Saturday, 24 January 2015

Opinion: Why we cannot allow Islamic State to be referred to as such


A somewhat ponderous exploration of the connotations of the word "Islamic" in Islamic State.

There is so much wrong with the way we think of and refer to the group we know as ISIS or ISIL, even in our most forward thinking publications. A thought has grown on me over the past couple of months and has now lodged itself firmly in my brain; that we should not allow ISIS to be considered on the terms by which it defines itself, and that ISIS is simply a mafioso organisation operating under the vaguest of religious pretexts.

If, as ISIS wants, we conflate its existence with Islam, we are not only playing into the hands of the group itself, but also the organisations and individuals within our own countries that would use ISIS as an excuse repress the rights and freedoms of those in the Muslim communities among us. If we begin to consider the true purpose of the organisation (ie the consolidation of resources and power to a group of amoral gangsters) we can start to understand why it is in the group's interest to associate itself with Islam.

The primary motivator for the religious connotations the organisation chooses to attach to itself is quite simply recruitment. We know from our experiences with inner city gangs in this country that such groups generally arise where there are young men who feel powerless and oppressed, whose maligned existence stands little chance of improvement through the normal and lawful channels within our societies. With the vilification that we have allowed to exist against young Muslims within the western world, is it not likely that a percentage of these men will find themselves disillusioned, rudderless? Does that not then also make them an excellent resource for an organisation which claims some affiliation to their kin, to the very thing that we have allowed to be used to mark them out for castigation in the first place? We even see that some of the very men previously found within inner city London gangs now find themselves among the ranks of ISIS. The association of the group with Islam also perpetuates these conditions, as a result of the Islamophobia of the right wing press' reaction to the atrocities carried out by what it sees an Islamic organisation.

The oppression of Muslims by the peoples that now find themselves among the powerful “democratized” nations goes as far back as the crusades, and has a much more recent history tied up multi-fold with the aims of the capitalist machine. Not only were these people oppressed as a result of the battle against the communist Soviets in the 80s, but their homelands' abundance in oil results in a power struggle that continually propagates war and conflict in the middle east (sometimes under the pretext of the existence of weapons of mass destruction). We know that ISIS has been extremely keen to take control of oil resources where possible, so surely it is not much of a stretch to draw parallels with the South American cartels whose declining drug businesses are now causing them to attempt illegitimate control over oil supplies.

The attempts to control the distribution of oil is not the only thing that ISIS has in common with these cartels. The drug connection should have also become clear since the surfacing of reports of large quantities of drugs being found in the possession and homes of ISIS members. In addition, Syria is a perfect route for the smuggling of drugs into the west from the opium and cannabis fields of Afghanistan, Lebanon and other countries within the region. Remember that opium production in Iraq increased significantly as result of farmers attempting to make ends meet in the wake of the most recent war there. How apt would it be if ISIS could not only acquire funding through this channel, but also proliferate the supply of substances which are known to cause harm within the very western democracies that they profess to hate and which created the conditions for the existence of ISIS in the first place? How strange that they should supply us with harmful substances derived from plants which we associate with our war dead, the burning of images of which (by a very small percentage of Muslims) have become such a controversy in this country.

Perhaps thus far this has been somewhat rambling, but allow me to draw us back to my key contention that it is in the interests of the gangland organisation known as ISIS to ostensibly align itself with Islam. Another of its key motivations for doing so is the pretence of legitimacy and justification that it hopes this will provide it with. Just as the group's attempts to claim itself a state lend it a kind of false and flimsy authority, so does its self-identification as Islamic. In addition to this, the group can use their intentionally warped interpretation of the teachings of Islam to exorcise power over populations within their area of control. Whilst ISIS may claim that its brutal executions are their enforcement of Islamic law, what they are so obviously really about is striking fear into the hearts of those who would seek to oppose them. Their strict “interpretation” of Islam is just another tool of oppression. Where once western governments sought to exercise influence for their capitalist religion, now ISIS does so ostensibly for its own. Where we once deferred all criticism to the influence of the market, which can not and should not be controlled, now they refer to the power allotted to them by God himself, which therefore is not to be questioned.

