0.0.20 by Tony Lien
As far as UK labels go, it’s hard to talk about the experimental cassette scene without mentioning Third Kind Records. Going on seven years since its founding in 2013, owner/operator Nicholas Langley has continuously been able to curate a catalog that satisfies just about any taste – with releases ranging from thoughtful lo-fi folk music to avant-classical synthesizer work.
Something I’ve always personally enjoyed and respected about Langley’s curation is his devotion to certain artists and a willingness to work with them time and time again as the years go on – like Nikmis, or (the artist in question today) Reflex Condition.
“Unknown Restraints” is Reflex Condition’s third release on Third Kind (see 2014’s “Dashboard” and 2016’s “Witch Flower”). Though it’s surely a logical extension (style-wise) of these previous releases, there is an amplified essence of passion and (sounds cheesy but) adventure in these tracks. Honestly, as the moody, aggressive synth leads somehow become personified and rip through the speakers and bounce off of the driving, underlying beats like deep-space acrobats, I can’t help but feel that Neil deGrasse Tyson is going to come cruising in on his Cosmos ship and whisk me off to Titan or Europa or some nameless nebula far beyond the reaches of the known universe.
Besides the energetic instrumentation, the most idiosyncratic aspect of “Unknown Restraints” is the occasional inclusion of vocal passages. In the second track, an ethereal, synthetic voice – which almost seems like that of an artificially intelligent entity soon after achieving singularity – beckons us: “Come with me, it’s not so bad…” Though you can speculate as to what is meant by this, I prefer to see it as an invitation to truly immerse yourself in the remainder of the album. The voice is right, if that’s the case: it’s not so bad. In fact, it’s breathtaking (a little more necessary cheesiness for you).
There are still copies available on the Third Kind Bandcamp. Do your small part for the perpetuation of the human race and buy a tape. We’ll never get to space without embracing the spirit of interstellar adventure that defines Reflex Condition’s killer electronic compositions.