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11 September 2017

Idea Fire Company - 'Anti-Natural' (Swill Radio)

This is a two-part manifesto, being both language and sound. All sound is a form of language of course and Anti-Natural is a clear example that even the most conservatory-trained traditionalist could understand. Karla Borecky and Scott Foust's synth interplay, accented with reedy guitar and tape loops, stakes out a universe that redefines musical concepts such as metre, pitch, and duration. With all of the tracks on Anti-Natural, it's really one complete work, the concept of the 'album' being probably the most traditional music-industry one being adhered to. Shorter tracks tease out pinching tones, a murky ambience that breathes and pulses, and these support the longer explorations, for example the 13-minute 'Magnetic Fields', which glows with an organic repetition that feels so attuned to the human body that while listening to it carefully, closely, I feel a change in my own breathing. This LP feels like a complete statement of intent even without the printed manifesto included, but that is an intense and I'd say recommended read, especially for me over today's morning coffee. No one in academic art history circles is even aware of the 'Anti-Natural' manifesto, a fact that serves to prove the manifesto's own points about the conspiratorial blanketing of capitalist commodification, Judeo-Christian morals and positivist scientific thought. It's a convincing work, one that should be taken seriously and applied to this and all future Idea Fire Company recordings, for it stakes out their aesthetic position and radicalises a music that should be already radical, were it not for the context of the music industry which de-radicalises by definition, and of course the LP (pressed and sold by IFCO themselves on the Swill Radio imprint) is a commercial product. Anti-Natural, not music you'd listen to with Grandma, is a vital document of sound exploration that forms around a much larger context than simple electroacoustic experimentalism. And thinking about this as an aesthetic, one that a younger version of me would have happily summarised as an 'alien' one, really raises the question about how to live our lives through art, uncompromising and true. Some of the shorter tracks have great titles like 'We Are Nothing and We Want to Be Everything' or 'On Your Toes, Intellectuals!', which could be seen as jokes or as serious provocations, and somehow I vote for the latter, though the Anti-Natural ideology doesn't feel heavy or dogmatic. The music is ultimately what matters and over the last 25 years or so, IFCO has tended towards lightness, with sounds that are lifting, expanding, and evolving, generating a sensation of a world to explore. It starts here for me (though there are a few earlier records that I haven't heard) and as a statement of purpose, it's marvellous.

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