We might speculate as to what degree members of ISIS really do believe in some warped form of Islam. Perhaps if some of them really do then it serves to justify in their minds the terrible atrocities which the group is responsible for. Can this be in some way compared with the Catholic identity assumed within other mafioso traditions? If, as I suspect, many of them do not truly hold the existence of their particularly barbarous God to be hard truth, then it is within their interests to allow their enemies to believe they do. Who wants to fight against a man who believes that God's will is behind him, who is more than willing to die for his cause? It must be somewhat odd if these men do truly believe in the omniscience of their God and their acting out of his bidding that we have not seen the suicide bombings associated with those who do hold that particular belief.

If, as I hope I have briefly set out above, it is the case that it is in the interests of the group to be identified as Islamic then we should attempt to dissociate the two because it does serves their true purpose, and also because it is a patently false image of Islam that they project. Not only this but it also leads to the further persecution in our own nations of a minority that is already suffering much.


Perhaps then we should come up with a new name by which to refer to ISIS. Might I suggest something along the lines of the Organised Criminals in Iraq and Syria (OCIS)?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Spectrum's Best Albums of 2014, Part Three: Number One



And we're there... our number one record of 2014.



Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2

It's difficult to decide whether the explosive collaboration between El-P and Killer Mike represents a leap forward in rap music, or an anomalous, brilliant throwback. The production is inarguably very 2014, but the philosophical approach behind it feels much older, one might even say constitutive of hip-hop's very origins. It's there in the cameo from Rage Against the Machine's Zack de la Rocha on the blistering, mosh-pit-enabled 'Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)', which dusts off a shouty relic from one of rap's future-pasts, and coolly repurposes him for modern sonic warfare. And it's there in Killer Mike's angry, justifiably paranoid verses on 'Lie, Cheat, Steal'. These two luminaries of alternative hip-hop have gone back to the well, and brought forth the political heft from a bygone era, when rap didn't see sincerity or polemic as problematic, to offer a rejuvenating essay on the black experience, the working-class experience, and the goddamn human experience, in Obama's America. Nick Pierce

Monday, 12 January 2015

Spectrum's Best Albums of 2014, Part Two


You know the score. Our album of the year to follow shortly.



Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers (Modern Love)


Andy Stott's 2012 album Luxury Problems garnered about as much success as record ever could in the dark world of dub techno. The follow up is an astonishing piece of work that also features Stott's childhood piano teacher, Alison Skidmore, on vocals. In stark contrast to his monochrome previous effort, Faith in strangers displays a much greater breadth, drawing on elements as disparate as techno, dubstep, ambient music, post punk and US trap. That might sound like too many ingredients for one broth, but the result is as consistent and complete as it is varied. Particular standouts include the haunting title track and the spine tinglingly brutal Violence. Stott and Skidmore have created a murky, grime-encrusted, but beautiful world, where subtlety and power exist in equal measure. Reviews of Luxury Problems described an artist creating his definitive statement. Faith in Strangers finds Stott crafting an entirely new one. George Bate



Caribou - Our Love (City Slang)


When Dan Snaith released Jiaolong under his DJ alias Daphni in 2012, his journey from psychedelic indie popper to dance floor mover was complete. But Our Love is designed to do so much more than just encourage toe-tapping, it aims to pull at the heartstrings as well. Snaith has said that in terms of creation this was the simplest Caribou album he's made yet, and whilst that may be true, thematically it's as nuanced as ever. Snaith explores the full spectrum of human love, the good, the bad, and the ugly, all through the reflection of a disco ball hanging from a club ceiling. Granted, musically it's very much derivative; the title track itself could almost be a cover version of Inner City's Good Life, and I swear that Back Home is just a dance version of Damian Rice's Cannonball. But who cares when it's so multicoloured, so fun? GB




Gunnar Haslam - Mirrors and Copulation (Long Island Electrical Systems)


Over the past few years, Ron Morelli's L.I.E.S. (Long Island Electrical Systems), has become a reliable source for really weird dance music. Whilst the majority of Morelli's own output has come in the form of dark, almost beatless sketches on Dominic Fernow's (aka Prurient/Vatican Shadow) Hospital Productions, music on L.I.E.S. has spanned the continuum between filthy acid techno and blissed-out ambient material. Gunnar Haslam's second full length falls squarely in the middle of these two ends of the spectrum, featuring calm passages interspersed with beguiling cyclical bangers made with only the minimum of components. This is simple music, but it's done so thoroughly well. The album has a distinct sci-fi feel, but any track could have been made with equipment available twenty years ago, giving it a completely timeless feel. Equal parts intense and soothing, this is a joyous journey from start to finish. GB




