Things shifted, divided and reformed in 1994. Caroline moved to London and the flat in Stamford Hill dissolved: Seth and his partner Lisa moved into a flat with my brother and his girlfriend; similarly Caroline and I found a flat to rent with Richard and Melanie. The Stamford Hill flat had divided and reamalgamated into two couples’ flats. The new place was located above an off license on Green Lanes, almost opposite Clissold Park and the pumping station folly popularly known as the castle. There was a small spare room which Richard and I established as a studio. It was called Four Station Delongii, the name on a fan heater that we found in the flat.
In Four Station DeLongii we had two Amigas, a bass amp and a Vox V15 guitar amp as well as a shifting constellation of speakers and other accessories. The living room was also large enough for extended Platform Five(5) sessions. A key accessory which changed the way that I worked during this period was a midi interface for the Amiga: this allowed me to sync tracker software, such as MED, with drum machines and the like.
The opening track from v5.0, Luftstadt, showcases this technique: sequenced samples resembling a Mellotron melody synchronised with the Yamaha RX-5. Individual sounds could be faded in and out of the mix. It was a far larger palette than had previously been available, and orchestral timbres added colour above and beyond the rather harsh guitar tones that I favoured at the time. The first track from side two of the cassette also featured this arrangement, MED played a melodic motif based upon a faux-Jewish folk theme that I had sketched on the Fostex four track when I had first acquired it.
Not all was well with the Fostex however and the ailing machine had to be part exchanged for a vintage Tascam Porta One which was a far superior tape recorder and which I continued to use for the next six years.
Quite apart from the midi sequencing on this album there is a far greater fluidity of playing and more space and light in the tracks, especially Gausshammer and Harlequin 5, the latter being an evolution of a track from the first Vesta Fire recordings in 1989. Another unimaginatively titled track, Phased Gallop, synchronised two drum machines with midi, the Casio RZ-1 and the Yamaha RX-5, and exploited the individual channel outputs so that particular drums could be filter through different effects. The guitar playing on all of these feels lighter yet more assured than anything that I had recorded before.
Having said this, one track called Greyn was an ill-advised attempt at a pastiche of Archangels Thunderbird by Amon Duul II but comes out sounding more like a particularly industrial iteration of Loop, in a bad way. It wasn’t like I couldn’t put a foot wrong, but listening back on this material, it was working more often than it wasn’t working.
The other innovation of v5.0 was the return of vocals, although only on two tracks and in both cases unconventionally. Language Base 1 has a repeated vowel motif. The letters AEIOU are repeated over an avant funk rhythm. This sort of examination of the fundamentals of language would recur throughout the Entropy Circus. Another, simply titled Announcements, includes a full account of the recording details of the session through an antique pilot’s mask microphone and a lot of distortion. Amphetamines may have been involved.
The other important guest vocals on v5.0 are some geese from Clissold Park in the background of a track called Linear Accelerator. This was the first but certainly not the last time that I included honking geese and other birds on recordings. Linear Accelerator is also interesting technically because the guitar signal is split so that a dry tone plays through a lot of echo while its twin signal is fed through an aggressive fuzz. The fuzz was a Dod Vintage Fuzz, for those who take an interest in such things. I still use this fuzz on a lot of recordings to this day.
Although there is less of Platform Five(5) as a background component on v5.0, the track Impromptu near the end of the second side is a trio jam session with Seth and Richard in Four Station Delongii. In some ways it prefigures the Stella Maris Drone Orchestra sessions of the 00s, but more about them in several album’s time.
The cover of v5.0 was, as was usual at the time, dot-matrix printed in black and white from a Deluxe Paint design. The circular motif is pleasing to look at but not specifically symbolic of anything but is certainly less of a mess than the v4.0 cover, which is perhaps true of the whole album. Once again, it weighs in at ninety minutes in length and so in vinyl terms might be considered a double album.
The new environment of Four Station Delongii had allowed me to move beyond the revelations of v3.0 and there was a sense that there were new territories out there. My studies continued at university but there are no specific references to literary or religious subjects that I was studying, which might indicate that I had successfully relaxed into London living. Perhaps it is also noteworthy that this cassette had no name other than v5.0. The Entropy Circus had perhaps become confident enough now to be about itself rather a reference to something else.
And of course this was exactly the right time to end the Entropy Circus for the first time.
The v5.0 album can be downloaded or streamed from archive.org.
Next: Vitreous Enamel Development Corporation.