Nine years in, Martin Jenkins is still chasing the slick synth dystopia under the guise of Pye Corner Audio. For his latest, Hollow Earth, he jumps just left of Stasis, his 2016 LP for Ghost Box. Still steeped in the disembodied bio-mechanics of a future rendered sterile, cut off from contact through the invisible walls of technology and anxiety, but less blunt than its predecessor. The album practically glides off the glossy curves of plastic fixtures. It recycles air in dry batches to keep the home sterile – livable, but not lived-in. The plants are all poised to give the air some much needed oxygen, but like the rest of the environment, they seem curated rather than organic.
PCA’s work has drawn as ever from the kind of sci-fi soundtracks that have been finding homes on Death Waltz, Mondo, and Waxworks. There’s definitely the feeling that there’s a flicker of film somewhere missing its soundtrack. There’s also nods to the pulse of ‘90s Berlin as the album slides into its midsection. The creepy calm of “Descent” and the title track are replaced by heart-quickening adherence to beat – though Jenkins doesn’t shift gears hard and hairy, the anxious pulse creeps up the spine of the album weaving through the New Age warbles like a germ before it breaks like a fever sweat – almost imagined, almost unreal.
Any fans of Pye Corner Audio should feel right at home here, but nonetheless this is more refined than Jenkins has sounded since Sleep Games. There’s an icy confidence that pins this to the pineal gland, lulling the listener into a somnambulant waking dream state that’s surreal and uncomfortable. Ghost Box rarely dissipation, and Pye Corner Audio delivers another slice of surreal synth that stands up to anything in his catalog.
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