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CASTLES IN SPACE

Polypores

Praedormitium

    Praedormitium was inspired by the warm glow and fuzzy logic of hypnagogic states - the realms of consciousness between sleep and waking. These threshold states are characterised by particular images, sounds, and cognitive effects. Both Philip K Dick and Salvador Dali drew upon them for inspiration.

    Praedormitium is the third part of a loose trilogy of albums that Polypores (Stephen James Buckley) has recorded for Castles in Space. Following in the garlanded pathways of Flora (2019) and the universally acclaimed Azure (2020), the expectations for Praedormitium are running extremely high. Stephen continues the odyssey he started on Flora and refined on Azure to deliver an album not only full of his usual depth and invention, but built to exist within that enclave of melody and optimism that typifies the Castles in Space catalogue. The album spins a dizzying 12 track suite of inspirational modular synthesizer pieces built from Stephen’s instinctive and seemingly limitless free flowing creativity.

    He writes, “In my third album for Castles In Space, I felt that I should pursue the themes of the previous two by exploring an imaginal place - and decided that the place between wakefulness and sleep was an ideal location. If the previous two albums were Earth and Water, then this album is Ether. The album was recorded around Christmas 2020. The twinkling lights and frosted ground lent an unexpected air of yearning and melancholy to the music, an emotive thread running through it which, despite being unintended, must have been lurking in my subconscious somewhere and brought out through induction of these states through various means. Like the previous albums, it is very much a journey. Only this time you wake up at the end…”

    The incredibly rewarding partnership with artist Nick Taylor is also continued on this release as Nick (as he did with his artwork for Flora and Azure), translates Stephen’s cosmic wonderment into breathtaking landscapes, trippy symbolism and arcane wisdom. The music and artwork complement each other perfectly, being two elements of the same thing and born from a restless, seeking desire to blow your mind.

    Stephen James Buckley (Polypores) paints music with modular synthesizers, drawing influence from ambient, new age, and experimental electronics. His music soars, bubbles, crackles, and soothes, in ever-shifting, immersive cosmic landscapes, hyperreal dream environments and sonic sculptures. Defining a specific area of synthesizer based music as very much his own, his popularity has resulted in a brace of sold-out releases on labels such as Ian Boddy’s DiN, Polytechnic Youth, Behind The Sky, Miracle Pond Records, Frequency Domain, Woodford Halse, Golden Ratio Frequencies, and Concréte Tapes.

    Uncut magazine described his 2022 album Hyperincandescent as "intensely absorbing, ever shifting through static squiggles, warm blooms of texture, bioluminescent glimmers, and rattling chimes... like a dance of fireflies in the dark".

    Polypores will be promoting Praedormitium at live shows at Bedford Esquires on the 11th February (With Warrington Runcorn New Town Development Plan and Field Lines Cartographer) and at The Cumberland Arms in Newcastle on 25th February (with Field Lines Cartographer).

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: There aren't many folks that do this business better than Stephen 'Polypores' Buckley, and I can tell you that while his skills are many and varied, it's (for my money) the twinkling, paddling arpeggios and woozy new-age haze that give the best impression of how overwhelmingly immersive Buckley's sound can be. This is among the best of his career, and a beautiful looking package too.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Frost And Moss
    2. Yolk
    3. Pure Colours And Light Charged Clouds
    4. Growing Crystals
    5. Enchantments
    6. Kaleidoscope
    7. Nonsensical And Fragmented
    8. Loss Of Ego Boundaries
    9. Lattice
    10. Reverie
    11. Our Tiny Orbits
    12. And Slowly Open Your Eyes

    Yves Malone

    A Hello To A Goodbye

      A Hello To A Goodbye was finished during the first throes of the covid lockdown of 2020 in Canada: whatever its initial genesis (a beginning long since forgotten) the results reflect the emotional terminus of that recording process – a person alone, terrified and waiting for the end. Recorded mostly with period hardware, this isolated paranoid landscape is mined with what-ifs and never-mores, a profound distrust of fellow humans, and is a belated goodbye to a naive innocence that was graced to linger far longer than it should have.

      Yves Malone is the project of Dylan Marcus McConnell (Adderall Canyonly, Oxykitten, The Department of Harmonic Integrity, The Snowfields). Born from a love of affordable Japanese synths and less-than-optimal drum machines, with a veneration of 80’s action and horror soundtracks, Yves Malone scores the depressive internal dialogues that drive good people to distraction at best, and crippling anxiety at worst, harnessing the malady to rob this poison of the horror it wreaks in service of generating creative endeavours, rather than a terminal ballast that brings us to our lowest.

      Following the release of ‘Upon Chrome Skies Rides A Pale Horse’ on the CiS Subscription Library early in the year, Yves Malone makes his full- length debut on the mothership label. For the Toronto-based synthesist life is all about the ups and downs on ‘A Hello To A Goodbye’ as the album was completed during a lengthy solo lockdown that began at the sudden end of a long term relationship.

      Thing is, you’d expect the soundtrack to a double whammy like that to be wallowing in itself. While the title of the opening track, ‘A Splash Of Palm Razors Across The Sky’, asks more questions than it answers, the music is almost celebratory. And that mood continues into the second track, the hectic upbeat ‘Stiff Starter’. Of course, the record has a flipside. In the gentle thrum of ‘Smoke And Ash, Hand In Hand’ (another thought-provoking title on an album of thought-provoking titles) you can feel the heartbreak. When times are tough, it’s whatever gets you through the night. On the strength of this, the dawn for Yves is looking bright.

