V/Vm: The Death of Rave
(A Partial Flashback)
Issued on James Kirby's own History Always Favours the Winners imprint, The Death of Rave (A Partial Flashback) represents an exhumation of his earliest known project V/Vm. The newly reissued material first appeared in 2006 when Kirby made a huge number of tracks (around 200), all of them assembled from fragments of rave anthems that were then mutated via computer-assisted noise generators into their final form, available at his V/Vm Test website but then later removed. For the purposes of this resurrection, Kirby remastered eight pieces from that collection for a single album-length presentation.
The nostalgic and mournful tone of the album title comes as no accident. As Kirby explains, “The idea for The Death of Rave was conceived in early 2006 after a visit to the Berghain Club in Berlin. At the time Berghain was about to explode on the international club scene as a temple. The feeling was in the air that something special was happening. I went and saw a pale shadow of the past. Grim and boring beats, endlessly pounding to an audience who felt they were part of an experience but who lacked cohesion and energy.” Channeling that despair and disillusionment into physical form, Kirby elected to transmute old rave recordings into an elegy to the genre.
Listeners familiar with his previously issued V/Vm work might expect the new release to be a daunting prospect, given the generally abrasive and uncompromising character of the earlier material. As it turns out, the forty-one-minute The Death of Rave (A Partial Flashback) is much more in line with the kind of accessible sounds Kirby's issued under his Leyland Kirby and The Caretaker aliases. Of course, accessibility should be construed in relative terms for even though the album is nowhere near as harsh as V/Vm material as generally understood, it's still a challenging listen. Despite the rave association, beats are largely absent, with the industrial clangour hammering through “Big Eddie's Van – Bowlers Car Park” the closest the album gets to an explicit beat pattern; instead the eight settings stylistically traffic in seething vortexes of flickering lights and shards (“Moggy & Wearden,” “Acid Alan, Haggis & Scott,” “XR2 mk1 Sale Waterpark”) and dark ambient excursions such as “Machete's at The Banshee,” whose echoing sounds are suggestive of the violence associated with dungeons and torture chambers. The music attacks with such unrelenting fury that the interludes of calm that appear during “Smithy & Dave the Rave” stand out in sharp contrast to the surrounding storm.