This is what sprang to mind when I began writing this post. It is the Quatrain 51 from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, a translation by Edward FitzGerald of poems by Persian poet/mathematician/astronomer Omar Khayyám. Something about it relates both to the track which is the subject of this post and also to the long, desolate and pointless hiatus of YES/NO these past weeks.
'Highway Of Bygone Minds' is by a Belfast-based producer CM88 (irl: Charles Mullan). He's originally from Limavady which amongst other things is famous for being the place where the tune for 'Danny Boy' ('Londonderry Air') was collected from a fiddle player in the mid-19th century. But this is all beside the point. 'Highway Of Bygone Minds' as a title suggests loss, loneliness, a lament for something long fallen by the wayside: and the beautiful ambience of the music itself helps to illustrate this sentiment further.
Beginning with the sound of cars streaming up and down a road, the undulating synth at the heart of this track rises up like an all-encompassing fog, rolling along unrelentingly until it meets a steady, lightly bouncy, gradually more-and-more shuffling beat with ticking hi-hats that drives it onwards. Screaming distorted abrasions of synth lance out of the dank mind-melting fog like lightning from clouds, occasional ornamentations in the form of chimes ringing out like something half-forgotten at the back of the mind. It's a slice of intense, living-and-breathing electronica that reminded me of something Jon Hopkins might make.
The mood is wholly and wonderfully elegaic, almost triumphally so, conjuring stretched-out landscapes hemmed in by iron-coloured clouds, heavy monochrome days, endless rain; the condensation of inside blurring the drowned world outside the window. Bass booms and grinds, thickening the inescapable hubbub of the track, robust, more concrete patterns taking shape from the initial, thinner sweeps of sharpened noise that cuts through your mind. This is a huge Turner-esque oil painting, stamping and storming as much as it bursting with sadness to such a degree that it has become vague, indistinct.
- You can download the track from CM88's Bandcamp.
- It's taken from an upcoming EP called V which will arrive in January 2016.