      Neil Mason, Moonbuilding, Autumn 2022

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Through machinated FM stabs and woozy, neon synth sweeps the brilliant McConnell brings his considerable instrumental expertise to Castles In Space once again for an LP of startling depth and evocative intensity. Dystopian arps and impeccably produced percussion, intertwining melodies abound. A beautiful piece of work.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. A Splash Of Palm Razors Across The Sky
      2. Stiff Starter
      3. Smoke And Ash, Hand In Hand
      4. Another Empty Night, Another On The Wing
      5. In Desperate Nights They Flee Towards Anything Safer
      6. Object Concern
      7. No Matter How I Try, The Road Leads Away From You

      FROGMAN

      Dean Honer & Supreme Vagabond Craftsman

        Unlike much you have heard before, Dean Honer and Supreme Vagabond Craftsman build a creepily paranoid world of ‘objects’, which is believable and strange… and strangely affecting.

        “Set in a bleak corner of the Peak District, it’s perhaps our only opportunity to hear a one-time mainstay of Pulp and a former cast member of The Tomorrow People acting together in earnest. For that reason alone, surely it must be cherished. Submerged by analogue bleeps and beats, Russell Senior and Richard Speight throw themselves into two narrated suites of glorious post apocalyptic oddness.” - Bob Fischer, Electronic Sound He came up with Frogman. I loved that it was set locally to Sheffield in the Peak District, a place that I am very familiar with. That gentle yet dramatic landscape was perfect for an alien/viral incursion. It had the bleak English atmosphere of classics such as Quartermass and Threads.

        Will Goddard / Supreme Vagabond Craftsman:
        Staying in a B&B on the south coast about 15 years ago, I was given a map which the owner had hand drawn and photocopied for guests to find local chippies and nice pubs. The map featured a bizarre symbol among the spaghetti of wiggly lines depicting local streets: a sort of series of circles encasing triangles within a flaming star shape. It looked faintly occult. I went to the spot indicated by the symbol hoping to find some kind of spiritual inundation. It was a lorry park.

        I particularly liked Christopher Priest's novel 'Fugue for a Darkening Island' and decided to rip off its fragmentary structure. I seem to remember buying a copy of Sam Delaney's 'Dahlgren' on the same trip. I liked the idea that a certain proportion of the world's population would be drawn into these religious pilgrimages and become a sort of shifting population of maligned devotees with an incomprehensible clicking language. This idea kicked around for a few years but I'm no good at writing fiction. When Dean mentioned a science fiction story with a sort of electronic score it seemed it could finally come to life.


        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: Dean Honer of Eccentronic Research Council / International Teachers Of Pop fame returns to CiS with Will Goddard for an absolutely brilliant but bonkers mix of ERC & Maxine Peake era spoken word / electronic / punky madness. It's delightfully weird, brilliantly listenable and unsurprisingly brilliant.

        Kayla Painter

        Infinite You

          Castles In Space are delighted to welcome Kayla Painter to the fold and she brings with her a brilliant new extended EP, ‘Infinite You’.

          Following a few false-start early releases with other labels, Kayla has been building her own head of steam via her Bandcamp page since 2017 or so, self-releasing a slew of fine offerings. Chief among are the attention-grabbing ‘In The Witch Elm’ single which found her working with sounds from the Delia Derbyshire archive, the ‘Cannibals At Sea’ cassette EP on which she explores her fascinating mixed Fijian/British heritage, and the recent pink cassettes of ‘Planet 9’, a journey to the outer reaches of our solar system.

          A self-confessed space freak, she’s a big fan of the ‘Alien’ films, oh and ‘Arrival’, with a taste for sci-fi aesthetics… which all very neatly tees us up for that debut Castles In Space offering. So what’s ‘The Infinite You’ all about?

          “We measure time and our experience on earth in a particular way,” says Kayla. “But in space none of those rules apply. At the edge of a black hole space, time and the laws of physics no longer apply. That's amazing. If you take away these parameters, these ways of measuring our understanding, what are you left with? It completely blows my mind.

          “We live by these measurements so rigidly, We think this is what time is, and this is what a day is... and we take that as absolute truth, but none of that is real, it's all just constructed, which I find exciting. We like to think we understand our existence, but when you start to look into space, you realise we don't really understand much at all. ‘Infinite you’ explores multiple possibilities of existence, it's about looking to the universe and questioning everything we thought we knew.”

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: A superb outing for Kayla Painter for electronic powerhouse Castles In Space. There are as many moments of crystalline beauty as there are terse atmospheric swathes of drone and glitched electronics. It's both warmly reminiscent of something *just* on the edge of your memory and entirely new. A beautiful, exciting journey.

          TRACK LISTING

          1. Quantum Superposition
          2. Broadcast From The Collapse
          3. Infinite You
          4. I'm Out Here
          5. Burning Through The Atmosphere
          6. Mountains Of Death
          7. I'm By You
          8. Echoes Of Pluto

          Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan

          Districts, Roads, Open Space

            Fresh from a performance at the End Of The Road festival, Gordon Chapman-Fox presents the third album from Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan. A deluxe vinyl pressing presented in two colour variants with a full colour inner sleeve.

