Peter Christopherson – Time Machines II


[Reviewed by Peter Marks]

Yet another spectral issuance comes out of the ether and into our ears. This release had been in the planning phases as far back as when COIL still existed so it’s somewhat strange to only get it now that both of them have departed the terrestrial realm, but regardless, ‘Time Machines II’ represents something I’d always wanted to hear: a solo record from Peter Christopherson. Now, some may quibble and say that The Choir was him on his own and there’s something to that; it was still a project name and not his own. For those who own the Amulet edition, what’s going on here won’t come across as being quite so aberrant…everyone else might do well to prepare themselves. Those three ELpH tracks from the ‘Born Again Pagans’ EP were a harbinger of things to come.

I can feel the layers of my mind being gently compressed and re-aligned by this album, just as they were by the first Time Machines record. The difference is that the chaotic aggression present in the debut has been replaced by pitch black darkness. No beginning. No end. One just drifts along with the current directing both thought and action in a very subversive manner. I don’t have the same sense of something violent being done to my synapses but I somehow become more and more aware of my own mortality listening to this thing, perhaps that is what Christopherson was after given that this material was done close to the end of his own life. The shuffling off of that mortal coil, so to speak.

What is most present in these recordings would be the same kind of marauding, disorienting sound field experimentation he did so well along with Jhonn Balance. The weight of these compositions is immense, a density reading would no doubt come away broken. There just isn’t any kind of method or test to define the parameters of the elements at play on here, and even if there were, who’d want the mystery dispelled. The slight of hand card tricks which others happily bandy about as avant-garde just fall down upon themselves and are revealed to be nothing but a faulty house of cards. Sleazy never really got into discussing how he made the music he did… no matter how many interviewers probed and prodded, he would not give anything up.

As with SoiSong, there’s a fabulous design element to what he’s given up here. And, naturally, a highly limited aspect is present as well. Those who want this thing are prepared to pay dearly to obtain it, and who can fault them? Christopherson was, without doubt, a master manipulator of acoustical space, one who could bend choirs out of inert objects and who also had a director’s eye. Remember, quite a few videos were authored by him and many may surprise you. His range was one of personal settings, an arrangement of tastes which made sense to no one else. I’ve read how he constructed the machines used to make this record himself which, if true, would take us right back to the beginnings when Chris Carter built electronic creations for him in Throbbing Gristle.

So it all has come full circle. I suspect I’m going to be hearing more of these kinds of things as I grow older and to tell you the truth, I’ve been waiting for them since my 20s. The end-of-life auditory journals of artists and the machines which are all they have left, stripped of the banality of youth and the trappings of social surroundings… all that remains are those sounds. Long after their creators are no more, the fruit of their imagination lingers on. Flickering, like the wings of myriad butterflies anchoring the rudder of fate.

Peter Christopherson
Time Machines II
Threshold House
USB Memory Stick 2014

10 responses to “Peter Christopherson – Time Machines II

  1. Have been pondering whether to get this USB for many months, despite not being able to afford it! Glad it’s finally out, though. All power to Sleazy, wherever he may be now.

  2. There will no doubt be a digital version released at some point in the future. You won’t be disappointed.

    • Have heard the whole ‘album’ via YouTube now. First impression – rather head-altering (as intended) with only coffee to accompany it! But some of it’s strangely close to ‘music’. Wasn’t expecting that. What a void Sleazy (and Balance) left when they left us.

  3. Beautiful review-Thank you.
    (yes I have a copy of the special edition and it is already giving me pleasure and I haven’t even listened to the ‘music(k)’ yet-that is tonight when it is dark and minds are altered.

  4. If you have the bonus cd-r for Moon’s Milk, play it after TMII. The sights you’ll see…

  5. Mine has been dispatched although I have scanned the youtube uploads. At a glance it appears to have fallen way short of Time Machines. The sounds are too complex and cheap. I have been involved with synth diy since 2008 and these noises are very simple one chip noise boxes you would make in your first year. The packaging looks ok although the dials on the outer casing could have been more thoughtfully placed. I don’t want to click on the videos again or I may spoil any surprises. Judging by what I have heard though, I would have liked something more minimal.

  6. Jhonn was not involved this time around, so there are bound to be some differences. The name may tie both these albums together thematically but one is Coil, the other is not. They compliment each other very well, I only wish TMII had gotten a vinyl issue as well. Then the circle would truly be complete.

  7. OK. Got mine in the mail a couple of days ago. It’s a very well made object. I was surprised at how heavy it weighed. The sounds are better than I expected. No regrets with the purchase at all. However, the original Time Machines is still my favourite.

  8. There’s no topping the original. Especially if you own it on vinyl. Good to hear you’re enjoying TMII!

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