The origins of Collision/Detection don’t lend themselves to simple explanation. It’s the result of an audio project overseen by Long Division With Remainders (a husband and wife duo, who also run Manchester-based record label Front & Follow). Essentially, it’s a box set that collects nine EPs from nine different artists/bands that were released by the label over the course of 18 months. Initially, each of the artists were invited to submit audio excerpts which were collected centrally before being redistributed for each to manipulate, compound and re-present.
What follows, on Collision/Detection, is almost two and a half hours of music that very much occupies a place at the musical margins. That said however, the compilation doesn’t deserve to be classed as peripheral and conveys a sense of creative risk-taking allied to an explorative, inquisitive spirit.
It opens with four pieces by the Psychological Strategy Board which emphatically set the esoteric tone. Errant, slowly mutating offshoots break through the murky undergrowth, hinting at the musical language of early electro-acoustic music whilst also projecting a tangible contemporariness. It’s an alien and eerie beginning. The second EP from West Norwood Cassette Library is much more percussive in nature, best evidenced on the channelled beats of Collision Bump and energetic drum ‘n’ bass cycles of What’s Going On (Stuff Is Happening).
Four pieces from self-termed ‘noise designist’ The Lord exhibit an altogether more rudimentary and uncompromising sound as raw electronics rub alongside jarring, computerised emissions and lopsided piano patterns. Later they find something of a mirror in the deconstructed drones and scorched sonic rubble of the tracks offered by BLK TAG. These exude a deserted darkness suggestive of The Haxan Cloak, with sounds being welded together with any resulting by-products gratefully retained.
The contributions of Hong Kong In The 60s provide some of the most consonant and beautiful moments on the compilation. Euphonic and cleansing, each track drifts neatly into the next. The presence of soft-to-touch, underplayed vocals alongside the neutral synth backdrops occasionally recall Broadcast, and add a dreamy, reflective finish not captured anywhere else on the compilation.
The second half opens with the gritty, sinister sounds of Kemper Norton. The unsettling lyrical content and shadowy drones exert a powerful, arresting effect. At times it’s as if the listener has unknowingly entered a dark, foreboding forest, uncertain of when they’ll be able to leave. The EP from The Doomed Bird Of Providence meanwhile has a more organic feel, the cinematic intentions being most clearly felt in the sense of suspense generated by the escalating strings of The Wounded Platelayer. Isnaj Dui (classically trained musician Katie English) meanwhile follows with four pieces that incorporate ambient cloud-like forms, gentle impressionistic sketches and whirring insect-like hums.
The changing, contrasting electronic textures of Sone Institute are centred much more in the foreground and they draw to a close an intriguing collection of pieces which all stand on their own whilst simultaneously interlinking into a greater whole. Collision/Detection is a good reminder of the more interesting, under-the-radar musical projects that have occurred over recent years and those attracted to obscure, non-mainstream music would be well advised to keep an eye on any future releases by the featured artists and label.