A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Pye Corner Audio have been largely responsible for (or maybe just pointing out) the trajectory of Hauntology 2.0 (3.0? 4.7?), expanding the vocabulary beyond the weird and wonky world of ’60s British children’s television and PSAs, to incorporate proto-techno and ’80s horror sleaze – The Owl Service meets Night Of The Demons. More music from blurred Kodachrome TV sets, with skipping horizontal.
On Intercepts, The Head Technician has met a kindred sonic spirit in Allessio Natalizia, one half of the duo Walls , here operating under his Not Waving moniker. With Walls, Not Waving, and his Ecstatic Recordings imprint, who released Intercepts, Natalizia has been mining a similar era of inspiration, welding radiophonic retrofuturism to analog sequencer worship and modern microtonality, as is evidenced on Walls’Sound Houses project, where the duo rework classic material from oramics oracle Daphne Oram, which i will get around to reviewing one of these days, i swear to JHVH.
Both sides employ a similar setup of swarming sequencers and stately, stomping beats, but to widely different effect. Pye Corner Audio’s side is mainly comprised of The Head Technician’s Mark Shreeve fascination he’s been so fond of lately, with modular chunks of mutating melodies, fit together like an enigma machine. The beats are spartan stainless steel, simple but deadly effective, which are then wrapped in steel wool and barbituates, as can be seen/heard on “Twisted Wire Pair”.
The tension and dramatic stingers meet Electric Light Parade anti-gravity, sounding like the dystopian voices of spies bouncing off of satellites, on “Shared Secret Key”, suggesting that this might be a sci-fi thriller, after all.
The SF is more pronounced on Not Waving’s side, which comes across with some Eno/Harmonia/Cluster/Rodelius glowing outer space drone. If PCA’s side is the earthly machinations of secret agents, Not Waving would be their space station hideout. It’s not all newage drift, as Not Waving also drops the beat, in a cyberpunk way, as polished steel kicks are dipped in squishy echoes, as on “Enemies Of The People”.
Origin stories and listening trends aside, PCA and Not Waving peel back the hype, and reveal perhaps why people are so nutty about analog worship, these days. First of all, both keep the tempo slow and grand, i’m guessing maybe 100 – 105 bpm, which gives extra muscle and force to the beats. This is not cerebral/academic music – Intercepts is sexy!, even if it is more for dungeons that boudoirs. Secondly, both participants know how to select their synths. Every sound neatly slots together – the mix is unharried, full and warm, with every element glistening with inherent grandeur. A well produced Casio keyboard could probably sound better than 1000000 bullshit plug-ins, from a producer with nothing to say. Every particle of sound serves the overall feel and aesthetic, making this one of the most cohesive splits i’ve heard in a minute.
And lastly, it seems that most of Intercepts is played and sequenced by hand, meaning both musicians have taken the time to develop their craft, honing their instincts, and using prodigious technical acumen to realize their cold war visions.
Intercepts is a welcome addition to the hauntological cannon, bringing in the disembodied voices of The Conet Project and ’70s true crime television to the magickal, horrific, uncanny world originally outlined by Ghost Box Records, and bringing in early electronic music and library records along the way.
While managing to be the sound of the present, both Pye Corner Audio and Not Waving invite a re-evaluation and appreciation bordering on frenzied worship, of the past. They teach us that we are standing on the shoulders of giants, but to take that inspiration and spin something personal and imaginative from it.