Formed by Stereolab guitarist/keyboardist Tim Gane in 2013, Cavern Of Anti-Matter are a freewheeling trio with a passion for vintage synths and improvisation. Following a clutch of more minor releases, they’ve just issued their full‑length debut, Void Beats/Invocation Trex.
Given some of the Krautrock and kosmische influences on display, it’s fitting that London-born Gane has been Berlin-based for over a decade. Like every other great old European capital, Berlin is, of course, undergoing gentrification and general dumbing down. It’s quite a trip, therefore, to listen as Gane and his bandmates – Joe Dilworth (also of Stereolab fame) and Holger Zapf – invoke the Berlin of a largely bygone age: the hedonistic, idiosyncratic, open-all-hours city of David Bowie’s seminal album Heroes and Peter Fratzscher’s cult movie Asphaltnacht.
“The city is a little bit smoothed out in places,” says Gane, “and attitudes have changed quite a bit. But compared to, say, places like London or Paris, it’s still pretty good. There are a lot of people doing interesting things.”
In its spontaneous spark and mainly instrumental tones, the album finds Gane teleporting back and forth from his earliest days and ways of making music. After a brief experiment with music-by-laptop, his embrace of hands-on analogue interactivity has proved crucial for both writing and performing.
I found a space and put proper equipment in there. I wanted it to be all hands-on stuff – you plug in and it’s much more real.
“It’s hard to come outside yourself and analyse it,” he explains, “but it’s very similar to some of the ideas I had when I was a teenager. I had an electronic group and that later got taken over by pop music with McCarthy. Stereolab was an attempt to try to include these previous two elements. There was some improvisation but also a lot of songwriting, writing chords and melodies. This band now is not so much songwriting as reacting to things that are happening with devices. I’d program an old fashioned sequencer and when I turned it back on months later, there’d be remnants of what was there before, maybe detuned, and connected to a different synthesizer. Sometimes it’d sound great so I’d just tape it.
“A lot of it comes from those kinds of things,” Gane adds, “and then Joe and Holger just tend to play on top, either in rehearsal or sometimes in concerts. I find recording spontaneously more interesting, although I make heavy use of editing. It’s very intuitive in a way, listening to the music as if someone else is doing it.
“When I first came to Berlin, I thought, ‘Do I want to do a studio again?’ But I found working on a computer so dull, so unexciting, that I couldn’t get my mind to work properly. So I found a space and put proper equipment in there. I wanted it to be all hands-on stuff. It’s just knobs! You plug in and it’s much more real and lively than something that’s been gone over again and again. I need speed and agility. I’d rather something was just done with and that’s it. It’s like you get sometimes when you play live – everything just rolls and it sounds right.”
Tim Gane (guitar, electronics), Joe Dilworth (drums), Holger Zapf (synthesiser, drum machine, electronics)
Bubble cars, domed cities and day trips to the moon
Void Beats/Invocation Trex is available now via Duophonic
Check out Cavern Of Anti-matter’s website for more.