“Do not create anything. It will be misinterpreted. It will not change, it will follow you the rest of your life” - Bob Dylan
Robert Hampson can sympathize. Despite outgrowing his past, despite outgrowing previous incarnations of his artist self, Hampson seems destined to be forever chained to Loop, the space-rock/shoegaze band he help found over 20 years ago. Although the doors to Loop closed in 91, the 90s proved to be an abundantly fertile period for Hampson under the guise of his next endeavor, Main.
Main’s albums (most notably Motion Pool, and the Firmament series) were the chewing, stretching, and distorting of sound-places not yet imagined. This was a fusion of ambient music that, while harking back to the early sketches of Brian Eno, owed more to the likes of musique concrète and instrumental industrial music (think SPK). In the tradition of Pierre Schaeffer, Pargmegiani, and Ligeti, Hampson (with Scott Dowson) honed in on the inherent force of sound for sound’s sake, crafting a shape of music that perpetually flirted with unshape, always questioning the notions of what could and could not constitute music.
Since Main’s conclusion in 2006, Robert Hampson has continued to pursue his excursions into musical abstraction. After hooking up with electronic music research group GRM (Groupe de Recherches Musicales), Hampson focused his efforts on acousmatic music, releasing a string of solo works under his own name. Now, after seven years, Hampson has decided to unearth his Main project with the release of a new album, Ablation.
This latest work is noticeably less angular and more entrancing than previous Main outings. Ablation creates an environment that sounds and feels like the exact opposite of civilization; this is the order of known things as heard through the looking glass. With spectral decay, humming drones, and violent physicality (à la Penderecki’s Threnody) Hampson conjures dream-scenes from vapor — cluttered fields lit like eschatological badlands — where shadows and sparks of light meet at obtuse, obscenely pleasurable angles.
“II” is a future-scape spawned from satellite-speak static and the glassy patter of plastic raindrops; listen to the distended claustrophobia of this track below.
Ablation is due out in April on Editions Mego.