Wreathed in trails of hissing, echoing analogue delay and the dust of years, Metafather is haunted, haunted by the ghosts of those who have passed through the now empty building that birthed the sounds contained therein and haunted by sound itself.
Given life by the duo of Alexander Tucker and Daniel Beban, Metafather is the third and final instalment in a trio of recordings that have their genesis in Studio 6 of Bush House, home of Beban’s former employers the BBC World Service.
Between 2006-2011, squirrelled away within the depths of the cavernous – and now abandoned since 2012 – building, Tucker and Beban began making use of the the vintage equipment, archive, and the sounds and ambience of the building itself during nocturnal recording sessions which would eventually yield 2010’s The Metallic Year, 2011’s And They Turned Not When They Went, and this final release, Metafather, all of which create a larger tapestry woven of psychedelic folk, Musique concrète, haunting radiophonics and outsider atmosphere of a genuinely otherworldly hue.
Fading in with a sound like the buzzing thrum of tiny flies, ‘Imbosoundsystem‘ opens proceedings and sets a precedent for the mood of all that follows. The hum warbles and fluctuates, swelling and waning, joined at times by amplified clicks and tics and always shot through with a dusty, hazy warmth that can only really be captured using vintage analogue tape recording gear.
These short collage approaches to song construction pepper Metafather, existing hand-in-glove with more ‘traditional’ song-based pieces, the first example of which is the eerie piano and bass-lead ‘Soaked Into Walls‘, with its droning two-part vocal line and woozily downbeat feel.
A modulated purring growl ushers in ‘The Living Creatures‘ before a croaking processed voice begins to read what appears to be a biblical text that is gradually submerged beneath insectile clicks and the tolling of one repeated echoing note.
The hauntingly beautiful ‘Voices Of Lists‘ is built around a hypnotic falsetto vocal from Tucker, accompanied by fingerpicked guitar, distant piano, subtle clouds of metallic delay and gusts of treated vocal and puts me in mind of the minimalist psychedelic folk of Skip Spence of Moby Grape’s equally haunted solo album Oar.
Elsewhere there is the throbbing, hissing sinister whirr of ‘Marchpane‘, the gentle lilting psych of ‘Mirror Dust‘, the damaged Martian chorale of ‘Laudanum Husk‘, the deeply unsettling nocturnal ambience of ‘Behold The Whirlwind‘ and a ‘slight return’ to ‘Soaked Into Walls‘ that is liberally sprinkled with sparkling, twinkling tones and lurking sub-bass.
Finally, a conclusion is reached with the sunnier, Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev-ish, treated strumming of ‘Other Animals‘ and concluding number ‘Summer Fungus‘, a dreamy loop of smeared piano.
I’ve a feeling that after immersing myself in Metafather so extensively of late that its spectral haze may well begin to creep into my dreams, perhaps the most fitting place for such sounds. It’s just a damn shame that with the source of the sounds being defunct, I’ll be unlikely to hear any further works in this series. At least we’re left with the ghosts of what was made, haunting our ears and turntables into the night.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson