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The Oval Recording

Exquisitely packaged in a well-designed sleeve—although a certain technology company may well take offence at the logo—this combination of LP and 7" is the result of a meeting of minds (of sorts) between Pan Sonic and Bruce Gilbert. The audio is based on a recording that the group performed in 1998 at Oval Mansions in London.

In total, there are five tracks: three on the LP—one taking up a full side and coming in just under 20 minutes—and two much shorter pieces on the 7".

If you know anything about those involved, you'll already know what to expect, and it's certainly not for the faint-hearted. The Oval Recording is pretty much the antithesis of easy listening, mostly comprising of harsh, unyielding sound loops and textures, crashing noises and random frequencies.

Although never quite turning into the nigh-on unlistenable mess of noise that was Gilbert's In Esse, this release often lacks the subtlety and structure so evident within the likes of manchesterlondon, or the humour of The Haring. This release has a cold and uncompromising feel to it, which regularly borders on the aural equivalent of nails down a chalkboard, and although hardcore Pan Sonic/Gilbert fans will think this is another masterpiece from their heroes, others are likely to be less impressed.

Craig Grannell (March, 2001)

Cover artwork