            “With my return to Warrington and Runcorn”, says Gordon Chapman-Fox, “The music began to reflect the social isolation of New Towns life. This was mirrored by its creation through two years of pandemic lockdown.

            “The music is perhaps the loneliest and most spacious I have created so far - the Open Spaces in the album title taking on multiple interpretations. The focus and feel of the album is not inspired by the architecture of new towns, but the lives lived in them. I think the precise planning new towns and creating specific zones for different activities - working, shopping and living - created an artificial way of life. One that failed to understand the sheer messiness of human existence.

            “Musically the canvas is more epic before. The first side comprising two epic tracks, and the second side introducing Euclidean sequencing to create disorientating, evolving melodies.”

            Chapman-Fox continues to find the wonder in his exploration of new towns and their impact on the lives and minds who worked and lived there. His Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan output to date has reached far and wide and garnered incredible responses from fans and critics across the world. Resonating with new town locals, architects, designers and anyone who appreciates beautifully constructed, evocative electronic compositions. The sound palette is expanded to wonderful effect on this new release. He continues to work on further Warrington-Runcorn material while touring Districts, Roads, Open Spaces throughout the UK for the rest of 2022. 

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Golden Square
            2. Community Square
            3. Old Hall
            4. Locking Stumps
            5. The Key To A New Home Of Your Own
            6. Buzby's Lullaby

            Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan

            People & Industry - 2022 Repress

              Gordon Chapman-Fox returns to Castles in Space with a second volume of stately electronica from his Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan project.

              How has Chapman-Fox approached the creation of the new album?

              GC-F “The album picks up where the first left off, really. Musically, "People & Industry" was recorded back to back with "Interim Report, March 1979". There is a progression in the sound, but it's definitely cut from the same cloth as the first album. It still very much exists in this euphoric melancholy (or melancholic euphoria) that seems to be my signature. This time however, the theme is very much to celebrate the workers and industry that was absolutely booming around Warrington, Widnes and Runcorn in the late 70s. From coal mining, to chemicals, to cars, the area was an absolute hive of industry. Some of those businesses are still very much in the area, but a lot has changed since then. This album, much like the first, looks back to look forward. It is is nostalgic but with 40 years of hindsight.

              Given the success of the debut LP and the weight of expectation on the new one, has it been difficult to follow up “Interim Report”?

              GC-F: I think I expected so little of the first album, its success has been such a surprise. It's made me go back and re-evaluate this new album. I've gone back to my original recordings and reworked tracks, added new instrumentation, made fresh mixes and so many little tweaks to make it as good as I can. The album has been resequenced, a new track added from my original submission to Castles in Space, and extra bonus tracks created as Bandcamp exclusives. It's had a lot more time and a lot more thought put into the music. I think I also went through about 10 different versions of the artwork. I just couldn't settle on any one design.

              “I was completely bowled over by the success of "Interim Report, March 1979". The whole concept seemed to me to be so niche, I had no idea it would become so popular. It really seems to have struck a chord with so many people who grew up and lived in new towns, I've had people contacting me saying it sounds like the soundtrack to their childhood. People who grew up in Warrington and Runcorn have been in touch, from illustrators to professors, telling me about how this music brought their memories back. That's really touched me, to go from making something all by myself, and sounds quite cold, and to have it resonate with so many people, and with such warmth, has been incredible.”

              Your sound is ultra distinctive. Is there one instrument or piece of equipment that’s crucial to the WRNTDP sound?

              GC-F: “My set up is about a 50/50 mix of hardware and software synthesisers. The Prophet synth (both my hardware and software emulations) is a pretty central instrument to the sound. Beyond that, if there is one thing that defines the sound, it’s gallons of reverb. I mainly use Valhalla VintageVerb, because it can do everything from the subtle to the completely overblown sound that decays into the infinite.”

              “Interim Report, March 1979” mercilessly evokes the golden age of Brutalist town planning, with dystopian analogue synths conjuring images of graffiti-covered subways, desolate multi-storey car parks and crumbling branches of C&A.” Bob Fischer, Fortean Times.

              “People & Industry” is presented as a deluxe vinyl pressing on blue/white vinyl manufactured by Pallas in Diepholz, Germany.

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Barry says: Chapman-Fox returns to the superb Castles In Space for his second outing following the fantastically well-received and beautifully presented 'Interim Report..'. This time sees a similar focus on melody but imbued with a widescreen sensitivity previously unheard on the wonderfully utilitarian electronics of the first release. A perfect follow-up, and a great sign for the future.

              TRACK LISTING

              1. Fanfare For The Working Man
              2. Built By Robots
              3. Petrochemical
              4. This Is The Age Of The Train
              5. Man And Manufacturing
              6. Part Of The Union
              7. Polytechnic
              8. Eye See Eye
              9. Managed Decline
              10. Aerospace (bonus)
              11. Industrial Zone (bonus)

              Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan

              Interim Report, March 1979 - 2022 Reissue

                “Interim Report, March 1997” by Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan is Gordon Chapman Fox’s hymn and homage to the brutalist beauty of Cheshire’s designated new towns of Warrington and Runcorn.

