Neotantrik (Ciani, Votel, Canty): 241014 LP
Synth legend Suzanne Ciani, Demdike Stare's Sean Canty & Finders Keepers' Andy Votel come together on this killer hour-long 2014 synapse popper of a collaboration pooling the occasional group’s esoteric collage-based approach into a remarkably foreboding session pregnant with a dread that’s never quite resolved. Think Vladimir Ussachevsky, Todd Dockstader, Spectre and Company Flow melted thru the Deutsch-Italo industrial DIY tape era and funneled thru an almost impenetrable fog of Ann Arbor basement noizze. Hustling some of Neotantrik’s most amorphous gestures, ’241014’ is a four-segment movement of reduced Buchla treatments, destroyed vinyl loops and scraping foley suspense; like a cosmic dream diary layered into a collage of drones and clatters. Little in Ciani's extensive catalogue has hinted at what's on display here; the joyful lullaby-pop of "Seven Waves" or metallic alien soundscraping of "Flowers of Evil" are only hinted at. She instead paints new sonic vistas, allowing space for her collaborators to make themselves known; Votel's chiming toy autoharp and Bubul Tarang (a Punjab string instrument) add a distinctive flavor, while Canty's grimy drones and noise-soaked textures drizzle pitch-black molasses into the cracks and crevices. Together, the effect is a bit like hearing Philip Jeck improvising over Popol Vuh's peerless Moog-led debut "Affenstunde" or Demdike Stare knocking out impromptu reworks of Tangerine Dream's abstrakt early run. Perhaps unusually, the trio have still never set foot in a studio together, exclusively maintaining their practice in-the-moment and on stage when schedules intersect. So it’s all the more remarkable that their improvisations naturally find a democracy of role and such a heightened level of intuition, beautifully converging their thoughts to mutual, open-ended conclusions that leaves billowing room for interpretation. In a most classic sense, it's like the sensation of sleep paralysis or dream/nightmare ambiguity, with a level of suggestiveness that’s disorienting from end to end. For the first time the recordings are now available in high fidelity (there was a tape version a couple of years back) - now remastered by Rashad Becker to better represent the otherworldly scope of their actions on stage, from the NWW-like queues and drone of ‘Scanned Accents’ and keening silhouette of ‘Second Action,’ to new sections of subaquatic Porter Ricks-like murk in ‘Anti-Contraction’ and the levitating webs of synth and tactile, sampled textures in ‘Last Canción.’ Tape music and synth music have long shared a passionate embrace, and here turntablism coolly slides in on the action. Canty and Votel's background in beat tape assembly and crate digging pays off: they're keenly experimental creators but bring an unfussy sense of rhythm and performance that's miles beyond any facile repetition of a nostalgia for vintage glory. Combined with Ciani's delicate Buchla work - it’s a unique proposition.