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Monday 13 March 2023

Monday's Long Song

More shoegaze/ ambient techno crossover music for Monday, this one possibly the pinnacle of this run of posts (previous posts have featured Curve remixed by Future Sound Of London, Slowdive remixed by Reload and Spooky's remix of Lush). In 1991 shoegazers Chapterhouse released their debut album Whirlpool. The band were from Reading, the hotbed of shoegaze in the early 90s, but they'd been gigging since 1987 and had played alongside Spacemen 3- they also followed Nirvana on stage at the Reading Festival in 1991. 

In 1993 Chapterhouse released the follow up, Blood Music. Early editions of the album came with a second disc of remixes by Global Communications titled Pentamerous Metamorphosis. Chapterhouse had handed over the entire album to Mark Pritchard and Tom Middleton, rising stars of ambient/ ambient techno. Global Communications constructed a five piece album, an electronic ambient trip that stands among the best work of the period and the scene, five tracks named Alpha Phase, Beta Phase, Gamma Phase, Delta Phase and Epsilon Phase, each ten or more minutes long. There are occasional sounds or samples that come from Chapterhouse's original recordings, a guitar part here and there say, but largely Mark and Tom constructed something entirely new using something else as a starting point. 

It was re- released in 1998 with a litigious sample from Star Wars removed- George Lucas may have made nine films about a group of freedom fighters rebelling against an evil empire but he's a bit touchy about single lines of dialogue being used by obscure ambient artists. The offending line was C- 3PO saying, 'I am fluent in over six million forms of communication'. Global Communications had a side project named Jedi Knights and were feeling the Lucasfilm heat a little by 1998. 

This is Alpha Phase, sixteen minutes of progressive futurism- long synth chords, twinkles, echoes, percussion, metallic clangs, bass thumps and then more and more layers and elements, a breakbeat and laser beams, a kick drum, and eventually as we head towards the ten minute mark, strings and piano-  celestial music, not drifting or aimless but heading ever onwards. How this album isn't better known and more praised is a mystery. 

Alpha Phase

1 comment:

thewalker said...

Tasty indeed - time to dig out that precious cardboard sleeved CD.