Saturday, 9 April 2016

Lucky Dip #3 - oMMM's Parallel Lines Converge

Now for the third instalment of Lucky Dip, I head to the bargain bin at Flashback Records in Islington back in February. I had just finished a day-long work seminar, and was waiting to head to the Mucky Pup for some beers with good mate Lehmann, in town from Melbourne on a Euro jaunt (as you do). I (some may say stupidly) decided to kill time in Flashback, knowing that a) I had very little funds, and b) can never go into a record store without losing my shit. So I came out with four records - The Living Eyes' Livin' Large, Deaf Wish's St Vincent 7", Wet Blankets, and this. It is different in a few ways from the first two Lucky Dip recipients - firstly the artwork was the singular reason I picked this up (oh, and the five pound pricing), a huge full moon in a star-drenched night sky over a metropolis - with a pink-hued caterpillar slinking among the buildings; secondly I couldn't work out if the band or the album was called oMMM. As it turns out, it's the artist, otherwise known as Edmund Davie. The guy at Flashback pointed out that it was an Alien Jams release though - Chloe Freida's label of the same name as her excellent NTS radio show - so I felt I was in safe hands.

When I first put it on, I thought I might have broken the needle. The first song 'Eyes' - the album title Parallel Lines Converge I later found out - scratches out with a lot of loud hiss. Which of course is the point, even more evident on 'Continuum', which could be the sonic rumble of stratospheric digital interactions, deep space robotic immersion. oMMM holds down this sepulchral noise through cassette manipulation, the experiment pierced and augmented by synth licks and blasts, Casio tone and drum machine stutters. The continual tape hiss gives each track a heightened sense of shortwave travel, being received as a long-dead transmission; I can't help but envision Dark Star, the darker elements of 2001, even Alien with this sonic missives, albeit recorded to scratchy, ropey VHS and beamed through a flickering chunky black box - a internal psychological picking at the thread of madness within an external intergalactic vacuum. There are elements of motorik repetition on tracks like 'Prism of Anarchy' too though that offers a sense of groove to these base sounds - even when losing your synthetic mind, you can do it with a decent rhythm...

Parallel Lines Converge is in some ways a tough listen; I found myself gritting my teeth on more than one occasion. But that wasn't because I was hating it - I would have taken it off the turntable if that was the case. It's more that it is at times quite unnerving - a pervasive sense of alienation, of cryogenic displacement. Very interesting, well worth a listen.

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