Richard Sanderson’s previous album of solo melodeon improvisations, Air Buttons, came on like some ancient Radiophonic soundtrack to a long-lost children’s TV series. Its bare, metallic tones were simultaneously ancient and modern, analogue computer music composed by Viking scientists, perhaps. Past and not-quite future superimposed on a faulty VHS tape. This follow up, also released on Sanderson’s own Linear Obsessional label, fills out Air Buttons’ frosty skeleton, the melodeon wheeze augmented by electronics, either triggered by the instrument or Sanderson himself, as well as the cheeky odd scrape and tap of extended techniques. That the album’s track names seem to have been spat out by an underground music name creation algorithm only adds to the fun, with titles like Instamatic Flamer and Memory Committee having the syllabic heft of an automatic writing competition convened by Messrs Smith, Ballard and Bowie.
A Thousand Concreted Perils may not quote have the uncanny chill of its predecessor, but it’s an affecting listen nevertheless, its stippled waves of electronics adding a depth of colour and breadth of texture to Sanderson’s always-considered explorations. In Pascoe Tambura, the melodeon’s native heave is almost totally absent, transmogrified into a full-spectrum shimmer, its Technicolor vibrations like the Aurora Borealis viewed through a fungal prism of warm and throbbing psychedelia. Pre-Cheltenham Coda is another good one, melodeon chords giving way to a sustained high drone as a soft, almost brassy tone moans in the distance and dull rattle inhabits the foreground. It’s at times reminiscent of Sanderson’s trio with Mark Wastell and Matilda Rolfsson (melodeon, Tam Tam and percussion) but with Sanderson handling all three parts for a slice of numinous, neo-pastoral improv.
There are the occasional callbacks to Air Buttons’ sparseness. The shrill oscillations of Light Leaks, recorded during one of Sanderson’s solo sets at the Hundred Years Gallery in Shoreditch, echo the aluminium sheen of that other album, although it’s matched here with choppy, aggressive playing to make for a fractured and grumpy affair. Drought, meanwhile, edges its misty tendrils out slowly, like the slow sunrise over a moor in winter. There’s even time for Sanderson’s beloved traditional music, with a nicely haunted take of Down in the Meadow, inspired by the Romani singer Jasper Smith, in which Sanderson’s ghostly vocal hovers over his droney, bare bones accompaniment and even the waft of bucolic field recordings can’t shift the desolate feel. The result is about as comforting as a lamb’s corpse in a ditch.