Boomkat Product Review:
Jon K and Elle Andrews’ MAL imprint returns with a new LP from one of the London experimental underground's best kept secrets, Rory Salter aka Malvern Brume. His music is rare, eccentric and mysterious - somewhere between Coil's bleak ritual magick and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's most experimental, minimal fringes.
Malvern Brume operates just beneath the radar, occasionally turning up at Café OTO lineups and on a smattering of releases for Low Company, Alter, Infant Tree and Kasual Plastik - but he’s never one to shout too loudly about his work. ‘Body Traffic’ is his most interesting set to date, laying bare a process melting found sounds, field recordings and spoken word into throbbing, pulsing rhythms. It’s an evocation of a fraught mindset during the early weeks of lockdown in 2020; sequestered in his flat next to a trainline, the infrasonic - and more audible - rumbles of rolling stock and a nagging sense of dread infecting his ambiguously discomfiting recordings.
Operating in a headspace that values world-building and vivid, visual emotionality, Salter’s careful melodies are familiar - the distant, weeping melancholia of 1970s British TV hangs off the recordings like net curtains, and his atmosphere loops into experiments that weave through bare traces of industrial music, blank-faced electro pop, and hedonistic Brummie techno, all reduced to a cinder.
The mood is set on the bellyaching resonance and crawling walls of the title tune, while 'Through Beaked Fog Horns' is drowned beneath morning mists: lopsided synth drones choke and drift, percussion mutates into inebriated bubbles, and tape-f*cked environmental whirrs create an atmosphere that’s hard to decipher in one take.
‘Moss Spines Clenched’ follows cryptic stains on peeling flocking, and the icy creep of ‘Tense Branches Waver’ quivers beyond a cracked windowpane. The artist’s voice appears from beneath a cardboard box fort in the imaginary world of ‘Cornered Into Sleat’ as a distant drum beats out a marching thud and traffic squeals are sculpted into chirpy whistles, before ‘Bri Dun’ resolves the eerie tension in an OOBE-like ascent above the dado-rail and across the tracks, watching himself fade into a dissociative bliss.
"All chatter falls quiet…” Salter murmurs thru saturation and white noise. It’s a sound that’s gonna stick with us for a while.