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CASTLES IN SPACE

Salvatore Mercatante

The Foundations Of Eternal Sin

    It is with much excitement that we can announce that New York synth maestro, Salvatore Mercatante has joined the Castles in Space family. First coming to our attention via a pair of beautifully authentic Giallo soundtracks, this new work, "The Foundations Of Eternal Sin" is a fully formed darkwave synthesizer LP.
    Minimal, thoughtful and ice cool, yet full of heart and humanity, "...Foundations..." is forged very much from the ongoing tumultuous fabric of our current lived experiences. The eight tracks are numbered as Foundation One through to Foundation Eight.

    Salvatore explains the background and inspiration for the record:

    "The album is about humanity falling from grace and losing the pillars of what makes us human. The "Foundations" listed in each step bring us through that journey, starting with turning our backs on benevolence. Foundations two, five and seven being physical places along the journey that we stop at, the citadel (Foundation Seven) being the final stronghold of human empathy and understanding. It's not about the end of days or the apocalypse, this is an internal struggle. Society will still move forward but with the loss of the human soul. This is something I fear every day - but there is beauty in the fall and a hope that we one day may recover to find what made us human in the first place."

    It's a deep and philosophical ride once again confirming that when done properly, the warmest and most human music is made with machines. Salvatore is a true wizard at the pinnacle of his powers, wringing raw emotion from his base elements.

    Written and recorded in New York between November 2019 - January 2020 using various electronic artefacts and devices (Salvatore is reluctant to specify exactly what gear was used for the construction of the album), the record itself is pressed on ash grey vinyl. The mystical sleeve and insert artwork is by Nick Taylor.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Ash grey mixed vinyl.

    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    Various Artists

    Scarred For Life Vol: 2

      Following on from last December’s sold out “Scarred For Life Volume One” CD and the subsequent clamour for a vinyl version, here we bring you a second volume of TV themes for the shows that might have been, or actually never were. An unashamedly hauntological deep dive into an alternative 70s/80’s where our viewing reality was slightly warped. Gauzy memories of our early interactions with the TV, long buried, but remaining in the periphery of our childhood memories...

      The SFL Volume One team has been reassembled, with some significant new additions to the line-up. 

      Taken from the sleevenotes: “You have in your hands an LP of top TV themes, all played with verve and panache by some of the most pre-eminent performers working in television soundtracks today. Whatever your taste in disturbing television viewing, this record is guaranteed to bring enjoyment to you and all the family. The selection of themes on the LP are penned and performed by a stunning array of star talent. Each piece of music, though intended to establish the mood of the series it accompanies, is deservedly popular in its own right, with several of these tunes already having made an impression on the upper reaches of the pop charts.
      “From disorientating science fiction to creeping nuclear paranoia via unsettling children’s themes, Scarred For Life 2 is a record crammed with favourite tunes from your favourite programmes, so unrest assured that these pieces will not only give you many hours of listening pleasure but will also provide a lasting memento of your individual choices in the world of TV.”


      Profits from this record will go to support the work of The Alzheimer’s Society.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      says: Absolutely essential collection here from some of the finest voices in today's synth music, with a wealth of audio imagery making it's way through to your earholes, warped from tv themes and childhood memories of youth. Double disc set on purple / red vinyl. Amazing.

      KL(AÜS)

      Live 2020

        And speaking as we were of electronic music full of heart and humanity, in a last minute addition to the Castles In Space catalog for 2020, "Live 2020" sees Australia's premier exponents of electronic warmth and light captured live in Sydney in January, while the bush fires raged around them.

        Kl(aüs) are Jonathan Elliott and Stewart Lawler. Originally from Tasmania, now living and working in Sydney, the pair have known each other for several decades and formed Kl(aus) in 2013 over a beer and a shared appreciation of Tangerine Dream's 79-85 period. They both have long experience in the music industry – Lawler, formerly a member of Sydney techno-pop outfit Boxcar has spent much of the last ten years touring with Tom Ellard’s Severed Heads. Elliott is a classically trained pianist who played in multiple local bands in the 1990s, touching on numerous genres and styles.

        The set was recorded at the launch party for the universally praised "2" LP and although it can be viewed as an annex to that record, this is all new work, being a fully improvised set which fully demonstrates the telepathy between Jonathan and Stewart - self evident in the effortless complexity and dexterity on show here.

        Many of you will already know about the brilliant, uplifting and authentic sounds of Kl(aüs), and as the sleevenotes from James Thornhill testify:

        "This is Kl(aus) in full flow, human and machine with all that unpredictability tamed into something coherent and beautiful, fun even. This is a vivid, charm-filled document of the brilliance of electronica played rather than programmed."

