Ampersand Etcetera

‘Fallout One’ is described as containing ‘live recordings from [5] performances’ but I am not sure if it is a ‘live’ album or a recreation from that material, by Michael Bearpark, Andrew Ostler and Tim Bowness. Either way it as dramatic and indescribable album (but we’ll try anyway). There are seven tracks which are really larger index points in the overall total scheme of the disk - the pieces segue into each other, and none are simple, but rather change shape, direction and structure throughout the named parts. There are some overall moods to each track, but it does feel like an organic whole.

Some relatively constant features: Bowness voice is present on most tracks, not doing straight vocals but singing or chanting phrases which are then looped and layered to create extended textures, at the start of ‘Seven’ for example, or the middle of ‘Two’. These vary from syllables, words and even phrases, but like the rest of the disk they become part of the changing soundspace. There are also samples throughout, usually sounding like radio captures sometimes singly and sequenced as at the opening of ‘Two’ or superimposed to make a crowd in ‘Three’. Bass is obvious in a number of places and the whole is full of atmospheric textures and sounds.

The dominant feeling is of a constantly changing kaleidoscopic event: ‘One’ for example shifts between radio samples, atmospherics and voice loops, bloopy beat bubbling up, modulating the voice to tones, shimmering dark tones and dubby beat, becomes clattery and electric guitar, looped radio, bass and key melody, beat plus the voice, beat fractures and dolphins call, sqrly sound increasing and decreasing in pitch, beat and melody, mumbling voices, a beat that loses sync, strange voice manipulated, radio voices, beats and clicks and into a long end of bleeps, clicks and voices. Admittedly this is the longest track at 21 minutes, but the others are similarly active in their shorter spaces. And it is not as fractured as it reads, as components fuse into each other melding and blending to create a fascinating sound space. They shift between atmospherics and beaty periods which could be machines or looped clicks and snaps. Some of the shorter pieces are more focused - ‘Four’ is more minimal and darker with some beats but more drones, washes, bass and Bowness saying ‘round’, ‘Six’ is probably more beaty, there is a Fripp sample used in ‘Seven’ which again uses the voice a lot. There are also some very melodic periods, like the cello in ‘Three’ or the chantlike aspect that runs from ‘Two’ into ‘Three’. I don’t know if I am making this sound as fascinating as it is - the structure changes but never loses focus or direction and is constantly absorbing.