tondiue – Harvest
8.1.23 by Matty McPherson
There are several blue rooms that we encounter in our lives from time to time. Take for instane, the AT&T Blue Room, a streaming application that you could watch coachella through with 2k9 state of the art internet! Or how about The Orb – Blue Room, the 40 minute maxi single with Jah Wobble on bass and a Top of the Pops appearance in which a friendly game of chess was played. I’ve returned to the later a lot during spring and summer, partially because I find Blue Room’s sequencing to have an expansive, composer-oriented idea of what it was to accomplish: a water walk for ravers, basically. Such things are quite giving.
It’s Tuesday morning and I woke up to 2 notifications, one of which from a gentleman in Europe imploring me to look at the cassette(!) Resident Advisor just reviewed. And immediately based on the “Side A Continuous” & “Side B Continuous” mixes of tondiue’s Harvest, it seemed like a given that a lot of early 90s Orb energy was being summoned into this 60-minute tour-de-force; one as giving as that water walk perhaps. tondiue’s Harvest is a particular creative beast comprised of 2 ~30 minute longforms that terraform their way through their 3 parts. Cameron Kelley, a Pacific Northwest soundsmith and clubber based up in Seattle, is the producer and composer of these gargantuan pieces. They were both of which were written and performed for the 2022 Ground Hum & Active/Passive festivals in the Pacific Northwest, which might be a bit of a key giveaway to the general pacing of these pieces and their regionality. However, I genuinely do not see eye to eye with the resident advisor’s review of this piece’s influences, especially because so much of what Harvest represents is early 90s Mr. Modo catalog.
It’s a credit to Kelley that Lilypad purposely wants you to spread out and sprawl through the reef of its first dozen or so minutes. There’s more in common with Pacific Northwest stalwarts PJS’ sense of stilted atmospherics and vibes than outright rave noise or an endless spiraling crescendo found here. There’s walloping arpeggio and flexuous vibratos that give the sense of a close encounter with a galactic entity, but it’s only a few hazy reverberations away from full on rural psychedelia. By the piece’s second progression, watery percussive, akin to well…lilypads, and slight alien noise begins to give a form and retracts the ambient sprawl into a forward momentum. Suddenly, we’re in that final third, slinking and shimmering our way to the finish. It’s here where Kelley really hits on the pulp quirks that makes early Orb still such a delight to turn to. Bleeps, ray gun sounds, random voices wailing or sprawling out…it’s a giggly kind of psychedelic dance that beckons to you to come in without ever devolving to insular headphone music. All neatly tied to a bow as in its final moment it recalls the piece’s opening vibratos into a kickin’ breakbeat that quickly evaporates into liquid komische.
Koye almost preserves that liquid komische state at the start, just now as a radiating drone; massive EQ’d frequencies rising and falling as synthetic bass chews the sides of the scene. It’s effervescent, lucid dreamscaping for that first dozen or so minutes, only slowly introducing a beat that sounds akin to synthetic bowls being manipulated. Eventually by its middle mark, tondiue has revealed a drum pattern & ambience akin to the work of Bill Laswell’s Material of the early 90s or the Towers of Dub themselves; if you know Material’s Mantra (the praying mantis mix done by the Orb), then a lot of the piece’s tribal techno/”is this O.Rang?” codifiers and energy snap into focus. Seriously, by Koye’s second half, tondiue is full-blown in an Astralwerks Excursions in Ambience revival mode straight gunning to get on a theoretical volume 5. It’s to its credit that he doesn’t reach for the overbearing psychedelic overload, but stays grounded to the floor with the synth noise and that ever-shifting dubtronic beat. By the track’s close we’re borderline sampling the organ of Ride’s Leave Them All Behind and turning it on its side into a legitimate mantra before reducing itself to an electro state and bowing out. Although you could just put it on repeat and get lost for hours.
Limited Tape Available at the Sym Sym (Mor Elian & Rhyw’s Fever AM sister Label) page!