Fatcat’s split series has been ongoing since 1997, and after this 12″ is released, only one will remain. The series predates the digital age and has managed to last into the vinyl resurgence. Previous installments have featured Third Eye Foundation, Fennesz and Kemialliset Ystävät, proof of the label’s dynamic choices. Katie Gately and Tlaotlon continue in this tradition, offering sounds that are simultaneously fresh and mysterious.
Katie Gately was last heard on a 7″ split lathe cut from FET Press, who brought us the stellar Line Drawings not too long ago. On “FAR”, Gately’s experiments in voice lead her to strange places: echoes, doublings, stutters, drones. Prior to this, and more widely circulated, came a self-titled mini-album on Public Information and a critically acclaimed cassette on Blue Tapes. These stunning salvos were declarations of a major new artist, straddling the fields of experimentation and electronics, doing the sort of work that Björk should be doing now, but isn’t. It’s rare to hear such innovation, and then to hear different sorts of innovation. But she trumps all with “Pivot”, which is already her second 14-minute track. The length alone demonstrates her complete disregard for rules and expected structure. We say “expected” because the track is actually incredibly structured, just not in the way one might imagine. We also call this music “electronic”, although the tag fits the treatments more than the sources, most of which are various permutations of Gately’s voice. The only exceptions: samples from a cartoon library.
The track must be heard in full in order to be comprehended, and even then it defies classification. The two-minute clips that one may catch online will be insufficient to tell the story. Even after one dissects the piece – pitch-shifting, silence, tapping, breath – one still finds mystery in the assembly. Lyrics come into play, but are seemingly chosen for their alliterative properties. Elliptical images rotate like dropped slides, picked up and re-ordered. There are songs in there, but where? It’s all part of the fun – and yes, Gately is having a blast here. With actual blasts.
It’s almost unfair to Tlaotlon to be featured on the same 12″, but Jeremy Coughbrough is up to the challenge. His discography stretches back further than Gately’s, and he was featured on Kemialliset Ystävät’s album earlier this year – a surprise, as he hails from New Zealand. Like Gately, Coughbrough prefers a non-linear approach to composition; his techno tracks are wildly untraditional, to the point that one might call them atraditional (looks like I invented a new word!). His tracks pair perfectly with Gately’s single track, in that their sources include YouTube clips and sound effects. These fool the ears in the same manner as Gately’s voice fools the ears; one hears instruments where none are present. Subliminally, there’s no telling what’s going on, although occasionally something identifiable breaks through (such as the car alarm that opens the side). Tlaotlon presents music with tempo and beats, but not for dancing; these tracks are sound sculptures with a steady pulse. At times, the work borders on the industrial, although more often it seems like the inside of an arcade, people and all.
In retrospect, it’s remarkable that Fatcat could find two artists so dissimilar and yet so much the same; their largest commonality rests in the fact that neither wishes to repeat what has come before. What will the final split 12″ bring? We can hardly wait to find out! (Richard Allen)
Release date: 27 October