Cavern of Anti-Matter is a new group led by Tim Gane of Stereolab! void beats / invocation trex has the classic gorgeous motorik vibe that Stereolab alumni do so well, sucking you into its world. Guest appearances from Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3: quite a line-up eh? CD or triple LP on Duophonic.
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Sir Tim Gane of Stereolab goes back into hauntology hibernation here, which is the fancy way of saying he’s made a new Cavern of Anti-Matter record. It’s been awhile since the last full-length from Gane in this incarnation: back in 2013, ‘Blood-Drums’ rocked the boat in the most subdued krautrock of ways, but more recently we’ve seen Gane make less of more, shaping a single up for the fittingly spooky Ghost Box. In the spirit of these past efforts, and with the rhythmic pulse of Stereolab buried in his subconscious, ‘Void Beats/Invocaton Trex’ is pretty much what you’d expect: a pulsating and curiously nostalgic attempt at electronic ‘scaping.
Gane could hit a dead end with this new, fairly traditional style, but he veers away at the last minute. These sounds are always opening up to extra flourishes and melodic snippets, refusing to stagnate in the great tradition of buttoned-down psychedelia. The ten-minute plus “Tardis Cymbals” brings in sparkly chords and fret-fresh riffs amidst a steadfast bass groove, while wooshes of synth make the piece feel weirdly open-ended. It’s a beautiful piece with a constant sense of place to accompany the horizontal melodies -- while a lot of psychedelia just feels like an endless forward-moving visual with no destination, this track fills in the surrounding landscape and lets you breathe its air. “Insect Fair” takes a glorious synth melody, disorientates it, shifts it through the keys, and brings it back to boil, making for a glorious bit of bubblegum pop worthy of a robot version of the Free Design.
And that’s basically this record’s deal: on first listen, it strikes out as a stuffy and rather pedantic study of a genre that’s been done to death. If you come back to it, there’s pop music to be had, even if it’s largely instrumental. The rhythms tether the thing together, but the record itself doesn’t require your patience; rather, the hooks jump out at you as quick as they can. I can excuse a few missteps (such as hi-hats Bring the Hiss”, which sounds like an unfortunately rushed part of the Goldeneye 64 soundtrack) to watch Gane put sugar into krautrock. It also feels like Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox has achieved a dream on “Liquid Gate” -- he’s singing with one of dudes who got him into psych pop, and here he is, helping make it on a rather gorgeous, rather sly track.
This album is, who’d have thought it, full of surprises.
8/10 mr pearls brain Customer review, 6th July 2016
Tim Gane must really love krautrock. Stereolab got accused of ripping off Neu!, but this takes its cue from Harmonia. That said, I can't think of a better band to knock off than Harmonia, and the results are just fine. Certainly an improvement on Blood Drums. There are sufficient variations between the tracks, but the vocals feel like an intrusion. Generally the longer tracks work better and the shorter ones feel like experiments or doodles. Needless triple LP, it could comfortably fit on a double.
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