- "Use your power and influence to help other people. Never try to gain power for your own pleasure or supremacy. Decepticons are everywhere but together we can defeat them." That's a message from the vinyl-only Zooloft label, which clearly positions itself as a label of conscience for critical times. ("We still try" is their motto.)
Fortunately, Giorgio Gigli and Obtane's music backs up the well-meaning sentiment. For the most part, it's dusky, echo-laden techno with faintly psychedelic, vaguely industrial stirrings—droning, minor-key, filled with grumbling clatter and the kind of reverb that you might associate with Grand Central Terminal long after the fall of humankind. The tracks are clearly evocative of the Dettmann/Klock school of post-apocalyptic funk, but with a difference: they're incredibly soft, wooly things. Turn them up as loud as you want, and they still don't sound harsh: the mids and highs are expertly filtered so as to melt away as soon as the cracks ring out, leaving fathoms of mossy detail down in the shadows.
"Psychological Scene of the Imagination," the A side, assembles itself out of a tight spiral of bass gurgle and straight 16th-note hi-hats, counterbalanced by distant, slow-moving synthesizer pads and what might be washes of sampled orchestra; reverb and delay play just as crucial a role, blurring everything but the crisp, biting cymbals and rimshots. For all its drive, it's a profoundly relaxed track, a vision of techno at its most horizontal. Milton Bradley's remix is deeper, less a question of levitation than waveform spelunking, availing itself of only a handful of percussive sounds and bellowing, rhythmic delay. All the real action is in the subtle harmonic shifts in the midrange, which take the track to a dimension far beyond by-the-numbers dub techno.
The record's most striking track, though, is the B2, a 100-BPM cycle of 16th-note bass throb, organ drones and a tentative, three-note Rhodes melody. Resonant feedback and further synthesizers—string pads, gnarly FM tones—fill out the space of the track, changing shape and color, suggesting a more sinister Oneohtrix Point Never. Given its tempo and its suffocating mood, most of us will probably never get the chance to hear it on a big system, which is a shame. But it's wonderful that Zooloft dedicated a swath of vinyl to the possibility. They do, indeed, still try.
A Psychological Scene of the Imagination
B1 Psychological Scene of the Imagination (Milton Bradley Mix)
B2 Psychological Scene of the Imagination (Psychoacoustic Edit)