        As ever, the artwork is designed and executed by Stewart with a nod to the thematic constructs of the previous two records. 

        The Twelve Hour Foundation

        Six Twenty Negative

          Bristol's Twelve Hour Foundation return to Castles in Space with their first new LP since 2018's long sold out "tree little mile egg book...and other non sequiturs". Their blend of musique concrète, treated field recordings, library music, early electronic pop and the Radiophonic work of John Baker and Paddy Kingsland has never sounded better.

          The initial inspiration for the album is a journey - regularly taken by Jez Butler (Yamaha CS-10, flute, vocals, field recordings) until the end of the 70s, from Cleethorpes to Hull, by diesel multiple train and British Rail paddle steamer, hence track titles like "Lincoln Castle Engine Room", "New Holland Pier" and "Chalk Factory" - a reference to a small production plant viewed from the train window that rendered the neighbouring landscape white. The ferries and pier were scrapped following the opening of the Humber bridge.
          As with the previous album, the idea behind most of the music is to draw on abstract childhood emotions and their associated memories. It's an incredibly warm and evocative listening experience.

          The majority of tracks are expertly underpinned by a musique concrète backing, drawing on the band's recordings of houshold objects. In most cases, the bass was derived from a length of ribbed plastic tubing, the cymbals from a metal kitchen draining rack, and the pads/chords from the filtered sound of an electric hair clipper. This is overlayed with vintage analogue synthesizers, treated field recordings and - on a couple of tracks - the odd vocal or flute line. The track "Polivoks" takes it's title from the Soviet analogue synthesizer of the same name which was manufactured throughout the 1980's.

          The album's sleeve was designed in keeping with the scholastic nature of much of the music, incorporating Polly Hulse's (Moog Rogue, Korg Volca Keys, concrète sequences) photos from the University of Bristol's School of Chemistry.

          The album's title, "Six Twenty Negative" refers to the film used in the Kodak Brownie Box camera. Famous for producing slightly wooly prints from large individual negatives.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Heavyweight brown vinyl.

          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.

            Correlations

            Hot Pots

              Following Correlations' glorious mystical/folkisms of February's "Evocation" and April's sixty eight track NewAge extravaganza,"Mayan Gods", the punningly titled "Hot Pots" serves up a magical slab of expert synthwork from Neil Hale, Correlations' main writer and instrumentalist. Although the mythical Oxford Synthesizer Company's 1983 OSCar synth was liberally applied in the beautiful soundworld of "Evocation", then here, Neil spends a long monogamous lockdown session with it, not letting it out for it's daily hour's exercise and only feeding it cream crackers through the crack under the door. As the Moog One was to "Mayan Gods", the OSCar is to "Hot Pots". Neil relentlessly configures OSCar though every frequency oscillation and filter setting it can manage, to produce a tingling, twinkling, trip to the stars as powered by a Norton motorbike. It's an intense experience. From Brighton to outer space via Oxford in 1983.

              Neil's suite of thrumming grooves (entitled Hot Pots 1 - 8. No time here for fanciful descriptive titles) achieves startling new high ground for those of us who live to listen to the glory of analogue synthesis. His effortless gift for melody shines through once again as we embark on the journey with Hot Pots 1. Here, Neil eases us in on the back of a fuzzed out synth patch, relentlessly sustained until the clouds part around the three minute mark with a lovely sparkling uplift as the OSCar's rudimentary sequencer goes into blissful overdrive. It's intoxicating stuff. From then on we are deep into the heart of Neil's subtractive synthesis fever dream. The enforced limitations of placing the OSCar centre stage lead to a relentless exploration of the instrument which delivers such inventive bounty. Hot Pots 3 opens with a chugging refrain, an unstoppable drumbox and the pluck of a not-guitar. Hot Pots 4 and Hot Pots 6 turn on the mystery machine as delightful fairy swirls, whoops and quavering chirrups break out and twist into ever more beautifully tuneful configurations. The closing Hot Pots 8 unashamedly gets its disco on and after a wonderfully loose five minute spin around the lit up dancefloor, the pots are just too hot to take any more and we are left at the bar in no doubt that the LP must be considered as a genuine classic of the genre.

              Once again beautifully co-mixed and mastered by SImon James (Black Channels/The SimonSound/Akiha Den Den), CiS056 is a limited edition of just 300 stunning heavyweight 180g black vinyl LPs. The stunning artwork by Nick Taylor playfully draws on the OSCar design, replicating the distinctive black rubberized components as designed by OSC product designer, Anthony Harrison-Griffin. 

              STAFF COMMENTS

              says: Another absolute stunner from the CiS behemoth, this time with Neil bringing a driving, euphoric suite of textural drone business imbued with the Krautrock sensibilities he's become known for. Rich, intricate synths meet heady bone-crunching basses and twinkling arps. Gorgeous as ever.

