- by Steve Reynolds Rating:7 Release Date:2016-02-19 Label:
With Stereolab on an indefinite hiatus, head honcho Tim Gane is keeping himself busy doing other thangs. One of those other thangs is his Cavern of Anti-Matter project with original Stereolab and Th’ Faith Healers tub-thumper Joe Dilworth and synth wizard Holger Zapf.
This is their debut LP and if you’re a sucker for the old school vinyl, it is a three album whammy due to its length of 72 minutes. In the main, the trio are packing out their material as an instrumental outfit, but there are vocal collaborations from Bradford Cox on ‘Liquid Gate’ and Sonic Boom on ‘Planetary Folklore’ to add weight behind the viscosity of their material.
Gane is now based in Berlin, and after the first could of bars of opener ‘Tardis Cymbals’ you sense his immersion into the best of German Electronica and Krautrock, Repetition, Repetition, Repetition is the order of the game – equipped with motorik beats and modular synths. The arrangement is strictly Neu! with that nagging overriding synth pattern that they were so famous for albeit with a modern slick twist added to the final production. At 12 minutes long it’s a corker of an opening gambit and lays the foundations for what’s about to follow.
‘Blowing My Nose Under Close Observation’ is much darker in context, the beats throb away incessantly and whilst you might expect to tap away to this you’ll want to stroke your beard at the same time! The jerky ‘Insect Fear’ is ingrained in the template of what made Stereolab so innovative and clever. There are shades of ‘French Disco’ here with its driving keys and energetic drum rhythms and the introduction of Zapf’s aching drone keeps the tempo on an even keel.
There are some real highlights here that standout. There’s the pulsing ‘Hi Hats Bring The Hiss’ as it delves into the electronic underground with a brew of devilishly dark twists and mangling of heavy pulses and keyboard jarring.
Bradford Cox’s vocal is the first spoken word on the album and it’s a pretty fruitless affair as his Julian Casablancas impression fails to add much impact to the 2 minutes of ‘Liquid Gate’. The first black mark against the album has been noted.
But it’s not long before the band is back on form with the electro-pop laden ‘Pantechnicon’. The beats scatter and dance around like a mesh of fireflies on acid such is the untamed brevity bestowed before us held together by all three members getting their shit together at exactly the right time. Sonic Boom adds his spoken word on the downright creepy ‘Planetary folklore’.
Mark E Smith proclaimed the 3 R’s as his forte and COAM aren’t dissimilar to his ideology, personified by the bouncy ‘Echolalia’.
All in all ‘Void Beats…’ is a very good album, full of complex layers and heathen like structures, complemented by the three band members longitude and time served experience which enables them to bring a host of idiosyncrasy skills to the fore for our listening pleasure.