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Zircon & The Burning Brains


ZBB - Cortex! CD, artwork by Nigel Harris, design by Alan Freeman

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Ultimate Transmissions UTCD 001  69'44"  CD £8.00 + p&p

1. Imaginé 5'28"
2. Midnight Plus Midnight Plus One 22'20"
3. Velvet Light Trap 23'13"
4. Out Of The Ashes 18'43"

Composed, produced & engineered by ZBB.
Track 1 recorded at Tachyon Studio (17 October 1984), taken from "A Cage Went In Search Of A Bird" (Dark Star DIS 1-2) sampler.
Tracks 2 & 3 «Cortex!» recorded at Tachyon Studio (October/November 1984).
Track 4 recorded at Tachyon Studio (October 1984 & April 1986), taken from "Out Of The Ashes" (Auricle AMC 022).

Steve Freeman: synths, tapes, guitar, voice.
Alan Freeman: computer, tape loops, devices, synths.
Nigel Harris: vocals, tape montage, effects, Casio.

I don't recall there ever being a concept behind «Cortex!». It was more of an experience, collected invention and ideas all spun into an original tense creation. On this CD, we have 4 tracks...

"Imaginé" is possibly ZBB's most "commercial" number, a kind of dedication to the underground French scene of the era. Nigel's convincing French vocals are a vital factor here, whilst Alan & Steve set a series of "machines" in motion. A potential hit single? I think not!

"Midnight Plus Midnight Plus One" is a sizeable slab of looming intensity, a raw and sinister mind-journey through culture and conflict, writhing and growing in power, overloaded with electronics. Deliberately bizarre tones were chosen to create an uneasy feeling, until the burning brain explodes! It's a work with its feet in rock culture and its head in the weirdest realms of "classical avant-garde". There's still nothing else quite like it.

"Velvet Light Trap" is a big contrast. With the accent on restraint, it follows much more enigmatically, and is a work that eludes any attempt at categorisation altogether. Here we are taken to a sound world that's a step aside from Nurse With Wound, somewhere betwixt the strangest Pierre Henry, free-form Stockhausen and the peculiar structures of Dome. This work oozes and languishes with menacing unease, with the barest of structure and musical reference. The spirit of Dadaism and the Futurists returns!

"Out Of The Ashes" resulted from the strange story behind the «Cortex!» tape release, which was condensed from two intensive sessions, with the first mix being carried out by Alan & Nigel. Steve thought he could do better, however, and spent a whole weekend reconstructing and layering sections into the two vast sonic experiences: "Midnight Plus Midnight Plus One" and "Velvet Light Trap". Parts of the earlier mixes formed some of the material Alan used on the later "Out Of The Ashes" cassette, of which the title track is included here. As such, this bonus follows-on almost though it was always intended to!

15 years on from its original release, «Cortex!» can now be heard in all its glory, nicely transferred to digital format by Colin Potter at ICR studio in Preston. Discover the «Cortex!» Be prepared to be challenged!




After feeding this CD into my player I got tangled up in a timewarp and felt myself being dragged back countless years ago to the mid eighties. And no wonder, because this release is somewhat of a historical document of ZBB, who made all these recordings in that period. Funny thing is: it's a lot of fun, because several of their influences are pretty evident, to say the least: Nurse With Wound, Throbbing Gristle and so on. Simple means were used to create the music: some synths, tape(loop)s, records and a Sinclair Spectrum. The music is drenched in FX, but leaves enough space for other sounds. A pretty weird release, not unlike soundtracks from sixties sci-fi movies of inferior quality. Which is great of course. Actually the first track is the shortest (just over 5 minutes) and, imo the least interesting one. The other three tracks (all more or less 20 minutes) are a lot stronger and are constructed with care and a lot of time. Old, but good! (MR)

[from http://www.staalplaat.com/vital_archive/204.txt]


review from Bad Alchemy 35


review at Arcane Candy

on YouTube...
Midnight Plus Midnight Plus One (extract)
Velvet Light Trap (extract)

Originally a cassette (various editions) - quantity unknown - released ?/12/1984.
First CD edition - 1,000 copies - released 9/11/1999.

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