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Magnetik North
Evolver David Stubbs , September 24th, 2012 11:59

The brainchild of Ian Tregoning, Magnetik North started as an experiment in synthesising acoustic instruments and electronics, with sounds instantly fed back, processed into the headphones of musicians so that what they were hearing wasn't necessarily what they were playing. It has now become something quite different, with Tregoning surrounded by a cluster of formidable musicians, including Lee Harris, formerly of Talk Talk, Kumo, aka Jono Podmore also of Metamono and ex-Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit, who has continued to ply and refine his craft from his studio in Cologne.

The strong Can connection is evident on Evolver. It was Can's ingenious and eternal bequest to rock music to find a way of jamming, of playing, that was more about creating a space than filling it. By dint of sheer, premeditated discipline and restraint, by relinquishing the ego and abandoning the usual protocols of rock band hierarchy and configuration, they created a context in which energy could flow. This was more than a “style” - it was a built-in mechanism that allowed for infinite variety.

Any group in which Liebezeit was involved would not be able to depart from this philosophy, as he was always its most rigid practitioner. It is he who keeps the pulse regular on Evolver, so as to allow for myriad irregularities in the content: opener 'Peitsche', with its tangential radiation of fragments and laser emissions. Some of the titles reflect the good nature of these sessions, despite their dark ambience; a prize of a self-inflicted pat on the back is available to any Quietus reader who knows the provenance of the title 'Fuck The Napkin'. 'The Shining', meanwhile, with its slowly intensifying blizzard culminating in a tinnitus frenzy, appears to recreate the conditions in which Jack Nicholson froze to death in the movie of the same name.

'Dron In Köln' is a glorious, slowly turned downpour of warm sulphur from the skies, 'Kings Of The Robot Rhythm' could easily have been issued by the Kompakt label in its more refined moments, with its geometrical interplay, 'Nocturne' allows for an extended solo from Joe Hollick, slithering and glowing alone across the nightscape. 'Something In The Water' is nine or so soberly unadultered minutes of loveliness, with its long, flat pools of desolate bliss, while 'Long Way Back' reminds of Arve Henriksen in its redeployment of lonely jazz trumpet to a Northern European context, courtesy of Tim Hutton. There are no airs or grandeur about Magnetik North, no striking of po-faced postures, but then the very self-effacement of Tregoning and co is their supreme virtue.

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