                Chapman-Fox grew up in Lancashire, and having been a frequent user of the famous Preston Bus Station in his youth, he was struck by the enormous chasm between the sixties architects utopian vision for what new towns should be and the sticky-floored, piss-streaked reality. He explains: “The more I looked into it, the appeal of these visionary architects grew. It felt like perhaps the most visionary building projects of all post war Britain were some of the estates built in Warrington and Runcorn new towns, these twin towns on either side of the Mersey. The estates of Runcorn were space-age futurist with external plumbing, rounded windows and raised walkways. But as housing, they were a failure. Runcorn was the last great UK modernist, futurist building project built with a community in mind. “Interim Report, March 1979” looks at this interim, this gap between vision and reality.”

                At the time of recording the album, he says, “It seemed like there were a lot of ersatz-soundtracks to lost John Carpenter films, or obscure giallo “classics”. I preferred to find inspiration from the surreality of the mundane, hence the creation of Warrington Runcorn New Town Development Plan. 1979 seemed the perfect point to be located in time, sitting on the razor’s edge between the post-war consensus and the dawn of Thatcherism. As the concept took hold, I tried to format the music according to the capabilities of a small, provincial recording studio in 1979. I limited the number of instruments available, the number of tracks available and so on. This really helped to shape the album and anchor the concept. As a teenager, I was into rock and looking for ever more extreme sounds - AC/DC gave way to Metallica gave way to Carcass. But by the 90s I heard Warp artists and that was me hooked. What they were doing could be far more brutal than anything by four sweaty long-haired guys with guitars. But it could also be funky, beautiful, ethereal, melodic and so much more.” It’s that ethereality and true sense of time and place that Chapman-Fox has captured so well here. “1979 marked a change in the political and wider culture of British society. The Warrington- Runcorn development marks the swan song of post-war urban planning in the UK – soon the ethos of building better communities would be replaced by Thatcherite “no such thing as society” and “Greed is good” mentality. And look where that got us…“

                TRACK LISTING

                A1: Gateway To The North
                A2: Aeriel Views By Helicopter
                A3: Castlefields
                A4: The Town Of Tomorrow
                B1: Intercity
                B2: Shopping City
                B3: Windmill Hill
                B4: Gateway To The Future

                Benjamin Harrison

                Brutal

                  Benjamin Harrison is an ambient musician and sound artist based in London. He has recently graduated from the London College of Communication which is part of University of the Arts London. His practice is rooted in exploration of space, place and sound. Be that the creation of environments through sound for the listener to occupy, the exploration and sonification of location through sound in situ, or the use of sound to draw one’s attention to and enrich their connection with their surroundings.

                  An interest in the intricate and entwined relationships between sound and place and their effects on one another is at the forefront of his work.

                  Taking influence from artists throughout ambient’s rich history, from Erik Satie to Brian Eno, Harrison has developed a pursuit of creating and evoking environments through ambient composition. Brutal is an attempt to apply this practice to a collection of both loved and maligned brutalist spaces across London, past and present.

                  Growing up in a small town in rural North Devon before moving to London at 19, Harrison was quickly enamoured by the flurry and bustle of the city. The novelty and intrigue of streets upon streets of historic buildings and towering sky scrapers piqued his interest, particularly the raw, rough concrete of brutalism.Architect Mark Alan Andre describes brutalism as a the most pure and honest form of architecture. Simplicity, versatility, starkness. Qualities which can be attributed to both concrete constructions and ambient music. Yes, when one thinks of a multi-storey brutalist tower block you could read it as imposing and inelegant. But when brutalism is done well, and likewise when ambience is done well, there is a tranquility and joy in directness and simplicity that can be found nowhere else.

                  There are few styles of architecture as divisive and schismatic as brutalism. Whether the sight of towering behemoths of bare concrete appeal or repulse the eye of the viewer, there can be, in my mind at least, no other form of building which so quintessentially captures the spirit of modernity and the mundane beauty of everyday metropolitan life.

                  Brutal is an attempt to celebrate this spirit - and the spirit of each individual location - through sound, field recording, and music. Picking from a variety of buildings across London - from the iconic terrace and tower blocks of the Barbican, to the H.G. Wells-esque space-age high-rise of the Ministry of Justice Offices - this EP seeks to present listeners with an auditory tour of some of London’s most celebrated, and in some cases most maligned, brutalist spaces.

                  With binaurally mixed music, binaural field recordings of each space and concrete sounds rooted in the history of each site, this EP is an encompassing and immersive effort to transport the audience to each space through its modern soundscape, its character and atmosphere through the artist’s lens, and sounds from its history rendered through creative reconstruction.

                  Imperfect Stranger

                  Everything Wrong Is Right

                    Imperfect Stranger is the pseudonym of Glasgow based soundtrack composer and producer Kenny Inglis. “Everything Wrong is Right” is his debut solo album for Castles in Space.

                    Born in 1975, Kenny didn't listen to much music, unless it was the opening credits to a TV show or a film score that had caught his ear. "I loved the pre-title music on a lot of those 80's U.S. TV shows. From the family orientated stuff like The A-Team, to darker dramas such as The Equalizer. My mother would let me stay up to watch the opening sequence of the latter then send me to bed because the story would be too heavy for a kid. That left me with this hanging sense of ambiguity as to what would happen in that hour after the titles came up.”

