In the beginning, there was just a box of tapes and “Fate’s Gentle Hand.” It was the autumn of 2010, and an anonymous figure known only as the Head Technician, an employee of Pye Corner Audio Transcription Services (“Magnetically aligning ferrous particles since 1970”), found himself at an auction in the village of Coldred, pop. 110. He was on the hunt for tobacco pipes when he chanced across a trio of boxes listed in the auction catalog, which described their contents only as “archived magnetic recordings.” The sole bidder, he won the lot, and upon receipt of his purchase took possession of an unspecified number of mouldering cassettes and ¼” reel-to-reel tapes. The collection contained no identifying information save for a single phrase scrawled on each box: “Black Mill Sessions.” And so, armed with razors, eyedroppers, and a bevy of solid-state circuitry, the Head Technician sat down at his machines and got to work. Now, Lapsus presents Black Mill Tapes Volume 5: The Lost Tapes. The musical landscape has changed considerably in the past decade, but what is remarkable about the Black Mills Tapes material is that it hasn’t aged a day; its retro-futurist transmissions sound just as mysteriously compelling as they did the first time around. While they purport to faithfully transcribe the sound of yesterday’s technology, they end up being something more: a record of what we wish the past sounded like—a rickety tape transfer of desire itself, spooled and boxed, just awaiting discovery.
The 22nd “Issue” on Regis, Silant Servant and James Ruskin’s Jealous God label is predictably impressive. Undoubtedly the most notable inclusion is “The Bond”, a rare collaboration between Marcel Dettman and Silent Servant that looks to the sleazy, arpeggio-driven thrust of Electronic Body Music for inspiration. It’s the EP’s one genuine “peak-time” moment and strong enough to carry the whole 12″, though happily Pye Corner Audio’s flipside excursions are also impressive. Check, for example, the undulating, fluttering, post dub techno cut “Delay Gratification” and the swirling, hypnotic dancefloor melancholy of inspired closer “The Future”, where a lone acid line rises above a dense and poignant backing track.
Analogical Force welcomes Pye Corner Audio for its 10th release. 4-tracker of raw acid jams from the oppressive mind of Martin Jenkins, the man behind the operation. ‘Island of Ghosts’ includes a wild electro remix by Finnish duo Morphology. Needs no introduction: brutal and beautiful.
Pye Corner Audio expands on ‘Black Mist’, taken from ‘The Outer Church’ compilation released by Front & Follow, now backed with new track and a blown-out Old Apparatus remix. The dramatic original is given time and space to let that Dr. Who-style bass riff and soaring synth to take flight across the A-side, whilst the flip brings the funereal slow techno processional, ‘Bulk Erase’, into play beside a roiling, radiant render from Old Apparatus, who also fold in oriental field recordings to abstract and exotic effect.
Intercepts is a split album between Pye Corner Audio and Not Waving. Drawing inspiration from the shadowy world of espionage both producers embark on a voyage of forward thinking yet backwards compatible, cosmic tinged, techno excursions. Pye Corner Audio leads off with ‘Perfect Secrecy Forever’, centering on a progressive, doddering synth pattern paired against muted thuds whereas Not Waving opts for something a little more direct with ‘Protecting The Revolution’ oozing with dark, italo disco vibes owing to it’s dominating, feral arpeggio. The clandestine spirits permeate these eight tracks of dreamlike industrial techno, impressionist synth burbles, fragmented post-modern ambient and cosmic sci-fi adventure.
Right then, our Head Technician has sworn that he will have the next instalment of Black Mills Tapes ready for us by the end of January. Volume 3: All Pathways Open comprises a further twelve tracks lovingly transferred from those now fabled 1/4″ and cassette tapes. The Advisory Circle kindly lent a hand and retransferred ‘Electronic Rhythm Number Eighteen’ for which we are very grateful. Our Head Technician tells us this particular segment had been giving him a fair bit of trouble, so the help was appreciated.