Released 19th February via Duophonic Records
Stereolab were one of the most consistently brilliant and inventive bands around for most of their 19 year run, releasing many bizarrely named masterpieces, from Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements to Chemical Chords. Leading man Tim Gane has a new band: Cavern of Anti-Matter, krautrock revivalists even more indebted to Neu than Stereolab were. The group previously released a record on a tiny Berlin label that’s now rarer than a decent episode of Doctor Who, but Void Beats/Invocation Hex is their first proper album, a retro-futurist throwback with the tracklist revealing references to science fiction, bizarre philosophy and indeed the BBC’s shit show time bollocks. Cavern of Anti-Matter have a lot to follow, but have they delivered a worthy follow up to Stereolab?
Well they’ve sort of just side-stepped the question. Void Beats/Invocation Hex is very different to Stereolab. Instead of using multiple vocal melodies, almost every song is instrumental and strongly rhythmic, relying on either carefully crafted beats or Joe Dilworth’s exceptional drumming. The overall sound is closer to Beak>, Geoff Barrow from Portishead’s own krautrock homage. Opening track ‘Tardis Cymbals’ begins with careful guitar strumming, before switching gears to ultra-motorik repetitive rhythms and punchy analogue synths, slowly swelling and shifting over its monolithic 13 minute runtime. It showcases everything Cavern of Anti-Matter can do in a single track. The brilliantly named ‘Blowing My Nose Under Close Observation’ and ‘Melody in High Feedback Tones’ follow, experimenting with rhythm and texture over more normal song lengths.
These rhythmic experiments are the band at their best, and it’s only when singers appear that the album falters. Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox appears on ‘Liquid Gate’, which is a brilliant single, but musically a step backwards, only two minutes long and sandwiched between the album’s two best tracks; the towering, astonishing ‘High-Hats Bring The Hiss’ and ‘Pantechnicon’. The combined effect is just a bit jarring. Sonic Boom of the exceptional Spacemen 3 appears on ‘Planetary Folklore’, but suffers from the fact that, while he is an incredible musician, he isn’t a very interesting singer, although he does provide one of his best performances, and his cryptic declarations fit the album’s sci-fi feel. However, despite these two minor missteps (both of which are great outside the album), Cavern of Anti-Matter have delivered a glorious retro-futurist bolt of energy, one that’s definitely worth listening to, both through its relationship to Stereolab and in the band’s own right.