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IX Tab
The World Is Not Where We Are Richard Fontenoy , July 6th, 2017 17:31

collage of cut-out people Packed with psychonautical erudition both musical and textual, the final part of IX Tab's trilogy of albums continues to tread the path first encountered on The Spindle And The Bregnut Tree and developed into a welter of shimmering vibrations by R.O.C.. Here, Saxon Roach brings round the thematic obsessions of the previous releases - mind-body splits, the nature of reality, how music can be explored as a form of magical ritual in and of itself, a particularly British strand of occult art and practice - to a still more intriguing development, if not exactly a conclusion.

There's co-conspirators involved on this occasion too, Joan Pope of The Whip Angels and Eli Murray (Gentleforce), each of whom contribute separately to the expansion of the IX Tab world. Keeping things in the family, Hero and Rider Roach lend their voices and sighs too, and – while not often as foregrounded as on R.O.C. - sampled and snipped vocal fragments pepper the album with choice quotes, observations and handy instructions on how to breathe.

If there was one defining characteristic that runs through each album and is ever-present on this one, it's perhaps reverberation, tracked to lunar cycles here as IX Tab looks moonward for inspiration. Sometimes, as on 'Ascend', the pulsations and ping-pong trails overwhelm the sound so much that the disorientating effects drag themselves into the foreground and time is held in abeyance (Roach is firm adherent to Coil's maxim that "Musick cures you of time" as they demonstrated definitively through Time Machines's longform psychotropic drones). At others, their presence is subtly applied, lending a ghosted aura to the rise and fall of the intricately layered soundscape, a technique which suits the general sense of nagging estrangement.

As the album title indicates, Roach has one ear planted elsewhere, out among the cycling dis-harmonic spheres, curled around an alchemical exercise in mixing and matching electronic processing with ludic psychogeography and cross-referenced esoterica. To this end, he conjures a wayward West Country of the mind, one where wassails weave among the uses and abuses of the philosopher's stone, where cider-fuelled geomancy is as important as a knowledge of Kant, Camus and Crowley or the inner workings of Terence McKenna's machine elves as applied to asynchronous beat-sequencing. While the music works perfectly well on its own, the collaged cover of esoteric luminaries, familiar or otherwise, and the annotated notes for each track allow for both a deeper understanding of where Roach is coming from, in space if not always time, and as markers for how the album can be read.

The World Is Not Where We Are is a peculiar ride, one that fits into a particular worldview that scoops up Nurse With Wound and Coil (of course), and has evidently supped from the same strange, mushrooming homebrew of electrified folk tradition and avant-garde pipe-dreaming that keeps the likes of fellow astral travellers Kemper Norton and Farmer Glitch untethered from the earth. There must be something in the water.