[28 July 2014]
Through a myriad releases under both his own name and various monikers (The Caretaker, The Stranger, et. al.) on his History Favours the Winners label, James Leyland Kirby has explored the decay of sound, turning various pop cultural and musical detritus on its collective ear and into something wholly new and different. The overall effect created by this musical manipulation can be somewhat jarring at times, utterly euphoric at others. Above all else it is rarely tedious listening and almost always at least aesthetically appealing.
Operating under these curatorial guises, Kirby seeks to preserve a musical past as if half remembered from a dream, allowing sounds to settle in here and there, permeating the entirety of each track and creating a very visceral listening experience with his sonic deconstructions that goes beyond simple classification. Here and there are hints of what once was there: an errant cymbal crash, a massive synth wash, snatches of melody. But the majority of it is rendered so unrecognizable one would be hard pressed to identify the source material.
With The Death of Rave (A Partial Flashback) Kirby evokes a very specific, though highly distorted, time period as he utilizes tracks from the titular genre’s heyday to create a series of nightmares and dreamscapes. While the title ostensibly eludes to Kirby’s much larger work of the same name with the V/Vm Test label, the “flashback” in the title serves as just that: a distorted recollection of times long since passed filtered through the haze of memory, appropriately decomposing with time. It’s not always easy listening, but it’s certainly compelling.