Boomkat Product Review:
Originally released in 1997, "Deliquescence" captures a rare early live performance at the point when Main was shifting away from guitar experimentation into concréte abstraction and Nurse With Wound-inspired industrial soundscaping. Deep as fuck.
Recorded at France's 3ème Festival in 1997, "Deliquescence" is a genius portrait of Robert Hampson's process at this period in his career. By the mid-1990s he'd almost completely left rock music behind; he'd been through Loop's first phase, and seen his early Main cohort Scott Dawson disappear as Main moved from an experiment in "drumless space" to even further abstraction. "Guitars simply disappeared completely as being used as a source for sounds," Hampson told The Wire in 2018. "They had reached the logical end in Main by the time of the Hz project (1996) and just evaporated."
So by 1997, Hampson was working with synthesized sounds and processed environmental recordings, and while Main had been a stridently studio-focused project, "Deliquescence" highlights Hampson's ability to remain reactive and open to experimentation. None of the material here compromises Hampson's dedication to minimalism or sonic exploration, and while it's not clear exactly how he was producing it, this mystery adds to the appeal. Our best guess is that Hampson is working with CDRs, playing them back on various machines and manipulating them live, bringing elements in like a DJ and effecting them on the fly as he performs.
'Particle Suspension' introduces us to Hampson's world quietly and deliberately slowly, building careful glassy soundscapes before dropping a seismic dub bass. 'Phase Space' takes a similarly minuscule approach, amplifying digital scrapes and metallic drones, and stitching skewed sonic environments into a lower-case tapestry that links Nurse With Wound with early 12k or Ritornell records. 'Outer Corona' is more classically Main, interpreting the "Hz" EP's 'Corona' by channeling the lead bass riff and disquieting alien atmospheres into further horizontal abstraction. 'Cavitation' meanwhile descends into near silence, lurching into mind-altering oscillator warbling and cybernetic scratching before the album closes on the relatively peaceful 'Valency'.