Tycho - Awake (Ghostly International)


The cover for Scott Hansen’s most recent record is the perfect visual representation of the music contained within; all vivid colours and calming notes, basic elements conjuring up the most beautiful of marine sunsets. It can come as no surprise then that the San Franciscan is also a graphic artist who designs his own album sleeves. Building on from 2011’s Dive, and also issued on US independent Ghostly International, Awake is the first record that Hansen has recorded with the aid of a three-piece band. The result is meticulous, with dozens of picked cyclical guitar melodies weaving themselves in and out of gorgeous synth tones, glistening like calm waves in the sun. It’s hard to find a standpoint for this kind of music, though perhaps there are elements of Explosions in the Sky’s post rock, seen through rose tinted glasses, or The Field’s bright electronica. Blissful, sweet but never saccharine, Awake is the bright sound of those kind of summer days. GB




Perc - The Power and the Glory (Perc Trax)


It's something of an odd thing to say, but Perc's new record of savage industrial bangers is actually quite political. Case in point is David and George, a nod to our esteemed Bullingdon club leaders, which sets a deranged maniacal laugh over a static-suffused beat. It was also in the name of his 2012 EP, A New Brutality surely being a reaction to austerity Britain. Ali Wells has spoken about this at some length, and whilst he denies that his reaction to reading something unpleasant in the newspaper is to go home and make furious neck-breaker, it's undeniable that his political viewpoint somehow informs his work. If going out and listening to house music is a fantasy escape from 9-5 drudgery, then surely this kind of music provides a much more real catharsis. GB




Todd Terje - It's Album Time (Olsen)


Todd Terje aka Terje Olsen packs more than a few influences into the 50 or so minutes of his debut album, the aptly titled It's Album Time, which collects the choice cuts (Strandbar, Inspector Norse, Swing Star Parts 1 & 2) of his output from the past few years and places them in the context of other, newer productions. The Norwegian originally began training as a pianist but dropped out of music school due to the lack of jazz on the curriculum, and there are elements of lounge jazz on display here as well as house, disco and synthpop. The key thing which ties this album together is a real sense of fun; Terje is a perennial joker – even the name he releases under is a wisecrack on the name of classic house producer Todd Terry. That's not to say that the album doesn't have a sensitive side, which comes in the form of the tender Robert Palmer cover Johnny and Mary, featuring Bryan Ferry on vocals. Elsewhere though it's largely joy, house pianos and fluorescent arpeggios. GB




Jon Hopkins - Asleep Versions (Domino)


Since the release of 2013's excellent Immunity, Jon Hopkins has released a steady stream of re-workings of tracks from the record, the diversity of which has been testament to the range and depth of the source material. We've had club ready efforts from the likes of Objekt and Karenn, and poppier work from Hopkins himself in collaboration with Purity Ring. Now we get an EP length suite ostensibly designed to help the listener fall into a state of sleep. As relaxing as this little gem is, it's not going to be sending anyone into a slumber any time soon, there is simply too much gorgeous soundscape on offer. Longtime collaborator King Creosote is on hand to lend cherubic vocals to the gorgeous Immunity, as is Raphaelle Standell for the blissful Form by Firelight. The transformation of the source material is absolute; whilst some elements are still recognisable, the tracks are completely transfigured from the glitchy, energetic originals. For the most part Hopkins removes the elements of threat that were sometimes present in some of the album versions of these tracks, the only exception being the not-quite-ominous drones and Ben Frost-esque whines at the start of Open Eye Signal, which are soon swept away by more dreamy tones. This EP is yet further confirmation of Hopkins' status as a masterful sound architect. GB




DJ Dodger Stadium - Friend of Mine (Body High)


Don't let the slightly daft names of DJ Dodger Stadium members Jerome LOL and Samo Sound Boy fool you; their take on gospel-tinged house is gorgeous and affecting, it just so happens that the Body High label owners also have a sense of humour. The first track proper, Love Songs, sets the tone, placing a repeating lovelorn vocal over the top of warm synths and ratcheting snares to mesmerising effect. Overall it's not too dissimilar to the kind of house that was coming out of France between the late 90s and the early 2000s. It's a formula that the duo repeat time and again (1: longing diva vocal, 2: nice chords, 3: big drums), without ever making it outstay its welcome. GB




