srijeda, 16. travnja 2014.

Cyclobe - Sulphur-Tarot-Garden (2014)

Zadnji hladni hropac stakla napravljenog disanjem.
Bivši članovi benda Coil, Stephen Thrower i Ossian Brown, pušu u žeravu Jarmanovih ranih filmova.

"the poets of the sulphur baths in seven crystal tiers
star shaped, with the laughter of ghosts in its water” Derek Jarman
Composed to accompany three phantasmagorical super 8 films by Derek Jarman.

'Sulphur-Tarot-Garden' collects three mesmerising Cyclobe soundtracks to rare, silent Super-8 films shot by Derek Jarman between 1972 and 1978. An original CDr edition of 200 was debuted to coincide with the films' premiere with their new soundtrack at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2012, and this is the first time they've been made widely available - original copies now sell for a lot. We've not had a chance to check the films yet, but if Cyclobe's soundtracks are any reflection of them it's certainly on our to do list. The first and longest piece, 'Sulphur' yields 15 minutes of infectiously noxious, syn-anaesthetic drone gases evoking pleasurably putrid sensations, whereas 'Tarot' is a brooding swirl of keening, bittersweet symphonic discord and the sidereal ambience of 'Garden Of Luxor' mutates between sliding glissandi reminding of Jeff Mills' recent space missions to eschatological synth doom realms. A must for any Coil fans worth their salt. - boomkat

Currently only available as limited edition CD-R (though there are plans for a regular CD/vinyl release soon), these three soundtracks for short films of Derek Jarman have provided Stephen Thrower and Ossian Brown plenty of inspiration following their superb album Wounded Galaxies Tap at the Window of last year. Some of the same textures and moods are revisited but it is already possible to hear that Cyclobe are developing creatively at an unprecedented rate. Between Wounded Galaxies… and this, they have completely met, exceeded, and destroyed any expectations I may have had of them.
Unfortunately, I have never seen the three films featured here so how Cyclobe’s sounds actually pair with the images are beyond the scope of this review. However, given the group’s musical pedigree and love for avant garde cinema, I can only imagine that they suit each other perfectly. Bearing that in mind, the music on its own is intoxicating. "Sulphur" is a stuttering, blurry composition that slowly ripples the air like a dream. The shuddering electronic aura is punctuated by Cliff Stapleton’s eerie hurdy-gurdy, the music shifting like a fog that has suddenly becomes too dense to see through.
With "Tarot," there is a very different take on the mood with Stapleton’s hurdy-gurdy sounding more like some kind of desert serpent. Mike York also joins in on bagpipes to create a fantastic, slow melody. A web of gurgling electronics and dramatic piano chords frames Stapleton and York’s intense performance, all the constituents coming together to form one of the best few minutes of music I have yet heard from Cyclobe. Though, "Garden of Luxor" is definitely in strong contention for that accolade too. Drifting glacially from note to note, the piece slowly builds into a decadent, vaguely Egyptian theme which finishes off with regal poise. The end result is something resembling the music of Coil's "Tenderness of Wolves" but without the menace.
This is an essential EP that not only deserves a wider distribution but also should come as a DVD with Jarman’s films included. Considering both David Tibet’s new group Myrninerest and Coil have previously composed music for Jarman’s Journey to Avebury and of course Throbbing Gristle’s soundtrack to In the Shadow of the Sun, there is plenty of material out there for a decent DVD set. In the meantime, I will have to just enjoy this sublime music on its own which luckily is no great hardship.- John Kealy
I was lucky to catch the premier of this back in August 2012. The band captured the eerie grace and peculiar atmosphere of Derek Jarman‘s super 8s so completely, I was falling over myself to grab one of these CDr documents they were merch(ing) at the time. A nicely packaged item that have enjoyed listening to ever since. Now in the 20th anniversary of Jarman’s death, Cyclobe have reworked and re-mastered this curious work and put it out for mass consumption. There’s some subtle tinkering, tweaks in the fabric here and there (well to my ears at least),but nothing to distract from the original power.
“Sulphur” is the first to shiver out, and judders like some hypothermic apparition. A ticket to the underworld in a gristled waltz, vaporously cross cut in glimpses of Cthulhu tendrils and the cold gasp of breath-written glass. It oozes a giddy, almost intoxicated fragrance, an insidiously seductive disquiet. The film it is soundtrack to was a curious montage of Jarman’s Act of Mirrors and In the Shadow of the Sun, a slow bleed of blue/green hued soup, bleached in flashes of mirror and a haunted ballet of anonymity – the music constantly disintegrating, aping the film’s antiquity and slipping exposures. A banquet of ill-electronics descending in a crux of birdsong and crow caw.
“Tarot” follows, possesses a strange regal lucidity, mapping some decadent decline in bowed and tidal stretches of tone. An arcane melody falling sickly through like the mouth-pulled jewellery in Kenneth Anger’s Pleasure Dome. A slow-cooked constriction that was stranger still with the on-screen eroticism and its strangled finale. “Garden of Luxor” doesn’t dive straight into the goods as the previous tracks, do but instead starts in a multi-folding canopy eaten in granular zithers… crystalline sounds… brittle displacements… A swaying chandelier in the slowly changing hues of Tarkovsky‘s Solaris, weaving roots, wandering into a reverbratory of moths. A preamble to a grandiose processional of softened percussive piano, all stately drift with a cackling back-wash lapping slowly away to the closing silence.
Michael Rodham-Heaps

