'Mortlake' is the debut album from Bristol-based musician, Microdeform.
Taking cues from Jeck, Eno, Marclay, Basinski and DJ Shadow, these six compositions are meticulously constructed from fragments of environmental recordings, thrift store vinyl and instrumental improvisations. Chopped and stitched, processed and reprocessed, source material is recontextualised to create a distinctive sound palette.
From the tense, haunted, apprehension of opener 'Monachos' to the reflective, nostalgic, melancholia of 'Memories 071935', 'Mortlake' presents its focussed, ambient collages with a cinematic and dreamlike intent. Pianos, submerged choirs, brass, static and strains of old jazz and film score textures weave in and out of the mix.
Mastered at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin by Christoph Grote-Beverborg.
"This is a baptism of swirling ambience, surface frictions and blinding textural weaves from Bristol musician Liam 'Microdeform' McConaghy … A true labour of love, where the melodic drugs are eased in and out on waves of mechanical abrasion, dishing out a rather special rhythmic sorcery in etched crackle and skip…
Monachos starts out in heavy gravitations and Gregorian swells. Touches of ritualised radio emerge as a percussion pulse draws you down an ominous road eroded in the fidgety mind fires of skipping needle... Like a lucid snake dream, growing louder, falling off the horizon in a wide expansion of aged vinyl, coupled with some lovely skim stones of electrification and broken piano gallows...
Submerged is a washed out spread of light. An 'Aphex reflective' of swollen gas and jangle shimmers... Exoskeletoned shadows touching powdery burnt paper... Diaphanous harmonics tied to a clubby euphoric chill, bespeckled in clambering filter fairies... a pleasant headphonic experience of muffled splinters overlapping the sound of foot falls on fresh 'aspirin' snow...
The Abyssal Plain is a nervous tread of watery worlds and the scrape of muted industry... As fleeting trams filled with syrup are tied to a heart pump squelch, like a trickle tide of distorted squid caught in a semi transparent jelly of half distinct memories...
The next track (seen above) is a repeated piano refrain soaked in a jazzy scatter cushion of rubbed locomotion and carriage shanty... everything weaves in multi dimensions of repetition, as drum scurries finger the languished ether of some diffused cymbal fallout... A sublime magic, to which Deep Narcosis supplies a short change of scenery …
A Massive Attack(ish) mutated dance... A gigi-shimmer on a loose bassy recoil and edged percussion. .. Something that's quickly sucked into the event horizon, as we are returned to the rising diffusion of the albums finale On The Shores Of Consciousness... A breaking dawn of drone and shingle coated breath, with curls of multiplied light that just evaporate in your head as all the best mind kandy should..."
MIKE, NORMAN RECORDS
"8/10 Pretty interesting CD of drifty ambience here from Microdeform, aka Bristol multi-instrumentalist Liam McConaghy. He's treating us here to six pieces of crackly, layered washes of drone with little pulsing beats and throbs and echoey metallic whistles conjuring up a contemplative, rain-drenched landscape of detailed, introspective tones with a distant, womb-like quality. It's reminding me of Bvdub when he does his more beat-driven ambient pieces, or maybe Deathprod with some nostalgic Caretaker-esque touches...deliberate, melodic, gently paced tone constructions with a mixture of instrumentation and playfully detailed textures. Highlight for me is the brief chunk of Sun Araw/Expo 70-esque post-dubby business 'Deep Narcosis' but there's plenty to like here if you're into submerged ambient textures."
RICHARD PITT AND SAM BONHAM, BBC INTRODUCING BRISTOL, ON 'MEMORIES 071935'
"I love that sort of ambient stripped down stuff...
...What's amazing about this kind of atmospheric type of vibe, is the kind of imagery that it evokes, for me it just speaks of bleak, horrific kind of sparse landscapes..."
SERENA CHERRY, BRISTOL LIVE MAGAZINE
"Eno-inspired solo artist Micro-DeForm is most-likely an amazing, trance-inducing experience for your ears when listened to alone in your bedroom, at 1am, with your eyes closed. Yet in the sweaty and crowded Croft, at 8pm – with sunlight still streaming in; his crisp, spacious, soundscapes feel a little out of context.
However, his ability to seamlessly blend unusual fragments of sound into smoggy, steely atmospheres elevates this performance out of its uncomplimentary setting; to a level nothing short of dark, brooding and mesmerizing. Excellent stuff."