Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Post-Rocktoberfest #1: Main - Motion Pool
Since Fennesz's classic Endless Summer, there seems to have been a not totally insignificant niche market for heavily processed guitar abstraction. Oren Ambarchi's (much deserved) growing profile is currently the most visible manifestation of this trend.

This puts an interesting perspective on the route that Robert Hampson took after the dissolution of his late-80s trance-rock band Loop. In leaping into droney, beatless soundscapes, Hampson really was ahead of the guitar-reinvention curve. It's only right then, that the Fat Cat label acknowledged Hampson's pioneering spirit by releasing a Fennesz/Loop split 12" a few years back.

The change from Loop's minimalist rock to the pure drone of Main's later work was actually a smoother transition than I'd realized until recently, when I picked up a couple of early Main records. The Hydra Calm 12", in particular, is basically a cyborg take on Loop's more organic burn and churn.

But it was with the astonishing triple 12" set Motion Pool that Hampson really added something significant to the UK post-rock canon. As is often the case with bands, Main's music was at its most original and compelling during that awkward "becoming" stage of flux and uncertainty.

Motion Pool is as physically insistent as anything Loop produced but sounds utterly inorganic - like a skeletal, digitally reanimated version of rock music. Even though this is certainly a guitar-heavy record, Hampson's vocals are the only explicitly human presence and even they sound utterly alienated; drained of humanistic warmth.

Of course, in the post-human discourse of 90s futurism, this kind of aesthetic was something that could be embraced without fear. Now that we know where digital technology was taking us all along (the hellish tedium of Facebook) it might all seem somewhat gothy and overwrought.

And yet the power of the music remains. There's nothing else quite like Motion Pool and it's certainly an essential addition to your doubtless-growing UK post-rock collection.

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