The Atmosphere Factory (1985-1991) is a compilation of tracks by Leeds-based bedroom-synth practitioner Tim Stebbing. He was little known at the time but this collection should change that as his compositions foreshadow Boards of Canada whilst comparisons have been drawn to Manuel Gottsching and the soundtracks of John Carpenter. LP, limited to 300 copies on Ceres Motion.
Vinyl Double LP £19.99
Gatefold 2LP on Ceres Motion. Edition of 300 copies.
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8/10 Ross Holloway 23rd October 2018
I'm a bit of a retro electronic and synth fan so I took a risk on this and I've ended up pretty much playing it flat out for the last two weeks.
It's a little hard to describe, which in this case is a definite strength.
Being made between 1985 and 1991, mostly I'm guessing in isolation in what I'm guessing is a bedsit somewhere in Leeds, most likely near the university or Hyde Park In Leeds.
1985 was a little too early for dance music influences, and there are none on any of the material I can discern here. Neither can I here any disco type influences that you can hear in early Human League.
So what you have here 80s electronic music - hints of Tangerine Dream and Vangelis, science-fiction-y, actual tunes and arrangements rather than cosmic meandering, so played synths with keyboards rather than modular synths. (Not that I don't love a bit of cosmic meandering, but you won't find that here.)
But my description doesn't really do it justice.
What I've been most impressed by is how particular it sounds, how idiosyncratic. It's original, unique. Something about maybe making music solo away from any strong scene, making music that wasn't really finding an audience at the time, and that in hindsight sounds to have artistically benefitted from that sort of isolation.
Looking beyond when this music was made, there's something to be said for a Boards of Canada comparison, again not because there is anything approaching a hip hop beat here, but there are some textual similarities to Boards of Canada, a similarity in teasing the edges of genre.
There is also no - and this is worth noting - no kinda quirky so bad they're good moments you might expect from a undiscovered, outsider artist.
Rather everything here, including incredibly good sound quality (mastered on cassette no less), is finished to an incredibly high standard.
An obscurity that was well worth digging up, and quite possibly a future cult classic.
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