Sleevenotes from the original issue:
We first became aware of Lee Jackson thanks to his enthusiastic support of Electroscope in the pages of The Broken Face. In a time of many fine releases, Lee considered our second album Journey to the Centre of Electroscope as his album of the year, which meant a great deal to us. Aside from the high compliment, we admired Lee's writing a lot, so when we reformed and decided to compile an album of rarities from our initial four years, Lee was an obvious choice to approach for his thoughts and words. In choosing something Lee wrote about Electroscope to appear here, these liner notes suggested themselves. In addition to writing about our music, he speaks of his own life and there's the added poignancy that we were working on this so close to the end of Lee's time with us.
Gayle Brogan & John Cavanagh, May 2012, Glasgow, Scotland.
Lee’s introduction to Diapause
In the mid ’90s I was all about the drone. From Stereolab and Spacemen 3 to Can, Faust and Neu!, I couldn’t get enough of the stuff (still can’t!), and it all was so very new and fascinating to me then. I was mildly shocked to discover that there were even bands in my own back yard that reached as far out as spiritual forefathers like The Thirteenth Floor Elevators and Cold Sun did nearly 30 years before. One such band was Charalambides, a mutual touchstone when Mats Gustafsson and I started The Broken Face zine in 1997. Via a series of mixtapes I turned Mats onto the likes of Labradford and Charalambides. He turned me onto Bob Hund and The Dipsomaniacs.
Then there was Scotland’s Electroscope. The minimal bedroom psych duo of John Cavanagh and Gayle Brogan seemingly came out of nowhere in 1999, though they’d been releasing music for a few years by then. Their Journey To The Centre Of Electroscope record on Boa was getting rave reviews in certain quarters, and I was lucky enough to score a copy at my local record store. Discovered within the grooves of its bubblegum pink wax was a delicate balancing act between acoustic folky song craft and minimal electronics that remains one of the most beguiling and unique records I’ve ever heard. In fact it was my favorite of that year, and I still pull it out when I want to revisit that strange dream where Syd Barrett sits in with The Incredible String Band while special guest composer Delia Derbyshire bubbles and fizzes through various alien landscapes on electronics.
Journey… was their second album, following the appropriately christened Homemade Electroscope. All during this time, Electroscope contributed tracks to singles and compilations that would come and go, some more findable than others. Being in Texas in the mostly pre file-sharing days of the late ‘90s, many of these were more mythical than anything else, which was somehow fitting for a duo of such indescribable beauty and mystery as Electroscope. This all makes Diapause a very welcome inclusion to their discography. Its 17 tracks come from far flung origins – a split single with Windy & Carl, obscure fanzine comps, nowhere at all (two are unreleased ‘til now) – yet come together to tell a fascinating musical story that can only now be completely heard.From the playful Syd Floyd homage of “Welcome to Planet Barrett” on through to the early Tangerine Dream gone bliss pop vibes of “Blowhole” and the brilliant minimal cover of Sir Barrett’s “Rats” (recast as a stripped down tribute to Suicide as much as to Barrett himself), Electroscope offers engrossing, uncluttered soundbaths that are as undeniably human and handmade as they are strange, ephemeral and dreamlike. It’s not hard to see why the late John Peel was as much of a fan as some freak from Texas.
Electroscope would go on a hiatus of sorts for much of the next decade, with Gayle focusing on her own solo project, Pefkin, and her Boa Melody Bar mail-order distribution, while John focused on Phosphene and his Soundwave radio show for Radio Six International. But it was only a matter of time before old itches needed scratching and electronic pulses needed detecting; Electroscope was once more an active unit.
Despite its disparate origins, I think you will agree that Diapause makes for a remarkably cohesive listen. It could even be called the great long-lost Electroscope record, but then they were never so much lost as just hidden in plain sight, waiting to be plucked from the aether.
Lee Jackson, January 2012 Dallas, Texas
Following a decade recording solo as Pefkin and Phosphene, Gayle Brogan and John Cavanagh are back playing pin matrix games for May, combining the sounds of a VCS3 synthesizer, a 1950s radio microphone and vortex of vocals.