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PLSRs - Shroud Gains Gravity

PLSRS Shroud Gains Gravity coverFor Shroud Gains Gravity PLSRs were Robert E. Baker (The Anti Group/Clock DVA/Shadowranglers) and John Everall (Tactile). It was recorded between 2013-2014 when John Everall was diagnosed with terminal cancer. His death occurred soon after the album's final mixes were completed. It's taken a while for the album to surface, even though one track has been circulating for a few years now as part of a Manchester Mad Pride compilation featuring further Everall collaborations with Jowe Head and Simon Morris (Ceramic Hobs) - another one we've lost. Let's remember them but not dwell on their passing as even on its own Shroud Gains Gravity is a restless, propulsive release exploring the possibilities of transforming rhythm into contemporary sounds via modular and digital processing.

Shroud Gains Gravity possesses an electronic lifeforce of its own, as sounds twist and turn, darting off in myriad of directions. Propelled by a constant rhythmic undertow, often irregular and fragmented and sometimes generating additional layers, while circuitry runs haywire producing blips, pulses and frequencies. The opener 'Codebreaker' bubbles, crackles and fizzes transforming an unseemly squabble of chaotic elements, that glint and dart, into noisier realms. Underscored by a skittering rhythmic patter, 'The Array' reflects space age sonics. Emitting a series of bleeps, tones and transmitter squelch, bolstered by low-end shudders glancing and glinting free-falling chimes and frequencies pass by as if being pulled downwards or inwards into a black hole. The whole thing exudes a sense of tension.

The premise of these recordings, Baker cites, was "based on an idea first attempted by Baker with help from Mark Fell on the Lovebytes CD release Digital Spaces, entitled 'Ngoma'. This process sought to transform primordial beats into contemporary sounds." Those beats are most obvious on 'Luciferin' which is steeped in a primal energy surging to the thunder of hand drums. That's just the canvas though as Baker and Everall daub it with electronics throbs shadowed by lighter flighty keys which bounce around the beats. Illuminated and glowing, it pulses with a positive sense of energy.

In the less propulsive moments of Shroud Gains Gravity 'Chronika' casts ricocheting knocks and tones against ratcheting sound shifts and shuddering reverberations, while the effervescent 'A la Ringnut' fizzes to glitches, percolating bleeps and snatches of airy chiming synths.

The Lovell telescope looms on the cover but as much as it looks outwards Shroud Gains Gravity also looks inwards dealing with various psychological conditions. Electronics flutter and splutter almost folding in on itself on 'Children of Mad Mothers', as sporadic hyper rhythms jostle with mad cut-up and spliced electronics. 'Ambulating Antenna' is more restless with spirals of unwinding electronics unfurling over quickened rhythms and into a queasy and dizzying morass of glinting, bending sound shifts. 'Paracusia', named after a type of audio hallucination, wouldn't have sounded out of place on the Coil Presents Black Light District album. The quakes and quivers of its underlying electronics share an affinity with the sound of A Thousand Lights In A Darkened Room. It's a comparison I'd take further as it features spacial glinting, glancing and sparkling sounds that could be considered sidereal.

I'd originally considered 'Interferometry' as being something quite ominous but it's not really. Processed hand drums rhythms are shrouded in downbeat electro sequences firing off frequencies, sounding like tones from vintage arcade shooting game consoles. A more apt description would involve a mixture of voodoo rhythms and eighties industrial electronics.

Also included are two recordings of the projected live set-up recorded in the weeks before Everall died. The first 'Ghosts Before Breakfast', named after Hans Richter's dadaist silent short film, involves a heady morass of analogue whir, reams of sound processing and synths, while 'The Signalman' based on the Charles Dickens' horror story is much more considered, its rippling tones and vibrating chimes charged with an electrical current as it passes against rumbling squelch.

PLSRs have applied science and technology in the titles but Shroud Gains Gravity is an album that sounds alive and engaging and it's one that's definitely not sterile. My earlier comparison with Black Light District related to a recording where some of the performers were pulled from the ether, for Shroud Gains Gravity the artists considered themselves as mere technicians: "Once we had this raw data we applied it to both modular and digital processes, the pieces virtually created themselves with little intervention".

It's a testament to John Everall, that PLSRs remains an on-going concern. By modulating his original recordings, the intervening years have seen Robert E. Baker together with Dave O'Wark (SPIRIT:level, Ceramic Hobs) undertake a couple of live performances where they have continued to develop the ideas in a live setting as originally intended. This though represents the original formation of PLSRs with a restless, fragmented series of rhythmic sonic possibilities exploring outwards and probing inwards generating sounds as beautiful as they are perplexing. Shroud Gains Gravity is released digitally via PLSRS at bandcamp with all profits going to mental health, cancer and Haitian Relief charities. Label owners note, a physical release would be more than welcome.