A Mysterious Object from Pye Corner

Pye Corner Audio – The Ever-Present Hum

On returning home after a trip away at the weekend, I was pleased to see that my wonderful surly postman had roughly manhandled another batch of happiness through my letterbox. I excitedly scooped up the small padded envelope and began to gently prise it open as Junior Ubsubscriber looked on to see what marvels this new package may contain. As I removed the clear plastic cassette box from the bubble wrap, she turned to me in a very perplexed manner and said “but what is it?”

Tapeworm CassetteI have attempted to explain the mystery of how vinyl records work to Junior Unsubscriber on several occasions in the past but she’s having none of it. Being of an age where all it takes to make music come out your speakers is the tap of a screen, I somehow think that all my talk of microgrooves and magnetic particles is akin to teaching her the finer points of nuclear fission. She simply stood there looking at the cassette as if it were an impossibly ancient relic or an unknown object of extra-terrestrial origin.

Later in the evening, I finally got the chance to sit down and give this little oddity a proper listen. I have to say in advance that I’ve been an obsessive collector of Pye Corner Audio releases since picking up the first volume of Black Mill Tapes in 2010 and so I was in a state of high anticipation.

Text on the inlay card offers the following piece of information from The Head Technician; “These two pieces are an exploration of the setup I use for my live shows. I wanted to come at it from a more compositional angle however. Using only a looping delay pedal and two synthesisers, they became a meditation on the sounds that surround us, but often go unheard.”

Pye Corner Audio Tape Inlay

Part One (Motorway) pitches bucolic synth tones above a murky pulse, flickering with the kind of warbling effect you might hear on a cassette which has spent the past few decades sitting in a musty shoebox. It somehow puts me in mind of Edgar Froese’s 1975 mellotron classic Epsilon in Malaysian Pale, although played out against the faded splendour of a forgotten provincial English coastal village rather than equatorial forests. Part Two (Treetop) is an altogether darker, more sinister piece and combines a wonderfully unsettling drone with billowing, gaseous sounds which gradually combine with an eerie arpeggio to close out the track..

After last years’ magnificent Sleep Games album on Ghost Box, this short transmission is a huge side step from the usual Pye Corner Audio sound but somehow manages to dovetail rather neatly into the Head Technician’s overall aesthetic. The Tapeworm site (here) is already listing this limited run of tapes as sold out and so tracking down a copy may prove a rather difficult, although highly rewarding task.

It’s comforting to know that tiny, homegrown labels such as Tapeworm exist in 2013, floating defiantly amongst the endless waves of corporate spreadsheet music. It’s up to us to support the efforts of such people to ensure that we still have something worthwhile to intrigue and inspire at least a few members of our present touchscreen generation.