Switched On – Various Artists: ReFabricated: Volume I (Cue Dot Records)

What’s the story?

Having reached a dozen albums in their Cue Dot series, and setting a few electronic music markers down in the process, Paul Scott’s label are taking a little time to survey their work to date. They are doing this in a clever way, getting each artist from the series involved in a remix and reworking album, each one reworking the work of another or having their own originals fed back to them.

This melting pot of creativity is capped with the final remix of 13, where 808 State’s Graham Massey takes on Scissorgun.

What’s the music like?

ReFabricated has all the qualities Cue Dot artists have exhibited throughout this series, getting the blend of ambience and the germination of ideas these artists have so consistently had.

R. Seiliog’s remix of Lyndon Scarfe‘s Starling is a beauty to start with, making slow and stately progress against a much bigger background. Seiliog returns the favour to Toby Wiltshire, the twinkling remake of Emerald Sylvan shifting slowly and rather beautifully across the sky.

Meanwhile the spoken word / steady build combination of Fragile X reworking Lying Cat generates positive movement and energy. Spoken word has a bigger role in the more playful Lammy from SAD MAN & Francis Lowe, who gain a loose-limbed bass and groove from Moth Effect.

The musical variety in this selection is one of the most pleasing things. Beat-heavy remixes such as A Human Concept‘s take on Manfred Hamil‘s It’s Not A Drug It’s A Drink work really well, as does the supple groove of Scissorgun, remixing Moth Effect‘s When The Bloom Is Off The Rose. SAD MAN gets the synths bubbling on Scissorgun’s own Sybarite, the broken rhythms following suit, while Hamil’s Asphyxiated gets a really nice Lo Five remix, with closely woven textures and complementary melodies.

Many of the tracks have an ‘outdoors’ feel to them, the germination given a natural aspect. Lyndon Scarfe‘s remix of Veryan‘s Belonging has a lovely open feel, while the thick ambience in Manfred Hamil‘s remix of Human Concept‘s A Reason To Feel suggests the half light at either end of the day, before consoling beats arrive.

Others pan out further for a panoramic view, with Toby Wiltshire‘s Orange Light glowing softly in Veryan‘s rather wonderful remix – or go in close, as Graham Massey does on a compelling stitch-up of Scissorgun’s Tangie Biscotti.

Does it all work?

It does. The music is ideally ordered, and the creative spirit of these artists shines through in both explicit and subtle ways.

Is it recommended?

Yes – ReFabricated is a great way in to the Cue Dot label, or, more likely, an enhancement to the fine things you have already heard.

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Switched On – Fragile X: Human Condition (Cue Dot Records)

What’s the story?

The Cue Dot Series reaches a dozen releases with this substantial piece of work from Fragile X – the alter ego for Glasgow-based musician J. Gorecki. He has designed an album to question aspects of human nature and instinct, in particular personal growth, but – as he details in the commentary alongside the album – the answers are firmly weighted towards the positive.

There are six stages of the human condition represented here – birth, growth, emotion, aspiration, conflict and mortality.

What’s the music like?

Human Condition – as its title implies – is a mixture of highs and lows, but the music here gives the listener a wholly positive experience. Gorecki writes with great assurance, gently probing at our thoughts and feelings as he does so. Cogito ergo sum (which translates as I think, therefore I am) is the ideal way to set the scene, soft-grained textures cushioning some more probing melodic lines, and introducing us to a warm blend of electronically and acoustically-derived sounds.

The softly oscillating figures of The Good And The Beautiful have attractive, treble-rich colouring which is a hallmark of Gorecki’s writing, with golden hints to the textures from half way through. Object / Subject has murmuring voices as part of its overall ambience, before it pans out into a wonderfully spacious train of thought. Eudaimonia uses what appears to be a small collection of time pieces, each one creating an ambience among themselves, while A Question I Have Become For Myself has some distorted thoughts but also a reassuring, slow chorale in the background.

You Are has watery percussion and rippling chords, presenting a beautiful epilogue that gradually falls under the influence of a slow, brooding melodic line. This slightly darker aspect has already revealed itself in the shady Space Of Appearance, a relatively brief but sombre time for contemplation.

Does it all work?

It does. The album is best experience as a single span of music, its natural flow secured early on and sustained throughout the nine tracks. Gorecki shows himself to be as at home in longer structures approaching ten minutes as he is in creating shorter snapshots.

Is it recommended?

Yes. Human Condition is a thoughtful meditation, which works both as a foreground and background feature. Foreground listening is by far the best, mind, for the inner parts of Gorecki’s patchwork are fully revealed and the colours can be best appreciated. A subtle experience but a lasting and uplifting one.

