Hairdryer Excommunications shop steward and No-Audience Underground hitmaker Kevin Sanders continues his reemergence into ear-taunting drizzle after a brief hiatus. These two foggy explorations distill his earlier profligacy (much missed round these parts) into vaporous, evocative jaunts while gesturing towards potential new avenues. If, after reading the prose below, you like the sound of these onions, buy them of course, and then wander over to the Strange Rules Bandcamp to get your ears around Sander’s other recent release, the noticeably more malignant ‘Renamed as Yellow Skies‘. But for the moment, check out these slices of grainy, grey bliss.
‘Dark Side of the Moan’ (d’you see what he did there?) opens with ‘Vantagrey’, a curling waft of melancholy that fidget spins silvery threads of electronics over a rough-edged drone base. The first half’s elongated, sinuous whine is gloriously dozy, like being wakened from a dulled sleep by your fridge complaining about being left open all night, although by the time you get downstairs you find somehow your electric toothbrush has been switched on too. It would be spooky if it weren’t so dreamy. The encroaching sandstorm, soundtracked by a hacked Tangerine Dream playlist, only deepens the hallucination.
‘Re-running’ turns down the brightness for a greyscale slurry that’s as intransigent as a migraine. It starts ugly – and gloriously – by smearing a greasy patina of distorted electrode churn all over the shop. That mess coalesces slowly into stormy, swirling forms, only to be liquified by wave of hi-voltage buzz into a toxic slop that sloshes around in viscous glee, a Tupperware pot full of splattered, but still functioning, brains.
The two cuts on ‘Goat Island’ are slightly shorter than those presented on ‘Dark Side of the Moan’, but they’re just as enervating. On ‘Withdrawing from the charge of the four’, a virtually inaudible field recording is swaddled in a duvet of static, the babbling voices just about poking through the heavy aether. Occasionally, one can make out the sounds of activity. But whether these are just action-packed japes from an unwatched TV blaring out 24 hours of infotainment violence or something more sinister is impossible to tell. All the time queasy tapes spool and whirr in the background. It’s meditative, in a way, especially when Sanders corrals things into slow, gusty phase, ebbing and flowing like winds across a moor. Cocooned amid the vortex, all you can do is go with the flow.
Things are slightly easier to make out on ‘Wholly Innocent’, although given the thoroughly bad vibes exuded by Sanders’ mosaic of overlapping bell clangs and twinkles, one might be forgiven for diving back into the devotional wire wool of its predecessor. The looping, off-centre repetition of these cascading chimes has the character of toxic hypnosis, their incessant peals designed to break down any vestiges of psychic resistance. The result, however, is not to create programmed automatons to commit ‘Ipcress File’-influenced acts of skullduggery, but only to render us helpless in the face of such implacable dronescapes.