Last year, Pye Corner Audio released two extremely intriguing albums in a series called Black Mill Tapes. The concept of this series was described on their website as a transcription service wherein the nameless Head Technician has been transferring variously sourced quarter-inch and cassette tapes since 1970. This release is number three in that series and anyone owning or hearing the first instalments should know exactly what to find here.
The whole series is a carefully constructed blend of vintage synthesizer electronics and various radiophonic obscurities that display a cool-handed grasp of cinematic narration and mystical analogue production values. They at once evoke the soundtracks of mid-1960s Doctor Who episodes, half-remembered Giallo missions and the home-smoked ambient techniques of early Boards of Canada.
On Volume Three, we find the Head Technician presenting several short sketches which are sometimes labelled pathways, themes or transmissions. These tracks have the distinct feel of outtakes from vaguely sinister, avant-garde educational films or obscure public information broadcasts from the 1970s. Alongside these snippets are more fully realised pieces, three of which are prefixed 'Electronic Rhythm' giving them an air of archive library music material.
|Artwork taken from the accompanying digital booklet|
These eerie, pseudo-Hauntological sounds that are the signature of the Black Mill Tapes series align Pye Corner Audio with other luminaries in this field such as Moon Wiring Club, the Cafe Kaput roster and Ghost Box figureheads Belbury Poly, The Focus Group and The Advisory Circle. Indeed, 'Electronic Rhythm Number Eighteen' was "Retransfered" by John Brooks under the Advisory Circle moniker. Listening to this album I can also hear traces of 1970s Italian horror soundtrack supremos Goblin and a touch of all-round musical legend Ennio Morricone.
This is music that occupies those liminal nether zones found at the peripheries of occult sonics and Hauntology, conducting eldritch experiments in the twisted arts of audio alchemy, electronic synthesis and memory transcription to create phantasmic hollow drone spaces haunted by the apparitions of flickering tonality.
A most highly recommended series of recordings.
More information on Pye Corner Audio and their releases can be found at their website and for digital downloads, head over to their Bandcamp page.
'Hexden Channel', taken from the album Black Mill Tapes Volume 3: All Pathways Open;