KONX-OM-PAX: Regional Surrealism (Planet Mu)


Posted on Jul 10th 2012 01:21 am

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Konx-Om-Pax: Regional Surrealism

Regional Surrealism
Planet Mu 2012
14 Tracks. 46mins30secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP US: CD | LP Boomkat: CD | LP

Glaswegian Tom Scholefield is pretty well acquainted with the music industry, having, in recent years, directed videos for Martyn, Kuedo, Lone and fellow Scotts Hudson Mohawke, Rustie or Mogwai, and produced artwork for Oneothrix Point Never or King Midas Sound. A side of his creative mind that’s so far remained under wrap is his music production, but this is about to change with the release of his debut album on Planet Mu. Regional Surrealism follows a handful of EPs published on Scholefield’s own imprint, Display Copy, in the last couple of years.

Scholefield’s music is somewhat odd, wonderful and highly individual. Working primarily from analogue instruments, he creates pretty dense sonic vignettes, for the most part beat-less, often reminiscent of the electronic experiments which defined much of the Krautrock/kosmische scene of the early to mid seventies, but his reference pool is much wider. Evolving at the confine of atmospheric techno and ambient, Scholefield also draws on a different aspect of music. Perhaps the result of working with videos, Scholefield is keen to point out that some of his pieces stem from the idea of rethinking the score for existing films, but if the music often feels cinematic, this is countered by the usually short aspect of these tracks. At times, it almost feels as if Scholefield has deliberately left his pieces unfinished, as if the allow the listener to build their own part of the story. The extensive use of tape hiss and distortions also give this album a lo-fi feel which works pretty well with the man’s sketchy approach, but there is more to Regional Surrealism than tasteful approximations. Scholefield demonstrates here a particular flair for melody, which, whilst not always instantly apparent, eventually sip through the intricate mesh of electronics.

Throughout Regional Surrealism, Scholefield alternates between short vignettes and more developed pieces, all working independently from each other, yet all fitting into the overall narrative of the record. The haunting and unsettling atmosphere of Isotonic Pool unexpectedly leads to the sweeping plains of At Home With Mum And Dad; Glacier Mountain Descent and Pillars Of Creation are equally as widescreen and dreamy, but in a rather different way, the former, inspired by the opening sequence of Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, building on a heavenly choral motif placed over glistening electronics, the latter a much more robust display of incisive synths slabs. Slootering at times recalls the hypnotic dub of Pole, but the deconstructed abstraction of Lagoon Leisure and Hurt Face which follow, are much more disturbing, instilling a lingering feeling of underlying tension.

Although he primarily works on his own, Tom Scholefield also offers here a couple of collaborative pieces, as oblique and intriguing as the rest of this album. On Sura-Tura-Gnosi-Cosi, he his joined by somewhat mysterious American artist Steven Retchard, who’s heavily slowed-down voice (could it actually be that of Scholefield?) provides another hint of tension, whilst Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite contributes to the dreamy Zang-Tumb, although in which capacity remains pretty unclear.

The scope of this record is incredibly vast, yet Tom Scholefield keeps the whole thing very tightly knit all the way through, so his various escapades remains firmly within his overall narrative. The result is a wonderfully evocative and poetic record which is at times reminiscent of the faded psychedelia of Boards Of Canada or ISAN, but his approach is utterly unique, making Regional Surrealism a truly exciting record.


Konx-Om-Pax | Planet Mu
Amazon UK: CD | LP US: CD | LP Boomkat: CD | LP

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