COLIN POTTER – Ancient History

Ultra Mail Prod

The name “Colin Potter” instantly rings bells in the head of experts of Nurse With Wound, Ora, Monos and parallel galaxies, not to mention a clutch of hidden beauties released as a solo artist. Back in the late 70s/early 80s, the man was already producing a sizeable quantity of recorded materials on limited edition tapes, the opening experiments in a route that led him to the above mentioned heights besides fabricating other kinds of sounds for exhibitions and documentaries at his ICR studio. These archeological fragments have now been gathered in a lavish box set, which includes old cassette releases A Gain and Two Nights, a pair of volumes of Recent History and (in the first 200 copies of 400) a fifth CD of unreleased tracks, splendidly titled Deja Who?. You might think that listening to almost five hours of this substance would be a chore, but guess what: I started spinning, and time just flew.

The general sensation while enjoying the material was one of “evolved post-industrialism” often flowing into a cut-rate kind of modern minimalism replete with cheap keyboards and additional gizmos which, in the right hands, can yield enthrallingly weird results. Obsessive repetitions and sequenced patterns abound, at times mixing with improbably articulated guitar lines. Proto-techno rhythm machines and digestible-yet-unusual melodic designs made me envisage a cross of vintage Asmus Tietchens and the warped soundtracks published eons ago by the Mike Ratledge/Karl Jenkins duo (albums such as Some Shufflin’ and Push Button are still seen around). Among the later episodes, a stunning piece for a Jonathan Coleclough project resounds with didgeridoo drones all over the place; hints to more “advanced” techniques and newer synthetic patches also begin to emerge in several of the bonus disc’s chapters.

Assessing this collection rekindled the flame of nostalgia: I thought about the innumerable days spent near my multitrack devices as a youngster, crafting various forms of off-centre “music” that I will never have the nerve to regard as valuable for an audience. Potter did, instead, and we’re lucky that he’s not so shy. His precise timing and sense of structure were impeccable thirty years ahead, and the irony transpiring from the short descriptions of the pieces elicits a few smiles. At the end of the day, great stuff.

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