Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Birchville Cat Motel has a pretty constant release schedule, some things more limited, others more available. There's a split album with Reynols on order, but the last thing I found myself spinning over and over bearing the BCM tag was the Screamformelongbeach 3" CD-R on Pseudoarcana, which saw a usually more minimal guitar scrape approaching the golden drone metal void. There's also Campbell Kneale's skull-splitting garage-acid noise abomination Sunship and a neverending stream of collaborative releases and peripheral performances, all of which are chronicled on his Celebrate Psi Phenomenon.

Beautiful Speck Triumph on the always fascinating Last Visible Dog finds Kneale and the various voices in his head exploring dense clouds of atmospheric haze and deep drone over two hours and 2 disks. The berth of instrumentation is crude but inspired: electric/ acoustic/ fake guitars, synth, cheap organ, recorder, clarinet, contact mics, wired turntables, violin, baby rattles, firecrackers, loops, piano...you get the idea. Anything and everything is fodder for Kneale's crude ambient sorcery. "White Ground Elder" opens with a melange of crackling hums and distorted vibrations before slowly, gracefully expanding across the span of the disk into a majestic, swelling beast of transcendence worthy of comparison to Discreet Music era Eno and Stars of the Lid. Disk 2 offers a more subdued trek through creaking drones and skittery clicks, overheard voices and cricket sounds all meeting in an expansive wall of industrial drone falling somewhere between the sliced and diced guitar distortions of Main and the acid noise pulse of early Kraftwerk. But it's the title of this massive opus, and the concluding title track, that ultimately reveals Campbell's ethereal aims, with an absorbing crescendo of electro-static space wind that's easily one of the most perfectly transportive Birchville pieces I've heard to date. Primitive and unquestionably handmade, but this is a very deliberately formed glimpse at the cosmic mind, and a perfect first step for fans of foggy minimal space sprawl such as Omit, Dead C, Main, Stars of the Lid, early Kraftwerk, etc.

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