Mancunian duo Andy Votel and Sean Canty – two dons of deep, deep crate digging – run and co-run an abundance of respectable labels, with Finders Keepers Records perhaps being the best known. Together, Votel and co-label honcho Doug Shipton, have gone above and beyond the call of duty to promote and release the best music you’ve never heard in your life: psych-funk from Iran; post-punk from Ireland; protest-folk from Turkey. Bearing in mind that approximately 2% of the world’s music has been transferred from vinyl to CD, there is truly an abundance of undiscovered music that would have never seen the light of day if it weren’t for flag bearers such as these, willing to spend their car loans and hard-earned lunch money, searching the four corners of the globe, to re-release and fully license music that will never, ever chart.
Sean Canty, one half of the incredible Demdike Stare (check them out), co-runs Pre-Cert Home Entertainment (one can assume the label name stems from their deep love of early colour horror movies). They release original productions that most other labels would avoid like the plague. Usually pressing only 300 to 500 records at a time (are you getting the picture yet?), they clearly aren’t doing this for the car and trophy wife.
On Intervisions, NeoTantrik, a collective of five producers, offer recordings of mostly live soundscapes. With not a beat in sight, they set out to create a mood that dampens the atmosphere to proportions that would leave Vancouver in a winter drout.
The opening piece, “Parched Effigy”, shows Votel and Canty creating an utterly nightmarish soundscape. With more samples than Madlib, NeoTantrik’s synths reel and transform to extended looping feedback. With not a melody in site, they hit woodblocks with oil drums, throw ghosts in the machine and ruin your nice little life with a massive injection of horror straight into your veins, and flow directly to the most creative canyons of your mind.
“Parched Effigy” blends seamlessly into “Intervisionary Heretic” (recorded live in Bristol). Votel, Canty, Racker and Recklin create a 10-minute wonder with more loops, hoops and deep pockets than a boy scout’s utility belt. Somehow, their deranged arrangement manages, in parts, to resemble a Sun Ra freakout. Heavy, heavy-duty feedback gives this a 0/10 on the commercial-o-metre. My finer half, a Kings of Leon fan, lasted two minutes with this one. “All I hear is “Woob Woob,” she cried. I played it through to the end. She’s moving out.
Track 3, the well-penned “Coloursound”, was recorded at Worm in Rotterdam. Reversed keys with massive tails move left, forcing the piano forward to give the listener a proper sense of unease… an acid trip in the forest when you’ve lost your friends. With Canty’s taste for the bizarre, and Votel’s eagerness to follow, the sealed doors have reopened, but it’s not Narnia on the other side.
“Sous Le Même Soleil, Vie Disparu Dans Le Ciel”, by Jane Weaver, is taking a much softer approach. Not a million miles from the beginning of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”… but it’s not “Shine On”. Definitely not. This song might seem mellow but it’s all about context; sitting well between the surrounding heavy-hitters, you are lured into a false sense of security.
“Crolyn Emphasis” hits like yesterday’s morning light, reanimated by over-driven guitar and minor chords pitching down until only a pulsating throb is left, allowing only the distorted strings through. Dark, dark, dark.
“Xian Octagon” completes this set of sketches with a mixed bowl of washboards, bells and white noise. With a final note blown through a PVC pipe, you will either turn over and re-enter, or admit to yourself that pop really isn’t that bad.
Give NeoTantrik 30 minutes of your life. What have you got to lose?
Kings of Leon fans need not apply.