Itto - Sound on an Empty Road / Psychic Space Invasion - Pendulum (ECR CD-Rs)
It would appear that I'm so far behind in listening to the stuff I get that record labels are changing their names by the time it takes for me to listen to their stuff. At least, that seems to be the case with the Wales-based ECR, who now go by Quiet World. I'm not really sure why that is, but I have to say the ECR coffee cup logo (from "Elvis Coffee Records" apparently) wasn't doing much for me anyway, no offense. Anyway these are a couple of the last two releases before the switch, with the Psychic Space Invasion disc being the finale. Psychic Space Invasion is the solo vehicle for one Ian Holloway, who also plays in Itto with Neil Rowling, and who I'm guessing also has a hand in steering this ECR/Quiet World ship. Both these discs feature pro-printed labels and come housed in a fold-over color/glossy sleeve, nothing too fancy but it does the job.
I played the Itto disc first and within a few minutes my nose started to bleed, which is really weird because I never get nosebleeds...wasn't because of any sort of harsh noise fury though. Au contraire. "Sound on an Empty Road" is a single 38-minute piece that's largely guitar oriented, although there are the occasional rumbling effects and grey cloud style ominousity. It really never goes anywhere and that's the best thing about it - Holloway and Rowling have constructed a piece that really seems to exist outside the boundaries of time. It's prehistoric music inasmuch as it's 41st century music and it feels like the two somehow plucked it out of the atmosphere, set it to tape, and called it a day. The soft tones that either one or the other coax from their guitar are pushed straight out into the rolling tide created by the synth/effects-heavy miasma, with the two mediums locking and unlocking to generate a beautiful, gentle, pensive track that I could see myself falling asleep to forever. Even though they take a basic approach to drone music as it is, they're still pretty tough to nail down...Aidan Baker would probably be a decent approximation, with a little bit of Black Boned Angel and Charlemagne Palestine's "Strumming Music" thrown in...I enjoyed it though, minus the nosebleed. That was an inconvenience.
I'm gonna have to venture a guess that Ian Holloway, the man behind Psychic Space Invasion, is also the man behind most of the synth/effects work on the previous disc (I wrote the other review before hearing this one). "Pendulum" is much more steeped in electronic/dark ambience than "Sound on an Empty Road", maybe even adding a touch more of electronica and straight-up ambient feel than one might expect. There's six untitled tracks here clocking in at about 50 minutes, and each is built around cold, mechanical loops that expand and grow like amoeba in whichever direction Holloway sees fit. I read a review of another Psychic Space Invasion album describing it as "static minimalism" and if you can't top it you might as well adopt it so that's the course I'm taking. Pretty accurate if you ask me. Track four is a definite favorite, with a convulsive un-rhythm carefully prodded forward, lapsing into a guitar (?) driven pulse like the Floyd on "One of These Days", and tracks three and six could be the best things Tim Hecker left off his "Radio Amor" album. Holloway doesn't do too much to shatter the mold here but it's all pulled off with the skill and precision of a seasoned vet (which he may well be as I don't know his backstory in the slightest). If you like your tones cold and your moods bad, then you'll get along fine with "Pendulum". Especially if your bag already consists of gents like the aforementioned Hecker, Lustmord, Bjerga/Iversen, Machinefabriek, early Daniel Menche, Dick D. James, and the like...
ECR/Quiet World seems to be largely an outlet for the guys who run it and their cohorts, but I'm assuming expansion can't be too far off in the future. Probably one worth keeping tabs on for the future, as these folks definitely know what they're doing at least. They also run the Wonderful Wooden Reasons blog which reviews just about everything under the sun (albums, books, comics and DVDs) so better snoop around there too while you're at it.
Itto - Sound on an Empty Road (excerpt)
Psychic Space Invasion - Untitled (track 3)
Psychic Space Invasion - Untitled (track 6)