Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Hauntology Parish Newsletter - summer 2017 : Genteel Decay; The Focus Group; A Year in the Country; Ekoplekz

Genteel Decay is an alter-ego of Moon Wiring Club's Ian Hodgson. Some while ago Ian was propositioned by the gentleman behind cassette-label Illuminated Paths with a view to him crafting a side release for pseudonymous emission. As it happens, Ian had already been poking away at a pet project, involving "just vocal sounds and echo / delay / reverb effects."  As you know, mouth music is something of a fancy of mine, so my ears immediately pricked up when I learned about A Crumpet or Two. And it's a right treat: a lovely dollopy portion of mashed-and-slurried speech. The original textual fragments are themed around an afternoon tea but as they're glutinously distended, like strands of treacle spooling from a wooden spoon, they degenerate into oozy nonsense. As Ian aptly puts it, "the end result sounds somewhere between a female HAL9000 having her memory chips removed and the thought processes of an Edwardian UK Stepford Wives." 

Ian mentions in passing that a bunch of MWC releases are now available for the first time as downloads via Bandcamp, including the special vinyl-only and cassette-only editions of A Fondness for Fancy Hats, Leporine Gardens, and Today Bread, Tomorrow Secrets.


Four years after The Elektrik Karousel, there's finally a new long-player from The Focus Group - and it's a superb one too. Stop-Motion Happening with The Focus Group is Julian's most disintegrated and dream-like work since hey let loose your love, but the previous album's Anglo-psych fairground feel still flickers through in places.   


Out next week from the prolific A Year in the Country label is what I believe is their first release that isn't a themed compilation - a solo effort titled Undercurrents by the gentleman behind the label, aka, er, A Year in the Country. Excellent moody n' twinkly stuff it is too, with the usual exquisitely intricate packaging. 

Release rationale: 

"Undercurrents was partly inspired by living in the countryside for the first time since I was young, where because of the more exposed nature of rural life I found myself in closer contact with, more overtly affected by and able to directly observe the elements and nature than via life in the city.

"This coincided with an interest in and exploration of an otherly take on pastoralism and creating the A Year In The Country project; of coming to know the land as a place of beauty, exploration and escape that you may well drift off into but where there is also a sometimes unsettled undercurrent and layering of history and culture.

"I found myself drawn to areas of culture that draw from the landscape, the patterns beneath the plough, the pylons and amongst the edgelands and where they meet with the lost progressive futures, spectral histories and parallel worlds of what has come to be known as hauntology.

"Undercurrents is an audio exploration and interweaving of these themes - a wandering amongst nature, electronic soundscapes, field recordings, the flow of water through and across the land and the flipside of bucolic dreams."


Although he dwells on the outskirts of this parish, it should be noted that after a low-key patch Ekoplekz has a new album out on Planet Mu:  Bioprodukt. Excellent stuff, as always, as expected - but differently excellent. There's a clean glisten, a cold 'n' bouncy feel to much of the album, quite unlike the grainy monochrome of the torrential release-flow of first-phase Eko (something matched by the gaily coloured album artwork). Hints and traces of Pole, "Macau"-era Monolake, perhaps even solo Czukay...  a industrial-goes-tropical sinuosity to the rhythms and balminess to the atmospheres.