Intrigue & Stuff Vol. 1-4 (History Always Favors the Winners)
Reviewed by Conor Walker, Fri., July 4, 2014
Leyland KirbyIntrigue & Stuff Vol. 1-4 (History Always Favors the Winners)
Leyland Kirby's bittersweet series of 12-inches comes to rest in a boxed compendium on his History Always Favors the Winners imprint. His experimental, mid-Nineties oddities range from the Caretaker's decomposing antediluvian tape loops to the Stranger's off-kilter industrial IDM. Under his given name, Kirby refuses to hide behind a particular style or pattern, which in turn produces some of his most stimulating work. The first three volumes of Intrigue & Stuff bowed in 2011, making Vol. 4 the only new material in the set and the only pieces separated from the remaining volumes by a few years. Everything nevertheless fits together like a glove worn at an aquarium petting zoo, where tactile fascination with alien content awakes synaptic revelation. Vol. 4 tightens into more rhythmic territory than the previous volumes; "Derelict Bar" back-to-back with "The Tar Sands" settles like post-rave smog. The completed collection glides together a true opus, floating amidst the fragmented shapes Kirby's fashioned over the years, pushing everything together, forcing forms upward and amassing like lenticular clouds in formation. A sizable portion of Intrigue & Stuff billows in ambient hues, like "Live for the Future, Long for the Past," which despite its tongue-in-cheek title, unfolds as gorgeous as it is delicate. The composition continually tilts to near collapse, yet manages to gracefully suspend atop its own demise. "The Start of Wars and the End of Eras" is like Belgian trenches superimposed against a futuristic World's Fair run amok. The entire mélange stewards a dreamlike and, at times, nightmarish stream, sitting atop topographies of tape hiss like dispersing jet fuel traces. What's left below is a network of intriguing rivulets and stuff that is sensed but unseen.