Robin Saville & Oliver Cherer – ‘Sizewell’ (Modern Aviation, 2019)

‘Sizewell,’ a topographical multi-media project inspired by the imposing nuclear power stations on England’s Suffolk coast, finds ISAN’s Robin Saville and Oliver Cherer (Gilroy Mere/Dollboy) rummaging deep in a toolbox of electronics, their own in situ field recordings, the (very) occasional guitar and voice.  Given the historical propensity of both to dabble in burbling synths, drones and conceptualities, it’s often difficult here to identify where Saville stops and Cherer starts (and vice versa). 

These two lengthy, sonically rich tapestries, consciously tailored to analogue tape, are obviously intended to be played with the minimal of distraction, perhaps even with the lights out, so that one might feasibly imagine oneself on Sizewell’s barren shoreline.   

The brutalist A station, although decommissioned, is an immovable monument to man’s disregard for the natural environment.  Impossible to safely deconstruct, the way things are going, it will probably still be there long after we’ve all disappeared.  To its credit, the station produced enough energy to boil more than one trillion kettles over its 40-year lifespan.

Sizewell B, with its gleaming white sphere atop a flat, blue plinth, suggests a top secret, retro-futuristic base within, undoubtedly, an alien spaceship is being kept under wraps.  The eerie stillness of these two monoliths, offers much space for meditation, not only on our impact on the planet but also what sort of aesthetic legacy we’re leaving for our children.  Even so, as they note in the booklet which accompanies the cassette, the two neither celebrate nor condemn Sizewell but instead document their feelings whilst in its presence. 

At its peaks, there’s a mechanical, almost factory floor efficiency which suggests the music was industriously hand-cranked on marvellous, non-descript machines.  Cherer breaks cover only momentarily with some lovely Martin Carthy-esque folk guitar and singing but my favourite parts are the gentle, ambient sections where the sound of cawing crows can be heard echoing off the waves. 

 

‘Sizewell’ is out now on the Modern Aviation label. More details/buy here : Bandcamp

 

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