REVISIO: Phantom vs Fire | Superbloom ll

In a relativity short period of time, Brazil’s Thiago Desant who goes by the name Phantom vs Fire, has built a potent discography. Certainly, for OBLADADA, last year’s My Mind As Your Amusement Park was a superbly realised, hugely varied journey through all sorts of electronic marriages.  Filmic sampled atmospherics dusted with ragged pixilation and rhythmic eruptions like a weirdly active strain of ambience. However, this variation meant listeners might well feel drawn to either of the two dominate forces at play – the woozy drift or the rhythmic spikiness…

Superbloom ll is essentially a fully realised vision of last year’s Superbloom ep but it’s anything but simply a bulked out version to reach a more album friendly play time. It’s also much more of an exploration of Desant’s more texturally and pared back approach. A collection of 11 intercepted transmissions beamed from the heart of some far of hanging nebula. Whilst the packaging positions Superbloom ll like a computer game from the 80’s, its contents are more like echoes from early 70’s deeply kosmiche German electronics.

 

Immediately the album opens up like stepping onto a hyper reality where the surfaces shine like oily smudges filled with countless weird plants and rainbow plumaged aliens. Lost Words cascades out of a knot of tumbling keys that float around processed flute and strings. Through a heat haze, Cleanse tugs at the Geiger counter before trailing fantastical iridescent dragonflies over mercury pools. Descant describes this collection as a mediation of sorts on plants as observed by a botanist on a journey. The landscape as a clutter of structures and creativity revealing new forms at every turn…

Cosmic Error and Downpour convey the build-up and release of pressure, clouds crashing into each other and the pizzicato of water droplets thundering down on outstretched spikey limbs. Lavender describes dark columns like a long slow camera pan only a few millimetres off the ground before a strange backwards dynamism of Reprogrammed By Water gentle animates.

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It’s clear to see the connection between Desant’s photographic work and his music.  Photo by Thiago Desant

Giving the underlining concept, The Botanist paints a more clearly defined presence with waves of ascending keys. This clarity of sound peaks and dissolves into an extended bleeping wormhole before the static beauty of E Song gently floats along like airborne seeds.

In this setting Yucca Valley feels somehow hectic and cluttered but perfectly ques the album’s undoubted highlight From Amboy to Zzyzx. Rising like the part of a film that’s just dropped a major plot detail, the Morse code bleeping gives way to a ghostly psychedelic orchestra that feels like Bobby Beausoleil’s Lucifer Rising bounced back from a nearby star.

The closer The Right To Roam could easier have taken the form of a sleepy come down but decides to head somewhere far more fragmented. Here the cycles, symmetric and pleasure melding of sound we have bathed in until now become a clattering chopped up mess.

This whole 45 minute album ultimately feels like an environment straight out of the best VR landscape you have ever imagined. It’s the sound of the night jungle in Avatar or what your brain might hear whilst reading Carlos Castaneda describing some desert hallucination accompanied by some imaginary orchestra. As a listener in the northern hemisphere beginning to dream of Summer and the heat coming off the ground, the scent of nature awoken, the vibrance of colours, Superbloom ll is an unashamed synthetic and glorious conjuring of just that.


Superbloom ll is released on March 10 on cassette and digital on Mystic Timbre 

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