Marcel Dettman - Fabric 77 (Fabric)


The expectations are always going to be high when a hugely lauded DJ like Marcel Dettmann steps up to the decks to helm an instalment in the Fabric series. As a long-time resident at Berlin’s Berghain, Dettmann has been at the forefront of techno DJing for many years now, and has released two albums and dozens of EPs, mainly on the club’s in house label, Ostgut Ton, and his own imprint, MDR. Whilst his own productions are tough and austere, the selections he makes for his mixes carry something more of a warmth, a playfulness even, qualities unusual for this type of functional music. Dettmann’s mastery of peaks and troughs is evidenced throughout, with particular highlights including Answer Code Request’s ecstatic Transit 0.2 and the deranged pummelling BB 1.0 from Berghain accomplice and sometime commercial lawyer Norman Nodge. Fabric 77 takes the most sombre of techno and makes it fun. GB




Swans - To Be Kind (Mute)


Over the past couple of years, Swans have given new meaning to the musical phrase 'American primitive'. For one thing, their music is clearly indebted to the blues tradition (particularly its darkest manifestations), counter-intuitively using the all-encompassing, muscular sonic assault of noise rock to conjure the same visions of loneliness, longing, and spiritual fragility evoked by Leadbelly and Howlin' Wolf. For another, frontman Michael Gira is obsessed with the atavistic: seemingly envisioning music as a means of sandblasting off the layers of sedimented sociality to return to that in us which is basic and animal. That he does so without straying into repetition, with great variety and unwavering commitment, is deeply impressive, and just one hell of an enthralling listen. Nick Pierce




Livity Sound - Livity Sound Remixes (Livity Sound)

Whilst it's always the Hessle Audio crew whose productions get more attention, in my opinion it's Livity Sound boys (Peverelist, Kowton and Asusu) who do the sound they share in common, an odd combination of techno and Bristol's bass/dub heritage, better. This remix LP follows on from, and improves upon, the collective's compilation of originals from 2014. Livity Sound's material is ripe for remixing; whilst there's plenty of space in it, it's also sonically rich so there's plenty of scope for rhythmic rearrangement whilst retaining the overall texture. Overall, the remixers tend to nudge the tracks more towards more standard rhythms than those found on the more syncopated originals, which is no surprise given the names involved, such as UK techno stalwart Surgeon and Long Island Electrical Systems boss Ron Morelli. Whilst the tracks on display here are obviously meant to be heard in a DJ mix context, what is surprising is how well they function both for stand alone listening and as a suite or album. A release you can get your teeth into. GB




Francis Harris - Minutes of Sleep (Scissor and Thread)


This record might come as a surprise to anyone who knows Francis Harris from his earlier tech house guise Adultnapper, but the past few years have caused a sea change in Harris's life as well as his music. Harris lost his father several years ago, an event which led to the less dancefloor focused Leland in 2012. In the intervening time, he also lost his mother leading to the even more introspective Minutes of Sleep. This record, arriving on Harris's own Scissor and Thread imprint, sees him bringing contemplative downtempo jazz to the table, sometimes combining it with the house he made his name with, by combining the mournful horns with Theo Parrish-esque rhythms. It's an astonishing piece of work, sad without being depressing, grieving yet warm, and forms an excellent tribute to Harris's parents. GB

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Spectrum's Best Albums of 2014, Part One


Although we're almost a fortnight too late, we at Spectrum have finally gotten round to compiling a list of our favourite albums from 2014 and scribbling down some words about them. This year we present the bulk of our albums in two parts, and in no particular order. A separate piece on our favourite album of 2014 will follow. I would say that we've stretched the rules to include a couple of mix CDs and a compilation, but there were no rules in the first place so that would render that null and void. In addition you might note how many lovely independent labels are represented this year. Enjoy!





