Over the last decade, Mike Carney aka Bantam Lions has devoted much of his spare time to “playful experimentation”, channeling over 30 years of musical inspirations and adventures to create electronic music that sits somewhere between hazy nostalgia and far-sighted futurism.
Along the way, he has crafted dozens, if not hundreds, of snapshots of this personal musical journey. Some of these have appeared on his previous 12” singles for Scenery Records, while others have been featured on cassettes from the admirably experimental Cleaning Tapes and Videogamemusic imprints.
Now, he’s gathered together some of his favourite moments to create Short Stories, a debut album – and Scenery’s first long-form release – simply overflowing with page-turning musical narratives.
Listen carefully to the album’s 12 tracks, and you’ll begin to understand the myriad twists and turns associated with a lifetime’s worth of musical obsessions. Some may detect echoes of afternoons spent daydreaming to electronic futurism in the sparkling, intergalactic breeze of opener Now’s The Time, or messy mornings after spent listening to early ambient house in the fluid electronica of Passing Doubt, the dreamy Journey To Fon, or the Boards of Canada style bliss of Golden Circle Sun.
The producer’s dancefloor adventures, and most specifically countless imaginary excursions to Liverpool’s legendary late ‘80s / early ‘90s rave venue Quadrant Park, in the restless energy of Up To You (a track created, in part, from sampling and manipulating passages of a live recording from the club, given to him by a friend in 1991) and the fizzing, multi-coloured dancefloor hustle of Checkout Your Mind.
Throughout, his multitude of influences – from vintage Motor City techno, Larry Heard and Pal Joey, to Actress, Rhythm & Sound and Stockhausen style tape manipulation – shines through, but Short Stories never sounds like a tribute act.
It’s the Scenery regular’s unique musical vision, rather than that of his inspirations, that shines through on each of his perfectly formed instrumental ‘stories’. This vision is colourful, bright and vibrant, with subtle shifts in mood and focus that change with each successive narrative.
These are Short Stories to savour, to get lost in, and to revisit time and time again. They’re Bantam Lions’ stories, but happily he’s shared them for others to enjoy.
Words: Matt Anniss
Distribution by Lobster Distribution
Mastered by Blue Door Mastering