The Satellite City
The Satellite City
ith the need to collect stuff ingrained canyon deep within the (predominantly) male psyche, coupled with a tendency for labels to release ear-achingly rare limited editions, it’s no wonder that those with an electronic sweet-tooth can recount endless tales of shelling out 100 bone for a hand-numbered 12” from some Japanese bloke on eBay. “100 quid?!” you’ll exclaim, to which they’ll glance at their feet and mumble something about it being on heavyweight puce vinyl, seemingly making the horrendous outlay fully justified. Puce vinyl, you should have said…
It would logically seem that all blame for this situation (excusing, for now, the mugs with too much disposable income) could be traced back to the labels, branded guilty for allowing the Keynesian model to become so inexorably skewed. Yet, as ever, this would be both unfair and untrue. When the Music70 label originally released the debut extended Twoism EP by the then three-piece and formidably unknown Boards of Canada, how could they have predicted that four years later it would be lauded as the missing prologue to Music Has The Right To Children, leading to copies changing hands for upwards of £700? Obviously they couldn’t. This kind of situation is by no means restricted to the world of electronica, but due to the high-speed dubbing of contemporary culture, these types of things are now common place in a matter of months as opposed to decades. Add to this the fact we all have access to a worldwide auction house in our own front-room when drunk, and chance for regret is tenfold.
Thankfully for those of us with more sense than money, there’s been a concerted movement in the last couple of years to make available records which, for one reason or another, were not originally minted in sufficient qualities to meet current demand. Alongside the aforementioned Twoism (licensed by Warp), this has included the likes of Pedro’s early EP’s and Bola’s long AWOL Soup, with particular mention going to the Spezialmaterial imprint for their CD curation of previously vinyl only material from Intricate, Softland, and Mélaina Cholé. It is in a similar vein to this latter group that the toothsome New Speak are now operating, with the timely release of The Satellite City from Ola Bergman.
Having originally shuffled out as part of Skam’s superlative SMAK series, the spine of this release has been culled from the ‘instant sell out, ain’t ever getting a repress’ of The Great Family Hotel 12”. Further bolstered by two other vinyl only releases (Pseudocarp and Forecast) and a trilogy of news tracks, The Satellite City is an Extra Value career retrospective from an artist who hasn’t really had one yet. It’ll do me.
With any kind of compilation you always run the risk of it feeling lumpy and lacking in cohesion, even when comprised of just one artist. The Satellite City is anything but. Benefiting from soopa-intelligent sequencing and the adroit scattering of newies, Bergman’s work gives the impression of a thematic peregrination oft lacking from conventional releases. Opening through a clutch of fizzy bits, analogue bits and club-footed beaty bits, first track “Limma” (from Pseudocarp) is pretty much electronica by numbers. Yet after the initial shoulder slump precipitated by more IDM-inflected digitalis, “Limma” begins to reveal an infectious charm that, whilst nothing new, is gnawingly irresistible.
If the whole album had ticked along in a similar vein it would undoubtedly have become wearing pretty quick, but thankfully Bergman seems to have included this initial water-treading exercise predominantly because he can; making what follows all the more alluring. Rattling through styles with consummate ease, “Vallingby” retains the scope that characterised its The Great Family Hotel days, with wholesale rubbery beats clogging up the Radiophonic Workshop heart, “Firecast” gives AFX whiplash to a van load of Mille Plateaux clicks &cuts;, whilst “Pannettone” indulges in the kind of Eon enhanced strings and eye twitching disco beats so beloved by trendy ad agencies the world over. Buy, buy indeed.
Elsewhere Bergman continues to refract disparate genres through his own personal kaleidoscope, with the late night electro of “Vulture’s End” and coagulated beats of the Boards of Canada-esque “Primadore” deserved of special mention. In possession of an effortless self assurity seemingly at odds with his mayfly-like career to date, tracks such as “Rubicon,” with its sooty atmosphere and chimerical static ruptured beats, can readily equal white-hot output currently being celebrated by the likes of VEX’D. Closing with a full-on landscape of expansive noise (“Drivis II”), Ola Bergman promises much and, if he delivers accordingly, The Satellite City might soon be worth a pretty penny on eBay.
Reviewed by: Adam Park
Reviewed on: 2005-08-08