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

Various Artists - Fourth Dimension Records Present Presently Untitled

Presently Untitled was launched to coincide with a night dedicated to the label Fourth Dimension Records at Cafe OTO, London in October featuring performances from 4 of the acts (Richard Youngs, Map 71, Extnddntwrk and Alternative TV) together with a number of other acts representing their current roster featuring on this double 7-inch single. Fourth Dimension Records began in 1983 as a subsidiary to Gary Levermore's Third Mind Records before it was taken over by Richard Johnson, who was also publishing the renowned Grim Humour fanzine at the time. Richard Johnson is possibly one of the hardest working people in underground circles. Aside from publishing numerous issues of Grim Humour, a long running fanzine that ran during the eighties and early nineties, soon to be commemorated in two book volumes, he continues to sporadically publish the magazine Adverse Effect. He also runs the labels Fourth Dimension Records and its sister label Lumberton Trading Company. Many of their releases including Michael Gira, JFK, Sion Orgon, Human Greed and countless others have featured on these pages. His own musical endeavours have included the noise rock outfit Splintered who were active during the nineties and have just had a series of singles, along with demos and outtakes documented on the compilation, Turned Inside Out. Together with Stuart Carter he forms the group Theme who feature on Presently Untitled. There's probably lots more but his labels and publishing activities have definitely turned me onto a lot of music. Richard Johnson is an active enthusiast continually reaching out into the underground to share new music on a label that exhibits high quality control on its output.

Let's get back to Presently Untitled which is housed in a DIY sleeve with accompanying insert, featuring 7 of the label's current acts each offering exclusive tracks spread over two 7-inch singles. The packaging harks back to many of the labels early various artist single releases, which coupled the likes of Sweet Tooth with Headbutt, and Splintered and Cindytalk. Presently Untitled, though, was hatched as a something of a loose homage to Fast Product's Earcom samplers.

Richard Youngs, the versatile Scottish based artist, opens Presently Untitled with '18' where queasy organ drones, are offset by rich submerged layers of background sound. Listen closely and you might pick up on the swirl of the bagpipes amidst the shuddering electronics. The whole thing unfurls like a soundtrack to some drug fuelled night time escapade. Richard Youngs has a long history with Fourth Dimension Records stretching back to the 'Worried About Heaven' single recorded with Simon Wickham-Smith, the duo behind the lauded DIY experimental album Lake, released on Youngs' own label. More recently for Fourth Dimension Records he has released a collaborative single with Luke Fowler, and the albums Calmont Breakdown, Primary Concrete Attack and the double CD, This Is Not A Lament, a bagpipe and experimental drone fest including collaborations with the likes of Alasdair Roberts, Neil Campbell and Simon Wickham-Smith.

Next-up is Theme the musical project of Richard Johnson and Stuart Carter. Their contribution, 'The Art of Interpreting A Softer Landing', errs towards a more subdued distorted electronic sound sliced with pulsing rhythmic disarray propelling their trademark distant vocals. It pushes onwards sucked up into a maelstrom of treated noise with those rhythms continuing to slice through the saturated din before it is cut short way too early. It continues the group's focus on an abrasive and noisier output as captured on the recent Fourth Dimension limited album Sacral Blood Warning.

On the other side are Sion Orgon and Alternative TV. Sion Orgon has had a couple of albums on Fourth Dimension's sister label Lumberton Recording and is a frequent collaborator to the works of fellow Welshman Thighpaulsandra, designing live visuals and appearing in his extended band for live performances. Coil's Peter Christopherson and Thighpaulsandra have also contributed to some of Sion Orgon's releases. His releases share an affinity with the progressive electronics of Thighpaulsandra but Sion Orgon opts for a more electro orchestral sound. On 'Castles' be brings an experimental pop sensibility draping his smooth melodic vocals over chiming electro acoustics and abstract processed electronics. 'Castles' is all too brief but his work drawing on processed sounds, electronics and melody makes the experimental palatable and his albums are all well worth seeking out.

Veteran punk outfit Alternative TV don't really need any introduction but here on 'Radiator' they come over all synthy with Mark Perry ranting and raging in those distinctive tones over pulsing synths and metallic clanking. I haven't heard their Dark Places 12-inch released earlier this year on Fourth Dimension but I don't remember Alternative TV ever being this electronic but this rant about current music industry practices is quite wonderful. Still pushing forward into unexpected places it'll be interesting to hear where they go next.

Extnddntwrk, have been surprisingly under the radar especially since it is the solo-project of Andrew Fearn better known as the musical-half of Sleaford Mods - who themselves have recorded a single for Fourth Dimension which given the countless editions may be the label's best selling release. Extnddntwrk don't go in for polemics or rants. 'Bas Fash' is a moody downbeat piece of soft drone movement enlivened by rhythms that skitter about like sleepy, subdued jazz rhythms. This is good though, a thoughtful dark soundscape and thoroughly deserving of being the sole side long piece. Interested listeners should seek out Just Tracks, a double CD of ambient atmospheric and looped and stark comedown rhythms available on Fourth Dimension Records.

Flip it over for the stunning rhythm, electronics and voice of the much underrated Map 71. Lisa Jayne delivers her offhand poetics, as rhythms clank and electronics ricochet, courtesy of Andy Pyne. "He loves me, he loves me not" Lisa Jayne repeats in that Essex accented voice on 'Orovannis'. But, oh, we do and Map 71 are really onto something with their punk spirited vocal bathed in post-punk rhythms and electronics. Check out their Fourth Dimension albums Gloriosa and Void Axis for more of this rhythm 'n' voice, you won't be disappointed.

Kleistwahr is the solo-project of Ramleh's Gary Mundy and you might be surprised by the intimate nature of their offerings given the electronic noise and outré psych rock associated with Ramleh. 'Anthem For A New Beginning' which brings Presently Untitled to a close features forlorn, droning offset by howling, murmuring vocals ebbing out in waves of searing blackened guitar psychedelia. An entirely different proposition to his main group, Ramleh, and the four albums released by Fourth Dimension are set to be released as two double vinyl sets next year, which is good news for those who missed out on those now scarce CD editions.

Presently Untitled gives a broad overview of the label and naturally it's all good solid stuff. Next year is shaping up to be a busy time for Fourth Dimension Records with releases from Gad Whip, Limbs Bin, Mitsuru Tabata, Sion Orgon, Alternative TV, The Midnight Choir, Theme and Kleistwahr already lined up. Released in an edition of 350, copies of Presently Untitled are unsurprisingly now thin on the ground but if you come across one, or any of the label's releases, you don't need to waver as releases on Fourth Dimension generally don't disappoint and that's not something we say often about a label. For more information go to Fourth Dimension shop