Like barely-remembered flashbacks from the shadowy corners of memory , the beautifully brief 'Space Loops' series from Data 70 have been quietly burrowing into my subconscious, spreading their hauntalogical toxins and taking firm root in my cerebral cortex. Now my memories are mingling with theirs, but I'm not sure who's is who's, but it doesn't really matter cos it's like we shared all those experiences in the first place, we lived through something, growing up in a certain point of history, physically apart but still absorbing the same information - psychic time-bombs that gently explode in the mind's eye whenever we come into contact with the right stimuli - frequencies, textures, colours, melodies - which Data 70 skillfully unlock with their minute-long audio vignettes.
I think of Data 70 as part of a loose collective of memoradelia technicians, which includes Boards Of Canada, The Caretaker, Belbury Poly, Rolan Vega and Johnny Trunk in it's ranks. So far they've released two splendidly presented 7" eps on the Enraptured label (the first of which is a double-vinyl gatefold thing), which between them contain 26 miniature sound-sculptures that connect to the inner-child of a generation. The sweeping, warbly tones of opening track "Departure" picks-up from where the coda of the Blake's 7 theme left us on it's final transmission, hanging in deep space, on the threshold of manhood, cruising into the cold vacuum of the eighties. but then "Heartfelt Science", smothered in a veneer of delicate distortion, draws us back, back...to the deep-phased seventies swoops of "Original Transmission", and from there into the reassuringly gentle echo-droplets of "Inner Circle". Ladies and gentlemen, we are in the fucking zone.
Like some expert hypnotists , Data 70 draw the listener's psyche away from all current earthly concerns in the space of barely four minutes. The trance is only broken by the gentle popping of the needle as it hits the run-out groove. And that's just Volume 1, Side 1 - there's another five similar experiences awaiting you on these superbly realised recordings. If you can find 'em, grab 'em!
Q&A WITH DATA 70 (Bob Bhamra and Jon Chambers)
Q1. Are you familiar with the so-called 'hauntology' genre? Do you feel any affinity with practitioners like Ghostbox/Mordant Music etc?
Bob: I’d like to say that I’ve read all of Derrida’s works (not least to give my day job at Verso Books a plug – you see what I did there?) but alas, I haven’t. I love the artwork on the Ghostbox releases though.
Jon: I'm not familiar with the 'hauntology' genre, I'm afraid. With regards to the Data 70 project, I don't feel an affinity with anyone except Bob.
Q2. What's the significance of the '70' in your name? is it a birth year, or some general invocation of the '70s?
Jon: We took the name from the Data 70 typeface by Bob Newman. I understand the '70' refers to the year it was designed. Coincidentally, it is also the year Bob and I were conceived.
Q3. Do you take inspiration from '70s culture, or at least some half-remembered childhood memories of that decade? Any specific music/artists that influence you (ie Radiophonic Workshop, Boards Of Canada, etc...)
Jon: Bob and I grew up together in the 1970s and I'm sure there's many aspects of 70's culture that have inspired both of us. I certainly have vivid and fond memories of my childhood, many of which feature Bob and his ability to make me sing into cassette recorders when I really didn't want to. Musically speaking, most of my influences come from the 1960s.
Bob: I met Jon at Infant School in 1976. For me, Data 70 is all about our shared experiences stemming from then, taking in our youth and beyond – nicking keys from shopping centres, sitting in wardrobes listening to 'More Specials', posing in our new Carnaby St. gear down Maidenhead High Street, writing fanzines together and making music with whatever was at hand. Musically, I’d say we’re both influenced by a vast array of stuff, not exclusively a 70’s or retro thing and not always the same things.
Q4 . Why do you work with short looped phrases? Is it a deliberate attempt to emulate library records/TV sound fx, etc? Any plans for more long-form compositions?
Jon: I think working within set parameters and limitations can often prove a more creative way of working, and I believe the one-minute loop format was an original way for us to achieve that. It certainly wasn't a deliberate attempt to emulate library music, even though design-wise our sleeves do reflect the library music aesthetic. There are no plans for longer pieces. Bob would get bored.
Bob: Personally, I have a very limited attention span so a one-minute loop or a three-minute pop single or a quick mix DJ like Jeff Mills is where it’s at for me. I think the short loops give the project an identity and a sense of humour and we can get more of our ideas onto one piece of vinyl.
Q5. Your music is recorded at the West Norwood Cassette Library (which is also a blog). Could you describe this place and what it contains? Do you really have a cassette library, or is that simply another retro-invocation?
Bob: WNCL is located in sunny SE27, London, where the streets have no lightbulbs and the pavements are lined with dog excrement and KFC aftermath. The ‘studio’ itself is a cosy basement with everything we need in one room - if you look carefully, you’ll find boxes of old cassettes waiting to be archived on to microfiche.
Jon: Inside it's like a big, orange, womb-like bubble with every creature comfort one could wish for. A home from home - if your home is Saturn.
Q7: Any new releases in the pipeline?
Bob: Space Loops Volume 3 promo's are nearly ready - still finalising track list and all that. We'll be sending them to a few select people shortly, including Dr Alex from The Orb, who has charted Vol. 2 at #1 in some French mag apparently!
Q8. Bob, you lead a double life as a dj, spinning more upfront dance styles. What's you top tunes at the moment?
Bob:These days I dj when I get the chance and when my old bones feel like they can keep up with the yoot'. Currently on the WNCL gramophone player:
1. RAMADANMAN – “Offal”(Soul Jazz Records)
B side wins again. 2 step beats, bouncing sub bass and a bleep. It's got the funk. What’s not to like?
2. RADIO SLAVE – “Grindhouse Tool (No Sleep Part Four)"(Rekids)
Eat this, Villalobos! Long, dark and super minimal. Sometimes I could listen to a kick, hat and a clap all day long.
3. DEBRUIT – “Coup Decale” (Musique Large)
Scottish bloke living in Paris apparently. Don’t know what this is. Wonky, electronic hip hop cut ups. Sort of.
4. TRG – “Broken Heart” (Martyn’s DCM Remix) (Hessle Audio)
Proof, if you needed it, that Dubstep can be soulful without going down the same chicken-in-a-basket blind alley that “jazzy” D&B did.
5. QUANTEC – “Circular” (Styrax Leaves)
Clearly influenced by Basic Channel and every bit as good.
Incidentally, Jon’s other hat is Sunray, who have been described as 'disciples of the school of mind-bending melodies' and has a couple of albums and singles under his belt.
Thanks to Bob and Jon for taking time out to talk to Gutterbreakz.
West Norwood Cassette Library