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Gyratory System The Sound-Board Breathes Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

A superb album, sounding like little else released this year.

John Doran 2009

Gyratory System are a strange, minimalist/maximalist instrumental dance quartet who have one foot placed firmly in the theory heavy, avant-garde camp and the other planted squarely on an underlit disco floor. They have produced one of 2009's most memorable albums in The Sound-Board Breathes, drawing clear and easy lines between the early chiming rave of Orbital, the 20th century composition of Philip Glass, the fourth world adventurism of Jon Hassell and the mechanical sounding drum funk of Liquid Liquid. It is, by rights, an album that should get an equally admiring reception from those who subscribe to The Wire as those who read Mixmag. 

Yet in these highly proscribed, deeply conservative times, they also represent a band that's hard to explain, hard to pigeonhole and hard to market. The rhythm/riff/hook production unit centres round the undeniable talents of Dr Andrew Blick, someone who has been working behind the scenes and on the periphery of alternative music since the early 90s. (In fact, avuncular Radio One DJ John Peel once jokingly threatened to have him banned from the show, such was his ubiquity as a guest musician in the Maida Vale studios.)

But his trademark – playing heavily treated trumpet through effects until it becomes unclear what the listener is actually hearing – has now gone from being an addition to other people's records to being the focal point of Gyratory System. And if Andrew is of a certain vintage then it may come as a surprise to some to find out that his dad is also in the band, playing a dizzying array of woodwind and brass making them sound like a British family butchers’ future-funk take on the J.B.’s. 

Basically they use Andrew's ‘process’ to create a chiming and tuneful backing track, over which they get the rest of the band (Laurie Waller on drums and James Weaver on bass) and themselves to improvise over the top. So while the music is undeniably European, mainly identifiable as British and drawing inspiration from many time periods, there is also an undeniable link to the looped organic rave of Holy F***, F*** Buttons and Animal Collective. From the Boys Brigade rave of Barons Court Trumpet all the way to the North London Kraftwerk-gone-unplugged of Holloway Road, not only is this a superb album but you won't hear another one like it all year.

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