Keystations -1994

6981686685_e180537d19_oLooking back, it would appear that 1994 was a year full of recording. I recorded and mixed down a total of three ninety minute cassettes of material. Four Station Delongii clearly worked as a creative environment. Richard was also recording his Drift of Signifieds material in our small studio and regular Platform Five(5) sessions took place in the living room. I’m not quite sure how I continued to study for my degree on top of all of this, but my grades at the time were fine and there was never an issue about my attendance.

The third cassette of the year, v7.0 Keystations, was a far more assured set of tracks than its predecessor. The idea of moving away from guitar music, that had ostensibly been the motive behind VEDiC, had been quietly forgotten and instead what we hear on this album is a smoother amalgamation of electronics and guitar.

As was fashionable at the time, dub influences inflect some of the tracks, the opener Vementry in particular. The RX-5 drum machine had individual outputs for each drum track, and given this opportunity it would have seemed churlish not to put big echoes on one or two of them. There were two Boss digital delays in the studio, and their rather cold tone gives an On U Sound vibe to tracks which are otherwise not particularly reggae influenced.

I remember wanting to find a style that was halfway between Motorhead and Karlheinz Stockhausen, and while I don’t think that was ever achieved, some of the less rhythmic tracks, such as Texture Map and Tactiles are clearly influenced by Gyorgy Ligeti. Up near the top end of the sinewaves on the K1, if the pitchbend was forced into extremes the signal would break up revealing glitchy digital microtones. This along with the industrial ambient textures, what was occasionally called “illbient” at the time, seemed to have become the logical conclusion to what I occasionally described as waiting room music.

While I certainly was not on the point of returning to songwriting at this time, one track simply entitled Song attempted a flat minimalist statement by simply repeating the “words” and “lyrics” barked over a thrashy number that was in equal parts Big Black and Kraftwerk. For a conceptual joke it mayhave been a little long at over eight minutes, and I remember that my throat certainly felt the strain afterwards. Perhaps one of those moments where it became clear to me that I was not suited to becoming a punk vocalist.

Other developments include the first specifically psychogeographical track: Silvertown Blues refers to an area of London near the flood barrier. I lived in North Woolwich, up the road from Silvertown for several years in the 80s. The desolate cityscape overlooked by the Tate & Lyle factory informs the mood of this piece recalling the declining dockyards of the Thatcher years before London City airport had been built.

Another notable track, Overlap 8.7.94, is built on a midi sequenced routine using the K1 and the Amiga in tandem over a backdrop of audio from television programmes that were showing at the time channel surfed as a sort of divinatory commentary to the music.

v7.0 was full of innovations, as was its predecessor but here I feel that I was coming to grips with the technology more fully. The music and the conceptual conceits are more successfully integrated and the cover design is one of my favourites from this period. The dot matrix printer that I was using was still black and white but here for the first time I printed the design onto heavy tan coloured paper. I was probably inspired by the first Tortoise album cover and the result had a pleasing texture.

I made a large number of copies of the cassette and as well as distributing it to friends and family, copies of it were available in the Covent Garden Rough Trade shop. As ever, things had to keep moving and the Vitreous Enamel Development Corporation gave way to the Vitreous Enamel Development Authority or VEDA.

Stream or download v7.0 from archive.org.

Next: Metrognomon.