Steve Queralt & Michael Smith / Sun Moon Town / Bytes

The latest release on Ran$om Note off-shoot, Bytes, pairs the music of Ride bassist, Steve Queralt, with the poetry of Michael Smith. Partnering symphonic post-techno, post-rock, electronica with pithy, socio-political prose. 

On Chaldean Oracle, spare guitar chimes, stretched into treated metallic arcs, synergise with a slow, sad, orchestral swoon, as the lyric likens Youtube to a hall of mirrors, and Facebook to a land of lost souls. Detailing small hours spent online, wasted, searching for answers, and warning of the destructive dangers of information overload. The title, I think, is a reference to Babylon, and the piece rings like a requiem to reason, while still hanging onto the hope of finding a way through. 

In A Wonderland opens with bucolic birdsong, offset by ominous drones, and finds Michael waking from a slumber of promise, and possibility, to the day’s grinding disappointments. Remembering a youth well spent in London’s late night nefarious neon. Mourning that those parties, and places, are long gone. Clubs and boozers – The French Pub, Bar Italia – replaced with plastic pretenders that are a bit like, but not. Sequences spiralling, as those drones become deafening, and the poem’s protagonist talks of bumping K, microdosing on `shrooms – tapping into mycelial memories – and eroding “the rot of time.” Recounting winter evenings sat in front of the telly, plugged into the cosmic consciousness as a means of escape. Vespertina, in contrast, is a hymn to healing sunshine, and the powerful pull of the Moon’s tides. A driving motorik beat eventually dominating it`s serene, shoegaze-y shapes.

The most striking narrative, though, might be Glitches, where backwards shredding and cycling post-classical strings accompany Michael as he describes a real, not Sci-Fi, dystopia. Fanfares and drum machines backing the juxtaposed images of poverty and wealth. Food banks versus gentrification. Painting a post-Brexit landscape, a dark ages thrown into shadow by commerce’s towering satanic spires. Taking to task a malevolent media and advertising monster that manipulates the masses by means of manufactured fears and desires. Selling a future that no one wants. Mr. Smith, frankly shocked and appalled, alienated and fucking staggered, at the sights of a consumerist, disaster capitalist, nightmare. Wondering, “What kind of a cunt’s dream is this?”

Steve Queralt & Michael Smith`s Sun Moon Town is released this Friday, on Bytes. It`s thoroughly recommended if you’re digging the work of Joe Duggan, Cobby & Litten, Mike Garry, and the remember the righteous Big Hard Excellent Fish. 

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