[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 The difference is that the chaotic aggression present in the debut has been replaced by pitch black darkness.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
USB Memory Stick 2014