duration: 71'15" compilation
Onrushing Tide "Chaos
part 1" (extract) 3'50"
1-8 recorded at Dark Star Studio (January-February 1984).
Alan & Steve Freeman: synths, keys, guitars, harmonica, voice, effects, loops, turntable.
Steve, confident that things would continue this way, conceived the ambitious idea of a 26 x c60 cassette series, each one based on a mythical or ancient God, each based on a different letter of the alphabet, amounting to 52 sides, one for each week of the year. Shortly after recording the third Alto Stratus cassette "Épatant" intensive sessions followed over the next 4 weeks resulting in 5 cassettes. The most adventurous was "Xolotl" (inspired by the weird Mexican dog-like god with backwards feet) involving no instruments at all, created by feeding the output of an old ITT cassette recorder back to its input via an echo machine. This was years before anyone this side of the pond had heard David Myers' "Arcane Device". The casualty of this was the eventual death of the cassette recorder! The weird blips and burps that this machine could make were the initial inspiration for much Alto Stratus work, and was used extensively during many ZBB and Vrije sessions.
But, as circumstances changed, spare time was no longer so abundant. Having a little extra money, a basic 6 channel mixer, electric guitar and (eventually) some bargain analogue synthesizers were added to the instrumentation, resulting in the recording of numerous other cassettes including the classics "Svet Ozveny", "Tension" and "Tachyon". During the "Tachyon" sessions Alto Stratus were on a roll, with several hours of material recorded, ample enough to create complexly layered and mixed opus. The best of the remaining material ended up as the 6th of the "Gods" series as "Iblis". But, that was it, the other 20 tapes were never recorded and the completed cassettes were never released. Only a compilation cassette saw any of it making an official appearance, with shorter versions of "Time Travel", "Mirage" and "The Diabolus" all appearing on "1984 - The End Of All Songs" (DSC13) issued June 1985.
When reviewing the old Alto Stratus tapes, to compile "Auricle Archive vol. 2", it became apparent that there would be more than enough excellent material for one CD, in fact these "Gods" tapes contained about 2 hours worthy of release. So, another CD was planned, compiled solely from these unreleased tapes. As many of the tracks contained vocals, poetry and improvised rants inspired by the various Gods, some of which worked well (with text by Michael Moorcock used in "Chaos") and some that didn't, this aspect of the project has been omitted resulting in a much more cohesive instrumental collection.
This lost phase of Alto Stratus can now be experienced with a sonic clarity that wasn't possible at the time, with a boosted remixed digital transfer, adding stereo depth to the mix and some extra special effects where the original mix lacked life. The results add up to a captivating experience that is the unique Alto Stratus, with many aspects unheard on any other release. The final 37 minutes from the "Tachyon" sessions are a rare treat for fans of that album.
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