                    Exposure to a work colleague’s tiny project studio in a kitchen cupboard was a lightbulb moment for him and the experience of utilising music technology as a way of writing and producing entire tracks stirred a wave of determination to chase a career in music using the opportunities that technology could offer. Kenny figured the best way to move forward was to start a small project studio and learn his craft as a recording engineer. "It was a bit of a shock to the system. I literally had no idea how to work any of the equipment. Kenny focused on learning as much about the craft as he could whilst winging his way through recording and mixing everyone from the likes of singer/songwriters to bands, to voiceovers artists and anything in between. "Eventually, I stopped writing the music I thought people would want to hear, and started writing the music I wanted to make. I didn't come from a music loving background, but I was always obsessed by the way music and film would interact - how music brings this atmosphere and tone to even the most mundane visual stuff. I wanted to capture that. I wanted to grab some of that ambiguity I felt from the TV shows of my childhood and make it into a project of some sort". That project was Spylab. A dark, downtempo project with a cinematic edge. The initial demo consisted of three tracks, with the melancholic 'This Utopia' leading the playlist.

                    "At the time you did demos on normal cassette tapes. I remember having this endless battle with the bias control to try and get the best sound I could on these little tapes. Ten went in the post one Monday morning, and the following Monday there were three offers from three different labels. Studio K7 were interested in a singles deal, as was Flying Rhino in London. But then there was an offer from a Chicago based label by the name of Guidance Recordings. They wanted an album, and were offering a $15,000 advance. It wasn't a difficult decision to make"

                    Writing and recording Spylab 'This Utopia' began in 1999. The album took a whole year to produce. The album was to catch the attention of Mary Anne Hobbs at Radio One. At the time Mary Anne was presenting The Breezeblock - a late Sunday night show with an eclectic playlist of alternative electronic music. Picking out the album's title track 'This Utopia', Mary Anne would go on to play it no less than 8 weeks in a row. A request for Spylab to DJ on the show was to follow. "I had never DJ'd before. I think I had a week to figure out how to do that and put a playlist together. I'm not entirely sure how I pulled that off.” In March 2001 the Spylab album was finally released to a hoard of excellent reviews. A North American live tour would follow. From the launch party in Los Angeles, to a sell out show at SXSW in Austin. "I then started a new project under the name Cinephile. It had some of the core elements of the Spylab sound but it was deeper, more cinematic.” Kenny received news that a track from the previous project Spylab had been requested by HBO for the first episode of a new TV drama called Six Feet Under. This was to become a major turning point in Kenny's career. The Spylab track 'Celluloid Hypnotic' dropped during a poignant party scene of the first Six Feet Under episode. Within a couple of days Kenny was getting requests for music from other music supervisors. "It was a chain reaction. The Six Feet Under sync was like the tip of an iceberg. One day I called CBS in America and they put me on to the CSI music supervisor and I managed to get on a call with him. I sent the Cinephile stuff out and within a few months I got this fax through from CBS - a quote request for one of the tracks for a potential use on CSI. It changed my life."

                    The tone and style of Kenny's music sat perfectly with the CSI score requirements. So much so he found himself part of a pool of incidental writers who worked on all three aspects of the franchise - CSI, CSI: NY, and CSI: Miami. This would continue until 2013, when the last of the series would come to an end.

                    "I was juggling a bunch of stuff for those ten years. Writing material for CSI, whilst releasing new Cinephile stuff and playing live. As Cinephile continued to gather pace, one of the tracks from Kenny's efforts on CSI was chosen for the Hollywood trailer for the Samuel L. Jackson film 'Lakeview Terrace'. Further trailers would follow, from Gangster Squad to Dead Man Down, Spike Lee's Undisputed Truth, to Fifty Shades Freed.

                    At the same time, Kenny picked up his first factual commissions in the UK, and this too would be the beginning of a regular run of fully scoring factuals and documentaries. By 2021, six of these had won BAFTAs. He also would find himself soundtracking adverts for the likes of Nike, Audi, and American AirlinesIn early 2020, Kenny made a return to focusing on his own music under the pseudonym Imperfect Stranger. A tweet from Colin Morrison from Castles In Space regarding a charity compilation album 'The Isolation Tapes' caught his eye. Kenny had made a start on his debut album as Imperfect Stranger and submitted the track 'Hymn To The Sun' (which would become the lead track on the album). Further discussions ensued, and the album found a home on CiS. "I had been doing TV and film stuff for almost ten years. It paid the bills and was as close to a 'real job' as I'd had, but I yearned to get back to writing for myself, so doing an album for Castles in Space was a joy.

                    “The music I write is like a diary. There's an authentic narrative to everything i do. I don't write tracks for the sake of writing. I write tracks to diarise and process the stuff that I've lived through, and the experiences that have come along with the passing years. That's what makes me tick. It's a very public and vulnerable way of expressing myself. If people want to know the real me, all they have to do is listen."

                    Keith Seatman

                    Sad Old Tatty Bunting

                      Castles in Space is thrilled to present a timely new album from Keith Seatman - his first “extraordinary adventure” since 2020’s “Time To Dream But Never Seen”. “Sad Old Tatty Bunting” is another multi layered, deeply psychedelic construction which contains collaborations with Jim Jupp (Ghost Box, Belbury Poly) and Douglas E. Powell (Broken Folk).

                      Keith provides the vision and background to the album:
                      “The inspiration for Sad Old Tatty Bunting came about very early one morning in April 2020, during the first UK lockdown. I had taken to going for long walks between six and seven o’clock in the morning. I would stroll aimlessly and directionless up and down terraced streets, along the beach and on the prom.

