Hark! A Produce’s disgustingly rare and sought-after, ultra-brooding minimal pop epic The Clearing available on vinyl for the first time since its original release in ’88.
A Produce was the late Barry Craig, who formed the Trance Port and Trance Port Tapes labels to showcase his own work as well as that of John Lafia, Afterimage and a select group of other L.A.-orbiting techno-dreamers, and was active well into the 2000s. While exhibiting plenty of the deep ambient trance sound that Craig and TPT would become best known for, The Clearing, released in ’88, is equally indebted to classical American Minimalism and to new wave / synthesized art-rock. ‘Ashes of Love’ is the most potent coming together of these various strands, beginning as uptight, angular pop, complete with Sylvian/Ferry-ish vocals from Afterimage’s Daniel Voznik, before unravelling into a second, instrumental movement of Reich-meets-Global Communication-style tidal ambient drift.
Other personnel include Scott Fraser (Kronos Quartet) and Scott Marc Becker, and there’s a connection to the Independent Project Records scene via Bruce Lichen, who designed the album’s sleeve (and is it just me or does Becker’s death-surf guitar on ‘Farming In Arabia’ have a whiff of Savage Republic about it?). T has a bittersweet, existential quality, full of the stylised dread and hard shadows of an LA noir / film soleil, its sunken drum-machine pulsations refracting shards of ambient guitar shimmer. Along the way we were reminded of My Life In The Bush Ghosts, Mick Karn’s Titles and Dalis Car, Fripp & Eno, Nooten & Brook’s Sleep With The Fishes… but with none of the dodgy bits! I genuinely struggle to think of a single ’80s auteur who made an LP as cohesive or coolly controlled as this “album of conceptual space”. Very special record.