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Mechanical Children
Convictual Tongue Scott McKeating , October 14th, 2010 05:05

It’s apparently a very good time to be a lo-fi drone outfit. Lately there’s been a seemingly endless tide of experimental hypnagogic acts that’s washing up on pop culture’s shores like the corpses of some ferry disaster. This unsightly rash of very similarly 'experimental' melodic-drone-80’s-pop-movie-soundtrack-synth shit is the wearily overcrowded zeitgeist of the moment. The North East of England’s Mechanical Children might well work with drone music as a source, but their sound is too restless, too in your ribcage to ever sit alongside the current crop of opportunist dabblers.

Somewhere between synthesiser overload, drone and noise and created on a pair of Roland SH-101’s and a box of percussive ephemera, Convictual Tongue is a hand-cranked, randomly oiled beast of a record. And if you need a one-liner to sum up this two disc set then this could well be the sound of Albini producing Fennesz after an equipment-warping studio flood. The Roland synths use by experimental electronicists is well documented, but rarely have they ever sounded so utterly unanchored from that genre. Mechanical Children use bass frequencies and their discharge to chug and splutter across these six tracks discs like the sound of Alvin Straight’s mower. This duo doesn’t belong in the retro-obsessed stained glass light of today’s drone scene. While some wrap their discs in pop culture junk or first week Art School work, Mechanical Children see far beyond the retro – preferring trilobites to Beverley Hills Cop collages. Instead of seeking sense and comfort in the recent past, their focus is in the deep internal – working inside the cogs and wheels of electricity’s insecticide sounds.

Beginning with the explosive flutter of magnetic tape in a gale, 'Herons Leaf of Loss' begins the album’s exploration of a huge granular burning sound. The burbling static and treble of the opening eleven minute piece is the equal to the charred hiss found on any lo-fi black metal tape. Almost like pieces of rageless power electronics, these grit-sanded jams are all about texture in a world where it seems to be all about the look. Mechanical Children have nailed an organic sound made from broken digitalis, where the stutter and replication of electronics is more akin to germ culture than drone’s narrow aural alleyways. The album’s waves and echoes of ever decreasing digital circles are too unconsciously loose and harsh to be any sort of attempt at direction or fusion. There are also weird nods to acid techno in some of the more obviously digital burble, the slow motorized tear of sound almost creating bass riffs before disappearing into the glugs and creaks. Raw with definite melodic ideas, the textures of synth grit and gong/metal bashing vies for headspace and there’s a real audible depth to Mechanical Children. From the evidence of Convictual Tongue, this duo are starkly alone in the face of the algae-like morass of hypnagogic splurge and clean-shaven drone.

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