The Record Stache

PREMIERE: Pure Phase Ensemble 4 (feat. Mark Gardener)


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Some of the most beautiful children I’ve ever seen have been the product of international marriages. Likewise, some of the most interesting music currently out there is the love-child of contributors from diverse . That is something that certainly applies (in full force at that) to the Live at Spacefest! LP quickly upon us from Pure Phase Ensemble 4 (it drops on August 8).

You may not have heard of this project previously, but certainly you know several of its members – amongst them are Mark Gardener of world-famous shoegaze pioneers RIDE and Ray Dickaty, formerly of celebrated space rock outfit Spiritualized. They have joined hearts and minds with a handful of talented musicians from Poland’s top alternative bands, the output of which is both highly unique and entrancing.

Pure Phase Ensemble 4 was formed and realized its mission within just a few weeks, surrounding SpaceFest, a super space rock and electronica oriented indie music event taking place annually in the Polish port city of Gdansk. Casting off the dull grey associations of years of Soviet meddling, Gdansk is renewing itself and SpaceFest, along with other local partners, are invigorating the city with a new spirit. Thanks to the internet, we are able to get a taste of this rebirth, no matter where we are located on this planet.

Every year this festival ‘gives birth’ to one such super-group, with an internationally renowned artist brought in to ‘conduct’ or ‘curate’ the group’s creations. Mark Gardener took the reigns for this past SpaceFest, with none other than Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier leading the crew the year before for Pure Phase Ensemble 3. Two of the band members are apparently steady – British saxophone improvisator Ray Dickaty and Karol Schwartz, who is not only part of Polish indie group KSAS but also manages Nasiono Records, the label releasing this current LP.

I must say, this is definitely among the best set of tracks involving Mark Gardener since RIDE’s heyday. Absolutely stunning delivery that leaves me wanting more. My fave tracks of the lot are the final ones you find on this LP – Peter Song, Morning Rise, Doing My Head In and Happy Dancing Woman. Mark featured on vocals for the first of these tracks – a very nice gift to my ears bringing me back into a reminiscent sound-womb triggering feelings of RIDE output while comfortable in a different way because his collaborators bring their own unique influences and sounds to the stage. On the final two tracks, Michal Pydo of Polish group Hatifnats further sweetens this fine dose with a beautifully graceful delivery through and through. Rewind to Zostań na noc as well – that one’s brilliant.

Further driving home the point that this initiative is international in scope is the fact that esteemed Canadian-Ukrainian duo Ummagma has subsequently contributed a radio edit of Happy Dancing Woman (not on iTunes unfortunately, but maybe available elsewhere). As this track is definitely my favorite from the album, it was also a welcome surprise to hear the radio edit, which tastefully mixes things up a bit while retaining the most magnificent parts of this track – this super talented duo never fails to impress me. Michal Pydo here sounds otherworldly while the drums and guitar mesh together incredibly well to induce a somewhat trance-like state.

We recommend having a listen to the tracks we present you here from Pure Phase Ensemble 4 and to explore further on your own. Your earbuds will thank you.

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