Release Date: Mar 13, 2012
Record label: Modern Love
It “just happened,” says the Mancunian duo Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty of their last massive compilation of music previously only available on vinyl, TMT #10 fav of 2011 Tryptych. That set of Demdike Stare’s three 2010 LPs, with the addition of 40 minutes of unreleased music, drew together the different sides of their crate-digging sound into a mind-bending, will-sapping monument, but the collection nevertheless was more a retrospective than an album intended to be listened to in one sitting. With Elemental, which, like Tryptych, culls together vinyl-only material released over the past several months along with several unreleased tracks, the songs were intended from the beginning to be heard together — indeed, the box even preceded the set, as the music on this 2CD compilation was first released in a four-part gatefold package (sold out) that initially came half-empty, to be filled by two subsequently-released colored-vinyl 12-inches.
Like Demdike Stare's Tryptych and Andy Stott's Passed Me By/We Stay Together before it, Elemental is another over-sized two-disc package from the Modern Love label. It compiles Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker's four-part vinyl series dating from December 2011 and January 2012. The first two parts, Chrysanthe and Violetta, were issued together as a double 12" pack in a gatefold sleeve with slots for parts three and four, Iris and Rose.
There must be a rush of ghost activity in Lancashire as Demdike Stare, everyone’s favourite occult vinyl raiders, are back with another resupply of mutated house music (13 months after their previous three hour drop - spooky). Tryptych, from 2011, complied the beats Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker served up over three long vinyl sermons; Elemental puts together the gatefolds they released around the new year. To the uninitiated, nothing’s changed: choirs are still chained to boilers, caged animals scream, the dance music rule book lies shredded in the corner.
Review Summary: Demdike Stare continue to play the role of graverobbers with this latest collection of midnight vigils and spiritual serenadesBy proxy were Demdike Stare lumped into the same category with the spooky and malignant techno that lit up the internet at the beginning of the decade with references to covens, black cats, pointy hats and all other mannerisms of mythical playthings. But where there was a gimmick, a focal point designed specifically to heighten the ambiguity, here was the real thing: music born out of mist and drone, from the absence of light and all that dwell in the darkness. If the entire realm of the “found footage” genre of film works because of its humble premise, its documentation of something that could be, conceivably realistic, then this is surely the aural equivalent: the sounds of a blood-soaked history dug up centuries later – “found sound” if you will.
Demdike Stare's spooky sound arrived at a moment in which there was an upswing in the dark stuff across the whole spectrum of electronic music. Their early series of releases on Modern Love was a prismatic refraction of the possibilities of the hauntological, found-sound realm. Their debut album Symbiosis was a ghostly walk through dark English woods of fog and drone, Forest of Evil saw them incorporate throbbing dub, Liberation Through Hearing ambient techno and other rhythmic experiments and things finished up with Voices of Dust, a release laced with the most pervasive of ethnic Orientalist terror this side of Shackleton.