Boomkat Product Review:
Originally released in April 1994 on Finiflex (FF1009) and fetching upwards of £70 on Discogs, The Mercury E.P. by State of Flux (Dave Clark and Roger Elliott) has long been overdue a repress; it now sees the light of day once again with fresh remaster by Keith Tenniswood. State of Flux were an integral part of the Scottish electronic music scene, during what is now considered as the classic foundational wave of British "intelligent techno". These tracks were written between 1992 and 1993, with the E.P. released to coincide with their first UK tour in 1994.
"With the recent death of Andrew Weatherall, a hero and legend for so many thanks to his championing of all genres of music and endlessly supportive attitude, we saw a massive outpouring of grief and love – alongside a wealth of old mixes, personal recollections and tributes. One of his most beloved ambient mixes – billed online as Massive Mellow Mix; just Andy Weatherall 2 on the tape itself – featured both Mercury and The News, and was a firm post-club favourite, still keeping heads together over 25 years since it emerged. It is largely thanks to Weatherall and his reputation that the spotlight has been recast onto all sorts of obscure or well-known music, including this E.P.
In Dave's words: "1994 was exciting for us. We first met and played with Weatherall early that year, and I remember he gave us his entire rider and sat chatting to us for hours until our slots came up. We were already big fans of him, both as a producer and DJ, and he’d given our latest record a great review in the NME or something, so we were blown away. By then we had started gigging seriously and toured in April and then in Europe in September, sharing bills and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Black Dog, Autechre, Higher Intelligence Agency, Derrick May, Psychick Warriors ov Gaia and finding ourselves on compilation albums together with Aphex Twin, Biosphere and Bandulu. We started to be invited to 'music industry things': record company offices, panel talks, an exclusive WARP party in Sheffield. Weatherall would pop up now and again, and he’d always be super-friendly, and - most importantly at a time when everyone was out of their nut - engaged and interested."
Mercury was shortlisted for Warp's Artificial Intelligence 2 album, but didn't quite make the cut. Roger and Dave were young, skint and went their separate ways – burning brightly for a short period, then quitting while ahead. Dave has continued under a variety of aliases and always operated at the centre of Glasgow's electronic music scene, working most closely with Numbers and Optimo to cement the city's legacy.
A1: Mercury - our eponymous hero, god of many things and psychopomp guiding the souls of the dead to new realms. As we travel, a high, probing bassline paves the way for soft melodic cycles – morphing and entwined like serpents on the caduceus. A bright legato entity and its bastard harmonic cousin arrive to derail us; we escape toward nasal hyperspeed nonchalance haunted by the plaintive entreaties of a randy qliphothic temptress. Stay true. The melodic serpents return in harmony and unravel, leaving a refrain of august mood backed by siren of the pining temptress. The cousin reappears with several evil mates to answer this increasingly malevolent beacon, together threatening to devour all; but they are banished, the qlipoth unsated – and a mood of quiet optimism is reestablished for the remainder of the journey
A2: New Lanark is what happens if Bytes-era Black Dog were asked pressing questions about Welsh philanthropist and social reformer Robert 'Derrick May' Owen's model village / labour camp on the banks of the Clyde. Grimy but well-educated kids – saved from punishing apprenticeships at the mill and instead given pioneering nursery education – take us along the path through the Devonian sandstone gorge up to the Falls at Corra Linn on a grey Sunday afternoon in late autumn... but what's this? Little Annie has dropped her barley bread in a mud puddle en route and naughty Wullie has picked it up and snaffled it hissel' – bacteria, ciliates and all! The other children all laugh and dream of a future where they will bake grain-based techno morsels for sharing with all, "without regard to their class, sect, party, country or colour".
B1: The News - we've all read it and we're all sick of it: coming in waves, 'rolling' and 'breaking', promising endless novelty and repetition. We hear Radioactivity-era Kraftwerk transposed to the naïve early 90s, when the internet was made of string vests and social media was but a gleam in the rolling, gaping pupil of anyone chewing their own face off in front of several strangers in the 'chill out' area. The mood is full of hope; good news is possible and desirable. Darkness is stirring, though: we must learn to see through our own biases... "feelgood" stories serve ulterior motives and the lamestream will erode critical thinking. Bleeping morse alert signals demand your attention at any time; once you are plugged in, you can't really opt-out... time to pop another pill.
B2: OWG - 'OId White Guy' running 'One World Government'? The encroaching, ubiquitous media landscape hinted at in The News now 'feeds the mouth that bites the hand', ushering in a technocratic New World Order led by Bill Gates' cunning plandemic to inject a microchip – hidden in a "vaccine" – capable of tracking the entire population. Donning their spritely trance trousers, Bill, his pal Elon and countless other OWG dignitaries take their position on the empty dancefloor, maintaining reasonable social distance to instigate a celebratory acid hoedown in the face of Icke, Jones and all other former goalkeepers, wellness practitioners and truthsayers of "independent thought" who would convince the masses to inherit their beliefs and rise up to save us from our own future."