N-Rec

The end is important in all things”. These, besides the track names and the few credits, are the only words to be found on the cover of Surcease, which, in case you still don’t get it, represents the final word on Robert Hampson’s Main alter ego, as the Englishman has announced that future releases will forthwith appear under his real name. A long road has been travelled since the early 90s, when Main was a collaborative venture. To this day, the Firmament series and the masterpiece Hz are considered (by this reviewer at least) as fundamental pieces in the hypnotic game of looping and droning, which back then was mostly accomplished via opportunely treated/stretched guitar sounds. The other group members eventually moved off until Hampson, whose work had already surpassed the average shamanism of that era, was left alone. After a while, he went acousmatic, first with a growing computer presence haunting his progressively “colder” soundscapes, then by adding found sounds and environmental recordings. Somehow, Surcease‘s two tracks seem to depict both sides of the coin. “Parallax” shows traces of human activity (voices, urban noises) immediately sent to sleep by electroacoustic vapours. You’ll have a hard time figuring out what’s electronic, laptop-generated or just concrete sounds undergoing remake / remodel therapy, but the resulting increase in tension is this music’s best resource. Imagine a cross between Pierre Henry and the Hafler Trio at its most inspired. Hampson’s studio knowledge makes his dynamic overload and quasi-industrial prismatic refractions shine, a major highlight being the extraordinary pregnant stasis about 14 minutes into the piece. “Moraine” is all perturbed rapture and subsonic motion, recalling Main’s magnificent past (Transiency, Deliquescence… time for you to dig them out again, dear reader) in some of the more subdued sections, yet it’s still new ground for Hampson, who channels his sounds into the centre of a slow rotation of events. The impressive subharmonic pulse heard in the second half of the piece, at times like a muffled bell, announces the definitive detachment: no more a foetus, this creature has evolved its own systems, and just when you think you’ve understood something, it vanishes.

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