London-based Caleb Wood is quick to point out that while he calls the big city home now, his roots run north to Yorkshire. Once home to Celtic tribes, the county more recently played a significant role in the post-industrial revolution economy.
It is home, as Wood describes it, “with both a long history of sonic experimentation and decaying industrial infrastructures.”
Not unlike the rise of techno in post-industrial Detroit, northern England has yielded some of the most interesting new music of the last half century. David Bowie’s infamous Spiders From Mars featured Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Mick Woodmansey, all of them from Hull.
Wood’s work is in keeping with that same spirit of experimentation. His first album – the suitably titled 2_3/.dll (grey circuits) – landed in 2010. Since then, he has produced recordings under the names precocious mouse and reference hardware. According to his website, he is “exploring methods to construct pieces which have a conceptual base in the fragmentation and complexity of the processes of communication.”
This new album, Virginia Creeper, combines horror-show drones with quiet bursts of static. Two of the album’s major works – askant(procedure) pt. 1 and pt. 2 – are sparsely dreamy. This is intensely colourful work, even if the palette consists solely of silvers and greys.
The album’s title track is also its longest, at 24:33. The drones feel more organic here. That tempers the continued use of pulsing electronics and the overall feeling of austerity. It feels a bit like a ticking clock. The good old days of industry and plentiful work are behind us. What’s next is uncertain. It is intimidating. This is what it sounds like.