A spooky little record with little information offered up about who left it lying about, 'Town Planning' lives up to its mystery, collating archived audio from the Cold War era with more traditional but still expressively experimental sounds -- synths, loops and all that good obscuring stuff. The sound is detached and disengaged, as if the Cold War had washed over Britain and sucked out its soul.
LP £12.99 FLAT006
Limited pressing of 250 copies on Public House Recordings includes bonus track not on the CD!.
Self-released CD in matt card packaging.
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- Town Planning by Concretism
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A customer has already penned a perfectly succinct review for this great little self-released CD but as I'd brought it home to investigate further, feeling what I heard of Chris Sharp's work was much more accomplished and fascinating than the bleak monochrome cover and title suggested, I thought a few more words were apt.
Certainly some strong nods to the late 90's IDM fraternity on blistering opener 'The Cursed Streets'. Prime Boards Of Canada are indeed a strong influence here not to mention it being reminiscent of underrated 00's producers such as Nomadic (Touchin' Bass) and the early works of Mordant Music and Bitstream. Classic urban electronica.
'Eiswagen' has some lovely playful synth work over an odd skeletal electro judder, a brooding low-end juxtaposing the dystopian with the sweetly evocative. 'Prototype Housing Estate' could be an outtake from Pye Corner Audio's archives or even the early Human League. A melancholy four note melody strapped to a decaying, almost percussion-free astral excursion.
'The Age of The Train' once again mines late 70's UK electronica to great effect, being an evocative and slightly Kraftwerkian elegy to our increasingly technologically driven societies. One for the 'Walking Through Heaven' fans to be certain. The album continues to retain its refined quality in this retrogressive, sad-eyed and austere vein which would be slightly too familiar if the tunes weren't so damn melodically strong and texturally engaging. You even get a wonderfully sentimental and woozy cosmic composition as a secret bonus track, a very emotionally arresting piece indeed.
But you people, I included, adore this sort of hazy cold-war-era style thing, even though there is much of it around, as it strongly mirrors the epic sadness we often feel about our screwed country, and indeed world. Helplessness is made easier to bear with beautifully rendered and characterful soundtracks such as this. We've sold tons already so don't sleep too long.
9/10 erdjohann Customer review, 13th January 2016
My journey into the gloomy world of seventies dirt-and-concrete aesthetic started with the Scarfolk blog which I only discovered last spring (and still think it's hilariously scary). The next logical steps were the Ghost Box label artists as well as digging deeper into brutalist architecture (which does have its own morbid beauty or at least fascinating aspects) until I finally stumbled across Chris Sharp's Concretism project. As a firm believer in physical recordings I was happy to see the Town Planning EP being available for little money and ordered it right away. Boy was I not disappointed! It's an addictive set of bouncy analogue synth sounds, static emissions and terrifying vocal snippets, somehow evoking the image of a defect heating blanket in a high-rise apartment with cracks in the windows and broken radiators. A blanket that you still wrap yourself in because the illusion of warmth may still save you from the cold... when really it doesn't.
I shouldn't be naming a favourite track because the record functions as a single unit, plus it changes every day as well. Yesterday it was "Eiswagen" (as a German, I naturally was delighted by the title!), today it's "The Age of the Train" and tomorrow it'll probably be "The Hospital"...
If you're into vintage synths haunted by the spirits of radar technicians either killed by rabid foxes or choked to death in broken fridges (they can be deadly traps, you know!), for the love of god please buy this record!
8/10 Chris Jones Customer review, 29th October 2015
I'm a great believer in musical serendipity. I had never heard of Concretism before it popped up in my email. The starkness of the album cover intrigued me, and I found a couple of tracks on YouTube which intrigued me more. So I took the plunge and bought the album. On a dark Tuesday afternoon I listened to it in comfortable middle class suburbia, and was transported to somewhere with so much more character, more depth, a place both scary and fascinating. If you want to travel to a place needing hope, needing something to shake it out of its malaise, start here. I don't claim to know much about the music genre this belongs too, except some other things I've listened too are self indulgent and sound terribly earnest. This is like Hoxton before it was hipster-fied, and all the better for it. Highly recommended....
10/10 Keir Hardie Customer review, 17th March 2015
This is great. Chris' hauntological aesthetic pushes all my buttons, the sounds, the atmosphere, the tunes, the references, everything. I bought all his other stuff digitally but it's lovely to have actual physical product in my hand. And don't tell anyone I told you this, but there's a hidden track. This says on it 'excessive playback may adversely affect cognition' but I've played it excessively and have only found myself trapped in a seventies brutalist new town with a load of cold androids a little bit.
9/10 Too Orangey For Crows Customer review, 12th November 2014
Concretism's self released 'Town Planning' tips a massive nod to the music Boards of Canada - slightly warped, hazy synths, scratchy beats and that slightly wobbly cassette sound from yesteryear. Yet Concretism has not plagiarised BoC's trademark sound; it is twisted and warped even further into something of his own that's well worth checking out.
'Prototype Housing Estate' is the soundtrack to a late 70s Open University documentary on the subject of its title. Imagine grainy images of Stevenage and Milton Keynes being planned and built accompanied by this chiming synth soundtrack and that sums up this track.
Similarly, 'The Age of The Train' is a Kraftwerk-style homage that would not sound out of place to some accompanying archive footage of a 1973 railway journey through a non-descript New Town somewhere in the South East of England.
The title track, builds pace from its hissy, analogue, slightly un-nerving public information film music score into something very sinister. It ends with nightmarish backwards chords before segueing into 'The Hospital', the album's strongest track. It's dark...even the melody has that uncomfortable feeling about it, that sums up what Concretism has tried to achieve here.
If you could make out what the voices are saying to you in 'Tesseract' they would be telling you something that you didn't want to know - no doubt some useless piece of Government sponsored safety advice about watching out for thieves.
...But don't turn off that CD just yet, about 2 minutes after 'Tesseract' has finished, a hidden track fades in. It's a real shame that it's a secret track, it's actually one of the albums finer moments. It has a slightly beautiful but queasy melody line that sounds like the wonky theme tune to some BBC For Schools science show.
And as it fades into the silence, the Cold War continues and an eight year old somewhere is about to fly his kite into an electricity pylon...
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