Compulsion | PO Box 19577 | Kilbarchan |Johnstone | PA10 2WX | Scotland | UK

Forms of Things Unknown - Black Trenchcoats and Swastikas 'n shit

Don't worry about the title, the swastika adorned toilet roll or the laughing Hitler collages nor even the typography stolen from a Death In June release Forms of Things Unknown are only trying to confuse you. The peculiarly named Ferrara Brain Pan is neither a 3rd Reich rock'n'roller or misaligned neo-folker. It's all a perverse type of humour for the multi-instrumentalist performer and composer of this acoustic / electronic experimental project.

Black Trenchcoats... formed from demos, outtakes and compilation tracks after a lengthy self-imposed hiatus following the release of his first CD, Cross Purposes. Black Trenchcoats... takes on experimental music with a heavy emphasis on orchestral woodwind instruments featuring prominently in his compositions.

A number of tracks display his dexterity with wind instruments such as 'Vallåtar' with its wailing sax and sustained haunting notes based on the Swedish vocal tradition of kulning. 'Elegy' performed on the bass clarinet captures a sombre mordant tone. It like 'The Fifth Path', a solo harmonium drone piece, is almost funereal in its execution.

'Cobblestones', meanwhile, is a mediaeval styled composition performed on soprano recorder with an overdubbed accompaniment of bowed psaltery, while the closing track, 'Burial Of The First Toy', is an interpretation of the main title theme to Alexandro Jodorowsky's surreal western El Topo. Here the windswept atmosphere is eschewed for an unaccompanied tenor recorder rendition.

Black Trenchcoats... gets stranger on the electronic tracks. 'Interrupted By Interior Design' is delivered in two parts. Part I: Speculum (for Marcel Duchamp) is a strange one comprising of fizzing textures, low drone hum, looped breathing, with intermittent snatches of voices and samples, and electronic tones and pulses. The samples lead to 'Part II: From Here To Parker Posey', where with less emphasis on edit cuts, Part II opens with Latin conga rhythms, low sax blurts and snippets of a jazz standard. The entire piece is riddled with voice samples, including Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp, and is reminiscent of the sonic collage work of Nurse With Wound. Naturally it sits nicely alongside 'Shave 'Em Dry 'Till The Cows Come Home' the Forms of Things Unknown contribution to the Nurse with Wound competition to remix the track 'Two Shaves and a Shine' from the constituent parts offered on the extra disc of An Awkward Pause. From a looped bass line, a wailing sax is added alongside more wailing voices and a roll call of musical artists - an inane list, perhaps in response to the feted Nurse With Wound list that accompanied their first release.

'Blue Light' has nothing to do with Leni Riefenstahl and more to do with the gas pilot light that provides the constant muffled roar that underpins this construction of broken glass and smashed crockery, looped rhythmic noise and assorted found voices and squawking birds. While 'Blue Light' is an example of FOTU's ability to create music from chaotic slice and dice 'Quadrilateral' is much more minimal offering 14 minutes of restrained ambience. It's a quietly mesmerising piece of looped humming, rotating tones and repetitive bleeping that shares an affinity with Coil's Time Machines project. Another surprising turn for FOTU can be found on 'Mesozoica', a collaboration with Ure Thrall that lurches into dark ambient territory to the strains of dark droning, quiet pounding and subdued atmospheric flute playing.

Black Trenchcoats... was compiled, as the subtitle indicates, from Demos, Outtakes and Rarities: 2003 - 2006. As Ferrara Brain Pan points out in the liner notes this period was marked by personal turmoil and sporadic creative attempts with the most basic of equipment. And while this lacks cohesion, there's an inordinate amount of ideas that though not fully realised won't do this experimental composer any harm. Interested readers may care to seek out Cross Purposes, the first proper FOTU album that has just been reissued in an expanded format by the same label. For more information go to or