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- The Dew Line by Gate
9/10 Mike Staff review, 06 June 2012
Okay, this is Dead C fella Michael Morley doing some solo electronic-ish thing, so I’m told. Actually there’s more garagey lo-fi tones on here than electronic ones but synths are involved too. As far as I can figure out it’s a reissue of a CD which came out way back in the hazy days of 1992, before Norman was even born! It was a messy birth, but that’s another story for another day. As for this record, well, I’ve not heard any of Morley’s previous Gate stuff but at the start here we’ve got slow, deliberate synths and teasing details of minimal murk and hiss, electronic whooshes and insistent, primitive percussion, while elsewhere he reverts to more of a garage rock aesthetic with a murkily recorded live band churning out hypnotic grooves while Morley scats Mark E Smithily over it all.
It always fits within that broad bracket you would call “rock”, with tunes and chord sequences and those other such refinements that make for a clear listening narrative, but it’s all done with such obnoxious self-serving weirdness that I’m finding it a constantly involving listen. You really don’t know where he’s going to go with it next, kind of like a blown-out lo-fi Psychedelic Horseshit-style version of what Harvey Milk are pulling off now...it’s not loud or quiet or fast or slow (okay, a lot of the time it’s slow), it’s just whatever they feel like it is.
Similarly the compositions seem almost lazily paced in places but are never short of compelling to listen to, and the tape murk dissolves into the overdriven guitar and vocal tones as an effective part of the aesthetic so that when he really goes to town on one of his churning, slow-burn grooves there’s summer vibes written all over it, although there are darker, more atmospheric moments to be found here too, since it’s not really a record that sits still for long.
It’s a good time for something like this to be rediscovered. There’s so many artists nowadays learning the benefits of pacing themselves, and how to use lo-fi recording techniques to their advantage, that if I hadn’t known beforehand there’s no way I’d have guessed this was recorded 20 years ago.
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