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Sculpture – Rotary Signal Emitter

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In their download panic frenzy, labels and artists are coming up with ever more ingenious/desperate ways of providing attractive bonus content with their physical releases. It’s common for CDs to feature bonus video content, but as far as I’m aware, this is the first vinyl record to offer bonus video footage – on the actual grooves of the record itself!

The aptly named Rotary Signal Emitter is no sales gimmick though; the visual element is as integral as the audio, each complementing the other and sharing the same aesthetic of collaged found sounds and images. Both sides of the picture disc feature concentric sequences of images that just become a blur when spinning on the turntable. The key to unlocking the images is to view the record via a video camera, the camera shutter acting as the slits in an old zoetrope machine and revealing a series of concentric animations as you pan across the disc. If this all sounds a bit of an effort, then that’s just indicative of how passive we’ve all become in our consumption of art. Sculpture have put a lot of work into this rather wonderful artifact and in order to get anything from it, we must do the same.

The music is a haphazard jumble of analogue electronics, sampled snatches of old records, primitive beats and environmental recordings, layered chaotically in an almost random fashion. An obvious comparison would be with Nurse With Wound, with who Sculpture share an anarchic Dadaist approach to experimentation. As with NWW at their best, there is a manic energy and deranged sense of joy in these recordings (and indeed animations) that is absent from most of today’s Wire-approved left-fielders. It’s as if a hyperactive toddler had snatched the avant-garde and ran away with it, laughing uncontrollably. As a result, what could have been a dry and merely ‘interesting’ project turns out to be a hugely entertaining joyride, mischievous sonic snippets forming the most unfeasible alliances and long buried childhood memories being abruptly stirred by snippets of archaic sound dust. For all the seemingly illogical juxtapositions, Sculpture possess a delightfully instinctive grasp of the nature of sound itself, creating a truly accessible and enjoyable record that does not in any way pander to convention. Quite an achievement!

This record laughs at the record industry’s unimaginative attempts at creating desirable consumables – It would be no exaggeration to say that Rotary Signal Emitter is the most fetishistically desirable audio object since Faust’s clear vinyl debut LP back in 1971. Pressed in a limited run of 300 copies, it is very likely to be just as sought after in years to come.

-Alan Holmes-

Demonstration Reel from Sculpture on Vimeo.

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