The solo work of Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, whether under his own name or as Lichens, is of staggeringly high quality. His ever-growing discography that tirelessly maps out the effervescent zone between mutant techno, modular improvisation, droning ambient textures and his own voice. Despite this huge arsenal of electronics and sonic palette, the ever constant in these releases is focussed on squeezing as much as possible from a deliberately limited group of elements. Out of all that’s available, picking three or four aural strands and seeing how much he can exploit their similarities and differences.
Mind Kontrol is his latest release and groups 5 tracks recorded between 2016 and 2019. Despite the assumption, the tracks were recorded separately and only grouped together for this release, Mind Kontrol is a fully cohesive and blistering 57-minute odyssey.
The opening 16-minutes surges in with the vast Pavla Vlasova vs. Institute of Paranormal Studies. Curiously, the track is named after a character from the British 1970’s children’s series – The Tomorrow People. Quite what the connection is perhaps isn’t vital to understand, but a hugely engrossing agitated rhythmic spine is brain tickling immediately. Clipped percussive shards, stuttering layer fragments and thick electronic clouds all slowly spiral around each other. Huge banks of organ and vast dubby explosions slowly expand as the piece grows. The whole thing incrementally climbs into a huge throbbing mass before slowly dissolving itself back into tiny pixels of music.
Next up is the bone dry Stixus that quickly reveals a mirrored dub infused ping pong ball over the growing beat. Again, the elements growing slowly ragged, pulling themselves apart despite never losing sight of that driving momentum over another endlessly kaleidoscopic 14-minutes.
Perhaps, in a way, it somehow would be fine to expect the shortest track up next to be little more than a space to recover after these two epic openers. But Four Into Three (4-3) is just over 4 minutes of another incredible sonic event. Starting off like a flythrough of dangerously over-tensioned wires, the whole thing unexpectedly transitions into this weirdly blurred lysergic transmission.
The growing psychedelic surfaces of the sound continue into the woozy ripples of Rex-L-4. Looping, bleeping, undulating layers continually birthing new edges before abruptly finding focus halfway through in its almost 9-minute lifespan. However, the layers do again return in even more dynamic and mangled forms than previously, as the whole grows ever more hypnotic.
The closer, Glissade, feels like the densest and most cluttered Mind Kontrol has been. Everything here is coated in an electronic dust as the beat tries to separate itself from the syrupy foreground. Elements spark and fizz as the whole thing monstrously clanks along for a breath-taking quarter of an hour.
When Glissade finally disappears over the horizon, it’s clear that Mind Kontrol is wildly more than some casual grouping of tracks Lowe just had lying around the studio. Each track taken on its own are simply stunning bulbous electronic marvels, but they work even better together as this sequence. Each track has an addictive quality that only seems to lay the bedrock and intensifies each new track, the album is no less than a succession of mind-blowing highs.
Whatever magic is threaded deep at the heart of this music is simply breath taking – Mind Kontrol is an absolute electronic masterpiece.
Mind Kontrol is out now here