Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

A Guy Called Gerald - Black Secret Technology

A Guy Called Gerald
Black Secret Technology

Released 1995 on Juice Box
Reviewed by dave clarkson, 02/02/2005ce

So Many Dreams
Alita's Dream
Finleys Rainbow (slow motion mix)
The Nile
Energy (extended mix) *
Silent Cry **
Dreaming of You
The Reno
Voodoo Rage
Life Unfolds His Mystery

All tracks written and produced by Gerald Simpson except *written by Simpson/ Goldie and **co-written and co-produced by Simpson/ Gerico.

Nearly ten years on and ‘Black Secret Technology’ still sounds like it was recorded yesterday. No mean feat for a dance album…or, for that matter, any album involving ‘beats’. The difference here, though, is in the execution, production …..and inventiveness. The music of Gerald Simpson has it in bucketloads.

‘What’s this dance stuff doing on Head Heritage?’ you may ask. Well, the answer lies in the fact that this particular album transcends (much like many of his records) a mere disco biscuit fuelled soundtrack and is one of the only electronic albums this reviewer opines that can soundtrack any mood or ‘head’ situation ……turn it up and it rocks like no other with the high end cutting beats and sub bass pads. Vice versa, turn it down and chill out to a sublime experience of European echoes and isolationist soundscapery….a mood no jazz cigars this side of Marrakesh could substitute. Feeling down?....this album will pick you up and propel you head first back into tip top form.....in fact you can easily forget you’re listening to dance music.

Gerald’s music has always been about the energy of living in an industrial landscape. You can hear it in the rigidity of the programming and the underlying melodies evocative of desolate city limits and the twilight world of inner city danger. Currently living in the artistic tacheles community in Berlin, Gerald has also favoured the creative urban energy of Detroit, New York and London since his days in his native Manchester….them days when his creative process would involve club, studio, test pressing and finally video, often within the space of a month.

Luckily, the repercussions of the wrangle over the writing origins of 808 States’ ‘Pacific State’ hit haven’t dampened Simpson’s drive to continually produce futuristic themes of merit. Judging by his musical language and use of chord structures, methinks that he was the originator of the tune anyway…..but somehow he didn’t fit the scallydelic wave of Manchester’s vibes in the area mentality. Good for him, as he remained exclusive at the same time Mark E Smith would say The Fall were a Salford (not Manchester) band. Two survivors at opposite ends of the ‘garage’.

Pretty much a forerunner to the work produced by Photek, Goldie and the Metalheadz crew, amongst others, ‘Black Secret Technology’ is an underrated gem of an album. The record begins with ‘So Many Dreams’; a two chord synth pattern which envelopes the ears before the rhythm and bass pattern kick in. The female vocal and drum track are swirled around in the mix to a great degree with the bass anchoring the track.

The blissful and beautiful Mantovani strings of ‘Alita’s Dream’ pave way for ‘Finley’s Rainbow’ – a gorgeous piece of post club meltdown featuring the talented and overlooked vocals of Finlay Quaye – remember him before he became tabloid food?

‘The Nile’ and ‘The Reno’ are musical tributes to past Manchester ‘drinking clubs’ long gone but not forgotten. The Reno club was an all night party den made up of hustlers, old African domino players and pissed people avoiding the daily grind of the working week. The Nile club was upstairs above the Reno. Both fitting tributes, the tracks are evocative of the time by the use of the sampling choices and some wonderful synth voicings.

‘Energy’ is a collaboration with Goldie and wouldn’t sound out of place on his ‘Timeless’ album. Both Gerald and Goldie went on to record some stuff under the ‘Two G’s’ tag.

‘Some people are more sensitive to these mysterious electronic impulses than others’ is a twilight zone type sample (together with some radiophonic moogisms) which open ‘Survival’, a track which radiates Ballard inspired psychological madness. The mood becomes darker and more paranoid on ‘Cyberjazz’ with chainsaw samples and frantic cut up junglist rhythms overlaid on a great synth pattern. All excellent stuff.

‘Voodoo Rage’ is an update to Simpsons’ original club classic. Executed in an inventive drum and bass style different to the norm, it still sounds haunting, deranged and majestic.

One of the great tunes of this album is the track ‘Life Unfolds His Mystery’ – a brilliant piece of garage and bass. It’s driving rhythm and dark synth make it the period piece of mid 90’s junglism it so richly deserves.

‘Black Secret Technology’ is one of those albums which extends way beyond reality into an almost shamanic euphoric experience as if it recorded ‘itself’ in the studio and has taken on a life of its own ever since… growing wiser and never tiring on repeated listens.

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