Compulsion | PO Box 19577 | Kilbarchan |Johnstone | PA10 2WX | Scotland | UK

Cindytalk - Subterminal

Cindytalk Subterminal coverCindytalk and Cinder have been on something of a journey. The peerless Camouflage Heart and her exquisite vocal contribution to This Mortal Coil have almost cemented a representation of Cindytalk in the minds of many. Cinder is a true artist who has continually sought new avenues and expressions of formulating music to communicate and convey emotions, thoughts and feelings. Over a clutch of albums for Editions Mego, Cindytalk have morphed and reinvented themselves mutating into a sound blending abstract electronics and ambience with environmental and location recordings. Subterminal follows similar territory and particularly last year's Of Ghosts and Buildings from which ideas were excavated from recordings developed during the process of making that album. The result is a more restrained and spacious approach where movement is made by microscopic tonal changes and fluctuations from textured electronics. Some of those other albums have featured spoken words and elements of vocals but these appear absent from Subterminal. Even rhythms which appeared on Of Ghosts And Buildings are missing here but these restless beatless constructions still possess moments of captivating beauty hidden within its deeply compressed sound abstractions.

That abstract amalgamation of electronics and location recordings is found on the opener 'See Seer Seek'. Quietly, it drips and crackles with tones creaking as if someone is stepping across a wooden floor of an empty house. Everything takes place against the hiss of a rainy backdrop, its disturbing tension heightened by the shadowy echo, shift and drift of the electronics. At times, there's a distinct feeling of being watched. It is to paraphrase the title of that previous album the sound of ghosts and buildings. The following track 'Where Everything Sparkles And Shines' swirls around glinting and glistening synths occasionally assuming an airy shrill tone. On the surface it all sounds quite endearing chiming hauntingly like a ghostly forgotten carousel but the electronic tones which surface, shuffle and ricochet become more febrile and unsettling casting a darker aspect over those spectral chimes.

Subterminal isn't without melody but it's often found buried deep within the sound. On 'Systems Are Spiralling' they're brought to the surface in a series of spacious synth stabs which hint at a melody but delivered almost randomly they continually fold and bend into themselves creating a sense of queasy momentum. From underneath, the cyclical motion is interrupted by flurries of loose sprinkled tones and disrupted by snatches of shuddering reverberations which shift and scurry off into the distance. Subterminal is shaped and transformed by these tiny details where a myriad of sounds co-exist and evolve concurrently. Fleeting fragments appear and soon dissipate and you wonder if they ever existed at all. The final track is the most expansive and best representation of the current sound of Cindytalk where the trill of birdsong accompanies the quiet drone and ratchety electronics of 'We Fly Away With The Birds'. Adrift in crumbling, crunchy textures it settles into a passage of indistinct ambient industrialisations and the ominous hollow patter of slow moving footsteps eventually succumbing to slight flights of synth chime, at points emitting wraith like patterns from an ethereal church organ. Bird song recedes as the crystalline drone drifts into scratchy textures before they too start to fade and all the hallucinatory sounds become more elusive as if offering a means of escape.

Subterminal is littered with concurrent sounds and multiple micro sounds which seem to only exist for a moment and if I've made it difficult to pin down it's simply because it is. Intelligently and intricately constructed, the subtle abstractions of the four tracks are cohesive and alluring, sounding more spacious than some of the more recent claustrophobic works, creating something magical, otherworldly and sometimes alien by integrating field recordings with textured electronics. Subterminal is a fascinating and quietly challenging listen from a group continually transforming and not afraid to take music into new areas. Subterminal is available digitally from Cindytalk bandcamp and as a CD from False Walls