Zan Lyons ‘Desolate’ (Foundry ,2000)

There’s beauty in the noise. Or is it beauty in the nanosecond as the noise stops? As debuts go, ‘Desolate’ is erratically brilliant, but as with most new noise pieces with limited appeal it proved too off its face to make an impact and after one EP, one album and a handful of even more mental remixes, this London-based laptopper and self-taught violinist disappeared into the world of his a/v creations.

Credit must go to very short-lived Foundry Recordings for giving Lyons an outlet. As the demise of credible club culture wrestled with itself at the start of the millennium, industrial noises and beats became overrun with post-Aphex idealism. These arrangements were often for the few who bothered to seek out events that required black lighting, ruined strobing and someone hunched over bleak and broken equipment. Usually in East London.

Yet Lyons’ release is filled with moments of crafted beauty. This industrial/classical vibe that Foundry (a Too Pure offshoot, funded externally by Beggars Banquet) saw fit to release without so much as a clearing of the throat is Paradinas for the annoyed and difficult. ‘Suicide’ was the second release on Moshi Moshi Records, a label that, in their early days, saw challenging and “difficult” as par for the course.

“We spent all our money on packaging the very first Moshi single. So, no, there was never going to be Zan Lyons album. Or a sleeve for that matter,” explained label manager Mike McClatchley.

Previously, Lyons had been working on neo-classical pieces and putting damaged beats and excessive artificial noise on top. He’d started to find his feet with the Digital Hardcore crew, supporting Alec Empire and remixing Panic DHH. His mishmash of Philip Glass, Atari Teenage Riot and Polygon Window was something of a first breath after coma, but it worked, mainly due to the excitement of working on the extremes of sound and the low-key nature of these young recordings.

Live, he looked frightened and unsure of what was coming out of the speakers. Yet the times I saw him, there was a healthy excitement, in spite of the angst of the titles (‘Suicide’, ‘Desolate’, ‘Oblivion’ et al). There was also respect in that here was a kid trying to do something other than making crunching noises in his room to annoy his family. There’s drill, drone, IDM, soundtrack, distortion and beauty here. It’s a collection of ideas put together by someone who doesn’t know how to look for help, let alone need any.

Lyons is still popping up as an a/v artist on an occasional basis, but has not released an album of music since this record. With such a powerful and unhinged collection of pieces we can only wonder what might have been.

You May Also Like