Release Date: 07/04/15
Retina.IT have had a strange relationship with the public. Never been a true household name yet not completely estranged from the spotlight either, the novel nature of their work has earned them slots alongside the likes of Kraftwerk and even an appearance on MTV. But their presence in recent years seems to have evaded the public eye, and the duo are long overdue for commemoration.
Since the infancy of the project in the mid-90s, Retina.IT have grounded their work in analogue hardware. This gives their sound a rich, sturdy quality, but there is also a clear ‘live’ kind of feel to it as well. You can hear each composition unfold at a natural, organic pace. Take ‘Logos’, for example, with its proliferating layers of fractal patterns. Or the corporeal hums of the EP’s finale, ’Aesculapius Dreams’.
Let’s take a step back for a moment to admire the audacious title of this EP: The Occult Philosophy. What on earth could this refer to? The spirit of their musical ethos? The transcendental nature of music itself? The sound itself does have something inexplicable about it. The synths feel familiar and recognisable, and yet the grooves are unmistakably modern. Indeed, for all their linkages to the past, Retina.IT remain a contemporary outfit. Their last EP, ops_ci was available on cassette - which has become an ironic emblem of stylistic modernity in 2015. The EP also has clear nods to Rrose, Demdike Stare and the Stroboscopic cohort, who also seem fixated on occult aesthetics.
What we have here is not a relic from the past but something from pioneering musicians with years of practice under their belt. The most important thing is that they are still looking for ways to mess with our expectations.
Words by George McVicar