I’m of the opinion that whenever a new Pye Corner Audio album comes out it’s the best one yet from Martin Jenkins’ long-running electronic project. His haunted downtempo electro sound feels right at home in some dystopian future. Under-the-radar-techno mixed with sci-fi soundscapes and touches of horror, the occult, and VHS dreams emanate from Jenkins’ unique sound world.
Since 2010 Pye Corner Audio has been spinning analog tomes through haunted circuital connections; buzzing patchworks opening portals to unknown psychic dimensions. The latest Martin Jenkins masterpiece is Entangled Routes, the third in a trilogy of otherworldly albums that started with Stasis(2016) and then continued with Hollow Earth(2019). Entangled Routes locks into those subtle, low key rhythms and woozy electronics in a way that only Martin Jenkins can. This is primo Pye Corner Audio.
And yes, maybe even his best yet.
On Entangled Routes Jenkins plays with the idea of mycorrhizal networks and human attempts to listen in and communicate. Humans trying to hone in on the world of fungi, what could go wrong? Well, when humans are involved with mucking about in nature pretty much everything can go wrong. In Pye Corner Audio’s hands it’s a slow, meticulous drop into doom. Slinky rhythms and gauzy synths take us underground and sink us into the black forest floor for another round of otherworldly music and dystopian tomes.
“New Roots” feels like coming home, honestly. By now Martin Jenkins has established himself as an OG of the sci-fi-inspired electronic album. He approaches his loose narratives and low key techno rhythms much like Boards Of Canada. The music always comes first, but there’s a thru-line narrative that inspires the work. In both BoC and PCA’s cases that inspiration comes from dystopian futures and the human condition. “New Roots” is a slinky groove melodic synth lines that bring us into the world of Entangled Routes. “Synaptic” is a frenetic electronic pulse that is all arpeggiated doom.
Shorter pieces like “Paleolith” and “The Long Now” are hazy mood pieces. They feel like incidental music that fill us with both dread and wonder. They’re sonic bridges that lead us to the brilliance of tracks like “Earthwork”, “Hive Mind”, and “Phantom Orchid”. These songs sound and feel like some of Pye Corner Audio’s richest work yet. “Buried Network” bops and bounces into the glorious album closer “Symbiosis” which gives us a gorgeous low key techno closer. A proper groover to take us out of Jenkins’ latest electro magnum opus.
Entangled Routes gives us everything we want and expect from a proper Pye Corner Audio long player. It gives us mood, otherworldly melody, subtle grooves, and an intellectual lean to the proceedings. I always feel as if I’ve happened upon some lost sonic treasure whenever I hear a Pye Corner Audio album; some piece of music magic that slipped through the thin curtain which separates us from other dimensions. Entangled Routes opens the curtain and invites us in.