Electronica regularly comes with all the surprise of flat-pack furniture; often feeling layered and constructed rather than imagined and discovered (a consequence of machine design and an absence of human creative interaction). Throughout the drum machine era, the dominance of squared-away robotic rhythms has been contested by those who would reinvigorate computer music with squishy organic bulge, furl and spunk.
The Stargazer’s Assistant definitely falls into the latter camp. It’s understandable that Remoteness of Light should feature former Coil and Cyclobe members, mastering from a member of Supersilent, production from a member of Finnish experimentalists Circle; it’s a meeting of minds with a long history of suborning machine sound beneath human complexity. There’s a very ‘live’ feeling to the three tracks (a fourth track is exclusive to the double vinyl and to those ordering direct from House of Mythology) that twist and writhe across this hour-long journey.
While avoiding regularity or stability, the arrival or departure of musical elements never juts out in an ungainly manner, never jabs at the listener – everything flows and dissipates with an attractive naturalness. It’s Michael J. York’s pipes that dominate most thoroughly – it’s rare for other instruments to stand out quite as starkly. Touches of percussion might gloss or add weight here or there, heavily treated guitars spark occasionally, otherwise the base layer throughout is gaseous electronic gusts and zephyrs that propel the listener onward and deeper. The oddest moment is the space-age bossanova that kicks off 15 minutes into the title track – a danceable moment that shows omnipresent 4/4 beats and clean digital sounds aren’t essential when it comes to kicking bodies into motion.