Formication: Redux
Harmful Records

As its title implies, Redux isn't new material in the conventional sense but it's not a collection of standardized remixes either. The album's four lengthy tracks developed out of live performances where Formication's (Kingsley Ravenscroft and Alec Bowman) original material became so radically transformed it seemed more natural to regard it as ‘reworked.' The duo's music has been likened to Tangerine Dream and Coil and the references aren't inaccurate as nightmarish epics like “When the Patient Stars Breathe” merge the meandering propulsion of Phaedra with the disturbed altered states associated with Coil.

The album isn't entirely harrowing, however. “The Line That Divides the Earth from the Sky” inaugurates the set relatively peacefully with a fluid concoction of distant voices, light percussive splashes, burbling keyboards, and half-glimpsed hints of melody. Obviously darker, “The Victim” is an aural evocation of imprisonment, with its protagonist only capable of monitoring the funereal stream of footfalls and noises resounding from afar (“a tribute to those locked in basements everywhere,” the sleeve notes). “Rise of the Native” is even more intense, an industrial-flavoured, pulsating monstrosity that grows into a dizzying mass of string scrapes, piano loops, and piercing whistles. Despite the change in mood, the music retains its fluidity as instruments rise to the surface and then dart below, engendering an hallucinatory effect over its 14-minute duration. As with much of the album, elements come into sharp focus at one moment before retreating into haze the next. Despite an aura of chaos and disorientation promoted by the group, Redux, Formication's fourth independent release, hardly sounds random but instead methodically structured and controlled—a dark experience to be sure but by no means an unmusical one.

September 2006