The 7th Plain - Chronicles II & III

  • Adventurous ambient techno from Luke Slater's resurrected '90s alias.
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  • In recent years, Luke Slater's The 7th Plain alias has acquired new relevance. The rise in appreciation for ambient techno of the early '90s, from B12's Time Tourist to Move D's Kunststoff, has eased the way for a reappraisal of Slater's ambient work, which he released on General Production Recordings between 1993 and 1995. The Ostgut Ton sub-label A-Ton launched in 2016 with Chronicles I, the first in a trilogy of compilations of remastered music from The 7th Plain. Now, the label has released the remaining two sets, Chronicles II and Chronicles III. It's easy to be lulled into the chilly fog that cloaks much of Slater's music as The 7th Plain. The shimmering techno jazz of "Silver Shinhook" opens Chronicles II in a weightless, heavy-lidded haze that lingers over the kick drum-powered tracks that follow. By contrast, Convex" is defined by brittle, metallic drums, punchy stabs and nagging acid lines, though the lighter footfall to the rhythm and a liberal dose of misty chords temper its agitated mood. These spikes in energy also avoid a common pitfall in ambient techno, in which tracks tend to melt into the background. Sometimes that's the whole point—the chill-out room culture of the '90s with which this music aligns was as much about socialising as it was about attentive listening. But "JDC" tests the limits of The 7th Plain's billing as ambient. Its hyped-up, modulating zaps and sharp claps might unsettle anyone expecting something calm and nurturing. The 7th Plain works best when Slater brings together these experimental instincts with his resplendent melodies. "Lost," a highlight from The 4 Cornered Room, surges with drums that strain under a blanket of hi-hats that sound like a particularly savage rain shower. When such feisty programming is paired with vast, bombastic slabs of orchestral synth, the results are spellbinding. Is it too intense for the fragile ecosystem of the afters? Maybe. But these untamed qualities are precisely what gives the music such vitality.
  • Tracklist
      Chronicles II 01. Silver Shinhook 02. Astra Naut-E 03. Wand Star 04. Convex 05. I Think I Think Too Much 06. JDC 07. To Be Surreal 08. Big Field Chronicles III 01. Time Melts 02. Reality Of Space 03. Excalibur's Radar 04. Millentum 05. Lost 06. Think City 07. Shades Amaze 08. Seeing Sense