Flying Lotus - You're Dead (Warp)


Those who mourn the passing of jazz-fusion will surely find something to console them in producer-extraordinaire Steven Ellison's latest LP, a multi-coloured meditation on the nature of death. It's way more fun than its subject would suggest: we're treated to more of the shimmering, harp-inflected instrumentals cribbed from Ellison's great-aunt, Alice Coltrane, alongside keyboard freakouts from Herbie Hancock, heavenly r'n'b chorals, and a show-stopping bit of verbal pyrotechnics courtesy of Kendrick Lamar. It's like there's a party at the mouth of the grave, and everyone's invited! Nick Pierce


   
Wild Beasts - Present Tense (Domino)


Mostly gone are the wild yelps and screeching falsetto of Wild Beasts of old, but they're still cutting rather odd figures. Four albums in the boys from Kendal are still exploring class, bizarre sexuality and masculinity in their own idiosyncratic way. I wouldn't say they've ever exactly lacked in sensitivity, though every lyric has always felt like it was steeped in so many layers of irony it was almost impossible to tell whether they were being earnest or not, cruel or kind. Things are much more straightforward on Present Tense, as the title of Simple Beautiful Truth gives away. If on Limbo Panto Wild Beasts were fighting and fucking (or is that watching others fight and fuck?), then perhaps this is where they've become somewhat tamed, with songs about love and comfort. The best moment arrives on , when Tom Fleming intones deeply about “a godly state, where the real and the dream may consummate”. Quite. George Bate




Pangaea - Fabriclive 73 (Fabric)


Of the three Hessle Audio co-founders, it's usually Ben UFO that's considered to be the most skilled on the decks. This by no means indicates that Pangaea and Pearson Sound are somehow lacking in this aspect, rather it is a consequence of the fact that their contemporary has chosen solely to focus on spinning records rather than releasing his own productions. Were any evidence needed of this, exhibit A would be Pangaea's Fabriclive 73, on which he deftly brings together a wide range of tracks from across the techno and bass music spectrums, and makes them feel entirely his own. Although it's still resolutely dark, Pangaea manages to bring a buoyant energy to the mix that wouldn't usually be found when mixing tracks of this type. Set your dial to bounce and beef your kickdrums to eleven. GB




HTRK - Psychic 9-5 Club (Ghostly International)


Not since the times of Portishead has darkness sounded quite so erotic. HTRK deal in a moody kind of electronic minimalism, the songs on this record rarely consisting of more than a drum machine, few ominous synth lines and chanteuse Jonnine Standish's smoky but still silky smooth voice. Standish's vocals, whilst not always decipherable, express a frustration at the everyday drudgery that most people endure through work (their previous album was entitled Work (work, work)) and concerns about the expectation of body image (The Body You Deserve) in modern day society. The dark mood also reflects the bassist Sean Stewart's suicide in 2010, which brought about the remaining pair's move back to their native Australia from London. In the wake of this awful tragedy, HTRK have produced a beguiling record which reveals more of its simple yet labrynthian world with every listen. GB




Cut Hands - Festival of the Dead (Blackest Ever Black)


Whether its in terms of experimental sounds or shocking taboos, William Bennett has been pushing boundaries for well over twenty years. As part of power electronics group Whitehouse, Bennett and his cohorts turned the speeches of sexual abuse victims into what?...Music? Art? Social commentary? Bennett has been accused of misogyny and racism in his work, although it could be said that his penchant for approaching controversial topics inevitably leads to misrepresentations. His Cut Hands project is a ferocious attempt to explore vodou traditions from Haiti and polyrhythmic African percussive music. It is perhaps odd, but fitting, that through these explorations Bennet has found himself playing shows alongside the leading lights of UK industrial techno, his experiments as Cut Hands certainly share a brutality with that genre. Festival of the Dead is the culmination of several releases on Blackest Ever Black and finds Bennett pushing his music to its logical conclusion; harrowing, visceral and completely thrilling. GB



Polar Bear - In Each and Every One (Leaf)


Whereas FlyLo brought jazz to electronica, Polar Bear now seems intent on bringing electronica to modern jazz, and the results are mostly enchanting. With its sparsely deployed use of horns and saxophone, nervous, jittery rhythms, and alternately glacial and fiery atmospherics, the album bears a peculiar resemblance to Radiohead's Kid A. It's nowhere near as good of course (what is?), but in its smaller, humbler way, it offers a similarly alluring landscape to get lost in. Nominated for the Mercury Music Prize - but don't let that put you off! NP



Pinch and Mumdance - Pinch B2B Mumdance (Tectonic)


