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Motion Pool

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Album Review

Starting out with "VII," a continuation in both sound and song-title sequence of the absolute minimalism of the first Firmament release, Motion Pool for the most part focuses on the abstract ominousness of the band's earlier work, dealing in, as the slogan for the album puts it, "...drumless space." Such space is not devoid of rhythm, though, and the established pattern of clipped, looped bass and guitar pieces combined with various production and studio touches, with Robert Hampson's vocals snaking out of the ambient fog, reestablishes itself on such tracks as "Crater Scar" and "Reformation." "Spectra Decay" sounds a little more 'normal' in context, centering on an open-ended repeating riff, though everything around it remains as cryptic and moody as it has ever been. Towards the end, things return to the nearly evanescent beginning, as such songs as "Heat Realm" and, unsurprisingly, "VIII" often times sound barely there, low pulses of bass, minimal reverb echoes and the subtlest of background hums and hisses filling the tracks. "Heat Realm" itself practically disappears towards its end, resulting in having to crank the volume to hear the actually quite lovely sonic touches in the final minutes. It may sound unlistenable, but the tracks have their own quiet, compelling nature to them, not ambient enough to simply ignore but not hooky enough to hum. Given how future releases would aim even further down this particular route, Motion Pool remains a key release for the band, a last stop with their initial (and even then quite obscure) style before almost completely embracing the outer reaches of what makes a song a song.


Formed: 1991 in Croydon, London, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Upon the 1991 dissolution of the British trance-rock quartet Loop, bassist Neil McKay and John Wills formed the Hair and Skin Trading Company, leaving guitarists Robert Hampson and Scott Dawson to found the highly experimental Main, a project combining the aesthetics of ambient music with layered tapestries of droning electric guitar textures and dark, ominous soundscapes. Main's debut EP releases, 1991's Hydra and 1992's Calm -- later collected as the Hydra-Calm LP -- were their most aggressive,...
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