Release Date: Feb 19, 2016
Record label: Duophonic
Stereolab may have hung up their hats in 2009, but their motorik pulse and utopian spirit live on in founder Tim Gane's new project Cavern of Anti-Matter. The project also features original Stereolab drummer Joe Dilworth, who played on Peng!, and Holger Zapf, a synthesizer player whose resumé includes a stint in Jan Jelinek's Ursula Bogner ensemble. They released their debut album, the out-of-print Blood Drums, in 2013, but Void Beats / Invocation Trex feels in some ways like a proper debut, taking the tones and drones of that release and sculpting them into mesmerizing and thrilling pieces.
Now based in Berlin, Stereolab’s Tim Gane has assembled a new band around his latest solo output. Heavy on the German experimental past (Neu!, chiefly), and free with early techno, the bloop ’n’ burble of modular synths and Joe Dilworth’s live drumming pack a surprising number of facets on this debut album (though the limited double-LP Blood Drums was released in 2013). The default groove might be early 70s motorik – Tardis Cymbals is a typically beatific workout – but tracks Blowing My Nose Under Close Observation and Hi-Hats Bring the Hiss are proper dance music, while the Sonic Boom-enhanced Planetary Folklore is both spacey and creepy.
Cavern of Anti-Matter, the project of former Stereolab members Tim Gane and Joe Dilworth and keyboardist Holger Zapf, is nothing if not prolific: before the arrival of their official debut album, the trio issued the mini-album Blood Drums and a large handful of singles and EPs. None of this material appears on Void Beats/Invocation Trex, a 72-minute excursion that gives the band plenty of room to experiment. On the gliding 12-minute opener "Tardis Cymbals," the confident way Cavern of Anti-Matter hold and morph a motorik groove harks back to Gane and Dilworth's previous project, but the track's taut dynamism feels uniquely theirs.
It’s been seven long years since Marxist ambient-boogie machine Stereolab decided to go on an indefinite hiatus, leaving a small army of vinyl junkies bereft. Thankfully, for all those missing his group’s self-styled 'space age bachelor pad' music, Cavern of Anti-Matter sees Stereolab's Tim Gane return to the fray with an epic 72-minute album full of the kind of metronomic beats, Krautrock and electronica which made his previous band such an eclectic delight. Unlike Stereolab, where Laetitia Sadler’s vocals played an integral part in proceedings, the emphasis here is on stretched-out soundscapes and electronic manipulation.
Cavern of Anti-Matter’s debut album is a mixture of expansive synth-based explorations and shorter, more melody-focused pieces. The band, featuring Stereolab leader Tim Gane on guitars and synths, original Stereolab drummer Joe Dilworth, and synth expert Holger Zapf, has an inherent grasp of melody and flow that makes Void Beats / Invocation Trex listenable even when the songs cross the eight-minute mark. Cavern of Anti-Matter, by virtue of their fondness for vintage synth tones, often sound like they’re creating scores for sci-fi B-movies circa 1975-1985.
No band wrote more love songs than Stereolab, and all of them were dedicated to fictional electronic machinery: “Percolator,” “Motoroller Scalatron,” “Lo Boob Oscillator. ” Two literally personified the, uh, object of affection, as “Jenny Ondoline” and “Miss Modular. ” They wore their fetish for electric sheep on their sleeves.
Tim Gane's spirit of improvisation has truly found fertile ground in his latest release, with a fresh ensemble of talents that is Cavern of Anti-Matter. Always welcoming collaboration with counterparts of avant-garde experimentation, Gane has teamed with Holger Zapf as well as former Stereolab bandmate, drummer Joe Dilworth, along with a wealth of surprising guest appearances. This unexpected gathering coordinates to create an output of hypnotic perpetual motion.
As a founder of indie outfit Stereolab, Tim Gane meshed lounge, krautrock, electronic music, and more to produce a mesmeric vision that felt like the past’s vision of the future and the future’s vision of the past. It’s rather appropriate, then, that the first track on his debut album with Cavern of Anti-Matter is called “tardis cymbals”, winking at another legendary piece of British culture known for playing with time: Dr. Who.
Tim Gane gets even closer here to his beloved kosmische than his most well-known combo Stereolab managed. This Berlin-based trio features fellow lab technician (and Th’ Faith Healers member) Joe Dilworth, alongside Holger Zapf, taking in guest spots from Sonic Boom and Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox. That glowing, fast-and-bulbous Stereolab sound beams out from the start; Dilworth’s puttering drums shuffling across the space-age bachelor pad while Zapf’s synths shoot out of the air-conditioning system.