VARIOUS ARTISTS: Magnetism, That Electricity (Highpoint Lowlife)


Posted on May 7th 2008 12:07 am

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V/A: Magnetism, That Electricity

Magnetism, That Electricity
Highpoint Lowlife 2008
12 Tracks. 74mins46secs

For some time now, the excellent Highpoint Lowlife have refocused their outputs by publishing extremely limited hand crafted CDR editions, but the quality of the music released has in no way waned, as recent releases by Tigrics and Erstlaub have shown. Magnetism, That Electricity is the latest project initiated by label head Thorsten Sideb0ard, and follows the Analog For Architecture DVDR compilation released a year and a half ago. The project was devised primarily to be pressed on vinyl and released as a double EP, with four very different acts from the HPLL stable given the full run of a side each. Answering the call are atmospheric drone rockers Mandelbrot Set and electronic outfits Fisk Industries, The Village Orchestra and The Marcia Blaine School For Girls.

First in line are Mandelbrot Set, a trio set between ambient, drone rock and noise, whose debut album, All Our Actions Are Constantly Repeated, was released on HPLL in 2006. Here, they contribute four densely layered compositions, articulated into movements of an overall piece entitled Astronomy And Allied Science, which incorporate long guitar drones, treated distorted guitars and ethereal string work. There are echoes of My Bloody Valentines, Mogwai and, to a lesser extent, Godspeed You! Black Emperor in these pieces, but the trio’s work remains truly individual. The three first pieces are totally beat-less and evolve into one another without clear transition, moving from the gentle breeze of the opening composition into the much more intense circumvolutions of the following section and into the complex formations of the third part. It is only on the last piece that drums are introduced, bringing the pace up considerably for a short outburst of distortions before folding up.

The four contributions from Londoner Mat Ranson, who has, under the Fisk Industries banner, released two brilliant EPs on HPLL, which were compiled into an album which also featured two web-only EPs and released on Mush last year. Ranson has also provided the score for short films and is currently working on his debut album. His four offerings here showcase Ranson’s widescreen hip-hop infused blend of electronica, set into rich soundscapes providing dramatic backdrops for strong melodies. Blood, with its gritty and grinding electronics and heavy beat, is typical Fisk Industries, but with Gangu, Ranson moves into much darker and oppressive terrain. Everything here hints at desolate post industrial influences, and the mood doesn’t lift much on the following Rhetoric. Here though, Ranson applies hip-hop touches in a slightly more conventional fashion and ornates his moody groove and oppressive soundscapes with vocal samples. Only on Crowley does he tear the clouds that have been hanging over the previous tracks apart and reveal a much more tranquil and radiant series of soundscapes.

The solo project of Marcia Blaine member Ruaridh Law, The Village Orchestra is responsible for one of HPLL’s most sumptuous releases with his 2005 album Et In Arcadia Ego. For Magnetism, he supplies one epic twenty minute piece which develops from ambient drones sounding like stellar winds blowing over deserted landscapes into a much more sophisticated rhythmic section which allows Law to introduce melodic elements and develop a variety of moods throughout. With its warm soundscapes, melodic progressions and overall tone, The King Of All Tears is reminiscent of classic German electronic music of the mid-to-late seventies, bringing to mind the work of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze or Manuel Göttsching, and actually sets Law on a much more ambitious trajectory than previous outputs.

Last but not least is the full Marcia Blaine School For Girls crew, who collect three magnificent electronic compositions which rely on shimmering backdrops upon which Law casts gentle themes which develop all the way through each piece. The trio have released a number of seven inch singles and EPs on labels as diverse as Static Caravan, Metal-On-Metal and Dalriada before landing a semi-permanent home with HPLL. Their first release for the label was a compilation of Scottish electronica featuring some of the band’s work together with various side projects and contributions from like-minded friends. This was followed by a full length album, Halfway Into The Woods, last year. From the shimmering brushes of Pinar through to the surprisingly upfront and linear, yet strangely ethereal Bottle Stain via the intricate futuristic formations of The Ratio, the Marcia Blaine lads craft electronic music that is at once evocative, cinematic and dramatic and has very little equivalent.

Not quite a compilation but more than just a simple roster showcase, Magnetism, That Electricity demonstrates the wide angled approach of Highpoint Lowlife and its utterly modern vision. With only three hundred copies of this double EP pressed on vinyl and a hundred CDRs, this is yet again a released that should be snapped up before it’s gone for ever.


Icon: arrow Mandelbrot Set | Fisk Industries | The Village Orchestra | The Marcia Blaine School For Girls
Icon: arrow Buy: Highpoint Lowlife

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One Response to “VARIOUS ARTISTS: Magnetism, That Electricity (Highpoint Lowlife)”

  1. mapsadaisicalon 08 May 2008 at 10:50 am

    Approved. This is a pretty strong collection, I can’t help but be impressed by what HPLL are doing.