Boomkat Product Review:
Necessary reissue of Kymatik : Midwitch Cuckoos’s superlative, computer-processed field recordings, originally made in the mid ‘90s between Bristol, Runswick Bay (North Yorkshire) and Plymouth, and subsequently issued on their cult imprint, NonServiam between 1997-2001.
If you thought that late ‘90s electronica was all drill ’n bass, glitch and ambient techno, this is simply none of the above and serves as both a historical document and a strong testament to the UK’s less recognised, explorative rearguard. You can take it on trust that Lee Gamble is a big fan of this one!
Experimental yet coherent, drily psychedelic and perpetually out of reach, the works inside Anthropological Constants trace the after effects of Kymatik’s shift from the analogue source material of their Central Nervous System [CNS] unit in the late ‘80s to a blend of location recordings processed with digital hardware and computer software, by the mid ‘90s - pretty much mirroring a phase shift that many progressive or forward looking artists were undergoing at that time (or even the world at large; on the cusp of transition from analogue TV and radio toward the internet, speech recognition and cybernetics).
Anthropological Constants consists of three pieces drawn from as many releases, all recorded, released and atmospherically time-stamped with that era. In their own words, “[Dentists For Mice] represents a transition from outboard gear [mixing desk and reel-to-reel tape] to computer composition”, and describes 18 minutes of unfathomably layered and absorbing drone flux and irregular rhythm; ticking over from echoic abstraction to subaquatic plunge and cranky space station ambience by way of imperceptibly seamless segues. The fact that it was made on a kitchen table thru basic PC speakers only testifies to the piece’s ingenuity.
Meanwhile the B-side picks up where the other left off, folding in field recordings made as Dentists.. was coming to completion. However the ear’s focus here is more on atmospheric subtlety, rather than momentum and morphology. Using recordings made on the rugged Yorkshire coastline (just down the road from a rare early warning radar detection system) during an inebriated weekend over the New Year, Runswick Bay: Kate’s Painless Gingerbread shifts from an initial smear of rushing wind, sloshing water and dislocated voices with some seriously eerie harmonics, thru denser patches of inclement noise, panicky bass pulses and almost folk-wise ritual percussion, the quickly waking up in the middle of a pub scene, perhaps captured as the New Years party got into its third day?
Reissued by the same Paradigm Discs behind vital Pauline Oliveros, Daphne Oram and William S. Burroughs volumes, you should know this record is definitely worth your time.