Main: Ablation – album review

MAIN – Ablation  (Editions Mego)


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An admission and a confession, the latter of which I am not proud. But first the admission: I have an intense love of Robert Hampson, purely in the musical sense you will understand. A Gilded Eternity – the final Loop sonic masterpiece (more than hinting at what would follow) – is in my Top 10 albums and Main’s “Clear” has always been my favourite track on ‘MFTEQ… Ghafran’, which Robert kindly lent this old Deadhead two decades ago. So, now the confession. Surprising, as it may seem I lost touch, lost track. Oh fuck, just admit, I got lazy and succumbed on the whole to a far easier listening suite, the result being Robert’s output has somewhat passed me by. Retracing steps this seems to lead all the way back to 1998 and Firmament IV. Jesus. I guess the kick needed was the news of a Loop reformation and reissue of those gloriously underrated and very important albums, but not only that Robert had also resurrected his Main moniker too.


Now working with Stephan Mathieu initial headphone explorations of this new Main output indicate to these ears a ‘fling in the gaps’ of the spatial nature of past work. But having been out of the Loop so-to-speak the intensity of Ablation may have been present for some time? Through its four phrases intricate and immensely complex patterns emerge through spiraling waves of sound, the creation of which can only be recognised by looking at the list of ‘nstruments’ used on the sleeve. As well as Analogue Electronics and Concrete Sounds it’s good to see Robert hasn’t forsaken his guitar, the manipulation of which was predominant in previous Main workings. Percussion is treated so far into the abstract here only traces of what we might associate to be beats dissolve simply into the mass. Carpeted colours rise, fall, glide, condense and ultimately as its title suggests vapourise.

Ablation has the ability to engage its whole through metalics, ethereal static and pure natural elements, a prime equal of sound and music, music BEING sound. Robert Hampson is without doubt one of the most compelling avant-musicians of my lifetime and hearing his new work I wonder why on earth I let the last decade-plus fly past with a steady stream of easy listening? Shame on me. Now, to dust off Thomas Koner’s Nunatak debut, maybe some Lustmord and nurture what’s left of the interesting area of the brain before it is finally too late.

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