Album of the week: 7th Plain – Chronicles III

Luke Slater returns with his ambient-leaning Techno alias, 7th Plain for the third part in a compilation series from the Ostgut Ton family’s A-TON imprint. The label, whose first release was Chronicles I back in 2016, continues in its efforts to archive and document Slater’s extensive back-catalogue with the third instalment in the series. Recorded throughout the nineties, and collated on a hand-full of LPs and EPs, Chronicles is a hermitically-sealed, musical time capsule that has preserved some of the finest ambient Techno ever recorded for the next generation.

It’s music that has aged gracefully over the last twenty years, and it still stands up today in the current musical landscape. Back in the nineties when this was originally made, music like this sounded like it came from the future and today it feels like time has finally caught up with the music. With some modern mastering touches applied, it sounds the best it has ever been as Luke Slater’s expert hands at crafting expressive layers from synthesisers clearly comes to the fore now after some digital tweaks.

It sounds like the artist and producer has filled all the available space with sound. Densely orchestrated pieces made from an arsenal of synthesisers and drum machines fill every moment of every track, but somehow it still manages to retain an airy presence on the record.

Familiar titles like “Reality of Space” and “Excalibur’s Radar” are there, taken from the two landmark albums, “The 4 Cornered Room” and “My yellow Wise Rug” and sit side by side each other, putting into perspective the incredibly fertile creativity of the artist as 7th Plain during this period. The series seems to conclude with this third instalment, with tracks taken solely from the aforementioned two LPs and many people online suggesting that it is the finest of the triptych.

While Luke Slater has continued to make music under various guises like Planetary Assault Systems and L.B Dub Corp, he had never again really resurrected the 7th Plain until the Chronicles series, by which time it had been steeped in its own mythic lore. It’s curious why Luke Slater never again made music as the 7th Plain and why even today with so much interest in that music, he’s not made any new music under that moniker.

The renewed interest in this music and A-TON’s work in cataloguing the music and framing it in the Chronicles context has installed this music today as a bonafide classic series of works from one of the finest Techno projects that ever existed.