An album of singular wrongness that does a lot with very little.
"I quite like the idea of doing something wrong and capturing the resonance part of it and sort of using that," Tribe Of Colin said to FACT last year. He mentions, in vague terms, Buddhism and his own spiritual practice, though more than anything it's this idea of wrongness that defines Tribe Of Colin's music. His style is deeply meditative but also spontaneous, an understated and improvisational approach to house and techno. Sometimes it barely feels like dance music at all.
Tribe Of Colin records everything live with a Roland SP-404 sampler, which is where some of that wrongness comes in. "Eye Of Ra" cloaks its rickety framework in a heavy flange effect, and then starts to sputter and cough after five minutes of steady repetition, while the spartan drum track "Woman Of Amazon" pulls itself apart back together again. The effect on both is sudden, like a reel running out of tape. The melodies on "Alan" sound slightly off-key, and "Frequency Interference" is a booming broken-beat track sculpted from distortion and fuzz, the sound of a machine malfunctioning. These unexpected sounds and left turns help Tribe Of Colin's music transcend familiar techno and dub frameworks.
Some of the best tracks on Age Of Aquarius are almost entirely percussion. They're droning and repetitive, stretching upwards of ten minutes, like the album's incredible opener "Creator God," which features a hiccuping bassline, a slow kick and the occasional syrupy synth line. Every once in a while a hi-hat comes in, and the effect is transfixing. On paper, these are the classic elements of any old house track. In Tribe Of Colin's hands, there's always something just out of reach, hidden between the lines.
Age Of Aquarius comes via Honest Jon's Records, a London institution that has released music from electronic experimentalists like Actress, Shackleton and T++. Those comparisons feel apt because, like those artists, Tribe Of Colin has found something profound to say with the building blocks of dance music: drums, synths and repetition. It's hard to explain the appeal of a record like Age Of Aquarius without hearing it, because it's essentially just drum machines and a few synth sounds. (As Mark Smith said in his review of Tribe Of Colin's 2017 EP Wide Berth, this music will have "you reaching for nonexistent genre hybrids to explain its distinct character.") Tribe Of Colin himself isn't about to give anything away either. His FACT interview hints at layers of personal intent buried in his blank-faced rhythms, but they're only that—hints. Age Of Aquarius instead invites you to find your own meaning in its decayed drums and wonky melodies, an album whose stubborn imperfection makes it truly singular.
Thu / 31 Oct 2019
01. Creator God
03. Ogun Calling
04. Eye Of Ra
05. Woman Of Amazon
07. Paradise Lost
08. Frequency Interference
09. Cradle To The Sunset