Sulphur, Tarot and Garden of Luxor are experimental Super-8 shorts made by the British avant garde film director Derek Jarman in the early seventies. Working within limited financial means, these phantasmagorical sequences of astral imaginings lacked a soundtrack, so would be projected in the director's studio accompanied by the sounds from various tapes in Jarman's collection. Four decades later, Cyclobe, the UK's most magical musicians, decided to add their own sonic interpretations to underscore these rarely seen ritualistic scenes: dark figures scrying into mirrors (Sulphur), a magus performing a reading (Tarot) and a confusion of people, pyramids and sphinxes (Garden of Luxor). And, arguably, there's no one better qualified for the job - indeed, Cyclobe's Stephen Thrower befriended Jarman in the early eighties and contributed to Coil's soundtrack of the director's mesmeric love story, The Angelic Conversation, in the mid-eighties.
The music presented here was first broadcast (and sold as a limited CDr) just before Cyclobe's sensational UK live debut, as part of Antony's Meltdown Festival in 2012, where the films were screened with their new soundtracks intact.
Sulphur, at fifteen minutes the longest piece here, has the power to send showers of chills through its listeners in a similar way to The Remote Viewer, one of Coil's most affecting works. This is, in part, due to it sharing Cliff Stapleton and Ossian Brown's masterful hurdy gurdy playing and Michael J York's arcane woodwinds. Their exquisite confluence of rough textured, reedy mid tones cut straight to the psyche in a deliciously hypnotic cycle. It starts with simple, slow tremelodic tones woozily circling around John Contreras' darting gypsy cello, and is gradually joined by all manner of subtle and deftly crafted electro-acoustic layers to form a beguiling oneiromantic vortex, both eerie and seductive.
Tarot opens with elusive vocals, similar to that on 'How Acla Disappeared From Earth' from Cyclobe's last album (2010's Wounded Galaxies...), before forming a startling theme. Thick strokes of hurdy gurdy and strings soar purposefully, angrily even, under and over arch analog electronic manifestations, gaining strength with each attempt. The questing, almost frightening, intensities perfectly portray a master of the dark arts wrestling with the future.
Garden starts in a subdued mode with a cool analog bass tone carrying what sounds like radio signals from space along with much slower, more majestic, glassy synth tones to form a disorienting introspective parade of melancholy. This somewhat sinister edge gilded with a profound sense of wonder can be found across all Cyclobe releases and makes their unique music perfectly suited for cinema, where even mainstream movies adopt avant garde musical manoeuvres to imbue their product with sensual depths.
But, without Jarman's spellbound idiosyncratic imagery the potencies of Cyclobe's intricate sound-worlds are perhaps even stronger, lacking the otherwise welcome distraction of Jarman's beautifully convoluted dream visions. Sulphur-Tarot-Garden is not a difficult engagement requiring deep listening to mine the magic from the minimalism though; on the contrary, it is a wholly accessible and affecting piece of modern classical composition that captivates and charms from start to finish.- Russell Cuzner

 Visitors (2001)