                      On these early morning walks, places that were once very familiar to me seemed to have changed and taken on an unfamiliar feel. With this change I noticed new things, things which I had not seen before or maybe had no memory of ever seeing.

                      “One morning I passed an old pub. Hanging in the beer garden was some very old and quite shabby looking bunting. As I stared at the faded old colours I started to wonder why the bunting was there? Was it put up to mark a long forgotten occasion? Or had it been placed there to just brighten up the garden? As the weeks went by, I started to wander further and every now and then would notice more random old tatty bunting hanging from trees, lamp posts or in windows. On theses walks an idea started to take root. I came up with and really liked the phrase Sad Old Tatty Bunting. I mentioned this to my friend Douglas E Powell who said it sounded like the name of an old scarecrow (Tatty Bunting) it was then that I realised that Sad Old Tatty Bunting could refer to many different concepts/ideas/places/books and things. What, who or even where was Sad Old Tatty Bunting? I honestly had no idea…but it was definitely an idea I was going to pursue…”

                      STAFF COMMENTS

                      Barry says: Following on from 2020's 'Time To Dream But Never Seen', Seatman brings us his newest LP of outsider electronics and vivid synthplay. Detuned oscillators and saturated, throbbing percussion come together into a typically brilliant whole for the always-excellent Castles In Space. Essential, evocative synthesis.

                      TRACK LISTING

                      01. A Swish Of The Curtain
                      02. The Grand Alchemists Parade
                      03. Mrs Lawes & The Late Mr Pomfrey
                      04. The Gnome Zone
                      05. Sad Old Tatty Bunting
                      06. Tread Carefully And Say Goodbye
                      07. Jumpy?s Playroom
                      08. In The Fields Round The Back
                      09. Farthings Chase
                      10. Building A Hole With A Saw And A Bowel
                      11. Burial At Bevills Leam

                      Mordant Music

                      Dead Air - 2021 Reissue

                        Castles in Space announces first ever vinyl release for Mordant Music’s landmark 2006 release “Dead Air”. Remastered for vinyl with all new artwork from Admiral Greyscale.

                        Baron Mordant is always present but slightly elusive – not so much hidden as just lurking in the shadows. Remarkably individual, Dead Air sounds like a surreal car crash between Saint Etienne and Throbbing Gristle with the warm tones of Phillip Elsmore taking the place of Cracknell/Orridge. A Proustian madelaine to a particular generation if ever there was one, Elsmore had worked as the voice of Thames TV across the 70s and 80s and his instantly recognisable voice being dropped into this electronic hall of mirrors still plays havoc with your brain. Dead Air’s loose concept of a dead TV station was embellished with a unique design concept from Admiral Greyscale that played with 70s iconography (bizarre wallpaper, the Magpie logo and so on).

                        Jonny Mugwump, Fact Magazine.

                        Dalham

                        Funf

                          For the first time, Jon Michaelides allows his Dalham project more space to breathe in two new long tracks of sky-scraping, world building ambient (or is it) techno.

                          Dalham is the long term of project of Suffolk born Londoner, Jon Michaelides.
                          Here he discusses “Fünf” (his fifth release, natch), which is subtitled “The Past Is a Foreign Country”: “There have always been “ambient” tracks on previous albums but they have in some ways served as a bit of peace and respite from the more busy percussive tracks. The purchase of some effects units triggered the decision to use delays and reverbs during the composition process much more and an entirely ambient record seemed the best vehicle for this. I was simultaneously attempting, and not for the first time, to fully grasp the concept of special relativity and so a record about time and space, focussed on the manipulation of time (delay) and space (reverb) was born.

                          “Some of the phenomena associated with this theory, for example the relativity of simultaneity, lead to the questioning of the nature of reality and at times a sense of disconnect with much of what was happening in the concrete world. Coupled with the desire to revisit the past, where certain friends and family are still alive and well, this set the emotional tone for these two extended tracks. Fünf is a journey to acceptance. Not only is the past a foreign country, but our passports have been revoked and we won’t be returning.”

                          It’s interesting that Jon uses the term “ambient”: ”I guess I call it ambient because it doesn’t have any ‘beats’ but yes, it is still very rhythmic.”

                          For many, these compositions will sound too intricate and complex to be termed “ambient”, but as ever, we find it difficult to find the words to describe the unique music that Jon makes. A true individual, there is literally nobody else that sounds like Dalham.

                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          Barry says: Dalham's 'Funf' is a wonderfully realised selection of crystalline synth walls and cavernous reverbed spaces, bringing to mind a juxtaposition of the evocative soundtrack work of Drokk or Survive mixed with the ambient swells and catatonic heft a-la Jon Power / Blanck Mass. Another amazing CiS release.

                          Debut album from Luke Requena on Castles In Space. “Mirror Stage”. As the Lacanian title suggests, it is a collection of meditations and self-reflection translated into sonic explorations of the space that connects the macrocosm and the microcosm. Inspired largely by Tarkovsky’s film Solaris, the making of “Mirror Stage” was a musical journey of internal struggle across subconscious landscapes.

                          Requena is a composer and multi-instrumentalist based in Vancouver, BC. Although his main source of sound is analog synthesizers, he also integrates santur, guitar and organs into his pieces. Drawing influences from artists such as Günter Schickert, early Pink Floyd, and classical Persian music, “Mirror Stage” emits waves of sonics and lush textures while exploring the dark cosmos. It’s a genuinely enthralling work.