              Situated in the Atlantic, approximately two hundred miles off the west coast of Ireland, the island of Hy Brasil featured on maps from around 1325 until the mid 1800s. Legend has it that it was surrounded in mist, appearing only every seven years. It was long thought to be the home of an advanced mysterious ancient civilisation.

              Although often spotted by sailors, landing on Hy-Brasil proved elusive, though the Scottish sea captain, John Nisbet reports to have made land there in 1674. His expedition describes an island of large black rabbits and a stone castle, inhabited only by a strange magician.

              In a strange twist, the phantom island is linked to the infamous Rendlesham Forest UFO event of 1980. After touching the craft that reportedly landed in Suffolk, USAF Sergeant Jim Peniston describes telepathically receiving a 16 page binary code text. Many years later, this code was deciphered to reveal that it was a list of co-ordinates of ancient sites around the world including the pyramids of Giza, the Nazca lines in Peru...and the location mapped over centuries as being that of Hy Brasil.

              Field Lines Cartographer is the recording project of Mark Burford. Here, Mark explains the inspiration for the album and the recording process:

              "When I stumbled on the legend of Hy Brasil, I knew straight away that I wanted to make an album inspired by it. It doesn't matter to me whether UFOs, ghosts, monsters or phantom islands are real or not, they're still fascinating to me and hugely inspirational for writing instrumental electronic music. I decided that the first two tracks - Side A of the LP - would be the trip to the island, perhaps spotting it on the horizon at night, seeing strange lights & journeying through mist & fog banks to strange shores. The second side of the record would be an exploration of Hy Brasil itself, which is why it gets a little bit darker & weirder, before finishing with a more serene, transcendental atmosphere in "The Hall Of Eyes" where the island's secrets become manifest...

              "The whole album was written and recorded over a 6 week period using some new eurorack modules to augment my existing Moogs. I recorded the bulk of these pieces as a single live take - tweaking and improvising on a prepared theme and then adding overdubs afterwards. the concept of Hy Brasil inspired and drove me to be very quick.

              "As with most of my work, I also buried some field recordings in the mix. The shifting sands and tides of the Lancashire coast and some shortwave radio samples are very deep in the recordings and you have to listen very carefully to pick them out. They are mainly there as a sort of base texture - almost like surface noise or hiss. In a 'deep listening' environment this record really takes me on a strange, hypnotic journey - that's how I felt as I was recording it and I really hope that comes across to other listeners. Hopefully people can go on a weird adventure in their minds with this on in their headphones!"

              STAFF COMMENTS

              says: Sometimes with concept albums the idea is tenuous or even absurd. At times it's executed with imagination and sincerity. "The Spectral Isle" instantly had me in its grasp - reading about Hy Brazil as it's otherworldly textures and enchanted atmospheres drifted through my headphones. For people obsessed with fantasy and mythology, this is a spectacular release.

              Polypores

              Azure

                • British synthesist, Stephen James Buckley returns to Castle in Space for the release of a brand new Polypores record.
                • Azure is a beautiful new age symphony of blissed out water music.
                • It’s his first full length LP since the release of last year’s “Flora”, which is also reissued in a stunning new two coloured ”earthtones” edition.
                • Flora was included in several end of year best of charts last year including Electronic Sound and Norman Records best of 2019.

                Stephen explains the genesis of Azure:
                “As with a lot of my music at the moment, the original inspiration from Azure started out with the music itself, rather than an initial concept. That is, it came through playing. I noticed that a lot of what I was writing seemed to lend itself to water imagery. It was flowing, fluid, bubbling. The album was written late 2019, when it seemed to be perpetually raining, so that might have been a factor.

                I was also listening to a lot of new-age music at the time. Whilst I didn’t purposely set out to do a "new-age" album as such, I think a lot of that crept in there - but with it's own Polypores-esque twist. Rather than working in a specific genre, I much prefer to take elements and signifiers from a genre, and warp them into my own vision.

                Once I'd decided to go down this route the writing became more focussed, and I was also able to immerse myself in various books, films, and documentaries related to the ocean, particularly the mythology and lore surrounding it. I imagined this to be the music that the sunken stone heads from Easter Island would have on their record players. A relaxation tape for dolphins.

