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Isolation
Flat Coping

KEVIN TOMKINS Music For An Unprepared Autoharp

CD album | gg440
Kevin Tomkins is best known for his work in Whitehouse and his own group Sutcliffe Jugend, now called Sutcliffe No More. He also worked with Bodychoke, Inertia and Patient K. Most of his music has its background in the power electronics scene that evolved in Great Britain around the label Come Organisation and the group Whitehouse. Power electronics is a style of noise music that typically consists of static, screeching waves of feedback, analogue synthesizers making sub-bass pulses or high frequency squealing sounds; with screamed and distorted vocals. The genre is noted for its influence from industrial. It is generally atonal, like most noise music and also features a lack of conventional melodies or rhythms. To match its sonic excess, power electronics relies heavily upon extreme thematic and visual content: whether in lyrics, album art, or live performance actions. For his solo work, Kevin sometimes uses a very different style to his group work. An autoharp or chord zither is a string instrument belonging to the zither family. It uses a series of bars individually configured to mute all strings other than those needed for the intended chord. This album's music was all generated on such an instrument and is totally different to Sutcliffe No More. Its roots lie in avantgarde music rather than noise, with rhythms and melodies generated on the instrument. It was edited from over 20 different recordings to present an album of stunning variety and beauty. Full tracklist: 1. Isolation 2. Pen Tin Box 3. The Longest Walk 4. Trail 5. Rattles And Gentle Swells 6. Riding An Offal Swing 7. Quiet 8. Skin Draft 9. Bow Street 4AM 10. Bitten 11. Flat Coping 12. Eleventh Flaw 13. Dark Star Rising 14. Fifth Flaw 15. Harmonic Wires 16. Only Birds 17. Tone Rattles And Swells 18. When The Carnival Is Over. Price: € 19,-/copy incl. worldwide shipping.

The direct-in-your-face approach works very well and is, in that respect, on the same level as his Sutcliffe work, but it works on an entirely different level. I especially enjoyed the pieces in which he worked with overtones from the autoharp (which is a kind of zither. It uses a series of bars individually configured to mute all strings other than those needed for the intended chord, so says the information), creating a kind of drone music that we dont hear a lot, sharp and loud.
(Vital Weekly, July 2023)