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CD from ex Loop and Main fella on Touch.

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Vectors by Robert Hampson
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9/10 Ant 25 June 2009
I was never really exposed to Loop in the 80's and early 90's but I did get into Main later on. Both these acts featured Robert Hampson and now he has a solo album out on the ever interesting and boundary pushing Touch label. 'Vectors' is really quite a provoking listen. 'Umbra' consists of 3 fairly lengthy tracks which are not easy to describe. The synthetic sounds are fairly obvious computer/ synth noises but what puzzles me are the "other sounds" which I simply cannot identify. For example I imagine a balloon being stretched and scrapped and fiddled with and then processed with effects but it's just not a sound I've heard before or can accurately place. Truly acousmatic stuff that  just fits in really snugly with the clicks and hisses that surround it. There's some clever use of stereo on here too that really bring these colourful compositions to life. I'm floating in an artificial reality in a world that feels truly binary but I am occasionally given glimpses of the real world through occasional peeps of sound that somehow feel organic. It's kind of like being shrunk to the size of an atom and absorbing the sounds that would possibly occur in that space where you're hanging out with protons and neutrons.  It's a place I enjoy and you cannot help but marvel at the imagination that's gone into this work. It pulls together elements of drone, ambient and musique concrète but cannot accurately be described as being either. 'Ahead Only The Stars' begins with some awesome jet/ rocket sounds shooting across both channels and reminds me of the magic when my dad first played me stereo recordings as a child. Then we get some adventures in crystal clear microscopic sound-worlds and digital synthesis that recall the detail and precision of artists like Carsten Nicolai and Coil with the surrealism of Nurse With Wound. Jon Wozencroft has captured the spirit of the sound wonderfully with the mathematical image that adorns the digipak's front panel. By the time we arrive at 'Danse Le Lointain' we're into minimal bleep/ drone/ metallic/ hum/ creepy/ crackle/ pulse/ wave/ crunch/ liquid zone and (I think) field recording/ found sound mode as my sense of "real" and synthetic sound is really put to the test. There are some frequencies on this one that really mess with my head as they disorientate me somewhat. A rich and diverse palate of sounds are used and the track is kind of broken up into little stages and you really cannot anticipate where you're going next. This is the first solo work I've heard from Robert Hampson but it seems a logical progression for the artist whose sounds have become increasingly alien over the years. A most rewarding listen and I'll certainly be checking out more of his stuff after getting really into 'Vectors'. Great stuff that gets a thumbs up from me for sure.


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