Conceived in part as a response to her 2016 debut release If I Can’t Handle Me At My Best, You Don’t Deserve You At Your Worst, 2023’s update employs similar principles (degrading technology, the joy of chance, an outsider’s gaze onto the dance floor, an embracing of the occult) to delirious effect. If “I Can’t Handle” was lo fi and fragile in its technoid recasting of dance music, here Logan’s confidence allows a frantic playfulness that retains the spontaneity of all her output. It’s the work of a creative spirit revelling in the possibilities of sound, rhythm, texture and pattern. Helena Celle’s music opens up psychic space in front of the listener and invites them in. In this world, sounds and tropes once recognisable are rendered fractal, spectral and continually melting in and out of recognition. Simply put, Helena Celle might be detouring Drum & Bass, Techno and Breakbeat with a prankster’s grin but the result is pure ecstasy crushed into a part of the listener’s consciousness hitherto untroubled.
Opener I Did It My Way pokes fun at Sinatra but the message is clear, Helena Celle has no regrets. Sounding like a Jungle track shorn of a MC and deep fried in greasy acid, it uses cassette compression effects to push the sound far beyond the red. A breakbeat suffers multiple lashings of noise solos, heavily filtered synths and white noise blowing a crazy gale across the stereo pan. Ennobled Reception Of The Excellector (My Face When Mix) approximates French House perhaps or 90s dance chart music as performed by a rotting homunculus gurgling down the phone. It’s really that fun and carefree. Real Time... takes a stab at a kind of Techno EBM Cold Wave with no desire to sound like any of it, with waves of tape hiss rising up from some dark shore to wash over proceedings. Fellow sound artist and musician Jennifer Walton guests on the last track on Side A, an epic, fuzzed out Noise and rhythm excursion into cyber breakdown. Snow-Filled Chalice Of My Magonian Exile (titles of the year so far, right?) builds into a wall of beats, pads, manic, haywire synth patterns and a world-ending, distorted riff that points to an appreciation of Metal. The track posits all of reality as one massive computer game played by gods and this is the track played at the Game Over screen. A pixelated, fantastical club track that would simply eviscerate any club it was played in.
The whole of Side B is given over to a 20 minute epic, Original Besttrack (Abe’s Oddysee Extended Mix). A cohesive summation of the previous 4 tracks but stretched out, it recalls Aphex Twin’s furthest out tracks albeit boiled underwater, every element blown out so that even the ambient passages scramble brains and re-wire expectations. The restless, overwhelming music is glazed with a patina of hiss that renders the whole almost meditative: over the 20 minutes there is so much information to digest your brain starts plugging in directly to the music, settling in and accepting the mania as it comes. At the other end you’re wondering how you coped without it.
STAFF COMMENTSBarry says: Though Helena Celle's musical output is undeniably made for a certain subset of electronic music appreciators, this new project sees Kay Logan's pieces get hefty reworks, morphing the intimidating scattered electronic shards into lo-fi techno, rolling industrial and fractured experimental house.
1. I Did It My Way
2. Ennobled Reception Of The Excellector (My Face When Mix)
3. Real Time (Five Track Pentangle Edgelord Mix)
4. Snow-Filled Chalice Of My Magonian Exile (ft Jennifer Walton)
5. Original Besttrack (Abe's Oddysee Extended Mix)