                          Luke has already released a double album, “Nocturnal/Seasonal” with John Jeffrey, drummer of Moon Duo, for the Castles in Space Subscription Library as part of the new age electronic jazz project, Oscilloclast.


                          TRACK LISTING

                          1. Metallic Plastic
                          2. Venus Maternal
                          3. Comet Mist
                          4. Death Sunrise
                          5. Subjugated Moons
                          6. Sleepwalking Seagull

                          Den Osynliga Manteln

                          Insektsfolk

                            Den Osynliga Manteln is Swedish for the invisible cloak. The fabric doesn’t hide the one who wears it but is itself impossible to spot unless you know it’s there. It’s an item that bridges fantasy and science fiction, the tales from long ago and the distant future. It’s nostalgic and futuristic. It’s slightly playful as well.

                            Den Osynliga Manteln is not only the name of this outfit but is descriptive of the music too. There are two parts to Den Osynliga Manteln, Ola Sandberg and Fredrik Grönvall. Both Ola and Fredrik were born and raised in southern Sweden and are currently living in Malmö. Ola takes up the story:

                            “We first met a couple of years ago when an old friend of mine brought me with him to play guitar with a band he was in called KLANG. Fredrik was part of this band as well, playing the organ, some keys and a bit of flute.

                            “I joined the band for a few live shows and recordings playing guitar, synthesizer and saxophone. After around a year KLANG sort of halted to a stop and me and Fredrik started playing together. I moved my studio into a little kitchen in the rehearsal space Fredrik was sharing with some other friends and we have stayed there since. This is the we started making music together as Den Osynliga Manteln.”

                            Fredrik has a background making hiphop beats, playing tonewheel organ (influenced by Bo Hansson), flute, synthesizers and percussion. He works at a small town post office delivering mail across the beautiful countryside of southeastern Sweden where encounters with wild animals such as red deer are not uncommon.

                            Ola has been studying music since childhood and has just completed a masters degree in music production at The Royal Collage of Music in Stockholm. He plays guitar, piano, synthesizers, modular synthesizers, bass, drums, saxophone and percussion. Ola also takes care of the recording, mixing and engineering for the duo. He’s released two albums under various names in Sweden and has had sound installations exhibited in Sweden and Canada. He’s also made music for a few short films and has designed and made several music apps for smartphone and tablet.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            1. Silversugga
                            2. Vindbagge
                            3. Tretusenfoting
                            4. Vortexlopare
                            5. Trasktrollslanda

                            Hattie Cooke

                            Bliss Land

                              “It's about the in-between moments.” - Hattie Cooke “Bliss Land” is the new LP from Brighton born artist Hattie Cooke. Her third album and debut release for Castles In Space opens up her sound by managing to find a balance between the introspective and the communal. It is an album that looks forward whilst acknowledging the creators past creating a work full of a nostalgia that also feels vitally current. Initially conceived as a soundtrack album, during its creation, “Bliss Land” morphed into a beautiful set of personal songs born out of anticipation, excitement and anxiety.

                              Speaking about the themes of the albums, Hattie says: "It wasn’t until the album was finished that I realised what it was about. I had recently graduated from university and people were beginning to take more notice of my music. I was excited about the possibilities of the future, but at the same time the immediate future had been put on hold due to the pandemic, so I was frustrated and anxious. And then whenever I think about the future, I can’t help but think about the past and where I’ve come from and what I’ve been through to get to that point. So in some ways it’s a reflective record and in other ways it’s a record full of anticipation. “One Foot Out The Door” is a track that really resonates with me - it’s about that liminal space between the past and the future when you’re on the threshold of something. I think that’s what the album is about, it’s about the in-between moments. "I grew up on a small council estate on the outskirts of Brighton in a house that was full of music. Both my parents played guitar and my dad also bought and sold records for a living. I taught myself the guitar when I was twelve and made plenty of music throughout my teens. At 17, I won a scholarship to study at the British Institute Of Modern Music and continued writing and playing local shows. I also started to learn how to record and produce my own music on GarageBand as a necessary alternative to going into an expensive recording studio. GarageBand has some fantastic synth and electronic drum sounds and that’s when I became more interested in electronic music and music production. In 2015, Third Kind Records approached me after hearing my songs on a homemade demo CD that a friend had passed on. We released my debut album in 2016 and I’ve been making and releasing music ever since.”

                              Hattie writes, records and produces all her own albums, however she is keen to express how others have helped shaped parts of Bliss Land: “The record isn’t a completely solo effort, I had people along the way to help shape this album into what it became, although I had complete artistic freedom to let the album grow into what it wanted to be. I had invaluable help from Dom Keen who helped me mix the album. We spent a good number of nights in his studio drinking gin and trying to get everything just right. He did things to the music that I would never have even considered doing. I had no idea what compression really was until the making of this record, which probably sounds mad considering I’ve produced three records but when you’re self-taught you can miss out learning about so much! Antony Ryan’s mastering added a whole new dimension to the record as well.”

