20. Eat Static – ‘Implant’

Posted: March 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Album Review, Ambient, Ambient Techno, Techno | Tags: | No Comments »

Eat Static - 'Implant'

Eat Static * Implant * Planet Dog * 1995

“You could feel it, coming, coming down from the sky…”

For a generation raised on Star Wars and Star Trek, the techno trance outfit Eat Static were a godsend. Taking their name from the movie The Wrath of Khan — “Let them eat static!” –¬†Joie Hinton and Merv Pepler, former bandmates of the psychedelic rock group Ozric Tentacles, jumped ship to join the growing ranks of the outdoor techno circuit of ’90s England. Out in the midnight fields, the two found a wide frontier of sonic possibilities. Hinton brought his keyboard skills to bear, inventing a whole new vocabulary of UFO bleeps, alien burps and wormhole whoops. In one sense, he was the Ben Burtt of trance music. Pepler on the other hand was a mad percussionist, who matched Hinton’s wild shapes perfectly with big bass patterns and warp-speed rhythms.

Soon the two hippie boys from Somerset were blasting rave kids to the heavens. Hitched to Planet Dog, a label of like-minded acts including Banco De Gaia and Timeshard, the duo quickly found themselves headlining some of the biggest rave nights in England, especially Michael Dog’s Club Dog and “Megadog” events.

Their third and best album, Implant, was a triumph of the strange and still remains one of the landmark electronica releases of the ’90s. Built around a clever catch of sci-fi B-movie and TV samples (“I’m picking up abnormal interference.” and “The space-time continuum may be permanently damaged.”), Eat Static conceived Implant as a visitation from extraterrestrials that sweep us off on an intergalactic space hop. Openers ‘Survivors’ and ‘Abnormal Interference’ freak to pulverizing bass and booming beats, weird chants and inventive funk bordering on a kind of alien speech.

But Eat Static’s play on sonic imagery is less about little green men and more about the great unknown. The eponymous ‘Implant’ sounds something like an alien abduction, but from behind the pilot console of a badass flying saucer. It zips to a relentless groove while a cascade of grooving synths whip out of thin air. A twisting TB-303 fries the atmosphere as a euphoric gas hovers in over the mystery, until silence is greeted by the supersonic pow of our quantum traveller. “There’s something different about Larrrrry.”

Eat Static has to be taken with a grain of salt. Their goofy UFO schtick is as humorous as it is aspirational. And it’s that slap of laughter that readies the mind for their bigger gestures of musical ambition. Hard, fast, zany, and yes, beautiful. ‘Area 51 (Nucleonic Mix)’ is a gentle jaunt into nocturnal bliss. Its dreamlike sonics flicker like some beckoning Pulsar until the intercom growl of our martian pilot lets loose subsonic bass and trails of melodic wonder. But that’s not all. Building with its throaty welling, ‘Area 51′ peaks with an explosion of low frequency oscillations, like a rope sending waves out into the infinite horizon. “How’s it going out there?” “There’s something out here!”

‘Cydonia’ kicks it up a parsec. “Martian computer control. Martian computer control.” The Earth shrinks away in the distance as warping synths snarl like cosmic harmonicas and tribal drums wind up the flight deck. Planets and stars fly by as Eat Static throttle things into hyperdrive, a calm sweeping over the bridge as if we’ve entered a new dimension, time slowing down as light-speed lands us in the ultimate relativity high.

Floating down from a spaceship hangar with ‘Uforic Undulance,’¬†Implant plants its flag on a magical moon, a Pandora before there was a Pandora. The cries and squawks of zero-gravity animals. The breeze through purple branches of a fractal jungle. The climbing undulations of liquid lightening. Then one of the most wicked grooves this side of Pluto kick-starts the moon buggy, drums skitter-scattering overhead as crystalline melodies rain down from pink morphing clouds. The plaintive flute of an alien Orpheus calls from afar as bright little riffs, sounding like the buzzy buttons of some cockpit keyboard, answer in funky technological reply. It’s pure genius.

1. Survivors
2. Abnormal Interference
3. Implant
4. Dzhopa Dream
5. Panspermia
6. Area 51 (Nucleonic Mix)
7. Cydonia
8. Uforic Undulance

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