- He's a hard one to pin down, that Leyland James Kirby. Throughout the '00s, he was best known as a trickster, some bastard spawn of GG Allin, Andy Kaufman and Negativland, who recorded wry, antagonistic electronic music as V/Vm, Alien Porno Midgets, Notorious P.I.G. and a passel of similarly skewed monikers. (Among his antics was a fake Pole track that FatCat pressed up, in good faith, as Stefan Betke's legitimate work.) Then, in 2009, he seemed to have a change of heart with Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was, a sextuple LP / triple CD of some of the saddest ambient this side of William Basinski. Somewhere in between those poles of the sacred and the profane, there's The Caretaker, which offers a particularly British take on nostalgia via music he terms "haunted ballroom."
And then there's this, apparently the first in a new series of four 12-inch EPs for his History Always Favours The Winners label. The title he attributes to a remark Martin Hannett made regarding Tony Wilson's Factory—"There's an awful lot of incest that goes on… Intrigue and stuff"—but it may not illuminate much. In truth, it doesn't have to; the music is a relatively straightforward affair, dense with detuned synthesizers and creaky effects.
The opening "Video 2000" is the most surefooted and declarative thing here—eight minutes long, with heavily overdriven synthesizers glinting above a 100 BPM drum groove; it sounds a little like Boards of Canada that's been run through the meat grinder (in a good way). The other five tracks are more oblique. Their ragged, analog sound seems intended to evoke a range of early synthesizer music, from Delia Derbyshire to the British Electronic Foundation, an '80s band with ties to the Human League and Heaven 17. But Kirby never contents himself with pure, electronic abstractions; his songwriting is grounded in much more conventionally musical ideas. "Re-Record Not Fade Away" sounds a little like one of Raymond Scott's blippy children's lullabies, and "Low Entropy" is a fugue for charred music boxes; "Neon Lit Storms" sounds like a Windham Hill MIDI file that's been fed through a bank of Junos, recorded to tape and left in the sun. The most involving selections, "Ruined Visions" and "Live for the Future, Long for the Past," are slow-moving chordscapes somewhere between Brian Eno, Oneohtrix Point Never and an ensemble of haunted bagpipes, distorted to the point where frequencies chafe and blister.
01. Video 2000
02. Re-Record Not Fade Away
03. Neon Lit Atoms
04. Live for the Future, Long for the Past
05. Low Entropy
06. Ruined Visions