Abul Mogard: Above All Dreams (2LP, Ecstatic, June 2018)

The buzz started with the 2016 retrospective album simply called Works. Abul Mogard had worked for decades in a steel plant in Serbia, and it was only when he retired that he bought a bunch of electronics, got tinkering, and started making music — trying to recreate the sounds of the factory, which he missed. Or so the story goes, anyway. I’ve read scurrilous rumours that some or all of this is fiction and a cunning marketing ploy. Well, it’s a nice story, so there.

More importantly, what do we think of the music? Well, I have to admit, I never really understood the fuss about Works. Perhaps that was the cynic in me. But this, his solo follow-up, I really like. It was (the sleeve tells us) “composed by Abul Mogard between 2015 and 2018 using modular synthesiser, Farsifa organ, effects, and computer”. This is the kind of big, all-encompassing ambient that fills your head and then swallows you up. It bears comparison to the best of Tim Hecker, or perhaps Stephan Mathieu. If I may be excused a spot of a pseuds’ corner indulgence, it seems to hover on the boundary between motion and stillness, which is a kind of magical effect.

I was feeling kinda stressed out when I first listened to this, and by the end I had a feeling of profound calm. Yay!

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Dark Ambient / Drone / Metal. I don’t find it that dark, but YMMV.

Head Technician: Profane Architecture (LP, Ecstatic, April 2018)

I never quite got into Martin Jenkins’ work as Pye Corner Audio: it’s retro seemed heavy-handed and lacking in substance. But this, his second LP as Head Technician, I like. It’s basically dark acid techno, and so, yeah, it’s still pretty retro… but it’s big and chunky and bouncy and fluid and those basically it’s really good retro dark acid techno, and I’ll take that. It has the reassuringly solid, structural feel of proper old Roland kit, and some nice sinuous work on the faders. Mostly clocking in at around 120 BPM (and occasionally dipping down to a stately 100) it’s hardly going to tear the dancefloor a new one, but then we’re all too old for that, right? My album highlight is Decay Blossoms, which has a thick, squelchy texture that almost puts me in mind of Plastikman. Oh, and it’s themed around brutalist architecture and the track names are all to do with concrete (First Pour, Béton Brut, Formwork, and so on), so bonus points for that.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Electronic.