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Nocturnal Emissions

Nocturnal Emissions, masterminded by Nigel Ayers (Storey/Ayers/Greif) and a handful of cohorts, has been investigating the complexities of the human psyche since the early '80s. In its earliest incarnation, Nocturnal Emissions created blistering collages of electronic noise infused with the anti-funk rhythms found in NE's postindustrial colleagues such as SPK, Coil, and Cabaret Voltaire. After a few dodgy attempts at New Wave, Ayers turned his attention to the alchemy of post-Eno ambience.

Now, toiling away in his sonic laboratory in Cornwall, England, Ayers conjures delicate refractions of shimmering tones with cosmic touches of '70s electronic work from the likes of Cluster and Conrad Schnitzler. These influences can be readily heard on 1997's Sunspot Activity album, the aural equivalent to looking at the sun. Ayers didn't title any of the tracks on the album, so we've titled the selection presented here "II." While Ayers doesn't appear to be manipulating VLF static or the sferic whistles attributed to sunspots, he has fashioned a beautiful album that mirrors the sun's white hot ambience as it waxes and wanes in deep space.

Deep sleepwalker ambient floes continue throughout the 1997 album Omphalos!, until "Arbor Low" slips into hyperdrive with an uptempo breakbeat skitter. Recently, on 2000's Future Antiquarianism, NE's shape-shifting sound has tentatively returned to the beat: drum and bass breaks emerge from the soothing ambient passages in a rather hypnotic take on that manic genre.

Don't expect the bassbins to rattle when you play "Earthlights," as the introspective inclusion of neurofunk breaks resembles the more beautiful moments from The Third Eye Foundation rather than Matrix.