Compound Eye - Journey From Anywhere
Following two short limited releases on The Spring Press (including one vinyl album, Origin Of Silence, and an ultra-limited lathe cut disc), Compound Eye offer their second full length release, Journey From Anywhere, this time on the esteemed Mego label. Over two slabs of vinyl, Journey From Anywhere delivers a sprawling, immersive sound world from a relatively new recording project bringing together Drew McDowall (formerly of Coil and currently Captain Sons and Daughters - now known as CSD) and Tres Warren (Psychic Ills and Messages). It's fair to say that Drew McDowall's more abstract sound explorations worm their way onto Journey From Anywhere as does Tres Warren's eastern droning. The culmination of those initial releases are found on Journey From Anywhere with its beguiling combination of oscillating drone and astral electronics.
The glistening space age sounds of the opener 'Foehn' almost sets you up for Compound Eye's blurred explorative sound excursions as they travel way back for the expansive aptly titled 'Archaic Atmosphere' which ekes out a vague melody from droning (which I think is probably derived from the ukelin) with washes of vibrating electronics. Like some meditative ritual, each layer corresponds to an exhaled breath, releasing more indistinct tones into the slow unfurling gestation. The entire thing seems to blend traditional eastern music with music of a celestial origin. 'Archaic Atmosphere' feels primal and meditative, and it's fantastic. So too is the 18-minute centrepiece track, 'Journey Into Anywhere', where sustained harmonium type drone is surrounded by spectral electronic textures. Its wavering drone drawing comparisons with fellow kindred spirits Cyclobe and specifically their feral recordings on Wounded Galaxies Tap At The Window as it sounds like dark folk performed deep within a forest, but the loose time-shifting sound owes more to Coil's Time Machines project.
Journey From Anywhere features a couple of shorter pieces that pick up on the gliding space age groove of the opener 'Foehn'. Where 'Open Interval 1' offers a faint fluttering of melodic electronic tones, 'Open Interval 2' is a joyous romp of ringing tones and vintage electronic excursions culled from Compound Eye's instrumental palette of modular synthesizer, processed harmonica, ukelin and shortwave radio.
Other tracks on Journey From Anywhere see Compound Eye traverse into other bleak zones which are no less effective. A brooding pulsing beat is found at the heart of 'The Hydraulic Regime Vibrates From Within' as drifting drones suck in mammoth synthesised tones while vague melodies hover just out of reach, while 'Cosmic Exhaust: The Selector (Cut-Up Composition)' is a dazzling celestial collage of sine wave frequencies and sound modulations that ascend and descend scales surrounded by the blur of buzzing electronics and abrasive spectral hues. Amidst the minimalism of Journey From Anywhere its jarring cuts and disconcerting electronics make this by far Compound Eye's most disorienting track. From the layering of quietly stuttered electronics and ghostly distant keys, 'The Outer Sphere' sets shuddering blurred tones over a reverberating hesitant almost electrified cold dub rhythm. Here, even the imperfections of the sound play a role - just listen to the hiss of the vintage synths, warming up, to formulate a fuzzy melody as everything is amped up, summoning free-falling automatic tones from the vintage equipment.
Compound Eye revel in the slightest change of sound, pitch and tone, and with its slow gestating explorations Journey From Anywhere seeks comparisons with the like of Stars of the Lid, LaBradford, Tangerine Dream as much as it does with Coil and Cyclobe but there's an indefinable quality to the work of Compound Eye, to the extent that you can impose definition on something that you don't know is really there. Journey From Anywhere is by far the strongest work from Compound Eye. On the surface Journey From Anywhere is never going to be an easy listen, but those who put in the even the slightest effort will be rewarded with an absorbing and immersive listening experience. Journey From Anywhere is great stuff, housed in a sleeve designed by Stephen O'Malley too. Recommended. For more information go to editionsmego.com
Compound Eye - Archaic Atmosphere excerpt from Journey From Anywhere