Release Date: Jul 31, 2012
Record label: Planet Mu
In music as in life, it’s all about who you know. And Glasgow artist Tom Scholefield knows a lot of them. Having works as a designer, animator, and director for records on tier one electronic labels like Warp, Brainfeeder, DFA, Numbers, R&S, Not Fun, and Planet Mu, it was only a matter of time before his own musical exploits landed him at one of these white hot venues (Planet Mu, in this instance).
Unlike vinyl, VHS tapes are one lump of black plastic few are sad to see the back of. Yet, as well as providing a rich source of samples, there are musicians who seem to have been inspired by their murky qualities. Demdike Stare's recent live shows have featured cut-ups of old video as sinister and disorientating as their soundscapes, while Oneohtrix Point Never's recent Replica album was based on recorded snippets of TV adverts from his youth.Although Glaswegian multimedia artist Tom Scholefield—who has actually designed sleeves for Oneohtrix Point Never in the past—hasn't specifically sampled VHS for his debut Konx-Om-Pax album, it does possess the same fuzzy and antique feeling as that format.
The line that separates "ambient" from "boring" can be a thin and indistinct one, as is the line that separates "intriguing" from "puzzling. " On his debut musical project under the name Konx-Om-Pax, visual artist Tom Scholefield dances back and forth across both of those lines. At its best, the music on Regional Surrealism evokes Bill Nelson circa Chance Encounters in the Garden of Light; on tracks like the gently gorgeous "Chambers," with its sounds of tapped crockery and bell tones, and the dreamy "At Home with Mum and Dad," Scholefield creates sonic wonder out of abstraction.
Tom Scholefield has created his own brand of hyperreality in his work as a graphic artist, forming a world where the real and the synthetic pile-up through colossal stacks of imagery. Human skulls, machinery, plant life, broken-down cars, barnacles, teeth, and satellite dishes all feature in his work, which includes the monochromatic cover art for Oneohtrix Point Never's Rifts and the more colorful 3D animation of Kuedo's video for "Ascension Phase". For the cover art of this debut album under his Konx-om-Pax moniker, Scholefield imagines a space where mountainous terrain is chiseled out to host to a large factory building, which in turn is under threat from reedy, grass-like tentacles slithering up around its metal façade.
Konx-om-Pax is the electronic music project of Glasgow-based graphic designer Tom Scholefield. This, his full-length debut, follows two acclaimed EPs – 2010’s ‘Optimo Tracks’ and 2011’s ‘Light In Extension’ – with variable results. While its synthetic atmospheres initially intrigue – the foreboding swirl of ‘At Home With Mum And Dad’ in particular – the brittle, overly digital quality limits the listener’s involvement.
What a strange beast this is! Regional Surrealism is a disjointed, disorientating patchwork put together over five years, a bewildering Jekyll and Hyde of a debut that you can cut in half and divide between day and night… or daydream and nightmare. Perhaps that’s to be expected, because Konx-Om-Pax represents both sides of Tom Scholefield's creative output: he makes both riotous, strange sound, as well as drooling, delirious animations for the likes of Martyn and Lone, both under the same name. The spooky sketches that make up Regional Surrealism's first half don’t exactly evoke daytime so much as some unnameably strange twilight, experienced through the fog of a tranquiliser overdose.