Particle Transport is the second analogue synth release from Melbourne’s Tom Hall (solo, A. Wallace & Tom Hall, Habitat Tapes label) following Nocturnal Arc on Danish label Phinery in 2017. This one is all about slowly shifting rhythms and textures, ambience with an undercurrent, abstract spatial fields sparsely inhabited by strange echoes. The setup for these improvised recordings was a Korg MS-10 with sequencer, loop pedal, sampler and effects, all used with a good dose of restraint to create minimalist structures that have plenty of space. In opening track Caldera, an android melody circles above bubbling synth noise, gently rising to a plateau before stretching out and then ending abruptly. Cave Pearls is composed of three layers, a lower frequency phrase repeating above the interjections of cosmic fizzing sounds and off-kilter percussive jabs; it reminds me a bit of the first track on John Bender’s I Don’t Remember Now… but I don’t know if Bender’s music has occupied Tom’s ears or not. There are psychedelic sounds here too, especially on the burbling Saharan-like melody of Dune Field and closing track Stone Circle with its muted, otherworldly tones and trance-inducing descending melody.
In reference to his current workings, Tom’s been listening to everyone from Terry Riley and electronic composer Eliane Radigue to German kosmische, ambient synth pioneer Pauline Anna Strom and a wide assortment of more recent artists, among them James Ferraro and Sean McCann. He had also been making and recording sounds of various kinds for a good while before coming to the MS-10, including American primitive-style guitar and banjo rituals (like the excellent Sifting Through on Albert’s Basement), as well as harmonium drones, tape noise and field-recordings. Diverse tastes in other words. Perhaps what connects Tom’s synth-based work to many of his earlier recordings is what he describes as an “expanding and contracting effect on the perception of time and space” – that would definitely explain the feeling of movement within stasis that I experience when listening to this album. – Tim P.
Limited edition of 33 hand-numbered CDRs