginning, to Black Mills Tapes 1, and was surprised to find the seeds of this release germinating even back then. Weightless drum machines and trance-inducing arpeggiators, BMT1 sounds frighteningly prescient when listening to this year’s avant-garde producers. The stars may have aligned for Pye Corner Audio, not that he probably cares about such things, as this brand of handmade electronica is in vogue right now, with the noisy outings of Opal Tapes, L.I.E.S., Hospital Productions and so on. In another year, PCA may be selling out festivals. Under a bridge. In Scotland.Pye Corner Audio is one to watch out for. His releases go quickly, and he improves with each one, or expands his boundaries. Fans of Dylan Ettinger and NNA Tapes should linger a while with this one, or even the electronic dub mutations of Peaking Lights. He’s supposedly been working up a live rig and set, as well, so stay peeled for performances, if you’re lucky enough to be in Europe.
Years after the skeptical have proclaimed hauntology dead, there remains a slew of inspiring radiophonic releases, possibly more than ever. Not dead, just mutating.