Boomkat Product Review:
JD Twitch and Fergus Clark expand on John Hassell’s Fourth World theories with this wonderful compilation featuring Ariel Kalma & Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, O Yuki Conjugate, Jorge Reyes and more.
We’ve lost count of the excellent compilations that bear the Optimo rubber stamp of quality but here’s another proper gem from Keith ‘JD Twitch’ McIvor to add to the pile. ‘Miracle Steps’ pairs McIvor with Fergus Clark, one of the deep musical thinkers behind rising Glasgow collective 12th Isle, and sees the two embark on an exploration of the developments in Fourth World Music over the four decades since John Hassell first conjured the idea in the early ‘80s. In an era when deeply-researched compilations seem to be on a terminal decline, Clark and McIvor’s obvious understanding of the subject results in a rewarding and most cohesive listen.
This is in part due to the sequencing which eschews scholarly chronology in favour of cultivating a mood like a well-thought-out mixtape. Like the best compilers, our intrepid Miracle Steppers act as musical guides, offering tantalising glimpses of artists from different walks of life unified by a capacity for music that ‘manages to sound futuristic yet remarkably nostalgic,’ as Clark puts it in his sleeve notes.
The immersive spiritual incantations of Jorge Reyes open the release, finding mutual ground with the harmonic FRKWYS union of Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe & Ariel Kalma. McIvor offers a glimpse of Iona Fortune’s forthcoming LP on Optimo Trax with the delicate White Tigress, whilst forthcoming 12th Isle debutant X.Y.R. is also include with the odd synth shapes of Middle Of Nowhere. Around midway through, the stark abstract trumpet treatments of John Hassell’s Miracle Steps make an appearance – and it’s telling McIvor and Clark plump for a track when the composer’s Fourth World explorations were at their most potent on the 1986 ‘Power Steps’ LP rather than his earlier conception of the idea alongside Eno. Special mention goes to the inclusion of The Same River Twice from Robin ‘Zoviet France’ Storey’s solo project Rapoon whose blissful ragas captures the mysterious elation McIvor and Clark are aiming for perfectly.
RIYL Music From Memory, Emotional Response, Lullabies for Insomniacs, Freedom To Spend, Palto Flats.