The Fuse Art Space in Bradford is an avant-garde multimedia venue that only last year played host to a live set from none other than Oliver Barrett, aka Petrels. Now released as part of the Fuse Editions series – no. 4, to be precise – the Londoner unites his distinct, highly charged synths with interweaving electronic webs that constantly link up and spiral ever outwards. The stunningly bright rays of synth shine brilliantly, and when they occasionally try to veer off course, Barrett is always there to steer them back onto the rocky road. Through thick and thin they’re always under his control, even when they go through those moments of sickening turbulence. Barrett presides over the controls with a high level of skill, which, given his impressive discography and resume, doesn’t really come as a surprise. The live set is a completely different ballgame, and sometimes things can get lost in translation. The casual comfort of the studio is no longer there; it’s just you, the audience and the music.
The electronics stutter and glitch lightly, but they do so at an appropriate time. Nothing’s rushed, or even forced. Just after the 8 minute mark, the music spikes and really takes off. All of a sudden, the music soars high above it all, flying through the dusty winds of static and the light rain of an intermittent synth. It’s accompanied by a deeper harmony that helps to soothe the dissonance, and it makes the music more of a comfortable flight. His patience is clearly evident, and it’s definitely a virtue when it comes to experimental and electronic music. When all of the elements eventually converge, you can expect some serious fireworks.
On Side A, a gauzy, static-drenched progression takes hold. There’s an undeniable tension inside the music as it constantly pushes and pulls. Near and yet incredibly far away, the music is, at times, cosy and temperate, but the synths can also come across as icy and alien. The notes sparkle and twinkle, and like far away lights on another continent they occasionally blink in and out of focus. Tiny electronic melodies dart around, and with short stabs they illuminate the music. Side B is the more melodically focused of the two, but even this disintegrates and fragments in a sweet, glittery death. Right from the start, the synth acts like a dreamcatcher, capturing the melody in its symmetrical webs of intricacy. The dominant melody vanishes, and the lights are left to glow. And then, one by one, they go out.