These lost echoes of the golden days still reverberate in Great Circles, they reverberate alongside the true possible savior of the rust belt: the computer.
I like politics. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I an enjoy ole natter about this, that and the other. Brexit. Europe. Trump. I was drinking in a bar in Southern Madrid on election night, listening to two drunk señoras (and they were of a certain age) ramble on about the invading hordes and the crisis. I went to bed not knowing who had won the race to be America’s next president, of course we all know now.
Pennsylvania was one of the swing states. Arguably the swing state. A post industrial region of high unemployment, the heart of the rust belt, were past economic glories weigh heavily on the consciousness of the present.
And what’s any of this got to do with electronic music? Great Circles is a label from the largest city in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. It’s an imprint that chimes, or clanks, with the sounds of the factory. Its homegrown artists resonant with the thump of metal and the groan of girder.
Wolf Dem caught my attention on Mid Atlantic Death, their unpolished and unrooted style n “CENOTE.” Hyrdophobia builds on the liquid undercurrents of that track whilst allowing some of the warehouse dancefloor in. Beats are steady, as steady as the staggering and shunting sound of this duo allow. From this foundation come an assortment of sonic disturbances. Doubled over, samples and snippets are pushed and pulled. Notes rustle behind a curtain of chains, wide eye key changes peer from behind mesh in the unsettling “Tin Procession” before scurrying away down a buckled stairwell of paranoia for “A Cruise on the Styx.” “Aquatic Pixellation” is arguably the least disturbed dreamscape, but that doesn’t mean you’re in for an easy ride. Rhythms are solid and adorning these pillars is a psychedelic trail of broken and bleeding bleeps; nothing’s easy on this trip.
Stalking a further flung wasteground are THRIVE. The Japanese duo of Tetsuya Yoshida and Hitoshi Kojima are the first non-Phili musicians to feature on Great Circles, but their message is scratched into the same concrete. Into a cloud of dust, and distortion, this pair from North Kanto whisper shadows. Like Wolf Dem, percussion patterns are shakily stable across Nested Structure. On those shifting platforms are constructed intricate patterns, decaying melodies that recede into fizz and static. At first their sound seems rooted in drone but their penchant for subtle development steps into the realm of electronica. “Obscure Object” is a perfect example. Ashen echo comes blurrily into form. Slowly a composition takes shape, a twitching yet uniform sound that calls to mind Richard Devine. “Hybrid Moments” comes from a different place. Smoke filled and water soaked, the track bridges industrial claustrophobia with techno introspection; something which this 12” achieves admirably.
It’s not hard to know what the age of Trump will bring, it’s impossible. There’s a lot of guessing going on, some more informed than others. My stab in the dark is that this new president will do little to solve the economic and social woes that have stymied growth around Pennsylvania. My money is on those bygone days of filled factories, heavy machinery and production will remain bygone. These lost echoes of the golden days still reverberate in Great Circles, they reverberate alongside the true possible savior of the rust belt: the computer.