Boomkat Product Review:
Dreams are made and displaced on Mark Fell & Rian Treanor’s oneiric electro-acoustic inception 'Last Exit', borne from long days in the family garden, and assembled into a mesmerising masterpiece of minimalist modal rhythm and atmospheric exploration, into rapt smallsound detailing in breathtaking form. It’s a bit like listening to Virginia Astley’s ‘From Gardens Where We Feel Secure’, with washes of Autechre seeping into the mix from outside.
‘Last Exit…’ originally appeared in a different form as a cassette release for our Documenting Sound series in 2021, and was edited this year by Mark and Rian for this new expanded and altered edition, mastered by Rashad Becker. It renders a painterly,psychedelic, and diaristic depiction of sublime atmospheric tension, occasionally ruptured by their typical, asymmetric rhythm impulses in a form that rudely transcends their respective aesthetics. Across four parts, they kern, juxtapose and diffract synthesised percussion and field recordings into polymetric arrangements riddled with timbral nuance of a highly unpredictable nature.
While patently inflected with nods to Indonesian gamelan, Ugandan folk, Indian Carnatic classical, Morton Feldman-esque minimalism, free jazz improvisation and a sort of rhythmic cubism that speaks to their mutual, voracious listening habits and tastes, the results are arguably without direct compare. Attentive listeners will recognise, however, that ‘Last Exit’ effortlessly transcends their respective styles, achieving a new high watermark of imaginary future-hyperfolk expressed in a sort of personalised but highly relatable meta-musical language.
Seriously, they’re working beyond known conventions here; opening to a sublime frisson of Feldman-esque keys, birdsong and distant car engines, and closing to a combo of just-intoned drone and wafts of distant ballroom music. The 80 minutes in between feel like returning to a dream, with flashes of FM strings dabbed to sloshing rhythms and domestic detritus, tilting into a nervously tentative tension ruptured with abstract dance dynamism and angular free jazz ballistics.
The rejigged recordings also reflect the fidelity of memory recall, expressing an altered perspective on their time spent in the multigenerational family’s Rotherham garden during spring/summer 2020, replete with their mum/grandmother on piano and overheard singing and in convo, but now fraught with a more melancholic, distempered quality that makes for a genuinely unforgettable listening experience. A long-form isolationist fantasy, consider it crucial listening if yr into Robert Ashley's 'Automatic Writing', Graham Lambkin, Autechre or Nuno Canavarro.