Phil Western is a mainstay of the local electronic-music scene, and although his own solo efforts haven’t received as much attention as his work in Download with Skinny Puppy’s cEvin Key, he has a number of excellent records to his name.
While Western has proven his proficiency with styles ranging from industrial to shoegazing rock, his latest release, the double album Longform, is an exercise in what he is arguably best at: namely, hypnotic electro built from lush layers of synthesizer tones over a variety of creatively deployed but generally unobtrusive rhythms. The focus here isn’t so much on the beats as on the often psychedelic interaction of samples and live instrumentation.
Along the way, Western acknowledges his electronic-music forebears, paying homage to the likes of Can and Jean Michel Jarre. “Come and Play With Us”, for instance, is cut from the same sonic cloth as Brian Eno and David Byrne’s groundbreaking 1981 collaboration My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. (And although it’s derived from a sample of dialogue from The Shining—which featured a score by analogue-synth guru Wendy Carlos—the title also serves as a nod to the Eno-Byrne track “Come With Us”. Or maybe I’m thinking too much about it.)
For all you vinyl fetishists, Longform is available as a deluxe double LP with a gatefold sleeve in an edition of 499. If there’s any justice in this world, every copy will already be gone by the time you read this review, but you can also buy the tracks via Bandcamp. Do it!