This mix CD, out on Pinch's Tectonic imprint, is the sound of UK club music being bent completely out of shape, bastardized into mutant sounds interspersed with seconds of silence. Whereas most club music sticks to standard four to the floor kicks, the patterns here are almost unrecognizable, unconventional and exciting. Mumdance recently started a new label with longtime collaborator Logos in order to put out “beatless club tracks”, and that can come as no surprise to anyone who hears the selections on offer here, whose elements generally combine the more experimental end of grime, the nastier sounds found in industrial techno and the type of bassweight usually found in dubstep. Across these 19 tracks, Pinch and Mumdance lay down the sound of a strange electronic future, where all forms of UK club music (and this does have a strictly UK flavour) breed to form something entirely new, a freak child that nobody can control. GB



The Jezabels - The Brink (Play It Again Sam)


Although The Jezabels have made a name for themselves in their native Australia, peaking there with their latest at number two, they're yet to make much of an impact on British or American shores. This is surprising considering they deal in the kind of epic emotive synth-infused rock songs that might be written by The Killers or Kings of Leon, were those bands not so distinctly dull. Singer Hayley Mary's gorgeous vocals are always the focal point, although that's not to say that the rest of the band is in any way lacking; all four members are vital components in making every single mile-wide chorus soar. There's nothing particularly original about the stadium-sized anthems on show here, but there doesn't need to be when they carry so much charm. GB



St. Vincent - St. Vincent (Loma Vista)


In the immortal words of Zoolander's Mugatu, St Vincent is 'so hot right now'. At a time when guitar music seems more out of orbit than ever, it's bracing to have a talent such as Annie Clark re-tune our cultural satellite to the simple, infinite pleasures of a guitar riff impeccably executed. But she's no mere nostalgia act; in her own eccentric way, she's the voice of the present. Where previous generations of rock heroes ventured into electronic music as if it were foreign territory, it's clear that Clark is a native, and her songs' kaleidoscopic, unselfconscious instrumentation reflects how at ease she is in her aural - and commercial - surroundings. The throne on the cover doesn't lie: fame has always been St Vincent's birthright. NP



Head High - Megatrap (Powerhouse)


In a clouded, anonymous world, Shed is one of techno's most canonised stars. But the man whose mother calls him Rene Pawolitz remains frustratingly obtuse, confounding interviewers at every turn. Really though, there's no need for Pawolitz to open himself to the media when the intention is abundantly clear through his productions; all he wants to do is get the dancefloor moving. This 9 track release under his Head High moniker is the perfect evidence of this; ranging from the spine-tingling to the brutal, Pawolitz pulls out every trick in the book in order to please the clubbers. Whether he's employing the standard house and techno four to the floor drum pattern or something more syncopated, every single sound, from the beefy kick drums to the airy synths, is tuned for absolute maximum impact. This is escapism on wax. GB




Ben Frost - A U R O R A (Mute Records)


Whereas Ben Frost's previous work was created mainly using conventional instrumentation (field recordings of wolves notwithstanding), A U R O R A was made almost entirely on his laptop whilst working far from the Australian's current Iceland base, in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and fleshed out with the pummelling sounds of ex-Liturgy drummer Greg Fox. On the record, Frost lays out sheets of crackling white noise, pulling melody out of pure dissonance, some semblance of order out of chaos. The sound isn't too dissimilar to that of regular collaborator Tim Hecker; whilst the individual sounds you're hearing are nasty and aggressive, they coalesce into something beautiful, far greater than the sum of their parts. If there was any doubt that this laptop-birthed record could be converted for the live setting, Frost and Fox's storming live show proved otherwise. Who ever knew the hissing sound from your untuned TV could sound quite so good? GB




Dalhous - Will To Be Well (Blackest Ever Black)


Whilst it's not the breeziest of affairs, Dalhous's second long player is still probably the least ominous thing to come out so far on London's Blackest Ever Black, an aptly named label known for putting out releases across the genre spectrum, with one thread in common - their stark grimness. Not for the first time Dalhous draw influence from the work of oddball Scottish psychiatrist R D Laing, naming tracks after aspects of his work and personal life. The record is touted as a musical exploration of mental health states, and it isn't too much of a stretch to see why. The blurred green textures on the cover are a perfect accompaniment to the most organic electronic music you're likely to hear this year, all indistinct synth sweeps and fuzzy beats. The duo's processing techniques are central to this - often they'll run sounds through multiple pieces of equipment, playing their music in the open air and recording it along with whatever else happens to be out there, achieving a warm but not entirely benign haze similar to that found on worn cassette tapes. The end result is not unlike Boards of Canada; beautiful soundscapes that bring to mind images of strange worlds not yet discovered. GB