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25 September 2010

Neil Campbell - 'These Premises Are No Longer Bugged' (Giardia/Fusetron)

One's gotta think that this must count as 'early' N. Campbell by now, with these recordings made almost 15 years ago. Though maybe 'early mid-period' is more accurate, for Vibracathedral Orchestra was just an embryonic idea then, though we hear a preview of N. Campbell's interest in layers and tonal harmonic convergence here that would later soar majestically through said Orchestra. And his post-VCO career has been noteworthy as well, but what else can you expect from such a one-man musical force? 'Change login zeds' opens up These Premises Are No Longer Bugged with a mess of dissonant tones and bowing, with far too much surface noise on my copy to hear any bits of beauty. It's midway between the A-Band clang and the ur-drone he will later purvey, but the aesthetic is clear enough. And like all of the best Leedsian ecstatic drone slices, it begins after it's already started, or at least what we hear - a tape splice is the gateway. We're spliced into the significantly darker 'Clump' which has some murmuring gongs underneath a scratchy violin interplay, a far more malevolent track than we heard before. It's long, and it doesn't so much settle down as take it's intensity to a realm that redefines normal. By the end, the moaning seaship drones and feedback feel comforting, and the anarchic top layer becomes irrelevant flostam underneath the warmth and clatter. 'Guitar trio 5/4/97' is the most aggressive barrage of guitar noise that I've ever heard from N. Campbell, though it's brief and soon followed by Side 1's sunset 'Monument Irvine'. The nutty thing about this record is the vocal-driven Phil Spector tune, 'Why Don't They Let Us Fall in Love?' at the beginning of the flipside. It's hard to tell how earnest the singing is, as there's something a tad tossed-off about the 'yeah yeah yeah yeah' , but the melody is sweet, and the atonal scratching strings work well with cheap keyboards and bells - it's a pretty piece of fractured psychedelia in Neil's hands, and definitely a hidden gem in his catalogue. The tune extends out into a long bit of minimal repetition not unlike early Richard Youngs solo pieces (Advent and especially Festival come to mind). The rest of the album is the title track. This is another searing slice of horizontal sound, brash with energy and metallic in texture. The volume is significantly louder, enough to bury the surface noise on this lousy pressing, and there's a few currents that tease my ears more than others. A sense of motion never ends, and it's again an immense maelstrom to come out of just one soul. There's overdubs galore on this album, cause this is a true solo effort, though he fakes it well, as it really feels like a group of like-minded tranceheads. I'd like to make some grand analogy about the rise of Tony Blair and New Labour, and these being the sound of changing Britain led by a star in the North. But the reality is, I hear none of that here - like most of the greatest work of these Northern no-goodniks, it's timeless and universal.

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