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Switched On – R. Seiliog: Ash Dome (Cue Dot Records)

r-seiliog reviewed by Ben Hogwood What’s the story? For the eighth in the Cue Dot Series, Paul Scott turns to Wales and the Snowdonia-based Robin Edwards, aka R. Seiliog. Ash Dome is his first full length release since 2018, taking both its title and structure from a living sculpture by David Nash (below)
Seiliog writes ambient music and dresses his work on this album with field recordings made in Coed Camlyn between March and May 2021. What’s the music like? Beautifully restful. The field recordings are a lovely complement to Edwards’ textures, which are light in the extreme and often glint at the edges, as though catching the early morning sun. Rotunda is a good example of this, a sonic portrayal of how beaten metal might reflect bright sunlight. Mind Garden brings birdsong into the equation, a robin making itself known quite early on. There is a natural ebb and flow in the music, the wind in the branches portrayed through subtle, dappled electronic movements, with pockets of melody that take time establishing themselves, but make a subtle mark. 22 Onnen pulses softly with warm textures, while a steadier beat emerges during In The Direction Of Sunlight. Ultimately though this is music that works at its best without a beat marking time, and the treble-rich sounds give a lasting brightness. Does it all work? Yes. The musical representation of the sculpture is strong, but like the structure it also has an endearing vulnerability, reflecting the plight of treasured green spaces. The fact that the location of Nash’s sculpture had to be withheld shows how precious and endangered these things are, and that reflects in the slightly rarefied nature of Edwards’ music. Is it recommended? It is – an album that again with Cue Dot works on several levels, as a background balm or as thought provoking statement on the environment. Both are valid approaches from which to enjoy a rather lovely album. Stream and Buy

Switched On: Toby Wiltshire – Shunyata : Emptiness (Cue Dot Records)


reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

The Cue Dot model deserves some examination, for this is no ordinary record label. It is a not-for-profit organisation, run by Paul Scott in Derbyshire, and is fronted by the flagship Cue Dot Series, now up to seven records strong. This is an opportunity for collaboration within electronic music, and the participating artists are given full control over the content and titles. The artwork, however, follows the same distinctive and particularly attractive circle pack design, best explained in the press release as ‘representing the infinite possibilities opened up through an electronic palette’.

The seventh in the series is given to Leeds-based composer Toby Wiltshire, who responds with an album using Buddhist imagery and concepts as its stimulation. Wiltshire’s free-standing style allows for slow, untethered musical movement, adding field recordings, modular synths and software to the equation. It is music for mindfulness, but with a license to develop along the way.

What’s the music like?

Wiltshire achieves a very appealing blend of stillness and activity in his work, which immediately carries the promise of outdoor activity. This in itself is stimulating, given the amount of time we have all spent indoors over the last 15 months, so the running water and soft, sleepy tones of Mist Clearing On The Mountain give the listener a chance to acclimatise to the new surroundings.

Wiltshire works and intertwines the seven recordings with the ease of a man who has been composing for 20 years, and he knows instinctively how to let the music breathe as much as it needs to. There are no explicit melodies but there are thoughts and moods that recur as each track proceeds, each keeping a firm grasp on tonality.

Running water and soft tones are also an appealing feature of Floating Consciousness, aptly named, with harmonics on the stringed instruments that give a glint to the edge of the overall sound. Karuna holds a beautiful poise, shifting slowly in the equivalent of a soft musical breeze, while Glimpse uses higher, quite shrill pitches but counters them with sounds in the middle distance. Orange Light is lovely, painting a series of closely matched, complementary musical colours like a Rothko painting.

One of the most restful scenes is found within Sakura, where bird-like noises call across the rippling texture. We could be in a vast cave, or out on the edge of a swamp in the rain – both examples of the pictures Wiltshire’s music forms in the listener’s mind. The Wave And The Water brings everything to rest at the end, with the gentle undulations implied by the title gradually evening out.

Does it all work?

It does – and if anything could be extended to an even longer piece of work. Yet Wiltshire leaves the listener wanting more, and as his work responds to repeated listening, it is easy to go round again immediately – a good state to be in. Talking of states, you will certainly end this album in a calmer condition then when you began it!

Is it recommended?

Very much so – and if like me you are using this as a point of entry to the Cue Dot series, it works as a starting point from which to enjoy the other six. There is much to admire about this label, and we will explore more in due course, but for now the wide open stage is Toby Wiltshire’s, and his music is very easy to experience and admire.

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