Song of the day: NODE – Clock (1995)

Node was a one-off studio project that saw two leading record producers, Ed Buller and Flood, and their mates Dave Bessell and Gary Stout messing around in the studio with old synthesisers and sequencers. The brief was to create an updated version of the mid seventies Tangerine Dream space-rock sound without, as one critic spikily put it, “Edgar Froese’s annoying guitar solos”. The sessions were edited down to five lengthy tracks (three in excess of twelve minutes) and issued as an album on the Deviant label. There was a positive review in the Wire, but little reaction elsewhere, and the quartet got on with their day jobs.

Thirteen years on, it’s surprising how fresh Node still sounds. The cyclical sequencer patterns were pretty archaic even in 1995, but the contexts in which they are set hark back to an even earlier time of the beginning of the seventies when abstract electronic experimentation was all the rage, particularly in Germany. And yet it still comes across as surprisingly contemporary. With a top-notch backline crew involved, it’s not surprising the album still sounds fantastic, with a real depth and a full dynamic range.

Ten minute opener “Clock” is the stand-out track on a strong set. It starts with a hiss of random micro beats and abstract echo before coalescing into a complex percussive pulse over which an ominous drone begins to build with a seven-tone melodic figure, almost like an avant-garde ringtone, making an occasional appearance. There is a real sense of menace building over the continuous, relentlessly ticking two note bass riff. Other motifs come in to the foreground and fade out again as the piece grinds on, but then things began to fall away as gradually as they built, leaving a lonely figure that repeats and then stops. The threat has passed, and all is well.

Node has long been out of print, but I noticed that Amazon has a few second hand copies starting at a fiver. If you are a fan of the mid seventies world of Tangerine Dream and Harmonia, Brian Eno’s ambient works and even stuff like FSOL, I’d recommend the album highly.

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