Boomkat Product Review:
Nocturnal Emissions’ dark ambient archetype and master opus sees light of day on its 30th anniversary reissue with Alessandro Adriani’s Mannequin.
Starting a very welcome programme of Nocturnal Emissions reissues, ‘Spiritflesh’ offers a steeply absorbing blend of field recordings, concrète and analogue electronics recorded in London Zoological Gardens, the Derbyshire Dales and various sites in Great Britain between January and May 1988. With sleight of hand and near magic realist intent, the eldritch, future-primitivist results beautifully and brutally evoke a strong sense of time and place, and confirm Nocturnal Emissions position at the vanguard of post-industrial exploration.
Written in the first half of 1988 and self-released by Nigel Ayers’ Nocturnal Emissions in 1989, after a decade of veering between noise, synth-pop and multi-disciplinary A/V performance, ‘Spiritflesh’ found the group perversely avoiding the acid house phenomenon and heading to the outer limits of sonic perception. Combining the indigenous, British sounds from the bleak Derbyshire Dales with Church harmonium, Car Wipers, and the relatively exotic sounds of Chimpanzees and African Wildfowl, the ten tracks speak to an idea of GB as a node, criss-crossed by eons of people, cultures, and their beliefs and occult ephemera. In effect, the music feels like a detached, psychic reading of the country at that time, when contemporary folk were engaged in technologically and pharmaceutically enhanced reveries that related as much to ancient African and pagan Indo-European traditions as up-to-the-second advancements in science and technology - effectively reading the aura of a country and culture tilting from analogue into the digital dimension.