21 May 2016
Robert Logan - Flesh Decomposed
Robert Logan is a man who really should not need an introduction on this blog, but I will do one anyway just to get people up to speed. Since 2007 and his first release 'Cognessence' in 2007, Mr Logan has been taking electronica on a dark and twist path, being compared to Massive Attack and (for my money) Aphex Twin; whilst working with Grace Jones, Skye from Morcheeba and Brigitte Fontaine. I first heard Mr Logan on a free sampler from the magazine Wire and the song was called "Accurate Spit Boy", taken from the album 'Inscape' (our reviewcleverly linked here). For while, there was no new music from Robert Logan, as he pursued other interests; but last year he released an EP called 'Extasis' and the album 'Flesh' (our review cleverly linked here). As an artist, he is a man I admire for following his own course and his songs have the power to make my world stop whilst I either find myself lost in a moment of madness or I am just trying to get the number of the music that mugged me of my senses - it is just that side of off the wall that makes electronica such an appealing genre to me. So when I was contacted to review the new album, I was delighted and then my body decided that I would have the mother of all migraines and today when I start this review (20.05.16) is the first day that sound has not made my hair hurt; so I am finishing this review on the day that the album has been released and I feel slightly bad for this; but these are personal things and nothing to do with 'Flesh Decomposed'. Now, this is not a remix album, more an extension of 'Flesh' and exploring some of the themes of that record. Exploring past territories can either be a fruitful quest or a labour that takes a toll on the soul, let us see which one this record falls into....
Starting the album is "Older Jug" which has bells chiming in the breeze as the noise of some sonic attack echoes in the background, long after the original assault has past and an unease silence settles on the land. The reverb is the key feature of this song, rumbling around the listener and reaching highs and lows that make the world pulse whilst it is playing. It is not the most dynamic of numbers if truth be told, but as the title of the album is 'Flesh Decomposed' then you cannot say that this deconstruction of what a song should be is not fitting the title. Ambient is all about mood and pitch, the spaces between the drama and the drone are the winning pieces and this song has it set perfectly for a reflect and thought provoking introduction to this album. "Throne" is a song that reminds me a lot of "Accurate Spit Boy", but looking at it from another angle. It has strange dynamics to the song, with the progression going in many different directions and tangents; but for the most part it is a song that goes on the attack in a subtle way, it is not an all-out incursion on the listener but rather a collection of sounds that start to loop into this tunnel of noise. It is an intense song, with some industrial undertones to the percussion aspect of the music and one that reveals more with each subsequent rendition of the song. The third song of this album is called "Four Wheels" and this features the talents of trumpeter Andy Knight using a pocket trumpet that gives this atmospheric drone the shape in which to float around and explorer, it is the linchpin of this song as Mr Logan builds the song slowly and with a fare degree of menace and tension. It is the longest song on this album as it coming in just over the ten-minute mark, however it is also the song into which you can lay your worries and trouble and lose yourself whilst the chilled out noise is filling the void. I love pieces like this when, you can listen to them in a thousand different ways and each experience will be as different as the next, depending on your mood and what you need to let go. "White Hole" marks the halfway point of this album with a sound like an insect attack, but with all the percussion and bass stripped out and just the noise level left at the surface for the listener to be confronted by this sonic burst of noise. After "Four Wheels" and the tranquillity of the last ten minutes, it is time for the yang to that particular ying and Mr Logan does not disappoint you here. It is storming track, one which will not take any prisoners and demands attention and focus. It is not a pleasant number, but that is not the aim of the song and it does its job perfectly.
"Tri" is the first song on what would have been known as the second side of the record in years gone by, which features Mr Logan's father, Francis Logan on violin for this song. This song acts as a natural companion piece to "Four Wheels" as it explorer the ambient textures of music over the destructive nature of "White Hole". I love the way in which you are never too sure what is going to follow, but this song has a sense of loss to the tone and as the song progresses along, then feeling fills every inch of the song and it is one which can be best described as haunted; I truly love this song and it is one of my favourite moments of this album. "Dark Farm" continues the deconstructive narrative of the album, with a song that is short on time, industrial & ambient in nature and requiring a revisit as well. The frequencies used on this song create a tension that does not shift from your mind easily, it reminds me of the time I first watched the film 'Eraserhead' and that strange soundtrack that followed; it is a strange and formidable beast and one which could be looked into at another time. On this album it is a tad short for my own tastes, but that does not detract from the song as it is one that is already eating at my mind to be played once more. But at this point I need to progress to the penultimate song, which is called "Larval Therapy" and this is another number which could have easily been extended for this listener. It is one where the noise is upfront and in your face, a sonic equivalent to drone merchants Sunn 0)))) and their particular brand of amplifier worship, but the drone qualities of this song match their work in ways that make the hairs on my neck stand up. For that reason alone, I would have loved to have heard a longer version of this song; but it is also one that demands repeat listening’s as you are put through the musical grinder once more, with just the noise for comfort and source. To end the album, we are introduced to the song "Wind" which brings us back to the drifting void that has been at the heart of this album, acting as a central theme if you will. With the backdrop of this song being more important that the noises which are immediately obvious to the listener, you quite often drift to the smaller noises to the background of the song, the ones that are on the edge of your hearing and it is here that the song thrives. Obviously, due to the ambient and drone nature of the song, it is never going to win a competition for the mostly liveliest track on the album, but it ends the album on a top quality note.
It is moments like this album that make this blog special in my heart; I love it when I find new music and I can share it to the world, to have an artist I hold in such high regard is something else for me. I love the atmosphere and drone that has been created here, the way the music has been deconstructed to the basic elements and crafted into sublime soundscape to lose yourself in. A couple of the songs could have been given a few more minutes to explode their themes, but that does not take anything away from this album and the glorious noise (or lack of noise) that Mr Logan has created. I hope he explorers this rich vein of music in the future, as ambient music now has another classic album - well played Mr Logan, well played.
8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart
Top track - Four Wheels
You can purchase Flesh Decomposed from the Robert Logan Bandcamp (as well as the rest of his discography) here
You can purchase Flesh Decomposed from Amazon here
You can follow the activities of Robert Logan on Facebook here
You can stream Flesh Decomposed on Deezer here
You can stream Flesh Decomposed on Spotify here
You can stream Flesh Decomposed on Tidal here
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