Carpetworld EP

The AMG All Music Guide - Carpetworld EP

The teaser single for the full-length Daylight, the lead-off title track of Carpetworld, takes a direct plunge into hyperactive drum'n'bass rhythms, a distinct difference from the earlier Darkroom recordings on Seethrough. It's an initially surprising but ultimately effective move; Tim Bowness doesn't change his style or singing approach any, but simply delivers his lines with a touch more edge here and there to stand out against Os' percussion loops. Bearpark adds in low-key guitar wails and other touches around the sides, making for an unsettling balance. "Carpetworld" itself reappears as "Carpetwarehouse," extending the original by four minutes while otherwise letting Bowness' lyrics stand out -- "Have twisted sex/With your ugly ex" makes for a great slam. The creepy title track from Daylight makes an appearance as well, while the EP as a whole concludes with "Ardri," a gentle swirl of looped synth/guitar chime and texture that recalls Os' solo work as Carbon Boy.

Ned Raggett

Misfit City #1 - Carpetworld EP

Darkroom come swathed in contradiction: daytime shoppers on the sleeve, savage nightlife in the music. And no credits, though apparently it's another one of those confounded No-Man offshoots - don't these bloody people ever sleep or anything? Evidently not, if the tracks on this single serve as an example of the sounds pulsating through their brains.

'Carpetworld' itself breaks all the rules - the rules that say you can't put vocals and lyrics recalling Soft Cell-era Marc Almond over churning, vicious Frippish guitar ambience and hard-as-nails mechanoid beats falling somewhere between jungle and hardcore techno. A knife in the side of the rave generation's blissout, it's elegant in its brutality ("Taking a twirl with your best friend's girl, while the rest of the gang torch Carpetworld"), hovering in tatty clubs and observing the rituals of nihilism unfold as the backwash of bad E and the not-so-gentle '90s poison the clubbers' dreams.

Dance darkhorse it might be (it doesn't run with any obvious scene, and fuck knows which playlist it'll fit on in the increasingly segregated world of dance radio) but this is still cutting-edge contemporary, with absolutely no fluffiness and Tim Bowness spitting out lyrics the likes of which we've never heard fall from his previously poetic mouth - "Have useless sex with your ugly ex... / You velvet-sneakered chancer, you broken-fist romancer..." - as the beats flutter like a death's head moth trapped in the throat. I'll stay well out of the disturbing urban nightmare Darkroom are living in, but I'll happily live it vicariously through their warped imaginings. Dante's disco inferno.

After that, the 'Carpetwarehouse' reworking does lacks a certain spontaneity. The original sounds like it's literally fallen together in a paranoid improv session after a thoroughly unpleasant experience: This - apart from simply not being different enough - simply sounds like Darkroom have tried too hard at the atmospherics. OK, the beats are even more frenetic and Bowness achieves something he's previously never managed in previous recordings: i.e., sounding fucking terrifying as his distorted voice rasps out the repeated mantra "I'm coming after you!" If you ever thought, from listening to No Man's work, that you could have that Bowness chap in a fight - think again... Nonetheless, one does yearn for a battering, bloody remix from the diseased mind of Jim 'Foetus' Thirlwell, or Aphex Twin.

But, hell, Darkroom's maverick genius still encompasses enough space for much more roaming, ambient trips. 'Daylight', in particular. Tim Bowness (like Martyn Bates) has always had one of those voices that are perfect to use as an instrument integral to a piece such as this, weaving magical wordless nothings in and around underwater tones and splashes of electronica. Anchoring this thoughtful pause from drifting off into inconsequentiality, a beautifully melodic bass riff and eerily clattering percussion - like the echoing sound of camera shutters - keep proceedings somewhere near planet Earth.

'Ardri', though (nonsensical title - always a bad sign), reeks too much of late '70s/early '80s ambient - the kind of stuff the BBC would choose to soundtrack beautiful nature footage. Look, it's a personal thing - until someone out there finds even a slightly new direction with ambient (and I would certainly not rule Darkroom out of this), then the only sounds that interest me are the ones that either completely chill me out, or those that make the hairs on the back of my neck rise. This final track (like too much else in the field) gets my mind wandering after the first minute and thinking "So? What's next?"

So, a downbeat end to a marvellous debut from Darkroom. Buy it for the title track and (whatever my gripes) for the remix, and just treat them as one long, haunting slab of sonic terrorism. Brilliant.

Col Ainsley


Darkroom offers further evidence that real musical innovation and exploration are now strictly the domain of the independent music realm. On its full-length debut Daylight, The British act, comprised of vocalist Tim Bowness, keyboardist/rhythmatist Andrew 'Os' Ostler and guitarist/loopologist Mike Bearpark, offers a composite of pounding drum'n'bass-ish rhythms, spiraling ambient backdrops and netherworldly atmospheres. Vocally, Bowness shifts between wordless harmonizing and scalding delivery of lyrics often steeped in acidic desires and depravity. It's potent stuff. The Carpetworld EP takes its name from the most deliriously twisted track off Daylight. It adrenalizes the piece with hyper-beats fully suitable for e-head frenzies or living room chill-outs depending on your leanings. Both releases are serious exercises in butt-kickery. Do what it takes to find them.

Anil Prasad

rated 4 stars = "excellent"