MYSTERY SEA 32 | dual | [tocsin]


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-"Tocsin is a six part journey that builds, floats, drifts and then declines when least expected, but brings together all the elements of beauty and darkness within a single feeling but never overstating. As ever Dual's subtle textured movement rises and develops within each part with measured transitions, imagine watching back a slow motion replay in slow motion, you might just notice the ever so slight changes...

Many years ago Staalplaat remarked how Dual instill ambience that is raw and unpolished, resembling more an empty factory building than a clean room in your house... well imagine if Tocsin was a dream, you'd probably feel sad & happy, immersed & suspended, cold & hot in the hours afterwards... needless to say Tocsin has depth that allows the subtle patterns of processed shimmering beauty to rise in only a way that Dual manage from just six coiled steel strings and a plank of wood."

- June 2006


Dual uk project whose main figure is Colin Bradley has been in existence since 1993, building a well-off repertoire of detailed guitar imaginings, painting ethereal & fervent post-industrial landscapes, making us enter into a carousel of crisp motifs sustained by metronomic pulses & breaths... Dual has already an extended back catalogue of impressive releases on various labels including DRONE, CEE RECORDINGS (Dual's own imprint !), DIRTER, EVELYN, FOURTH DIMENSION etc...
"tocsin" is their first full-length since "Keimar Sty", as part of the evergrowing series of meta-aquatic journeys on Mystery Sea...

"tocsin" as such, is a thin trembling skin sounding the environment,
passed through by myriads of microcurrents...
a waving and uneven sealand...
an innerfield of glow-organisms seeping into our grey areas...
a trickling of dark ink flowing in our veins...
an inhaled cloud of smoke...
"tocsin" makes us sink deeper...
then, loose touch...
to discover our tributaries,
& reconsider things through the layers of impurities...
learning about our uniqueness from the remanent substance itself...


01. Tocsin part I > listen !
Tocsin part II
03. Tocsin part III
04. Tocsin part IV
05. Tocsin part V > listen !
Tocsin part VI




VITAL WEEKLY 513|Frans De Waard
It's been a while since we last from Dual, aka Colin Bradley (no relationship to Paul Bradley, but former member of Splintered), who has been playing ambient music on guitars since 1993, and has a whole bunch of releases available. Ambient music is not exactly the correct tag for the music of Dual, as there is a sense of rhythm present in most of these tracks, which is also an unusual feature in the releases on Mystery Sea. These rhythms are minimalist pulsating matters, and could not be seen as anything to dance to. It's almost like an industrial rhythm or a metronome, but it's a more complex than that. On top, Bradley waves together finely knitted patterns on his guitar and multiple guitar effects. Of course the six tracks on this release are long, but Dual takes the right amount of time to say what he needs to say. It's music that needs to develop over a longer period of time to do what it has to do. It's at times a bit Rapoon like (at least on this new release) and after the latest bunch of releases with where more or less synomous, Mystery Sea has found something that expands the view of the label yet still fits the context of the label. One of the more surprising releases on the label.
vital weekly

TOKAFI |Tobias Fischer  
Many drone artists feel kind of uncomfortable being shifted off into the Ambient corner. Not so Colin Bradley, who either as a soloist or in collaboration with various colleagues makes up Dual. Which has less to do with an imaginary allegiance with atmospheric sounds designed to pleasantly fill your room, but more with his vision of Ambient, which bypasses textbooks and substitues their definition with a music of open aims intended to make listeners think about the interaction between composition and spacial factors, to allow the mind to drift without loosing cerebral contact completely and to construct flowing textures made up of different colours and temperatures. All of these aspects are present on “tocsin” to varying degrees, but the most surprising quality of this album has got to be located somewhere else: It has an almost confrontational character.
This doesn’t sound all that spectacular in the first place. After all, many Dark Ambient releases also convey a cold and eerie feeling of constant suspense and asthmatic tension. And yet, Bradley is not out to merely spook his audience or to keep them gasping for air during an ill-tempered baptism – no, he really wants to jump into their face, make them fully experience the alien nature of his drastic sounds and to rub the razor-blade leaves of his rampant mind plants over innocent tongues and ears. You have to listen to “tocsin” loud or else its impact will be lost on you, but if you do, you’re in for a remarkable ride, akin to the ones you had as a child in a tunnel of horror. Divided into six parts, this voyage takes fifty minutes, which fly by like the meandering hallucinations of a feverish nightmare on acid. Already in Part 1, heavy sheets of abrasive noise phase in and out like laser photons in slow motion or a children’s choir caught inside a black hole, ending either in a sustained scream or a fulminant feedback frolic, while stoic drums poundings and a irredescent blip convey the feeling of a cosmic jam session. Then the aural equivalent of a TV test pattern in High Definition sucks you in, while a mutilated bass drum stumbles in spasms across the energy fields of a pitch black canyon – a picture of madening intensity. And in the final chapter, Bradley dives headlong into an ecstatic frenzy dominated by tortured screams, moaning metal, interleaving layers of irregularly breathing voices and a pattern of buzzing and clicking dots. Amidst it all, there is plenty of room for beauty – especially the shorter pieces, with its silent pads and otherwordly rhytms, its industrial midnight jazz-dub fantasies and especially their rapidly changing moods bring out the feminin side of this singular world.The latter can not be stressed enough, for even though the wonderful voyages of many drone artists gain their power exactly from penetrating the same nerve in endless cycle, it is refreshing to hear an album which is capable of both moving you and shaking you up. And there is more: Everything around you looks different when seen through the lense of “tocsin” and in this respect it is Ambient in the most direct way. Turning its volume down to the point that you won’t hear it anymore (as Brian Eno suggested) can not be advised, though: You better know, where the danger’s coming from.