13 years after its original release comes this welcome re-issue of Cyclobe’s second album. Its myriad of shapes and conflicting tones were a bewildering soup back then and I’m happy to report the vision hasn’t dated one jot since. An unsettling template that begins with “Sentinels,” a 13 minute dive into a mirror darkened, behind which the matrix code jets, flickers in the nano-fizzle of badly-soldered synapse. Spiral arms widening to a itch of circuitry, lost cyphers caught in the bloat of Stravinsky-like jelly, finding resolution in a neyish trance of hurdy gurdy and the summoning Yemen discords.
machine dialect lost in a mistranslation of bubbles and grasping plankton
“Brightness Falls From The Air” continues the vibe in a macabre-threaded ballet strangely reminiscent of Tarot‘s regal glints. An uneasy melody of distress signal stabbed in bold hues of piano and serpentine coils of violin. A malaise filled with filtered fairies and whirr-data, a brew replete in mimicking children. “First Memorable Conversation With A Chimera” jabs against all this brilliantly, in a mad dialogue of broken tones and fluttering aluminium, some machine dialect lost in a mistranslation of bubbles and grasping plankton.
Thematically “If You Want To See That Nothing Is Left” returns to that distress beacon vibe, this time coupled with a Pieter Nooten-like swell of cello. An elegy in which the electronics helix their betweens and farm themselves out to the spacey strung-out vapours of “Strix Nebulosa.” Texture tastes that later flee from a central thump, filled with dive-bombing curves and limpet-like clasps. Strange machine rhythms run through with arcane acoustika like a glitching pill loop-holing in the slither of embryonic jelly and Giger-esque metal. “The Body Feels Light And Wants To Fly” feels esoteric. Those circular rubs/motions ooze ritual. Weighty gravities pulling attentively, teeming with organic matter. The flutter of lace wing, insectoid… grain-washed… swaying… processional gropings of tune appearing like mirages, retracting on haunted dopamine caught in the wake of neuro-propellers.
A (slur)realism of metaphorics that truly hit in the lovely “Replaced By His Constellation,” an 11 minute track that starts as a half-lit organ piece drone caught in globs of slow-breathing skin. Surgical amputated forms swirl, cranium curve, wither in demised orbits. Superbly realised electronica that re-invents itself half way through, evolves into a pulsing garland of soft whirl and decaying signals nebulised on vocolic breath. Delicate saturations that imbue the beauty of expectation then silence to flow all oceanic swell on bassy warnings. The last track, “Son Of Sons Of Light” returns to the glowing sunset of “Sentinels,” a 2013 addition in bagpipes that sound like the dervish colours of Morocco, the Master Musicians of Jajouka attached to the purring of drone singularities.
These are ideas you can taste, that metamorph beyond three dimensions, playing around with the ominous, disruptive; a tangled cradle of life-forms falling out of your speakers in animated electricity and ancient acoustics: tentacles that have fed subsequent Cyclobe albums since.
-Michael Rodham-Heaps

Wounded Galaxies Tap at the Window

 Wounded Galaxies Tap at the Window (2010)


 Luminous Darkness (1999)


Paraparaparallelogrammatica (2004)

The first Cyclobe album, Luminous Darkness (1999), veered between hard-edged electronic music, Musique concrète, Industrial, and acoustic interludes for piano, strings and woodwind. They were joined on several tracks by Calina De La Mare (violin) and Niall Webb (bass clarinet). Next came The Visitors (2001), again featuring De La Mare (violin), alongside Sarah Willson (cello) and Coil’s Thighpaulsandra (production). Although still assaultive at times, The Visitors developed a warmer, expansive sound, with lush atmospherics and harmonic complexity. A third album followed in the form of a collaboration with Nurse With Wound, called Paraparaparallelogrammatica (2004). Cyclobe took their ‘remix’ of a 40 minute Nurse With Wound composition to the extreme, mostly obliterating the original. With contributions from David Tibet of Current 93, and Coil members/collaborators Thighpaulsandra and Cliff Stapleton, the result was complex electroacoustic psychedelia, completely individual but very much in sympathy with Nurse With Wound's methods.
Ossian Brown in 2009 played on the Current 93 album "Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain". Stephen Thrower recorded "The Temporal Bends", a CD that was released in collaboration with David Knight under the name UnicaZürn, featuring a rare performance from the artist and musician Danielle Dax.
In 2010 Cyclobe released the full length album "Wounded Galaxies Tap at The Window" on Phantomcode records. On this album Ossian Brown and Stephen Thrower worked with guest musicians Thighpaulsandra, Cliff Stapleton, Michael J York and John Contreras. The albums centre piece being the 17 minute epic "The Woods are Alive with The Smell of His Coming", a track that was premiered at the Tate Gallery in St Ives. at the exhibition "The Dark Monarch - Magic and Modernity in Modern Art". The front cover artwork to "Wounded Galaxies" was created by the American artist Fred Tomaselli and the insert artwork by the artist Alex Rose. Alex Rose went on to create the front cover artwork for Cyclobe’s "The Eclipser/The Moths of Pre-Sleep" single which was also released that same year on Dot Dot Dot Music.
Ossian Brown's first book "Haunted Air" was published in 2010 by Jonathan Cape, with an introduction by David Lynch and an afterword by Geoff Cox.
In 2012 Cyclobe released "Sulphur-Tarot-Garden", soundtracks to three films by the film maker and artist Derek Jarman. This release was a limited edition cd to celebrate their debut live appearance in London at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which also saw the premiere of these three films with Cyclobe's soundtrack.- wikipedia

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