Helm Olympic Mess PAN
Luke Younger has always been one of the more beguiling noise/ concréte mavens in a UK under- ground positively brimming with them. But Olympic Mess – a sprawling, hour-long masterpiece of rich textural ambience and, potentially, PAN’s finest release yet – presents an unexpected segue from the subterranean mire of his past work. Instead, Younger reaches skywards, towards the celestial void, and the results are utterly thrilling – a resonant, subtle and masterfully composed opus, in a genre where artists are so often satisfied by blunt frequency abuse and stagnant fugs of ‘mood’.
The Hollow Organ, Younger’s last record as Helm, was particularly marked by a grinding claustrophobia that manifested itself in his visceral, piercing live sets. Here, an overarching sense of space pervades, flitting between evoking a dead, distant cosmos, and channelling something more immediate and organic.
Balearic house and dub-techno are heavily cited as influences on the record, both of which – along with flecks of library music, Radiophonic soundtracks and a little of the steely, robotic IDM of Autechre – are resplendently prevalent here; the former particularly in the insistent, buried kicks of album centrepiece Outerzone 2015, the latter more widespread but pinpointed in the cavernous acousmatic shufflings of Sky Wax (London). Often Destroyed factors actual strings, a magisterially pastoral drone symbiotically heightened by its bed of static; and, in album closer Sky Wax (NYC), a smothering noise reminiscent of the late, great Yellow Swans’ Going Places. It’s as panoramically emotive as it is smothering.