The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Pye Corner Audio
Entangled Routes Ronnie Angel Pope , November 26th, 2021 10:07

Pye Corner Audio's layering of electronic sounds and ecological criticism is much more than just music for smart alecs, finds Ronnie Angel Pope

Martin Jenkins’ brainchild, Pye Corner Audio, has established its root system by drawing on cinematic, paired-back electronica to do the theoretical heavy lifting. In the past, they have traversed the dancefloor, refracting Derrida’s hauntology (via Mark Fisher) through a suspended wall of smoke in the air. This is to say that with a strong command of atmosphere and evocation, Pye Corner Audio pick up the threads of practice where theory leaves off.

This time, ecology is the realm of theory that Entangled Routes elects to open up to experience, carefully wrapped up in Julian House’s evocative, cult-status cover art . Synth lines bounce off of one another, interacting like broadcasters and receptors. The pipeline between the cyborg, cybernetic sound that Pye Corner Audio excavate, and concepts of deep ecological entanglement (as put forth by the album’s title, and track titles), is traced by Jenkins, as it has been traced previously by the likes of Donna Haraway. But here, outside of text, it is audible and inhabitable. 

Allusions to facets of ecocriticism and rhizomatic existence proliferate like embodiments of a nostalgic, knowing gesture – the tap to the side of the nose that says ‘between you and me, you’ve got it in one’. Each track is a varying assemblage of satisfying discordance. The layering of sounds one atop the other creates a latter-day Latourian compost heap of experience.

Most impressive is that all of this is covered through suggestion and sleight of hand. Larger-than-life ideas and the more-than-human are carved out as moods and feelings. Entangled Routes could easily fill the longue-durée – becoming winding and self-indulgent – but it doesn’t. The quiet confidence of Jenkins’ brevity and his refreshing lightness of touch makes for a sharp, welcome intervention that balances the broad and gestural with close attention to the fine print.

It’s hard not to draw a Brian Eno comparison, as this is an album that manages to distill big, overarching concepts into accessible, and (above all) enjoyable soundscapes. Music for Smart Alecs, perhaps? Only Entangled Routes is imbued with an energy that compels into action, and like a mycorrhizal network, it succeeds in operating underground.