                              “Bliss Land” is an album soaked in the outer edges of pop music making it a cohesive and beautiful album full of dense textures held together by Hattie's unique voice. It’s an album that will undoubtedly chime with a cross section of audiences. So where does Hattie see her music in the landscape of the current UK electronic scene? "There’s a lot of instrumental/soundtrack music coming out of the scene, a lot of synthwave music which seems to be a real throwback to the 70s and early 80s. I think that’s because so much of the music coming out of the scene is made by those who grew up during those decades. So I think I’m a bit of an outlier when it comes to the UK electronic scene for two reasons. Firstly, I’m at the lower end of the age range and secondly, I’m a woman in an extremely male dominated scene. “Bliss Land” is intentionally quite poppy, which seems to be less in fashion at the moment whereas my other instrumental stuff is more inspired by classical music than by IDM or ambient music, so I think I’m coming at writing and producing from a slightly different angle. However, I still definitely feel part of the scene. There’s a particularly strong sense of community within the UK electronic scene on Twitter and I’ve been nothing but welcomed and supported by the artists, fans and labels. It’s like being part of a strange and wonderful family.”

                              You’ve made a video for the track “Youth” with Chris Standley from Rogue Robot which is both funny and shot through with real melancholy. “Youth" is about reflecting on the past. I turned thirty this year and sometimes (more than I'd like to admit) I worry that I've gotten more boring as I've gotten older. I was pretty wild and unhinged when I was younger and sometimes I miss those mad nights out where it felt like absolutely anything could happen - although saying that I just don't have the energy to stay up for three days or the stomach to cope with the hangovers anymore. Still, there are days when I miss the way that everything feels new and exciting when you're in your late teens/early twenties - everything is more intense when you're younger and the world around you seems bright and buzzing with life. I've been thinking about it a lot this past year. I've not had much to do for the last twelve months besides walk around on my own and reflect on the past, since the future has basically been put on indefinite hold, so that has almost certainly fed into some of the lyrics and maybe even the feel of the music.”

                              The album is already garnering a lot of attention and praise. What’s next for Hattie after the album is released? "Who knows what’s next! I have plans to tour the album when the world opens up again. I’d also love to have the chance to score a film or to work with some other artists doing guest vocals or some remixes. And I’d like to get back to doing some music-related charity work again as my family were supported by a number of charities when I was growing up and think it’s important to give back when you can."

                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              Barry says: Having formed one of the most enduringly superb 'pseud-ost' releases of the past few years in 'The Sleepers' for the excellent Spun Out Sounds, Cooke hits electronic stalwarts Castles In Space for her excellent new LP 'Bliss Land'. Brilliantly toeing the line between electronic and acoustic, there are moments of pure Broadcast-y bliss and echoes of the soundtrack moments from the previous LP too. Do not sleep on this one.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              Side A
                              1. I Get By
                              2. Mistaken
                              3. Cars
                              4. One Foot Out The Door
                              5. Youth

                              Side B
                              6. Don’t Wanna Talk
                              7. Invisible Lines
                              8. Fantasies
                              9. Lovers Game
                              10. Summer Time

                              Dinked Edition Bonus 7”
                              1. One Foot Out The Door (Acoustic Version)
                              2. Above My Bed

                              Concretism

                              Dick And Stewart - Original Soundtrack

                                Dick and Stewart
                                Dick and Stewart is a series of short animations set in either Britain’s dismal past or the Britain that’s soon to come. It's hard to tell nowadays, isn't it? Either way, just imagine what it would be like if childrens’ TV programmes were written by George Orwell or Franz Kafka. Or the government itself.

                                The stories follow the adventures of the eponymous Dick and an eyeball, which is all that’s left of his best friend, Stewart, following an accident. It’s written, animated and directed by Richard Littler (Scarfolk), produced by Andy Starke of Rook Films (A Field in England, Free Fire, In Fabric) and read by Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh).
                                While each episode will address a different dystopian but topical subject, such as propaganda, civil defense, ‘fake news’, gaslighting and other forms of governmental corruption currently blighting western politics, the pilot episode, which is called ‘I Spy with my Little Eye’, concerns surveillance, an unsurprising theme given that, last year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the UK government's bulk interception of data was against human rights.

                                Concretism
                                Chris Sharp, the talent behind the Concretism project, takes inspiration from worlds exactly like those portrayed in Dick And Stewart. His last album, "For Concrete and Country" was a hugely successful distillation of our not too distant past/future world of nuclear threat and cold war paranoia, resulting in an album of unsettling electronics which perfectly invoked the pervasive cultural disquiet of intrusive surveillance, the red menace and the bomb. Fears which the recent drift of events confirm are still very much with us, remaining part of our societal DNA.

                                Having already established the working relationship with Richard Littler - Richard designed the adapted radome artwork for FCaC, Chris was the natural choice to provide the soundtrack for Dick and Stewart. Chris delivers his first soundtrack with relish, supplying a set of short, sharp electronic cues formed with his usual precision. Not a note is wasted as the woozy, unsettling themes of the films are effortlessly captured herein. It's fair to say that it's a piece of work that could not have been made by anyone else.

                                The record itself is pressed on a single sided 12' inch LP utilising a new process of UV printing on the reverse side which is only available from a select few manufacturers. The artwork as designed by Richard is incomparable and it all makes for an incredibly special and desirable album.

                                Chris has just completed his stunning and long awaited new LP and successor to "For Concrete and Country" which will be forthcoming on Castles in Space in early 2021. Meanwhile, a privileged trawl through his archives has resulted in "Concretism: Archive Volume One" a limited LP which will shortly be available to subscribers to the Castles in Space Subscription Library Service and features 9 tracks unavailable elsewhere and appearing on vinyl for the first time.


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