Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mystified: pulse etc - vinyl memories

As anyone who has read this will know, I have nothing against downloaded music and cds. Both are convenient and offer music which is almost indelible: it isn't impossible to lose a file or scratch a cd but it is hard to. But, there is a lot that has been lost with the move away from vinyl. The sheer pleasure of getting a 12" disk in a big cover has largely been lost. As cover design developed the pleasures increased - the gatefold, complex inserts - the book of drawings that came with Ringo's solo album, or with Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy; Jethro Tull's Living in the Past, Thick as a Brick and Passion Play. Intricate and exciting cover images - I still look through my book of Roger Dean covers, and the releases from Hipgnosis. And I can't go past my favourite Talking Heads/ Rauschenberg cover - or the one that got away: PiL Metal Box!

OK cds can do nice box sets (Eno's 2 boxes, David Sylvian, Sakamoto, the Jethro Tull cigar box and more) but single cds don't go anywhere near the pleasure of the cover - too small. And that shiny disk can't beat a 7 or 12" vinyl - usually black but with a special frisson if the vinyl is coloured. Which gets us to Mystified's Pulse Ringer Pieces which is a blue 12" release via Dronehaus.

3 tracks per 15 minutes side, short but focussed and with the undeniable pleasure and richness that vinyl can provide. I am not a real audiophile and sometimes listen on old equipment (I got the amp for my 21st birthday) but mainly the computer or iPod - but vinyl has to pump out the old system and it did so very nicely thank you.

Side one (check out the out-groove inscription to tell which is which) opens with what could be the title track, though it is called Phantom ringer. A ringing pulse emerges through watery bubbling shimmering tectures, combined with some vinyl splatters (one thing that is hard to tell is the difference between spatters that have been added to the music and those cause by my aging equipment!). Floaty ghost is again watery under a tapping echo which reminds me of moored yachts (and a Quiet American piece). It bubbles and simmers before a developing hiss introduces a more active, choppery section. Then prayer bells and an electronic mummbled mass prayer witha heart beat: it pasues before a faster beat comes in and the ambience of Pulse beyond drifts for a lovely 6:33.

Getting out begins side 2 with a shimmering bout of beautiful ambience, hovering slightly; theninto more beats with the pumping Cool vapor where long layered tones are enmeshed in a clicking tapping fast beat, pulses moving in and out, and some nice shifts and drifts. Ending with Round shimmer where building shimmers are accompanied by a noise which could be a dolphin burping, and island of metallic highlights, another complex but gentle beat enters, drops out and then returns us into the drift, puntuated by soft drills

Obviosly Mystified is not someone who it is hard to get music by - there is a mass at Treetrunk and various other net sites where you can download it, plus the various cd-rs etc. And this is not a departure from previous releases but a very fine example of the combination of ambience and subtle beats that is part of Thomas Park's range. But if you want to have the feel of good solid vinyl in your hand, to experience the development of your own ambient crackleadditions, and drift into the cover as you listen to the music, then I hope there are some copies left.