Boomkat Product Review:
Cult Manchester guitarist Kevin McCormick's 1982-1984 bedroom demos are assembled on this shimmering anthology, blurring the lines between ambient, jazz and experimental forms and harmonizing with The Durutti Column, late-Talk Talk, or Andrew Chalk.
If you caught 'Light Patterns', the lone 1982 release from McCormick and his collaborator David Horridge, you'll already have an idea what this complimentary set will offer. A rare statement from the greyscale depths of Thatcher's Manchester helped bring to life a side of the city that's often only hinted at: a counter to the hard-drinking party mentality that looked inward instead of outward. It's an emotional state Vini Reilly always nailed, and it's laid out even more clearly on McCormick's solo material.
'Sticklebacks' is a downsized, electrical counterpart to 'Light Patterns', and reflects McCormick's interest in hazy ambient music, disrupting placid guitar improvisations with dubby delays and cavernous reverb. Dream pop without the pop, it's music that sounds as if it's been smudged at the edges and hums with the same ethereal energy as contemporaneous material from 4AD and their Lowlands counterparts Les Disques du Crépuscule. The opening track is moody but not dejected, obscuring McCormick's Northern poetry with voice-changing effects over wailing, dimly-lit arpeggios.
'Sunday Farmway' has more in common with German kosmische, bedding Manuel Göttsching-style noodles in staccato repetitions and synth-like string drones. There's a breath of Robin Guthrie's signature sparkle on 'Mountain Tops', but McCormick's compositions are self-consciously lo-fi - not exactly bare, but decidedly economical. There's rarely more than electric guitar and a few carefully picked delays and reverbs, and on tracks like the stargazing 'Night Journey' and the gloriously faded outro 'Alone in a Crowd' it's all we need. A festival of drift.