Two years in the making, Close To The Noise Floor is a 4CD, 61-track set exploring the origins of electronica in the UK. Featuring tracks from key figures on the cassette label underground alongside early releases by future stars of the movement, this is part primitive rave, part synthesiser porn and part history lesson. Enthralled by the mysterious electronics of Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Gong and German Kosmische artists such as Tangerine Dream, Harmonia and Cluster, and inspired by the DIY ethos of punk, a quiet revolution took place across the UK in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The rise of the microchip and the advent of affordable synthesisers enabled countless artists for whom guitars, drums and bass had become old hat, and in grubby bedsits, unremarkable living rooms and art school halls across the British Isles, UK electronica was born. The underground, fuelled by cassette exchanges, co-operative vinyl compilations and a thriving mail order network, quickly began to stretch the boundaries of sonic experimentation.
Close To The Noise Floor explores every corner of this fascinating and often overlooked chapter in our musical history. For proto synth-pop look no further than 100% Manmade Fibre and Spoon Fazer, whilst British Standard Unit and Five Times Of Dust lay out techno templates which wouldn’t take full form until many years later. Elsewhere, the synthesiser laden ambient music of Zorch and the found sound collages of A Tent sit comfortably alongside early forays by familiar names – Blancmange, The Human League, OMD and Throbbing Gristle – in over four hours of futurist, entirely modern music.
And who better to tell this story than the artists themselves…. Close To The Noise Floor features forty eight pages of artist written sleevenotes, unseen photographs and extracts from Dave Henderson’s legendary 1983 Wild Planet overview of the entire scene.
See the Pitchfork extensive review