McCarthy was immersed in the Auckland rave scene for most of a decade, making often high-intensity music under names like Mechanism and Chaos Reader. But at the end of the '90s, feeling dissatisfied, he began to read the Hare Krishna literature he'd bought on the street and was using to prop up his studio monitors. The religion would come to define his life: in around 2000, he moved into an ashram in Wellington, followed by stays in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, before settling in Brisbane, where he currently works at a Krishna restaurant. But before his ego fell away completely, he made a record that captured a life in transition.
Inside A Quiet Mind tackles common techno preoccupations of the time. It opens in watery dub techno space, and later, in "First Reflections," plays with dappled Basic Channel chords. Elsewhere, its succinct grooves and machine soul recall Robert Hood. But '90s Berlin and Detroit were concrete places—McCarthy's landscape is internal and immaterial. His music sounds of the time but also outside of it, and the past two decades haven't robbed it of its quiet power.
McCarthy resurfaced in 2015 with the Delsin reissue of his other release as Micronism, 1999's Steps To Recovery. This album, now pressed to vinyl by New Zealand label Loop, features all four tracks from that EP plus seven more that broaden and deepen his internal world. The biggest surprises are the downtempo tracks, head-nod beatdowns that give the synths room to think. "Rainbow City," with its somersaulting arps, is an album highlight. The hard-swung drums of "An Unfulfilled Wish" are bookended by serene new age chords, as if McCarthy's dance floor urges were already floating in the deeper current that would soon carry them away.
There's not much room for doubt in this world of pastel shades and pillowy textures. Only "Restless Address" is darker, its ominous pads and oily, lugubrious melody hinting at the uncertainty that comes with a major life change. Elsewhere, occasional shadows are soon chased away, as on "Engaging Causeless Mercy" (the title is lifted from Hare Krishna literature), or on "Dissolution," where, after two or so minutes of rainy gloom, the bassline shifts into a sentimental mode and dazzling dub chords burst into the mix like a revelation.
Tue / 15 Aug 2017
01. Constructing Space
02. First Reflections
03. Rainbow City
05. Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars
06. An Unfulfilled Wish
07. Restless Address
08. Engaging Causeless Mercy
10. Contemplating A Quiet Mind
11. Steps To Recovery