Rated : 5 stars out of 5
No super-glossy emo-faux goth photo spreads of a band trying to look “edgy”, or “depressed”, or “mysterious”. No whiny falsetto or minor-key guitar parts to cause reviewers to gush that it’s “dark”. No black lipstick imprints or bloody knives. No, Tocsin is the real deal…the definition of the most harrowing, dark, seething music one can come across. Created by UK ambient artist Dual (aka Colin Bradley), Tocsin clutches at the last remnants of industrial civilization metallic drones and morphs them into a terrifying, breathing entity. While the theme of industrial waste and cold machines are admittedly a divinized construction of this listener’s imagination, one can’t help but wonder that Dual’s music acts more as a foreboding caution with its slow-moving rumbling sounds often resembling the approach of a distant and violent storm (a “tocsin” is, after all, another name for a warning signal or an alarm bell). Whatever the specific intent of Bradley, the final result in Tocsin is a mesmerizing unfolding of carefully constructed sound that takes on a life of its own. Cursory listens to Tocsin are simple not possible…from the opening moments of “Tocsin I” in which swells of drones overtake the listener, the music on the 6 track full-length CD is instantly suffocating. It’s as if Dual conspires to lure his listeners into a trap of hazy drones, sparse and heavily processed electronics, and melody fragments, never releasing his hold through the 50 minutes of music flowing from one track to another, until the final strains of “Tocsin VI” fade from the listener’s conscience. It is also often impossible to distinguish one track to the next on Tocsin, as Dual seamlessly welds his tracks together through tentative transitions. Distant rumbles sublimely distend and recede throughout Tocsin, while Dual periodically allows high-pitched squeals to pierce through the mix. The hypnotic (though extremely subtle) repetitive samples, along with the heavy low-end guitar drones, convey a the picture of a fog-drenched nighttime Northern Sea coast, with iron-machine factories spewing yellow smoke into the air and green waves ebbing on the shore. Some tracks (“Tocsin III”, for instance) almost beg to tell a story, as Bradley speeds up his transitions and uses a variety of drones and sounds to convey a sense of restlessness and movement in the piece. However the tracks differ, from the almost melodic “Tocsin IV” to the disturbingly chilling “Tocsin VI”, it’s clear that the CD is meant to be listened to in one setting, most preferably with high quality headphones and zero distraction. Dual fits in so many almost-there sounds into the mix, while masterfully directing and guiding the overall mood of the music that it takes multiple listens by wide eyed and nervous listeners to begin to comprehend the majesty of the recordings. (The overall mood of Tocsin reminds the listener not coincidentally of the darkest and most seething moments of Bark Psychosis’ Codename: Dustsucker, which shouldn’t surprise any discriminating listener due to Dual’s role as the co-architect on that disc. As a point of reference for those familiar with the Bark Psychosis release: take “INQB8TR”’s opening moments of hazy darkness, and elongate those sounds…allow them to overpower the listener again and again…and you approach the sonic explorations of Tocsin. Perhaps this isn’t a conventional review, but in the end Tocsin is not a conventional disc. Dual doesn’t try to engage his listener with some myth of image. Rather, he relies solely on his well-honed craft, and pulverizes his listener with incredibly well-constructed multi-layered force of sound that is ultimately, though terrifying and dark, transcendent and beautiful. Fans of dark drone-ambient music (as well as pretenders who think they are listening to truly dark and haunting music): meet your new master in Dual.

I don't know the exact reason, but it looks to me that British people working in the area of dark ambient own a couple of additional gears compared to the ever-growing mass of "buy-me-a-synth-become-a-musician" using the first Korg preset two octaves down to make sounds of "obscure waters" and the second Roland preset to evoke "the sacred ooooohs and aaaahs" while sitting on their sofa looking at the sport results. This helps them (the British, I mean) in transforming a "normal" album (and, let's face it, most of this stuff sounds exactly the same whoever releases it) in something worthy of being considerated more carefully. Such is the case of Dual (Colin Bradley) who, in "Tocsin", sails through the perilous waters of loopscaping and "eternal-torment" droning without causing my yawns to suffocate me, even giving me some very nice suggestions in various points of his disc. Bradley's forte is his use of overwhelming low frequencies that strike like an earthquake at unexpected moments; but he's also a good hand in creating hazardous environments of elemental pseudo-tribalism, which often flows into oppressive atmospheres that once we could have called (still wondering why, by the way) "postindustrial", especially when an essential pulse is brought forth in the mix. The recipe is enriched by sparse and intelligently placed processed field recordings, the overall result being very good for at least three quarters of the disc, as Dual avoids remaining on a subject for too long, immediately shifting his camera somewhere else. The final movement is the most anguishing one, echoes of mutilated entities seemingly accompanying with their lamentations a body in its predecease process in what's a disquieting, effective final touch.
touching extremes

CHAIN D.L.K.|Eugenio Maggi --- NEW !
Rated : 4 stars out of 5
Mostly a solo expression of UK soundmaker Colin Bradley (who used to play with Splintered, for those who remember them), the Dual project has been releasing records since 1993, and though I have only listened to a handful of them, I think the main ingredients remain the same: guitar-generated dronescapes that some years ago would have been tagged as "isolationism". Bradley definitely knows how to handle his tools, and the result is a fascinating journey through underwater visions, in the purest Mystery Sea tradition (hell, after 32 releases we can safely speak of a label identity, correct?). What is great is Bradley's ability to vary the typical sustained drones with almost percussive patterns, generally made of simple looped strummings; not to mention the superb, ultra-bleak track which closes the album dragging you right to the ocean bottom with a leaden hand. My favourite disc out of the recent MS output.

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