21/01/2022 This week I have been mostly listening to…

A few more late finds from 2021, the year that keeps on giving, in the shape of cosmic synthology from the technician in da corner, aka Pye Corner Audio, and unashamedly hedonistic party beats from Eris Drew. Plus unsettling ambience from Kansas City producer, Brian Leeds’ Pendant alias, and finally some classic 90s shoegaze psyche-rock from The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Pye Corner Audio – Entangled Routes

  • Label: Ghostbox
  • Year: 2021
  • Available: Spotify, Vinyl LP
  • Style: Electronic, Synthwave
  • Try if you like: analogue synth, retro sci-fi movies, BBC Radiophonic workshop

Another late find from last year, Pye Corner Audio is the alias of analogue synth maestro, Martin Jenkins. Though he’s released over a dozen albums, Entangled Routes is my first introduction to his brand of stately electro, infused with cosmic, retro sci-fi overtones. One can only imagine this music emerging from a bank of equipment, speckled with blinking lights, ensnared in a mess of wires and cables.

Eris Drew – Quivering in Time

  • Label: T4T LUV NRG
  • Year: 2021
  • Available: Spotify, Bandcamp, Vinyl
  • Style: House, Techno, Breaks
  • Try if you like: Beats, breaks, house, disco

In a sense, dance music is always quivering in time – continually looking to the future, yet all the while steeped in nostalgia. For her first LP release, Eris Drew condenses a life spent DJing at clubs and raves around the world into a defiant celebration of the unifying and healing power of dance music – recorded at a remote woodland cabin during the pandemic.

More mixtape than album, Quivering in Time instantly sets energy levels to pumping and doesn’t let up. For anyone who’s missed raving over the last two years, the jackin’ beats and disco synths will feel like a hug from an old friend, not to mention the presence of dozens of familiar samples. There’s obvious classics like the Lyn Collins ‘Think’ breakbeat, and Peter Fonda’s legendary ‘we wanna get loaded’ speech, immortalised by Andrew Weatherall in his mix of Primal Scream’s Loaded. But there’s plenty more obscure snippets, some of which register subconsciously before you can recognise them, such is the vibrancy and busyness of Drew’s mixing. Life affirming stuff.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Methodrone

  • Label: BOMP!
  • Year: 1995
  • Available: Spotify, Vinyl reissue
  • Style: Shoegaze, psyche rock
  • Try if you like: The Dandy Warhols, BRMC, Ride, Slowdive

The BJM’s debut album proper, like much of their early output is brilliant, but flawed. Methodrone is essentially a shoegaze record, and it’s a shame the band didn’t stick with this style for longer, the clouds of chugging feedback mask the somewhat loose playing, and compliment Anton’s shy vocals, already at this tender point in his career sounding strung out and addled. Yet amid the languid squalls of reverb, the band also draw on influences from the scuzzier underbelly of 80s indie, as well as the classic 60 psyche sound the Brian Jonestown Massacre would become practically synonymous with.

Overall, there’s more gold to be found than duds here; Evergreen, the gorgeous opening song is as lovely a shoegaze track as anything you’d find on Creation records around that time; Wisdom is an absolute banger, and an early example of the twanging psychedelic guitar that would become integral to their sound. (*sorry I dunno what kind of guitar it is, but it sure does twang). Although their fortunes and musical directions diverged significantly from The Dandy Warhols, Methodrone serves as the ideal counterpart to their equally flawed, but riotously creative debut, Dandys Rule OK, released in the same year. The soundtrack to teenage crushes, smoking weed in a beaten-up old car and drinking beer in the woods.

Pendant: Make Me Know You Sweet

  • Label: West Mineral Ltd
  • Year: 2018
  • Available: Spotify, Bandcamp, Vinyl

Brian Leeds’ work as Huerco S reduces house and techno to their barest forms; gauzy melodies repeating over threadbare beats. For his Pendant alias, any semblance of tempo is removed entirely and rather than compositions, the pieces on Make Me Know You Sweet unfold like random naturally occurring phenomena. Unlike most ambient music, which is designed to soothe, the vibe here tends to the unsettling. The 10 minute epic, IBX-BZC is almost symphonic in scope, but produces an experience akin to spending a night sleeping in the wilds, with constant unpredictable sounds punctuating an uneasy silence.

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