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Cut Iowa Network: "Junkyard Transmissions"

img  Tobias

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of man's first steps on the moon this year impressively demonstrated to the world that space is still the place. As if Cut Iowa Network needed reminding. Seemingly emerging from the void with a beguiling bang, their applauded full-length „Projector Gunship Held {Ø}“, after all, harked back both to the glory-days of the galactic branch of Krautrock and the blissed-out trips of Psychedelia. To some, that double album, aptly released on Vinyl, was almost a trifle too perfect to pass for a debut: Austere and yet elegant, mysterious but still alluring, ambitious and nostalgic at the same time, it was something of an aural representation of Kubrick's visionary masterstroke „2001“.  It didn't take a private investigator to discover that, in fact, „Projector“ was indeed not their first effort. Before embarking on their journey to „Super Futures Axis Neo Tokyo“ (a track title), the UK-trio sent out these „Junkyard Transmissions“ to anyone willing to listen – and their beckoning beacon is revealing this broadcast as a signal from an entirely different solar system.

One could even go as far as to claim that „Junkyard Transmissions“ is the exact mirror image of „Projector Gunship Held {Ø}“. Its production is immediate, in-your-face and impulsive. The complexly construed compositions of their more recent work appear to be lightyears off, as pieces take on the character of loosely orchestrated jam sessions. Ruptures, breaks and irregularities are continually interrupting the steady metrum as tidal dynamics create a suspenseful rhythm of tension and release: Tim Evans' gleaming Guitars, especially, pierce through the fabric of the music with explosive resolution. Predictions about the direction of a particular track are turning into a lottery and it is up to Drummer Steve d'Enton to keep the shifting outlines of the ensemble together. On a casual listen, „Junkyard Transmissions“ almost sounds like a Drummer's album, with d'Enton's percussion set taking center stage while Tim Evans and Adam Barringer counterpoint his shuffles with oscillating tape-loops and alien atmospherics.

It takes time and, above all, the right mindset to fully appreciate the album.  The stuttering intro to ten-minute opener „Towers Match These Patrols“ will make some want to check their CD player. On „Hiro's Explorer“, d'Enton seems to be constantly trailing the beat. And with the first trio of tracks all drifting by in an unreal daze, the record doesn't exactly force its way into the audience's attention. If allowed to, however, it percolates through the subconscious filter like cosmic coffee in an interstellar mind-machine. It is only in those last seconds before falling asleep, in hypnagogue states, on sleepy afternoons or even moments of utter boredom that all of these emissions suddenly seem to make perfect sense. On the concluding trilogy „Find These Deserts And Capture Moment“, pieces seamlessly segue in- and out of each other as the band build up a propulsive momentum, taking the ship home on a comet's tail and Barringer's suddenly momentous Bass.

More and more, the album emerges as a carefully planed effort after all. Repeat spins are rewarding listeners with a gamut of colours, a plethora of details and an irresistible physical groove. Then again, any other conclusion would have been remarkable, as the music was actually recorded and conceptualised during the same session which gave birth to „Projector Gunship Held {Ø}“ - with the latter merely receiving the additional benefit of Harris Newman's mastering talents. Seen as such, these two works are complimentary rather than contradictory, with plenty of referential wormholes opening up between them to facilitate traffic from one journey to the next. If their current Double-LP is a case of expansive finesse, then their „Junkyard Transmissions“ caters to the claustrophobic „Truckdrivers in Space“-aesthetics of the „Alien“-series. Regardless of the obvious differences, musical and cinematic coinnoisseurs will be able to feast on both of them.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Cut Iowa Network
Homepage: Benbecula Recordings

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