Stereocilia is Bristol-based guitarist and composer, John Scott, who uses his guitar, analog synths and live looping techniques to create dense, rich layers of sound. This is his third full-length album, ‘Hive Mind’, which sees Scott collaborating with another musician for the first time, with a guest appearance from Thought Forms drummer, Guy Metcalfe, most notably on side two of this album.
Side one, though, begins as it means to go on. From the opening few bars you sense that this is going to be an intense experience. In one way ‘The Water Has No Darkness’ gives you a sense of ease, especially through the guitar and steady beat, but this is being projected increasingly through a haze of drones and fuzz until, by the end, the experience in almost overwhelming. It’s not necessarily heavy, but it is full-on.
‘Static’ takes up the majority of side one, and is a much more drawn out piece that encourages the listener to get inside it. Although mostly glacial, both in terms of it pace and it’s atmosphere, there are periodic eruptions of sound that surprise and grasp you . In some ways you could say that this was quite passive, but it’s no background music… by the end of it, though, you feel in a state of recumbent relaxation… which is a great place to be.
Concluding side one is ‘Aurora Borealis’, another piece that is very meditative. Electronic swirls and a softly played guitar combine to develop an atmosphere of contemplation that is created and terminated far too soon… I would have happily listened to another 5-10 minutes of it.
Side two is quite different, consisting on just one long track, ‘Another Sleepless Dawn’, which opens with a long slow drone around which very minimal other sounds swirl for the first nine minutes or so, before Scott’s guitar begins to develop the number acting as a kind of gateway into something far more intense and freaky… at which point Metcalfe comes in and the duo set off on a dark and powerful journey of psychedelic discovery into the dark recesses of the mind. Bringing to mind the title I can see how the early part of this represents the strange half-awake feeling after a night of insomnia, the latter half of the track signifying the reality of the barely functioning senses being bombarded with the myriad of perceptions that daylight brings… sonic paths that both energise and awake, yet also confuse and confound… and the latter especially the final three minutes where the music reverts to a high level drone which is both constant and dominates. This is an amazing track that seems to mark a real step on for Scott.
This, for me, is a record of two sides. Side one is for the most part cool, chilled and ambient; but in a way that draws the listener in. In this sense it is never passive but does create a mood that almost envelopes you. This has the effect of making side two all the more dramatic. The second half of the single track, ‘Another Sleepless Dawn’, is intense and ferocious by comparison leaving you somewhat breathless and disoriented. By the end of the record you really feel like you’ve been on a journey… one that you may be in a hurry to repeat.
‘Hive Mind’ will be a total pressing on Drone Rock Records of 300 records (with 60 going directly to the artist), with two variants:-
Special edition heavyweight vinyl with splatter effects
150 copies on transparent blue heavyweight vinyl with splatter effects. Regular customers and mailing list subscribers will be offered the chance to purchase this special edition first.
Transparent blue vinyl edition
150 copies on transparent blue vinyl
For a full stream of the album, and a chance to pre-order visit Drone Rock Records here.