This was originally released on tape by Digitalis and has now found itself released on vinyl. This is the solo project of Whitney Houston, singer & keyboardist for Chicago band VERMA. Houston's minimilist work owes as much to underground Berlin techno as it does to early experimenters Throbbing Gristle & Cabaret Voltaire, placing Houston in league with counterparts like Zola Jesus & Liz Harris (Grouper). Sorry its Whitney Johnson...not Houston. my mistake. Just 300 copies of this and sounds rather super.
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On splattery red vinyl we have Seraphastra, the debut solo release from Chicago based noiser Whitney Johnson on Trouble In Mind. Such a splatter usually spells a tripped out garage noise band or some deeply disturbed noisetronica, but there's little trouble to be found on Seraphastra despite the zombie vomit that's covered the Norman review station turntable. This LP sees Johnson putting out sprawling, expansive electronic sounds with a nod to the melodic experimentations of Cluster & Eno - a path that has been fairly neglected in the recent world of electronica.
There's a very detached feel to the record mostly coming from the fact that it sounds like a long-lost basement tape, with the entire hissy/clicky high end of the spectrum dialed way down. Whitney's vocals consist of distant unintelligible syllables which sort of pull you out of the moment and into the lo-fi world of a dodgy 40s scifi flick. That's some proper escapism right there. You know that droney atmosphere conjured by doom/stoner bands like Ancestors? Well, you're on the Norman site, of course you do. Seraphastra is almost an electronic homage to those moments, indeed, there are noisy guitar parts bursting out at times to emphasise climaxes that verge on Fuck Buttons-level without outstaying their welcome. Actually now that old scifi films have been mentioned, I'd have to add that this would be a great alternative soundtrack for Forbidden Planet. Those distorted bits could work for that alien monster moment (have I just dropped a fat spoiler?), and the effected vocals and synth could be flying saucer engines or laser guns. The possibilities!
Aaaanyway, back to reality. This is quite an addictive piece of space wax that encapsulates its immersive environment into a fairly short running time, meaning that it isn't one of those drone-for-drone's-sake snoozers. Space. Wax.
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