                The album was created with a modular synthesizer, which was still fairly new to me at the time. As with most of my music, it was a fairly quick process, as I tend to record live rather than overdubbing/multi-tracking. I find this way of writing more immediate, it gives me a more direct link to my creativity, without too much thought or analysis getting in the way. I used a lot of New-Age type sounds, and one of the tracks uses a Gamelan scale. I made heavy use of granular synthesis on the human voice, to create the choir sounds.
                I think I did subconsciously want to create something similar to Flora. Not sonically (as it's a very different sound palette) but more the idea of it being an exaggerated, almost fantastical response to an environment. So whilst Flora takes place in the forest, Azure takes place in the ocean, but both focus on the fantasy elements, as opposed to the mundane or harsh reality. I wasn't going to do an album about overfishing or something. It's a form of escapism I suppose.

                Some interesting facts about the album are:
                - One of the tracks has a short sample from the soundtrack to a well known 1990s point-and-click adventure game, set deep in the Caribbean,
                - I was listening to Rime Of The Ancient Mariner by Iron Maiden a lot around the time of writing.”
                Castles in Space presents ”Azure” in a deluxe azure blue vinyl pressing in a full gloss varnished sleeve and foldback tabs. The LP includes a beautiful art print designed by the sleeve designer, Nick Taylor. French comic book legend Moebius was an inspiration for Nick along with taking direction from the luxurious flow of the music.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                says: Another beautiful suite of aquatic bubbling synthesis from Stephen Buckley here, trading out the desktop synths for the endless patchable joy of the eurorack. Brittle arpeggios, swooning heavenly echoes and life-affirming ambience.

                Polypores

                Flora

                  Polypores (AKA Stephen James Buckley) new work, “Flora" was written and recorded in the long, hot summer of 2018. Says Stephen “I didn't intend to write a record with a specific theme or sound, but, as is often the case, something eventually presented itself once I started playing around with my machines. I spent a lot of time walking in the woods and exploring some of the beautiful countryside around the North West of the UK. Whilst doing this I got a collection of field recordings, which ended up forming the compost from which the album grew. I'd have the recording playing in the background whilst writing, or running through loop pedals. I found that if I blended the field recordings in with my initial synth pieces, it added a whole new texture and depth to what was already there.

                  "It created a place in which the music lived. And that place was most definitely a forest. As I got deeper into the writing process a vague narrative formed. Entering a strange forest, where everything was unnaturally huge. Towering flowers and fungus. Both frightening and overwhelmingly beautiful. Then, emerging at the end through the canopy of trees into bright daylight. The last track, Sky Man, represents this I think. Like I say, it's a very loose narrative. I don't even feel like I wrote it myself - more that I channelled it from that strange ether out of which music comes.”

                  “Flora" is an astounding record. Electronic Sound Magazine reviewed the LP in issue 54, declaring that “Flora” '…is just as good as you would expect from this superb analogue synthesist. From the eerie grittiness of the title track to the bleepy, sombre wobbles of “Golden Mould”, “Flora” has a touch of science fiction enveloping it for a record "about flowers”. “Giants" could soundtrack the exploration of a distant, long abandoned alien planet, all ambient whines and echoing, stargazing synthesis…There’s a lot to enjoy here.' 

                  Keith Seatman

                  Time To Dream But Never Seen

                    Time To Dream But Never Seen” is the 6th album by Keith Seatman and his his first release for Castles in Space. Keith Seatman’s music is an anachronistically repurposed assemblage of sounds, melodies and technologies plundered from different time zones. 'Time To Dream But Never Seen', however, is far from being a haphazard and spontaneous collage. Keith’s busy and dense soundworld is composed through a very deliberate and painstaking process. Unlikely musical and sonic juxtapositions artfully evoke a sense of place and narrative. This latest excursion into bad-trip psychedelia is shot through with wistful and whimsical melodies and occasional haunted voices. On 'Last One In', for example, what could be a chirpy and exciting theme tune to a 1970s kid’s adventure series is modulated into a minor key by a sinister synth bass line and menaced by a stomping bovver-boy rhythm. In the opening track, 'On to the Pier & Down to the Sea', the amusement arcade din is submerged in a watery digital swirl during. Likewise, on 'Tippy Toe Tippy Toe' the tiddly-om-pom-pom of the pier is heard from the point of view some approaching aquatic creature or perhaps by a drowning man.

                    The closing section of the album shifts focus from the seafront to its rustic precursor, the mayday fair. Something weird comes to the village in 'Waiting by the Window', sounding as if late period Radiophonic Workshop (when they got hold of expensive synths) had popped back 15 years to work with their boffinish tape wielding forbears. It summons an atmosphere like a Nigel Kneale drama or one of those folk-horror inspired episodes of Dr.Who. Finally, the album’s closing title track seems to offer a chance of escape to a more rustic idyll with melancholy mellotron flute and mumbled nursery rhymes. But as the album closes it feels like a relentlessly inescapable holiday-special steam train drags us back On to the Pier & Down to the Sea. Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly, Ghostbox Records)

                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    Ltd LP includes MP3 Download Code.


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