Pye Corner Audio – Black Mill Tapes Volume 5: The Lost Tapes [LPS27]

PYE CORNER AUDIO - Black Mill Tapes Volume 5: The Lost Tapes

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. 

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Pye Corner Audio – Black Mill Tapes Volume 5: The Lost Tapes [LPS27]

Head Technician – Zones [E022LP]

Ecstatic label catch Martin Jenkins (Pye Corner Audio) in Head Technician garb for a slippery set of slow, plasmic acid workouts that were originally issued on a super-limited tape, and now sit heavy on wax. Over the years Jenkins has used the Head Technician alter ego as a sort of evil engineer Hyde analogous to his day-to-day Jekyll, a sort of hyperstitious studio partner in a time-honoured tradition of sleeve credits ghost chasing. Where Pye Corner Audio’s pieces may tend to be lustrous, optimistic, the Head Technician’s Zones LP hems to the shadows of the ‘floor with a furtive, noirish quality that works a treat in the right situations, whether soundtracking gaslamp-lit raves or midnight street patrols seeking out ne’erdowells and laudanum dealers.
Fired on a classic trinity of Roland TR-606 drum machine with an MC-202 (a beast to program, he admits) and TB-303 to sequence his baselines, it clearly makes explicit reference to the early days of Detroit techno and UK bleep ’n bass, but the vibe is more anachronistic, out-of-time, possibly thanks to his patented, lagging basslines and slowly unfolding arrangements, bridging that imaginary, dilated gap between fuzzy dancefloor head melt and curtains-drawn next day gouch out.

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Head Technician – Zones [E022LP]

Pye Corner Audio – Black Mill Tapes Volume 3: All Pathways Open [PCA003]

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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.

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Pye Corner Audio – Black Mill Tapes Volume 3: All Pathways Open [PCA003]