Two albums about drowning for the price of one! Cremation Lily’s second and third LPs, The Processes And Instruments Of Normal People (2017) and In England Now, Underwater (2018), remastered and combined as a definitive 2CD release. It feels the perfect format for these albums and their depressive techno dérives along the wind-lashed south coast of England. Both are excellent in their own right, but in combination they amount to something more substantial, a real statement. Even if that statement can be boiled down to “I live by the sea and I’m very sad”… it's beautifully expressed.
With this work, Zen Zsigo decisively stepped away from the noise/P.E. he’d cut his teeth on and embraced a gentler, more emotionally eloquent, and more musical brand of minimal ambient electronics. Hardly the first person to listen to Bermuda Drain or early Vatican Shadow and promptly “go techno”, but Hastings-based Zigo’s self-transformation has felt authentic and considered, and, in taking British seaside ennui as its subject, very distinctive. The Processes.. is the album I was less familiar with, and it’s perhaps the more naïve sounding of the two, but compelling right from the off: ‘The Currents Mislead (Hand In Hand)’ picks up where the soppiest bits of SAW Vol.1 left off, a soothing tranq’d-trance sweep that knows the sea and knows it well. ‘Quiet Preparation’ reminds me a bit of mid-2000s Pop Ambient comps, even GAS with those distant booming kicks, and the ineffable melancholy of early Dial records (who remembers “microgoth”??!?)...but Zigo invests it all with this acute sense of the boredom and bleakness of everyday life staring down the English channel, as well as a sensitivity to his part of the world's peculiar psychogeography and mythic resonance (I’ve only been to Hastings once myself: enough to know that there be monsters).
If The Processes feels like it's observing the roiling sea from the relative surety of dry land, In England Now... imagines the whole world falling into it, with fragments of spoken prose-poetry, cyclical piano nocturnes, field recordings of birdsong churned up by the end-times-ushering waves. The arpeggiated basslines and and amorphous wraith-like vocal chants of ‘Washed Through Glass’ set the tone, coming over like the bastard child of John Foxx’s Cathedral Oceans and PWOG; the beatless tracks, with their light-refracting synth-swells and string-shimmer, feel of a piece with the harrowed bucolia of Andrew Chalk and Richard Skelton.
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