Unimaginable Place

Mari Kattman and Tom Shear’s collaborative project Helix is notable for the ways in which each of the artist’s own catalogues have remained distinct since their creative partnership formed. If you come to Helix for Shear’s well-established and thoughtful Assemblage 23 writing and production, or for Kattman’s distinctive vocal presence and sensibility, you’ll find them, but releases like Unimaginable Place are more than the sum of those parts. The title track is probably the easiest sell for fans of both artists – it’s got the bounce and clubbability of an A23 cut, and Kattman brings her tasteful diva-isms to bear – it sounds like what you would expect it to sound like based on their individual work. More interesting is what follows though; hear how “Lie to Herself” uses a slowly unrolling arrangement of synths, piano and electronic adornment as a backdrop for layers of vocals that ramp from ethereal to weighty with ease, or how “Grey” has a studied minimalism in terms of its electronics, mostly relying on a few synth arpeggios and simple drum patterns to get itself across. When the duo return to club fare on “Hurt Like Me” it feels distinct from the opener, with Kattman using her most forceful delivery on the chorus against snappy snares and guitar like synthlines that add to the song’s big rock operatics.

Anaerobic - Sincerely

Somewhat surprisingly, Alex Reed’s Anaerobic releases have coalesced into a stable aesthetic form, rather than just being a clearing house for whatever wild ideas the man being Seeming had which didn’t fit into the decidedly irreverent Kibble project. Nope, flying against whatever presumptions we might have had about the project when it started up a few years back, an EP like Sincerely cinches in the take on powernoise found on preceding releases Hope You’re Hungry and Frequently Asked Questions about The Pelican Brief (1993). The unifying thread of the EP is that each blast of noise functions as a piece of correspondence written under quite particular circumstances or to a very specific character, which might not be immediately palpable via the chewy engine-turnover wubs of “A Letter To The Hometown Football Star” or the cascades of radio pulses and feedback which score the recitation of vivid and paranoid nightmares on “A Letter You Should Not Read”. Short and varied enough to keep each texture and rhythmic impulse distinct from one another (much like Hope You’re Hungry, Sincerely finds Reed honing in on incidental rhythms and then repeating and underlining them with monomaniacal fury), some curveballs are thrown via pure gabber punctuated with flashcard facts about octopi, 90s chill-out replete with Glaswegian voice emulation, and as previously covered here, a neo folk meditation on notions of time, statehood, and post-humanism via sub rosa post. Relaxing tunes to spin as you await silent Tristero’s empire.