Boomkat Product Review:
Marking legendary UK techno label, Irdial’s 30th anniversary year, we’ve got a small handful of warehouse-found classic albums on CD, kicking off with this rigorously innovative and experimental exercise in minimalism from 1994. It was an album so painstaking to make that Anthony Manning didnt have a proper night's sleep for weeks on end during its recording. That painstaking attention to detail seeps through every pore of this hugely influential masterpiece...
Anthony Manning’s debut album Islets in Pink Polypropylene was his 2nd release, preceded only by his debut 12” Elastic Variations in 1994. Painstakingly crafted exclusively using the malleable palette of a Roland R-8 drum machine - as used by 808 State, Orbital, Autechre before him - and landing just as the UK scene’s come-down from the halcyon daze really started to kick in, the album was effectively one of the UK’s first post-rave ambient records proper; sharing much more in common with Æ’s Amber or AFX’s SAW Vol. II - which were both released in that same year - than anything else before or around it.
Presenting five exquisitely efficient and detailed tracks that perhaps suggest what Satie and Paremgiani might have done with access to an R-8, Islets in Pink Polypropylene is future-proofed by the nature of its reductionist principles, rendering captivating glimpses into a machine-mind of sparkling neurones and tingling nerves that reveal a world of possibilities from the same equipment that almost everyone else is using, but to much more skewed, esoteric and coolly cerebral ends.
And in contrast to the vast fields of pastoral, drifty ambience and the way techno was bifurcating into nuttier, harder, complex arrangements, this record is a real sore thumb, preferring a modest pointillist efficiency and a relatively cold sense of space over broad strokes and fluffy intimacy. Yet that said, it is a friendly, memorably involving listen; you might just have to work around its more autistic elements to find a way in.
Whether directly or indirectly, there are swathes of minimalist electronic records released since (in fact there’s probably whole genres) which owe this one a debt of gratitude, so it’s great to have a hard copy back in circulation.