Jun 1, 2024

400 words about Global Communication's 1994 album 76:14

Global Communication's second album 76:14 turns 30 years old today, and here’s why we should be tying up the bunting in celebration of this ambient classic.

Actually, I don’t need to convince you how important 76:14 is. I’m telling you. You’re going to have to take this as fact. Open your gob and swallow my fist of truth.

Ambient music was cooking on gas by 1994. The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld had come out several years previously, and acts like Aphex Twin, The Future Sound of London and Scanner were flinging open all sorts of doors of perception in the wibbly house of ambient.

But Global Communication’s album, as mouthy Americans would say, “hit different”. The looping synthesis, the chattery vocal samples, the woozy pace. The whole thing was a digital fever dream – and it was as catchy as heck.

Its biggest moments? The tick-tocking grandfather clock adding weight to 14:31. The satisfying clunk-click of 9:25’s trip hop – incidentally, a track that was originally intended as a Sun Electric remix. The driving electro of Tangerine Dream homage 5:23, all powered by chords so soupy you could stand your bread soldiers in them. The grand finale 12:18 and its imaginary choristers.

The album feels like Detroit techno in slow motion, although its influences are broader than that. GC’s Tom Middleton had a classical music background and knew his way round a cello. While Mark Pritchard had twanged guitars and played drums in rock bands. The album arose from a Chapterhouse remix project, although the initial spark for their collaboration came after listening to Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ.

The best thing about 76:14, and why it needs to be ranked alongside Brian Eno, Steve Roach and Tangerine Dream, is that this is an ambient album that demands your attention. It’s not background music for ironing, washing up, grouting or whatever it is that you get up to on a Sunday afternoon. You sit and listen to this album. Listen, and listen some more. Distractions be gone.

I would encourage you to listen to the whole thing in honour of its 30th ambient-versary. 

We didn’t even get to talk about the timecode track titles. Hey everyone, the track titles are how long the tracks are. Clever, innit. Will that do?

I give this album 10:00 out of 10:00. Happy damn birthday, Global Communication’s 76:14.

Further Fats: Oh to be torn up by wolves and fed, bit by bit, through an old lawnmower (2008)

Further Fats: It is my duty to inform you of this Selected Ambient Works anagram (2019)

No comments: