Man, what took me so long to find my way to Pye Corner Audio? Seriously, I’ve heard the name for years now from folks that seemingly matter, yet I never heeded their advice. Like whispers in darkened corners and strange messages left on the front stoop written on hotel stationary that simply reads “Pye Corner Audio”, this name and band has haunted my peripheral for years.
Finally, after years of ignoring the voices and strange noises that emanated from albums with names like Prowler, Stasis, Black Mill Tapes, and Sleep Games, I gave into the darkness, baby. I’m so glad I did.
Martin Jenkins is the man behind Pye Corner Audio. A circuital, Gothic mad scientist of sorts that works in the analog realm and makes these hazy, hallucinogenic albums that weave in 70s horror scores, dark techno, and lo-fi aesthetics into a sound totally and completely his own. It’s as if Boards of Canada took a handful of Xanax with their tea, sat and watched Lucifer Rising for three days straight, then topped it off with devouring the score to Assault on Precinct 13 till the analog synths were good and warmed up. Pye Corner Audio dabbles in familiar sounds, but turns them into something wholly and completely its own.
Pye Corner Audio has returned with Hollow Earth, a companion piece of sorts to their previous full-length Stasis. Here, PCA delve into Berlin School headiness, atmospheric ambient, and techno rhythms to make one of the most compelling Pye Corner Audio albums yet.
Hollow Earth opens on the dreamy title track. A sort of fairy tale vibe permeates the track, like Cliff Martinez in Only God Forgives mode. It’s groovy, spaced-out, and ethereal. “Descent” slinks in like some all-synth mash-up version of Pink Floyd’s “Welcome To The Machine” and Def Leppard’s “Love Bites”. Before you start judging, it’s quite incredible.
That’s the beauty of Jenkins’ work in Pye Corner Audio, his ability to take alien sounds and create something familiar, but not. He moves from moody electronic groove pieces to darker, more menacing ones at the drop of a hat. All of them interconnected by thin circuital threads that take us on an album’s length journey.
Short pieces like “Prismatic Gateway” act as wormholes to the next sonic world. There’s a Boards of Canada quality to those quick shots that completely engages me, but more like a haunted Boards of Canada. It’s like the beep on a children’s record that tells you to turn the page. You turn the page and it’s the same page, only slightly more eschewed. The colors are slightly off, or a character that was smiling isn’t smiling anymore. You’re then led into the hazy “Claustrophobe”, a song that builds it’s entire run time to something that never really arrives.
It’s hard to describe an album like Hollow Earth. You like dance-infused dread? Dystopian techno with melody buried under miles of radioactive ash? If so, then Pye Corner Audio is your jam. It moves from deep space doom to wasteland soundscapes to vintage opening credit themes at the drop of a hat.
From my recent binge on all things Pye Corner Audio I feel as if Martin Jenkins has found the perfect balance on his newest opus Hollow Earth. All his strengths, moods, and cinematic push is at its strongest here. Hollow Earth could very well be Pye Corner Audio’s masterpiece.
9 out of 10